PeerJ

I didn’t have a clever title. “PeerJ: a new kid on the block” was already taken by Bora Zivkovic.  ”PeerJ: Publish there or suffer” is aggressively counterproductive. “PeerJ is awesome”. Meh.

So: PeerJ. A new open access scientific journal.

PeerJ is the brainchild of Peter Binfield who was the managing editor of PLoS-one, and  Jason Hoyt who was the Chief Scientist and VP of R&D of Mendeley. I hope that this will be a working solution to the main problem that I, and many others, have identified with Open Access publishing: the financial burden to the researcher. With typical costs of $2000-$4000 per paper, the OA model still turns many people away: why should I publish OA when you can get a couple of laptops instead? Even if I do have the money (which many don’t).

Things will change Monday, December 3, when PeerJ will start accepting publications. And  I believe that they will change for the better:

Journal subscription fees made sense in a pre-Internet world, but now they just slow the progress of science. It’s time to change that. PeerJ has established a new model for open access publishing: instead of charging you each time you publish, we ask for a single one off payment, giving you the lifetime right to publish articles with us, and to make those articles freely available. Lifetime plans start at just $99

That’s right. You can publish one paper per year in PeerJ for a one-time fee of $99! You can also go higher, with two publications/year at $199 (again, that’s a one-time fee) and an unlimited plan for $299. That’s a pretty sweet deal. Note that every author on the paper  must have a membership plan in order to publish, Also, you can pay after acceptance, but that carries a premium. So if you are on the 1 paper/year plan, but you only pay after your paper is accepted you pay $30 more.

I like this proposed system, for several reasons: first, it’s cheaper. Although a  typical paper, 2 labs, 4 people each will still pay the same amount for their first paper as for a regular OA paper, everyone benefits for a lifetime.

Also, PeerJ indirectly monetizes peer-review: you need to review papers to maintain your plan. Everybody is talking about how peer-review is laborious and not being rewarded, but PeerJ actually  gives reviewing a tangible value.

How can they do it for such a low price? Well, from the FAQ:

Don’t forget that papers typically have more than one author, authors tend to publish in more than one venue over time, and some will publish fewer papers than others. In addition, our cost structure is lower than more traditional publishing companies (which might have legacy systems to deal with, or be aiming to make an excessive profit). When you combine those facts, the finances do work out.

Just how much of a change will be effected by PeerJ, only time will tell. And it takes quite a bit of time to change publication culture and sensibilities. PLoS-1 received the wide recognition of its value when its first impact factor was a surprising 4.01, higher than was expected for a journal that eschews perceived importance, and judges submissions only by their scientific rigor.  As a colleague told me once: “when I want something out there quickly, without sacrificing my good name, that’s where I submit”.  PeerJ will enable you to do that, and not sacrifice your  research budget.

What about quality? Well, I looked into the editor list in Bioinformatics, and there are some leading names there including Charlotte Deane, Mikhail Gelfand, Kentai Nakai, Alfonso Valencia, Cristophe Dessimoz, Folker Meyer and others. I don’t imagine quality being compromised, which is unfortunately a growing concern in the Open Access field.

Another good thing: the PeerJ enterprise is backed by O’Reilly media, and Tim O’Reilly is on the board. O’Reilly (the man and the publication group) has supported openness of information, especially software, for a very long time. So it’s nice to see this particular publisher backing PeerJ.

Some time ago I wrote that the Open Access will become popular when it is convenient to use:

…it is convenience, rather than ideology, that will determine the adoption of Open Access. How much does it cost? Is it in a “good” journal?

I think that with PeerJ, this “revolution of convenience”  has just happened.

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One Response to “PeerJ”

  1. [...] to Iddo Friedberg, whose blog post on PeerJ alerted me to its existence. Share:PrintEmailGoogle [...]