This Nature News item, published online 6.20.06, focuses on publicly available information about the income and expenses at PLoS from 2003-2005. There seems little that’s surprising in a piece about a recent publishing venture taking time to break even. I’m not even sure it’s newsworthy.
As PLoS continues to grow and innovate, of course we will require outside financial support to develop our business. We started a completely new publishing venture from scratch at the beginning of 2003, and our first journal – PLoS Biology – is still less than three years old. In May we launched our sixth open access journal and a radical new publishing forum for the web 2.0 era is also under development.
Our revenue from publishing is building, but we still have a way to go. Our major funders remain committed to PLoS – they have invested heavily in the organization because they strongly support our mission to make the world’s scientific and medical literature a public resource.
PLoS is also more than a publishing organization. We are actively involved in advocacy, as part of our effort to drive forward our mission to transform scientific publishing. It’s therefore not possible to judge the economic success of open access publishing on the basis of the broad financial picture at a single organization such as PLoS. Paul Peters of the Hindawi Publishing Corporation has made this point on the Nature Newsblog.
Furthermore, PLoS is but one organization within the landscape of scientific and medical publishing. The success of open access, whether or not it is supported by a publication fee business model is critically dependent on the actions and policies of other stakeholders, such as research institutions and funding agencies. That’s why our advocacy efforts are so important.
There has been tremendous support for open access expressed by many funding agencies; for example, the Wellcome Trust now pays OA publishing costs for all their funded scientists, and mandates the deposition of this work into a publicly available repository.
And more and more publishers are moving into this arena too. Only this week, the Royal Society, who have been vocal critics of open access, announced their own open access option for authors.
As the publishing landscape and funding environment continue to move towards open access, which they inevitably must, PLoS will adjust its own open access model so that research literature is accessible and preserved for future generations.
If you would like to show your continued support of PLoS, why not add your voice to those currently commenting on the Nature Newsblog.