A little taste of the benefits of open-access publishing convinced the editors of Tipití, the official Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA), to drop subscription control altogether in favor of the society’s broader goals. Tipití began as a print-only, subscription-based publication in 2003, but after moving to online publication through Digital Commons @ Trinity in 2011 its readership really began to grow: though they had fewer than 300 print subscriptions, the online journal generated over 27 thousand downloads in 2012. From a small, niche journal serving primarily the membership of the society, Tipití has now grown into an international resource and a forum for authors from all over the Americas as well as Europe.
Richard Reed, Professor of Anthropology at Trinity University and former president of SALSA, explains that the decision to go digital not only helped build readership, but also furthered the society’s goals of fostering international dialogue and action on issues relating to lowland South America. A hybrid open-access model, where only the most recent issues are under subscription control, allowed researchers at institutions in South America without the funds for an institutional subscription to read and subsequently contribute their own research to the journal. As the editors began receiving feedback from readers in South America, they looked at their download numbers and found that their open-access back content was generating up to ten times the number of downloads as their most recent, subscription-controlled articles during the same period. Weighing the benefits of a fully open-access model versus the revenue generated by subscriptions, the editors decided to lift the subscription controls and make the journal entirely open access in the spring of 2013.
“The move to digital publication through Trinity’s repository reduced the expense of producing the journal so drastically that it was no longer necessary to rely on subscription revenue in order to keep the journal going,” Reed explains. “And that allows the editors to focus on publishing great research and increasing the journal’s international impact in its field.”