Q&A: RSS journals – moving to electronic-only

What’s happening?

From January 2017 RSS members will have electronic-only access to the RSS journals series; print copies will no longer be issued as part of the normal subscription. As currently, you will still be able to electronically access the journal(s) to which you subscribe as part of your membership package. Journals can be viewed online through the My RSS area on the RSS website or through the dedicated apps.

Who made the decision?

Council made this decision having considered the pros and cons and the financial information around journal provision. The RSS journal editorial boards were consulted during the process, too, and are also supportive of such a move. Electronic publication is now commonplace in scientific publishing, with many organisations moving entirely to an electronic-only platform – and more than a quarter of RSS members have already opted to have electronic-only access to their subscribed journals.

What are the benefits of electronic journals?

There are many advantages to this delivery method; moving online allows faster publishing speeds, increased content due to the removal of printed page restrictions, and greater environmental sustainability. Online content is as readable and portable as the print journal as well as being accessible from a variety of devices. Other benefits include:

  • Content is simply formatted and readable from a variety of devices, including on the new apps – or download the paper and read it off-line
  • A functional sidebar provides access to important information (references, figures, publication history) at any point without losing your place on the main page
  • Figures can be viewed in context or separately, and easily navigated, browsed or downloaded
  • Easily cite and share papers of interest
  • Simple and advanced searches are available
  • Personalised electronic content alerts will take you from your inbox straight to the article of  interest online

How will it affect me?

As an RSS member you already have electronic access to your subscribed journal series and you can continue to access the journals online via My RSS. You can also download the RSS journal apps for iOS and Android – which give you content free of charge to the journal(s) to which you subscribe. As of January 2017, you will no longer receive a print copy of the journal.

Will this reduce subscription costs?

No. While there are some savings to be made in printing and distribution costs, moving to an electronic-only subscription model brings with it different VAT implications, meaning that the RSS actually stands to save very little overall. This was not a financially motivated decision, but one driven by the benefits described above.

How long will my electronic access last?

You will have electronic access to the journal(s) to which you subscribe for the duration of your RSS membership. The apps give access to all the journal issues from the past year, and the Wiley Online Library (accessed via My RSS) holds all the journal issues as far back as 1997. Don’t forget that you can change your journal selection at any point during the year, should you wish to switch between journal series.

What’s happening with Significance?

Significance will still be a print magazine: as before, you can also access content online and via the Significance app. Of course if you prefer to go electronic-only with Significance, too, please contact us and we will update our records for you.

What if I still want to get a print copy of my journal(s)?

It will be possible to purchase print copies for an additional fee via a print-on-demand service directly from the RSS. Please contact us if you would like to take up this option, and we will send you further details.