Nature Publishing Group Expands Open Access via CC BY (…. but look at the Access Costs)

This is very encouraging!


Nature Publishing Group (NPG) today introduces the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license on its 19 NPG-owned academic journals. From December 2012, the CC BY license will be available to authors choosing open access publication options in these journals, in addition to the two non-commercial Creative Commons (CC) licenses currently on offer. This follows NPG’s introduction of a CC BY license option on Scientific Reports in July 2012.

Effective 1 April 2013, Wellcome Trust and RCUK funders will require a CC BY license when they pay open access article processing charges (APCs). NPG intends to offer CC BY options on further open access and ‘hybrid’ journals over the next few months, in keeping with its commitment to author choice and meeting the needs of funders and the research community.


However….. The APCs listed are not insignificant. They are a lot. What it means is that the author pays for the privilege of having her article published in a peer-reviewed journal guaranteed to be tracked by colleagues. This means that the cost of publication and distribution (and all other processing fees) is relocated to the author and more accurately, her employer or granting office. As those tend to be in the public sector or private sector money administered by a public sector or independent body (imagine all the scare quotes you want), it refers cost back to those who are in the end benefiting from the knowledge created: us. But what this finally means is that a recognition (and thus responsibility) of the role the public plays and implicitly assumes must be foregrounded. 

And that means moving away from the illusion of the startup market funded by VCs as the source and driver of all value and a more realistic understanding of the complexity of the situation.

But the APC costs:

An APC is levied per article accepted for publication for authors choosing to make their work open access. Authors choosing the CC BY license will pay a premium APC. Full details will be available on in December and are listed below.



article processing charges

Press release archive: About NPG.

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