One of the largest non-profit and open access publishers of academic research, PLOS, is a pioneer in open access publishing and the creator of the online open access mega-journal PLOS ONE. Thanks to the efforts of PLOS, today’s researchers are familiar with the process of publishing via open access journals and have had the opportunity to read countless manuscripts that have been peer reviewed and published.
In no small part due to the efforts of PLOS and major funding agencies, open access has become entrenched in the research community. However, despite the successes that have been achieved in the push to increase open access, some problems have been identified. One such problem is the up-front cost paid by the authors of manuscripts accepted for publication in open access journals. In an effort to address the potential financial burden of open access publishing on researchers, PLOS is trialing a new pricing model for some of its open access journals.
As part of its Community Action Publishing program, PLOS is attempting to distribute the cost of publishing more equitably among all institutions that are represented by the authors listed on the title page. Furthermore, PLOS is asking individual institutions to agree to paying a yearly fee for unlimited publications in PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine. It is hoped that by recruiting a large number of institutions to pay a yearly fee, PLOS will be able to offer this program at a lower cost for all.
While we can only wait to see the long-term effects of these initiatives, reducing the cost of publishing should be seen as positive for researchers. If this program proves popular, it will also be financially beneficial for PLOS’s journals as ensuring a stable income will make the journals more resilient to potential fluctuations in revenue collected from individual authors.
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