The JISC study Economic implications of alternative scholarly publishing models: Exploring the costs and benefits, released early in 2009, focused on three alternative models for scholarly publishing: subscription or toll access publishing, open access publishing using the author-pays model, and self-archiving. The research approach involved a combination of process mapping, activity costing and macro-economic modelling. Since its release, there have been six follow-on studies applying elements of the same basic methodology. This paper describes the research approach and explores some of the major issues arising and lessons learned from this ongoing research. Drawing on experience from a number of studies and countries, it attempts to distil and summarise the key research issues and policy messages arising.