“Imagine this thought experiment:

The entire editorial board of Journal X decides to quit and start a new open-source journal. Any expenses of that new journal could be funded by a university. Overnight, the new journal would BE, for all practical purposes, the exact same journal (with a new name) – at least in terms of what we should primarily care about, which is the quality of the research. Would it be that expensive to get such a new journal listed so that it appears on Google Scholar? Where are all these valuable marketing costs that supposedly exist? Seth Spain pointed out that this thought experiment actually happened in mathematics. The board of the journal Topology resigned and founded the Journal of Topology.”

— Marc Anderson on the OB-list, mulling over alternatives to  OBHDP’s $1,800 fee to make a paper open-access.

I would love to see OBHDP and other outlets reinvent themselves as online open journals, keeping the same ed board, AEs, reviewers, standards, publication schedule, etc., and simply cutting Sage, Elsevier and the other publishing giants out entirely.

I suspect that one of the biggest resources such rebellions would require is a simple, open-source, free to use piece of web software to duplicate the functions of ManuscriptCentral:  Submitting papers, assigning them to AEs and reviewers, tracking reviews, sending out decisions, submitting R&Rs, etc.

It would be great to see a large capacity-building grant (from CFI here in Canada, for instance, or the US NSF’s academic research infrastructure program) to build the basic submission-management and publishing tools necessary for journals’ boards to free themselves from publishers.

I can’t imagine a more profoundly and positively disruptive project for academic research than a piece of ‘journal-in-a-box’ software that would allow societies to escape their publishers and cheaply and easily take their existing journals open-access.

Update:  Spoke too soon!   There’s an OS journal workflow management tool already available (thanks, @mekki and @TIMReview).  It’s called OJS, Open Journal Systems.  Maybe there are tech issues inhibiting uptake (Journal of Management and Organization used OJS, but then returned to ManuscriptCentral), but I think the availability of this software probably undermines my technological-barriers argument about why ed boards don’t rise up and overthrow their publishers.  Next guess, anyone?