Scholastica snags $510,000 to modernize academic publishing

by Keidra Chaney
May 15, 2014

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Academic journal publishing platform Scholastica recently acquired $510,000 in seed funding from investors, according to a SEC document filed last week. Started by University of Chicago alumni Rob Walsh, Brian Cody and Cory Schires, Scholastica aims to disrupt academia by simplifying the notoriously lengthy and expensive process of publishing an academic journal. While the cost of scholarly journal subscriptions for institutions has skyrocketed in the past few decades, library budgets for such publications have remained flat, making it difficult for institutions to keep many academic journals in stock. This issue, commonly called the “serials crisis” within academia, is a problem that Scholastica aims to solve.

“Academia definitely has a reputation for being slow-moving, although in this case the academic community recognizes that the serials crisis is an important problem to solve,” Scholastica co-founder Rob Walsh said. “The stakes are very high – journals are where new knowledge is disseminated and this content needs to be managed quickly and accessed easily.”

Scholastica makes publishing an academic journal cheap and easy. In an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, Walsh described Scholastica as “a platform for journals, much like WordPress is a platform for blogs.”

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The platform works as a one-stop shop for manuscript submission, peer review, copyediting and distribution. A publisher creates an account on the Scholastica platform, and pays a small fee for each manuscript submitted - $5 for law review articles and $10 for an academic paper. For smaller, niche publishers, the low cost of submission fees can potentially make the process of publishing a high-quality journal a financial possibility.

Since Scholastica’s launch in 2012, respected journals including the NYU Law Review and the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology have joined the platform. “We’ve been able to acquire users by establishing relationships with journals directly,” said Walsh. “As we’ve grown, we find that journals find us on their own as well.”

Walsh also said he sees Scholastica as part of a larger movement to make academic scholarship open and accessible to the public at large. Scholastica embraces the Open Access Publishing philosophy that opens up the resources of peer-reviewed scholarly research to all. “Whenever you hear about a study in the news it’s always something like, ‘A new study was published today in the Journal of Pulminary Disease,’ etc. As an example of academia realizing the gravity of the problems within the current system, the UK has made great strides in requiring that publicly funded research must be made Open Access (available free of charge to the public),” says Walsh.

While Scholastica has yet to formally issue a press statement on their recent investment, the team has hinted that they are soon moving the platform forward with some game-changing announcements. “We’re really excited to make our software even better,” says Walsh. “Over the last few months we’ve made our peer review management software much more robust. I don’t want to let the cat of the bag, but we’re working on some awesome stuff so stay tuned!”

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