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Six months ago the PhD supervisor of a friend of mine asked him to write a review article. After a hard work of 4 months he finished an extensive review article. Another two months were wasted correcting the figures and text of the manuscript as the supervisor is a perfectionist and doesn't know where to stop... Well finally it's finished and now the supervisor is saying that he doesn't want to publish it as he does not have enough funds for it. Can anyone suggest what my friend could possibly do now.

Also my friend tried to find some free journals to which the supervisor didn't agree saying it not up to the standards of the group to publish in such small journal.

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    I'm really confused here... why does the review need money to be published? In pretty much every field, there are a large number of high-repute journals that don't have any article fees. – jakebeal Jun 24 '15 at 11:52
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    @OP: just to clarify: by "review", you mean a "review article", not a "review of an article", right? – DCTLib Jun 24 '15 at 11:54
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    Like @jakebeal I am confused. Is the PhD advisor an author on the paper? It is most likely in his interest to publish it if he can. There is a big difference between "doesn't want to publish it at all" and "doesn't want to publish it right now". In the former case this may be a transparent excuse to cover something up (the manuscript is really poor in reality, perhaps?); this needs sleuthing. In the latter case (a) Funds may appear later, maybe the PhD advisor just wants to delay it a bit? (b) Good open access journals often waive publication fees in case of financial difficulty. – Willie Wong Jun 24 '15 at 12:31
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    "as he does not have enough funds for it" -- Wow, this sounds like a particularly lame-ass excuse for... I don't even know what. But there must be something that your advisor is wary of telling you. – darij grinberg Jun 24 '15 at 14:59
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    the fee is usually 1500 euros. But that's understandable that when he asked him to write the review he had money but it might be that he doesn't have it now. But then where I see his fault is that he should allow the student to submit the paper is some journal that are free. His logic that journals that are free are not good, sound very ridiculous to me. – Saurabh Jun 24 '15 at 16:34
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The supervisor of your friend is mistaken. Judging the quality of a journal by how much it charges authors* shows a blatant ignorance of how academia works in general. It makes me suspect he only publishes in expensive lower-tier OA journals.

I would recommend that your friend finds a reputable, subscription-based journal in the field and tries to bring her/his supervisor to reason.

Yet it might be that the supervisor is making an excuse I would then ask for the real reason why he doesn't want to publish the paper.


*I'm baffled that we have come to that. The author-pay open access scheme is hurting academic publishing more than I thought.

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    An important caveat - "Subscription-based" certainly does not mean "no charges"; a substantial amount of non-OA titles still levy page/publication charges. It's less common than it used to be, certainly, but it's still there, and does vary dramatically by field - unknown in some, common in others. – Andrew Jun 24 '15 at 13:07
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    I don't read the supervisor as thinking that author-pay makes the journal better, just that in this case the author-pay journal is higher ranked in his mind than the "small journal" the friend was able to find that was cheaper. Maybe the friend should just find a better subscription journal. – Bill Barth Jun 24 '15 at 13:09
  • I don't think author-pay OA is to blame here: I can't find it at the moment, but I read an article not long ago that analyzed the current state and found price utterly uncorrelated with quality in OA, even discarding all of the predatory publishers. – jakebeal Jun 24 '15 at 13:22
  • expensive lower-tier OA journals Judging from the "calls for papers" that I regularly delete from my inbox, low-tier OA journals are commonly much cheaper than good OA journals. Admittedly, their price/quality ratio is much higher... – silvado Jun 24 '15 at 19:08

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