In order to help guide conversations on the merits and downsides of multiple modes of scientific publishing, a Knowledge Exchange Task and Finish Group is proposing a scoping paper. The next step will be to develop a taxonomy of these different ways of communication.

Knowledge Exchange – Alternative Publishing Platforms

April 21, 2022

Project Leads

Jeroen Sondervan (Utrecht University), Jean-Francois Lutz (University of Lorraine), Mafalda Marques (Jisc), Anna Mette Morthorst (DEIC), Karin van Grieken (SURF).

T&F group members

Daniel Beucke (Goettingen University Library), Xenia van Edig (Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)), Serge Bauin (CNRS), Alexandra Freeman (University of Cambridge), Janne-Tuomas Seppänen (University of Jyväskylä), Rasmus Rindum Riise (Copenhagen University Library / Royal Danish Library), Claus Rosenkrantz Hansen (Copenhagen Business School), Arianna Becerril-Garcia (AmeliCA), Saskia Woutersen-Windhouwer (Leiden University), Bianca Kramer (Utrecht University).



Research findings have traditionally been published as peer-reviewed academic articles, monographs and edited collection, proceedings, or theses, with academic publishing companies being the main venue for the publication of findings. In order for research organisations to make research findings available to their researchers and students, they have to subscribe to journals and monographs agreements. One of the issues with this process of publication and discoverability of academic content is that it has become increasingly costly to research organisations and has tied them to big deal agreements with a limited number of publishers [1]See for example: Shu, F., et. al. (2018). Is It Such a Big Deal? On the Cost of Journal Use in the Digital Era.College and Research LIbraries: Vol 79, No 6. DOI:
Sjoberg, C. (2017). E-Journals and the Big Deal: A Review of the Literature. School of Information Student Research Journal, 6(2). 2499.060203.
Larivière, V., Haustein, S., & Mongeon, P. (2015). The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era. PloS one, 10(6), e0127502.
Buranyi, S. (2017, 27 June). ‘Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?’ | Science, The Guardian.
Anonymous (2018, 21 November) ‘Time to break academic publishing’s stranglehold on research’, New Scientist.

More recently, changes in the scholarly communications landscape have fomented the emergence of other forms of communication and dissemination of research findings. For example: preprint repositories, data journals, scholarly blogs and websites, innovations of the peer review process, and micropublications [2]2021 – Alternative modes of publication – University of Wolverhampton ( These are innovative forms of publication that seek to remove the barriers, constraints and costs imposed by legacy academic publishing companies.

In the title of the activity and this scoping paper we use the term ‘alternative’ with which we precisely envision those publishing platforms and projects that follow different paths (e.g. in equitable publishing models, quality control, technical features, open source, iterative publishing workflows, etc.) compared to the already mentioned legacy publishers. Although we use the term alternative, we recognize that this can also lead to narrowing or even ambiguity. Where necessary, we try to address this in the right way or to make it explicit in our results.

Alternative forms of publication have been explored by multiple stakeholders in the last two decades, with open access publishing being the most widely known, which encompasses, for example, the publication of peer-reviewed articles in full open access (with or without article processing charges (APCs)) journals, in hybrid journals (subscription based journals which allow open access publishing upon payment of an APC), or via deposit of the research output in a repository (green route). One issue that has emerged from making research findings publicly available for free is that a large commercial sector has relied on journal publishing as a income stream with often large profit margins. These commercial players have developed considerable power over academia because academic research assessment has become intrinsically entangled with journal publications, making them almost the be-all and end-all for researchers. Hence research organisations spend large proportions of their budgets on access to journal publications, through academics themselves paying for APCs or research organisations signing up to transformative agreements [3]Transformative Agreements – ESAC Initiative (

Globally, many have criticised focussing only on APC-based journals as a way to foster open access. The critique is that this merely shifts the onus of payment from those wanting to read to those wanting to publish and consequently creates new inequalities. Moreover, by linking the publisher’s revenue to the number of accepted articles, the APC-system runs the risk of encouraging the lowering of scientific standards for acceptance in journals [4]See for example: blog post by Chiodelli, F. (2021, 27 January) Why we should stop publishing in open access
journals with article processing charges? & Budzinski, O., Grebel, T., Wolling, J. et al. (2020). Drivers of article processing charges in open access. Scientometrics 124, 2185–2206).
. Diamond (i.e. free to read, free to publish) journal publishing models deserve attention as a way of making research articles freely available to readers whilst avoiding the potential drawbacks of APC-based publishing. Existing diamond journals are sometimes regarded as not requiring any fostering as they are already fully open access and do not charge authors. However, for these (often smaller) journals to remain a viable publishing venue, they cannot be neglected.

There are projects to set up diamond publishing options for institutions, and to support development of new and existing diamond journals in terms of infrastructure and visibility, such as through national and regional journal platforms.

Not all diamond journals can be considered as alternative publishing (platforms), but diamond journals can definitely make use of alternative publishing platforms such as infrastructure (including new, more inclusive, governance models). In addition, alternative publishing platforms can have diamond models. The connection between diamond journals and alternative publishing platforms is that they both can play a role in fulfilling the need that is felt for a form of open access that is characterised by lowering costs and keeping control of publishing, in terms of public and academic led governance. In addition to the problem of cost, there are several researchers’ needs which aren’t being met when publishing in traditional journals and why alternative platforms are seeing the light.

The scoping paper

French translation available


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