OA interviews: Georgina Gurnhill, PeerJ

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With the raft of policies and mandates that impact researchers and their institutions Sian Harris asks a range of publishers and publishing services companies about their approaches to open access

Georgina Gurnhill, director of marketing & communications, PeerJ

PeerJ was launched in February 2013 to establish a highly credible, scientifically sound peer-reviewed OA journal for as low a cost as possible. That meant $99 for the ability to publish every year for the rest of a scientist’s life. We wanted to show the world that it doesn’t have to cost thousands, either through subscription charges or OA fees, to publish quality science. OA is a burgeoning area in publishing and our model is a pioneering one. Our authors truly value the fact that they can publish with us at low cost and high speed, whilst we take pride in the high- quality submission and transparent peer-review process their research undergoes.

With the proliferation of OA publishing models and the constant attack on institutional budgets, the most pressing challenge for these groups is choice – and how to make the right one. Research tells us that academics still want rigorous and rapid peer review, fast publication of articles and global exposure for their work. Institutions are keen to nurture a sustainable and cost-effective approach to OA, and funders are looking to optimise where and how their money gets spent.

It is the duty of all OA publishers to be clear and transparent in their pricing policies, while enabling researchers to get their work published through a quality process at minimal cost for maximum exposure.

So far we’ve only had really positive response from our authors, and they are already recommending PeerJ to their peers and colleagues. We have many author interviews on our site which validate our approach. PeerJ has spent the last year demonstrating market fit and strong customer demand and in that time, we have published nearly 900 articles across both PeerJ and PeerJ PrePrints, representing the work of almost 3,000 authors.

We’ve had authors call PeerJ innovative, fast, efficient, beautiful and friendly, and we are truly honoured that they continue to join us as pioneers in a new way of publishing.

In September 2013 we sent out a survey to our author base, and 92 per cent of responding authors rated their overall PeerJ experience as either “one of the best publishing experiences I have ever had” (42 per cent) or “a good experience” (49 per cent). We are terrifically proud of this especially as it was only six months on from our first ever published article.

We use CC BY licensing on all PeerJ articles. This means authors retain their copyright, while at the same time others can freely copy and reuse the articles without needing to ask for further permission. If a publisher asks you to sign over your copyright then it becomes difficult, expensive, or impossible for others to access your research. Just as we don’t believe in paywalls blocking access to research, nor do we believe in authors not being able to retain full ownership of their work.

There are some dangers with the CC BY NC licence as legally it can block some educational institutions, which is usually not what authors intend or consider when choosing between CC BY and CC BY NC. Some even suggest that NC is ignored by some corporations regardless, and more disconcertingly NC also doesn’t prevent the publisher of the NC article from commercialising it either. At PeerJ we want to guard against this. By being fully CC BY, authors and readers don’t need to worry about sharing or reusing articles, so everyone benefits and ultimately science flourishes.