Anticipating OA growth

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Jason Wilde of Nature Publishing Group reveals some of the challenges of the open-access publishing model for journals with high rejection rates

We see open access as a growing part of NPG’s business. We have embraced the OA debate as a natural consequence of new technologies, and we have strived to fulfil the opportunities that technology and experimental business models have provided. One major principle has dominated our thinking: one size does not fit all. Journals with lower costs (and lower paid circulations) are well suited to OA business models, with affordable article processing charges (APCs). Here OA can be both financially sustainable, and potentially offer authors the benefits of wider visibility. NPG has been actively expanding its activities in these areas. We’ve launched seven new OA journals in 2010 and 2011. We’ve also introduced OA options on 35 of our academic and society journals since 2009. In 2011, we launched Scientific Reports to provide an OA, multidisciplinary home for technically sound original research.

This journal has got off to a great start, publishing 29 OA articles from its launch on 14 June to 4 July, a mean approaching two papers per business day.

Of the 74 NPG journals that publish original research, 62 per cent offer an OA option. Of our academic and society journals, 83 per cent offer an OA option or are OA journals, and our remaining society titles are considering an OA option this year.

Our self-archiving policy has been in place since 2005, and is compatible with all funder mandates for public access. We also introduced our Manuscript Deposition Service in 2008, and since then have deposited thousands of manuscripts in PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central. We have seen little impact of self-archiving on our journals, which may be partly explained by their wide readership and high impact. We have reduced the site licence list price on several titles as the balance shifts towards OA publication, and will continue to be responsible in this regard. How to adjust prices and provide predictable, fair pricing to customers remains a challenge.

For several years, NPG has been considering how to offer a Nature-branded OA option. This is particularly challenging due to the low acceptance rates and the resulting high cost per manuscript. Nature Communications overcomes these challenges. It has a higher acceptance rate than other Nature titles. Along with digital-only publication, this reduces the costs per manuscript published, enabling an author charge of $5,000.

Nature Communications has demonstrated strong growth. The journal published 150 articles in 2010, and in the first six months of 2011 has already exceeded it. Nearly half of the papers published in Nature Communications to date are OA.

Cell Death & Disease, an OA title that we launched in January 2010, was accepted for inclusion in Web of Science, the Journal Citation Report and PubMed within six months of launch. The journal has published over 170 articles to end of June 2011.

Molecular Systems Biology was our first OA title, launched in 2005 in partnership with the European Molecular Biology Organization. The journal is well established in its field and continues to attract excellent articles. We see the percentage of OA growing over the next decade, with a range of different models.

In terms of OA data, NPG continues to watch with interest projects like Dryad UK. We remain committed to asking authors to make data available when they publish with us, and supplementary information is not subject to subscription barriers. We’re also committed to making our articles, and underlying data, more discoverable and usable for text and data mining. In our view, linked data is central to this.

Jason Wilde is business development director of Nature Publishing Group. Among his responsibilities, Jason oversees publishing activities for Nature Communications and Scientific Reports