Another ripoff journal and science publisher

So I need this article for my upcoming lectures on Antarctic biology. Sadly, the journal (Current Protein and Peptide Science) isn’t in our university’s e-library, so I have to either buy it (see below) or request it via Interlibrary loan. I will of course do the latter, so readers needn’t send it to me, and I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage bypassing ripoff journal paywalls.

But I was curious about the “Purchase PDF” button. When you click on it, you get this:

FIFTY EIGHT DOLLARS THEY WANT! And the article is only 22 pages long. That’s more than $2 a page for a pdf!

This is highway robbery, I tell you. But these inflated prices are typical if you don’t have a library or private subscription. (The company, by the way, is Bentham Science.)

Now the authors are from Hong Kong, so I doubt that any American taxpayer money was used to fund the research, but that is often the case and that’s DOUBLE highway robbery. If you pay taxes to support research, the results of that research—the publication—should be free to everyone. It’s your money, folks!

Not only that, but this journal may (I’m not sure) charge authors to publish their paper. And where does the publication fee come from? You guessed it: Joe Taxpayer. (There is a place on grant proposals to ask for money to publish papers.)

Scientific publishing is a huge racket, and what ripoff prices like this one do is impede the progress and dissemination of scientific knowledge. Bentham Science can take a number get in line, and kiss my tuchas.

I was so mad that I issued one of my rare tweets:

h/t: Nilou


  1. rickflick
    Posted August 18, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Free enterprise at it finest and most profitable! Supply and demand – that sort of thing, I guess.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Sort of – in continental Europe at least a lot of the big academic publishers are for-profit corporations, whereas I understand in the US many are in a slightly different situation. And this is certainly reflected in relative pricing!

  2. Franklin
    Posted August 18, 2019 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if any individuals actually pay. I see the price of articles from $50-$70 all the time, even if under 10 pages. If the cost were around $5 most people would just buy articles they need.

    • JezGrove
      Posted August 18, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      The trouble is, sometimes an article’s abstract sounds promising and relevant to your research but then when you read the full paper you find that this is not the case. Even $5 is a lot to pay for something it turns out you didn’t need, especially when it happens repeatedly.

  3. Eli Siegel
    Posted August 18, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ve told this before, but I’ll tell it again. A university librarian was told by an Elsevier representative that they did not care how many libraries canceled subscriptions; they would just increase the charges to the remaining libraries.

  4. Liz
    Posted August 18, 2019 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    An antifreeze protein sounds interesting.

  5. Posted August 18, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    When I need an article that my university’s library doesn’t carry, and I need it right away for the next day’s lecture, I send an email to the corresponding author. I almost always get the article within hours! I try to hold up my end of the bargain by immediately sending out my pdf’s when requested. If I’m not in a hurry, inter-library loan is fine.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted August 18, 2019 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Agree, it’s nearly always a faster approach than interlibrary loan. Plus it’s one more contact with a person doing interesting work

  6. sanguinelee
    Posted August 18, 2019 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Bentham Science not only has a shitty search feature and an amateurish looking site layout, but also apparently, a history of weak peer-review process for some of its journals.

  7. Posted August 18, 2019 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Just email the corresponding author for a PDF; that is what I do frequently and rarely am turned down.

  8. Steve D
    Posted August 18, 2019 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    ‘Not only that, but this journal may (I’m not sure) charge authors to publish their paper.’

    I doubt it because that is a completely different business strategy. I’m a biochemist and I’ve never encountered a legitimate journal that charges authors. In any event you should be able to deduce that from their website.

    • Posted August 18, 2019 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Many respected journals have page charges. The journal Ecology is an example, but there are many more.

  9. Posted August 18, 2019 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    FYI, I requested the article on Research Gate (it sounds interesting), and Randy Cheung sent it to me.

  10. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    “I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage bypassing ripoff journal paywalls.”

    No, of course you wouldn’t. That would be a very bad thing to do.



  11. bobkillian
    Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Remember who Jeremy Bentham was. Their behavior only reflects social Darwinism at its most rapacious.

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