PeerJ Lifetime Membership – Pay Once, Publish for Life

PeerJ launched with an innovative, headline-grabbing business model: Lifetime Memberships. Pay once, and you can publish for life at PeerJ.  It was – and still is – a disruptive business model in an industry that largely remains devoted to Article Processing Charges (APCs) to fund Open Access. It grabbed headlines partly because it sounded too good to be true – it’s not.

Our Lifetime Membership Plans are a one-time payment, ranging from $399 to $499, that allow you to publish for life in any PeerJ journal. There’s no catch: the only requirement is that all co-authors have a Lifetime Membership when they publish with us.

We know that’s still a lot of money, so we happily waive the membership requirement for authors from low income countries (as classified by the World Bank) and for undergraduates – please just ask when you submit.

Making use of PeerJ Lifetime Membership – The Toonen Network

To demonstrate the value that Lifetime Membership can bring, we checked out who our most prolific Lifetime Member authors were. One stuck out – Professor Robert Toonen. Rob works at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology and is also a Section Editor at PeerJ, overseeing our Aquatic Biology Section alongside James Reimer.

Rob’s use of PeerJ Lifetime Memberships stuck out not just because of the number of times he has used his own Membership, but also because he has, over the years, purchased Lifetime Memberships for his team – therefore making a really interesting case study not only of the value for money that Lifetime Memberships bring but also the network it creates.

As we have dubbed it, The Toonen Network.

Rob was an early adopter of PeerJ and, as a result, some of the Lifetime Memberships he purchased were at a lower rate than we currently offer. We’ve cost adjusted the infographic and our calculations to reflect our current pricing.

Calculating The Toonen Network

Rob has purchased 30 Lifetime Memberships, including his own, over the last 8 years: today’s cost = $11,970. That’s a few hundred dollars more than the $11,390 price of publishing a single Open Access article in Nature.

Those Lifetime Memberships have produced 18 papers of which Rob has been a coauthor; they have also resulted in 3 other papers that Rob isn’t an author on.

As well as those 29 co-authors and Rob, other co-authors were involved in writing those 22 papers. Some of them already had Lifetime Memberships; some were eligible for a Membership Waiver; some of them purchased Lifetime Memberships and have since published more articles with PeerJ.

That’s 24 articles in all.

At our current Lifetime Membership price, the total cost to publish those 24 articles has been $15,960 – or 1.4 Nature papers.

That’s $665 per article.

So far…

Because PeerJ Lifetime Memberships give lifelong publishing privileges, The Toonen Network can drive down that per article cost every time they publish with PeerJ. That’s why we believe that Lifetime Memberships are the sustainable alternative to Article Processing Charges; at PeerJ, the cost per article goes down the more you publish.

We asked Rob to tell us a little about how he uses Lifetime Memberships, and if he’s happy with the value for money we think it provides:

“I always knew Lifetime Membership was great value, but it was nice to see exactly how much money we had saved on publication costs over the years. I usually try to get a Membership for each of my student co-authors before they leave the lab. It sets a tone for the importance of Open Access publishing, and I think it provides a great benefit to an Early Career Researcher to have the ability to publish an Open Access article each year without concern for where the money will come from to pay for the publication costs. Plus, they can always upgrade their tier as needed when they establish their own lab, so they can continue to save money on publication costs down the line as well.”

Delivering low-cost, high-quality peer-reviewed publishing

Delivering low-cost, high-quality peer-reviewed publishing remains at the core of our mission. Whilst the price of our Lifetime Membership has increased over time, The Toonen Network demonstrates that every time an author with a PeerJ Lifetime Membership publishes another article with us, the value for money increases.

We are very thankful to Rob for agreeing to be featured, and for his general support for PeerJ and Open Access Publishing. Rob, in partnership with his fellow Section Editor James Reimer, is currently calling for papers for a PeerJ Special Issue on “The State of Active Coral Reef Conservation and Restoration“. Submit your abstract for consideration today!


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