An Open Access Journal Supported by BC Libraries:
One editor's story
For almost ten years I have been the co-editor of Teaching Exceptional Children (TEC), a print journal which (we like to boast) is the most widely read journal in the field of Special Education. There are about 50,000 subscriptions for this bi-monthly journal.
The journal is sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), which is a national professional and advocacy association. Like many professional associations, CEC saw membership decline over the past decade and had to enact cost-cutting measures. In 2003, CEC decided to cut a signature (16 pages) from the journal, which meant cutting about two to three articles per issue.
At that same time, Boston College Libraries were exploring the option of supporting on-line journals that would be open-access (OA), meaning that they would be immediately available at no cost to anyone in the world with an internet connection. Furthermore, in OA journals the authors retain the copyright rather than turning it over to a third party that profits from it.
Timing was everything. BC was offering to support creation of a new journal, and I had lots of good manuscripts that were either backing up the queue or were being rejected for lack of space. In addition, OA offered the option to attract new kinds of submissions (e.g. articles with embedded video and/or audio, articles with embedded links.) Furthermore, moving to the BC-supported system meant that we could take the entire submission process on-line. BC has purchased a license from bepress (Berkeley Electronic Press) that includes everything from manuscript submission through review/decision/and finally, on-line publication. A team of BC librarians were very supportive (from a technical standpoint and in thinking through the new format) and CEC agreed to allow creation of Teaching Exceptional Children Plus (TECPlus), a new journal which selects manuscripts from the same pool as its print counterpart.
The growth in readership of TECPlus has been phenomenal. This month we enter our 6th year of publication, and as can be seen in the chart below, downloads have accelerated at an extraordinary rate. During the academic year 2008-09, there were over 200,000 total hits. Currently, about 20,000 hits per month is the typical rate. Remember, however, that these are hits on individual articles. There is no way of calculating a similar statistic on articles in a paper journal.
Another advantage to publishing on-line is that authors are sent monthly totals on their downloads. Because readers must actively download an article, this type of data more accurately suggests actual readership as opposed to “inclusion in a volume which was distributed to XX subscribers” which is all that is known about articles in print journals. I have written to many promotion and tenure committees at various universities about this data, and it appears to be well received.
If you are interested in discussing open-access journals, I invite you to look at ours at http://escholarship.bc.edu/education/tecplus and also to feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 617 552 3149.
Lynch School of Education