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The Pricing of Academic Journals: A Two-Sided Market Perspective

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Abstract

More and more academic journals adopt an open-access policy, by which articles are accessible free of charge, while publication costs are recovered through author fees. We study the consequences of this open access policy on a journal’s quality standard. If the journal’s objective was to maximize social welfare, open access would be optimal as long as the positive externalities generated by its diffusion exceed the marginal cost of distribution. However, we show that if an open access journal has a different objective (such as maximizing readers’ utility, the impact of the journal or its profit), it tends to choose a quality standard below the socially efficient level.

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