It is not clear how many of the 4000+ Open Access journals in publication (see DOAJ for the list) began life as Open Access publications and how many converted to Open Access from being Toll Access. The Open Access Directory has a list of journals that have converted, with links to their websites and to their publishers, along with the date of conversion, but this list is not necessarily exhaustive.
What is clear is that many journals have successfully made the conversion, using various different business models. For individual journals and for publishers with a portfolio of journals, changing to Open Access can be managed in a sudden way or a gradual one.
Many publishers are already trying the latter route by introducing an Open Access ‘author choice’ option. Authors may pay an article-processing fee (APC) to have their own artilce made Open Access even if the rest of the journal issue is Toll Access. Examples of such schemes are Springer’s Open Choice (a commercial publisher) and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Open Science (a society publisher). Oxford University Press experimented in the same way with Nucleic Acids Research some years ago and found the result such a success that the whole journal was turned into a fee-based publication after two years.
Although Oxford University Press has not converted many of its journal to full Open Access in this way, it does offer a ‘hybrid’ option where authors can pay an APC to make their own article Open Access across 90 of its titles. Other publishers, though, have decided to ‘flip’ their model from Toll Access to Open Access in one move. The Hindawi Publishing Corporation experimented with a mixed model for a few years but found it difficult, as a young publishing house, to make inroads into the library subscriptions market at a time when library budgets are largely taken up with ‘Big Deals’ (whereby the library licenses access to the entire journal output of the biggest publishers, a very expensive process). Hindawi was also up against the fact that libraries focus on purchasing access to journals perceived to be of good quality because they are covered by the Web of Science and thus have an Impact Factor, and new or young journals have not had a chance to gain such a thing. All in all, selling subscriptions was a difficult process for Hindawi, yet the company’s Open Access option was proving to be popular due to the low cost of APCs (Hindawi has low operating costs and is able to keep its APCs at a very reasonable level). The publisher decided to flip to a business model offering full Open Access to all articles, based on the payment of APCs (Peters, 2007).
The Open Society Institute has published two guides for journal publishers who are interested in Open Access. One is a guide to launching new journals that are to be Open Access from the start. The other is a guide to converting existing subscription-based journals to Open Access.
References and further reading
OSI Guide to Business Planning for Launching an Open Access Journal. www.soros.org/openaccess/oajguides/business_planning.pdf
OSI Guide to Business Planning for Converting a Subscription-Based Journal to Open Access. www.soros.org/openaccess/oajguides/business_converting.pdf
Peters, P (2007) Going all the way: how Hindawi became an open access publisher. Learned Publishing 20, 191-195. doi: 10.1087/095315107X204049 www.hindawi.com/going_all_the_way.pdf
Solomon, D (2008) Developing Open Access journals: a practical guide (abridged version of David Solomon’s book of the same title, published by Chandos, Oxford, in 2008. http://www.developing-oa-journals.org/Guide_to_developing_oa_journals.pdf
Caroline Sutton and David Solomon have set up a resource featuring materials and advice from their first workshop on Open Access Publishing held in Vancouver in 2009. They will be offering further workshops and hope to make it an ongoing series. Their website giving details is here.