Confirming the Wellcome Trust’s predictions about open access article processing fees

In 2004, The Wellcome Trust published the report,

Costs and business models in scientific research publishing. After reviewing the literature on costs of scholarly publishing and discussions with senior staff at a range of publishers (including commercial publishers), the Wellcome Trust concluded:

A conservative estimate of the charge per articlenecessary for author-pays journals lies in the range $500–$2500, depending onthe level of selectivity used by the journal, plus a contribution to overheadsand profits (p. 2).

Today’s actual article processing fees (APF) of successful, established fully open access publishers supports this prediction of The Wellcome Trust. The profitable Hindawi charges fees closer to the low end of the range; for example, the APF for  Hindawi’s Economics Research International is $400. BioMedCentral’s average APF is $1,640, in the middle of the range. PLoS fees range from $1,300 for PLoS ONE to $2,900 for PLoS Biology. This is just over the top of the Wellcome Trust range – but then seven years has intervened between the publication of the report and now. 


BioMedCentral (2011). Frequentlyasked questions about BioMedCentral’s article-
processing charges. Retrieved November 22, 2011 from

Hindawi (2011). Article processingcharges. Retrieved November 22, 2011 from
Public Library of Science (2011). Publicationfees. Retrieved November 22, 2011 from
Wellcome Trust. (2004). Costs andbusiness models in scientific research publishing.
This post is part of an early (not yet posted) draft of the economics chapter of my open thesis.

New Issues of Brain and Behavior and Ecology and Evolution

Issue 2 of Brain and Behavior and Issue 3 of Ecology and Evolution are now proudly published on the Wiley Online Library. We are continuing to receive rigorous scientific work accompanied by beautiful photographs and figures. A photograph of the montane Atlantic Forest by Vieira and colleagues graces the Ecology and Evolution cover while Brain and Behavior’s cover frames a section of Figure 1 of “The cell adhesion molecule L1 regulates the expression of choline acetyltransferase and the development of septal cholinergic neurons” by Cui and colleagues.

The current issue of Brain and Behavior includes two papers on Alzheimer’s disease: one discussing the telmisartan short-term effects on glucose metabolism in the olfactory tract, one discussing the residual vectors for Alzheimer disease diagnosis and prognostication. The latter is by Career Development Award winner and MD, David Clark of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and provides an excellent example to young scientists for high quality work. Other papers in the issue examine age-related decline in volumes of the hippocampus and amygdala in mix-handed people, and the genetics of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. We are glad continue to receive such a wide range of topics for our broad scope journal.

Ecology and Evolution’s newest issue includes a number of genetic studies; papers include a study of the genetic structuring in the Atlantic Salmon in northwest Ireland, a study of the genetic diversity in domesticated metapopulations of taurine cattle breeds, and an examination of the genotypic and phenotypic differentiation between invasive and native Rhododendron taxa. Ardalan and colleagues’ study of mtDNA among Southwestern Asian dogs will interest all dog owners as the data suggests a dog-wolf hybridization, contradicting the previously-held notion that wolves were independently domesticated. Other studies in the issue include “Know when to run, know when to hide: can behavioral differences explain the divergent invasion success of two sympatric lizards?” by Chapple and colleagues, Tipton and colleagues’ paper about the postglacial recolonization of eastern Blacknose Dace, and papers about nocturnal water loss in mature subalpine tall open forests and the phylogeography of the Mekong mud snake.

We look forward to publishing the next issues of Brain and Behavior and Ecology and Evolution and on the horizon, the very first issue of MicrobiologyOpen! We are currently accepting submissions and will publish our first accepted papers in the near future.

Worth a Thousand Words: Ancient soybeans from Japan

This image comes from the paper Archaeological Soybean (Glycine max) in East Asia: Does Size Matter?—which also includes a few other interesting photos of fossilized soybeans. The authors explain that their paper “critically reviews archaeological soybean size and its usefulness to understanding the relationship between people and soybean in East Asia.”

In addition to being interesting in and of itself, I think this paper demonstrates PLoS ONE’s breadth of scope. As the authors mention, tracking the domestication of what has come to be one of the world’s most important crops is an interdisciplinary endeavor, requiring input from physical and cultural anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, and taxonimists, among others. At PLoS ONE, they can all publish under one roof.

From the Abstract:

The recently acquired archaeological record for soybean from Japan, China and Korea is shedding light on the context in which this important economic plant became associated with people and was domesticated. This paper examines archaeological (charred) soybean seed size variation to determine what insight can be gained from a comprehensive comparison of 949 specimens from 22 sites. Seed length alone appears to represent seed size change through time, although the length×width×thickness product has the potential to provide better size change resolution. A widespread early association of small seeded soybean is as old as 9000–8600 cal BP in northern China and 7000 cal BP in Japan. Direct AMS radiocarbon dates on charred soybean seeds indicate selection resulted in large seed sizes in Japan by 5000 cal BP (Middle Jomon) and in Korea by 3000 cal BP (Early Mumun). Soybean seeds recovered in China from the Shang through Han periods are similar in length to the large Korean and Japanese specimens, but the overall size of the large Middle and Late Jomon, Early Mumun through Three Kingdom seeds is significantly larger than any of the Chinese specimens. The archaeological record appears to disconfirm the hypothesis of a single domestication of soybean and supports the view informed by recent phyologenetic research that soybean was domesticated in several locations in East Asia.

Citation: Lee G-A, Crawford GW, Liu L, Sasaki Y, Chen X (2011) Archaeological Soybean (Glycine max) in East Asia: Does Size Matter? PLoS ONE 6(11): e26720. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026720

WikiWeakPoints: Notability vs. Noteworthiness, Anonymity vs. Answerability

Re: “Why are pornstars more notable than scientists on Wikipedia?” and “Wikipedian in Residence

Just a small sample of the patently obvious and persistent fallacies in the notion that anonymous global cloud-writing can produce reliable information on anything that’s more than skin-deep (I could go on and on and on):

(1) A neutral point of view on what is true?

(2) Expertise is no excuse?

(3) Expertise is elitism?

(4) Expertise is bias?

(5) Write on what you don’t know?

(6) The longer your track-record of being a dilettante busybody, the more decision power you merit?

(7) Zipf’s Law trumps the Matthew Effect?

(8) Notability, not noteworthiness, rules?

(9) Anonymous gallup polls, not personal answerability, keep people honest and on their toes?

(10) Crowd-sourcing protects against regression on the mean?

(11) Porifera is on a par with porn?

The surprise is not when Wikipedia gets things wrong, but when it gets them right.

(And the only virtue of notability is that it reduces the motivation of most wikipedia busybodies to bother with esoteric scientific and scholarly topics. Trouble is that it just takes one officious dilettante with a long wack-record to cast a contagious shadow of doubt over stuff he doesn’t know, understand or care about.)

My guess is that the only reason any qualified experts even bother to have a go at writing in Wikipedia is Wikipedia’s PageRank notoriety, which influences students and public opinion as their first (and often only) port of call.

The only hope is that Open Access to the primary scientific and scholarly literature will remedy that, leaving Wikipedia to rule where it really is the expert: Trivial Pursuit.

Stevan Harnad

One fish, two fish, old fish, new fish

A search of PLoS ONE publications for the term “fisheries” shows over 700 published on the topic, many measuring or modeling their ecological effects, and today we add another to the collection. But this new addition, published earlier this week, has an interesting twist – it uses archaeological evidence to show fishery establishment in the Baltic by the 15th century.

The researchers analyzed bones of the eastern Baltic cod from medieval sites around the Baltic. The large international team, which included researchers from institutions in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Poland, and Estonia, used the elemental content of the bones to determine where the fish had originally come from. They found that fish from the 13th and 14th centuries had largely been imported to the area, likely from Norway. Then, in the 15th century, and perhaps as early as the late 14th century, the fish appear to have a local origin, indicating that a Baltic fishery had been established, at least 100 years before it was documented in the written record.

There is evidence of other fisheries that were established earlier – for example, the cod imported from Norway came from fisheries developed by the 11th or 12th centuries – but this new report provides an interesting historical and ecological perspective on an issue that is obviously still a major subject of research. Fisheries may go back hundreds of years, but it’s clear that we need to carefully weigh our options to determine what their future should look like.

RoMEO and Special Exceptions

If you go to our Statistics page, you will notice a phrase like ‘RoMEO has 27 additional policies for special exceptions.’

So I thought I would explain what these special exceptions are.

Publishers may have a main policy on self-archiving, but some of their titles may follow another policy, this make them special exceptions. Previously, we have indicated these in the conditions section for each Publisher, as best we can.

Now…now we can enter them as their own policies, while still indicating the relationship to the parent publisher, and best of all, mapped to the correct titles.

You can still view the default title if you wish, and will see if there are Special Exceptions for that Publisher, listed in RoMEO, such as MIT Press.

As the quote above states, we have only processed 27 of these special exceptions so far, but we will be working on the rest that we have identified over the next few months.

We hope you’ll find this useful, and that it will make it easier for you to determine the correct policy for the titles you are searching for.

Jane, Azhar and Peter

Food and Energy Security, new Wiley Open Access Journal is launched

Wiley-Blackwell in association with The Association of Applied Biologists (AAB) have announced the launch of the new Wiley Open Access journal, Food and Energy Security.   Food and Energy Security will seek to publish high impact original research on agricultural crop and forest productivity  to improve food and energy security.  It will publish high quality articles from all over the world and will be actively seeking submissions from emerging countries with expanding agricultural research communities. Papers from China, other parts of Asia, India and South America will be particularly welcome. The Editorial Board headed by Editor-in-Chief, Professor Martin Parry, is determined to make the journal the leading publication in its sector and will be aiming for a top-ranking impact factor from the outset.

The journal is open to submissions now and aims to publish its first content online in January 2012. Take a look at the full press release. Please visit and bookmark the journal’s website