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Costs and Business Models in Scientific Research Publishing

In September 2003 the Wellcome Trust published 'Economic Analysis of Scientific Research Publishing', a report it had commissioned from SQW economic and management consultants to investigate the complex market of scientific publishing. The conclusions that the Trust drew from the evidence presented in that study persuaded it to make public its support for publishing the results of scientific research in an open access format.

In response to ongoing discussions about the viability of open access publishing, the Trust decided to commission this follow up report from SQW to assess the actual costs of publishing scientific, technical and medical research in peer-reviewed journals. It compares the costs between the current 'subscriber-pays' model, where publishing services are free to authors and the article is published in a journal available via subscription, and an 'author-pays' model where the author (or their funder or institution) pays for the publishing services but where the final paper is published in an open access journal, available for free via the internet to all who wish to use it.

This report provides evidence that an author-pays model offers a viable alternative to subscription journals. Open access publishing should be able to deliver high-quality, peer-reviewed research at a cost that is significantly less than the traditional model while bringing with it a number of additional benefits.

Download 'Costs and Business Models in Scientific Research Publishing' [PDF 640KB].

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