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An open site for researchers to post and share papers

Alexander Grossman writes:

We have launched a beta version of ScienceOpen in December at the occasion of the MRS Fall meeting in Boston. The participants of that conference, most of them were active researchers in physics, chemistry, and materials science, provided us with a very positive feedback. In particular they emphazised that it appears to be a good idea to offer scientists a free platform to collaborate with each other and to share draft versions of their next paper privately.

Meanwhile more than 1 million open access papers in the area of the natural sciences and medicine can be accessed via ScienceOpen, read, and commented or evaluated after publication. We call this concept post-publication peer review.

I don’t know anything about this but I thought I’d share it with you. I know a lot of people use Arxiv but that has some problems, maybe this will have some advantages.

P.S. A commenter writes that the website says, “Fee for publication on the ScienceOpen platform is $800. Included in this fee are up to 2 article revisions within 12 months.” In which case, I don’t know what’s up with the claim that this is a “free platform.” $800 to post one article is a lot of money! I’ve emailed Alexander Grossman to see what the story is, and I’ll report back to you if he replies.

P.P.S. Grossman replied as follows:

My statement still holds and will be valid in the future as I mentioned: all services and functionalities of the ScienceOpen.com site which have been accessible since last December are free and will stay free for all users as mentioned. Please feel free to cite this comment if useful. So everything is fine and nothing has changed in that what we said during the past months.

The issue which has been raised by the commenter focuses on a forthcoming new feature of the site which is not available so far however. Starting May 6 we are going to offer a full package of publishing services which will enable researchers to publish their work as real “publication” open access. Their work will for example receive a DOI to make it citable, our editorial will check the manuscript and we will provide a full copyediting and typesetting to prepare a printable and electronically accessible version of that article. For this supplementary and probably valuable services only we are going to charge a processing fee of USD 800 as it is usual for all other open accees publishing services and publishers I now.

Having read the comment on your post I disagree with the valuation that USD 800 to posting an article is “a lot of money”. Having analyzed the pricing of single article processing fees (APCs) for open access publishing we find a pricing range between USD 750 and USD 5,000 with a median APC far above USD 1,000 for most publishers. Please find the detailed list summarized by the UC Berkeley Library here: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/scholarlycommunication/oa_fees.html

In conclusion I want to make sure that we understand the service above as that what it is: a supplementary service which will engage some further effort from our site (as for other open access publishers) and for which we have to pay our editors and technical vendors, too. Nevertheless, all features to access, comment or review any article at ScienceOpen are free; all workspace functionalities to support researchers to discuss and draft their new papers are free; all feature to set-up or join groups and private collaborations are free. So I still feel totally comfortable with the statement that ScienceOpen is a “free platform” for all these functionalities as they have been established since the first launch. Publishing a citable paper and receiving services as author is a new and supplementary service which is required to fulfill the demand of many researchers to completely substitute classical publishing in journals.

It would be great if you will have a chance to share your feedback about the ScienceOpen site in general with me. Very probably you will have discovered a lot of features and I am eager to learn which features you like or which functionalities you would prefer to add to the site in future. Thanks also for sharing your thoughts with me and others to make the site more popular. We want to build a site for its users and not for us, this is why I personally appreciate comments and feedback so much.

19 Comments

  1. Rahul says:

    One point I never understood: Why doesn’t Arxiv try to capitalize on its position & add some value by comments etc. Somehow arxiv seems stuck in its age old design & role.

    • Alexander says:

      Good point. As a physicist I have been asking myself this question for many years. My impression has been that in physics and mathematics a significant portion of articles is available on the arXiv, anyway, to the point where you almost never need to look at the (pay-walled) journal version. However, from that what I understood arXiv had no intention to enter publishing or social network business but to further proceed with hosting and maintaining their repository site which is terrific. In my view this is why it appeared to be a promising proposal to continue at that point when an author has completed to posting an article at arXiv and simply add further networking, reviewing and communication features elsewhere. And that’s why I developed the ScienceOpen.com site.

  2. germo says:

    Just took a quick look at their website and it seems quite promising. Looks nice, is easy to use, commenting/rating etc – good stuff. Though, I would like to see possibility to share the data&code used in the article under the same page. I think that aspect is still missing. Anyway, a big step to the right direction.

  3. The Wind. says:

    “Fee for publication on the ScienceOpen platform is $800. Included in this fee are up to 2 article revisions within 12 months.”

    I’ve always wanted to pay $800 to post my papers online.

  4. Rahul says:

    arxiv was free. Can post on pdf sharing sites for free.

    Not convinced that providing comments and some sharing tools is worth $800 .

  5. Charging for an open access journal isn’t odd: PLoS One charges a publication fee of $1,350; PLoS is non-profit. Nature’s open access publication, Scientific Reports, charges $1,350 also. (Coincidence?…) Nature is for-profit. ScienceOpen looks like it’s also for profit; the question is whether its $800 fee is worth it.

    Sources:
    http://www.plos.org/publications/publication-fees/
    http://www.nature.com/srep/faqs/srep-faqs.html

    For a long list of open access journal charges, see

    I haven’t heard of ScienceOpen before today, and I haven’t given this much thought, but to me the puzzling things seems to be that

    (1) In addition to publishing articles, it also serves as a access route to articles on ArXiv and PubMed Central. On the one hand, it could conceivably be nice to have a centralized source of open-access papers; on the other hand, it muddies the distinction between “its” papers and these other sites’. (The 1 million papers accessible on ScienceOpen are these other papers.)

    (2) With e.g. PLoS one and Scientific Reports (neither of which I have published in), one’s papers are subject to peer review prior to publication. Here, these are decoupled (https://www.scienceopen.com/external/faqs — go to the bottom). I’m not sure how this will play out.

  6. Noam Ross says:

    I note that biorxiv.org has recently launched. It’s a platform similar to arXiv but directed at biological sciences.

    People in my field (theoretical and computational ecology), are increasingly using GitHub as a collaborative writing platform, using “Issues” (bug/feature requests) as a mechanism for comments on draft papers, e.g., https://github.com/rosehartman/frog-trap/issues/1

  7. Phillip M. says:

    Cell is no surprise (MacMillan) in terms of cost, ad ridiculum or no.. Wiley in a similar bucket. But among the ‘larger 3’ Springer has always been a surprise to me, but I forget their closed access journal submission range. I can only imagine if Pearson and Mcgraw – Hill were in the journal biz what they would charge. But given their stranglehold and profit margins in the education textbook, media, curriculum, and testing world, they should have hardly a care about taking on any sizeable series of peer – reviewed journals. That would be an interesting (and potentially concerning) ‘what-if’ question for discussion.

    Open access is important for so many reasons, as journals have become entirely commoditized (‘ahem’ – impact factor). Who can afford individual subscriptions of $300 – $500 per year? One who is not affiliated with a university has merely a hope that an academic library within a reasonable distance can offer a view.

  8. I love arXiv. Could someone say what the “problems” are with arXiv?

    • Andrew says:

      David:

      Arxiv is optimized (I think) for physics and maybe math. Its categories don’t make so much sense for statistics. It might be that if some statisticians put in the effort, something could be done about that—I’m not saying it’s impossible and I’m not saying it’s anybody’s “fault,” but that’s just the way it is right now. And Arxiv has no social science sections, but weird social science items sneak in the physics sections on occasion.

  9. Emily says:

    Maybe you will be interested in this blog post by Jeffrey Beall over at Scholarly Open Access: http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/05/27/new-oa-publisher-aims-to-compete-with-preprint-servers/

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