Nobel laureate Randy Schekman launched the open-access journal eLife in 2012, funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Max Planck Society, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He designed the journal to compete with Nature, Science, and Cell.
For the first few years, researchers could publish their work in eLife for free, Nature News says. The journal's model changed in 2017 because it needed more revenue streams. And then Schekman stepped down from eLife on Jan. 31 to chair an advisory council for the Aligning Science Across Parkinson's initiative, funded by the Sergey Brin Family Foundation in San Francisco.
In speaking with Nature News, Schekman says that when he started eLife, the journal was committed to dampening the influence of impact factor on scientific publishing. "[Success] was defined by the kinds of papers that people send to us for publication: we would judge it a success if our own board members sent us their best work to publish — some have and some not yet," he says.
Schekman also tells Nature News that he's very supportive of Plan S, an initiative that was proposed in 2018 to make all papers open access upon publication.
"Open access is the future," he says. "Commercial journals have been fighting against this very hard because it poses a clear danger to their profit margin. The public has paid for this research, so they deserve to have access to it."
But he also acknowledges that publishing has some legitimate expenses. PNAS, for example, is published by the science society it is named after. The society doesn't make a profit, and it recently estimated that it costs about $6,000 to publish a paper, Schekman notes to Nature News, adding, "It might be that journals may have different article-processing charges depending on their selectivity."
But Plan S will definitely shake up the publishing business, he says, just like the BioRxiv preprint server did.
"Journals are going to change, and Plan S could have a strong influence," Schekman tells Nature News.