[Taxacom] Paywall our taxonomic tidbit

Daniel Mietchen daniel.mietchen at googlemail.com
Sun Jan 17 20:47:40 CST 2016

It may be worth considering here that in the current system, billions
of dollars are going to the publishing industry every year already
(globally, and across all disciplines), and have been doing so for
many years.

>From http://doi.org/10.1038/495426a : "Data from the consulting firm
Outsell in Burlingame, California, suggest that the science-publishing
industry generated $9.4 billion in revenue in 2011 and published
around 1.8 million English-language articles — an average revenue per
article of roughly $5,000. Analysts estimate profit margins at 20–30%
for the industry, so the average cost to the publisher of producing an
article is likely to be around $3,500–4,000."

Most of this is through subscriptions (by libraries, corporations or
individuals), some of it through advertising, some from other sources
(e.g. database access, membership schemes). Most of this is invisible
to most researchers, the exceptions being things like page charges or
color figure charges in traditional venues or OA fees more recently.

Now consider a thought experiment: If every single one of the ca. 2
million articles we publish every year would be published for an OA
fee in the PLOS ONE range (ca. USD 1,500), that would cost USD 3
billion altogether, which is roughly the amount of *profit* the
publishing industry is making now.

While many traditional publishers (and especially their hybrid
journals) hover well above those 1,500 dollars, many newer ones have
OA fees well below that, often due to more efficient workflows. So if
OA at the efficiency of PLOS ONE or better were to replace the
traditional publishing model, this would mean significant savings
(billions per year eventually) for the scientific community - and thus
the public - which we could use to build an infrastructure that would
make scholarly communication more efficient, to include things beyond
PDF and discovery mechanisms beyond citations and journal TOC alerts.

Besides, the educational value of a paywall to lay readers interested
in taxonomy rarely tops that of a relevant OA paper.


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