Science - November 4, 2009

Open access is the future

Research funding organization NWO has allocated five million euros to researchers publishing in open access internet journals. Last week, NWO director Jos Engelen appealed to established scientists to set a good example. An excellent idea, says Wageningen Spinoza prizewinner Marten Scheffer. He has been involved in setting up the open access journal Ecology and Society right from the start.

'Research that is funded with public money should be accessible to everyone. But free internet journals don't have subscribers. So the costs are transferred from the reader to the researcher. It is hard for an AIO to fork out between one and four thousand euros for a publication. In the future, these sorts of costs should be included in research budgets. Now we are in a transitional phase, so it is very good that the NWO provides funds for this.
For a Spinoza prizewinner it is easy to publish in open access journals, but for someone at the start of their career, it is crucial to get published in a high profile journal such as Science or Nature. Having said that, an open-access article can be read by more people, and that is good for your citation score. It is often possible to get a publication made accessible by paying a bit extra. I would certainly advise young scientists to do that, especially now they can make use of the NWO funds.
The last article we published has been online since 28 October in Biosciences discussions. Besides, the process of evaluation and debate there is very easy to follow, up-to-date and transparent. I am also very enthusiastic about the Public Library of Science (PloS). It is totally free and is high quality.
I may well publish again in Nature or Science in the future. You aim for the journal with which you can reach the most readers with your story. That doesn't have to be a highly prestigious one. Sometimes a small, specialist journal can be better.'

Re:act