steppingStones
Image by Flickr user fli48, licensed under CC-BY-ND 2.0.

I was meeting with a journal editor last week when he made a comment about the possibility of switching to a commercial publisher in the future.  For him, it was an offhand remark, but for me, it was one of those moments when your brain lights up and makes all sorts of new connections. In particular, it crystallized for me two of the major motivations for faculty editors to publish a journal with us.

For the editor I met with last week, we are helping to establish a new journal in a new field – one so new and unproven that a commercial publisher would be unlikely to want to invest in it. His goal is to raise the prominence of this neglected area of study and create a community of people around it. In his eyes, the greater prestige of working with one of the big scholarly publishers would outweigh considerations of open access and authors’ rights. If he were approached by Elsevier or T&F, he would likely jump at the opportunity, and our work with his journal would be at an end. We are a stepping stone on the way to his ultimate destination.

This week, I am working with an open access journal that is making the transition from a homegrown website on university servers to publishing on our Open Journal Systems instance. The change was precipitated by a lock-down in non-university user access, and initially caused a great deal of hand-wringing. When it was made clear to the editor that the original publishing environment was no longer viable, he was afraid that he would have to switch to a commercial publisher. Having heard him speak very passionately about the problems in the traditional scholarly publishing system, I knew firsthand what a defeat that would be. Luckily, I was able to offer him an alternative in OJS, and the journal is getting ready to publish its first issue on the new system. The journal continues to thrive, and its founder was able to continue to live up to his principles and his vision for his publication. For him, our publishing program, or rather, the type of open publishing we do, is the destination.

Two editors, two very different views of partnering with us. Here’s the thing…THEY’RE BOTH GREAT. I love working with faculty who want to help change the scholarly publishing ecosystem. I also love that we can support a fledgling branch of study, or a student-run journal, or any number of other worthy projects that haven’t found a home elsewhere. And if they grow up and fly away, we get to watch them soar.

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