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What kind of revenue can an OA journal expect to make? How can revenue be generated, and what considerations are important?

The major sources of revenue available to a journal are (mainly)

  1. Article processing charges (APC)
    1. Publishing fee
    2. Review fee
  2. Institutional support
    1. Direct funding
    2. Indirect funding
      1. Knowingly
      2. Unknowingly
  3. Sales income
    1. Paper copies
    2. Supplementary information
  4. Advertising revenue

In the following we will discuss these sources in detail.

Article processing charges (APC)

Publishing fee

Review fee

Institutional support

Direct funding

Indirect funding



Sales income

While OA journals do not sell access to journal content, some sales income may be generated throug sales.

Paper copies

Some OA journals sell paper copies of articles (just like TA journals do), pricing them so that they will generate a net income. In order to exploit this possibility, you need

  1. A demand for paper copies
  2. Technical solutions for ordering, printing, distribution, and invoicing/payments that need no or little manual labour to work, otherwise your prices need to be very high to offset all direct and indirect costs. The cost of printing is a minor detail, the administrative costs are what counts.

You also need the demand for print copies over time to be so high that it justifies the costs in setting up a service for selling print copies.

Supplementary information

Some publishers sell part of their information. While research articles are published OA, other content are sold, either in the form of books, journals etc. or as an electronic service. This can take many forms, but is either based on content you own, or on your ability to create value-adding services to content.

  • BioMed Central (see their Online Shop)sells databases that add value to content
  • BMJ (The British Medical Journal) publishes all research articles OA, but requires a subscription to let you access any other content. It also offers a paper edition.

Advertising revenue