Public Understanding of Science on Open Access

Public Understanding of Science believes that paid for open access will discriminate against authors from the developing world.

The current position of PUS with regard to open access is as follows:

1. PUS is not against open access, the promotion of which we consider, in principle, a good idea. It is clearly not conducive to the distribution of scientific knowledge that publishers like Elsevier can reap 37% annual profit from publishing academic papers on research that has been funded by other sources (see Economist, April 14th 2012). We know that social science publishers like SAGE, the publishers of PUS, are not in this league.

2. In early 2010, PUS took a ‘wait and see’ position to evaluate the situation. We are anxious that open access might interfere with the long term strategy of PUS, which includes two things: a) to broaden its empirical and authorship intake across the world and b) to avoid privileging research with large grants. Scholarship is not the same thing as grantsmanship.

3. Our current position with our publishers is that we are not part of “SAGE open“, their partial open access scheme, where the author decides whether to pay $3000 to purchase open access. We do not want a two-tier system: open access for the rich and subscription access for everybody else. This position was reached after consulting the editorial board, other journal editors in our field and contributors. We consider temporary open access to promote certain papers. We are currently investigating whether this position stills holds with SAGE, who have ceded to requests from a small number of authors applying for open access.

4. We would immediately agree for an open access solution on the opt-in model for PUS if we gained a dedicated fund for the journal either by donations from charitable organisations like Wellcome Trust, or the Ford Foundation. Or we could increase the author contribution for open access from currently $3000 (£1600) to $4000 (£2130) from which we would lift $1000 (£533) into the fund. This would allow us to support 10-15 papers per year from non-funded research or cash-strapped sources.

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