Flipping Subscription Journals to Open Access – For Whom and to What Cost?

Text by Sofie Wennström, Analyst & Managing Editor, Stockholm University Library

The Open Access movement seems to have entered a new phase in the past few years. The idea of sharing scholarly content online has become more of reality, and people are getting used to the idea that knowledge does not grow best inside a greenhouse, but benefit from being released into the open air.

Nonetheless, while more people seem to want more openness, we don’t see enough growth in the actual Open Access to content. There are of course many reasons for this, but one of them is the cost of change. It is not only the cost of pounds, dollars or euros we are talking about but also the value of prestige and the inertia of human behavioural change. In honour of Open Access Week 2017, we would like to contribute to the campaign “Open in Order To…”, with this example of opening up access to research with true societal impact.

The board of the Nordic Network on Disability Research (NNDR) decided that their publication Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research (SJDR) would better serve its community by opening up access to all their content. This “flip” to OA was not affordable to the society on the big publisher platform, and they approached Stockholm University Press when looking for a new partnership. Despite being a small university press, we can deliver mainly the same service a big publisher when it comes to digital platforms, but we can do it to almost half the price. We are therefore proud to announce the partnership with NNDR today. The transition is of course not just smooth, however, and we are currently working hard to transfer the entire journal archive (including 19 volumes) to the new platform. This is expected to be released in the beginning of December.

To tell the story about why we did this, and what risks where considered, we talked to the former President of NNDR, Simo Vehmas, Professor in Special Education at Stockholm University, about his thoughts on the move that he initiated.

 

The considerations raised by Simo are of course real. All change comes at a cost, not only in money but also in sweat and tears. The Editors and the Publisher must, therefore, work closely together building a trustworthy organisation for authors to continue to submit their papers to the journal also on the new platform. It is crucial to get the message out there in time for users to find the journal website. Another task is to ensure that all indexing services linked to the journal are updated in due time, such as Scopus and the Emerging Sources Citation Index. The production quality must remain at a high level, which our service partner Ubiquity Press will guarantee. Another important aspect of access and digital technology, that cannot be forgotten in this context, is to ensure that the content is easy to find and use not only because it is openly available, but also for all readers with disabilities.

For questions about SJDR and its content, please contact the Editor-in-Chief, Hanna Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist. Follow the developments and stay up-to-date about the release of the journal archive via Twitter.


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