Many researchers have become publishers of learned journals by taking advantage of the Web for dissemination and using some of the open source (free to use) software program that provide all the functionality that is needed in one platform. By definition, Open Access journals provide free online access to their scholarly content, so potential journal publishers must choose a business model that will enable them to cover any costs they incur in publishing the journal.
The main costs of journal publishing lie in editing, organising peer review, producing and marketing the journal:
- Most scholar-founded Open Access journals use voluntary labour to carry out editing tasks and to implement a peer review system. Usually, a group of researchers working in a particular field, who feel that there is a need for a new journal, will work together as a team to carry out these duties
- Production is enabled by using special software programs written for this purpose. They are free to use and have enabled hundreds of new Open Access journals to be established. The most well-known of these programs, Open Journal Systems, is used by over 2000 journals around the world
- Marketing the journal is a simple task if it is Open Access. Would-be users will find content via Google and other web search engines so long as your journal website is indexed by these services. You should also ensure that the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) indexes your journal because then academic libraries will enter your journal into their own catalogues and point to it from their websites
Some money will need to be found, even if it is just to pay for server space to host the journal and more ambitious journal founders may wish to operate on a higher-cost basis. Revenue can be earned by selling advertising space or subscriptins to the printed version of the journal. Arranging for a journal to be printed, bound and despatched is not such an expensive process as it once was due to the availability of print-on-demand technologies that enable low print runs to be produced at low unit cost. Many printers will offer this combined with a despatch service. There is much more on business models for Open Access journal publishing here.
If you do not feel confident enough to go it alone, there are publishing collectives, such as the Open Humanities Press, that provide support and an electronic publishing platform for scholars wishing to start a new Open Access journal. Or you can launch your new journal through a commercial Open Access publisher: BioMed Central, for example, which contrary to what its name suggests now covers a broad swathe of sciences, has helped numerous individuals and societies to launch new titles very successfully. An excellent overview of Open Access journal publishing in the humanities, including some case studies, has been written by Sigi Jottkandt from the Open Humanities Press.