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Transitioning Your Journal from Subscription to Open Access

Open Access

In recent years, dozens of subscription journals have “flipped” to an open access model. While each journal has its own specific goals, challenges, and priorities, open access generally provides an opportunity to broaden the impact and availability of scholarly research.  Editors, journal managers, learned societies, and publishers considering transitioning their publications from the subscription model to open access may wish to consider the following:

  • What is the goal of transitioning the journal to open access?
  • Who owns the rights to the journal, and are they supportive of such a transition?
  • Who are the key stakeholders that must be consulted about such a transition?
  • How can the current business model be tapered off for authors and subscribers?
  • If an article processing charge (APC) model is to be adopted, what is the appropriate price point to sustain journal operations?
  • How can a print program (if one exists) be maintained after the transition?

Many university libraries have established programs to assist in the transitioning of journals from the subscription model to open access.  Resources related to university publishing programs include the following:

For learned societies considering a switch to open access publishing, the Harvard Library Office of Scholarly Communication has an excellent review of approaches and experiences that calls out a number of issues specific to this audience. Additionally, SPARC’s “Income Models for Open Access” resource provides key insights into the business model considerations that go into running a journal.

Editors interested in exploring whether their journal is a fit to transition to open access should visit SPARC’s Declaring Independence resource.

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