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Taking Comfort From Copyright:

An Examination Of Open-Access Peer Reviewed Internet Based Journals

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The most popular business model is to recover the operating costs of the journals with charges levied on author/contibutors (Butler, 554). Current fees reach $1,500.00 U.S. (Brown, 3). An example is Oxford University Press (OUP)'s Nucleic Acids Research mentioned above. Sites that are cost free were located. Some appear to be supported by institutes and foundations; others appear to have been funded by government grants. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is an example. Treloar points out that Stanford charges for many of its journals but on a cost recovery basis only (8.3.3). Other publishers require that one pay for access during an embargo period – two years for Oxford journals, six months for pubmedcentral , but allow free access after that. OUP also allows open access to newer journals, until the ‘hit’ volume shows a substantial interest in them and then starts charging fees. That was the case with their European Heart Journal at the time of this writing. Another means of raising monies is through advertising, just like commercial websites. An example is Biomed Central’s Journal of Biology. Librarians should wonder what the commercial publishing world thinks of these cost models.

Derk Haank, then chief executive of Elsevier, a publishing concern familiar to all librarians, was asked what he thought of open-access, peer reviewed, web based journals. His reply is worthy of note:

"Our end goal is that we want the whole world to have access to our material 24 hours a day with no additional charges to the end user. That is also open access, but it's paid for by the librarian (Owens, 741)."

Interestingly, he did not express any concern about the competition these journals may present in the future to his business. Librarians should be holding their breaths. Will open-access journals follow the same route, or will large publishing companies start buying up these journals and follow their usual pattern of business? It is worth noting that Elsevier publishes the Lancet, a well respected medical journal. It carried a heated debate about the future of open-access, peer reviewed, web based, journals in its’ opinions column for a number of months (e.g. Lancet 362, 1575–1577). The future should provide some interesting developments in regard to these journals.

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