2.5 Deployment and Implementation

Academic libraries have always had an important role in terms of providing access to information. According to Mullins et al. (2012) “libraries have a deeply ingrained mission to promote the creation and diffusion of knowledge and to preserve it for the long term. The mission of academic libraries has not changed, but the means of fulfilling it has.” Through the implementation of an Open Access journal service, the academic library can fulfil this role in an innovative and alternative way. Traditionally journals have been hosted and published by scholarly publishers, but the shift to Open Access, the affordability and availability of open source journal management software, and the expertise of skilled library staff have made it possible for libraries to now also provide this service. As with any new service, it is important to document planning through a business plan. The literature (Crow & Goldstein66, 2003; Online guide to Open Access journal publishing67) focuses on having business plans for individual journal titles. Although this is important, it is also important to plan for a comprehensive service, should a university/library embark on hosting a series of academic journals.

A few examples of libraries offering an Open Access journal hosting service:

  • Purdue e-Pubs Journal Publishing Services68
  • University of St Andrews Journal Hosting Service69
  • Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service70 (SUNJournals)

The above also offers web pages describing its service offering for potential clients.

2.5.1 Business Plan: Open Access Journal Service

Following is a framework of typical components that should be addressed as part of the business plan for the implementation of an Open Access journal service. Please refer to the resources at the end of this tutorial for comprehensive business plans. Also remember that no business plan will look the same, and there is not such a thing as the best business plan. All depends on the institution, and the needs of its user community.

The components are:

Cover Page

Document History Page

Contents Page

Executive Summary It is recommended that a brief summary (max. 2 pages) be provided of the contents of the business plan. Compile once the business plan has been completed.

Business Plan

1)About X - Provide an introduction to the institution/university/library, and its strategic objectives.Provide an introduction to the institution/university/library, and its strategic objectives.

2)An Open Access Journal Hosting Service for X

2.1 About Open Access Journals - Describe what an Open Access journal is, and indicate that it is a trend that more and more academic libraries are hosting and/or publishing academic journals. Also discuss the benefits and rationale behind Open Access journals.

2.2 About the Software (e.g. OJS) - Once the software has been evaluated and a suitable solution has been identified, provide a description of it, as well as special features. If open source software will be used, motivate why it would be a better choice. Also indicate whether technical support will be readily available.

2.3 About the Open Access Journal Service - Describe and address the unique purpose, aims and scope of the service. Also indicate the benefits it will offer to the institution, research and broader community. Make a strong case that the new service will be aligned with the strategic objectives of the university/institution.

Service Definition

Service Model - Differentiate between core (free) and premium (fee-based) services that will be offered as part of the Open Access journal service.

Service Definition - Describe the mission of the service and kind of content that will be accepted. Also include criteria a high quality Open Access journal should adhere to.

Market Analysis - From the needs analysis, provide information on the user group (e.g. editors of journals affiliated with the institution, research community) that will benefit from this service. Also refer to existing services in the market, and benchmark against those services e.g. why a third party is not used to host institutional journals. Mentionspecific titles (incl. journal editors) that will form part of a pilot project, who will read and contribute to those, and how the market will be penetrated. Key stakeholders can also be mentioned, for example the intellectual property rights office, research office etc.

Strategic Context - What is the strategic context of this service, and how is it aligned with local, national and international trends? Provide for example a description of the research and Open Access strategy of the library and institution. Also refer to previous achievements as a result of the strategy, and the governance to implement it. Indicate which units are responsible for implementing the strategy.

Marketing - Indicate potential audiences the service will be marketed to, the marketingapproach that will be followed, and include a marketing and communications plan.

Management and staffing - Governance, Roles and Responsibilities, Job descriptions.

Proposed budget - Income and expenses when hosting an Open Access journal service. Indicate the cost to company, as well as hosting fees that will be charged by the journal service, if any.

Implementation Timeline

Recommendations - Address issues that need to be in place for the service to be a success, e.g. resources.


2.5.2 Business Plan: Individual Open Access Journal Title

In addition to a business plan for the new service to be offered, it is recommended that each journal also compile a written plan that describes what the journal is about, the background for launching the journal, how it will be financed, all parties who will be involved and the roles they will perform, in addition to target audiences and how they will be reached.According to the Online guide to Open Access journal publishing, creating a business plan will likely involve the participation of the entire journal team (editorial staff, marketing, financial and production staff). The main output of the activity described in this section is the business plan itself. However, a business plan is a conglomerate of information about proposals for launching and operating a journal, and other outputs will also be generated through this activity, including: a three year budget, a description of the aims and scope of the journal, a market analysis, and a simplified operations plan. These outputs will provide important input or controls for nearly all other activities the editor will carry out when launching or publishing the journal.It is worth remembering that in addition to offering a blueprint for the editorial and publishing team, a well-written business plan can also be used when seeking funding and speaking to potential partners.As such, it should be written with these potential audiences in mind – it may save a lot of time and effort later.The Online guide to Open Access journal publishing has selected the following most critical activities involved in creating a business plan:

Business plan contents

Business plans generally include seven main elements, each of which can be presented as a chapter. These are:

  • Concept – what is the unique purpose of launching the journal? What are the aims and scope and what does it offer the research community and possibly others?
  • Market analysis (readership and authors) – Who will read and/or contribute to the journal? How will the market be penetrated (capture a large and loyal base of authors and readers)?
  • Management presentation (editors) – Who will run the journal and what are their qualifications? What specific skills and resources does this person have?
  • Operational plan – What day-to-day procedures must be followed and carried out? How will daily tasks be accomplished?
  • Financial plan – What financial costs will the journal incur? How will these costs be met? Usually includes a 3-5 year budget which will reflect the financial model(s) you base the journal on.
  • Business strategy – will day-to-day business be conducted in order to meet financial and other goals within the limitations of the resources available?
  • Risk assessments – What potential risks exist that could impede on the success of the journal? How will these be counteracted?

To generate the information needed to write the business plan and answer the questions above, the Online guide to Open Access journal publishingrecommend carrying out six (6) activities that will provide input for the plan: 1) Describe the planned journal, 2) Conduct a market analysis, 3) Consider financial models, 4) Define the business strategy, 5) Create a 3-year budget, and 6) Conduct a SWOT analysis. The following have been taken form the Online guide to Open Access journal publishing.

Describe the planned journal

It is useful to begin a business plan by briefly describing the planned journal. The following information could be included in the description:

  • Proposed title/working title
  • Field to be covered/niche
  • General scope and aims
  • Electronic only or electronic and paper edition
  • Number of issues and/or papers published per year
  • Planned language(s) journal will be published in

Conduct a market analysis

Conducting a market analysis involves more deeply investigating the opportunity within the field the journal will take advantage of.In essence, a market analysis allows one to better understand why it is a good idea to launchthe journal.The market analysis should consider at least three main areas: What does the publishing landscape surrounding the journal look like? What opportunities exist for a new journal? How will the ‘market’ be penetrated and potential readers and contributors be reached? Some questions that can help guide one:

  • The publishing landscape
  • What other journals exist in the same field?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • Are they successful?
  • Are there any Open Access journals already established in the field?


  • What niche has not yet been covered by the established literature?
  • Do the established journals fulfil all the needs of readers and contributors in the field?
  • Is the research field that the journal addresses growing?By how much annually?
  • Journals are often categorized according to three tiers; is there a tier that is not covered? (E.g. one major top tier journal exists and many lower quality journals, but no second tier journals.)
  • What would make the journal stand out from its competitors?
  • What advantages can the journal offer to readers and contributors? (It could be Open Access\)

Market penetration

  • Which readers might be interested in the journal?
  • Who will contribute to the journal and how large is this group?
  • How can one best reach target readers and contributors?

By answering the above questions one can establish if there is a need for the proposed journal. The answers may also help to tweak the proposal to meet actual market needs and create a more successful journal.

In addition to the above, a SWOT analysis may also help one to analyze the market.

Define the business strategy - A business strategy refers to how one plans to conduct the day-to-day business of producing the journal in a way that allows one to meet financial and other goals within the limitations of the resources available.It is useful to define the business strategy as a means of understanding and explaining to others how the business model (financial model) and operations plan fit together. It is also useful to include both a short-term and long-term perspective within the business strategy as it is often the case that different strategies are necessary over the life-course of the journal. The business strategy will have an impact upon the financial model(s) one chooses and vice versa.

Consider financial models - It seems that, at present, scholar publishers are largely basing their funding model on the provision of volunteer services and in-kind support. However, some are charging a Publication fee (sometimes called Article Processing Fee) and/or receiving support from a funder (e.g. a national research council or a university/institution). To those possible sources can be added a whole host of others that include, but are not limited to:

  • Added value products (reprints and permissions)
  • Advertising
  • Fund -raising (endowments)
  • Institutional subsidies
  • Membership dues and other society funding
  • Publication and/or submission fees
  • Grants
  • Sponsorship
  • Subscription income (if print edition)
  • Etc.

As one considers financing options, brainstorm with the team about the possibilities. There may well be opportunities in the field or region that are not listed above. Indeed, financing Open Access journals seems to require both ingenuity and creativity.Should one chooses to introduce publication and/or submission fees, do bear in mind that these often need to be set quite low initially until a base of loyal authors is built up and the journal has achieved a reputation that people are willing to pay for.Your choice of financial model will inform your business strategy and vice versa.

Key considerations

  • Are the researchers of the community to which the journal turns accustomed to publication fees, either from other Open Access journals in the field or from having had to pay page charges previously?
  • Does the relevant research council or university provide financial support for the publication of (Open Access) journals?
  • Does the university/institutional library offer hosting for Open Access journals?
  • May it be worth allowing for e-advertising on the journal’s website? What forms of e-advertising are considered appropriate?
  • Will the sale of subscriptions to printed copies be affected by the fact that the journal is freely available online?

 Create a Budget - Creating a three-year budget, showing projected costs and revenues each year, will allow one to gain a rough picture of the financial health of the journal over the short-run. Costs and revenues over the three years may look quite different and thus it is usefulto account for this. For example, when starting an Open Access journal the biggest cost lies in the development of a digital publishing capability. The implementation costs, of course, depend on how many features are needed and how much functionality is required. These are largely one-time costs that will probably impact only on the Year 1 budget. However, one will need to cover them at a time when there are few financial resources – if the financial model is based on submission and/or publication fees, for example.

Before creating the budget, it is useful to ask a number of questions, among them:

  • What are the financial goals (break-even, generate a small profit, etc.) for the journal?
  • Will all activities be carried pout in-house or will some be outsourced to partners?
  • What does the short-term vs. long-term financial picture look like?
  • What is the growth plan for the journal (how many submissions and published articles are expected per year)?

The answers to these questions will help steer the budget for thejournal, including both the types of costs likely to incur (e.g. outsourcing) and what types of revenues will be necessary (e.g. to cover costs or generate a profit).As the budget is created, bear in mind that costs and revenues are structured in different ways and this needs to be reflected in the budget. In his work on “The cost profiles of alternative approaches to journals publishing”,

Roger Clarke71(2007)identifies the following types of costs, each of which differs in how it is structured:

  • Establishment costs
  • Submission-related costs
  • Article-related costs
  • Issue -related costs
  • Generic costs
  • Infrastructure maintenance costs
  • Financial costs

Differentiate in the budget between revenues that are structured differently, e.g. those that are collected annually (e.g. a grant) versus those that are collected per submission, per publication, per page, etc.Responsibility for creating a budget will likely fall upon the editor-in-chief ,who will be applying for funding. However, the editor-in- chief will probably devise this in close cooperation with a Financial Officer and with input from other members of the team (e.g. Marketer may provide suggested costs for marketing materials).Staff at the institution’s financial department might also be able to provide some assistance with budgeting.

Conduct a SWOT analysis - A fruitful exercise to carry out prior to creating a business plan is a SWOT Analysis. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Quite simply, the exercise allows youto identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to the launch and operation of the journal and to plan for their eventuality.Work with the entire team to brainstorm and later hone a list of what is regarded as the main strengths of the journal and the opportunities that exist for introducing the journal.What is critical for the business plan is to not only list these strengths and opportunities but to also include a short plan for how one can maximize strengths and take advantage of opportunities. It goes without saying that most things do not go as planned. Though difficult, it is important to imagine risk scenarios by identifying the weaknesses of the journal and possible latent threats (either internal or external).

Some examples of weaknesses:

  • Limited budget
  • Inexperience in editing journals
  • Journal is unknown in the field
  • Misunderstandings exist about Open Access in field
  • Journal has no Impact Factor
  • Journal is not in XY index, while competing journals are

Some examples of possible threats:

  • Possible changes in legislation
  • Research council might not agree to extend funding beyond Year 2
  • Misunderstandings about Open Access can impact submission levels negatively
  • Economic downturn threatens ability of institutions to cover publication fees

What is critical for the business plan is to create contingency plans for handling threats that become reality and a plan for how you will minimize the effects of the weaknesses of your journal.The information and plans generated through the SWOT analysis will provide important input to the market, business strategy and may lead to reconsideration or tweaking of the financial model.

Last modified: Friday, 26 March 2021, 4:05 PM