If a Society or Nonprofit Owns the Journal but Collaborates with a Third Party to Publish...

You should determine when the term of its publishing agreement ends. Publishing agreements typically run for five- or seven-year terms and renew automatically (for one- or three-year terms). The advance notice required for intent to renegotiate or terminate the agreement tends to range from 180 days to 18 months. This information will determine the timeframe for evaluating your options for the journal.

Once the society or nonprofit has determined the timeframe for its decision, you can work to estimate the costs required to operate the journal. This should encompass all essential editorial activities, including any costs that may have been covered previously by the publishing partner. The costs will also include any publishing platform expenses. Publishing platform options range from fully featured, but expensive, commercial platforms to capable, less expensive (even free), options from nonprofit providers.

Once your editorial board has a sense of the journal’s cost structure, you can evaluate options for sustaining the journal financially. Common funding approaches include:

  • Subsidizing the operation of an open access journal out of other society revenues. If the society generates sufficient surplus revenue (from member dues, meeting registration fees, sponsorships, etc.), it might be able to cover some or all the journal’s costs out of that surplus.
  • Funding the journal via article processing charges (APCs). Sustaining a journal via APCs is most likely to succeed in disciplines with a tradition of page charges (e.g., biomedicine, life sciences, etc.) and/or where a substantial percentage of a journal’s content is the result of funded research.
  • Participating in an institutional or collective support model with other journals. A growing number of academic institutions provide support for open access journals. Some of these resources require an institutional affiliation (for example, one of the editors must associated with the university), while others support any open access journal that practices rigorous peer review. Additionally, at least one initiative - Open Library of the Humanities - seeks collective funding for qualifying journals.
  • Funding the journal through contributions from multiple institutions.

Learn more about funding options
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