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The Journal Publishing Services Agreement: A Guide for Societies

January 13, 2020  |  By

This article was published in the journal Learned Publishing, Volume 33, Number 1, January 2020.

• Scholarly publishing is unusual because of the substantial involvement of non- profit organizations and the way in which they work with commercial publishers.
• Publishing services agreements (PSAs) may provide predictable revenues, access
to transformative agreements, and wider distribution.
• The largest disadvantage of PSAs is publisher lock-in, where revenues derived
from publisher packages are not portable.
• Deciding to enter a publisher services agreement should not be taken lightly and
must be carefully aligned with the society’s value and strategy.

Societies have two fundamental choices when it comes to publishing their journals: they can remain independent, managing all facets of the publication business, or they can work with a larger commercial or not‐for‐profit publisher. If a society chooses to work with a larger publisher, it will invariably do so via a publishing services agreement. This article discusses the challenges and complexities facing independent society publishers and the reasons why some societies choose to enter into publisher services agreements, whereas others choose to remain independent.


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