We did not intend to run this week as our open-access week. Yesterday we were looking for some sources to find a realistic estimate of cost of publishing papers by various journals and found a different commentary published in Nature in 2003. Today we were not really looking for anything and came across this fantastic article providing break-down by company. (h/t: @dgmacarthur)
Data from the consulting firm Outsell in Burlingame, California, suggest that the science-publishing industry generated $9.4 billion in revenue in 2011 and published around 1.8 million English-language articles an average revenue per article of roughly $5,000. Analysts estimate profit margins at 2030% for the industry, so the average cost to the publisher of producing an article is likely to be around $3,5004,000.
Most open-access publishers charge fees that are much lower than the industry’s average revenue, although there is a wide scatter between journals. The largest open-access publishers BioMed Central and PLoS charge $1,3502,250 to publish peer-reviewed articles in many of their journals, although their most selective offerings charge $2,7002,900. In a survey published last year2, economist Bo-Christer Bjrk of the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki and psychologist David Solomon of Michigan State University in East Lansing looked at 100,697 articles published in 1,370 fee-charging open-access journals active in 2010 (about 40% of the fully open-access articles in that year), and found that charges ranged from $8 to $3,900. Higher charges tend to be found in ‘hybrid’ journals, in which publishers offer to make individual articles free in a publication that is otherwise paywalled (see ‘Price of prestige’). Outsell estimates that the average per-article charge for open-access publishers in 2011 was $660.
Here is the incredible part (emphasis ours) -
The few numbers that are available show that costs vary widely in this sector, too. For example, Diane Sullenberger, executive editor for Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC, says that the journal would need to charge about $3,700 per paper to cover costs if it went open- access. But **Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Nature, estimates his journal’s internal costs at 20,00030,000 ($30,00040,000) per paper. **