Academic publishing is in crisis. We are all familiar with the problem: publishers require that we pay in order to read published research in their journals (per article, or by subscription). Alternatively, if they do make it freely accessible online (open access), then they instead charge a fee to the researchers who carried out the work and wrote the papers in the first place (usually via research grant funding). Therefore, the costs involved in reading or publishing work fall to either the audience or the researchers, and they are high.
A typical workflow might be: researchers work to get funding to do research, they conduct the research, then they write their results into academic papers, and submit those to journals to be reviewed, edited, and, hopefully, published. When someone from outside the academic community hears that members selected from the same research community do the editorial work and the reviewing for journals, they might be justified in asking what it is that the journal publishers themselves do? Why is it, they might ask, that the researchers do almost all of the work involved in creating published articles, and curate the process so that the results can be trusted, but then are often also the ones who bear the burden of cost for the product? The answer to this dilemma is complex, but the headline reason given is often that publishers have high costs to deal with. This is true – reliable and large-scale publishing can be expensive. But the truth is that they also turn incredibly high profits.
At Volcanica, we strived to test the claim that publishing journal articles simply could not be done without someone (researchers or audiences) paying for it. In response to the state of affairs, we have succeeded in creating a journal that is free for everyone, from beginning to end, and we are the only option of this type for volcanology research. How are we able to do that? First, we rely on a growing enthusiastic body of editors, reviewers, typesetters, and proof-readers, all of whom are working for free through this shared vision of an alternative publishing model. Second, we receive a small (€500 p/a) grant from the Strasbourg University Press, which covers the few costs involved in publishing academic research.
Since our launch in November 2017, we have published 2 complete issues in our first complete volume, comprising 7 Research Articles, 1 Report, and 2 Editorials, and we are currently publishing the next issue (5 articles and counting), set to be complete in July 2019! With the help of a large group of volcanologists worldwide, we are growing quickly, and we like to think that this growth is a testament to the value inherent in sharing our work for free. We are interested in pushing the boundaries of what is possible with publishing, so if you have a creative idea, we are keen to hear from you!
We hope that the VIPS community will consider Volcanica as the free and open option for the latest in volcano research, and we look forward to hearing from you here: https://www.jvolcanica.org/
by Fabian Wadsworth & Jamie Farquharson
Twitter: @FabianWadsworth @JI_Farquharson @WeAreVolcanica
 Larivière V, Haustein S, Mongeon P (2015) The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0127502. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127502
 For a break-down of the costs, see our first editorial here: https://www.jvolcanica.org/ojs/index.php/volcanica/article/view/16
The covers for the first two issues of Volcanica.