I’ve written here before about open access, though it’s been a while. And way back in 2005 I wrote about the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development’s office offering small grants to cover author fees. This is great, and the maximum award of $5,000 is generous… more than enough to cover my current needs.

Which brings me to… my current needs. I just had a paper accepted with minor revisions to the International Journal on Digital Libraries. Titled Teaching Digital Library Concepts Using Digital Library Applications, & co-authored with Javed Mostafa & June Abbas. Stay tuned for a preprint… I’ll post one once we submit a revised version.

Anyway, point is, IJDL is a Springer publication. And Springer has an open access option that they call Open Choice. Open Choice costs $3000, which sounds like a lot but is actually more or less in line with other author fees: PLoS Bio & PLoS Med are both $2750, though PLos ONE is $1250. I plan to try to find some money for this in the budget of the project that spawned this paper. But I also plan to submit an application for a publication grant.

Problem is: “The University Research Council meets twice a year, once during the fall semester and once during the spring semester, to consider applications.” So if we submit our revisions soon, and the URC doesn’t meet until close to the end of the Fall semester, that’s 5 months lag time before a decision is made, never mind an account set up out of which to pay an author fee. I could have page proofs by then. Probably not, if my past experience with the turnaround time for journals is any guide. But it’s possible.

So while the VC-RED’s publication grants are a great idea, generous and supportive of faculty ownership of our publications, etc., there’s one significant problem: timing. If I was less on the ball, I wouldn’t have even found out about Open Choice until the paper was finally accepted for publication. At which point:

If and when your article has been accepted for publication, you will receive notification of that fact. At this point you should make up your mind about choosing to publish your article with open access.

So in order to pay an author fee, you need to have the money available at the time of acceptance. Which means paying out of pocket, or having an account with funds ready to go. But if you’re applying for a grant from your institution, that takes time & makes the latter impossible. This seems like an easily solvable problem, & I think I’ll bring it to the VC-RED’s attention. Makes me wonder how many applications they’ve received for publication grants.