Publishers: Three Critical Issues to Consider

This past year with the formation of Plan S, a multitude of changes are happening in the world of scientific publishing. Outcomes such as the University of California, a major customer, terminating their license with Elsevier are becoming commonplace. It’s imperative to stay up to date to ensure that your journal is prepared to face the inevitable.

What is Plan S?

Plan S is the initiative for Open Access publishing which requires any research funded by public European funding to be published either in Open Access journals or compliant platforms by 2020. Creating an Open Access model of scientific publishing would produce freely accessible data which poses a huge benefit for society. However, the outcome of this program drastically impacts numerous journal’s publishing models, especially those which rely on subscriptions based revenue. This initiative is likely to translate into the U.S. in the near future due to public and researcher demand, so preparing now is an excellent way to stay ahead of the curve and avoid potentially disastrous outcomes.

The Decline of Publisher Pricing Power

With the rising demand for open access, the public is at a standoff with publishers, who make their living off of monetizing the findings of researchers through exposing them to the general public. The University of California made a strong statement though terminating its license with Elsevier in response to their refusal to lower costs. UC negotiated open access through moving towards a Publish & Read (P&R) agreement, similar to what MIT implemented with Royal Society of Chemistry, yet was denied. Regardless of Elsevier’s efforts to prove their value, UC maintained their stance, and would not renegotiate. This directly impacts the pricing power of the publisher if a customer’s perceived value of the product is diminishing.

Increasing Value

With the threats of decreasing revenue rising due to the concept of open access, it’s important for publishers to consider how to increase the value of their journal using other means. It is essential that publishers ensure their journal remains a constant within the system of scholarly output while preparing for the future. Implementing CE/CME/CLE or other educational offerings, as well as optimizing search engine marketing, are some of the newer key elements used to bring value to journals. Moreover, conducting effective new customer interactive programming is also also a helpful tactic to entice in a new set of clients.

Publishers need to be ready as we enter a new era within the scientific publishing community to avoid potentially disastrous pitfalls such as a loss of revenue or major clients. Increasing value and considering a transition plan into the Open Access style may become a necessity as the year progresses.