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New SPARC guide reviews income models for supporting open-access journals

For immediate release
October 8, 2009

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
(202) 296-2996 ext 121
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org


WASHINGTON, DC - Who pays for Open Access - is a key question 
faced by publishers, authors, and libraries as awareness and 
interest in free, immediate, online access to scholarly research 
increases. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources 
Coalition) examines the issue of sustainability for current and 
prospective open-access publishers in a timely new guide, "Income 
models for Open Access: An overview of current practice," by Raym 

"Income models for Open Access: An overview of current practice" 
examines the use of supply-side revenue streams (such as article 
processing fees, advertising) and demand-side models (including 
versioning, use-triggered fees). The guide provides an overview 
of income models currently in use to support open-access 
journals, including a description of each model along with 
examples of journals currently employing it.

Since its inception, SPARC has supported publishing models and 
policy initiatives that broaden access to the peer-reviewed 
results of research, and has recognized that this has financial 
implications for society and other nonprofit publishers. The new 
SPARC guide aims to support the development of sound open-access 
publishing business models by providing an overview of current 
practice as well as practical guidance for publishers in 
evaluating the viability and financial potential of selected 
income models.

Developing a sound business model is a critical concern for all 
publishers and the process can be especially challenging for 
those considering open-access distribution. The guide recognizes 
that the needs of individual journals differ, and that publishers 
will apply a variety of income models to support open-access 
distribution. The right model must take into account not only the 
publisher's need to cover expenses, but also the organization's 
mission objectives, size, business management resources, and 
other factors.

"There's not a single solution to creating the income stream 
necessary to support open-access publication that works for every 
publisher," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. 
"Through this experimental phase, it's important to be both 
flexible and pragmatic in the evaluation of new models. This 
guide will be a critical tool both for publishers exploring new 
potential sources of income and for libraries weighing where to 
direct meager library funds."

"Income models for Open Access: An overview of current practice" 
is available for free to read or download online. The guide is 
supplemented by an extensive Web resource, which invites 
community discussion on models described as well as contributions 
related to new and other models. The resource is online at 
http://www.arl.org/sparc/publisher/incomemodels/ .