Over the past few days, a company called DeepDyve, who run a search engine that we use on the staging.plos.org website, announced a rental service for research articles. DeepDyve offers two types of content on its site – restricted-access content (from traditional publishers such as OUP, Wiley-Blackwell, Sage and others) which can be "rented" for $0.99 on a "pay-as-you-go" model and open-access content, which is always free.
The open-access and library community have been asking some pertinent questions about this new launch and our involvement with it which we'd like to address in this blog post.
Q: Is PLoS charging a fee for access to articles that appear in DeepDyve?
A: There is no financial gain to PLoS – all our content is freely available online to everyone, including commercial organizations, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License that we use.
Q: Why has PLoS agreed to provide its content to DeepDyve?
A. The Creative Commons License means that no permission is required to reuse PLoS content – in fact, creative reuse for commercial as well as non-commercial purposes is encouraged. Readers might like to know that almost every organization that wants to use PLoS content in bulk checks in with us first out of courtesy and this was the case with Deep Dyve.
Q: Is DeepDyve an interim solution that restricts the progress of open-access?
A: When comprehensive open-access is a reality, demand for DeepDyve's service may reduce but since most of the world's research is still locked behind subscription or pay-per-view barriers, DeepDyve at least offers an alternative way to get hold of restricted access articles for an affordable price.
Q. Is PLoS doing this to gain eyeballs on its content?
A. PLoS content is freely available to everyone who wants to reuse it. We want as many people as possible to take advantage of this content because research information is most powerful when more people can discover and use it and naturally, we're in favor of maximum exposure for the work of PLoS authors.
Q. Is this the start of a proliferation of new business models that will make use of open-access content?
A. As the influence of open-access grows, and more content becomes openly available, organizations are going to find new and creative ways to reuse it. Some of the added value that these organizations bring may well come at a cost to users who will exercise their spending power and decide which services will be ultimately successful.
Finally, when we raised some of the concerns of the community, listed above, with DeepDyve they were responsive and immediately made the status of open-access content clearer on their website.