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A GameStop model for Scientific manuscripts

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Shireesh Apte
Shireesh Apte May 22, 2022
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Some Journals - and publishers - charge to download scientific manuscipts published in their Journals and platforms. These fees are usually steep and beyond the reach of researchers in poor nations who can consequently not access them. Notwithstanding the emergence of open access Journals, the most cited and relevant research is still published in pay-to-view scientific journals. I propose a model where the market determines what fees are charged for viewing published manuscripts based on:
  1. the number of downloads that the manuscript has within X days after publication (rather than charging exorbitant flat fees). 3. Allow 'reselling' manuscripts directly from researchers and have part of the proceeds go to the publishing house (AKA the GameStop model). Prime idea for a 'ManuscriptStop' business model with a central hub-website.
This will allow access to a much greater number of scientists, which is directly proportional to a greater number of ideas generated.
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Allowing both, publishers to cover their expenses and researchers to earn

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola May 24, 2022
The fees cannot be avoided yet
I think the idea is good, but the general idea of free information is a lie. The internet is full of articles, knowledge, and papers, but it's not free. We pay by our personal data, browsing histories, and by watching ads. Concerning the scientific papers, they try to maximize the signal and reduce the noise by strong peer-reviewing, fees, and non-marketing policies. As you maybe noticed, there was never a single ad in the scientific paper. That's why I think the fees for the papers cannot be avoided; the expenses are real.
Possible solutions
However, the idea of a certain percentage of the earnings going to the researchers seems cool.
I checked some open access fees and they are mostly between 2000 and 4000 USD, depending on the journal. Let's now consider this price to be an adequate amount of money for the publishers to pay for their expenses of proofreading, editing, and publishing the paper. Now, if you take this price and divide it by the average price of a paper published in non-open access, which is around 10-30 USD, that would mean that every such paper is downloaded at least 100 times on average.
Based on the above mentioned, I suggest two models how researchers could earn money from their papers:
  • Cash back for the papers that reach a certain number of downloads for open access
  • Earning money for the papers that reach a certain number of downloads for non-open access
Explanation: If that's the price (2000-4000 USD) needed for the publishers to pay the proof-reading, editing and publishing the paper, then it could be set as a point from which, for every next download, a researcher also gets 5% cashback of the average paper price (for open access), or a 5% of the paper price (for non-opne access) - a concept similar to selling music.
What do you think?
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Shireesh Apte
Shireesh Aptea month ago
By the way, the publishers still charge for viewing manuscripts that have been written (and the research funded) with taxpayer money. Something needs to be done about that as well.
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Shireesh Apte
Shireesh Aptea month ago
I run two Journals, The Journal of High School Science (JHSS) and the Journal of Excipients and Food Chemicals; both currently on the Scholastica platform. The platform charges $10 for submission from authors (regardless of if accepted or not). JHSS used to charge $250 per year but they will charge $1000 + from next year to host the journal. I am hence switching to blue host for JHSS.
I think the Sci-hub site can be made legit with the help of publisher and author guidelines and acceptance. All of you do suggest a market oriented information dissemination, which is a much better model than the one that currently exists.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia month ago
The journals have to review papers that they reject, too. That takes time and organizing efforts and these activities are done for free if the paper gets rejected. All these activities are charged to the paper that gets accepted. This needs to be factored in while calculating the cashback for authors. How about the journals charge a small fee for each submission? This will take care of two problems - 1) The publishing fee for the selected papers will be reduced. 2) There will be a reduction in the subpar papers submitted to the journals. I bet journals would have tried that or thought of that in the past. Any leads?
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Shireesh Apte
Shireesh Aptea month ago
I think the market should decide the price of the manuscripts. Sci-hub will re-sell manuscripts (instead of pirating), at the price the market will bear and will pay a part of the proceeds to the publisher. Manuscripts that do not provide much scientific value will see downward price pressure. This is different from charging a fixed fee and/or requiring a subscription service.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia month ago
Shireesh Apte I like this variable price model. However, this will bring in all sorts of marketing practices into science, which we don't want. To promote a paper, authors and insititutes will start spending on the downloads they can achieve than the quality of the manuscript. More promotion will mean more downloads, at least to a certain extent.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia month ago
The idea that authors of a manuscript can sell their work is different. However, that will still not help against illegal trading of manuscripts. Platforms like Sci-hub will not cease to exist. I think Science should be free to anyone who wishes to read about it. Researchers should be paid via other means - grants, awards, etc.
Also, in your first model, the number of downloads within X days will certainly be more if the manuscript is free for the first X days and not much if it is charged. The downloads will probably decrease proportionally to the fee charged. How, then, do you decide whether the manuscript should be charged or not for the first X days? And, if yes, how much?
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