THE DEBATE on open access to publications supported by governmental sources has several sides, each with credible arguments. An option that many publishers (including the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and Elsevier) are adopting is to give authors an option to pay $2,000–$3,000 to allow immediate access to their article (C&EN, July 3, 2006, page 8). The ACS "AuthorChoice" fee ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. From one viewpoint, this is laudable; however, this system tremendously favors big labs with big funding that can afford essentially nonscientific expenditures.
This is a return of the bad old days of exorbitant page charges. Are the funding agencies ready to pony up an additional $12,000 a year (assuming four publications per year per grant) to subsidize the expenses of private enterprises? Will publishers waive or reduce the fees to labs with modest funding? Should the articles have the word "ADVERTISEMENT" emblazed across the top for the first year? Is it worth the money to garner a few more citations, or could this be considered buying citations? Will submissions lacking the latest references be excused for lack of open access?
I neither publish nor review for journals run by for-profit corporations or for journals with exorbitant charges (page or subscription). Though I am reasonably well-funded at present, I'd rather spend the nearly $16,000 a year on something scientifically productive and don't really mind fewer citations here and there.
Charles M. Drain
New York City