As per my previous email, PLoS is a not-for-profit organisation.
Journals (even not for profit ones) cannot run on a shoestring in some
fields, particularly life sciences. Journals like PLoS Medicine
receive hundreds, if not thousands, of submissions per year and employ
editorial staff, copy editors and design staff all of whom require a
fair wage, in addition to hosting fees. This is what they charge for
as only accepted work has to pay, you do not pay just for submission.
Journals such as these also have to balance the risk of attracting
lots of poor quality papers that do not get past the peer review
process - papers like these still incur the cost of assessment.
Open access journals in smaller fields, for example geography, attract
far fewer submissions and thus can be run on the goodwill of an editor
and editorial board (and, by extension, their employers). A question
remains: what is the discipline specific economy of scale required to
run a successful journal other than on 'goodwill'? What disciplines
would meet this criteria?
Interestingly, there was some debate over whether even large nfp
journals like PLoS would survive as, at first, journals published
under this umbrella did not generate enough paying submissions to
cover production costs. Academics themselves have a responsibility to
support such journals when they are set up if they want them to survive.
Quoting Jon Mendel <[log in to unmask]>:
> Simon P J Batterbury wrote:
>> 5) A further issue is author costs. 'Open' journals are
>> increasingly charging authors, since they have no subscribers. J of
>> Maps charges 50 quid per article, and Environmental Research
>> letters charges US$1900 unless you can claim an exception. One in
>> my field, Ecology & Society http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/ ,
>> charges "US$750 for the first 5000 words and US$100 for every
>> 1000 words thereafter", which means I won't be submitting anything
>> there at the moment!
> This also raises issues about how to respond to/critique an article in
> a journal, and the possibilities for debate to take place within a
> journal's (virtual) pages. Anecdotally, I know of at least one
> instance where researchers were put off from submitting a response to a
> journal article (in another discipline, with higher author costs)
> because it would have been extremely expensive to do so.