The open access biomedical journal PeerJ first gained attention in late 2012 for offering academics extremely low publishing fees. Now, one year later, the Times Higher Education reports that the journal seems well positioned to offer a sustainable alternative to traditional academic publishing models.
PeerJ’s model represents a departure from traditional models in that academics pay a one-off fee to become lifetime members. They can choose from the basic model, which permits them to publish one article per year for life for a one-off fee of $99 (£59), to a more comprehensive model which permits unlimited posting for life at $299. These costs represent a significant reduction on normal gold open access publishing fees, which typically range from between $1,350 to $2,900 for publishing in PLoS, to $5,000 in some Elsevier titles.
The journal has also been helped on its path to sustainability by gaining support from some prominent Universities in the UK and US who have taken out subscriptions for its individually designed and costed ‘institutional plans’.
The journal has been attracting praise for the quality, speed and transparency of its peer-review and editorial process, its formatting and the advent of a preprint server which allows researchers to submit early versions of articles for comment and review.
There are still some concerns that the need for all co-authors of an article to be members of PeerJ in order to publish would mean that, according to Kent Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Scholarly Kitchen blog on academic publishing, publishing here might ultimately be “unlikely in practice to work out much cheaper for researchers and was likely to become more administratively complex”.
There are also concerns that the influence of prestige on author’s publication decisions means that, according to PeerJ’s co-founder, Dr. Binfield, journal publishing is “not a terribly price-sensitive market”.
Whilst these concerns remain, Dr Binfield seems persuaded that the lifetime membership model represents an opportunity for significant long-term cost reductions, and another important step in the move towards open access.
Read more about the Peer J project