Income models for Open Access: Value-added Fee-based Services

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There are a number of online features and functionality that publishers can provide to increase the usability and appeal of a journal’s research content. Most publishers of subscription-based journals include such features as part of their online journal services. However, an open-access publisher may be able to charge for such features while keeping the research content available without gating.

Examples of possible value-added features include:

  • Alert services: Automated alert services allow users to establish profiles of research interests (based, for example, on the journal’s article indexing scheme) and to receive e-mail notification when the journal publishes an article in their specified area(s) of interest. Such alert services are particularly useful for electronic journals that publish articles as they become available. Additionally, they allow researchers in allied fields, but from outside the journal’s user community proper, to track research.

  • Site customization: Besides custom alerts, journals can provide additional user-defined settings that allow a user to customize the journal interface or other aspects of their interaction with the journal. Customization allows the user to configure the journal or site interface and create a profile manually, adding and removing elements in the profile. The control of the look and/or content is explicit and under the direct control of the user. This type of user customization can feature other research support tools, including saved searches.

Further, the demographic information that can be gathered as part of the registration process for some of the services above might be used, on an aggregated basis, to support a journal’s ad rates or sponsorship levels.

3.5.1 Value-Added Service Examples

  • Although not a journal publisher, Flat World Knowledge publishes open-access textbooks, the publication of which is subsidized by the sale of value-added supplemental materials (for example, print, audio, and PDF versions; study guides; etc.) (

When commenting on this page, please detail your experience with the model in question. The comment area is moderated and reserved for evidence- or experience-based discussion and requests for support in experimenting with different approaches.