Like many other young researchers all over the world, junior scientist Antonio Silva is working to build himself a career in science. In order to push his research further, he recently published two papers in the field of ethnography, one with an open and one with a closed access model. Yes, this makes him a perfect research object for our lab, the more as what he experienced changed his view. In a short interview, he shared his experience.
PLoS ONE, one of the scientific journals Silva talks about, is one of the biggest open access peer reviewed scientific journals and was launched by the Public Library of Science in 2006. The journal is well aware of the problems Silva mentions in the end, an argument which can be pinnacled as follows: the ability to get your research published shouldn’t only be for the rich. Of course not! They decided to rely on a country-based pricing model: while PLoS ONE generally charges an ‘article processing fee’ of $ 1350, a number of poorer countries only pay a fee of $ 500, or even no money at all. Does this pay off? It seems to be the case. After writing off a loss in the beginning, in 2010 PLoS ONE covered its operational costs for the first time largely due to its growth. In 2011, the journal published over 13,500 articles, and in 2012 it continued to publish over 2,000 articles a month.
Evolution & Human Behavior, on the other hand, published Silva’s other article for free. His research “Facial attractiveness and fertility in populations with low levels of modern birth control” appeared in the closed access journal of the Nature Group in Volume 33, Issue 5, on the pages 491-498. To read it digitally, one would have to pay $ 31.50.
Where should science go from here?
Which model is best for research? What kind of science do we want? There are some principal questions the Hybrid Publishing Lab has to face, and as often in science there will be no easy answer. Our research will have to ponder some social and political aspects of science, as well as the economical reality it finds itself in after digitalization.
Should science be good for business, or should it be independent? But how independent is a researcher, when instead of an independent publisher the university would have to pay for it all? While universities are of general importance, all democratic systems befit some balance of power. However, it is out of the question that the Open Access Initiative benefits society: open access broadens the access to research for scientists as well as for the general public. What other models are available to fund research? Can specific research, for example the one in the humanities, also be funded by crowd sourcing? One of our researchers, Christian Heise, himself well experienced in the digital world, thinks it is a model that should at least be considered, and I would agree.
… and these are the people who will think about it.
This blog will follow the debate and development around open access and publishing as it will be a notepad to the Hybrid Publishing team currently doing research at the Leuphana University, Germany under the guidance of PD Dr. rer. nat. Martin Warnke and Prof. Dr. Timon Beyes. Here, you will find postings from Dr. Armin Beverungen, genuinely interested and experienced in the subject of open access publishing thanks to his own journal ephemera, who will manage our academic publishing experiments. To his side you find Simon Worthington, a name likely known to some of you from London’s magazine Mute, where he already had started the vision of an open source publishing platform. With the support of Jens-Martin Loebel and Heinz-Günter Kuper, Simon will manage our Hybrid Publishing Platform, as their programming skills and Simon’s experience and connections are a research director’s a dream team – Heinz and Jens have already coded the Hyper Image platform, we also plan to develop further. Last but not least, we will profit from Marjatta Kiessl insightful experience in publishing and education alike, as well as Christian Heise, who brings in strong ties to the Open Knowledge Foundation.
Wanna work with us?
Soon we will be more, if you are interested, this is the link to our job ads. And here you can read about the progress we make, and problems we meet. Yes, we will use this blog to ponder current ideas, note our work in progress, share and report events and discuss actual debates concerning the issue. Yes, expect a range of different opinions as we are indeed open – please feel welcome to take part in the discussion.
We all believe that Open Access is a great opportunity for our societies, but to make something available can only be the beginning. From there we need to go further and shape the process in greater detail – to make something accessible and sustainable is equally important, for example. We are looking forward to take part in shaping this new landscape digitalization has opened up.