Posts Tagged HHMI

More on the HHMI/Elsevier deal

Found via: JCB to HHMI: Why did you sell out to Elsevier?, Alex Palazzo, The Daily Transcript, July 18, 2007.

About an editorial, How the rich get richer, by Mike Rossner (Executive Director, The Rockefeller University Press) and Ira Mellman (Editor in Chief, The Journal of Cell Biology), J Cell Biol 2007(18 Jun); 177(6): 951. Epub Jun 11, 2007.


HHMI [Howard Hughes Medical Institute] will bestow monetary rewards on a commercial publisher in return for the type of public access already provided by many nonprofit publishers.

Two problems with this deal immediately come to mind. First, there is a clear potential for conflict of interest when a publisher stands to benefit financially by publishing papers from a particular organization. Second, and even more seriously, this action by HHMI undermines the effort to persuade commercial publishers to make their content public after a short delay, by rewarding them for not doing so.

See also: Paying a fee for Green OA, 21 Mar 2007.

And: Elsevier, HHMI and Open Access, Kaitlin Thaney, Science Commons, 8 Mar 2007.


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Paying a fee for Green OA

As Peter Suber has pointed out, a key feature of the HHMI-Elsevier deal (HHMI and Elsevier Announce Public Access Agreement, March 8, 2007) is that “HHMI is paying a fee for green OA“. The fee is “$1,000 for each article published in a Cell Press journal and $1,500 for each article in other Elsevier journals“, see OA News (9 March 2007, More on the HHMI-Elsevier agreement). None of the comments that I’ve seen pay much attention to the difference in the proposed “Green OA fee” for Cell Press journals ($1000 US) versus the substantially larger fee for other Elsevier journals ($1500 US). Why this substantial difference in fees?

The premier journal of Cell Press is Cell. It’s ranked #8 in the top 10 science journals at the site. (See also the data for ISSN:0092-8674). According to the site, Cell has a high ranking in the categories of both Cell Biology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and, on the basis of data from the site, has a low price per citation. The site lists Cell as free one year after publication. If I understand correctly, payment of the $1000 fee would simply reduce the embargo on Green OA from 12 to 6 months.

Is this a far-sighted effort by Elsevier to protect the Cell “brand”? This journal is already very cost-efficient, as measured by cost of subscriptions per citation. It could become even more cost-efficient (from the perspective of those who pay subscription fees) if several major funding agencies could be persuaded to pay for Green OA.

There does seem to be in increasing risk, as funding agencies that have mandated Green OA increase in numbers, that only those journals that permit Green OA within 6 months may retain marker share. And, among these, it may only be those that are the most cost-efficient (e.g. as measured by cost per citation) that thrive. Perhaps Elsevier wants to try to increase the probability that its Cell Press group of journals will be among those that survive in such a scenario?

For a perspective on the importance of cost-efficiency in retaining market share, see a post by David Goodman to the AmSci OA Forum (12 Mar).

It’s also interesting that this Cell Press page about the new Cell Stem Cell journal includes access to a few selected stem cell articles from other Cell Press journals. I assume that the access policies for the new journal will be the same as for other Cell Press journals? (There’s no mention of new access policies for this new journal on either page).

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