Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Flipping journals subscriptions to open access

The October SPARC Open Access Newsletter features an interview of Mark Rowse, former CEO of Ingenta, by Peter Suber, called Flipping a Journal to Open Access.

This is an intriguing idea; simply flipping a journal from subscription to open access. Change the line on the invoice from "subscription renewal notice" to "this year's open access publication fees", and open the whole journal up. Rowse presents some very interesting analysis and observations. Flipping could be done by a journal, a publisher - or, the whole publishing industry. The CERN SCOAP effort to transform physics publishing into pure gold open access publishing is one example.

From my perspective, this flipping could mean a competitive advantage to some of the smaller journals and publishers, who often have lower costs. That is, one of the advantages of the publication fee approach to open access is that it is likely to introduce competition into the scholarly publishing marketplace. Society journals often produce top quality at a fraction of the cost of commercial publishers. Once we begin to look at publishing on a cost-per-publishing service basis - this will become obvious.

For a membership-based society, there are ways of handling the flip to retain membership, such as providing free publication services to members. Here is another thought: once a journal becomes open access, it could become an attractive advertising venue for the society itself, reaching more potential members, and possible boosting membership.

Peter Suber has added an example from Springer on Open Access News.

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access Series.