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Open Access

Frontiers History

Frontiers provides full open access to all its publications across every field of research launched.

The first definition of open access was provided by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in February 2002 and it envisages “free and unrestricted online availability” of journal literature, i.e. the double advantage for readers that research publications become both toll-free and royalty-free.

At Frontiers, the entire content of all present and past journals is immediately and permanently accessible online free of charge. Furthermore, all articles published in Frontiers are subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and Frontiers, so that readers are permitted unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and the source are credited.

Open access is often - rather mistakenly - associated with the idea of free publication, despite the fact that open access literature is not without cost to produce - but what is the cost for free dissemination of scholarly research?

 
  • Is open access research-free?
    Certainly not! Each year, the world spends over $2 trillion of tax-payer money on research and development, to produce about 2.5 million scholarly articles per year. One of the driving forces in support of open access is the argument that, being such knowledge enabled by societies, its fruits should be returned to all without any price barriers.

  • Is open access review-free?
    No. Just like subscription-based journals, open access journals must maintain high quality standards of publications in order to be competitive. Frontiers provides thorough and unbiased peer-reviews to all submitted manuscripts, and all our articles are a landmark of the highest quality.

  • Is open access production-free?
    No. The costs of producing an article are somewhat fixed and cover among others manuscript editing, formatting, standardizing, indexing, etc. The introduction of the electronic format has allowed to significantly reduce these expenses, but they still remain a binding entry in the accounting worksheet.

  • Is open access support-free?
    No. Even though the recent advances of technology nowadays allow efficient cost control on the support of online publications, the costs consistently include server space for database storing, maintenance of a professional editorial team, and constant IT development - at the least.

All this, however, does not exclude the possibility of making publications free for readers and a variety of business models were invented to allow open access of scholarly publishing.

There is much room for imagination: some houses only publish open access journals, and some publish a mix of open access and subscription journals, whereas other subscription journals open up or restrict the access after a certain period of time. From another perspective, some journals charge article processing fees (paid by authors or by their grantmakers, referred to as the author-pay model) and some receive funding from foundations or institutions, while other journals are based on advertising revenues, priced add-ons, or auxiliary services. Furthermore, waivers are sometimes applied to all publications submitted from institutions that purchased annual memberships.

Frontiers has developed a solid business model to ensure the long-term stability of the program. We are currently adopting an author-pay model, which allows us to provide immediate open access to our entire content. Author fees are among the lowest in open access publishing, and we are striving to maintain this prerogative so that publication costs do not become an obstacle to publishing, even though waivers are also available in case of economic hardship. Just to provide a general glimpse, the main points of the model include income from certain community services and from industrial sponsorships, besides affordable author fees and cost control through technology.

Models that are well established in some fields and countries may not be as successful in others, and the Frontiers platform was given all the degrees of flexibility required. We dream of a constructive and collaborative initiative model, in which the strongest fields help supporting those that are less established. Frontiers was, indeed, launched by neuroscientists and is now supported by an increasing number of academicians, hopefully becoming a pattern in many other academic communities worldwide.

The grand vision of Frontiers is a world where all people have an equal opportunity to seek, share and create knowledge - will you help us do so?

If you would like to find out more on open access, read some of these great resources by Peter Suber or the Public Library of Science.

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