BioMed Central, which publishes over 170 peer-reviewed journals in biology, medicine and chemistry, has been a pioneer of the open access publishing model for academic research. Under the open access model, published articles are made universally available online with the cost being covered not by subscriptions but by article processing charges, payable on publication. Open access publishing has proven very popular with authors, and has grown dramatically since BioMed Central's launch in 2000. In order for that growth to continue, however, it is vital that sufficient funds are available to cover the cost of open access publication in a sustainable way.
There has been much discussion within the academic community about how best to pay the costs of open access publication, given that library budgets are already stretched. The Wellcome Trust examined this issue, and concluded that open access publication costs are best seen as part of the cost of doing research. Research institutions and funders recognize that research involves not only direct costs, but also indirect costs (for necessary infrastructure such as buildings/ laboratories/ maintenance/ library services etc.). We feel that it is very important that open access publishing costs should be recognized as such an infrastructure cost and budgeted for appropriately.
We would like to encourage all research institutions around the world to define an open access publishing budget for their institution, just as they currently have a library budget. A central 'open access publishing fund' could receive contributions from each of the funding organization that supports research at the institution. For example the National Institutes of Health and California Institute for Regulative Medicine both have open access policies, which enable researchers to apply for publication costs funding. For further information on all the funding agencies who have policies, please visit our website.
Having such a central fund for authors at your institution would reduce the barriers for those authors wishing to publish in an open access journal, and would thus deliver a more level playing field for open access journals to compete with traditional journals, which already receive extensive institutional support through library subscriptions.
If you would like help or ideas on how to set up a central fund or would like to discuss this further, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We shall also be holding an open access consultation at the forthcoming Medical Library Association conference, on Monday, May 21st, 2007 from 7.00 - 9.00am, where we shall be discussing the issues of payment for open access publications, please do let us know if you would like to attend the event.