OA journal business models
From Open Access Directory
This list is part of the Open Access Directory.
- This is a list of business models and revenue sources for OA journals.
- If an example is dated (a given journal no longer uses a given model), please just change the verbs to the past tense. Don't delete the example. The list should track what models are now in use and what models were once tried.
- Related lists in OAD:
- Suggested short URL for this page = bit.ly/oad-journal-models
- Description. The model is to use advertising on the journal's web site or article pages in order to generate income to help support the journal.
- For more information and examples, see Open Access Tracking Project tag oa.ads.
- Variation. A journal or its publisher can sell advertising space to companies willing to advertise in the journal. This usually requires a marketing staff.
- Variation. A journal can use advertising services like Google AdSense, which place ads on pages based on an algorithmic reading of their content. These services require no marketing staff. Because the journal doesn't know in advance what ads will be placed, this method can answer suspicions that advertising compromises editorial integrity. Similar services include programs such as Amazon Associates and Barnes & Noble Affiliates Program under which program affiliates may generate revenue from referral payments.
- Examples. Journals using Google AdSense include:
- Open Government Journal from the University of Alberta.
- Priory Medical Journals.
- Contemporary Management Research from the Academy of Taiwan Information Systems Research.
- Journal of Medical Internet Research
- Examples. Journals using Google AdSense include:
- Description. The model is for publishers to bid on articles to publish. The bid is in academic dollars, not actual currency or legal tender. The academic dollars would be shared with the authors, editors, and publishers of the works cited by the article.
- Description. The model is for potential projects to be pitched online, allowing the broader community or “crowd” to choose to fund them with financial donations. With enough financial backing from the crowd, a project can cover its production costs and be published.
- Variation. Street performer protocol. The model is one in which the author requests a specific sum be raised before creating a work; private donor funds are pooled to finance this work. Coined by John Kelsey and Bruce Schneier in their June 1999 First Monday article, their “street performer protocol” is a model in which an author promises the delivery of a work for a specific sum; once private donations have filled the author’s goal, then the author creates the promised work, which is OA.
- Description. The model is for an OA journal to offer branded products for sale, either internally or through an external vendor.
- Description. The model is for an OA publication to build an endowment of third-party contributions to support its production costs. Endowments may be developed through fundraising campaigns in addition to other approaches.
- Description. The model is to solicit donations from individuals or institutions, periodically or continuously.
- Example. See the fund-raising page formerly used by the Public Library of Science.
- Variation. A journal may solicit donations through an embedded PayPal or Google Checkout widget.
- Example. The Journal of Medical Internet Research formerly had a donation page using PayPal.
Hybrid OA journals
- Description. The model is for a journal to publish some OA articles and some non-OA articles, when the choice between the two is the author's rather than the editor's. Authors who choose the OA option must typically pay a publication fee or find a sponsor to pay a fee (see "Publication fees" below). In return the journal provides immediate OA to the article at its own web site. Authors who don't choose the OA option don't pay a fee, although they might still pay page and color charges. Nor do they get immediate OA, although they might get delayed OA if the journal provides OA to its backfile after a certain embargo period.
- This section is for journals that charge publication fees and provide OA to some articles and not others. For journals that charge publication fees and provide OA to all their articles, see the section on "Publication fees" below. For more information on Hybrid OA, see Open Access Tracking Project tag oa.hybrid.
- Funded Access, Wiley's initial OA program, has been updated with OnlineOpen.
- IOP Publishers now has a hybrid OA model for authors, as of June, 2011.
- Mineralogical Society of America offers a per-page fee for author's choice OA.
- Open Access from World Scientific.
- Open Science from the Royal Society of Chemistry.
- Sponsored-article journals from Elsevier.
- Variation. The journal promises to reduce the subscription price in proportion to author uptake of the OA option. (Failure to do so is sometimes called double dipping.)
- Variation. The journal uses CC licenses (or an equivalent) for the OA articles, even if it doesn't do so for its other articles.
- Example. Open Choice from Springer, as of January 16, 2012, uses CC licensing.
- Example. Oxford Open from Oxford University Press uses Open Licence Agreement CC licensing.
- Variation. The OA versions are the same as the versions published in the priced or paywalled journal. (The alternative is to make the OA articles a truncation or abridgment of the TA editions, e.g., without links to references.)
- Variation. The journal offers the OA option without any fee at all, or at a discounted fee, for authors in certain categories, for example, authors who are members of a certain society, authors who are employees of a subscribing institution, authors who serve as an editor or referee for one of the publisher's journals, and so on.
- Variation. The journal has a standard embargo period for its OA articles, even those for which a fee is paid.
- Example. SPIE offers fee-based hybrid OA for most of it journals, that is, it charges a flat publication fee to authors and provides immediate OA their work; however, with the Journal of Biomedical Optics, SPIE charges a publication fee and provides OA after a one-year embargo. Also note that SPIE's publications charges for non-OA works are voluntary. Details are available here.
- Note. For institutional subsidies which include non-monetary support, recommended practices for "in-kind contributions" suggest appraising the value of services provided.
- Variation: university subsidies. There are many forms of university subsidies for OA journals: in-house publication of OA journals; funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals; and provision of facilities, equipment, or personnel. (Note that many of these subsidies are also enjoyed by non-OA journals.)
- Example. Journal of Insect Science is "supported by the University of Wisconsin Libraries."
- Variation: government subsidies. There are many forms of government subsidies for OA journals: direct grants to OA journals or publishers; grants to researchers which they may use for publication fees or page charges at OA journals; in-house publication of OA journals; tax deductions for non-profit publishers of OA journals; budgetary support for public universities which the institutions may use to publish OA journals, subsidize OA journals, or hire faculty who spend part of their work-time editing OA journals. (Note that many of these subsidies are also used by TA journals.)
- Example. The US Air Force publishes Air and Space Power Journal.
- Variation: foundation subsidies. Under this model, journals are supported in whole or in part by one or more charitable foundations.
- Variation: corporate subsidies. Under this model, corporate entities may support a journal with resources contributed on a one-time or continued basis.
- Variation: consortial subsidies. This model overlaps with the categories above (university, government, foundation, and corporate subsidies). What's notable is that an OA resource can build a customized or ad hoc coalition of supporting organizations. Under this model, the cost to each supporting institution may decrease with the growth of the consortium.
- Example. eLife is supported by a group of foundations including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust. Initially eLife will not charge publication fees, though it may do so later. David Solomon discusses this example “The impact of digital dissemination for research and scholarship”.
- Example. SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) is a global partnership of 44 countries and 3 intergovernmental organizations, representing 3000+ libraries, universities and research institutes. SCOAP3 has transitioned key journals in the field of High Energy Physics to Gold OA. In addition born Gold OA journals are also supported. It eliminates the financial constraints for authors, by centrally paying publishers for peer-review and publishing services. The consortium is predominantly financed by participating libraries redirecting funds previously used for subscribing to the SCOAP3 journals. All authors can publish OA at no cost in the participating journals. Alternative Open Access Publishing Models: Exploring New Territories in Scholarly Communication by Adam Smith discusses the progress of SCOAP3, adding, "In its first two years of operation, started in January 2014, the project has supported publication of about 9,000 articles in 10 participating journals." A summary of the model supported by SCOAP3 is included in "The impact of digital dissemination for research and scholarship" by David J Solomon.
- Variation: Use-Triggered Fees. “A use-triggered fee model supports open-access publication by imposing usage fees on a voluntary basis,” in which access to publications is centered around the payment of non-mandatory fees solicited from user institutions that have met a specified usage quota, omitting institutions based in developing countries. Approaches to implementing this model may include coordinating a "voluntary license" between institution and publisher.
- Variation: Sponsorship. Under this model, institutional sponsors may "subsidize some or all of a journal’s operating expenses in exchange for recognition." While sponsorship is primarily connected to institutions under this model, sponsorships may also be supported by individuals.
- Note. Proposed standards for practice under this model include adopting a sponsorship policy, guidelines for sponsor credit, and carefully assessing proposed sponsor relationships.
- Description. The model is for a membership organization, like a learned society, to use membership dues to support an OA journal, in whole or part. (See "Institutional subsidies".)
- Description. The model is for a journal to provide OA to one edition and sell access to another edition. The OA edition should contain the full text and other information (charts, illustrations, links, etc.), but the priced edition may appear earlier in time or include extra features, such as print. Priced editions may also offer file formats that some users prefer, for example, “High quality PDFs instead of low-quality or HTML”.
- Variation: Revenue from a priced print edition supports an OA edition, with or without a delay in the release of the OA edition.
- Example: Journal of Medical Internet Research: Offers an OA edition in HTML and priced memberships (institutional or individual) that include a PDF edition and conference discounts for individual memberships.
- Variation: The priced and OA editions contain the same texts and appear at the same time, but differ in production quality.
- Variation: The priced edition contains short summaries and the OA edition contains full texts (as opposed to the other way around).
- Variation: The publisher sells reprints or offprints to help support an OA journal.
- Variation: The publisher subsidizes its OA publications with profits or revenue from a separate line of non-OA publications.
- Description. The model is to charge a fee upon acceptance of an article for publication. The idea is for the fee to cover the costs of production, although in practice it might cover more or less. Because rejected articles pay no publication fees (but see "submission fees" below), the publication fee must cover the costs of publishing the accepted article plus the cost of reviewing the number of submissions rejected for each accepted submission. Because costs per accepted paper rise with the rejection rate, the fee must rise with the rejection rate. The bill may go to the author, but is often paid by the author's funder or employer rather than by the author out of pocket. Hence this model is sometimes, misleadingly, called the "author pays" or "author fee" model. The fee is sometimes called a "processing fee" or an "article processing charge" (APC).
- Note that a growing number of institutions have funds to pay these fees on behalf of their faculty.
- Variation: Flat fees. The journal charges the same fee for every accepted article.
- The Scientific World Journal charges a flat-rate APC.
- SpringerOpen charges flat rates that vary by journal.
- Variation: Variable fees. Fee size depends on article length or type of publication.
- Variation: Variable fees based on embargo period. Fee prices are based on the period of embargo; lower fees for OA publications released following an embargo period, and a higher fees for OA publications released with no embargo period (immediate OA).
- Variation: Fee discounts or waivers for economic hardship. Some OA journals waive or reduce publication fees in cases of economic hardship. Some do it for all authors from certain, designated developing countries. Some do it on request, no questions asked. For another model that supports fee payment based on author ability, see the “Pay What You Want” variation below.
- Variation: Fee discounts for author assistance. Author assistance may include activities including but not limited to peer review or copy-editing.
- Variation: Fee waivers or discounts, from hybrid OA journals, for authors affiliated with institutions that pay for subscriptions.
- We list other examples under hybrid OA journals above.
- Variation: Charging author-side fees while paying author royalties.
- Variation: One price for ordinary production, with extra charges for extra services.
- Example: Medicine 2.0 published by JMIR Publications offers a priced copyediting option, while otherwise charging no article processing fee.
- Variation: Institutional memberships. Some OA journals and publishers offer institutional memberships. The chief benefit of membership is that the journal waives or reduces publication fees for authors affiliated with member-institutions. Some charge a flat fee for membership. Some charge an amount linked to the number of articles published in the journal by the institution's employees. The more journals offered by a publisher (or more precisely, the more journals where institutional employees are likely to publish), the more valuable the membership is for members. In that sense, institutional membership are another way in which large publishers can benefit from economies of scale.
- Example: BioMed Central. See the BMC page on its membership program.
- Example: Hindawi. See the Hindawi page on its membership program.
- Example: Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). See the JMIR page on its membership program.
- Example: Public Library of Science. See the PLoS page on its membership program.
- Example: Wiley Open Access supports two institutional account tracks including the Wiley Open Access Partners Fee (a discount plan) and the Wiley Open Access Account (an APC payment plan).
- Example: The Royal Society Open Access Membership supports APC discount and prepayment options.
- Example: New Journal of Physics supports an program for Associate Members which receive a 5% discount on APC costs.
- Variation: Consortial Institutional Memberships: Some publishers form a membership-based consortium to support the publication of OA journals through the payment of membership dues.
- Example. The Open Library of the Humanities (OLH) follows a Library Partnership Subsidies (LPS) model, in which a consortium of libraries support the cost of publication, at no cost to the author. This model provides economies of scale in which the cost to individual members is a function of the number of members. This model is discussed by Adam Smith in Alternative Open Access Publishing Models: Exploring New Territories in Scholarly Communication, and by Martin Paul Eve in Co-operating for gold open access without APCs and All That Glisters: Investigating Collective Funding Mechanisms for Gold Open Access in Humanities Disciplines. For more on this example, see items tagged with oa.open_library_humanities as part of the Open Access Tracking Project.
- Variation: Author memberships. The author membership model supports the option to publish a set number of publications within the duration of the membership period, as supported by membership dues paid by or on behalf of the author.
- Variation: Institutional arrangements without memberships. Some OA publishers strike individual deals with individual institutions.
- Example. In January 2008, the Max Planck Society agreed to pay the publication fees for MPS authors when they publish in any of the (then 17) OA journals from Copernicus Publications.
- Example. New Journal of Physics supports individual arrangements with institutions centered around payment or waiver based plans.
- Variation: Fee-based OA for some topics, no-fee OA for other topics.
- Variation: Alternate compensation for access.
- Variation: “Pay What You Want”. The size of the publication fee is up to the author.
- Example. In July 2017, Thieme Publishers launched TH Open with a "PWYW (pay what you want)" model.
- Variation: Offsetting. An institution's subscription price for a hybrid OA journal includes (or offsets) APCs for a certain number of OA articles by authors at that institution.
- Variation: Integrated costs. Some OA journals recover their costs by building them in to the costs of other activities such as conference registration.
- Description. The model is to charge a fee for evaluating a submitted paper, whether or not the paper is later accepted. A submission fee may be in addition to a publication fee (see "Publication fees" above). Submission fees can reduce publication fees at journals with high rejection rates.
- Example. Journal of Medical Internet Research. See JMIR's fee schedule.
- Description. The model is for a publisher to offer free online access to a work for a restricted period, after which the work moves behind a paywall. The OA period may occur just once or periodically. Note: this is not "pure" OA, but represents a particular model that has been used by some publishers to experiment with OA.
- Example. Emerald has several limited-time gratis OA programs.
- Example. Emerald has several limited-time gratis OA programs.
- Description. This model offers added services and features on top of OA content, available for an opt-in subscription by the reader. A range of services is possible, such as print-on-demand, or alert services and site customization.
- Example. OECD Publishing supports open access to published content in combination with additional priced features such as annotation tools and download functionality, available through subscription. This model is outlined in Richard Padley’s “Freemium and the forever business: payment models in scholarly publishing” and in presentation Freemium Open Access Publishing - better than Green or Gold? by Toby Green, Head of Publishing at OECD.
- Description. The model is to use unpaid volunteers for some of the work in producing the journal. All scholarly journals (OA and non-OA) use volunteers to some extent, as authors, referees, and/or some kinds of editors.