SPARC Explores
Income Models
for Supporting
Open-Access Journals
Jennifer McLennan, Director of Communications, SPARC
Dopen
eveloping a sustainable business model is a critical concern for all
publishers. For open-access publishers, who commit to free and
downstream access and reuse of their published material, the
question of sustainability is a particularly challenging one. To increase
awareness of different approaches that are available to publishers, SPARC (the
Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has released a report
that provides an overview of income models currently used to sustain open-
access journals. Raym Crow, SPARC Senior Consultant, is the author of the
report.
Many discussions of open-access journal income models focus on article
processing fees. However, as the guide documents, such fees are not
appropriate for every journal or every publisher. The needs of individual
journals differ, and a variety of income models can be used to support broad
open-access distribution. The right model for any given publisher will take
into account not only their need to cover expenses, but also the organization’s
“mission objectives, size, business management resources, risk tolerance, tax
status, and institutional or corporate affiliation.”
As Crow writes in the guide’s introduction:
An income model does not need to reform the entire system of
scholarly publication to be worthwhile to a specific journal. In
the absence of a comprehensive, systemic change in the manner
in which peer-reviewed journals are funded, publishers will
continue to apply a variety of income models to support open-
access distribution. In this context, an income model should be
judged on its effectiveness to support any given journal—or to
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OCTOBER 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC