How to support journal transitions in HSS – A new model for Utrecht University Library
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This paper presents a new model adopted by Igitur publishing, the Open Access journal publishing service of Utrecht University Library in the Netherlands. Using our experience as publisher of +20 OA journals over the last ten years, Igitur publishing will shift its focus to journal development and advising editorial boards and individual scholars on OA journal publishing. Igitur publishing intends to act as a mediator and incubator, forming a bridge between editorial boards, scholarly publishers, society publishers and the OA publishing market. For HSS, in particular, this new model turns out to be very beneficial.
In recent years, we noticed an increasing need for advice on OA publishing among scholars from the faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law: these are the disciplines that are currently making the transition. The incubator model limits the lifespan of a journal in company: after 6 years a journal should either be ready for self-publishing (a likely scenario for society journals) or for transfer to the commercial OA publisher’s market. We intend to develop a journal in three predetermined stages within these six years, which enables us to help journals in these particular areas prepare for the technical transition from paper-based processes to xml typesetting and to prepare for a new financially sustainable OA model. These processes are particularly alien and complicated for scholars working in these fields, who are caught in between a strong paper tradition and the wish for online visibility.
Our experience in OA publishing is also valuable for scholars involved with journals that are not hosted and published in-company. Obviously, the Library is also often approached with queries on OA book publishing. Igitur publishing has a publishing consultant, a marketing consultant and a consultant on operational and technical aspects of OA publishing, all of whom address the changing world of academic publishing from their own field of expertise. In subject-specific issues they are assisted by the Library’s faculty liaisons. As in the case of journal transitions, requests for advice predominantly come from HSS. Recent examples of this advisory role are:
-a society publisher struggling between scholarly ambitions and funding coming from an amateur society;
-negotiating the transfer to an new OA publisher for an editorial board that was pushed out off the portfolio by its current publisher;
-acting on behalf of three journals in a meeting discussing the future of publishing on Dutch studies.
In these three cases, Igitur publishing’s role can again be described as a mediator between the interests of scholars and publishers. For the fields of HSS and Law, whose publishing processes and objectives are not yet adapted to online and OA publishing, this negotiating role is much needed. It allows scholars to focus on their core business, their research, while we worry about how best to disseminate their results in Open Access.
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