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Economics of Launching an Academic Journal

What are the costs of launching and running an academic journal? It really depends on many factors. However, some of the costs are mentioned below for your reference.

Domain name registration + hosting + website design
Domain name registration costs about USD 10.00 per year. Website hosting prices change depending on your requirements. Basic shared hosting plans cost about USD 100.00 per year. There are many free solutions for journal website design. Or you may request volunteers to design a journal website for you. If you want a custom design professional looking journal website, it may add several hundred to thousands of dollars to your budget. 

Most journals assign a unique DOI number for each article. Sharing this persistent DOI link allows that the cited document is still accessible even if the web page is moved to a new location. Annual Crossref membership fee of USD 275.00 is required for a publisher with revenue of USD 1 million or less (https://www.crossref.org/fees/). To assign a DOI, Crossref charges USD 1.00 for registration of an article. That means, if you publish 100 articles in a single journal, you will be charged: USD 275.00 annual registration fee plus USD 100.00 for DOI registrations, which yields to USD 3.75 per article. 

Of course, price per article for DOI registrations drop when the number of journals and number of articles you publish increase. For example, if you publish 2 journals with 100 articles each, you will still need to pay USD 275.00 annual registration fee, plus USD 200.00 for articles: USD 275.00 + USD 200.00 = USD 475.00. This yields to USD 2.375 per article.

Online editorial and publication software
With the rapid advance in technology, numerous tools to launch scholarly journals and run editorial and publication operations have been created. These solutions, some of them free, are all currently accessible in the cyberspace. Some commercial solutions charge journals a flat fee for a year, some solutions employ a pay-per-submission plan, and some others charge a combination of a flat fee and a fee per manuscript submitted. Either way, in total, most of them cost from USD 750.00 to USD 3000.00 per year. Some solutions are carefully engineered, elegant, efficient, user-friendly (such as EditorialPark 😎), and some are not. Some have simple and affordable pricing plans (again, such as EditorialPark 😎), and some do not.

Other contributions
Most newly established journals depend on voluntary efforts of many people, including the editor-in-chief and other editors (associate editor, co-editor, section editor, managing editor, manuscript editor, etc.), and reviewers. In most cases, editors donate 2 to 5 hours of their time to read new manuscripts, invite reviewers, analyze incoming reports, commit publication decisions, etc. In more established journals, editors are paid stipends that range from few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per year. Reviewers are not paid in almost all journals. It is considered an honorable community work.
Some journals rely on volunteers to prepare camera-ready versions of the articles for publication. Some journals employ in-house salaried typesetters, copy-editors, and proofreaders. Some journals work hire author services for language editing and galley proof communications. At EditorialPark, we provide professional author services at minimal cost to journals.

Live example
For a journal that publishes 100 articles per year, in which all daily operations are run by volunteers with no paid personnel, average operating costs for a year are summarized below:
USD 10.00      Domain name registration (price for average commercial solution)
USD 100.00    Shared hosting (price for average commercial solution)
USD 275.00    Crossref annual membership fee (fixed rate)
USD 100.00    Crossref DOI registration fee (fixed rate)
USD 1500.00  Online editorial and publication software (price for average commercial solution)
This means that to launch and run a scholarly journal, financially, USD 1985.00 per year or USD 19.85 per article will be required.

If EditorialPark is used for the same journal, average operating costs for a year are summarized below:
USD 10.00     Domain name registration (price for average commercial solution)
USD 0.00       Shared hosting (this is included in EditorialPark)
USD 275.00   Crossref annual membership fee (fixed rate)
USD 100.00   Crossref DOI registration fee (fixed rate)
USD 600.00   EditorialPark editorial management system
This means that to launch and run a scholarly journal, financially, USD 985.00 per year or USD 9.85 per article will be required. 

How can we cover the cost of running a journal?
There are several income strategies that are commonly used in scholarly journals: i) you can ask the readers (or their institutions) to pay to view/download the article or subscribe to your journal, ii) you can ask the authors of accepted articles to pay an article publication fee in order to publish their articles so that they are openly accessible to readers around the world, iii) hybrid model, such as defining an embargo period where articles are open to subscribers only, and allowing open access after the embargo period has expired. In some rare cases, journals may ask article submission fee from the authors of newly submitted manuscripts before peer review processes. However, this is not a common practice.

Nowadays, many scholarly journals switch to second income strategy and convert their journals to open access since it expands the reach of the articles, thereby increase the impact and visibility of the published articles. The articles are generally distributed under a permissive creative commons attribution license, where users are free to download, copy, distribute, build upon the article so long as the original article is correctly cited. Since everybody has easy access to the published material, the articles receive more citations on average from the related literature.

How much article publication fee should I charge the authors?
Scholarly publishing is usually done not-for-profit. However, it is not free to run the journals. Although, most labor is done by volunteers, you may want to reward certain personnel for their efforts, such as editor-in-chief, and hire professional author services for galley proofs and/or language editing, etc. 30% is considered a fair profit margin in scholarly publishing. So, let’s recalculate the math for a journal of 100 articles where you pay USD 5000.00 for the editor-in-chief, and hire a professional galley proof service for USD 35.00 per article. 

On top of USD 1985.00 per year from the live example above, you will now add another USD 5000.00 for the editor-in-chief, and another USD 3500.00 for galley proof services, which lead to USD 10485.00 for a year for 100 articles. Adding 30% profit will lead USD 13630.50 for a year. If you reserve 20% of all published articles free of charge as they come from members of your editorial board or from low-income countries, it means you will publish 80 articles for a publication fee. So, breakeven point to receive USD 13630.50 from 80 articles is roughly USD 170 per article. Of course, this number is provided just for reference, and it should be higher if you have additional paid personnel.

Are you bored of too much math and too many details involved? You can always contact EditorialPark to simplify things for you.

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