Hungarian OA Journal Charges According to Article Quality

Applied Ecology and Environmental Research

Low priority.

A standalone open-access journal based in Hungary charges authors based on manuscript “priority,” a euphemism for quality. “Top” and “high” priority articles are published for free, but authors of “medium” and “low priority” articles have to pay — a lot.

Applied Ecology and Environmental Research 2

Priority levels.

The journal is Applied Ecology and Environmental Research or AEER. As shown in the graphic above, the journal’s author fees are waived for some articles, but others require payment:

Top Priority. These manuscripts are treated as priority during the reviewing and publication processes. In this category publication is absolutely free.

High Priority. These manuscripts are reviewed and published in order of submission. In this category publication is absolutely free.

Medium Priority. The reviewing process of manuscripts in this category is suspended after the pre-review. Authors are informed about the status of their manuscript and they can decide whether they want to continue the reviewing process with the open access publication fee indicated in the below table. Authors are required to make payment only after their manuscript has been accepted for publication. Publication fee for this category is shown in the below table. A discount is valid if at least one of the authors are from a developing country (countries outside the USA, Canada, European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan or South Korea).

Low Priority. Same as Medium Priority except for the amount of publication fee.

The priority determination is determined during a “pre-review” process. If your article ends up being medium priority, you end up paying €500 (with a measly €50 discount if you’re based in a developing country).

Applied Ecology and Environmental Research author fees

The worse your research, the more you pay.

So, submitting to this journal is like playing a slot machine, you may hit a jackpot, or you may have to pay up to 800 euros, the charge for a low-priority article from a developed country.

The journal’s website uses “frames,” a popular HTTP feature from the late 1990s. The jornal’s website is an electronic fossil. It began publishing in 2003 and is not on my list.

Though it’s a fee-charging, open-access journal, Applied Ecology and Environmental Research requires that authors sign over their copyright to the publisher.

Looking at the articles, one cannot tell which “priority” level each one is. So for each article, one wonders whether the authors had to pay or were awarded free publishing.

The publishing model is such that the low priority or weak articles subsidize the publication of the good ones, an incentive for the journal to accept and publish more weak papers.

12 Responses to Hungarian OA Journal Charges According to Article Quality

  1. Ahmad Hassanat says:

    This is a new business model!
    Things are getting better, well bad, but still better.

  2. Prof. Aziz I. Abdulla says:

    Good idea to deal with articles according to quality, but is this journal good or not?

    • Guido Berens says:

      I think the point that mr. Beall was making is that it is *not* a good idea, because it gives the journal a strong incentive to accept low-quality papers.

  3. JanosToth says:

    When more than a week ago I asked Mr. Beall in a comment about this journal (inquiring about whether it is a standard practice or business model of OA journals to publish “top” and “high” priority research free of charges but charge for publishing medium or low priority papers), I was surprised when my comment didn’t pass moderation. Now I see why, and maybe it is better to cover this issue in a full blog post.

    • Janos, thanks for your understanding; your comment was published at the same time as the blog post.
      Note that the email you used in the comment doesn’t work. And the name you used was different.

  4. moom says:

    I’d guess this is like MDPI where invited articles get published free and submitted ones are charged for.

  5. “an incentive for the journal to accept and publish more weak papers” – or an incentive for authors to write strong papers? Half full or half empty?

    • Guido Berens says:

      I think the problem here is a lack of transparency. If the journal would be completely clear on the criteria for assigning a paper to the categories (based on the reviews), and would publish the reviews for each paper, it might work as an incentive to submit strong papers (although it still seems unethical to me to charge depending on quality). But now, it seems that the journal could just arbitrarily assign my paper to the “medium” or “low” category just because it needs some cash. Sure, if the review reports are all extremely positive that wouldn’t fly, but serious review reports rarely are so positive (at least in my field, “major revisions” is about the best possible outcome in the first round), and how do I know there even is a real review process?

  6. […] Jeffrey Beall ha scoperto una rivista di ecologia con un nuovo business model: gli articoli di qualità molto elevata ed elevata sono pubblicati gratis, gli altri lo sono a un prezzo inversamente proporzionale alla qualità… […]

  7. Katrin says:

    The outdated website layout makes me feel kind of nostalgic.

  8. Daniel Garcia says:

    Well, now that this Journal is at the Thomson-Reuters Journal Citation Reports would be still considered a bad quality journal?

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