Here’s a roundup of some of today’s PeerJ launch coverage.
PeerJ will do without the widely employed and often expensive article-processing charge (commonly called author fees) of other OA journals, which average about $900 per published paper, according to a recent study.
Instead, PeerJ will use a “pay once, publish for life” model, which will offer individual membership plans starting at $99. Authors who join are granted lifetime rights to publish for free in the company’s peer-reviewed journal, also called PeerJ. Each author on a paper must be a member.
The venture, which made its public debut today, will focus on the biological and medical sciences. Authors must become PeerJ members to publish with the journal, but membership doesn’t guarantee publication; all articles must go through peer review and meet a basic standard of scientific quality.
+ Scholarly Publishing 2012: Meet PeerJ (by Peter Brantley, Publishers Weekly)
Brantley conducts an in-depth Q&A interview with Peter Binfeld.
How can this possibly work? Binfeld’s answer suggests that he has run the numbers carefully. Part of the solution relies on the dynamics of authorship: not everyone will publish all of their papers in PeerJ, and some people will publish a couple of papers and then leave research. Most papers in biology have multiple authors, too, which will help drive membership.
PeerJ has also figured out how to cut costs. The journal will use customized software to mange the article submission and peer review process, and journal content will be stored on Amazon’s S3 service and presented to users via software running on EC2. For long-term archiving, the publication will be placed at the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed Central archive. According to Binfield’s partner, Jason Hoyt, they’ve got a couple of servers for internal use, but everything user-facing will run on Amazon’s hardware.
Untangling user fees from the publication of individual articles is a significant innovation — but other radical ideas are in the pipeline. In high-energy physics, for example, a consortium called SCOAP3, which includes funding agencies and libraries, is planning to pay publishers for all the costs of publication, so that articles can be free to access and authors will not be charged directly. On 1 June, the SCOAP3 initiative said that it had sent out tenders to publishers to bid for these contracts, with services expected to start in January 2014.
Other ideas under discussion include journals that charge for submissions rather than for publications; direct government funding for all publications; and research funders setting up their own publication infrastructure (much as some do with biology databases), says Cameron Neylon, recently appointed director of advocacy at the Public Library of Science in San Francisco, which publishes PLoS ONE.
“I think it’s significant,” said Mark Ware, an analyst at research and advisory firm Outsell Inc. “But authors are a pretty conservative bunch, and whether or not they will want to play by these new rules remains to be seen.”
Ware noted that the pricing strategy for PeerJ has a compelling “viral” element. Papers are invariably authored by teams of scientists — and they would all need to be paying members of PeerJ to be published there.
The founders of the new journal are credible, Ware says. “You’ve got a combination of three people who are all serious players… Are these investible people? I would say yes.”
Direct to PeerJ Web Site