Academic Publication Business Model

It puzzles me when I see existing structure of publication system. It is a great business, in deed. Imagine that, you are a software company, where most of your employees are contractors that work for free.  Your main employees are working on maintaining the platform. Then your IT managers, software developers work for free because this is the main recognition they can get to be promoted or get another job. If your software code is accepted (e.g. committed) then you list it at your CV. If not, all your time to write that code is only becomes an experience for you. The software that you contributed to develop is sold to you and to your company for a fee. Reviewers of your codes work for free. It is a great business.

Recently, due to activities I have been involved in my recent post, I was thinking on new business models in scientific article publication. Of course, I support open knowledge and open access publications. I am well aware the risks Alexandra Elbakyan took  to push for Open Knowledge and created Sci-HUB. She is a change maker. Unfortunately, her project is seen as “illegal” as the Pirate Bay (and I can claim that we will remember her and PirateBay founders as Openness Defendors in the history, regardless current legal framework. We will have their sculptures and paintings both in phsycal and digital world. They made their mark in the history, I think).  On the other hand,  I also think that can we can still find of new business models where we can push new ways of reaching knowledge within existing boundaries of law. (I wish I could write “opportunities!”)

I was wondering what could be new business models around publication industry (yes, indeed it is a highly profitable industry)

Why not to have something like APPLE app store? Let’s name it as Publication APP (PAAP) store. (Naming articles as an app? If you look what were were naming all these things that we name as APP then? Our game software, calculations software all became app, why not to name our articles as “knowledge app”?.)  This is where researchers receive a percentage of revenue that platform makes. When a researcher changes job, she is not only bringing these articles as few lines in her CV but also a way to bring her funding with her to the new organization or keep with herself. It can even be a way to have economically independent researchers. Imagine that there are researchers that do not need to be employed and but only focus on their research. They do not need to get funding for their salaries/ research.

Or/and research organisation can have their own fee included to the price. Researchers/Organisations can opt to publish without fee. They can decide the fee, they can decide to provide for free in the beginning or after a while. What is in it for PAAP? Because of these free articles, people are using visiting PAAPS. They may end up downloading paid articles too. May be some PAAPS may enter advertisement business. We understand there are lots of services and products towards research and researchers, right?  May be some conferences may have budget for advertisement?

Universities can create their own PAAP Store where they can list OA and paid subription articles  at their platform (similar to existing one) but they can have more control of the data and how they present, what type of user interface they provide to their users. May be they can provide access to their PAAP store (for a fee? or free?)- Imagine that, Royal Institute of Technology provides free access to all citizens of Sweden at Open Access week for a week and people who have eID can have access to as many articles  (it would be better if KTH could do it forever but lets say it is not feasiable for the moment.)

You can say, but existing publication companies are providing support for proof reading etc, yes, then they have to compete more to get more articles to their PAAPs.

You may think it is a marketplace for researchers and why researchers should be part of a “marketplace”. My answer is, what researchers produce is ALREADY part of marketplace. What they produce are already sold and bought in the marketplac, why not push to get some power from publication companies to researchers?

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