Nurturing exploitation (2 of 2)

October 27, 2011

In recent months there has been much debate in the press on the issue of academic publishing, mostly either criticising publishers for monopolistic profit-making or pushing for an increase in "green" open-access publishing, in particular toll-free access to the results of publicly funded research.

Through all of this, the elephants in the room have been the learned societies. The UK has an estimated thousand or so of them, many of which run publishing programmes. Most of them rely to varying degrees on income via expenses, royalties or profit shares from academic publishers to sustain their activities and engage with their members, the academy and the wider community, including the world of policy and practice.

In the case of the Regional Studies Association, we publish two journals ranked in Thomson Reuters' Journal Citation Reports of the Social Science Citation Index, with an additional journal launching in 2013. Income from this publishing activity is the largest part of our revenue profile, which also includes conference income and membership fees.

What do we do with our publishing income? We support our editorial teams, providing editorial assistants, special issue events and financial help for them to attend conferences.

But more broadly, we have also used this income to support our members through reduced-rate territorial pricing on membership fees and our annual conference. We have also launched an early-career grant scheme, and we offer funding for research networks, travel awards, an event support scheme and conference bursaries.

This level of backing for scholars in our field would not be possible without income from our journals.

So by all means, let us continue to proactively explore open-access publishing business models and to expand philanthropic schemes for wider journal access, but let us also be aware that for most learned societies, income from publishing activity is recycled straight back into the academy.

Our associations make an important contribution to the research life cycle, and publishing income is important in achieving this.

Sally Hardy, chief executive, Regional Studies Association

Martin Jones, chair, journals management committee, RSA

David Bailey, chair, RSA

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy