The new relationship between AFO and Resilience Alliance comes after a two year process to find a new publisher for the Journal of Field Ornithology. The publications landscape has changed considerably in the last decade with a number of intersecting trends. Academic libraries are reducing their publications budgets and increasingly seeking to purchase bundles and not individual subscriptions. Accordingly, large for-profit publishers are shedding smaller journals to reduce their costs with the logic that journals like JFO are not vital in their bundled subscription model. At the same time, Open Access journals are growing exponentially, especially with countries like Germany investing heavily in supporting Open Access over for profit publishing. In light of these changes, Wiley, our partner for 10+ years, informed AFO that our contract to publish JFO would end in 2022.
We here at AFO debated internally the equity-minded tradeoffs associated with an open access (OA) model, which allows scientists all over the world access, lowering their barriers to information. However, an OA model increases the barriers to publication for authors. Ultimately, the changing financial approach meant that no publisher had interest in publishing JFO except with an OA model. To minimize the impact of an OA approach, AFO has taken the following steps: (1) partnering with a vibrant non-profit to keep costs low, (2) having one of the lowest article processing charge of any organismal biology journal, and (3) developing a progressive waiver policy that provides coverage to more countries that most journals and allows for partial waivers across a wide range of US-based categories. AFO views these steps as a pilot and will be vigilant to the impacts and be ready to adjust as needed to ensure publication in JFO is available to the entire ornithological community.