Although many societies and associations offer hybrid options within their journals, launching a fully open access journal, or “flipping” an existing journal to fully open access, presents an organization with questions, challenges, and opportunities. The breadth of the decisions to be made cover a wide range of activities from editorial selectiveness to pricing models to process and technology choices, and more.
Focusing in on the technology choices to be made, the landscape that supports publishing overall has seen a lot of change over recent years and now includes increasing variety, as well as solutions specifically designed for open access. As is the case with most partner and technology choices, it comes down to determining the best fit. Does the tool or technology meet our functional needs? Will the solution work within our organizational constraints? Can we afford it? Will our organizational culture mesh with that of the tool or service provider?
When considering the full spectrum of services, support, and technology required to launch an OA journal, the first question to ask is what type of support do you require. That level of support will be determined by your culture, author community, available staffing, experience, funding, risk tolerance, and other factors.
If your organization demands a full service model and does not have the resources to enlist service providers to support that need, you may want to consider a commercial or not-for-profit partner (e.g., university press or society). Publishing partners take much of the responsibility for production, delivery, and supporting services, leaving you to focus on editorial functions. In exchange, you enter into a revenue sharing agreement and you work within the processes and framework of that publisher. Most publishers offer a range of technology choices to support your new journal. Many also work with established industry manuscript tracking and hosting platforms.
If your objective is to self-publish, your technology options are numerous
If your objective is to self-publish, your technology options are numerous. You can build, buy, or do a little of both. This is where options have evolved considerably over the past several years.
- Technology choices have become more modular, meaning that it is possible to build or assemble a solution without starting from ground zero
- Many established technology providers have evolved to offer open access solutions
- Lower cost service and technology providers have emerged that are “open access native.” They cater only to open access and do not carry the technical overhead of subscription requirements
- Open source and solutions based on open source are on the rise. In some cases this is driving down cost, while increasing the pool of resources in the environment that can adapt and extend what has been done by others
The following table represents a sample of the solutions in the market and the technology needs they address. Although this table is not exhaustive, it appears that after significant activity in the late 1990’s, there was a lull in new entrants until the 2010’s, and then increased momentum in the last 5-7 years.
In addition to those listed above, there are several integrators that have reusable components that they employ when creating “build” solutions. GVPi, Ixxus (part of Copyright Clearance Center), and Digirati all have varying degrees of frameworks that enable their clients to benefit from previously completed efforts.
- Platforms built on open source solutions are on the rise. While open source does not mean free, it can mean that there are more affordable and flexible options available either directly (with your own internal development) or through service providers. Collaborative Knowledge Foundation (CoKo) is one example of an organization that is painstakingly building a developer community as well as working with established organizations (e.g., University of California Press) to design and build publishing solutions.
- Modular is in. Large monolithic platforms are becoming a thing of the past. Whether it’s a full-service hosting option that is now offering an array of established partners and integrations, or a hybrid option that you’ve pulled together yourself, best-of-breed is becoming more common. Service providers are clear that they can’t be the best at everything and the technology and integration needs required through the entire publishing life cycle are only expanding.
- New or expanded service providers are surfacing. We are starting to see existing service providers expand their capabilities to encompass more of the publication life cycle (e.g., Sheridan’s acquisition of PubFactory) and existing players in the ecosystem offer new services (e.g., Hindawi’s partnership with AAAS). We expect to see this trend continue. Options like these may present a viable alternative to a commercial publisher while still offering a high level of service and support across the entire publication life cycle.
- Coalitions and co-operatives are being discussed. Fueled in part by the realization of many smaller society and association publishers that they may be more sustainable if they join forces, we expect to see more announcements of societies working together. While the recent launch of the Scientific Society Publisher Alliance (SSPA) focuses on marketing and communications, we expect that publishers will also work together to achieve scale in service and technology procurement.
- Open Access publication has given rise to open access specialists. While market incumbents have expanded their capabilities to support open access, there are a large number of open access service providers, catering to the needs of open access only. These services range from process support, to hosting (e.g., Ubiquity Press, Open Research Central from F1000, eLife Continuum, etc.), to exploring new business models (e.g., KnowledgeUnlatched), to aiding in content discovery (e.g., ScienceOpen). Expect many of these providers to expand their mandate to Open Science and Research.
Publishers have options, even smaller publishers with limited budgets.
Publishers have options, even smaller publishers with limited budgets. Variations in configurations of technology and services are on the rise. API’s make it easier to assemble best-of-breed options for your publishing portfolio, while still enabling search and discovery. When considering hosting options, it is no longer necessary to use one partner or technology for your entire portfolio. You can host your open access content on a born-open access platform, for example, without impacting your subscription content.
Technology can also be secured independently or bundled with services. Options range from publishing partnerships to small open source hosted solutions. But the limited options that we saw in the 2000’s are no longer the case. Competition is increasing. It all becomes a question of understanding your needs and which solutions best align with them.