A Study of Three Alternative Open Access Publishing Models

Cenyu Shen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Abstract

Digital technologies have brought good opportunities for innovation in the scholarly publishing industry, including the Open Access (OA) model, which makes peer reviewed journal articles freely available on the Internet. Over time, alternative approaches and strategies to fund and support OA publishing activities have surfaced.

The primary mechanisms for providing content OA include journals publishing articles directly as OA (Gold OA) or by authors archiving manuscript of articles in subscription journals in other web-based services (Green OA). Among different business models for gold OA publishing, the article processing charge (APCs) model has been a common path chosen by established major publishers. However, the introduction of APC-funded OA has also given rise to the problem of ‘predatory’ publishers, which has seriously damaged the reputation of OA publishing. Another problem is the increasing difficulties faced by the non-APC funded publishers either to sustain their journals financially or stay competitive to attract authors.

This thesis examines the situation of three distinct types of gold OA journals, which includes early independent scholar-led (‘indie’) OA journals, ‘predatory’ OA journals and Chinese-language OA journals. The overall purpose is to offer a varied perspective on the landscape of gold OA journals and therefore provide a fuller understanding of gold OA. Quantitative methods using bibliometrics and web observations were used, further complemented by qualitative methods in the form of case studies and interviews.

The thesis consists of three articles each focusing on one specific group of gold OA journals. The study of ‘indie’ journals shows that nearly half of them remain active with a relatively small publishing volume beyond the initial 6-9 years and that most of them had found other alternatives than to rely on APCs to finance themselves. The five related case journals present different development trajectories. The longitudinal development of the number of journals and article volumes of ‘predatory’ OA publishers indicates that this market was rapidly growing between 2010 and 2014. The estimated volume in 2014 rivalled that of OA journals indexed in DOAJ at the time. However, ‘predatory’ OA publishing can be seen as mainly a regional problem in terms of the distribution of publishers and authors across countries. The study of Chinese-language OA journals finds that most of the OA journals in China are published in Chinese and that they are mainly published by universities and scholarly societies. A prominent problem for the successful publishing of the journals which were studied with the support of interviews is the lack of a sufficient number of high quality manuscript submissions. Their operational situation is further exacerbated by their financial instability which is identified as the main barrier to internationalization.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Björk, Bo-Christer, Supervisor
  • Laakso, Mikael, Supervisor
Award date09.06.2020
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-232-408-5
Electronic ISBNs978-952-232-409-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Keywords

  • 512 Business and Management
  • open access
  • scholarly publishing
  • business models

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