Only the wealthiest universities in the wealthiest countries will be able to foot these bills. As a result, the range of researchers able to publish open-access papers in Springer Nature’s top journals will be narrow. The ivory tower, already full of inequalities, will only grow more divided. The “haves” will be able to publish openly in widely read and cited journals, which will in turn allow them to secure coveted research funding and academic posts. The “have-nots” may still choose to publish in Nature, but their work will remain hidden to much of the world, behind a paywall. The rich will get richer.
Maybe it will take a revolt of the privileged to weaken the APC scourge. It would be ironic if intra-elite inequality dented a system whose status quo—$3,000 APCs—has long gated off OA publishing for most of the world’s scholars.
To repeat the obvious, with Nature as late-arriving exclamation point: APC pricing has nothing to do with production costs. Almost two years out from the decision, Plan S’s doubling down on cost transparency as an APC-taming device seems more naive than ever.