Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join us as we talk about…

In this week’s episode…

  • You’ll learn the costs of being published in Top Tier Journals
  • Next, you’ll different reasons why the cost is so high
  • Finally, you’ll learn why premier journals have a higher cost to publish

I recently got into a discussion with someone over why it cost so much to publish in top tier academic journals. They argued that the newer open source options of the big three journals in particular ranging from around $4,500 to $11,500 was ridiculous.

Yes, I thought, in part, but then I explained that you get what you pay for. These journals are considered by many academics to be the premier journals, so it makes sense that there is premier pricing.

What doesn’t make sense from my perspective is that these costs are one sided when it comes to the careers of those working tirelessly to get published.

What’s in it for the student who’s likely going to leave academia anyway? What’s in it for the postgraduate? Usually not much. I’ve yet to hear of an employer at a top biotech, tech, pharma or other company asking for a job candidate’s h-index. Why? Because it doesn’t matter outside of academia.

Still, publishing in top-tier academic journals is often considered a hallmark of academic success. Researchers strive to have their work featured in these esteemed publications due to the recognition and credibility they bring. However, there’s a significant cost associated with achieving this scholarly prestige. This cost is shared with those who publish the journal.

First, there’s the rigorous peer review process. This is for the actual peer-reviewed academic journal articles, not affiliated blogs and opinion pieces that many of these journals also publish. Before a peer-reviewed article is accepted for publication, it undergoes extensive evaluation by experts in the field.

These peer reviewers dedicate their time and expertise to ensure the quality, validity, and originality of the research. Journals often compensate reviewers for their efforts, adding to the overall cost.

There are also production expenses. These expenses include people who work closely with authors to refine their manuscripts and ensure they meet the journal’s criteria.

Additionally, the cost of typesetting, formatting, copyediting, and proofreading contributes to the overall expense of publication. There’s also the cost of online and print distribution. Many prestigious journals offer both online and print versions of their publications. This dual distribution system incurs additional expenses, including website maintenance, online hosting, and the production of physical copies for subscribers and libraries.

Don’t forget about marketing, selling and promotion – yes, top tier journals do this. Do you think your university librarian is taking it upon themselves to pay up to tens of thousands of dollars for subscription to these journals? No, these subscriptions are being sold to them, regardless of how meager an academic institution’s budget is.

This is an important point that you may not be aware of – top-tier journals often grapple with the choice between open access and subscription-based publishing models. Open access allows free access to articles but requires alternative funding sources, such as article processing charges (APCs), which can be costly for authors.

Subscription models rely on fees paid by institutions, libraries, and individuals for access, but these fees may not cover all publication costs. Other costs include technology costs, author services and support, archiving and preservation, sustainability and overhead, and more.

What do you get in return? Impact factor and prestige in academia. Top-tier journals are typically associated with high impact factors, which measure the frequency of citations a journal receives.

Authors are often willing to invest in publishing fees to be associated with a prestigious journal, as it can enhance their academic reputation and academic career prospects. But, with the low salaries of academic positions and the decreasing numbers of these positions, more and more academics are questioning whether or not it’s worth it to publish in these top tier journals at all.

Recently, I had many people ask me about why some of Cheeky Scientist’s premier products cost so much. My answer to them was similar to this previous discussion on why premier journals cost so much. In short, quality. You get what you pay for. There is one difference though, Cheeky Scientist’s premier products have a strong track record of getting academics into top tier careers, not just low paying academic careers that require more and more publishing.

Book a Transition Call
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly