The Lethbridge Journal Incubator: A new business model for Open Access journal publication


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The Lethbridge Journal incubator is an experiment in the sustainability of academic publishing. The incubator attempts to ensure this sustainability by aligning the publishing processes with the research, teaching, and service missions of the University. Instead of drawing resources away from these central missions, academic communication under this model become a resource that materially improves the University’s ability to carry out these core functions.

The basic premise of the incubator is that the skills and experiences involved in contemporary scholarly journal production are both generalisable across disciplines and of significant value to graduate students whether they pursue post-graduate careers within or without the academy. The incubator works by, in essence, selling efficiency and training to institutions in exchange for ongoing in-kind and cash support.

In this lecture, I will discuss the experience of the incubator as it has moved from a prototype to production model. I will also discuss some current trends in Open Access scholarly communication in the Humanities and some implications for publishers and editors in other models and disciplines.

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The Lethbridge Journal Incubator: A new business model for Open Access journal publication

  1. 1. The Lethbridge Journal Incubator: A new business model for Open Access journal publication Daniel Paul O'Donnell @danielPaulOD With contributions from Gillian Ayers, Kelaine Devine, Heather Hobma, Jessica Ruzack, Sandra Cowen, Leona Jacobs, Wendy Merkeley, Rhys Stevens, Marinus Swanepoel, Maxine Tedesco February 18, 2014 Elsevier Labs Online Lectures
  2. 2. Humanities and Open Access: Two Understandings ● “The Internet is Free” – – No or ad hoc funding streams – ● Increase in the number of (relatively informal) internet-based journals Volunteer Professor labour “Knowledge should be Free” – Pressure on Societies to release journals OA – But journals are major membership benefit
  3. 3. Good and bad ● ● ● ● ● ● New journals = vibrancy Desire for OA = sense that knowledge is/could be important to public But humanities ≠ practical Little sense that lack of access to humanities research is crippling Paradox is that Humanities research seems intuitively accessible but harder to make the case for funding access Public needs to pay; but case needs to be made
  4. 4. Incubator is response ● ● Method of funding Open Access publication of humanities journals by aligning production with the research and teaching methods of the University Turns production and publication of Humanities research into training opportunity – Funding access becomes way of making Humanities teaching and research more practical
  5. 5. Traditional Model
  6. 6. Incubator model
  7. 7. How it works
  8. 8. Benefits for students
  9. 9. Benefit for institutions
  10. 10. Benefit for faculty
  11. 11. Benefit for journals
  12. 12. Lessons learned ● Still a publisher ● Still require experts ● Lowers quality (i.e. a disruptive technology)
  13. 13. Humanities only? ● ● ● Sciences have more money and public more willing to pay Stronger sense that lack of access to research is crippling But APC introduces similar pressures – – ● Itemises cost of publication as overhead Emphasises lack of scalability Only matter of time until there is pressure on cost
  14. 14. Humanities only? ● Network of incubators transfers same benefits to science education – – Introduces scalability into APC – ● Increases training and scientific literacy Already existing OA models set precedent Not going to replace commercial publishers
  15. 15. Thank you