Open Access Publishing Practicalities

I have long been interested in the culture of science, including publishing practices related to open access and dissemination of scientific knowledge. Given certain career constraints I have identified ~20 potential papers the Snyder Lab should publish in the next couple of years. This has forced my publishing perspective to incorporate some practical considerations. What you see below is a list of journals organized by cost. This was originally just a series of personal notes but I thought others might find it useful. I’d also like to hear your thoughts since scientific and publishing cultures are ever-changing, there are likely factors I have failed to consider, and my own mind isn’t made up on how to be the best scientist and citizen I can be.

Option #1 is to publish for free in for-profit journals that get their revenues by selling subscriptions to universities. This has been the standard approach and it kind of works but it limits access to (often taxpayer-funded) knowledge. For profit publishers are also beholden to shareholders so they are naturally opposed to making research findings freely available and have supported legislation to block access. Another argument against them is that they bundle journals into packages, so that in order for universities to get the good journals they also have to buy the journals that no one reads. Elsevier typically gets the worst rap for this type of behavior but probably other for-profit publishers are not much better.

Option #2 is to pay a publication fee that allows your paper to be open access, available to everyone to read. Great, right? Well, multiply 20 papers times the minimum fee of ~1500 USD and you could instead pay a salary or buy a microscope. It need not be expensive though. I have learned that our neighbors over at Simon Fraser University get all their Plos One submission fees covered by their university, and many Austrian researchers will not have to pay to publish in Frontiers journals. Someone is still paying, but it is moving towards a system where the funders/institutions pay the publishing costs of their researchers, rather than buying back the papers that their researchers publish. Many in Europe seem to have such agreements between their funding agencies and/or universities that allow them to publish open access for free. I am currently looking into UBC deals, but it seems that for the most part the cost of publishing has to come from our research grants.

An exciting new and entirely free publishing model (free to scientists and universities) is the mathematics journal Discrete Analysis, which provides peer review etc but has no costs associated with publishing or storing papers: it simply links to the Arxiv preprint.

In making this list I was reminded that most for-profit or society journals do offer open access options where you can pay a fee that is comparable to fully open access publishers. So there are many open access venues.

Open access and cost are but 2 factors in deciding where to publish. I like to publish in certain journals that are widely read in my field. On the other hand, I don’t like that people judge scientific merit by the place where you publish. Sometimes I wonder if everything should be published on an equal plane, and people actually read the papers and decide for themselves what is good and what is not. Of course, at this stage in our progress, the fact is that publishing in certain places may be helpful, career wise. Science is a team effort, and so this is a conversation that needs to be had by the authors of papers. One option is to always submit to a preprint server and publish wherever you want. Even if the final version is closed access, people can still read the preprint (which could be identical, content-wise)

Anyway, here are the journals, tailored for behavioral neuroscientists. The Google Doc is here and feel free to edit it or comment below.


*For-Profit Publishers
Wiley Journals (Hippocampus, Journal of Comparative Neurology, European Journal of Neuroscience)
Elsevier Journals (avoid)
Springer Journals
Nature Journals (Nature, Nat Neurosci, Molecular Psychiatry, Neuropsychopharmacology)

*Non-Profit & Society Publishers
AAAS: Science
SFN: Journal of Neuroscience
Oxford: eg. Cerebral Cortex
APA: Behavioral Neuroscience
APS: Journal of Neurophysiology (signficant page charges?)


Brain Plasticity – $ ?
BMC Journals, eg BMC Neuroscience – $2145 USD
Cell Reports – $5000 USD (+ Elsevier)
eLife – $2500
eNeuro – $1950 USD (commentaries $975)
F1000 – $150 / $500 / $1000 USD (1000 / 2500 / 8000 words)
A-Type Articles: eg Original Research, Review – $2950 USD
B-Type Articles: eg Mini Review, Perspective – $1850 USD
C-Type Articles: eg Code, Data Report, General Commentary, Opinion, Research Snapshot – $450 USD
D-Type Articles: eg Book Review, Core Concept (Young Minds) – examples, Frontiers Commentary, New Discovery (Young Minds)FREE
Nature Publishing Group
Nature Communications – $5200 USD (pay for the brand)
Translational Psychiatry – $3900 USD
Scientific Reports – $1675 USD 
Neurogenesis – $2950
Matters – $300 USD (single figure only; exciting venue for short projects, eg undergrads, pilot study, null result)
PeerJ – $1095 USD (or $399-499 for lifetime membership – why don’t more people use this?)
Plos One – $1495 USD (the originator)
Plos Biology – $2900 USD
Plos Computational Biology – $2250 USD
Plos Special Collections – extra surcharge
Institutional Accounts – participants


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