What Are the Characteristics of Canadian Independent, Scholarly Journals? Results from a Website Analysis

Authors : Jessica Lange, Sarah Severson

The dominance of commercial publishers (Larivière, Haustein, and Mongeon 2015) has led to a discussion in Canada focusing on alternative models for supporting independent, non-commercial, scholarly journals.

Although small in number, these journals represent an important contribution to Canadian and global scholarship. They also act as a counterbalance to the increasingly for-profit nature of scholarly publishing. Despite their importance, there exists no definitive list of journals of this nature in Canada, making analysis and understanding of their characteristics difficult.

In order to address this gap, the researchers undertook an analysis of the websites of 485 Canadian, independent, scholarly journals. Independent was defined as journals which are not affiliated with a commercial publisher.

The researchers gathered data for each journal on their access type (e.g., closed, open access), subject area, size and composition of the editorial team, and any affiliation(s). This data was then analyzed to create a portrait of these journals with these themes.

The researchers found that most of these journals were affiliated with at least one organization, with over half being associated with two or more. They also discovered that affiliations varied depending on the discipline and that the size of the editorial team was correlated to the access type.

Journals were predominantly in the humanities and social sciences, and the majority were open access (OA) without article processing charges (APCs).

While the focus of this study is on Canadian journals, this article provides a framework for other researchers to examine non-commercial, independent publishing in their own countries.

Its results also provide preliminary data which may inspire future avenues of research, particularly into models for non-APC, open access journals as well as the editorial board structure and size for independent journals.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.153