1. The role of print journal in the business model
PLOS: Print was important initially, more for marketing purposes than revenue. PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine were launched with print versions so that people could 'see and feel' and gain confidence in the products. Now PLoS does no bulk printing. It has a Print on Demand (PoD) service for reprints, whole issues or for subscriptions for those who want a print holding. There are ideas for making this more sophisticated and personalised, such as drawing together content from across journals.
BMC: Print revenue is not a significant stream but it is offered in certain circumstances. An annual print version of a journal's output is available if requested. PoD is being trialled with supplements published in BMC journals. For authors' purposes, an individual cover page is created for each article in Neural Development for printing off reprints, and this is being extended to other journals. Rather than issuing print copies of journals, BMC would be interested in helping readers to create 'personal journals' (i.e. composed of cross-cut material) to send for PoD.
HINDAWI: Hindawi has substantial print revenues for some journals, mostly those that were subscription journals and have now been converted to Open Access. As time goes on, this is tailing off as libraries are satisfied with just the electronic version. The company is not expecting print revenues to sustain, but printed copies of journals remain useful for marketing purposes at the moment.
2. Financial viability of the company
PLOS: Overall, PLoS has not yet reached self-sustainability, but it is useful to consider its three layers of publishing projects in turn. 1. PLoS ONE is already financially scalable and sustainable. 2. PLoS community journals are approaching sustainability and will achieve it with some further adjustments to costs and revenue. 3. The flagship journals, PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine are expected to require additional support from other sources for some time to come. They will be supported by multiple revenue streams as are other top-tier journals.
BMC: BMC expects to announce that it has broken even before the end of 2007.
HINDAWI: Hindawi is already financially healthy. Article Processing Charges cover all the company's costs.
3. Where publication charges come from currently and where they are expected to come from
PLOS: The major source of funding for PLoS article processing charges (APCs) is currently author grants. Funders see publication fees as a legitimate research cost. In the future, fees might also come from a central university fund.
BMC: Many authors pay APCs from their grant funds. In other cases, funders such as Wellcome Trust and the Arthritis Research Campaign, funders provide additional funds which authors can use for APC payments. Just under half of all articles are paid for through BioMed Central institutional membership deals. Typically, membership is initially paid for out of the library budget, but as more and more articles are published in open access journals, an increasingl number of institutions are making use of the indirect funds which they receive from research funders to help cover the cost of open access publications. (e.g. see the RIN guidance note)
HINDAWI: Authors are paying primarily from their research budgets. In most well-funded areas of STM this will continue. In other areas central funds can help, but these need to be managed carefully to avoid introducing new market distortions.
4. The basis for charging
PLOS: PLoS charges an APC per accepted article. The level of charge varies from journal to journal, and reflects the services and costs of the individual journals.
BMC: BMC charges an APC per accepted article. There is no charge for manuscripts which are rejected. The level of charge varies from journal to journal, but around $1600 is typical.
HINDAWI: Hindawi charges APCs in the form of a page-charge. There are variations depending upon the community. For example, in some communities, overlength charges are a norm (e.g. the engineering community where IEEE has such charges). For its engineering journals, Hindawi therefore levies just an overlength per-page charge, an acceptable and routine model for that community. For other communities, usual page charge procedures apply.
5. Institutional memberships
PLOS: PLoS does offer institutional memberships, but this does not constitute a very significant revenue stream for the company. It is also not viewed as a long term revenue stream. The cost of a membership is based on the institution's publishing output and offers a modest financial incentive for the researchers in that institution to publish with PLoS. Importantly, the scheme helps build relationships with libraries, consortia and institutions, so that they can collaborate on advocacy efforts.
BMC: BMC has two types of membership and sees this as a long-term strategy.
- BMC Prepay Membership: an institution pays for all APCs centrally so the author does not have to pay directly. The fee is discounted, based on the amount paid in advance by the institution.
- BMC Supporters Membership: An institution pays a fixed annual membership fee. Researchers at that institution then receive a 15% discount off the APC.
HINDAWI: Hindawi does not currently have an institutional membership program. While the company would be interested in finding ways for institutes to contribute towards the publication charges of researchers with limited research funds, it is important to keep a market mechanism in place to ensure an efficient pricing system.
6. Waiver policies
PLOS: Authors can request a full or partial waiver and PLoS grants all such requests. Editors and reviewers have no access to payment information, so the ability to pay the fee can never influence an editorial decision. The current payment rate (i.e. after full or partial waivers) is approaching 90% on average: it varies a little from community to community
BMC: A list of low and lower-middle income countries, as defined by the World bank, is on the BMC website and automatic waivers are offered to authors from these. Where the author is from a country outside of this list, BMC considers each request for a waiver on a case-by-case basis, and can negotiate a discount with authors rather than offering a complete waiver. Authors also get an automatic discount if they provide their article in a form that saves BMC processing costs; for example, by providing references in Endnote or similar formats that BMC can work with directly. Taking waivers and discounts into account, BMC generates realised income of about 80% of the nominal APC value per of the articles published.
HINDAWI: To get a waiver, authors simply send an email to email@example.com during the submission process. At the moment, anyone who requests a waiver is granted one but this might not be sustainable in the long-term. So far, APCs have not been seen as a barrier to submissions.
7. Submission levels and growth
PLOS: Submissions are increasing. In total, PLoS received 1500 submissions last quarter (900 in the same quarter last year) and over the last two years submissions have increased by 200%. The reasons for high submission rates for PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine are that the journals have succeeded in doing what they set out to do, which was to become top-tier Open Access journals. High impact factors help to attract authors to the community journals too and last month PLoS ONE has more than 200 submissions, even though it was only launched 7 months ago.
BMC: Submissions have been increasing and are currently at 4700 per quarter. Over the last two years submissions have nearly doubled. There is always a spurt when new impact factors are announced and when new journals are launched. Authors are asked to complete a short questionnaire a few weeks after their article is published and the main reasons they give for submitting to a BMC journal are: they have read an article in a BMC journal; BMC has been recommended by a colleague who has had a good publishing experience with the company; they have published with BMC before; they wish to make their work Open Access
HINDAWI: Hindawi has seen a growth rate of 60-70% recently; this is expected to continue for a year or two. Submissions are currently averaging around 500-600 per month. Submission levels are strong across all journals and we are seeing a lot of growth in our new journals that were launched as OA titles. These new journals account for a substantial part of the growth Hindawi has seen recently. The established journals are doing well too, because of Hindawi's strong focus on providing excellent author services and a great publishing experience. Authors provide very positive feedback and there are many authors who have published once with Hindawi and returned again and again.
8. Research data handling and policies
PLOS: Where there are established databases in a community PLoS requires authors to deposit their data in those repositories. PLoS also encourages authors to submit other supplementary data so that they can be made available along with the article on the PLoS website. It is hoped that the technology platform supporting PLoS ONE will be used in future for handling, managing and publishing datasets in creative ways.
BMC: Authors are required to deposit data in a recognised repository where they can and to include accession numbers in their article. BMC also encourages authors to upload the data with the article so that both can be made available on the BMC website. Any data format is accepted. BMC will probably move to asking reviewers to check that all necessary data has been made available by the authors.
HINDAWI: Hindawi requires authors in areas where there are established public databases to deposit their data there. Authors are also encouraged to submit data files along with their article. At the moment the level of activity in this respect is not spectacular but this may change as authors see creative uses of their data and new value being extracted.
9. Impact measures, traditional (Journal Impact Factor)
PLOS: PLoS Journals have achieved very high ranking by the conventional impact factor. PLoS Biology, for example, is the highest-ranked journal in the biology category. This has helped to drive confidence in our journals, but the impact factor is only one way to measure the influence of a journal. It is also an overused and abused metric. Fortunately, the transition to open access will bring a variety of new and more sophisti-cated approaches to measuring impact, focusing on individual articles rather than journals.
BMC: BioMed Central makes details of its journals' impact factors available on its website. For journals which have not yet been tracked by Thomson Scientific for long enough to have official impact factors, BioMed Central calculates unofficial impact factors based on the same citation data.16 additional BioMed Central journals will receive their first official impact factor in the next 2 years.
HINDAWI: The majority of Hindawi's journals are too new to have received an Impact Factor so far. However, of the 21 journals in Hindawi's open access collection that have been reviewed for inclusion in the Science Citation Index, nine titles have already received an Impact Factor, and seven additional titles have been accepted for citation tracking and should receive their initial Impact Factors within the next two years.
10. Impact measures, new
PLOS: Open access not only maximizes the impact of published research but also provides the opportunity to develop much more sophisticated measures of impact and performance than currently available. Bibliographic data, for example, is freely available for comprehensive analysis. There is also the potential to add information at the article level - citations, usage, coverage in the media and blogosphere, community rating - and much more of this will be seen in future.
BMC: A highly accessed logo identifies articles which are in the top 10% most accessed articles, considering the time since publication, and the journal in which the article was published. BioMed Central also links articles to Web of Science and to Google Scholar, allowing citation counts to be easily checked at the article level.BioMed Central articles are also linked, where appropriate, to Evaluations of those articles on Faculty of 1000, and BioMed Central is developing tools to make use of tagging data from blogs and services such as CiteULike and Connotea to identify important articles.
HINDAWI: While Hindawi certainly encourages the use of new measures of research impact, the community is still very dependent on citation-based metrics. So while the company is always looking for new measures of impact, it put a significant amount of effort to ensure that its journals are covered in the established citation databases.
11. Development plans and adding value
PLOS: PLoS will move all journals onto the technology platform that underpins PLoS ONE. The PLoS Journals will therefore all take advantage of the web2.0 tools being developed for PLoS ONE, although the way the tools are used is likely to vary from journal to journal. Once on a common platform, PLoS will introduce new channels into content aimed at specific communities, and will drive growth, usage and traffic in this fashion.
BMC: New technological developments will allow authors to embed movies in their articles in YouTube style. BioMed Central is expanding its publishing activity into new areas such as Physics and Chemistry, as well as actively launching new journals in new biomedical fields. Case reports are an underexploited resource, and this is being addressed by The Journal of Medical Case Reports, and an associated database is being developed. BioMed Central is also increasingly finding that a number of society journals are interested in moving their journals to the open access model (several have recently transferred to BioMed Central.)
HINDAWI: Hindawi currently has a very active development effort underway, both in terms of launching journals in new fields and in terms of enhancing its online publishing platform.