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RE: Costs of peer-review (Was: May issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter)

The notion that peer review is free or low cost is based on 
misinformation.  In STM publishing, at least, editors are 
normally paid a stipend or honorarium that can range from 
thousands to tens of thousands of dollars (it can be even higher 
for clinical journals).  In some cases, the editor's institution 
gets the money, but it still has to be paid by the publisher.

Online manuscript submission and peer-review systems are not 
cheap.  Editors, editorial boards, and reviewers expect more than 
just getting a PDF via email.  They want to track turnaround 
times, reviewer performance, and other statistics related to the 
process.  Authors expect the ability to track submissions from 
anywhere.  Online systems may be less expensive to run than 
sending paper manuscripts back and forth and tracking them with 
manual data entry, but the systems are far from low cost.

It takes paid staff to run the process, so you have to add their 
salaries, rent, and overhead. Even if the work is done by the 
editor's administrative assistant, the journal normally pays for 
that person's time.

We publish four journals that have "volunteer" editors and 
editorial boards.  It's a rather bare-bones operation with 
minimal staff who handled 2,508 submissions in 2009.  Peer review 
for those journals for 2009 cost about $700,000.

Richard Dodenhoff
Journals Director
American Society for Pharmacology
  & Experimental Therapeutics
9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Ken Masters
Sent: Wednesday, May 05, 2010 10:24 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Costs of peer-review (Was: May issue of the SPARC Open 
Access Newsletter)

One of the things about traditional publishing that I hear 
frequently is the cost of peer-review.  I wonder if someone can 
fill me in on what those costs are.  In most journals, the 
editors aren't paid (but editing is not peer-reviewing, anyway). 
The reviewers aren't paid.  There are no longer any postage and 
printing costs to be paid.  There's bound to be an overhead 
adminstrative cost of sending the material back and forth, and 
(perhaps) converting into other formats (such as pdf) before 
review, but this surely can't be that high.  Afterwards, a large 
amount of formatting into the journal's layout is now done 
automatically, but, in any case, that has nothing to do with 

I'm not saying that there are _no_ costs to peer review - so many 
people say that there are, so they can't all be wrong.  I'm just 
asking what those costs are. i.e. if the journal were not 
peer-reviewed, what expensive activities would be cut out?



Dr. Ken Masters
Asst. Professor: Medical Informatics
Medical Education Unit
College of Medicine & Health Sciences
Sultan Qaboos University
Sultanate of Oman
E-i-C: The Internet Journal of Medical Education