Alternative publishing platforms. What have we learnt?

21 September 2023
APP News - web

Different alternative publishing platforms have appeared over recent years. But what are their pros and cons? Do they differ significantly from traditional scholarly journals? To better understand what individual publishing platforms do and how they fit in the open scholarly communication ecosystem, Knowledge Exchange invited platforms working in open access publishing to contribute to a survey. The survey results provide valuable and interesting insight into the world of alternative publishing platforms. This study, the dataset that underpins it and the interactive visualisation tool reveal the first results. The work will inform the next phase of our activity around Alternative Publishing Platforms

Key findings

In total, there were 25 survey questions. These ranged from the types of research disciplines the platforms are designed for, what governance structure they follow, who owns them through to what functions they cover, publication types encompassed and when they publish research. Some key findings are:

  • Most of the alternative platforms in this pilot survey were institution-based and driven by academic or similar communities.
  • From our sample, no pattern emerged of any discipline appearing to be more innovative than any others, and indeed most alternative platforms seemed to be open to use by all fields.
  • Most platforms within this survey were replacing the function of existing publishers in publishing research articles, books and conference proceedings. There was some innovation around peer review. Considering both of these aspects, only a small group of fewer than 10 of the 45 platforms should probably be described as truly exploring 'alternative ways of doing things'.
  • Only 11 of the platforms said that they solely concentrated on the methodological quality of the work, 2 solely on the impact of the work. Most said it was up to the editors to decide on criteria for assessment - the platforms themselves were agnostic. This is an area where further work might help elucidate the philosophies of different platforms when it comes to research assessment.

Jean Francois Lutz, Head of Research Support (Library), University of Lorraine and Jeroen Sondervan, Open Scholarly Communication Programme Leader, Dutch Research Council (NWO) said: "We embarked on this work with the intention of creating awareness among the research community and supporting institutions of alternative publishing platforms and providing a clearer picture of what these look like. We hope that this report will help the community better understand the functions, the similarities and the differences of such platforms. We are hopeful that this work will lead to more discussion and engagements amongst all stakeholders on how we can work on making it easier to assess these platforms."

Full details of our work on Alternative Publishing Platforms is available here.

To access the report click here.