From ESA – Strategies & Activities
The landscape of academic publishing has undergone fundamental changes since the beginning of the Internet. These changes accelerated the trend towards online and open access publishing. Naturally, as an academic association, the ESA is in favour of full and free access to publications while of course committed to maintaining the usual standards and processes of peer review.
Successive Executive Committees have discussed this issue intensively since the Prague conference in 2015 and a lot of work has been done to consider our options. The matter is complicated because the target is moving. Let us briefly mention some aspects here.
As you know, our two journals, European Societies and European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology have always been with Routledge. Our contract comes up for negotiation next year. However, we got some advantageous interim amendments thanks to the active stance of the previous ExeC and its Publications Committee. With any commercial publisher, like Routledge, the process is now structured around online publishing (paper is just an opt-in for subscribers). Their revenue comes almost entirely the public money spent in university library subscriptions. Recently another source of revenue are APCs (article processing charges), i. e. a fee to have an article published open access. A great impulse in the European academic publication market came via Plan S, which strives to make open access publication compulsory if the research is publicly funded. This is clearly a game changer and the publishers around the world are expectedly hostile to losing their control and their guaranteed revenue (an example here).
As a result, the ESA needs to find a way to make its journals open access without increasing their cost or their administrative burden. Our editors work voluntarily and we pay a modest fee to part-time editorial assistants, which we take out of our share of the royalties. Reliability of administration, prestige, competition and inclusiveness are among other factors that we need to balance. The new Publications Committee will build on the excellent work of the previous one in order to achieve that goal.