Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version


Document Type



White paper, issued March 2017.


Copyright or licensing status of this white paper is not declared.


This white paper delves into:

• The past and present state of journal publishing

• Current alternatives to the corporate publisher model

• Steps to realize sustainable, open access-friendly journal models of the future

This paper argues democratization of journal publishing is the key to lowering journal production costs and facilitating OA. Members of the academic community, either at established not-for-profit organizations or through informal groups of editors and advocates, must break up the corporate publisher conglomerate by taking control of journals and developing funding, access, and distribution models that work for their disciplines. This paper explores how widespread adoption of publishing services rather than carte blanche outsourcing of publishing will allow journals to affordably and sustainably publish on their own.

The goals of the scientific community and corporate publishers remain at odds - the former seeks to expand access to research while the latter seeks profit and control. Within the power dynamic of the current journal publishing model the interests of corporate publishers are virtually guaranteed to prevail. In order to lower the cost to access academic journal articles and pave the way for sustainable OA publishing, a dramatic shift is needed in the journal publishing paradigm. Democratization of journal publishing via new technologies, a move to service-based journal publishing models, and de-specialization of the publishing process will allow for rapid development of alternatives to the current corporate-driven journals model. The proliferation of service-based models for publishing academic journals will allow the academic community to retain copyright control, create competition in the marketplace to keep publishing costs transparent and low, and help hasten the move towards a better evaluation system than the journal impact factor. Ultimately, democratization of journal publishing via online services will put control of the entire research lifecycle - from peer review to production to distribution - back in the hands of the academic community.