Two Open Access Case Studies: A Journal Flip and A New Launch

September 23, 2019 Stephanie Wilson

open grounds, hot air balloonAs the industry conversation about Open Access grows, more and more societies are wondering whether Open Access is right for their publications and, if so, when and how to make a change. There are a lot of factors to consider, but with careful planning many organizations are seeing success.

To show how it can be done, we examined two case studies on these important transitions: A journal flip from hybrid model (offers authors the choice to publish OA) to full Open Access, and a brand new OA launch.

A Journal Flip: The Anatomical Society, Aging Cell

In 2012, Wiley began “flipping” some hybrid journals to Open Access across the health, physical and life sciences. When the Anatomical Society considered flipping their hybrid journal, Aging Cell, to a full Open Access model, Wiley worked carefully with this UK life sciences society to assess the potential effects of this important change. We identified potential Article Processing Charge (APC) revenues and waivers and created a financial comparison between the current hybrid publication model and growth projection of the new OA model.

The key reasons we believed that this journal would be successful if fully Open Access were that the subject community was already highly supportive of Open Access, and this was already a very well-funded area. About 15% of authors took up the Online Open option in 2012. The journal was also already editorially strong and had reached an impact factor of above 6, with a high rejection rate of 80%.

But what about the concerns? We asked the Anatomical Society to share any internal hurdles they may have faced going into this transition.

“Prior to the transition to full Open Access, Aging Cell was an online hybrid journal with an increasing number of authors paying for Open Access. When transition to full Open Access for the journal was proposed, we needed to be sure that such a transition would not damage its academic standing or financial viability.  Therefore, we consulted the Editors in Chief and researched the funding sources of the journal's authors to ensure that a sufficient number supported Open Access publishing and we calculated the article charge necessary to maintain the journal's financial viability. The results of these investigations suggested that Aging Cell was a good candidate.”

Professor D. Ceri Davies, Deputy Chair of the Anatomical Society's Journals Committee

The impact on Aging Cell after its flip to full Open Access was nothing short of exceptional. We saw a steady increase in submissions, publishing, download and revenue trends, as well as an increase in Impact Factor, which is currently over 7. There was a 32% increase in downloads in the first year of OA compared to the prior year, with a continued strong increase since.

Aging Cell: Download Trends 2010 to 2018 (Flipped in 2014)

Download Trends Bar Graph

Aging Cell: Submission Trends 2010 to 2018 (Flipped in 2014)

Submission Trends Bar Graph


A Journal New Launch: The American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Bioengineering & Translational Medicine

In 2015, our long-time partner of 14 years, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, launched a new Open Access journal. They wanted this journal to focus on a special, growing field in biomedical research at the time: translational medicine, and become an outlet where chemical and biological engineering serve as the bridge in integrating translational research to help meet healthcare needs.

To gain as much exposure for the new journal as possible, AIChE wanted to launch their new OA title at their upcoming Annual Meeting, which meant a very tight 12-week launch timeline. At the 2015 Annual Meeting, we successfully launched Bioengineering & Translational Medicine, and the journal submission site processed an impressive 22 manuscripts within the first year.

Promotion for the journal included: social media campaigns across Wiley accounts for five different subjects, a distributed press release across over 30 online media publications, a new journal page on ChemistryViews, a range of print and digital promotional collateral, and an email initiative that generated more than 700 clicks to the new journal’s website. The journal’s webpage generated high traffic at launch, with page views more than doubling in less than two months for a total of almost 700 full text article downloads. Downloads continue to increase dramatically with a high of over 63,000 downloads in 2018.

Article Downloads Bar Graph

Transition Timeline

We also wanted to get a glimpse into any concerns that the AIChE staff had prior to launching the new Open Access journal.

“As I recall there were two main areas of concern. One was how our community would respond to the new model of authors (or their institutions or funders) paying. That’s why we felt our stakeholders in the life sciences would be most familiar with and accepting of the open access model. The other was financial sustainability. While all journals require subsidy in their early years, we had concerns about when (or if) an open access journal would become self-supporting. The combination of a strong, respected editor and the expertise of our Wiley partners gave us the confidence to launch.”

-Steve Smith, Former Publications Director, AIChE

Now in its fourth year of publication, Bioengineering & Translational Medicine is flourishing with growing submissions and downloads. 2019 also marks the journal’s recent acceptance for coverage in Clarivate Analytics’ indexing services, which includes full indexing in Web of Science, and it’s anticipating its first Impact Factor in 2020.

Wiley continues to launch and flip Open Access journals with our society partners, and we are learning new ways every day to make sure that all OA journals are successful. We currently publish more than 100 fully Open Access titles and expect to grow this number significantly in the coming months and years.

Do you have advice for other organizations considering a new Open Access journal or a flip? Share your experience in the comments below!

About the Author

Stephanie Wilson

Partner Marketing, Wiley // Stephanie works on the Partner Marketing team in Wiley’s Research business creating content for society leaders.

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