Hybrid vs APC fee-based vs no-fee (diamond) OA
Here are some thoughts on the issues with each model and more comments are welcome.
- Hybrid (OA). Subscription (toll access) journal with paywall for all articles except ones for which the OA fee is paid, by author or sponsor.
- fee-based OA. Publishing fee is required to publish. The fee can be paid by author or sponsor, at discount or via some kind of deal, or waived for selected authors. As long as there are any authors whose fees are not guaranteed to be waived up front, the journal is in this category.
- Diamond (no author fee) OA. Publishing is not conditioned on paying any fee. All fees are paid directly by sponsorship bodies (such as libraries, funders, etc). Preferably fees do not depend on the number of published articles, to discourage incentives to maximise the number of accepted articles.
Comments to parts of Peter Suber's post
Paying fees at hybrid journals essentially pays them to stay hybrid. If we pay them at all, then we should want our payments to work as incentives to convert to full or non-hybrid OA.
This, of course, applies to each of the other models:
- Paying publishing fees to full fee-based OA pays them to stay OA charging fees.
- Supporting Diamond OA pays them to stay Diamond OA.
Hybrid journals charge subscriptions, limiting the ability of libraries to use their funds to support OA.
- Fee-based OA journals similarly limit the ability of funders or institutions to use their funds to support Diamond OA.
Hybrid journals charge higher average APCs than full OA journals.
- This is interesting phenomenon that could have to do with the level of prestige and willingness of the funders.
- There seems to be a danger, however, that the same high prestige journals, when moving to the Fee-based full OA would charge the same or even higher APCs, as long as the funders pay, see for instance https://twitter.com/schneiderleonid/status/1053292920424546305
- Additional reason for funders to pay very high OA APC would be the added prestige for their fundees and hence for themselves as funders.
- At the same time, any quality submissions would be excluded from the fee-based journal, whenever authors have no means to pay, a new problem that does not exist for hybrid.
- A Diamond OA journal would be directly paid by libraries and/or funders, and hence would not have any of these problems.
Hybrid journals can double-dip (charge twice for the same article, once from the subscription and once from the APC), and usually do, while full-OA journals cannot double-dip.
- Another problem of hybrid is journal failing to deliver OA despite being paid, see PaywallWatch.
- Yet another problem of hybrid is the lack of an up-front clarity about the OA status of the article. Readers knowing that their library has no subscription to a hybrid journal, may not even try to access its OA articles in first place.
- Fee-based OA journals can still double-dip as part of the so-called "mirror journals" model, see https://twitter.com/hashtag/mirrorjournals?src=hash, that appears to be even compliant with Plan S, hence is potentially attractive for publishers as demonstrated by the recent move from Elsevier.
- Diamond OA would not have any of these problems. In particular, it would not work as part of a mirror journal, because everyone would choose the free OA part. :)
I could support paying APCs at the subset of hybrid journals willing to (1) convert to full OA on a certain timetable, (2) face certain consequences if they didn't, such as reduced subscription prices to fee-paying institutions for a stipulated period, and (3) put that commitment in the site-license agreement.
- If such conversion is to the fee-based full OA, this could seriously disrupt the researchers community around the journal:
- Authors without funds would stop publishing there.
- Authors with funds may still stop publishing there for the reason of solidarity.
- The created vacuum might attract lower quality submissions by authors with means.
- Former authors might feel disappointed to see their publishing venue decreasing in its reputation.
- Profit directly linked to number of published articles incentivizes publisher to accept more articles, lowering quality of the journal. This issue has lead to serious disagreements between publisher and editors, resulting in the latters getting fired, see #85
- On the other hand, conversion to Diamond OA will not have any of these effects. In contrast, such conversion:
- can only raise the journal's reputation;
- attract higher quality papers by authors supporting the model.
- Both editors and former authors will benefit from the rising journal's reputation.