Nature, one of the world’s most-cited scientific publications, took a step toward open access on Tuesday by granting its subscribers and journalists wide authority to let outside readers view its articles at no cost.
Under the new policy, subscribers to 49 journals published by the Nature Publishing Group and collected on Nature’s website can create and share links to full-text versions of all of that content. About 100 media outlets also can include free links in news reports that reference articles in the group’s journals.
The change is a financial risk for Nature, which recognizes that it may lose money from both subscribers and nonsubscribers who buy access to a single article, ...view middle of the document...
At the same time, doubts have persisted about the major alternative economic models, in which journals solicit benefactors or researchers pay to have their papers published. In a recent embarrassment for open-access advocates, the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology accepted for publication a manuscript that consisted almost entirely of a profanity-laced seven-word phrase, repeated over and over.
High-quality journals such as Nature still must rely on subscription payments to cover their costs, Mr. Inchcoombe said. He said the publishing industry had been searching for a middle ground that meets the substance of open-access demands while giving journals enough resources to subject their published articles to a robust system of editing and peer review.
Nature’s new system falls short of open-access ideals in various ways, including that it restricts nonsubscribers to "read only" versions of articles. That prevents independent repositories from reformatting the articles for long-term storage, and it limits researchers’ ability to search or index the documents.
Also, Nature is describing the move as a trial, one that may benefit the company by helping it understand how subscribers already share content through...