Learned Societies are Challenged by Open Access

Learned societies are traditional publishers who have been dominant players in the field of academic journal publishing and distribution. The role and the level of influence they held in the field have been changing, and it’s changing due to open access (OA) model of scientific research output publishing. This new model, beyond challenging the monopoly that the learned societies had over scholarly materials for centuries, is shaking their very foundation through posing serious threat to their income, EDP survey report shows . According to this report, open access has the potential to dry learned societies’ main source of revenue which is predominantly journal subscription fees.

With emergence of OA, learned societies learned that their business model is increasingly under pressure and not sustainable at all. They have genuine concern, the survey shows, about serious existential threat OA poses particularly to publishers with limited resources. It appears from the survey that there is sort of consensus among learned societies that open access puts their journals’ financial health in jeopardy. It is not surprising to uncover that significant numbers of learned societies are strongly negative about open access.Obviously, the philosophy of OA is fundamentally in sharp contrast to the learned societies modes of publishing and their principles of access provision to scientific outputs.

Overwhelming majority of the societies, nonetheless, recognize the opportunity OA brings about. They realize that OA opens knowledge and information gates for scientific communities and wider society; particularly for those in developing countries who in the past had no or limited access to scholarly materials due to high journal subscription fees. Now open access is helping and it is narrowing information and knowledge gap between developed and developing nations. It is effectively removing barriers to scholarly materials and by doing so it is empowering and creating opportunities for resource starved institutions and researchers to actively engage in research.

Learned societies are hesitantly embracing OA by offering open access of different flavors. Currently, Gold OA is by far the most preferred method. Hybrid method is offered by over three-quarters of the societies, however.

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