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Supply-Side Model of Academic Publishing in Croatia

    Aim

    The aim of the paper is to research into the scale and structure of recent (2012-2018) subsidized academic publishing in Croatia, with focus on academic books and journals, participation of institutions and publishers, included scientific fields and disciplines, quality and visibility of output, and invested financial means. As a huge majority of Croatian academic production depends on subsidies, such analyses would contribute to the understanding of the academic publishing landscape in general.

    Methods

    The paper is based on the analyses of data from seven years of subventions which Croatian Ministry of Science and Education allocates to national academic publishing. Data are analysed for both journal and book publishing. Available are data about author or editor, publisher, publication title, and granted finances - in clearly structured documents publicly accessible at https://mzo.hr/hr/rubrike/znanstveno-izdavacka-djelatnost.

    Results and Discussion

    Supply-side model of publishing is conceived as an opposition to the model of demand – where publisher at his own risk invests in the publication (1). In supply-side model, the publication is pre-financed and thus, factually, in no relation towards sales and marketing. The costs could be covered by authors, their sponsors, or, in this case, by public institution – and resulting publication could be distributed for free, or sold for a low price. All of the publications subsidised by the Ministry should be considered as products of supply-side model, and the deep analyses of granted subsidies provides detailed picture of Croatian academic publishing landscape. Collected data are telling about total allocated financial means (which are growing year after year), rise of the output, distinctions in subventions to academic books and academic journals (which are roughly equal, in contrast to the general perception of rise of the journals on cost of the academic monographs (2)), differences in subventions to publications from different academic fields and disciplines (paradoxically in regard to STEM promotion policies, highest subsidies go to humanities and social sciences), about publishers (public institutions and private enterprises) involved in academic field, including clear insight into the publishing programmes of the most prolific players in the field, etc. Additionally, subsidised academic journals are analysed in relation to access policies, substrate (electronic or printed), and presence in relevant databases. The results show continuous growth both in the amount of subsidies and in published titles. In 2016, subsidies for books doubled in relation to 2012. For books, publications from humanities and social sciences received the biggest support, followed by technical sciences, biomedicine, natural sciences, biotechnical sciences and arts. For journals, no such differences are noticed. Most of the subsidies for books is granted to private publishers, while institutions have a primate in journal publishing. Two biggest players – publishers that received highest financial support – are Medicinska naklada and Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences. Geographically, almost all of the Croatian academic publishing is concentrated in Zagreb. Ministry preferred to subsidise journals indexed in relevant databases, and published both in electronic and printed format.

    Conclusion

    Regarding the size of the market, purchasing power of individual buyers targeted by academic publishers (students), and underdeveloped marketing and sales policies for academic publications in Croatia, it could be argued that supply-side model developed by the Ministry of Science and Education makes possible overwhelming majority of publishing projects. Conducted analyses provide detailed insight into this model, including shortcomings such as lack of the evidence for realization of some projects or subsidising journals which, in spite of assistance, cease publishing. The topics – academic publishing and system of subsidies – has rarely been addressed by researchers (3,4). Thus, this research offers new insights to researchers (e.g. providing knowledge about the scale and structure of academic publishing), gives evaluation possibilities for policymakers (e.g. to design the tools for monitoring and improving the system of public subsidies), and provide comparable perspective for national academic publishing in the context of European academic publishing setting.

    • Filip HorvatFilip HorvatUniversity of Rijeka

      Filip Horvat is a librarian at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Rijeka. He received his Master’s degree in Information… More →

    • Zoran VelagićZoran VelagićUniversity of Osijek

      Zoran Velagić is a professor of book history and publishing studies at the University of Osijek, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences… More →