Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The new open access (NOA) for journal publishing industry (version 1.0)

The new open access (NOA) publishing protocol is governed by a set of rules which will be listed below.

Before listing the governing rules of the NOA, I first want to provide a list of principle that these governing rules try to hold. It is possible that the governing rules be changed over time to achieve a better implementation of the principle.
There are two main principle for NOA:
  1. Cutting as much as possible of materialized and material-related expenditures and also cutting as much as possible of costs associated with a journal operation and publishing.
  2. Reducing the conflict of interest between the journal operators and the authors of published articles by imposing the journal expenditures and costs on the submitted articles, not accepted articles.
  3. Creating some sort of virtual constrains on the journals in order to preserve the QoP (Quality of Publication) by introducing virtual competition between the authors and articles in a similar way as as the case of physical competition for limited page and space in the regular journals.
Also, please note that this version is for regular journals. The protocol for mega journals, along with the definition of these journals, will be presented in another post. In short, a mega journal is a collaborative ensemble of several regular journals which have similar topics in order to achieve better QoP.


The new open access (NOA) publishing protocol (governing rules) version 1.01:

1. A publisher can enroll to the NOA publishing as a whole or partially with a few of its journals.

2. Expenditures:
The expenditures of a journal operation includes: administration, physical publishing, editing, and IT maintenance.
2.1 The physical publishing part is eliminated in the NOA. The one printed issue per year option (see rule 4) expenditures can easily waived in the other expenditures of a successful publisher.
2.2 The expenditures are covered mainly by the submission fees.
2.3 Each submitted article should pay a submission fee.
2.4 The submission fees is calculated for all the authors of an article, and the highest fee should be paid by the authors. In other words, if an article has two authors, two submission fees are calculated for the authors (based on the resident country of their affiliation; see 2.5), and the highest fee (after converting both to the currency of the journal publisher) will be imposed to the article. The authors can divide the payment between themselves.
It is estimated that the submission fee for a typical journal (see appendix section below) is between 300 to 500 US Dollar for an author from the USA and a journal operating in the USA. For here on, we use 350 USD as our example of submission fee.
2.5 For an author from a country other than the USA, the submission fee is adjusted based on the ratio of the IHDI of the USA to the IHDI of that country and also the ratio of GDP(PPP) per capita of that country to that of the USA:
fee_X = ((IHDI_USA / IHDI_X) ^ 2) * (GDP(PPP)_X / GDP(PPP)_USA) * fee_USA
This formula is independent from the currency used. If the publisher allows, the author could pay the submission fee in their own currency after conversion.
For example, for an author from the UK, and assuming fee_USA = 350 USD, we have:
fee_UK = ((0.7710 / 0.7910) ^ 2) * (35,974.363 / 48,147.228) * 350.00 USD = 0.9500 * 0.7472 * 350.00 USD = 0.7098 * 350.00 USD = 248.43 USD (0.64269 GBP/USD) = 159.66 GBP
in which
IHDI_USA = 0.7710
IHDI_UK = 0.7910 and
GDP(PPP)_UK = 35,974.363 International Dollars
GDP(PPP)_USA = 48,147.228 International Dollars.
Based on the currency conversion on November 30th, 2011, IHDI values of the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index of UNDP 2011 (, and Gross domestic product based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) per capita of International Money Fund (
If we repeat the same process, but this time considering an author from India, we have:
fee_India = ((0.7710 / 0.3920) ^ 2) * (3,703.453 / 48,147.228) * 350.00 USD = 3.8684 * 0.07691 * 350.00 USD = 0.2975 * 350.00 USD = 104.125 USD (52.1707 INR/USD) = 5432.27 INR
in which
IHDI_USA = 0.7710
IHDI_India = 0.3920 and
GDP(PPP)_India = 3,703.453 International Dollars
GDP(PPP)_USA = 48,147.228 International Dollars.
The journal manager can adjust the fee_USA based on the distribution of the journal authors basket among various countries in order to arrive to a balance between his expenditures and income. The fee for authors from other countries will change automatically according to provided formula.
2.6 The editors of a journal may issue tickets for those articles submitted to their journal that are not expected to have a chance to be published in that journal. These tickets are to other journals of the same publisher (or beyond in the case of mega journals) and waive the submission fee to the destination journal. This will reduce double charging of submission fee. The tickets should be issued with the approval of the author.
2.7 The calculations of items 2.4 and 2.5 are based on an assumption that the journal operates in USA. If the journal base is in another country, the fees should be adjusted accordingly. For example, if the journal operates in India, fees would be:
fee_USA =  350 USD / 6 = 58.33 USA
fee_UK = 159.66 GBP / 6 = 26.61 GBP
fee_India = 5432.27 INR / 6 = 905.38 INR

3. Online issues: The online issues of the journal should conform to the following restrictions.
3.1 The time period between two consecutive issues should not be less than 2 weeks.
3.2 In each issue, the number of articles should be limited between 8 to 20. The journal administration can furthermore tighten this limits.
3.3 The number of pages of each article should be limited between 6 and 15 pages. The journal administration can furthermore tighten this limits.
3.4 The number of pages of an article could be increased beyond the page limit of the journal subjected to a fee. However, the total number of pages of an issue cannot be bigger than 14 * 10 = 140 pages.

4. Printed issue: Each year, the journal is allowed to publish a printed issue of its already published and highly cited articles.
4.1 The articles which appear in this issue should be published electronically at least 1 year before the publication date of the printed issue.
4.2 The articles which appear in this issue should not be published in printed version before.
4.3 The printed issue conforms to the same restriction of the regular issues as discussed in rule 3.

5. It is assumed that a inter-publisher committee working under an international body, such as UNESCO, will take the responsibility of verifying conformation of the publishers enrolled to the NOA protocol.


Appendix: Estimating the submission fee.
for a journal with paper flow of 1200 submitted articles per year, the administration
expenditures are estimated to be between 150,000 USD to 200,000 USD for two employees. For an acceptance rate of 25%, the editing costs can be between 60,000 USD to 100,000 USD for 0.25 * 1200 (=300) accepted articles. And, considering another 90,000 USD to 200,000 USD for the IT maintenance, the total expenditures will be between 300,000 USD to 500,000 USD.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Barriers in front of open access publishing

Free access to the scientific results and articles over the Internet or other virtual platforms seems to be a bright future for both environment and research community. It will prevent consumption of a huge amount of paper and ink, and will reduce the administration and maintenance costs of universities and libraries across the world that in return will help in sustainability of the world which suffers from excessive greenhouse-gas emissions and climate changes. At the same time, it helps in exponential acceleration of the research which will bring ineffable comfort and opulence for human beings.

Despite several models put in action toward open access for scientific articles, this area is always considered as a taboo, and has been avoided by the majority of scientific community. We think this is because of ignoring some barriers in front of the journal publishing industry in the design of these models. We will discuss these barriers below, and will propose a new open-access model to overcome them.

The first barrier is the business model of a journal publisher. Although a publisher can limit the access to the electronic version of articles to only its subscribers, these articles can easily escape from this limited environment and spread around the world. In other words, the subscription-based business model of publishers in this industry is a barrier in front of open access, and any new model should propose a replacing business model for journal publishers. Otherwise, the paper-based publishing will be the strong point of publishers in securing subscription revenue.

The current open access models can be categorized in two groups: i) author-pays-after-acceptance models and ii) grant-based models. The first group has not gotten attention from the scientific community as it can be read as pay-to-be-published. The second group models are constrained by definition, and therefore can cover a few journals (such as the Public Library of Science), and also can be suspicioned of being unfair as a result of their limited resources. None of these models can handle the first barrier without side effects.

The second barrier is shared with many other electronic version services or objects. For example, the legal value of a printed letter or even a handwritten letter is considered higher than that of an email traditionally. In the Internet, where everybody can publish a post or web page in a matter of seconds and can put any claim or story there, the question about the quality degradation of the scientific articles in the case of switching to only-electronic and online version is a very serious and challenging question. Therefore, the new open-access model should provide a mechanism to control the publication process and increase the scientific value of the scientific research.

We propose a new open access (NOA) model, which can address these barriers and other challenges toward free and open circulation of strong scientific results across the world.

Why open access in journal publishing, and why a new open access (NOA) model

Journal publishing industry is the core of research, and brings acknowledgment and recognition for the researchers while provides a controlled but dynamic source of scientific and technological advances for all researchers around the world. Many big names, such as Elsevier, Springer, and IEEE among the others, define the main journal publishing industry.

Although in the recent years this industry archived several improvements, such as online first publishing, it seems that this industry requires a big modification in order to address a few problems. We think that our proposed new open access publishing, which will be defined in other posts can address these problems.

The first problem with the current publishing business model is its huge impact on the environment. Every year, a large amount of paper, ink and other materials are used to print high-quality issues of numerous journals around the world. At the same time, a huge amount of space, money and human resources are dedicated to manage and preserve archives of the already printed issues in the universities and libraries. On top of that, many researchers make photocopies of the interesting articles for personal use. These copies, which are usually produced in very inefficient ways, have a short lifetime, and have a big footprint on the environment and economy. All this suggest switching to online version of publishing in order to dematerialize the journal publishing industry.

The second problem, which seems more serious, is the performance of the research activities. One success parameter for any activity is achieving the critical mass. If the mass a system, for example, the research system around the world, goes higher than the critical mass of that system, its performance and production will increases exponentially. In the case of research, the critical mass is the number of researchers and labs around the world. Even in developing countries, a noticeable number of people is working as the researcher. Therefore, we can say that the world has passed its critical mass for research. However, the research production is still limited. One explanation for this contradiction is the possibility that the research system is missing some parts. In any system, interaction between individuals is the main motivation for activity. In current status of the world, it seems that the links between the researchers are not strong enough. One of the main types of links in research is journal articles. The current business model of the publishers required controlled and limited access to the articles which directly reduces the propagation of information and therefore, the bandwidth and speed of links in the research system. Again, switching to online publication with free access to all seems to be a trivial solution.

However, free access to the published journals has not been placed in action despite several open-access business models that are practiced today. We think this is because of some barriers that should be addressed by any open-access model. We will discuss the barriers in the next post, and will propose a new open-access model which can eliminate these barriers, and opens the doors for free access and fully online publishing, which not only help the environment by being green, but also accelerate and boost the research production and activity exponentially.