Editorial: About the possibility of Applied Vegetation Science going Gold Open Access

Prepared by David Zelený (Editor of the Vegetation Science Blog and Associate Editor in JVS)

Some time ago, IAVS was put in front of quite an important decision. Two of our journals, the Journal of Vegetation Science and Applied Vegetation Science, are currently distributed under the hybrid open-access model, when readers pay, and authors publish for free (while allowing publishing also open access articles for an extra cost). However, Wiley, our publisher, asked us to transfer AVS into the Gold Open Access model (Gold OA) when readers read for free, but authors pay. Wiley argues that the transition into OA is a current trend in publishing and meets the demands of readers and funders. However, the unsaid truth also is that the publishing landscape is changing. Researchers started to use alternative (and often illegal) ways of getting paywalled papers, and the high cost of journal subscriptions lead many libraries and institutions to cancel it. This motivates publishers to transit more and more journals into the Gold OA model, which should secure their profit and in turn also the income of associations, dependent on money from journal publishing. The downside of the Gold OA model, which may not be so apparent to readers, but becomes painfully apparent to the authors, is the costly Article Processing Charge or Article Publication Charge (APC) needed to be paid upon acceptance of the paper for the publication (for AVS currently proposed at £1900 per article).

We initiated a survey among the IAVS members to seek their opinion about the proposed change, and the result was convincingly not in favour of switching into the OA model, mostly for fear that many authors will not be able to secure funding to cover APC. Therefore, at our Special IAVS Council meeting on October 20, 2020, we approved the decision to stay with the subscription-based model for both journals, for at least the following three years.

Here we prepared a series of four Commentaries about this topic from different viewpoints. Peter Minchin, IAVS Vice President and Chair of the Publications Committee, explains that Survey shows little support for AVS going Gold Open Access. Chief Editors of JVS and AVS (Milan Chytrý, Alessandro Chiarucci, Meelis Pärtel and Valério Pillar) provided JVS/AVS Chief Editors’ opinion on Open Access. We also include Statement of the IAVS Latin American and African sections on the possible adoption of article processing charges of IAVS journals, provided by members of these two IAVS regional sections. And, finally, Jan Šuspa Lepš asks a fundamental question: To go open access or not to go?

Welcome to read and share the Commentaries and add your comments and suggestions, either here in the blog, or on social media (Twitter, Facebook). We hope for stimulating and inspiring discussion and plan to summarize some of the ideas in the future editorial post. Also, if you have a suggestion for blog contribution on this topic, contact David Zelený (editor@vegsciblog.org), the receiving editor of vegsciblog.org, for further discussion.