Author: Bo-Christer Björk, Cenyu Shen, & Mikael Laakso
Abstract: Open Access (OA) is nowadays increasingly being used as a business model for the publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals, both by specialized OA publishing companies and major, predominantly subscription-based publishers. However, in the early days of the web OA journals were mainly founded by independent academics, who were dissatisfied with the predominant print and subscription paradigm and wanted to test the opportunities offered by the new medium. There is still an on-going debate about how OA journals should be operated, and the volunteer model used by many such ‘indie’ journals has been proposed as a viable alternative to the model adopted by big professional publishers where publishing activities are funded by authors paying expensive article processing charges (APCs). Our longitudinal quantitative study of 250 ‘indie’ OA journals founded prior to 2002, showed that 51% of these journals were still in operation in 2014 and that the median number of articles published per year had risen from 11 to 18 among the survivors. Of these surviving journals, only 8% had started collecting APCs. A more detailed qualitative case study of five such journals provided insights into how such journals have tried to ensure the continuity and longevity of operations.