I am going to be taking the helm of a journal in 2017 and the publisher wants my editorial team to consider moving to the continuous publication model pioneered by the Royal Society Journals. On this model, there is no distinction between “online first” and published. Once the paper is typeset, it is published. Paper issues are still produced (for the small number of institutions and people that still get them), but they are put together by date of acceptance/typesetting.
The most significant change is that every paper starts with page 1 and the primary identification becomes the DOI, as opposed to the more traditional year/volume/number/page citation.
Overall, this seems like a good idea to us. Almost everyone we know uses the typeset PDFs as their authoritative sources, and the delay between online first and published therefore seems arbitrary. But obviously not many humanities journals have adopted this practice and we wouldn’t want to be doing anything that endangers hiring / tenure prospects.
Do readers have thoughts—positive or negative—about this practice?