Sir Mark Walport, the director of Wellcome Trust, said that his organisation [in conjunction with The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Max Planck Society] is in the final stages of launching a high calibre scientific journal called eLife that would compete directly with top-tier publications such as Nature and Science, seen by scientists as the premier locations for publishing. Unlike traditional journals, however, which cost British universities hundreds of millions of pounds a year to access, articles in eLife will be free to view on the web as soon as they are published. (Alok Jha, The Guardian)Although this announcement may seem unrelated to the usual subject-matter of this blog, it isn't entirely so. After all, the Journal of Popular Romance Studies is also a free, online publication. In the BBC's report it's mentioned that
One of the [...] concerns that some scientists have about open access publishing is that it would be damaging to the peer review system.Indeed. At JPRS "Submissions will be reviewed by the Executive Editor, who will pass on manuscripts of merit to appropriate peer reviewers."
But according to Wellcome's Robert Kiley, the peer review process operates the same way regardless of whether the journal is paid for or not.
"Those two elements, quality and open access, are completely separate, and it's a bit of a red herring to conflate them," he said.
"Of course there are low quality open access journals, but there are also low quality subscription journals. Quality and cost are not related."