We assessed the marginal cost of scholarly communication from the perspective of an agent looking to start an independent, peer-reviewed scholarly journal. We found that various vendors can accommodate all of the services required for scholarly communication for a price ranging between $69 and $318 per article. In contrast, if an agent had access to software solutions replacing the services provided by vendors, the marginal cost of scholarly communication would be reduced to the cloud infrastructure cost alone and drop to between $1.36 and $1.61 per article. Incidentally, DOI registration alone accounts for between 82% and 98% of this cost. While vendor cost typically decreases with higher volume, new offerings in cloud computing exhibit the opposite trend, challenging the notion that large volume publishers benefit from economies of scales as compared to smaller publishers. Given the current lack of software solutions fulfilling the functions of scholarly communication, we conclude that the development of high quality “plug-and-play” open source software solutions would have a significant impact in reducing the marginal cost of scholarly communication, making it more open to experimentation and innovation.
- Knight Foundation — Miami, FL, USA
- Knight Enterprise Fund
- Techstars — New York, NY, USA
- Starpower Fund
- New York Angels — New York, NY, USA
- Abundance Partners, LLC — New York, NY, USA
- Soundboard Angel Fund — Morristown, NJ, USA
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