Down with Glam; Up with Fast & Cheap

Apr 03 2013 Published by under Publication, Research issues

A lot of folks are trying to reinvent the way we share research. I cannot remember the last time I read a paper journal; even with traditional publishing models, the dead tree format ends up in the recycling. When I need to know something, I search online via PubMed or Google Scholar. Topics I want to keep up-to-date at all times have shared searches that update me periodically.

Some journals will now be online-only, either with a fairly traditional publishing model or a more liberal acceptance policy (PLoS One, for example). Platforms such as Figshare allow investigators to make raw data publicly available and citable, even if not included in the final paper for a study. Recently, Beyond the PDF 2 took place in Amsterdam where visionaries gathered to once again discuss the printing press of this century. More information can be found about this conference and conversation here.

PeerJAfter scanning this discussion, I began playing around with PeerJ. The model is intriguing; you pay a lifetime fee up front. You can freely pre-publish works (PeerJ PrePrints) and get public feedback . With a mouse-click, you can send your manuscript to peer review which will be based on scientific soundness of the research without attention to impact or "sex-appeal" factor of the work. The goal here is PLoS One without the high publication fees. For $99 you can become a basic lifetime member, able to submit unlimited public "pre-publications" and publish one peer-reviewed article for life. Of course, you will be expected to also review at least one article for life. All authors on the article must have memberships; if you wait until article acceptance to join, fees will be ~30% greater. Right now, content in PeerJ is limited to biomedical science and health issues. PeerJ only publishes research articles. Literature review articles, commentaries, case reports and other works may instead be submitted to PeerJ PrePrints.

My biggest concern took some digging about the web site:

PeerJ will be indexed in all major Abstracting & Indexing databases, including for example PubMed, PubMedCentral, GoogleScholar, and Microsoft Academic Search. We will also be applying for indexed status in services such as MedLine and Web of Science.

This model certainly has the right price; $99 runs less than the page fees for my last journal submission. As a senior professor, this site may be perfect for some of my less impressive results that I just want to get out there. When I was early in my career, PeerJ would have let me get some new data peer-reviewed and published and still make my grant deadline.

What other new-wave publishing services deserve exploration? Any Whizbangers have experience with PeerJ or similar platforms?

3 responses so far

  • me says:

    It's certainly a novel idea, but I just don't understand how PeerJ intends to survive after they've recruited everyone who supports fast, cheap and open access. With their $99/head publishing fees, they'll hopefully be able to recruit enough authors to support and publish in their online journal to grease the wheels--i.e., get some short-term funding to support the outfit, and with luck, get some decent papers in there to secure some readership--but at some point in the next few years, won't they exhaust that supply of money flow (~$500-1200/paper) with only the marginal new junior author or two on each publication? This would reduce their revenues to only $100-200/publication to support their operational costs...

    • WhizBang says:

      I have not seen their business plan, and I do not know how they will sustain themselves over time. Of course, a lot of us in low IF fields might find this model very attractive. Once they get submissions and audience that may allow other revenue streams.

      It will be interesting to watch.

  • To update the questions asked in this post, PeerJ is now being indexed by PubMed, PubMed Central (PMC), Scopus and Google Scholar - see:


Leave a Reply