Joerg Heber, a senior editor at Nature Materials, announces that access to all Editorials in the journal is now free to registered users of nature.com. This follows a similar decision taken at Nature some years ago, and more recently, by Nature Cell Biology. The August Editorial of Nature Materials (8, 611; 2009) discusses publishing models more broadly: “As moves towards open-access schemes gain momentum, the choice between ‘author pays’ and subscription-based models may come down to fundamental business considerations rather than limits in access to original research.” In ‘open access’ publishing, authors pay for publication costs, and online access and dissemination of those papers is free for readers. The Editorial goes on to describe the publication model of the Nature journals, which is (in the main) subscription-based (in which the reader or institution pays for access), and which also offer various open-access services to authors, who retain copyright of their articles….“at every stage of manuscript handling we provide an expensive, high-quality service. This not only involves the professional subediting and production of accepted papers, but also an exhaustive prescreening of submitted manuscripts. At Nature Materials, we prescreen well above 80% of submitted manuscripts without peer review. This means that, at a cost, we rely much less on the ‘free’ peer-reviewing services of scientists than journals with lower screening rates. As open access certainly should not be considered as a way to lower publication standards, the overall expenses related to the dissemination of scientific results should be considered so that the costs remain the same. This means that research-intensive institutions in particular (or those paying for their research grants) may well end up paying proportionally more under author-pays models than they would under subscription-based models. Researchers from less research-intensive institutions on the other hand would benefit.”
Comments on the Editorial are welcome at the Nature Publishing Group news forum at Nature Network.