Alternative Publishing Options for Authors

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Ventures listed below are not endorsed SPARC partners unless specifically noted.

University Presses

Approximately fifty university presses publish journals. To begin your investigation of the university press option, contact the university press on your own campus. The Association of American University Presses' (AAUP) Online Catalog can also help you identify university presses whose publishing programs may offer a good fit for your journal. Though most university presses focus on book publication, altogether they currently publish more than 700 scholarly journals, according to the AAUP. (Often, subject areas correlate to the strengths of their book programs.) Eight university presses account for the bulk of journal publication. These are:

  • Scandinavian University Press

Certain projects of these presses have attracted a great deal of attention for their innovative approaches to scholarly communications and cost-recovery pricing models promoting wider dissemination:

The MIT Press launched some of the earliest electronic-only journals (automated from author submission to dissemination) in addition to MIT CogNet, a "virtual" scholarly community in the cognitive sciences.Project Muse (Johns Hopkins University) is a collaboration between the JHU Press and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. The project provides online the full texts of over 168 scholarly journals in the arts and humanities, social sciences, and mathematics. It is now building a scientific journals program. Overall, twenty-five not-for-profit publishers and scholarly associations are involved with Project Muse.University of Chicago Press Online makes available online The Astrophysical Journal, the premier journal of the American Astrophysical Society, in addition to nearly 50 other journal titles.

The University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office, working with the SPARC Consulting Group, offers the Publisher Assistance Program to provide business planning and digital publishing services that facilitate open-access publishing particularly for the social sciences and humanities. Existing and potential publishers can take advantage of the combined experience of the two organizations to ensure the sustainability of their publishing efforts. The program offers a package of options for journal development, production, hosting, and maintenance.

Scientific Societies

Many scientific societies have internal publishing programs that produce at least one journal. The primary purpose of a society's publishing program is to contribute to the development of knowledge within a field of science and to offer sound and reliable sources of information to its members. Societies also assume an obligation to the larger community of scientists in their discipline. Many society mission statements cite the broadest possible dissemination of scientific information as a prime directive for their programs.

By evaluating a society's scope, size, and publishing success, scientists exploring publishing options can determine whether there is a good fit with a society publisher. Societies can offer editorial support and manage the business side of publishing a print or electronic journal. They also offer a very special attraction -- direct contact with a sizeable portion of the practitioners in any given area of science through their memberships.

Digital Initiatives from Academe

Several projects have been launched within academe to support the electronic dissemination of STM information. In some of these cases, university libraries have undertaken digital projects in connection with scholarly associations, individual journal titles, and informal groups of scholars. Examples include:

International Consortium for Alternative Academic Publishing (ICAAP)

Based at Athabasca University in Canada, the ICAAP was founded to provide support for current and potential journal publications by hosting journals and furnishing final production assistance such as markup language tagging and copyediting. For more information:


Based at the University of California and hosted at UC's California Digital Library, eScholarship is dedicated to facilitating scholar-led innovation in scholarly communication through experimentation in the alternative production and dissemination of research. The core components are:

  • Disciplinary e-print knowledge archives.
  • Tools for submission, review, discovery, access, and use of scholarship.
  • Innovative repackaging of e-print archives into digital journals and other compilations.
  • Alerting, citation, and annotation services for scholars.
  • Integration and summarization services for students.

For more information: 

Project Euclid

Focused on independent, non-profit journals in mathematics and statistics, Project Euclid is a partnership between the Cornell University Mathematics Library and the Duke University Press. It supports all functions in scholarly publishing from preprints to the electronic distribution of published journals. Three modules provide a seamless stream of services:

  • Preprint server (fast dissemination of research)
  • Editorial toolkit (peer reviewing and editing)
  • Journal publishing (translation into the electronic environment)

For more information:

Columbia Earthscape

Columbia Earthscape is a project of Columbia University's Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) in collaboration with scholars and research institutions. Earthscape selects, gathers, edits, and links the widest range of resources available online in Earth-systems science. EPIC also produces Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO), a comprehensive online source for theory and research in international affairs. It publishes a wide range of scholarship from 1991 to the present that includes working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from non-governmental organizations, foundation-funded research projects, and proceedings from conferences. For more information: or

Government Projects


National Research Council/ Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information Canada's National Research Council (NRC) provides expertise through the NRC Research Press in a number of publishing areas, such as full editing and production services for journals, co-publishing arrangements, assistance in developing electronic publications, electronic distribution, and subscription services. These services are enhanced and supported by one of its major goals: "Developing, adapting, and launching new technology-enabled applications, tools, and systems such as . . . modern publishing systems and electronic infrastructure components to meet the challenges of the fast-paced, volatile STM information environment." For more information: Canadian Science Publishing.   

PubMed Central

The U. S. National Institutes of Health launched PubMed Central and began accepting articles in January 2000. The site is a "barrier-free" repository of peer-reviewed primary research reports in the life sciences. The main criterion for acceptance is that the material be "contributed by journals currently indexed by one of the major abstracting and indexing services, or journals that have three or more research grant holders from major funding agencies on their editorial boards." However, this is a minimum requirement for new journals, and interested editorial boards are encouraged to examine the site in detail. For more information:

Departmental Hosting

Some university departments have begun to host e-journals related to their discipline, and this generally allows these journals to be distributed at no cost due to minimal overhead charges. The University of Warwick (UK) mathematics department, for example, launched Geometry & Topology in 1997. The department publishes the journal electronically, at no cost, and makes a print version available through a partnership with International Press. The University of Warwick's math department has also announced plans to publish the new e-journal Algebraic and Geometric Topology.

Another example is Documenta Mathematica, launched in 1996 at the University of Bielefeld (Germany). Documenta Mathematica produces its issues electronically (free of charge) and in print, and the annual print version is distributed by a company that sells it for less than 10 cents per page.New York Journal of Mathematics employs a similar model.

For more information:

Commercial Ventures

Several researcher-friendly commercial ventures have entered the marketplace during the past few years in an effort to serve the scientific community. Some companies offer fast, efficient online publishing of research articles with full peer review and no barriers to access; most are run by editors who are supported by a growing number of researchers who act as advisers to the editorial team.

BioMed Central

BioMed Central publishes peer reviewed research across all areas of biology and medicine, with immediate, barrier-free access for all. BioMed Central is launching the first group of research journals in a new publishing initiative that will allow groups of researchers to publish online journals representing their community. These new journals will offer free access to research articles through BioMed Central's established tools for online submission, electronic peer review, and publication. For more information:

The Berkeley Electronic Press 

The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) provides academic communities with Internet-based tools for the creation, management, and dissemination of electronic publications. Founded by professors and researchers to put academics back in control, bepress offers a system that automates and centralizes the key functions of running a journal, from setting the layout to managing peer review to logging correspondence to publishing accepted content. bepress editors are afforded full control in crafting their journal's policies and pricing. For more information:


Scholarly Exchange

Scholarly Exchange provides a comprehensive, ultra-low-cost, web-based scholarly journal/conference infrastructure to scholars, societies, and institutions. The integrated service infrastructure consists of components for managing online scholarly publishing: Content Collection, Review, Editorial Decision-making,  Workflow Control, Online Publishing (Display), Export, and optional Advertising support.  Combining simple user interfaces with sophisticated behind-the-scenes features, it provides an editorial management system that is both semi-automated and fully automated (rules-based).  It enables effective manuscript handling and peer review management for journal editors, their chosen reviewers and the submitting authors. The service platform includes full managed hosting. Scholarly Exchange also offers multiple methods of sustainable support for publishing efforts, with options for automatically supplied relevant advertising and client-driven display ads to traditional subscription models. For more information:

Public Library of Science 

To enable scientists to publish reports of their research so that they are made universally accessible and freely useable from the moment of publication, The Public Library of Science, a legally chartered non-profit organization founded by a coalition of scientists, will launch online journals that will publish original research papers, timely reviews, essays and commentary online. For more information: