I’m happy to say that this week we sent out our first round of royalty payments to authors of original articles in CSH Protocols. Because we’re doing some reprinting of material from our already-published laboratory manuals, we built in a system to pay royalties to the editors of those manuals. We chose at the time to extend those royalties to authors of new material as well. The idea of writing up methods isn’t something that immediately occurs to most laboratories–they’re usually more interested in publishing data, so we’re hoping that these royalty payments will at least serve as something of a motivation for publishing (and continuing to publish) protocols with us. We’re not talking about huge sums of money, but as I recall from my graduate student days, every little bit helps. It also addresses one of the complaints one hears about us greedy science publishers–that we fail to compensate scientists for the work they’ve put into the publication and keep all the cash for ourselves. While CSHL Press is part of a not-for-profit research institute, and any money we make from our publications goes to fund research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, we’re very curious to see what happens from this experiment in revenue-sharing. Does this make a difference to you as an author?
This set of royalties covers the calendar year 2007. A portion of our subscription revenue is set aside and divided among all authors/editors based on the usage of their individual articles during that calendar year. Those who published articles late in the year may not see much in terms of revenue given the relatively small time scale that their articles were available, but hopefully their articles will see a little more use in 2008.
This is a really interesting experiment. Many researchers will need a little extra incentive to write up a protocol paper, but they can be very useful to have. CSH Protocols has been leading on many ways from their free access articles each month to, now, the use of royalties.
Finding the right niche in an online/offline world is what keeps everyone on their toes. CSH Protocols looks to be making a nice place for itself. I’d imagine there will be some other tweaks to the publishing industry before it is all said and done.
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