Somethings strange in the (academic) neighbourhood. Who ya gonna call?

(Warning: Rant incomming.)

Some weeks ago I finished my new proposal and submitted it to Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; English: German Research Foundation). Among others I applied for some non-personnel costs – including publication costs. You can apply for € 750 per year, which should suffice for submitting papers but also for printing costs (posters). In sum, that are € 2250 for a 3 year project.

I wonder. How am I ever able to pay any article processing charges with this kind of funding? For instance, the new Science Advances Journal charges $ 3000-4000 per article! Of course, this is an extreme case. But even the ‘moderate’ charges are around € 1500. The flagship of open access, PLOS ONE, is not cheaper

This not a sole problem with open access journals, though. If you look at more traditional journals such as the Journal of Separation Science, you will find charges for everything. Pages. Color figures. Everything.

What is the solution for a early-stage researcher like me? Save money to only publish one or two papers per 3-year-cycle? Underpay graduate students even more (not that I will!), so they can publish? Use your own money?

How comes that I pay for (gold) open access – i.e. transparent science – but the publisher can’t transparently tell me what the money is for? Applying for a doi? Paying the reviewers? *cough* Of course, they have to pay servers, some personal, etc. But couldn’t that be covered by fixed deals like BioMedCentral has with the University of Regensburg?

University of Regensburg is a member of BioMedCentral. No charges for authors! Hooray!

University of Regensburg is a member of BioMedCentral. The charges are completely covered by the membership, i.e. no charges for the authors! Hooray!

I have a problem here. The very first question for me at every journal is: what will it cost me to publish in there. Not the quality. Not the audience. Not the content. The costs are top priority. Should that be the case?

Somethings strange in the (academic) neighbourhood. Who ya gonna call?