Reform and reality - experiences of a 'gold' OA publisher

Dan Scott, the founder of the gold open access website Social Sciences Directory, wants to provide an alternative to traditional scholarly publishing.

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3.  Lack of interest by faculty

Perhaps naively, I thought that if alternatives were offered that could be shown to be fair, viable and address the issues, there would be strong support. I have certainly had many expressions of support, but also several examples of a dismissive attitude to any notion of change, such as this: "I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of charging up to £100 to publish online articles, and also have issues with the idea of open access. I also don't think academic publication should be deemed as unsustainable because of the crisis, considering that we are talking about a very specific market, and thus pay for a crisis created elsewhere".

I can't help thinking that this is mainly because many academics operate within a system that rewards them well and insulates them from basic practices such as P&L.

4.  Wait and see

Most universities that have replied to the institutional membership offer have said that they are interested in principle, but will not be an early adopter. The problem for a self funded operation, operating on small margins, is that prevarication suits the status quo but works against alternatives and stifles new entrants.  It will be the traditional publishers, who latch on to OA and begin to offer their own variants, that will benefit.

5.  Institutional repositories

Several universities have said that they have established IRs and are encouraging their faculty to deposit papers there (although in some cases they were having problems making them work). Naturally, I support IRs but wonder if they are an effective solution.  Many subscription publishers allow authors to publish papers in their IRs, which suggests they do not see them as a threat.    

6.  Untested service and unknown editorial board

The natural conclusion to that logic is that existing subscription publishers figure out how much they need to supplement the revenue in their existing journals - a tested service and with known editorial boards - from article fees and start charging thousands of pounds per article, in effect allowing business-as-usual to continue.


Change - necessary but contentious

My experience of scholarly publishing over several years led me to the conclusion that change was desperately needed, but also contentious and difficult to implement in an environment that is very traditional and slow to adapt. Change has now been made inevitable, starting in the UK with the Finch Report and likely to be followed in many other countries.

Dan is the founder and director of Social Sciences Directory Limited, a 'gold' open access publisher, which was established this year and publishes two online journals, Social Sciences Directory ( and Humanities Directory ( He graduated from Kings College London with a BA Hons in War Studies and from Leeds Met University with a Masters in International Business. Dan has worked in publishing for nearly two decades in a variety of commercial and managerial roles. For over six years, he has worked closely with academics and librarians in the UK, US, Europe and Australia.

Image courtesy of Gideon Burton via Flickr.

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