Towards a new future for journal-article publishing

Frederick Friend

Full Text: Presentation  |  VIDEO


The importance of open access to publicly-funded research is now accepted by many funding agencies and research institutions across the world. Both the "green" and the "gold" routes to open access are being developed by organisations in many countries. The response of publishers to these developments has been mixed. Although some publishers remain hostile to any form of open access, many publishers permit the deposit of preprints in a repository, a number of publishers have set up new open access journals, and several publishers offer authors a paid open access option in certain journals. While new initiatives are being welcomed by academic communities, uncertainty still exists about the long-term future for scholarly journals. Will they disappear to be replaced by subject or institutional repositories? By adding overlay services, will repositories take over the accreditation function currently performed by journals? Will business models for open access journals be viable in the long-term?

The answers to these and similar questions are important if the academic community is to turn support for open access into a regular means for the dissemination of publicly-funded research. The academic and economic benefits from open access are clear and any changes in the structures for the dissemination of research should enable those benefits to be realised for authors, research institutions and funding agencies. For example the cost of a change to a repository structure with overlay services or to journals funded through author-side payments should not be so high as to negate the economic benefits from the open access model. Sound strategic decisions are needed by all stakeholders if changes in article-level publishing are to lead to dissemination structures more beneficial than the current structures.

This presentation will outline the issues to be considered in establishing new and viable publishing models, describe work underway to resolve the key questions, and suggest areas in which further work is necessary. Amongst the initiatives to be described will be the work of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and other UK and European organisations in clarifying the benefits of open access, in establishing repository services and in supporting publishers as they move towards viable open access business models. The JISC has funded projects on new repository services, published a report comparing the costs and benefits of three publishing models, investigated key issues such as quality control, and encouraged the regular funding of open access journals. The Wellcome Trust has set up regular procedures for the payment of open access publication charges, and the European Commission is funding Europe-wide repository developments. This European work will be compared and contrasted with approaches in other countries, for example the link between a consortial licensing model and open access funding being trialled by the California Digital Library and Springer. Will this model prove to be viable and also realise the academic and economic benefits from open access? A period of experimentation with new models and structures may be necessary, but change will not wait until all outstanding issues have been resolved.


Journal-article publishing; Open access; Repositories; New models