Flexible Publishing Models for Authors from Under-Resourced Settings: A Call for a Radical Change

There is a growing concern on the unaffordable open access fees for researchers located in low- and middle-income countries. These researchers are facing a serious challenge to publish their research, particularly, given the rapid expansion of open access journals that do not waive the publishing fees for these scientists in under-resourced settings. A new flexible waiving model is needed given the considerable limitations of the World Bank Classification.

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Publishing open access (OA) science costs a significant budget to countries and has caused important damages to scientists based in resource-constrained settings. Researchers from under-resourced countries find considerable barriers to publishing their research in academic journals, particularly with the shortage of journals with hybrid options. There is currently a marked and rapidly expanding mouvement of scientific publishers to transform their subscription-based journals into fully OA without providing solutions to unfunded authors from low- and middle-income countries,a for example. The existing gold OA journals use the world bank economic level criteria to deliver full or partial waivers to authors wishing to publish in their journals based on gross domestic product. However, this categorization used by academic journals to provide waivers policy should be abandoned as it does not take into account the funding available in academic institutions and also for independent research teams. Flexible and alternative solutions exist to substitute the world bank criteria (Figure 1). 

Instead of these barriers, journals should consider full waivers for authors justifying a lack of funding by providing a certificate from their corresponding institutions. This is expected to support scientists with no funding without affecting inequalities to publish science based on OA models. More importantly, stakeholders should require publishers to tolerate sharing the accepted versions of articles in subscription-based journals without restrictions such as the embargo period. This will promisingly reduce the unaffordability of accessing science in countries with limited resources. Therefore, the gold OA publishing model should be reserved  to research teams with available funding only.



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Conflicts of Interest


Khalid El Bairi

Research Associate in Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Mohammed Ist University, Oujda

Khalid El Bairi is the founder of The Cancer Biomarkers Working Group, and he is currently pursuing clinical and translational research in medical oncology. He has published many peer-reviewed articles in the field of predictive and prognostic cancer biomarkers to improve survival outcomes in several WoS and Medline-indexed journals. His research focuses particularly on biomarkers for digestive and gynecological cancers such as ovarian and colorectal malignancies. He is currently a member of the board of various international scientific societies such as the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS), European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO), and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). He is also an editor and reviewer for more than 40 journals including BMC Cancer, PLoS ONE and Frontiers in Oncology and a guest editor for several special issues on gynecological cancers including Seminars in Cancer Biology and Current Drug Targets. He is also highly interested in teaching evidence-based medicine, clinical research methods, and publishing ethics to medical and Ph.D students and was selected for the 70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting as a young scientist.