This chapter discusses the rapid transition from paper to electronic distribution of scholarly journals and how this has led to open-access journals that make their content freely available over the Internet. It presents the practical and ethical arguments for providing open access to publicly funded research and scholarship and outlines a variety of economic models for operating these journals. There are hundreds of journals that are run on volunteer effort by a few people or even a single person. Journal management software that can streamline the peer-review process as well as other aspects of operating a journal can dramatically reduce the effort of operating these journals and allow them to flourish. The availability of high-quality, open source journal management software is playing an important role in facilitating the success of small volunteer-run, open-access journals.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Serial Pricing Crisis: A term commonly used by librarians to describe the dramatic increase in the cost of journal subscription fees, particularly among scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals, that has been occurring over the last 30 to 40 years. These price increases are limiting the ability of even well-funded research libraries in the United States to maintain their journal collections.
Subsidized Open-Access Journals: Open-access journals in which all material in the journal is made freely available to all readers via the Internet from the time it is published, and there is no charge to authors for publication. Hence, these journals derive no income from their operations. The cost and effort of publication is funded by some type of subsidy. In many cases, these journals are operated via volunteer effort that is the sole support of the journal.
Scholarly Journals: Generally peer-reviewed journals that publish original research or scholarship by the researchers or scholars who performed the research or scholarship. They originated in the 17 th century and up until about 50 years ago were largely owned and operated by scientific and scholarly societies. Since then, an increasing number is owned and operated at a profit by commercial publishers.
Electronic Dissemination: The dissemination of digital material via the Internet. For the purposes of this chapter, the term refers to the dissemination of journal articles in digital form via the World Wide Web.
Journal Management Software: Helps manage and track manuscripts through the peer-review and publication process. It can automate a significant amount of the work required to operate a journal, but far from all of it. A central argument of this chapter is that open source journal management software can be a key asset in allowing small subsidized open-access journals with few resources to continue to operate and thrive as they become established and as their submissions grow.
“Gold” and “Green” Roads to Open Access: Two general strategies for achieving open access to scholarship. The gold road is via open-access journals that make their material freely available via the Internet. The green road is via authors archiving articles published in traditional subscription fee journals in archives that allow the content to be freely available via the Internet.
Open-Access Initiative (OAI): Sometimes called the Budapest Open Access Initiative or OAI, the term was coined at a meeting in Budapest in December 2001 of the Open Society Institute. The initiative strives to promote the free and unrestricted online availability of scientific and other scholarly journal articles.