Income models for Open Access: An overview of current practice

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“How do we pay for Open Access?” is a key question faced by publishers, authors, and libraries as awareness and interest in free, immediate, online access to scholarly research increases. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) examines the issue of sustainability for current and prospective open-access publishers in a timely new guide, “Income models for Open Access: An overview of current practice,” by Raym Crow.

“Income models for Open Access: An overview of current practice” examines the use of supply-side revenue streams (such as article processing fees, advertising) and demand-side models (including versioning, use-triggered fees). The guide provides an overview of income models currently in use to support open-access journals, including a description of each model along with examples of journals currently employing it.

Selected contents:

I. Introduction

II. Income Model Descriptions

2.1 Article Processing Fees

2.2 Advertising

2.3 Sponsorships

2.4 Internal Subsidies

2.5 External Subsidies

2.6 Donations & Fundraising

2.7 Endowments

2.8 In-Kind Support

2.9 Partnerships

III. Demand-Side Models

3.1 Demand-Side Models & Free Ridership

3.3 Use-Triggered Fees

3.4 Convenience-Format License

3.5 Value Added Fee-Based Services

3.6 Contextual E-Commerce


Appendix A: Publishing Services for Open Access Journals
Appendix B: Computing Article Processing Fees
Appendix C: Financial Forecasting Template for Transitioning to Discretionary Article Fees
Appendix D: Journal Sponsorship Guidelines About the Author 
Appendix E: Resources for Grant Seeking & Fundraising
Appendix F: Use-Triggered Licensing, Implementation Steps

About the Author

Raym Crow is a SPARC Senior Consultant and Managing Partner of Chain Bridge Group, an independent publishing consultancy and SPARC Consulting Group affiliate ( He has over 20 years’ experience in academic and business publishing, specializing in strategic and sustainability planning, product management, and market development.


SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system for the exchange of scholarly research results. Developed by the Association of Research Libraries, SPARC has become a catalyst for change. Its pragmatic focus is to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communication models that expand the dissemination of scholarly research and reduce financial pressures on libraries. Action by SPARC in collaboration with stakeholders – including authors, publishers, and libraries – builds on the unprecedented opportunities created by the networked digital environment to advance the conduct of scholarship.