Lawyer arguing before a jury
W. S. Gilbert’s illustration for “Now, Jurymen, hear my advice” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Trial by Jury”

Depending on the audience, the case for open access (OA) varies. Opponents of intellectual property, for example, may favor OA simply on principle. To a researcher you might argue for a broader dissemination of his or her own work. A funding agency may accept the dissemination premise as well and tie it to an exercise in branding, where each published OA article becomes an ambassador for the sponsor of the research. A librarian may be persuaded on the basis of cost (the money that does not have to be spent on OA material can be used elsewhere), and an established publisher may see the Gold variety simply as an additive revenue stream.

I don’t intend to navigate through the merits of any of these arguments here; from my point of view, OA is a fact, not a philosophy. What has caught my attention is how often I am asked to justify a recommendation that a professional society look into the creation of an OA service. In my experience (which I do not pretend to be comprehensive), OA is a tough sell. The officers of professional societies are often skeptical about the claims for OA and need to be persuaded that it is good for science and good for their own particular society. If you are going to try to make a case to a group of accomplished individuals whose stock in trade is to study all assertions with great care, you have to toss the abstractions out the window and bring some facts to bear on the situation.

This exercise is made more difficult by the fact that no professional group speaks with a single voice. I have never run across a group that has no OA advocates; what differs from society to society is density–what proportion of the society members are in favor of OA–and the relative position of the advocates within the society’s power structure. Thus a large part of the challenge in introducing OA to a professional society is the need to “socialize” the recommendation–deliver it in a way that provides fodder for discussion but does not presume to impinge on the prerogatives of the practicing professionals. No two societies make decisions the same way; there is no way of predicting in advance the outcome of a board discussion or who will or will not speak up on a conference call. The case for any recommendation, whether about OA or anything else, is best made with a written document that creates context for discussion. PowerPoint won’t do it, as there is a need to work through all the options at some length. This document must be shared with the participants well in advance of a meeting. No one who creates such a document should expect to come through the deliberations of such a board unscathed.

Contrary to popular belief (if the measure is the blogosphere and the runic declarations of various organizations active in or observers of scholarly communications), many scientists don’t know much about OA. In particular, they don’t know about the practical implications of the growing OA publishing ecosystem:  how many OA articles are published and where, and what does this mean or could come to mean for the society’s own publications? If these publications are continuing to see an increase in the number of submissions every year, as many of them are, OA is likely to seem peripheral. A rising tide is of little consequence if you are sailing on a sturdy ship.

One particularly useful exercise is to suggest that the society review and catalog all the OA articles published in the past year that are relevant to the society’s discipline. This is a tall order, of course, as the number of OA articles is very large and defining relevance is not without ambiguity, but a useful way to begin is simply to analyze the publications of PLOS ONE, whose sheer size provides a healthy sample (depending on discipline, of course). Many societies are surprised to discover how many articles have appeared in PLOS ONE that could have been published in the societies’ own journals, assuming they passed muster under peer review. It is not unusual for a society to “wake up” to OA when it realizes the sheer range of articles that their own editors never got to see.  Such an analysis could lead a society to change the editorial positioning of its own journals, to start a new journal, to create an OA service–or any and all of the above.

A more common exercise (I don’t know any journal that has not done this) is to study the journal’s own publications to see which articles are subject to OA mandates. Increasingly traditional journals are having their “Swiss cheese” moment, where some articles are mandated to be OA (perhaps with an embargo) and some are safely tucked behind a pay wall. But it is not enough to stop there by identifying the scope of the mandates. It’s useful to go back in time to some of the journal’s most-cited papers. When we consider the funding sources for these articles retrospectively, how many of these articles would now fall under an OA mandate? Not having an OA option (at a minimum, a hybrid OA policy) could mean that some of the finest scholarship will bypass the society’s publications and find a home elsewhere. This puts the journal’s reputation on the line, which grabs the attention of the society’s editors and officers very quickly.

The question I personally find most interesting is where a rejected paper eventually ends up. While we know that some authors become desperate and seek publication with publishers of dubious merit (whose exposure by Jeffrey Beall we all should be thankful for), most authors shop around until they find a suitable venue. That venue may not be as prestigious as the first one, but it also may be more appropriate in terms of its topic, something that only the journal’s editors can determine. Are these papers good papers? Good-enough papers? Good papers, but with the wrong editorial profile? Bad papers? Except for the truly bad papers, should there not be some publishing outlet for this work? And considering the time and expense a society puts into rejecting a paper, does it not seem practical to find a way to monetize the sunk editorial costs? Once a society begins to consider that publication is more than a question of good versus bad, accepted articles versus rejected articles, the case for an OA service appears to be more reasonable.

Discussions of OA policy rarely take place in the abstract. It’s common for the debate to arise when the society is facing marketplace challenges, the most common of which is declining institutional subscriptions, typically brought on when libraries opt for “big deal” packages from the largest publishers, leaving small society publishers to pick up the crumbs. This is more than a financial matter, though the money can be significant, especially for a society that uses the surplus from its publishing program to underwrite other activities. The real risk is that declining subscriptions may mean that authors’ work cannot reliably be brought to the attention of other people working in the field who happen to be affiliated with an institution that no longer subscribes to the publication. It’s worth remembering that most research is conducted at a small number of institutions, which subscribe to the leading publications: researchers affiliated with these institutions receive little or no benefit from OA publishing. But if an institution cancels a subscription, then OA will begin to seem like a useful alternative. So a vicious cycle begins: cancelled subscriptions mean that some researchers no longer have access to the publications they need, which discourages them from submitting their work to those publications, which lowers the perceived editorial quality of the journal, which makes it easier to cancel the journal if the library budget is tight, which means that even fewer researchers have access to the content, which further discourages them from submitting papers to that journal, and so on. A journal in such a situation may be faced with the choice of partnering with a very large publisher or attempting to flip their publication to Gold OA as a means of preserving the journal’s independence.

What doesn’t work in these discussions is the invocation of the histrionics of OA advocacy. Of course the commercial publishers are greedy capitalists; of course there is an unnamed researcher in the developing world who wants to get access to research materials; of course it is simply unjust that taxpayers should fund research and not get to see the results at no additional cost; of course there are laypeople everywhere who wish to keep abreast of breaking scientific developments–of course. But the leaders of a professional society may not feel that the fight against the world economic order is within their writ or that finding a readership beyond the walls of the small number of institutions that create and consume the majority of research is of paramount importance to them. There is no point in whistling a tune if no one wants to dance. What is important is attracting the best researchers, the prestige of the society and its publications, and the economic viability of the society itself. Speak to these issues and OA gets on the agenda, and not as a Trojan horse but as a practical extension of the society’s activities.


Joseph Esposito

Joseph Esposito

Joe Esposito is a management consultant for the publishing and digital services industries. Joe focuses on organizational strategy and new business development. He is active in both the for-profit and not-for-profit areas.


37 Thoughts on "Making a Case for Open Access"

Although there no doubt are advocates of OA who are opponents of intellectual property, there are also advocates of OA, like me, who support OA just because they are strong supporters of IP law and see OA as a way of dealing with the ever increasing problem of piracy.

An interesting and useful piece though, to continue your musical analogy, I think it’s worth acknowledging that learned societies are probably only thinking about joining the dance because of the mood music that OA advocates (many of whom are not histrionic of course) have been humming for the past several years.

For a lot of societies I would think that the pressing, nuts and bolts, issue is whether or not to join CHORUS? Joining requires making some version of every article flowing from Federal funding available on the society’s website, after the Federal embargo period, which is not trivial. That these Public Access articles will be made publicly available by the Feds is not optional, so the question is where the society wants the public to see them? This reality trumps all abstract arguments.

Public Access and Open Access are separate issues. You’re talking about compliance with a particular funding agency’s policies, where Joe is talking about adopting a business model for an existing or newly created journal.

There is no mandate on the societies so joining CHORUS is not about compliance; it is about the fight for eyeballs. For the society, joining CHORUS should be a business decision. For that matter I did not see where Joe ruled out delayed access green OA from this discussion. Maybe I missed it. OA confusion is like that.

Again, I think you’re conflating two separate issues, and I’ll just leave it at that.

It would be interesting to make a list of all the business decisions related to or driven by OA. The interplay between them is quite complex. I doubt that any stands alone.

Again great insight.

In my experience with society publishing – VP at two very large societies – the purpose of the journal was two fold: 1. A membership benefit and 2. revenue. I should say really just one because the price of the journal to a member was in many respects wrapped up in dues.

If one removes the benefit of a “free” copy of the journal to a member, why be a member?

It seems to me that this is the dilemma a society faces. With what does one replace the inducement of the journal when it comes to membership?

“The officers of professional societies are often skeptical about the claims for OA and need to be persuaded that it is good for science and good for their own particular society.”

True. But I suspect many still aren’t hearing from their members about this because there are a lot of researchers who truly don’t care about OA. The other problem is, as Harvey Kane mentioned in the comments, societies need to figure out how to replace the income on journals when they have NO PROOF that authors will actually pay for OA. I agree that societies should have an option for OA for those authors who need it or prefer it.

People (particularly publishers) tend to think that librarians care only about the cost of the journals. While the cost of journals is not a trivial matter and we do need to be respectful of our budgets and concentrate our resources on those publications that most directly support the instructional/research needs of our faculty few of us actually believe this is going to reduce our costs. The real issue is not green or gold access, it’s access, the more quickly we can connect the user to the content the more completely we can fulfill our mission and serve our users.


I made some observations (with my limited view as a scientist) in the setting of „The Commercial Arrangement“ – number 6 of „The Inexorable Path of the Professional Society Publisher“ ( Here I read: „the blandishments of such organizations as Elsevier, John Wiley, and Springer are difficult to resist”.

For a learned society it is important to have a journal and their name on the cover page. The society is glad the publisher takes care of the rest. The publisher is happy to run a journal with backing of a prestigious society. This helps to market the journal and to receive quality submissions. Also some members of the society publish in the journal. The journal is subscribed by some libraries – who knows? Most members of the society do not see the journal and do not care because the journal is not distributed to “ordinary” members (too expensive). At some point it’s on the agenda of the board meeting: “Converting our society journal to Open Access?” This would have the advantage that also members can read the articles. The question is directed to the large commercial publisher. The answer: Sure it is possible to convert to OA. The society would just need to pay the Article Processing Charge (APC) for every paper. APC for one article is “only” about 10 times the annual fee a member pays for its membership. The society has also to “sponsor” the APC for all other papers accepted from authors not affiliated with the society because – as the publisher explains – it looks better in OA publishing not to charge authors APC because otherwise it is called “author pays model” (a very nasty term). Finally the society and the publisher agree that the society will pay APC if a member publishes in the journal. The publisher should better hide the fact that other authors would need to pay APC themselves. Therefore, nothing gets mentioned about APC on the journals web page. This should only be revealed once a potential author has submitted a manuscript. Of course this against rule 4 of “Best Practice” ( established by DOAJ, OASPA, COPE, and WAME, but the publisher is already a member of OASPA and COPE, so checks have already been done. If the potential author pays the APC it is fine, if the author asks questions the society can look at the manuscript and decide if they find it so extraordinarily good to pay the APC for the author. If not, the manuscript will be rejected. (Note: This is an invented story, but every single part of it is based on real observations.)

I’m not sure where you’re getting your information (and would love to hear specific examples) but this does not reflect any society or publisher I’ve ever worked with. First, access to the society’s journal is almost always offered as a perk of membership. I don’t know of many societies that deliberately exclude their members from their journals.

I’ve also never heard of a publisher asking a society to pay the APC for all papers, nor for members. This is left to the individual author, or a different model (institutional or funder support for example) is proposed. All of the publishers you list above have eagerly embraced the “author pays” model, and none consider it a “nasty term”. Can you provide an example of a journal from a reputable publisher that deliberately hides mention of author charges for open access?

You obviously have no idea of what you speak. To my knowledge the vast majority of societies make their journal part of the membership benefit and the member receives it for free!

If a society went OA and there were APCs it would be mentioned up front and the author would decide to pay or not.

Your cynicism is not backed by the facts!

OA is a hard sell for some societies, but an easy sell for many others. The Societies and Open Access Research (SOAR) project, to which I contribute, maintains a public list of more than 890 societies publishing more than 850 full or non-hybrid OA journals.

This is interesting data, Peter. It looks like over half of these journals charge no fees at all, so they may not be relevant to the present discussion. But a great many do charge significant APCs, which makes that business model seem perfectly viable. Interestingly most publish just one journal, so apparently it does not take a big marketing department to make APCs work.

David: Yes, if the topic is limited to fee-based business models, then many society OA journals are off-topic. (Most society OA journals are no-fee, as are most OA journals overall.) But if the topic is whether OA is a hard sell to society publishers, they’re all relevant. More than 890 societies have chosen OA for their journals, and these decision makers (to use Joe’s words) are “a group of accomplished individuals whose stock in trade is to study all assertions with great care.”

Peter: Scanning the data my impression is that only about 60% of the journals are no fee, so that model is not really dominant. And of course no fee is itself a business model, usually a subsidy model I imagine. It is just that I suspect few subscription journals have the business option of transitioning to a subsidy model.

I did not see the list of societies. Nevertheless, if the membership base is very small there is no need to charge a fee. The costs are wrapped up in the membership dues and in fact e delivery may have saved these societies money!

I think the reluctance Joe sees involves those societies who have a great deal invested in the Journal’s brand and who receive income from the journal. I think they would be reluctant to go OA. For instance I cannot see JACS going OA!

Does the 850+ number include OA journals published by societies who also publish subscription based journals and are the OA journals losing money or making money?

I guess that what I am getting at is that OA like subscription is only sustainable so long as it has some kind of economic support.

I cannot speak for Peter, but I assume that if only members get access then that is a subscription case, not OA. If the journal is paid for out of dues but available to any one, member or nonmember, then that is a no fee OA journal. There is no information in his database as to how the no fee journals get funded. Here is the data:

As for your last question, almost all of the entries are societies that publish just one journal, so these are not subsidized by subscription journals.

As I said, I only have a limited view. We know the anti-OA campaigner who uses the “nasty term” “author pays model” instead of “Gold OA”.

The OA journal I had in focus is „European Transport Research Review“ from Springer. In 2013 I looked at the web page ( and there was absolutely no information about APC. In DOAJ it was stated as it is today „Publication charges?: No charges (see …)”. I was not sure, if I wanted to submit a manuscript to this journal at all and asked first for possible APC.

2013-03-11, Springer:
… we have here the special situtation with ECTRI sponsoring an Open Access journal. There, respectively with Prof. … [EiC] is the decision which article is sponsored. In case a payment is required from your side, the payment would go to ECTRI. I recommend to ask first, if ECTRI is willing to take the costs (EUR 1250 per article).
(My translation from German)

That was all a little dubious to me, but later I followed up on the matter. I described the topic and background of my intended paper and received this answer:

2013-12-09, EiC:
… Of course the issue is of high interest to ETRR. I would suggest that you send your paper through the normal ETRR procedure. If accepted, it will be published for free. Alternative would be to propose a special issue with several (5) papers at a cost of 10,000 EUR. This is I think not your case …

Summary: For Springer it was clear to be paid by the society. The society had some but limited means of sponsoring the article, but was keen on APC (and good manuscripts). None of this was on the web page in 2013 and most of 2014.

I wrote to Springer and pointed out the issue in light of Springer’s OASPA membership, but various Springer employees answering apparently did not know about OASPA. Mails bounced for a while and I gave up.

In 2014 I looked at and found 15 more Springer journals not showing APC in contrast to OASPA demanding „Any fees for publishing in the journal are clearly displayed in a place that is easy to find. If there are no charges to authors this should also be highlighted.“ (

OASPA confronted Springer with the case. After insisting to correct the journal pages on the Internet finally on 2014-10-01 this text appeared on ETRR: “For articles published in 2014 the Article Processing Charges (APCs) are sponsored by ECTRI. For articles published in
2015 the journal will charge APCs with limited funding available.”

Also DOAJ questioned Springer about the issue. Result: DOAJ will only look into the case again once Springer reapplies with its journals. Under the old rules there was no demand to show APC. The issue had also no influence of Springer being accepted as (high profile) sponsor at DOAJ.

Now finally, ETRR includes a new tab on the page about APC where the whole situation is explained in detail. Very good! None of the other 15 journals has it.

Now, all of the other 15 journals are finally taken care of by Springer in a minimum way: 1 is not OA any more, 5 are now showing APC clearly, and for the rest there is some kind of indication of support or sponsor:

Applied Nanoscience: “supported”
3 Biotech: “supported”
Journal of Petroleum Exploration and Production Technologies: “supported”
Materials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy: “supported”

Natural Products and Bioprospecting: “sponsored”
International Journal of Concrete Structures and Materials: “sponsored”

Bulletin of Mathematical Sciences: “fully sponsored”
International Journal of Disaster Risk Science: “fully sponsored”
Photonic Sensors: “fully sponsored”

From “supported” I can not clearly understand “no APC”. The correct and clear statement “no APC” is still missing for many journals!

There is a page at SpringerOpen ( now – in a very different place compared to where the journals have their home page – showing all journals without APC. This page is not linked to the journal page and does not count for “clearly displayed in a place that is easy to find”.

I guess we all have still to learn about OA. Some publishers get up to required standards while being a member of organizations like OASPA and other publishers learn and improve while being kept outside. As requirements increase they may never make it inside for (like some inside) being always a little short of current demands.

You seem to have a fight with Springer yet you indict, if I recall, most publishers. You seem to be painting with a rather broad brush.

I notice the Springer statement regards 2015. Have you considered the proposition that a new contract was completed between the parties or that Springer being a very large organization, that this journal just slipped between the cracks! Regarding the location of the posting, Springer has been constantly advertising Springer Open.

Springer Open is a major initiative on behalf of the company.

Lastly, I would note that Applied Nanoscience is not associated with any society and is part of the OA initiative. There is a huge banner so stating.

Here is what appears on the ETRR page for the journal

Springer Open Access Journal – there is a point upon which one can click and everything is explained in great detail.

Of course, 2013 is a long time ago and this kind of information may not have existed on each journals page. Then again, if I recall Springer Open Access was just starting up and I would not expect to much information at that moment.

In short, if you felt slighted by Springer I would not submit articles to them.

But, I would not go on the attack at this late date with erroneous statements regarding society journals and those sponsored by other publishers, at least not without doing due diligence. Additionally I would have looked at the most recent OA statement by Springer, see:

This page can be easily accessed on, I believe, all OA journals published by Springer.

I am tired of hearing that Jeffrey Beall is the self proclaimed expert evaluator of open access publications. As in any publication, there are good and bad publishers but I have seen Mr. Beall continue to criticize journals that have been publishing high quality, peer reviewed articles that contribute to scholarly publication for many years. His comments have been slanderous to many journals.

Mr. Beal backs up his statements with citations. On what do you base your statement? Just which journals has he slandered?

The DOAJ house-cleaning alone bears witness to the positive impact of Beall’s List, despite its weaknesses. He’s only one guy (with a day job), and no one else has shown much interest in exposing this problem in any kind of systematic way, so flaws are to be expected. That said, I do agree that he should be quick to remove publishers from his list that don’t deserve to be there.

Great post, Joe. Two comments:

In my experience (which I do not pretend to be comprehensive), OA is a tough sell.

I just returned from the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, where I participated in a couple of discussions on issues related to OA. While I’ve always gotten the impression that humanists and social scientists are less interested in OA than those in the hard sciences are, I was truly shocked by the level of animosity towards the OA movement (as distinct from the idea of OA itself, which seems to be regarded more ambivalently) that I heard in those discussions. One of the sessions was about dissertation embargoes, and given the abuse that the AHA took over its statement on that topic last year, the testiness was kind of predictable, but the other was about compliance with OA requirements when publishing articles in American journals by British authors. In both of those sessions, I heard historians using the kind of language to describe OA advocates that I’m used to hearing OA advocates use to describe commercial publishers. It was really sobering.

There is no point in whistling a tune if no one wants to dance.

Unless, of course, they can be forced to dance — in which case it doesn’t much matter whether they want to dance or whether they like the tune. 🙂

Peter Suber’s catalog data supports the idea that OA is largely an STEM thing. The project page says this: “As of November 3, 2014, the catalog lists 891 societies publishing 856 full (non-hybrid) OA journals. Of these, 692 are in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STM or STEM), 95 are in the social sciences, 51 are in the humanities, 6 are in the arts, and 10 cover more than one of these categories.”

So, Rick, perhaps it is the humanists versus the hard scientists. The scientists will have the best technology but the humanists will command the rhetorical devices. The social scientists can keep scores, which may not agree.

Having spent nearly 30 years in academic publishing at a large membership society whose primary “benefit” of membership is its “flagship” journal in the field, some things are useful to note: OA is without a doubt, a “STEM thing.” Tenure and promotion review committees in arts and sciences place the highest value not only on a scholar’s article appearing in a physical (hardcopy) publication but also one that is not OA. (Yes, publication in e-only journals are not given the same ranking as the traditional print journals.) This particular (double blind) peer-reviewed flagship journal has an article acceptance rate hovering around 10 percent.

In terms of the revenue model for non-profit academic societies, once they sign with the Oxfords, Cambridges, et al., content is locked up behind paywalls. In fact if the association also sublicenses its journal content to EBSCO, ProQuest, its percentage share of royalties are penalized and kept to their minimum once a certain threshold of the content (normally 10%) is made freely available online via OA. So in addition to enjoying the publication subventions from the publishers who securely gate the content, while reselling and bundling it to consortia at the institutional level, making your journal content Green OA negatively impacts the non-dues royalties from commercial aggregators.

To be sure, individual memberships began eroding ten years ago when JSTOR rolled out its “Current Scholarship Program” (providing access to current issues online) allowing individuals to enjoy access to current issues (outside of the traditional 3- or 5- year moving wall) through their campus affiliation. There was no longer a need to join an organization in order to receive access to its journal.

Again, speaking from the arts and sciences realm, OA has little or no traction as Mr. Anderson points out.

It will be important to keep an eye on California. The regents of the UC system are strong proponents of OA, especially the financial “double jeopardy” they find themselves in of being charged TWICE for access to the published scholarship of their faculty “employees.”

It will take a generational shift in academe (in the arts and sciences) before OA becomes viable. For me the conversation should focus on the other 90% of articles—many of which are solid, vibrant contributions to the field—that never see the light of day.

I don’t know where Mr. Regoli has been, but he doesn’t seem to have kept up with changes in the world of humanities and social sciences publishing. IRs like DASH at Harvard have been around for a while now, and some presses like Cambridge even allow their Harvard authors to post the version of record on the DASH web site. We pursued a ;policy of Green OA at Penn State University Press for our dozen journals in the humanities without experiencing any penalties from EBSCO, etc. The Latin American Studies Association’s flagship journal, LARR, was open access outside the US for a long while and recently became OA within the US as well. There has been a lot more movement toward OA in the humanities and social sciences, including even OA for monograph publishing (as at the new Amherst College Press), than Mr. Regoli seemx willing to acknowledge.

I’m not denying the existence of open access initiatives in humanities and social sciences. My comments are from the perspective of inside a century-old nonprofit scholarly membership association devoted to the study, research, and teaching of a particular discipline in the humanities. EBSCO, ProQuest and other commercial aggregators will, in their latest contract language, penalize royalty revenues earned through their publishing agreements when licensed content reaches a certain level of “openness.” That’s a cold economic fact when organizations consider ungating their content.

In the world of dwindling individual and institutional memberships, leaders of professional learned societies have a lot of soul-searching to do in the area of scholarly publishing and emerging access models. And it will also take a generational shift in certain academic disciplines until the review criteria for faculty promotion and tenure review embraces not only electronic-only publication, but the scholarly merit of OA journals. Again, as Mr. Anderson illustrates, scholarly organizations of this size are slow to understand the emerging technologies of how scholars research, write, and review each other’s work, never mind growing the ecosystem of open access publishing.

The point about OA leading to decreased revenue from sources like aggregators (EBSCO, ProQuest, OVID and the like) is an important one. The author-pays Gold OA model, particularly with the CC BY license, eliminates many of the revenue streams that publishers rely on that are outside of the research community. By eliminating these outside revenue streams, the financial burden on the researchers themselves is increased. I wrote about this last year here:

I am affiliated with an organization that has a century old journal. We would be nuts to go open access and give up the royalties that are a significant share of the publication’s revenue stream–almost a third of the “projected” fees from open access fees. Yes, the current scholarship program has reduced membership renewals, and open access would only reduce them further. On the other hand, we have not accepted the offers of many large firms to take in our journal, because we see a house of cards underwritten by global investment strategies rather than sound business practices. Bad ideas can go a long way with adequate capital. Libraries are spending less on humanities and social science acquisitions, not more. The leverage of numerous titles will give way eventually, and from what we see they already have. When it comes to our areas, libraries love aggregators, and some admit as much, because being behind three years of humanities and social science journals is not that bad given their budgetary choices. As for going with the corporations to avoid open access, it is not a wise move. It is the same kind of short-term thinking that plagues corporations today. When reality sets about the long-term prospects of humanities and social science titles, the big firms will likely trim their offerings by selling off the contracts at a loss to third-rate outfits similar to what happened with microfilmed products. A better route for Associations may very well be to cease to see university libraries as a source of revenue and go behind the association’s own paywall as a way of defraying some of the costs. Forget even the ever increasing cost of keeping up with standards driven by library mandates from folks who do not want to pay for subscriptions. The key to success with such a strategy is having a respected journal in the first place and retaining a derivative print presence. With a recognized, first-rate journal that has the respect and backing of the leaders in the field, the concerns about tenure are not a problem. This is a classic instance when following best practices–either open access or corporate outsourcing–is akin to following the pied piper.

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