Monday, May 30, 2016

So What Does Publishing a Scientific Paper Cost?

More accurately what is the cost of Open Access to authors.  Eli has come across an interesting effort in Particle Physics called SCOAP3,

SCOAP3 is a one-of-its-kind partnership of over three thousand libraries, key funding agencies and research centers in 44 countries and 3 intergovernmental organisations. Working with leading publishers, SCOAP3 has converted key journals in the field of High-Energy Physics to Open Access at no cost for authors. SCOAP3 centrally pays publishers for costs involved in providing Open Access, publishers in turn reduce subscription fees to all their customers, who can re-direct these funds to contribute to SCOAP3. Each country contributes in a way commensurate to its scientific output in the field. In addition, existing Open Access journals are also centrally supported, removing any existing financial barrier for authors. 
where the average cost per paper is given as 1,100 Euro over 10K papers.  The distribution of costs among the participating countries IEHO would be a model for other fields, but, of course, all depends on continued funding.  Even just HEP/Particle Physics subvention of open access requires $10M per year

arXiv is using a different model which represents the only the costs of operating and maintaining the arXiv,
What are arXiv's operating costs? 

arXiv's operating costs for 2013-2017 are projected to average of $826,000 per year, including indirect expenses. The operating budget projections for 2012-2017 include the four key sources of revenues mentioned above: Cornell's annual funding of $75,000 per year, plus indirect expenses,; the $50,000 per year gift from the Simons Foundation; annual fee income from the member institutions; and the $300,000 per year challenge grant from the Simons Foundation, based on the revenues generated through membership payments.
To and extent SCOAP3 and arXiv overlap because arXiv originated in the HEP/Particle Physics community which is still a heavy user.
arXiv would potentially be a beneficiary of redirected funding administered by the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) consortium. It's not clear, however, when this initiative will meet its annual funding goal of €10,000,000 ($14,120,000). It should also be noted that the SCOAP3 initiative is restricted to HEP and particle physics content only, which represents between 18% and 40% of submissions to arXiv (depending how broadly the subject area is construed). If SCOAP3 is successful it could potentially subvent a similar fraction of arXiv's operating costs. We will continue to monitor the development of SCOAP3 and its impact on our long-term plans.
It is well to remember that arXiv almost died in 1999 when the US DOE and LANL lost interest.  How long Cornell will remain willing to house the arXiv is a concerning issue.


andthentheresphysics said...

I hadn't appreciated that the ArXiV running costs were quite that high. On the other hand, I've just checked and it looks like they're handling about 100000 papers per years, so less than $10 per paper. Given the position it is in now, you would think that it would be a resource that would be supported if it's current funding stream were to dry up.

Gavin Cawley said...

Another publishing model worth looking at is that used by JMLR ( which is free for both author and reader, but has full peer-reviewing and a production editor. It isn't immediately clear to me why there is any other model (at least in subject areas where the authors can be expected to be able to used LaTeX competently).

EliRabett said...

Gavin, who pays? Electrons have a cost and a lifetime

Gavin Cawley said...

Donations, plus some funds from MIT IIRC. Some more info here (will have to go and read it now)

Apparently the largest cost was the fees of the tax accountant.

"Adding it all up, a reasonable imputed estimate for JMLR’s total direct costs other than the volunteered labor (that is, tax accountant, web hosting, domain names, clerical work, etc.) is less than $10,000, covering the almost 1,000 articles the journal has published since its founding — about $10 per article."

The paper version is done as a print on demand operation, and web hosting is not that expensive. The real costs of publishing the journal lie in the time and effort of the volunteer editors and peer-reviewers (much like a commercial journal? ;o)

EliRabett said...

Basically you lose the archival function of a library and if you cost out the volunteer labor . . .

Gavin Cawley said...

No, the archival function isn't lost, you can still get paper copies of the journal just like any other. There is also nothing to stop authors from archiving their papers elsewhere and they also seem to get "cached" by places like citeseer and ACM digital library. The commercial journals generally don't pay the editors or reviewers either, so there is little difference in the volunteer labour costs either, the main difference is the work of the production editor (but note that JMLR does little copy-editing). I should also point out that JMLR is one of the top journals in the field.