Why we don’t publish open access only

To get things straight: I am a HUGE fan of open access. Society pays for our research, benefits from it in the long run and should have access to it. Those who live in poor countries and are struggling to set up some solid research should have access. I hate it when I’m at home and can’t read things. Open access is what we want.

We, scientists, work a lot to generate enough data to publish something, to prove our hypothesis right or wrong. We write the actual paper. Make figures. We review papers when asked. We edit. We do everything. I don’t see why journals should be making money over our backs. I’m all for open access.

However but unfortunately.

Our institute calculates how much bonus funds each research group will receive based on the cumulative IF of the journals they published articles in last year. Very easy, certain amount of money times the IF et voila. If we can get something into Nature instead of PLoS Biology, we will, because we get roughly three times as much money for it! You can read posts from a year or so ago, if you want to know how bad the financial situation in our lab currently is. We can’t afford much as is – of course we want these bonus funds!

I don’t have a degree from Harvard. My university isn’t even in the Top 100. The name of my doctoral adviser isn’t *insert your favorite big name here*. I’m the first academic in my family, none of my friends are. I’m not gonna land any job because of my non-exist old boys network. Looks like it’ll be down to my excellent track record then. I had my share of luck in combination with lots of hard work during my PhD project and think I may be able to make it in academia. Who, apart from Michael Eisen, would not value a Science/Nature/Cell publication on an applicants record, besides the PLoS Ones? There’s no way I’m gonna make it without either BIG university, BIG supervisor or BIG publication on my CV.

I try to silence my conscience by uploading everything onto ResearchGate. People who really want an article only need to Google to have access to it – or send the corresponding author an email for that matter. In meantime, let the Games continue. Once I’m a prof with a never-ending contract, funds flowing like water and excellent facilities surrounding me, then I won’t even bother trying to get something into a glamor mag. People know me and my reputation and value my science instead of the journal it’s published in. And you know, even then I will consider what is best for the students whose further lives depend on their track record – maybe I’ll publish some glam stuff even then.

[PS – thanks to Dr.Isis who triggered this post with an innocent question on Twitter that quickly turned into an *interesting* debate…]



  1. I agree with you! EU funding (I only know guidelines for FP7) demands that you pay extra for open access if it is not provided by the journal. But then again.. the journal makes an even bigger profit on that which is then paid by money from EU..

    Speaking of EU, we need someone reasonably skilled in biochemistry or genetics for a Marie Curie ITN position this winter. It is in Norway (Bergen) and the two important criteria are: 1. Candidate stayed LESS than 1 year in Norway the previous 3 years. 2. Candidate has LESS than 4 years of experience after masters degree (i.e no PhD or very fresh PhD not longer than 4 years after master). So to the point! If you know someone good that defended fast, or not at all, that needs a postdoc position (not resulting in a PhD) please recommend them to apply at http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/index.cfm/jobs/jobDetails/33823162


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