Hybrid journal article fees

All that glitters

“A review of the United Kingdom’s progress towards ‘gold’ open-access research is instructive — for funders, publishers and scientists both at home and abroad.”

This Nature editorial from April 7, cites a startling statistic about hybrid journal publishing fees:

And then there are costs. All experiments should be encouraged in the evolving gold open-access market, but academics should know that fees for papers published in fully open-access journals are lower than those of ‘hybrid’ subscription journals that allow an open-access option. The Wellcome Trust says that the average fee levied by hybrid journals is 64% higher than that charged by fully open-access titles. British funders are now pondering steering the market by dissuading researchers from publishing in hybrid journals, as other countries have done.

It’s hard to see how the higher fees could be justified, since hybrid journals are typically collecting subscription fees as well. The fully OA journals are not, and often the article processing fee is the only source of revenue, unless, as is the case with many OA journals, their support comes from institutional subventions.