Friday, January 14, 2005

PLoS Pilots Expanding List of Open Access Journals, Business Models Still Open to Discussion

As noted in the Library Journal this week the Open Access publisher Public Library of Science (PLoS) is readying three new titles for its scientific journal stable: PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics, and PLoS Pathogens will debut at unspecified times this year, using the same author-fee model powering the existing medicine and biology offerings. Sites for the Genetics and Computational Biology journals are already up and accepting submissions. This adds some more comprehensive breadth to the PLoS offerings, but it it enough to tip the balance in favor of this particular flavor of Open Access? As much as there's an enormous amount of noise and open movement towards open access this year, there's still a lot of work to do on business models. The recently announced JISC financial support from the UK scientific community will certainly help to underwrite these efforts, and governmental underwriting may help to further seed author-fee publications - if publishing lobbyists don't choke off this vein of support. But there may come a day fairly soon when the cachet of ".org" begins to wear thin and organizations such as PLoS start to look for more substantial commercial models. This will probably mean less than full capitualtion to the full-fee subscription models offered by existing journal publishers, but hopefully far more than the author-fee model, which neglects the inherent value of this content. There's lots of wiggle room to exploit the value of the content and its audience and still have the high sense of independent integrity that PLoS founders are seeking.
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