The Business Model for KU Select Journals, their Funding and Charges they Involve for Authors and their Institutions

The business model for the KU Select Journals program.
The Business Model for KU Select Journals, their Funding and Charges they Involve for Authors and their Institutions

As part of the Knowledge Unlatched (KU) Select program, book collections can be complemented with journal offerings. Journals unlatched via the program are published in unrestricted Open Access. This means that neither the authors nor their respective institutions need to pay any article processing charges (APCs) or submission fees. The business model of KU allows for these fees to be financed in advance by participating institutions.

Journals unlatched via the KU Select program are included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Supporting institutions may pledge for both encompassing KU Select Journal Collections or for separate collections in the fields of either the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). As part of this program, all journals are made available in Open Access for a three-year period. The institutions that pledge for their selected journal collections are granted backfile access for all journals in the respective collections.

As in these journals any researcher can publish articles in Open Access without APC limitations, this assures a seamless publication process for authors that no longer need to handle APCs. However, the cost models for different KU Select Journal Collections are likely to undergo changes from one year to another. This is driven by the need to provide an accurate, up-to-date representation of publishers' expenses. Furthermore, KU develops an ongoing plan for the prospective financing of the KU Select Journal Collections, to ensure their future sustainability, in cooperation with participating libraries and publishers.

In 2017 KU unlatched a journal collection for the 2018-2020 period, which contained 16 HSS titles. In 2018 institutions were able to pledge for 9 journal titles: 3 in the HSS collection and 6 in the STEM collection. In these collections, all participating journals have been made available in Open Access for the 2019-2021 period.

Moreover, the KU Select Journal program can assist with gradual transitions to Open Access. Thus, in 2018 the HSS collection contained journals based on the subscription and hybrid Open Access models that have subsequently been flipped into Gold Open Access without having to involve APCs as part of that.

Similarly, in 2018 the STEM collection in this program also comprised five journals involving either paywall-based or hybrid Open Access models alongside a Gold Open Access journal. 80% of these journals demonstrated a significant reputation in their respective fields, as evidenced by their Impact Factor indexing.

In other words, the KU business model enables the operation of Open Access journal that does not require APCs or submission fees, while maintaining their quality standards and increasing their academic visibility.

However, this model critically depends on the availability of funding for its programs and collections. Open Access journals with funding shortfalls can, thus, involve subscriptions or APCs.

Written by Nina Weisweiler

Edited by Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Panel: A Green Lock Wall, June 3, 2014 | Courtesy of LEEROY Creative Agency/

This post is based on information materials originally published in,

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