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Article Dans Une Revue Elements Année : 2021

Never forget common sense


Today, I am revisiting the topic of publishing cost. As scientists, we are trained to analyze complex questions. We expect this to render us clever and critically curious. However, it seems that, like other mortals, we forget sometimes to listen to the most basic common sense. For instance, is it not counter-intuitive and against common sense that some publishers propose a single price for publishing open access independently of the length of the article? How can the price be the same for a paper of 4 and 30 pages? Common sense suggests that the cost should be proportional to the size of the product delivered. It is the case in most branches of commerce. If a painting company would offer you to paint your big mansion for the same price as the small house of your neighbor, you would be somehow suspicious. You would probably wonder about the quality of the paint to be used and the quality and/or remuneration of the staff involved. You could also question the wisdom of your neighbor. Why do we not question in the same way illogical offers from scientific publishers? Online publishing has indeed reduced the cost of production significantly, but it is doubtful that typesetting costs are independent of the number of the pages of an article. The time spent to copy editing the text is also strongly dependent of the length of the article, as well as the time required by the reviewers. Is it not logical that authors of short papers, using limited resources, would contribute with equal amounts to the publishers’ costs? Such costs cover a wide range of activities, like marketing and sometime, as mentioned in a previous editorial, contribution to stipends to editors or reviewers, and even to support the development of other journals of the same publisher.It is clear that proposing a price proportional to the length of the article offers more flexibility to authors to organize their paper and limit costs. Additionally, it offers an easy and fair way to share the total costs of the journal among authors. The fact that the final costs of a paper are known only in the last steps before publishing should be a minor inconveniency. Some libraries and institutions have specific thresholds capping the APCs’, which makes standard costs welcome. However, such administrative rules should not be the driver for how science is done and/or published. Implementing transparency and limiting inflation of publishers cost has rarely been achieved by administration rules, but more readily by customers (i.e. the scientific community). It means that authors, like you, must act to correct deviations driven by secondary actors.For the European Journal of Mineralogy (EJM) the price of APCs is simply and transparently calculated per page published. In 2021, the current price to authors is 200 euros for a 4-page paper and 1500 euros for a 30-page paper. Rates for members of the associated societies are even lower (160 and 1200 euros, respectively for DMG, EAG, SEM, SFMC, and SIMP members). We believe this is the fairest way to provide a service to authors, which is ultimately the role of publishers – service providers. Therefore, authors should pay for what they get, and not for complex and ambitious commercial models. Even if you are not too worried about transparency, you may care about the use of research funding, which is limited and scarce. In this context, you may see the many advantages of submitting your papers to journals like EJM. Most of such journals are driven by volunteers (free work) motivated by the genuine interest of providing a good and honest service to the community.

Dates et versions

hal-03391128 , version 1 (21-10-2021)



Jannick Ingrin. Never forget common sense. Elements, 2021, Elements, 17 (4), pp.275. ⟨10.2138/gselements.17.4.275⟩. ⟨hal-03391128⟩
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