Open access (49) Commercial versus non-profit publishers

11 August, 2019

Dear John, (John Eyers, UK: )

You write: "So to put the cat among the pigeons and perhaps be iconoclastic, is it appropriate that the publication of publicly-funded health research is still largely in the hands of commercial publishers? Should alternative non-profit organisations be mainly responsible for publication?"

I look forward to read other people's views on this.

I wonder how much it matters whether a piece of research is published by a commercial publisher or a non-profit publisher. What matters more is the quality of the paper (eg has it been properly peer reviewed?) and its accessibility (eg is it free to access or is it behind a pay-wall?). For example, BioMed Central is a leading for-profit open-access publisher with a reputation for quality, and it is partly thanks to them that we on HIFA are able to discuss research on health systems and quality of care issues.

The point you make about publicly-funded health research is important. It is the basis for Plan S, 'an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms'. Paradoxically, it has also been argued that Plan S may benefit commercial publishers more than non-profit publishers:

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Access to Health Research

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: