New publishing models test the water

Publish or perish - or so the saying goes. But how researchers go about publishing their research is already becoming a heady topic with the growing movement towards open access. Two new companies have launched in the biomedical field to take the academic publishing industry further into uncharted territory. How they succeed may affect the whole industry.

Currently the scholarly publishing industry works on two main models. Historically journals are published on a subscription model, free to the author but not for readers. Open access publishing, by contrast, is free to read, but crucially to fund this publishers often charge authors instead, and that charge may be thousands of pounds. In a departure from this model, PeerJ, is instead finding its own way. The open access journal, which announced itself in June of last year but launched last week with the publication of its first 30 papers, instead charges researchers a one-off membership fee of $299 (£196). This fee allows members an unlimited number of submissions and publications. The catch, however, is that every author listed on the paper (up to a maximum of 12) must be a member, but reduced membership rates are available that limit the number of submissions per year.

Meanwhile, portable peer-review service Rubriq aims to significantly reduce the time papers spend in peer review, especially if the paper is rejected from one journal and so has to start again from the beginning with the next. Instead, the service, owned by Research Square in Durham, North Carolina, US, which has already launched a pre-submission editing service, intends to improve one of the services traditionally performed in house by publishers. Rubriq will charge authors for a fast, independent peer review service that can then be taken with the paper to different publishers, with some of the fee passed onto the referees who review the manuscript. For $500, researchers in the fields of immunology, cancer research, and microbiology can already sign up the scheme, which will eventually accept submissions from all biological and medical sciences.

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