Insights (Essays)

Insights (Essays) June 2014

The cost and challenges to launch and publish a scholarly journal

W. Anton Hart

Longwoods publishes five academic journals. That’s four more than most Canadian publishers but it's thousands less than some global publishers.

Three journals (Healthcare Quarterly, Healthcare Papers and Healthcare Policy) were startups and two journals (Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership and World Health and Population) were gifted to us more than a decade ago. Using sustainability and readership as benchmarks we recognize that one gifted journal was a success and the other a disappointment. Analysis followed and we are re-launching that journal with Judith Shamian as its new editor-in-chief; together we will look for some institutional support. Dr. Shamian is a powerhouse on a global scale and so gives us the confidence to face a stiff head wind.

Almost concurrent with that decision we have been gifted an outstanding journal that also brings with it a financial risk, but -- pending further due diligence -- we remain interested. And so we are once again assessing the costs and issues facing academic journal start-ups. More accurately in this case - re-starts.

Since I am frequently asked how to start/maintain a journal I thought I could at least provide some of my sources. My first source is our cadre of in-house experts. Our first journal was a year in the making and came out in 1997. Three of us were there, eventually buffeted by dedicated students of editing and publishing and now experts in their own right. In-house expertise includes our editors-in-chief who bring an important point of view to the table. So when opportunities like this come up, I look to readily available resources, experience and know how. I also review various online sources set up to support publishers; you might be interested in this commentary: A Baker's Dozen of Issues Facing Online Academic Journal Start-ups

And a reliable resource for any publisher is Mequoda.com. The Mequoda Group was originally set up to support legacy publishers transitioning to digital powerhouses. It now goes well beyond that.

To guide us in the process we consider these issues: First: How good is the publication? How good can the publication be? Second: Where is the market and can we reach it? Third: What existing and or new tools and talent will apply? Fourth: Are there commercial opportunities so that we can keep the lights on? Will the market support potential sponsoring organizations? And fifth: What promotional strategies are available to us and can we reach the target audience of readers.

It’s not complex but it’s not without challenges. You should be prepared to lose some sleep as you go through a process of identifying the opportunities, sourcing and organizing the required resources, while taking both the risks and rewards associated with the venture. Think of it as both an art and a craft.

p.s. Mequoda answers almost all of my questions about publishing. Longwoods.com does the same and answers almost any question about healthcare. Try it and see. Just enter your query in the Longwoods search bar. Co-incidence? Maybe not.
 
Next week. Canadians: no dollars, no sense and the loss of our identity.

About the Author(s)

Publisher + CEO | Longwoods Publishing Corporation

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