Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences

Authors : David Solomon, Mikael Laakso, Bo-Christer Björk

This report identifies ways through which subscription-based scholarly journals have converted their publishing models to open access (OA).

The major goal was to identify specific scenarios that have been used or proposed for transitioning subscription journals to OA so that these scenarios can provide options for others seeking to “flip” their journals to OA.

The report is based on the published literature as well as “gray” literature such as blog posts and press releases. In addition, interviews were conducted with eight experts in scholarly publishing.

The report identifies a variety of goals for converting a journal to OA. While there are altruistic goals of making scholarship more accessible, the literature review and interviews suggest that there are also many practical reasons for transitioning to an OA model.

In some instances, an OA business model is simply more economically viable. Also, it is not unusual for a society or editorial board to transition to an OA business model as a means of gaining independence from the current publisher.

Increasing readership, the number and quality of submissions, and impact as measured in citations are important goals for most journals that are considering flipping. Goals and their importance often differ for various regions in the world and across different disciplines.

Each journal’s situation is unique and it is important for those seeking to flip a journal to carefully consider exactly what they hope to achieve, what barriers they are likely to face, and how the changes that are being implemented will further the goals intended for their journal.

We found that there are many issues that must be addressed in the process of changing a journal’s business model to OA.

The transition process is complex and in most cases requires at least a year. For example, it is necessary to address manuscripts in process and how to manage back issues. Obligations to subscribers must be negotiated, particularly when the journal’s subscription is bundled with other journals in multi-journal contracts, called “big deal” agreements.

A great deal of effort should go into marketing so that authors and readers are adequately informed of the change. Implementing the transition at the beginning of a volume also helps to avoid confusion.

Society-owned journals have specific challenges, such as losing the membership perk of free or discounted subscriptions for members. The wishes of the society’s membership and its willingness to accept sacrifices, such as increased dues or reduced services, must be considered if the society must give up income to flip.

Commercial publishers have a somewhat different set of goals from nonprofit or small societies. The goals and funding options for flipping journals to OA vary across disciplines and in different parts of the world. While there are many similarities across journals, each has its own unique challenges when converting from subscription to OA.

There are a variety of factors that facilitate conversion to OA. These forces are both top down and bottom up. Governments, funding agencies, and library cooperatives through large-scale initiatives such as mandates and special funding programs can facilitate conversion and directly and indirectly influence journals converting to OA.

Also, individuals and small groups, such as editors, the editorial board, or society members, have converted journals through their own efforts. There is no process that works for all journals and there are important variations in circumstances for each journal.

There are also barriers and risks to consider. Whether or not article processing charges (APCs) are used, ensuring adequate resources to publish the journal over the long term is critical.

Unintended consequences are also a concern. APCs, or even just the change to OA, may discourage submissions or decrease their quality. Loss of free or discounted subscriptions may decrease membership for societies.

Obtaining a good understanding of the potential risks and benefits of flipping through surveys, focus groups, and pilot programs, such as flipping only a section of a journal, are strategies for understanding and substantially reducing the risks associating with changing the business model.

The scenarios are organized into those based on APC funding and those based on obtaining resources or funding through other sources. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis was performed on a number of journal scenario examples to assess the risks and benefits of each scenario.

URL : Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences

Alternative location : https://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/27803834

 

La ruée vers l’or des publications ou comment passer des revues avec abonnements aux articles en accès libre

En matière de publication scientifique, la dernière décennie a été celle du passage des abonnements à des revues sur papier (avec éventuellement un accès électronique en supplément) aux abonnements électroniques (avec éventuellement un supplément pour le papier).

La décennie en cours est celle d’un bouleversement sans doute encore plus profond, remettant en cause la chaîne de financement de l’édition scientifique et donc, au-delà, l’équilibre des pouvoirs et des droits entre les éditeurs commerciaux, les bibliothèques, les laboratoires et in fine les chercheurs.

En effet, conformément aux objectifs « Horizon 2020 » fixés par la communauté européenne, les publications scientifiques devront bientôt être en accès libre et gratuit. Mais la question est de savoir comment y parvenir.

URL : http://smf4.emath.fr/Publications/Gazette/2016/147/smf_gazette_147_6-13.pdf

A Journal is a Club: A New Economic Model for Scholarly Publishing

A new economic model for analysis of scholarly publishing—journal publishing in particular—is proposed that draws on club theory. The standard approach builds on market failure in the private production (by research scholars) of a public good (new scholarly knowledge).

In that model publishing is communication, as the dissemination of information. But a club model views publishing differently: namely as group formation, where members form groups in order to confer externalities on each other, subject to congestion.

A journal is a self-constituted group, endeavouring to create new knowledge. In this sense ‘a journal is a club’. The knowledge club model of a journal seeks to balance the positive externalities due to a shared resource (readers, citations, referees) against negative externalities due to crowding (decreased prospect of publishing in that journal).

A new economic model of a journal as a ‘knowledge club’ is elaborated. We suggest some consequences for the management of journals and financial models that might be developed to support them.

URL : http://ssrn.com/abstract=2763975

Leading by Example? ALA Division Publications, Open Access, and Sustainability

This investigation explores scholarly communication business models in American Library Association (ALA) division peer-reviewed academic journals. Previous studies reveal the numerous issues organizations and publishers face in the academic publishing environment. Through an analysis of documented procedures, policies, and finances of five ALA division journals, we compare business and access models.

We conclude that some ALA divisions prioritize the costs associated with changing business models, including hard-to-estimate costs such as the labor of volunteers. For other divisions, the financial aspects are less important than maintaining core values, such as those defined in ALA’s Core Values in Librarianship.

URL : http://m.crl.acrl.org/content/early/2015/12/14/crl15-841.abstract

Les revues de sciences humaines et sociales en France: libre accès et audience

« La Commission européenne a émis le 17 juillet 2012 une recommandation en faveur du libre accès aux résultats de la recherche financée sur fonds publics.

La question posée aux politiques publiques est celle de la durée pendant laquelle l’accès peut être payant avant le passage à la gratuité de l’article. Il s’agit donc de prendre la mesure des gains et des coûts d’une telle politique de libre accès pour déterminer quel serait le délai optimal d’embargo. »

URL : http://www.ipp.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/revues-shs-rapport-IPP-juillet2015.pdf

Donations as a Source of Income for Open Access Journals: An Option To Consider?

« Online open access journals allow readers to view scholarly articles without a subscription or other payment barrier. However, publishing costs must still be covered. Therefore, many of these publications rely on support from a variety of sources. One source of funds not commonly discussed is donations from readers.

This study investigated the prevalence of this practice and sought to learn about the motivation of journal editors to solicit donations, and also to gather input on the effectiveness of this strategy. Results show that very few open access journals solicit donations from readers, and for those that do, donations represent only a very small portion of all support received. »

URL : http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0018.307

Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges

This report was commissioned by a consortium of European research funding organizations led by the Wellcome Trust.

The study was undertaken to stimulate thinking among research funders who have set up, or are considering setting up, mechanisms for direct “earmarked” funding of article processing charges (APCs) in open access (OA) journals.

The report covers both full OA journals (referred to in the report as “full OA”, such as those published by Biomed Central and PLOS) and subscription journals which offer authors the possibility of making their individual articles OA by paying an APC.

This latter category is known as “hybrid OA”. There are many full OA journals that are funded by means other than APCs and the term “gold OA” also includes these journals.

When they are included in the discussion this will be make clear, the focus of the report is however on the segment of gold OA funded by APCs.

URL : Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges

Alternative URL : http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/stellent/groups/corporatesite/@policy_communications/documents/web_document/wtp055910.pdf