One of the most exciting and memorable parts of my postgraduate research was having recorded results that was worth publishing in a scientific journal. If memory serves me correctly almost every word was agonised over, after the first few drafts anyway. Every table and figure scrutinised and double checked. Hours spent over the best sounding title. Every reference formatted into the journals exact specification. The amount of coffee drank re-reading the text. The printing out and posting (yes, posting at the post office) of the final manuscript. Thankfully fieldwork in Greenland took me away from checking the post everyday.
I still remember receiving the returned manuscript and the anticipation i felt before opening the package, a rejection or an acceptance letter? It was a new experience reading though the comments of two other scientists on what they thought of my results. As "luck" would have it they agreed that the work was worth publishing with a few changes here and there.
When I started thinking of my M.Sc. dissertation this year I was already thinking that it would be great to be able to publish the results of the research. It was with some dismay I found out how much the academic publishing landscape has changed. My plan was to publish in the Journal of Glaciology (from the International Glaciological Society). That plan changed quickly when I realised that they charge £1200 to publish a paper. I was a bit shocked. It seems that they now don't have a subscription fee for the journal, instead they charge the authors to publish and the readers get the material (online) for free. It appears that many journals are turning away from subscription based models towards author charged models. Quaternary Science Reviews (where I published my first article, with Dr Peter G. Knight) is now charging $2850.
I think this is a disturbing trend. I cannot fathom how an editor can base good research against the requirement of revenue, even though the work is peer reviewed. It also works against the researchers who don't get large grants to undertake research, or in my case, the students that sometimes lay the foundations for future work. To me charging authors for publishing is simply anti-science. I worry about what research isn't getting published that we are missing out on because the author cannot afford to publish.
I do realise that if the publication is then shared via a creative commons licence and that everyone (with an internet connection) can read them then the work reaches a larger audience. But if the science that has been published because the journal needed more revenue that month then what is the worth of the articles? There has to be a fairer way than the current trend.