Are academic journals a good business?

Rafael Hernandez Barros
14/08/13 06:20:42PM

About the business model of scientific journals. Is it possible to earn money with them? Or are they for something else?

Rafael Hernandez Barros
16/08/13 10:03:59PM @rafael-hernandez-barros:

Thank you for your valuable feedback.

Research Cooperative
16/08/13 09:40:14PM @chief-admin:

Newspaper publishers and academic journal publishers face the same challenge: how to at least cover costs and produce good quality publications that people actually read and refer to?

There are many costs involved, even when a completely online distribution system is used. The costs include copyediting, correspondence, time spent to find and maintain contact with contributors and reviewers, and promotion costs. There are also costs for the contributors, who may need to pay for professional editing or translation. If the journal maintains a good standard, in order to satisfy readers, there will be higher costs for contributors, on average. Journals that enjoy the support of an academic institution or society can usually get various kinds of financial and practical help. A successful journal may be able to attract sufficient support, by one means or another, to pay for a full-time manager or senior editor.

My advice for new journals is to begin small, work within the financial means of the founders, and confirm that interest and need exist for the journal, before expanding operation.

It's good to have big goals, but it is not good to falsely claim that the goals have been reached before the journal has even published its first issue.

It is also good to be clear what working time and range of skills the founders can contribute to the journal, and what other people and skills are needed to reach the desired aims of the journal.

Academic journals can be a 'good business' if they cover their costs, have extra funds for development, and communicate research results effectively to the intended audience.

Journals that are managed primarily for financial profit face a much greater challenge, as readers and contributors will only consistently pay high author page charges or subscription fees for exceptionally good content, an exceptionally good author support system, and exceptionally good journal reputation.

Those are all qualities that can take decades to develop. Journals that do not have a long-term plan may also fail to attract contributors, as authors often want their work to be available to readers permanently. National and international networks of libraries with print holdings have been able to provide such continuity for hundreds of years.