Who Does What?
Roles in Scholarly Publishing
Four main parties participate in publishing scholarly journals: scholars, editors and peer reviewers, publishers, and subscribers. Each of them has a different set of concerns and perspectives.1
- Scholars create the work that is published. What is most important to scholars is the prestige of the journal, the efficiency and fairness of the review process, the timeliness of publication, and their out-of-pocket publication costs.
- Editors and peer reviewers
- Editors and peer reviewers provide quality control for the content, including screening submissions, reviewing manuscripts, suggesting revisions, corresponding with authors, and overseeing the final copy. Their main concern is advancing knowledge in their field, creating a prestigious journal, increasing the potential impact of the journal, and obtaining the support of the publisher.
- Publishers (usually commercial publishers or professional societies) are responsible for getting the journal into the marketplace. What drives publishers is making a profit (or for professional societies, at least breaking even) on the publication. They are concerned about holding costs down and raising subscription rates to create a healthy profit margin.
- Subscribers, mostly institutions and libraries, purchase the journals and provide access to the scholars in their community. They are concerned about their budgets and are deeply affected by increases in the price of journal subscriptions. They also want to provide access to the most prestigious journals for their faculty and students.
The system of scholarly communications that has existed for hundreds of years consists of research and other scholarly writings created free of charge, edited or peer-reviewed also free of charge, printed and published at cost, and sold to libraries and research institutions for dissemination.2
1 Cass T. Miller and Julianna Harris, "Scholarly Journal Publications: Conflicting Agendas for Scholars, Publishers, and Institutions," Journal of Scholarly Publishing 35, no. 2 (January 2004), 73-76.