Tuesday, November 27, 2012


When I recently did my little number crunching exercise I was also looking at the percentage of DNA Barcoding papers that have been published in open access journals. Among the major ones was of course PLoSONE but there were also a few others that have papers available without subscription fees. However, it only amounts to a total of 12% of the publications that are available to everyone. In turn that means that about 88% of all DNA Barcoding papers are not available to every researcher on the planet. I find that very frustrating as I thought that especially in this new field there is more inclusiveness!

In 2006 Marguerite Holloway published an article in Conservation in Practice in which she tried to capture the innovative thinking behind the at that time very new method called DNA Barcoding. The title was "Democratizing Taxonomy" referring to Dan Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs who believe passionately that greater access to knowledge and technology will transform the future of conservation. I've heard this term from Dan in various of his talks and I am always reminded of it when it comes to publishing as researchers do not live in a free publishing world. This is especially true for all of us in early phases of our careers where an insufficient measure (impact factor) is dictating where to publish. The result is that many researchers, maybe even the majority, have no access to a lot of what we've published over the last 10 years just because they or their institution can't afford the often ridiculously high subscription fees. That's a shame!

The more happy I am to announce the birth of a new journal with a new business model of open access publishing. PeerJ is a new multidisciplinary open access journal that announced today the first formal call for papers. Unique among academic publishers, PeerJ provides authors with low cost lifetime memberships giving them the rights to publish their papers freely thereafter. A basic membership plan is only $99 that would give an author the right to publish once a year for the rest of their life. That seems reasonable and compared to some of the usual fees of other open access journals it is very cheap. Access to the articles is of course free!

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