Public Release: 

BioMed Central to consider charging authors for paper submissions

BioMed Central

BioMed Central http://www.biomedcentral.com, the online publishing company committed to providing free access to the scientific research it publishes, is considering levying author charges for published articles as a means of covering publication costs.

The company is currently assessing the possibility of charging a moderate fee of about $500 for publication. Authors would only be charged at the time of publication and would not be charged for rejected papers. These fees would also be waived selectively for authors who have difficulties with funding or are from regions with limited research budgets.

Whilst BioMed Central would be pioneering author charges of this type, a number of journal publishers already levy page charges and there are a multitude of hidden publication costs - i.e: fees for colour plates and diagrams. These are often much more then $500.

By paying a moderate charge to cover the cost of publication, which in turn will fund open access, scientists will be contributing to a system that is revolutionizing the way in which research is shared. Open access will allow for the wide and immediate dissemination of research findings and will minimize the amount of funding needed to cover journal subscription fees, thereby reducing the cost to the academic community as a whole.

The scientific research community in the form of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Advocacy Group (http://www.publiclibraryofscience.org/), which is challenging publishers to offer open access to their research, considers author charges as a viable way of covering publication costs.

Mike Eisen, Assistant Adjunct Professor of Genetics and Development at Berkeley and supporter of PLoS, commented:

'Author charges that completely cover the costs of reviewing, editing and publishing scientific manuscripts and result in immediate and complete free access are an excellent way for scientists and granting agencies to maximize the impact of the research they have conducted and funded.'

In addition, academic funding bodies have said they are not adverse for grant funding to be allocated to author publication charges. As Bahram Beckradnia, Head of Policy of the UK Higher Education Funding Council for Education (HEFCE) said:

'HEFCE provides a block grant to institutions, and it is for them to decide how it is spent. The payment of publication fees would be a legitimate use of the grant'.

BioMed Central does not envisage levying author charges until 2002 and until this time is holding a debate on this issue where it will listen to feedback from the community.

To either read or contribute to this debate go to: http://www.biomedcentral.com/editorial/charges.asp.

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BioMed Central is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate free access to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science. In addition to open-access original research, BioMed Central also publishes reviews and other subscription-based content.

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