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by KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd.

Remaining competitive in today’s complicated scholarly journal landscape has never been more challenging for publishers. Confronted with rapidly evolving business models, funding constraints, growing competition and stretched resources, sustaining and growing revenue can seem like a daunting task and uphill struggle at times.

During our most recent edition of the KGL PubFactory Virtual Series, Kevin Lomangino, Director of KGL Consulting, presented an insightful and panoramic talk on the current state of the journal market, looking at how evolving trends are impacting publishers, while also providing some useful tips on how journals can navigate this new reality to stay competitive and boost revenue. Some of his key takeaways included:

1. Don’t sacrifice on quality

The very nature of OA means that publishers need to work harder to generate revenues through APCs and transformational agreements than under a subscription model. This inevitably leads to pressure to publish more. But in accepting more submissions, many journals are rightfully concerned about a decline in article quality and knock on effects to reputation. Keeping an eye on quality while growing the pie and chasing revenue is key, and there are plenty of examples of journals that successfully maintain or increase quality while also growing output. The key is to concurrently implement strategies to attract more high quality submissions.

2. Focus on building awareness

Publishing more content often leads to improved journal awareness, as an extended network of contributors, editors, authors and reviewers are drawn into the publication process. The most successful journals are able to capitalize on this and enter into a virtuous cycle whereby improved awareness leads to more citations, which boosts journal quality metrics and then attracts more high-quality submissions. But this doesn’t always happen organically, so it is also important to look at other awareness-raising approaches such as hiring social media editors and investing in SEO to help extend your network and improve discoverability.

3. Take a personal approach with authors

Although it may be considered unconventional in some circles, if done tactfully and in a tailored way, personal outreach from journal editors to authors can be an extremely effective way to increase high quality submissions. Successful techniques include reaching out to new authors with calls for papers on special issues or hot topics in emerging science or contacting previous authors to update them on their articles’ citations and metrics, while reminding them that you’re welcoming fresh submissions. We regularly see that journals who take a front foot approach with authors and aren’t afraid to put themselves out there are most likely to succeed in this competitive environment.

4. Diversify your editorial board

One of the most water tight ways of growing your network while ensuring high quality submissions is to look at ways of diversifying your editorial board. This is a great way to amplify the aims and scope of your journal while also expanding into new geographical territories and centers of academic excellence.  Not only does this approach prevent an overreliance and dependency on existing contacts, but it also helps journals to take a more global view and cultivate new relationships with a more diverse set of contributors and reviewers.

5. Conduct a citation analysis

A tried and tested way of increasing quality submissions is to use citation research to identify promising target areas for outreach. We have worked with a number of publishers in this way as a means of helping them to identify and recruit authors that are likely to have a positive impact on their journal. Aside from pinpointing the most active and impactful authors in their fields and disciplines, these studies can also help to identify certain emerging and underexploited topic areas/subfields and to find potential editorial board members and reviewers to become part of your journal’s community.

KGL is your source for strategic insights that help scholarly publishers discover opportunities, drive innovation, develop solutions, and deliver success. Read more about KGL Consulting or contact us at

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