Transitioning to open access. Or, an August interlude


(Written August 24, 2015)

During this traditional late-summer (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) gap, I wanted to take some time and talk about my own experiences with open access “from the inside.”

I “grew up” in traditional publishing—I even started out in book acquisitions for a large University press; and when I made the switch to marketing, I spent much of my time (as an assistant) supporting marketing for individual subscriptions.

The department’s goals were about marketing to individual researchers to get them to subscribe, usually at a “personal” rate, to individual journals. So my first experiences with journal publishing were all about reaching individual researchers about individual journals.

Fast-forward about ten years, and after some time in other kinds of publishing, I joined Springer, where at the time we were supporting usage of journal packages in Big Deals. I remember wondering about how that helped individual journals.

About this time, I went to visit my aunt, who lives near Philadelphia. She’s a microbiologist with a long career in industry (working mostly with anti-infectives), and even though she’s not an academic, she still occasionally publishes articles. She was talking about the revision process with one particular article, and she mentioned the page charges she was paying for this article.

This conversation took place, I think, in late 2005, just a few months before I got the chance to work on the launch of Springer’s first, big, all-open access journal, Nanoscale Research Letters. Perhaps needless to say, this was before 2008, when BioMed Central joined Springer, and before 2010 when SpringerOpen launched (recall).

I personally found the Nanoscale Research Letters project very exciting; not only because every article in the journal was (and is) completely open, but also because it was a return to that “retail” type of publishing—reaching out to and working with individual researchers to grow an individual journal. At the time, the only downside seemed to be that this was the only journal on which I’d get to do that.

So for me as an STM publishing marketer, it was thrilling when SpringerOpen became more integrated with BioMed Central, and I got offered the chance to do marketing specifically for SpringerOpen, and open access.

I enjoy the challenges of talking about open access to researchers in disciplines that hadn’t been familiar with it (which is, gratifyingly, changing). And also because we’re growing so many journals so quickly, there are exciting challenges in launching all of these new journals. It’s much more gratifying for me, as a marketer, to help a brand-new journal take off. And as open access continues to become more mainstream, there are plenty of OA journals doing just that.

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