Journal tendering for societies: a brief guide

Updated 22/4/2011

We have published a detailed and practical guide, based on our own experience, about how to tender for a new publisher for a scholarly journal.

Here is an abstract:

Hundreds of societies publish journals in collaboration with publishers. Some may be considering how and whether to renegotiate or go out to tender. Some may be considering whether they can/should/wish to change the business model of the journal (e.g. by a move to Open Access). Other societies may be considering using an external publisher for the first time. This guide, based on our experience, is written for all of these. In their negotiations with publishers learned societies – especially smaller ones – may have difficulty articulating their requirements and assessing the publishers’ offerings. This is true where they wish to compare the newer models with typical "conventional" models, or simply compare different conventional offerings. The reasons are complex and include:

  • lack of knowledge of the publishing industry on the part of the society's executive staff (who cannot always find the time to acquire the knowledge);
  • the "author/research funder pays" models, which, whilst becoming more prevalent in the domains of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), appear (but may not actually be) rather less feasible in other domains.

This guide draws on the experience of one learned society, the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), in reviewing the publishing arrangements for its journal Research in Learning Technology, between September and December 2010.

Update - 22/4/2011. gives some indication as to the interest (some of it machine generated.....) in the guide. Alongside this, during April there have been >2000 views of the guide's abstract on the ALT Open Access Repository, and >500 downloads of the guide itself. [SS]