Business process costs of implementing “gold” and “green” open access in institutional and national contexts

Authors : Robert Johnson, Stephen Pinfield, Mattia Fosci

As open access (OA) publication of research outputs becomes increasingly common and is mandated by institutions and research funders, it is important to understand different aspects of the costs involved.

This paper provides an early review of administrative costs incurred by universities in making research outputs OA, either via publication in journals (“Gold” OA), involving payment of article-processing charges (APCs), or via deposit in repositories (“Green” OA).

Using data from 29 UK institutions, it finds that the administrative time, as well as the cost incurred by universities, to make an article OA using the Gold route is over 2.5 times higher than Green. Costs are then modeled at a national level using recent UK policy initiatives from Research Councils UK and the Higher Education Funding Councils’ Research Excellence Framework as case studies.

The study also demonstrates that the costs of complying with research funders’ OA policies are considerably higher than where an OA publication is left entirely to authors’ discretion.

Key target areas for future efficiencies in the business processes are identified and potential cost savings calculated. The analysis is designed to inform ongoing policy development at the institutional and national levels.

URL : Business process costs of implementing “gold” and “green” open access in institutional and national contexts

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A study of institutional spending on open access publication fees in Germany

Authors : Najko Jahn, Marco Tullney

Publication fees as a revenue source for open access publishing hold a prominent place on the agendas of researchers, policy makers, and academic publishers.

This study contributes to the evolving empirical basis for funding these charges and examines how much German universities and research organisations spent on open access publication fees.

Using self-reported cost data from the Open APC initiative, the analysis focused on the amount that was being spent on publication fees, and compared these expenditure with data from related Austrian (FWF) and UK (Wellcome Trust, Jisc) initiatives, in terms of both size and the proportion of articles being published in fully and hybrid open access journals.

We also investigated how thoroughly self-reported articles were indexed in Crossref, a DOI minting agency for scholarly literature, and analysed how the institutional spending was distributed across publishers and journal titles.

According to self-reported data from 30 German universities and research organisations between 2005 and 2015, expenditures on open access publication fees increased over the years in Germany and amounted to € 9,627,537 for 7,417 open access journal articles.

The average payment was € 1,298, and the median was € 1,231. A total of 94% of the total article volume included in the study was supported in accordance with the price cap of € 2,000, a limit imposed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of its funding activities for open access funding at German universities.

Expenditures varied considerably at the institutional level. There were also differences in how much the institutions spent per journal and publisher. These differences reflect, at least in part, the varying pricing schemes in place including discounted publication fees.

With an indexing coverage of 99%, Crossref thoroughly indexed the open access journals articles included in the study. A comparison with the related openly available cost data from Austria and the UK revealed that German universities and research organisations primarily funded articles in fully open access journals.

By contrast, articles in hybrid journal accounted for the largest share of spending according to the Austrian and UK data. Fees paid for hybrid journals were on average more expensive than those paid for fully open access journals.

URL : A study of institutional spending on open access publication fees in Germany


Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences

Authors : David Solomon, Mikael Laakso, Bo-Christer Björk

This report identifies ways through which subscription-based scholarly journals have converted their publishing models to open access (OA).

The major goal was to identify specific scenarios that have been used or proposed for transitioning subscription journals to OA so that these scenarios can provide options for others seeking to “flip” their journals to OA.

The report is based on the published literature as well as “gray” literature such as blog posts and press releases. In addition, interviews were conducted with eight experts in scholarly publishing.

The report identifies a variety of goals for converting a journal to OA. While there are altruistic goals of making scholarship more accessible, the literature review and interviews suggest that there are also many practical reasons for transitioning to an OA model.

In some instances, an OA business model is simply more economically viable. Also, it is not unusual for a society or editorial board to transition to an OA business model as a means of gaining independence from the current publisher.

Increasing readership, the number and quality of submissions, and impact as measured in citations are important goals for most journals that are considering flipping. Goals and their importance often differ for various regions in the world and across different disciplines.

Each journal’s situation is unique and it is important for those seeking to flip a journal to carefully consider exactly what they hope to achieve, what barriers they are likely to face, and how the changes that are being implemented will further the goals intended for their journal.

We found that there are many issues that must be addressed in the process of changing a journal’s business model to OA.

The transition process is complex and in most cases requires at least a year. For example, it is necessary to address manuscripts in process and how to manage back issues. Obligations to subscribers must be negotiated, particularly when the journal’s subscription is bundled with other journals in multi-journal contracts, called “big deal” agreements.

A great deal of effort should go into marketing so that authors and readers are adequately informed of the change. Implementing the transition at the beginning of a volume also helps to avoid confusion.

Society-owned journals have specific challenges, such as losing the membership perk of free or discounted subscriptions for members. The wishes of the society’s membership and its willingness to accept sacrifices, such as increased dues or reduced services, must be considered if the society must give up income to flip.

Commercial publishers have a somewhat different set of goals from nonprofit or small societies. The goals and funding options for flipping journals to OA vary across disciplines and in different parts of the world. While there are many similarities across journals, each has its own unique challenges when converting from subscription to OA.

There are a variety of factors that facilitate conversion to OA. These forces are both top down and bottom up. Governments, funding agencies, and library cooperatives through large-scale initiatives such as mandates and special funding programs can facilitate conversion and directly and indirectly influence journals converting to OA.

Also, individuals and small groups, such as editors, the editorial board, or society members, have converted journals through their own efforts. There is no process that works for all journals and there are important variations in circumstances for each journal.

There are also barriers and risks to consider. Whether or not article processing charges (APCs) are used, ensuring adequate resources to publish the journal over the long term is critical.

Unintended consequences are also a concern. APCs, or even just the change to OA, may discourage submissions or decrease their quality. Loss of free or discounted subscriptions may decrease membership for societies.

Obtaining a good understanding of the potential risks and benefits of flipping through surveys, focus groups, and pilot programs, such as flipping only a section of a journal, are strategies for understanding and substantially reducing the risks associating with changing the business model.

The scenarios are organized into those based on APC funding and those based on obtaining resources or funding through other sources. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis was performed on a number of journal scenario examples to assess the risks and benefits of each scenario.

URL : Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences

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The OpenAIRE2020 FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot: Implementing a European-wide funding initiative for Open Access publishing costs

In the first half of 2015 the European Commission launched a new funding initiative to cover the Open Access publishing costs of publications arising from finished Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) projects.

This article addresses the opportunities and challenges faced by this FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot and discusses early project findings six months into this two-year initiative.

This new and wide-scoped funding initiative arrives at a timely moment when a number of Gold Open Access funds are already in place at institutions in different European countries, which offers opportunities for promoting a gradual technical alignment of Article Processing Charges (APC) management practices.

At the same time, there are rather large differences across Europe in the attitudes and researcher culture towards this emerging Gold Open Access business model which will need to be addressed within a swiftly evolving publishing landscape.

URL : The OpenAIRE2020 FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot

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Bibliometric and benchmark analysis of gold open access in Spain: big output and little impact

This bibliometric study analyzes the research output produced by Spain during the 2005-2014 time period in Open Access (OA) journals indexed in Web of Science. The aim of the paper is to determine if papers published in Open Access journals contribute to the improvement of citation impact and collaboration indicators in Spanish research.

The results are shown by scientific areas and compared with 17 European countries. Spain is the second highest ranking European country with gold OA publication output and the fourth highest in Open Access output (9%). In Spain OA output is especially high in the fields of Arts and Humanities (28%). Spain’s normalized citation impact in Open access (0.72) is lower than the world average and that of the main European countries. Finally, we discuss how these results differ from the so-called Open Access citation advantage.


The “total cost of publication” in a hybrid open-access environment: Institutional approaches to funding journal article-processing charges in combination with subscriptions

« As open-access (OA) publishing funded by article-processing charges (APCs) becomes more widely accepted, academic institutions need to be aware of the “total cost of publication” (TCP), comprising subscription costs plus APCs and additional administration costs. This study analyzes data from 23 UK institutions covering the period 2007–2014 modeling the TCP. It shows a clear rise in centrally managed APC payments from 2012 onward, with payments projected to increase further. As well as evidencing the growing availability and acceptance of OA publishing, these trends reflect particular UK policy developments and funding arrangements intended to accelerate the move toward OA publishing (“Gold” OA). Although the mean value of APCs has been relatively stable, there was considerable variation in APC prices paid by institutions since 2007. In particular, “hybrid” subscription/OA journals were consistently more expensive than fully OA journals. Most APCs were paid to large “traditional” commercial publishers who also received considerable subscription income. New administrative costs reported by institutions varied considerably. The total cost of publication modeling shows that APCs are now a significant part of the TCP for academic institutions, in 2013 already constituting an average of 10% of the TCP (excluding administrative costs). »

URL : The “total cost of publication” in a hybrid open-access environment

DOI: 10.1002/asi.23446

All That Glisters: Investigating Collective Funding Mechanisms for Gold Open Access in Humanities Disciplines

« BACKGROUND This article sets out the economic problems faced by the humanities disciplines in the transition to gold open access and outlines the bases for investigations of collective funding models. Beginning with a series of four problems, it then details the key players in this field and their various approaches to collective “procurement” mechanisms.

DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT The Open Library of Humanities seeks to instigate a collective funding model for an open access megajournal and multijournal system that should enable for a phased transition to a gold open access model that does not require author-facing article processing charges. Libraries who participate then have a governance stake in the platform.

NEXT STEPS The project is currently working towards sustainability and launch. Authors’ pledged papers are being called in and libraries are signing up to the model. »

URL : All That Glisters: Investigating Collective Funding Mechanisms for Gold Open Access in Humanities Disciplines

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