Shifting Power Relations between Journal Publishers and University Libraries as Open Access Models Take Hold
Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-08-15
Scientific journals switching to Open Access that seek to diminish the impact of traditional publishers on access to knowledge incidentally make libraries and foundations more central to the publication workflow.
As Open Access becomes an increasingly central requirement with which large journal publishers are met with in their dealings with university libraries, academic societies and individual scholars, some of these, such as Springer, express readiness to accommodate it in their business practices, e.g., by making archived journal issues freely accessible after specified grace periods. At the same time, these practices also empower journal editors and research libraries to seek a more central role in the emergent journal publishing ecology based on Open Access, as has been the case with the section editors and editorial board of Lingua, a linguistics journal published by Elsevier, that have decided to launch Glossa, a rival Open Access journal, in 2015 with the support of the LingOA initiative and the Open Library of Humanities (OLH), a charitable organization seeking to promote Open Access publishing without charging author-facing article processing charges (APCs).
Though last two decades have seen a number of journals being re-launched in Open Access, for publishers this process hardly represents a paradigm shift in terms of how their extant journals are run, notwithstanding their limited integration of Open Access options, since their existing business models continue to ensure the quality of subscription-based journals. Additionally, in many cases, even after competing Open Access journals are launched, existing journals continue to maintain their positioning in their respective academic fields. However, initiatives, such as the OLH, that explicitly seek to change the manner in which funds circulate between libraries, publishers and researchers based on Open Access can potentially reduce the hold of publishers on copyright, journal management and revenue streams, while making libraries more directly involved in editorial processes, publication workflow and business models that form the basis of academic journals’ sustainability.
By Pablo Markin