Archive for Scholastica

The Cost of the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , on February 1, 2019 by telescoper

Our recent publication of a paper in the Open Journal of Astrophysics caused a flurry of interest in social media and a number of people have independently asked me for information about the cost of this kind of publication.

I see no reason not to be fully `open’ about the running costs of the Open Journal, but it’s not quite as simple as a cost per paper.

The Scholastica platform we use (which is very nice, simple and easy to use) costs $99 per month. That includes professional website hosting with a custom domain, a built-in website editor (so the site itself can be easily customized), integrated PDF viewer, indexing through e.g. Google scholar, fully searchable metadata, and readership analytics. That amounts to $1188 per annum, regardless of how many submissions we receive or how many articles get published.

On top of that we pay for the Peer Review service, which amounts to $10 for each submission (subject to an annual minimum of $250). We pay that whether or not a submission is published. So far we have rejected significantly more than we have accepted. This system provides automated emails, deadline reminders, an interface for searching sorting and assigning submissions to editors, file versioning & blindness control, a reviewer database, metrics to track performance, etc.

The final charge is only for papers that are accepted: we pay a fee to Crossref to register the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). That costs a princely $1.

There are no* other charges, as editors and referees give their services for free. Since all papers are typset by authors we do not use the Scholastica typesetting service (which is $5 per 500 words). If you’re thinking of setting up a non-overlay journal you might want to pay for that.

The actual cost per paper therefore depends on how many papers we publish. If we had 25 papers submitted in a year and published 10 the net cost per published paper would be ($250+$1188+$10)/10= $144.80, but that reduces as the number of published papers increases. For 50 submissions with 20 published it would be ($500+$1188+$20)/20=$85.40, and so on.

Some publishers argue that Open Access publication justifies an Article Processing Charge of several thousands of dollars. I think I’ve demonstrated that it doesn’t. Any charge over a hundred dollars or so is pure profiteering, bearing in mind the huge economies of scale inherent in large organizations.

In reality we have a combination of sources of funding that will be able to pay the annual fee for the foreseeable future. Ignoring this element, the marginal cost per published paper is just $11…

I hope this clarifies the situation.

*As has been pointed out in the comments, there is of course the cost of running the arXiv. The current funding model for that involves a membership program according to which institutes pay a fee depending on how heavily they use the arXiv. The top fee is $4400 per annum, for an entire institution. Some OA journals charge that much as an APC for a single paper!


The Open Journal is Open for Submissions Again!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on October 8, 2018 by telescoper

I have now finished moving the Open Journal of Astrophysics onto the new Scholastica platform, and it is now open again for submissions! It has taken a lot longer to get to this point than I thought it would when I first proposed the Open Journal of Astrophysics way back in 2012 but better late than never!

Full instructions for authors can be found here. It is there that you will find the `submit’ button shown above, which will take you to a form through which you can upload your paper. All you need to do is upload a few details and the arXiv ID of your paper and we’ll take it from there.

The membership of the Editorial Board is listed here.

The papers published so far can be found here.

Oh, and there’s a blog that will include topical posts about matters astrophysical here.

In a nutshell, any paper that’s suitable for the astro-ph section of the arXiv can be submitted to the Open Journal of Astrophysics. We will consider any `traditional’ papers as well as others which may find it difficult to publish in other journals, such as papers on astrophysics education and outreach, or technical papers relating to instrumentation, mission proposals, and other documents.

Well, that’s about it. I just remains for me to thank all the people without whom this project would never have got off the ground, chiefly Chris Lintott, Arfon Smith and Adam Becker, developers Stuart Lynn and Marc Rohloff, Fiona Morley and the team at Maynooth University Library, and of course the good folk of the wonderful arXiv!

The Open Journal of Astrophysics Blog

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , on October 5, 2018 by telescoper

Since I’ve recently been boring all my readers with a stream of stuff about the Open Journal of Astrophysics, I thought I might as well continue by pointing out that this journal also has a blog feature, on which we will include commentaries on some of the papers published and on wider issues in astrophysics. To illustrate this feature I’ve written a short post about the background to the Open Journal project, which you can find here. The text is as below.

I first proposed this idea several years ago and it has taken a while to make it happen, but here we are at last.

Astrophysics has taken the lead for many years in opening up access to scientific publications – all publications of any merit are available for free on the internet via the arXiv and, in my opinion, the traditional journals are already more-or-less redundant even without considering their “astronomical” cost. The one thing that seems a consistent objection to dispensing with journals altogether is the element of peer review.

My suggestion was that we set up a quick-and-easy system to circumvent the traditional (ruinously expensive) publishing route. The basic idea is that authors who submit papers to the arXiv can have their papers refereed by the community, outside the usual system of traditional journals. I was intially thinking of a website on which authors would simply have to post their arXiv ID and a request for peer review. Once accepted, the author would be allowed to mark the arXiv posting as “refereed” and an electronic version would be made available for free on the website. What we have now is a little more involved than that, but the basic idea remains the same.

Whether or not this idea is a success really depends partly on the willingness of the community to submit high-quality papers here, and partly on the performance of those of us involved on the Editorial Board at providing the community with what I hope will prove to be an effective resource.