Multidisciplinary Open Access journal publisher PeerJ announced the publication of its first 30 peer-reviewed articles today. Co-founders Jason Hoyt, formerly chief scientist and VP for research and development for Mendeley, and Peter Binfield, formerly publisher of the Public Library Of Science (PLOS), launched PeerJ in June 2012. They quickly garnered support for the project, ultimately assembling an Editorial Board of 800 academics and an advisory board of 20—five of whom are Nobel Laureates.
PeerJ is now hoping that its business model can help make academic publishing more efficient and less expensive for both researchers and libraries.
“It has been reported that the global academic community pays as much as $9.5B per year for access to academic journals,” Hoyt said in an announcement. “We believe that these costs could be reduced by as much as 75% using new business models such as that employed by PeerJ, and utilizing open distribution licenses such as the Creative Commons license. The result will be a net benefit to the global research effort and a welcome increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of academic publication.”
Libraries have struggled with the rising cost of academic journals and subscription databases for years. And in recent months, the researchers and professors that these libraries serve have become increasingly outspoken about the issue.
These rising costs not only impact the budgets of an institution’s libraries. In many cases, they impact research budgets as well.
For example, Dr. Jennifer Wagner, researches the ethical, legal, and social ramifications of genetic technologies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies (PennCIGHT).
Access to medical journals is available through the university’s school of medicine. But accessing specialized law research is another matter.
“I actually have to spend about $9,000 of my research budget just to access law review articles and legal resources that I need to do my work,” Wagner told LJ. In addition to the expense, Wagner noted that traditional academic publishing models simply make research more difficult for people to access.
Wagner volunteered to become an academic editor for PeerJ last year after hearing about the project on Twitter and deciding that her background as a lawyer and anthropologist with a specialty in genetic technology policy would offer a unique perspective to the open access journal.
“Editing manuscripts takes a lot of time…and I didn’t want to be doing that if it was not in line with where I see academia, in general, moving,” Wagner explained, noting that support for open access has continued to gain momentum among researchers.
Article processing charges are another key point of difference between PeerJ and traditional academic publishing models. Rather than requiring researchers to pay processing charges for every article published, PeerJ offers authors a three-tiered lifetime membership plan, with fees ranging from $99 for lifetime rights to publish one article per year in the journal, to $299 for publishing unlimited articles each year.