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      A journal is a club: a new economic model for scholarly publishing



            A new economic model for the analysis of scholarly publishing – journal publishing in particular – is proposed that draws on club theory. The standard approach builds on market failure in the private production (by research scholars) of a public good (new scholarly knowledge). In this model, publishing is communication, as the dissemination of information. But a club model views publishing differently: namely as group formation, where members form groups in order to confer externalities on each other, subject to congestion. A journal is a self-constituted group, endeavouring to create new knowledge. In this sense, a journal is a club. The knowledge club model of a journal seeks to balance the positive externalities of a shared resource (readers, citations, referees) against the negative externalities of crowding (decreased prospect of publishing in that journal). A new economic model of a journal as a knowledge club is elaborated. We suggest some consequences for the management of journals and financial models that might be developed to support them.


            Author and article information

            Pluto Journals
            1 March 2017
            : 35
            : 1 ( doiID: 10.1080/prometheus.35.issue-1 )
            : 75-92
            jason.potts@ 123456rmit.edu.au
            [ a ]School of Economics, Marketing and Finance, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
            [ b ]Centre for Culture and Technology, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
            [ c ]School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
            © 2017 Pluto Journals

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            Computer science,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Law,History,Economics


            1. This is closely related to the concept of a community of practice (Amin and Roberts, 2008).

            2. We mean this in the sense both of open innovation economics (models of open knowledge production) (von Hippel, 2005; Chesbrough, 2003), and also of team production (Alchian and Demsetz, 1972). An ‘open team’ is a concept that is separately defined in microeconomics, but not in its conjunction (cf. an innovation commons).

            3. Scholarly publishing has the same logic as a research department in the sense of organising itself into problem-domain themes – a point that has been made by Kling et al. (2002) in reference to the efficacy of the underlying guild model of scientific production and publishing.

            4. For example, invited articles with the implication of lower refereeing hurdles, or free submission to journals normally requiring article processing charges.

            5. For Cinema Journal see http://www.cmstudies.org/?page=cinema_journal; and for the Journal of Finance see http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1540-6261/homepage/Society.html, where ‘Membership in the Association is ... available only through written application’.

            6. https://steem.io/.


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