Charities becoming publishers


For the readers of the blog, I have been posting on the broken publication procress, this is not directly about MS although the MS Society is involved choose to read to read if you like.

To effectively run trials like octupus is going to cost a wodge of cash. COVID-19 has put a big dent in charitable donation. So Charities are going to have to be innovative.

Is publishing the way to go?

We have a new(ish) journal ANRC open research. It is a platform to publish charity funded work because they want the work they fund to be open access. However open access has become an device to make money out of scientitisst who have played along with the silly game.

Who we the AMRC

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) is a membership organisation dedicated to supporting medical research charities in saving and improving lives through research and innovation.

We ensure our member charities fund the best research by developing guides, providing training, and carrying out an audit of their funding processes.

We unite and champion the sector, helping to drive positive change in the research and health landscape.

Our mission

The AMRC brings together and supports health and medical charities to produce high-quality research. We do this by influencing policy and research, and highlighting the sector’s contribution to patient and public health.

Our strategy

As part of our 2020-25 strategic plan, we consulted with members and developed five strategic objectives. These are to:

  1. To champion the unique voice of the medical research charity sector by informing and educating internal and external stakeholders across the changing life sciences and digital health landscape.
  2. To influence the research and health funding landscape to ensure that medical research charities investment is leveraged efficiently for patient impact.
  3. To foster and enable better collaboration to address the needs of patients by working with industry, academia, NHS, regulators, our members and other stakeholders.
  4. To maximise the potential for research and innovation in the NHS to ensure the investment from medical research charities has the greatest impact for patients.
  5. To drive forward the quality future focused member offering which addresses changing needs and enhances AMRC’s delivery capability.

However, the Journal is run based on the Faculty of 1000 platform the idea it is published online and then be reviewed in the open.

I guess it isn’t about the money, money, money but open access journals have costs to to run and importantly they are fee generating and potentially income generating. At the moment is is seen as a low price the people in the US may think it is a bargain based on a particulalrly weak pound. But there are costs

Is this the start and are they going to following the footsteps of some open access journals such as Froniters which have an ever increasing set of journals. However, if they are so good as educators, how come they dont know anything about the British flag based on their website

P.S. For Americans and half the UK population…it is upside down.

Come on……it is not that hard. The thick white bit is on top on the left i.e. nearest the flag pole. Historicaly there was a loop and a toggle to hang the British flags so it was difficult to get it wrong, but with the advent of flags with eyelets it is best to have a flag like Austria (on left) You can’t get it wrong. Frontiers is based in Switzerland and they have a square flag with a cross hard to get it upside or wrong way around:-).

Just wonder what tourists think when they drive along the road and see American Candy Shop and get the flag on the right.

OK pet-peeve over.

However, just because you can pay by a library does not mean that they are not getting paid for.

However apparently

  • Frontiers’s estimated annual revenue is currently $299.1M per year.
  • Frontiers’s estimated revenue per employee is $243,00

So Ker Ching Ker Ching.

Fronitiers has an interesting model where the journals use friends. In WW1 you had pals sign up, then get your mates to sign up and soon you had a regiment of mates. Only problem was when you went over the top from the trenches and was shot…… a whole town would disappear in a day….So not the best moral booster for the folks back home all getting a telegram to say your husband/son was dead on the same day. Now what happens at Frontiers is you volunteer to be an special issue editor, you then get your mates to agree to do the special issue with you and then they pay Frontiers a few grand for the pleasure of the open access publication. They get yours and others mates to review the papers and pay them nothing and ker ching ker ching.

PLOS has a different model, it is based on publishing volume

Apparently For the year ending December 31st, 2019, PLOS generated total revenues of $31.6 million compared to total revenues of $31.7 million for the year ending December 31st, 2018. 2019 total expenses of $30.5 million compared with $38 million in 2018.

PLOS is a non-profit so explains why they shell out cost to ~$0.5 million dollars for the CEO’s salaries.

However apparently “The San Francisco-based, non-profit open access (OA) publisher released its latest financials, disclosing that it ran a US $5.5 million dollar deficit in 2018 on $32M dollars of revenue”.  Possibly because the impact factor of PlosOne dropped It was about 4.4 in 2010 and is now 3.2, people switched to Scientific reports (impact factor now 4.4) for their outlet and then you had BioRXiv/MedRXiv..This is currently free (it won’t be forever) and the information is now online within about 3 days. The NIH originating papers go straight onto Pubmed (indexing website). You have cut out the middle men/women.

Is publishing the way for charities to make some Lolly?

The Wellcome Trust + others set up Elife to rival Nature and Science, originally free to publish, now costs $3,000 and has an impact factor of about 8…Hardly in the same league of Nature or Science (Impact factors >40). However until ANCR open research gets an decent impact factor. which is based on citations, I suspect it won’t be the go to place because of pressures of performance on academics

Governments could easily fund a repository for science. You could have UK Science Open Journal One, UK Science MS etc etc and as long it is findable by a search Engine. Academia can do the peer review and online it goes. Chemists send there papers in journal printable format so you can make them look pretty. It would see an end to the publishing houses….should we care?…….with mobile phones and digital camera film has gone…books are going the same way

Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the positions of the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry nor Barts Health NHS Trust or Queen Mary Univeristy of London.

About the author



  • If high dose biotin also called vitamin B8 ( MD1003 ) failed in progressive MS. Why is niacin also called vitamin B3 going to be tested in progressive MS ?

      • Well what were the arguments you heard for the use of Niacin in the octopus trial ?

        Also how many compounds are expected to be tried in the octopus trial in total ( 3, 5, 10 or more ) ?

        • I was not present for the final discussions.
          The idea of octupus is that you can carry one for ever

          • With the current funding for the octopus trial in the event that their is no additional futur funding how many compounds could be tested with the present amount of money ?

        • Niacin arguments were based mostly on some mouse studies. The effect is probably too small and the dose they are using too low to be able to show a positive result. They are also using the extended release formulation which is known to cause liver issues (bad idea, the last thing you want is your trial tainted by liver-related adverse events when MS specialists are already so conservative).

  • I just can’t believe the octopus trial won’t quickly and directly help people with MS

    People pay to the charity’s hoping to get a good out come. And the trial sounds like it’s benefiting drug companies. Who can develop compounds that are basically the same as the compounds being tested in the octopus trial.

    If and approved drug is found to be successful in the trial. Shouldn’t that be prescribed to people with progressive MS fairly quickly. Rather than have them wait even longer for treatment?

    • If and approved drug is found to be successful in the trial. Shouldn’t that be prescribed to people with progressive MS fairly quickly….you may think and hope so but does it?

      • Such a shame if it isn’t, it’s like dangling a carrot then pulling it away.

        I’m sure people don’t donate money for someone else to financially benefit. Morally wrong if you ask me.

        The trail looks a great set up, It would be nice to think it actually benefitted people in the next 2/3/4 years. I hope common sense prevails

    • Nothing will ever be prescribed without multiple phase III trials 🙁

      But informed people with MS are already taking a lot of the things Octopus is trialing anyway (alpha-lipoic acid, niacin/nicotinamide riboside, sodium channel blockers, metformin).

      • Which sodium channel blocker and why? Unlike the other agents on your list, some of them are downright nasty…

        • Octupus is trialing anyway (alpha-lipoic acid, niacin/nicotinamide riboside, sodium channel blockers, metformin)…..this is not what I believe will happen in the first plce but I have not seen the final trial details

        • “Which sodium channel blocker and why? Unlike the other agents on your list, some of them are downright nasty…”

          Some of them are downright nasty….I agree that is why people did not take them.

          Which Sodium channels…there is a list in Cunliffe et al. 2021 “and why?”. I am not going to answer this..I’m biased perhaps

        • Probably oxcarbazepine if you can get it as this was used in the proximus trial. You don’t need to take anti-epileptic doses, I believe proximus only used 200 mg/day.



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