Will the rise of open access journals spell the end of the subscription model?
The technological advances of this century have seen virtually every industry affected by large scale disruption, with the rapid pace of innovation meaning that many businesses have had to make major adaptations in order to survive. Academic publishing is no exception, as Virginia Barbour explores in her Perspective in this issue.1 In his famous book The innovator's dilemma: when new technologies cause great firms to fail, Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard University, argued that leading well established companies can do a great job serving their customers’ needs, yet become locked into fixed business models that fail over time when a lower cost competitor disrupts the market by developing innovations to which the established companies are unable to react.2 Typically, the new entrant is of lower quality initially but takes away the lower end of the established business, and over time (and in almost all cases according to Christensen) the established business dies to be replaced in some form by its new competitor. Recent examples include Wikipedia and traditional encyclopaedias, or Uber and the taxi industry. And arguably, publishing of subscription journals, including medical journals, is going to be added to the list.
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