Scholarly Publishing Practice 3: Academic journal publishers' policies and practices in online publishing. Third Survey, 2008
Publication date: 1 January 2008
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This is the third in a series of ALPSP surveys undertaken to establish current scholarly publishing practices, designed to track changes in policy and practice since 2000, as online publishing has matured. The survey was conducted of 400 journal publishers, both commercial and not-for-profit, consisting of ALPSP and other major association members. A response rate of over 65% was achieved including the majority of major journal publishers.
Key findings include:
• Publishers - especially large publishers and commercial publishers are launching new journals at a higher rate than in 2005.
• The growth trajectory of online availability has been steady since 2003. There is still some difference between the disciplines, with 96.1% of STM and 86.5% of arts, humanities and social science titles accessible online.
• Pricing models are just as complex and varied as they were in 2005. Most publishers use a variety of means to establish prices. It is notable that fewer publishers are providing online access free with print and instead are offering online-only subscriptionoptions.
• Open access advocacy has clearly had an effect on publishers' thinking. The proportion of publishers offering optional open access to authors has grown from 9% in 2005 to 30% in 2008. However, the take-up of the author pays open access option is exceedingly low.
• Licensing terms have become more generous, as publishers have become more comfortable with the use of digital content, including allowing use in Virtual Learning Environments and repurposing to create learning objects.
• Publishers' practice on authors' rights is changing. Fewer publishers now require authors to transfer copyright to the publisher and will instead accept a licence to publish.
• The growth of institutional and subject based repositories has prompted a rethink on authors' rights to post their articles on the web. Large publishers have relaxed prohibitions on posting pre-prints, but have imposed embargoes on the final accepted version.
Publishers are at different stages of development in their implementation of Web 2.0 technologies, with 20% enabling collaborative tagging and between 10% and 15% implementing forums, blogs and podcasts for a journal. The full report provides a vast array of evidence about the current policies and practices of scholarly journal publishers, but it also shows how these practices have changed over time with comparisons with the survey results from 2003 and 2005. It will be invaluable to those who wish to dispel some of the misunderstandings that have been voiced about journal publishing and to show how publishers' policies have changed in response to advocacy groups and funding mandates.