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How Prestige Journals Remain Elite, Exclusive And Exclusionary

Forbes: “Last week, Nature journals unveiled their “landmark” open-access option. Nature journals will charge authors, starting in January 2021, up to $11,400 to make research papers free to read, as an alternative to subscription-only publishing. Scientists from around the world received this news with outrage and disappointment on social media. Nature’s announcement comes on the heels of their recent “diversity commitment” which pledged “greater representation of currently under-represented groups” in their published content and events, and “faster movement in the direction of equity.” How does Nature’s diversity commitment square with their own fee options? Do elite, prestige journals actually care about equity and diversity? Is Nature, one of the largest and most profitable publishers, leading in addressing inequities and setting an example to other publishers? And what do scientists in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), people who are rarely consulted, think about Nature’s new policy? To address these questions, I consulted 20+ scientists from around the world. Their voices matter, as scientists are the most important stakeholder in the publishing industry. I also sought input from Springer Nature, the publisher, to better understand their fee structure which is thought to be the highest of any journal. The Lancet, another high-impact journal (by Elsevier, the publisher), in comparison, charges $5000 for the open-access option. “The fees are outrageous, an impediment to open access, and a huge hurdle for LMIC researchers,” said Mwele Malecela, Director, Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization…”

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