An OA journal must think through who its customers are. They are no longer the library, libraries won't buy OA journals. The definition of a customer must be the person or organisation that pays for the goods and services provided. We can define some relevant customers for an OA journal, to some extent depending on the journal's business model:
- The author, especially if the author has to pay article processing charges or submission charges. But whatever business model the journal has, the author is the one making the decision as to where to publish his article (provided the referees don't overrule him), so the author must be considered a customer. The author will consider a number of different aspects of the journal:
- Quality control (peer-review) and perceived quality of the journal
- Impact (formal impact factor, but also a more informal impact assessment)
- Readership - will he reach the readers he wants to reach, or do they read and cite other journals?
- Readership size - does the journal have readers?
- Price (fees)
- Services to the author, e.g. usage/download statistics, linking to works citing the article etc.
- The author's institution, as they often will foot the bill for the author when it comes to paying charges.
- Institutions will also interest themselves in journal quality, readership, impact and prices
- The author's project funding source, as they will (hopefully) pay costs associated with publishing in the journal