Vitek Tracz on Open Access and BioMed Central

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An extensive Basement Interview conducted by Richard Poynder.



Vitek Tracz is the chairman of the Science Navigation Group, and founder of the open access publisher BioMed Central.

Amongst the topics discussed are open access business models.


From another interview with Matthew Cockerill [1]

"Q: How does BioMed Central ensure long-term sustainability of its open access journals while staying profitable? Can you briefly discuss your business model?

A: BioMed Central's business model is to cover the the cost of publishing through an 'Article Processing Charge' or APC, payable for every published article. Funders such as the Wellcome trust have expressed strong support for such a model, saying that publication and dissemination is best seen as the final part of the process of doing research. The cost of paying to cover publication costs is tiny (1-2% by most estimates) compared to the costs of carrying out the research in the first place. But the benefits of universal open access are enormous.

There is no inherent reason why open access publications supported by Article Processing Charges should have any difficulty being sustainable and profitable. The same amount of money currently spent by the scientific community supporting traditional subscription-only journals could easily cover the cost of open access publication of that same research. The costs in both cases are likely to be similar. BioMed Central is already very close to profitability as a commercial open access publisher. The fact that new open access journals are not immediately profitable should be no surprise to those in the publishing industry. Even traditional scientific journals do not generally make a profit in their first 5 years - the fact is that starting new journals is hard work and requires a lot of investment. But open access publishers such as BioMed Central are now seeing that hard work pay off. It is notable that there are already examples of commercial publishers who are operating profitably on the open access model - e.g. the Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

Q: Based on impact factors and other citation-based metrics, how are open access journals placed, when compared to the traditional (subscription based) journals?

A: BioMed Central's journals are doing extremely well in terms of citation-based metrics, especially since they are relatively new journals....[Nine] BioMed Central journals are all in the Top 10 by impact factor, in their ISI subject category....Genome Biology's first impact factor (9.71) is especially impressive, and demonstrates clearly the compatibility of open access publishing with the highest editorial standards. For more details on BioMed Central journal impact factors, see [here]....

Q: As far as open access initiatives are concerned, can you please elaborate on new products or services that you plan to launch in the near term?

A: Today marks the launch of Chemistry Central - a new portal site for open access journals in chemistry. Chemistry Central is from the same team responsible for BioMed Central, and builds on BioMed Central's proven open access journal publishing technology. We have also added special features to meet the needs of chemists (for example, figures can be submitted in the popular ChemDraw and ISISDraw file formats). In the last several years research communication in biomedicine and physics has evolved rapidly, with emphasis on more open communication of research results. Chemistry has up to now lagged behind, with chemistry-related journals and databases overwhelmingly remaining subscription-based. In fact, though, the benefits of open access publication are just as applicable to fields like Chemistry. It's time for change - hence the launch of Chemistry Central.... "