It seems unfair that the public must pay to see the results of tax-funded research, published n journals. Jerry “Why evolution is true” Coyne writes,
It has always galled me that although the taxpayers (whose hard-earned dollars are distributed to scientists largely through the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health) fund our work, scientific journals can nevertheless make taxpayers cough up large sums to view the results of that research. That’s unconscionable by anyone’s lights.
However, one scientist who works at a small university writes to point out another aspect, not always realized: Open access journals transfer the financial burden from the readers, who no longer pay, to the authors. The burden of the extra expense is much heavier for a small institution than a large one, if it supports academic publishing.
Our correspondent notes that page charges for journals to which his work is relevant are now typically $1000.00 to $2000.00. His publication is stalled at present on that account.
Jerry Coyne, by contrast, is at the University of Chicago, which could probably just buy the journal and present it to him as a toy.
One low-administration solution is for alumni of small institutions to target giving to pay for page charges, to help even the odds that their scientists’ work will see print.
Incidentally, the Biologic Institute’s ID-friendly journal, BIO-Complexity, has author-friendly policies:
Authors of *Research Articles* and *Critical Reviews* (except those solicited by the journal) will be asked, upon manuscript acceptance, to pay an Article Publication Fee of 500 USD/400 EUR, which covers the cost of processing a typical manuscript.
On consultation with authors, *BIO-Complexity* will reduce or waive the Article Publication Fee if insufficient funds are available to pay it. To prevent funding constraints from having any influence on how a manuscript is handled, authors are not asked about their ability to pay until after their manuscript has been accepted for publication.”
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