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Gold-level open access at the Semantic Web journal

Since its launch in 2009/2010 the Semantic Web journal (SWJ) has been a firm supporter of openness and transparency, both during and after review. While manuscripts and their revisions, decisions, full reviews, reviewers, and editors have been made openly available both through the Web as well as query endpoints for data analysis, the final papers followed a green Open Access (OA) strategy [1]. Simply put, the last submitted version of an accepted manuscript remained available on the journal’s web page, while the final version was made available via IOS Press as publisher. Those two versions typically merely differed in nuances such as fixed bibliographies and improved formatting. On the authors’ request, articles could also be made available in a classical OA form through IOS Press, i.e., authors could opt-in to publish with full OA. In such cases, authors were asked to cover an ‘Article Publishing Charge’ (APC) to cover the cost of publication, and the articles would become freely available via the publisher’s web page.

The costs involved in publishing SWJ, such a developing, running, and maintaining a custom journal management system, typesetting, printing, distribution, archiving, advertising, legal support, best paper and reviewer awards, and so on, are, thus, partly covered by income from subscriptions and partly from APCs. Put differently, SWJ so far has been a hybrid between a subscription journal and an OA journal. This model has made it possible for the articles to reach a wide readership while not introducing financial barriers to authors wishing to publish in SWJ. The format also enabled the journal to be on the forefront of experiments with open review processes and machine-ready access to such information. This was particularly important as classical, paid OA was not yet popular in the Computer Science domain when the journal was started, and because as editors we felt that making the publishing process open and transparent was more important given that it would imply a green-level OA at the same time. However, in recent years there has been a call to action from an increasing number of funding agencies asking for a transition to full, i.e., gold OA. Today many funding agencies will cover on behalf of authors the associated APCs as part of research grants. We strongly support this general trend towards full open access and it matches well with our contributions to an open and transparent culture around science.

Consequently, SWJ decided to go for gold. All authors submitting a paper to SWJ after 1 January 2020 will have their article published with full OA. The journal asks contribution to publishing costs in the form of an APC of EUR 500,- or US$ 550,- per accepted article. Full fee waivers of the APC are available to authors from developing countries. While we believe that these very low and highly competitive rates will not exclude anybody from publishing their work with us, we will be able to waive or reduce APC on a case-by-case basis, e.g., for submissions from students (teams). Authors who have submitted a paper before this date and have their article accepted after that date may also opt-in to have their article published with OA at the introductory pricing. After 2020 we may gradually adjust costs, if necessary, and will monitor the OA landscape in Computer Science (and beyond) closely.

Other than the manner in which the articles are disseminated, i.e., without any access barriers, and how the costs of publication are covered, the switch to full open access has no effect on how the journal operates. Put differently, we are aware of the potential pitfalls arising due to the combination (or lack of it) of gold and green levels. SWJ will continue to host all papers and their revisions online on the journal’s webpage, and we encourage authors to do the same on theirs.

Both SWJ and IOSPress are very excited about going gold. In combination with LD Connect,1 we are now able to offer full and machine-ready access to the entire review process as well as the full SWJ paper contents, including pre-trained document and knowledge graph embeddings to simplify further usage and analysis and even bulk downloads.

In addition to full OA, we also decided to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the journal by publishing a special issue of vision papers by members of our editorial board. In fact, such a collection of vision papers made up our very first issue published in 2010. Some of the papers in this volume are from editorial board members that also contributed to the first set, while others are from editors that joined us over the years. Overall, this issue contains vision papers from roughly half of the current editorial board on topics ranging all over the spectrum of semantic web research including explainable AI, decentralization, ontology engineering, and robotics, to name but a few.



K. Janowicz and P. Hitzler, Open and transparent: The review process of the semantic web journal, Learned Publishing 25(1) (2012), 48–55. doi:10.1087/20120107.