There aren’t many business models that are as flawed as academic publishing. Universities pay researchers to work on projects for years and to submit manuscripts that summarize their results to academic journals. These journals then take advantage of free labor provided by other researchers who review or sometimes even edit the manuscript, often in their free time beyond regular working hours. Once published, the university has to pay expensive journal subscription fees to buy back access to their own work, which they technically don’t own anymore. Open access journals only partly solve these issues. Whereas they make research openly available, they still take advantage of the free labor of academics.
At Advances.in, we believe it is time to reinvent academic publishing. We want to prove that it is possible to financially compensate editors and reviewers for their work and still run a profitable business that publishes high-quality research. We hope that this may inspire more publishers to adopt our business model over time.
When confronted with the issue, established publishers tend to come up with excuses for why financially compensating editors and reviewers is not possible or may endanger the peer-review process. A common argument is that it would allegedly not be technically feasible to pay compensation because it requires a vast number of contracts and financial transactions with experts worldwide. This argument is surprising as these publishers have no technical difficulty signing publishing contracts and accepting payments from hundreds of thousands of authors every year.
The next argument that is often brought up is that it is allegedly impossible for publishers to be profitable if they share some of their revenue with those who do the most important jobs (i.e., the editors and reviewers). The substantial profit margins of most established traditional and open access publishers prove this argument wrong.
Finally, publishers argue that paying reviewers would compromise the peer review process by incentivizing them to earn quick bucks instead of providing high-quality evaluations. We believe that the opposite is the case with certain quality checks in place. The quality of (free) reviews already varies drastically, and we believe that one key reason for this is that academics have little belief in an outdated publishing model that takes advantage of them. Unsurprisingly, they feel less and less committed to it. Paying researchers who often review and handle papers in their free time signals that their work is genuinely appreciated, increasing their commitment.
Our Scientific Journals
We have started our journey with the journal advances.in/psychology, which publishes original work that expands our knowledge in various psychological fields. We plan to significantly expand our selection of journals in the future.