[Taxacom] OSTP request for information on Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From US Federally Funded Research

Nick Grishin grishin at chop.swmed.edu
Sun Mar 1 15:15:29 CST 2020

My 2C:

1. Publishing system as we know it today is journal-based and geared 
towards printing, where publishing companies played the major role and 
made major profits by charging Universities for subscription fees, which 
were paid from "overheads" on grants, many of which were indeed 
taxpayers' money. Good for publishers, bad for taxpayers (unless they 
were affilialted with these universities or working for publishing 

2. O[pen]A[cess] didn't make it better. If anything, it probably made it 
worse. Now, while Universities are still paying same subscriptions fees 
(from overhead), researchers are charged for OA from their grants. Some 
journals charge $5000 for a 6-page paper in electronic-only OA. Publishers 
are still making major profits, and taxpayers now effectively pay more for 
publishing (overhead for subscriptions + research-grant money for OA), 
while less of that money is available for actual research.

3. Escalation of journal-based OA is likely to result in more money spent 
on publishing, more profits for publishers, and further diversion of 
taxpayers money towards publishing and away from research.

A possible solution:

Today, publishing a paper is more similar to depositing a DNA sequence in 
GenBank than to printing a book. Publishers and journals are not needed 
for this process. Then why not abandon them altogether? For the purpose of 
dissemination of research results formatted as traditional papers, 
depositing these papers + collateral (reviews, editorial decisions, etc) 
in some database, like PubMed, would do the job. Free for everyone to 
publish, free for everyone to use. Kind of like bioRxiv on steroids.

Surely, someone has to pay to maintain this depository and take care of 
administering it. I would argue that the cost would be a (tiny!) fraction 
of what is spent on publishing today (just because there would be no need 
to strive for profits), and that cost can be paid by the same taxpayers 
who pay for research, and may end up to be about $10-$20 per page of a 
paper, if not less (instead of ~$500 per page charged routinely by OA 
today). As a result, money not waisted on publishing could be re-invested 
in research.

Is it easy to achieve? I bet not. n

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