The scientific publishing process has during the past few years undergone considerable changes. The socio‐economic structures have, however, not changed much, and many academics and librarians view the current situation as highly unsatisfactory. This has triggered a number of initiatives to set up e‐print repositories and electronic peer reviewed journals, which usually offer the full text for free on the Web. Serious in‐depth research studying the way the scholarly communication system is affected by the Internet is needed. In this article a formal process model of the scientific publishing process is presented (the Scientific Publication Life‐Cycle Model). The model has been developed in particular to provide a basis for studying the cost implications of different business models. It describes the life‐cycle of the single publication, in particular the refereed journal article, from the research leading to it and writing it, to being read by other researchers years later or used as a catalyst for practical implementation. Conclusions are drawn about the usefulness of the modelling methodology for this particular purpose as well as of future uses of the model itself. In addition to providing a basis for cost studies the model could function as a road map for different types of open access initiatives.
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