In the July 2008 issue of Learned Publishing, Claire Bird provides a summary of Oxford University Press‘s experiments with both a fully open access journal, Nucleic Acids Research (NAR), and with their author-side payment model.

What is refreshing about this article is the agnostic approach OUP takes in experimenting with different publishing solutions, and their focus on evidence as a basis for decision-making.

Bird is unafraid of positing a future of uncertainty and that their decisions may have unanticipated effects. For example, she acknowledges that the reduction in combined print-online subscriptions to NAR has forced OUP to increase author-side payments, and that this may become an issue for contributing authors. In addition, she is upfront about having to create a profit from this journal.

For NAR to remain viable we need to receive sufficient revenue to cover both direct costs […] and indirect costs […] In addition, we need to make a surplus, which, as a university press, we reinvest into further publishing developments, and directly into the academic community via contributions to our parent university.

We recently blogged about PLoS’s business approach to open access publishing which includes several tiers of lower-cost, higher-volume publishing to create subsidies to help fund their flagship journals.

The only thing ideological about this article is OUP’s insistence on keeping the business side of publishing separate from the editorial side, to ensure that publication decisions are not swayed by the willingness or ability to pay author publication fees.

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Phil Davis

Phil Davis

Phil Davis is a publishing consultant specializing in the statistical analysis of citation, readership, publication and survey data. He has a Ph.D. in science communication from Cornell University (2010), extensive experience as a science librarian (1995-2006) and was trained as a life scientist. https://phil-davis.org/

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