David Worlock | Developing digital strategies for the information marketplace | Supporting the migration of information providers and content players into the networked services world of the future.

“PLoS is a not for profit, and one of the first Open Access publishers. It is run by Alison Mudditt, a distinguished scholarly publisher with a proven track record of success in commercial academic publishing. In the last two years she has brought PLoS out of serious losses and back into balance again. She has created a strong management team and they have produced a new way of engaging with research institutions that moves beyond the bundling and discounting of “transformative agreements” and into an era of much longer term partnership agreements, where margins are predictable, where issues of volume and cost can be transparent and where institutional buyers can be certain that if they overspend in one year they will be compensated in another. This calls for levels of transparency in partnership that would make many commercial players expire in anguish. 

This is new. It is not complex. It is innovative in its rebalancing of the institution-publisher relationship. It is highly relevant to an industry largely created out of public money. It speaks of the sort of social capitalism that is reflected in Europe by developments like Plan S. Surely our first reactions should be to praise its authors, recognise their intelligent innovation and celebrate their attempt to provide a better solution? Criticism can then follow, and undoubtedly the scheme will change as it rolls out. Meanwhile, congratulations PLoS, welcome back to financial health and thanks for showing us that there is always something new we can do with business models. …”

A World Elsewhere: PLOS’s Community Action Publishing Model – The Scholarly Kitchen

“PLOS, the inventor of the megajournal, is no stranger to innovation. With its announcement of Community Action Publishing (CAP), the company is now seeking to move its two highly selective Gold open access (OA) journals, PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, to a new model in which universities agree to underwrite the costs of publishing for their faculty, if they should choose to publish their work with PLOS (and if PLOS’s editors will have them). While the details of the program are interesting in themselves, of greater moment is the aim, captured in the word “community,” to create a system outside the demand-driven marketplace….

the gist is this: rather than collect article processing charges (APCs) from the authors of accepted manuscripts, PLOS proposes that institutions become members in the two journals’ respective “communities” for three years. The cost of that membership is calculated by counting up the number of articles a particular institution’s faculty have published in the journals in previous years. A significant innovation comes into play here. Unlike most institutional payment schemes (such as transformative agreements) that associate a paper to an institution using only the corresponding author, CAP looks at the affiliation of all authors of a paper. This substantially increases the number of a institutions in the “community” and, by doing so, seeks to sidestep the greatest problem with OA payment models based on output, namely that such models result, by definition, in concentrating payments at a small number of research-intensive universities while encouraging the majority of institutions to become free riders. The CAP model is therefore, at least in theory (we’ll come back to the practical implications), an elegant solution to a vexing market problem….”

A Look Back at Open Access Week 2020 – The Official PLOS Blog

“Open Access Week returned this year, bringing back themes of equity and inclusivity to the forefront of the community once again, as it has done in the past. …

We will continue to make PLOS an increasingly more inclusive, transparent and diverse platform for researchers across the globe to showcase their crucial findings. A part of this work has already started as we aim to bridge the gap between researchers and Open Access with the introduction of our Community Action Publishing initiative and our institutional partnerships. Together with our latest message on price transparency we hope our latest opportunities and resources will help researchers open their research and trust in science.”

In Search of Equity and Justice: Reimagining Scholarly Communication – The Scholarly Kitchen

“While open access is a critical piece of the equity puzzle in scholarly communication, there’s a much deeper agenda at play here. PLOS has from the outset been focused on designing broad-scale systemic change. More recently, we have been clear about the limit and barriers of the APC model and have begun to pilot alternatives, including our new Community Action Publishing model. But we have largely left to one side any deep engagement with our role (individually and organizationally) in perpetuating inequity. Like far too many, we’d assumed that passive support was enough. Understanding what it means to be “anti-racist” is now the cornerstone of PLOS’ DEI work and has supported increased clarity around our long-term strategic direction….

There are many barriers to equitable knowledge making and distribution – one of which is the APC model. As I’ve argued before, the current push towards Gold OA via so-called “transformative” agreements risks hardwiring the exclusion of many researchers, especially in the Global South. Far from being “transformative”, these deals run the risk of locking in the high cost of subscriptions into an open future and of reinforcing the market dominance of the biggest players as subscription funds simply flow in full to new deal models, further entrenching existing inequalities….”

Introducing PLOS Community Action Publishing – collective action for highly selective OA journal publishing

“This webinar will provide an overview of PLOS’ new collective action model, PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP), for its highly selective journals PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology.

The focus of the 30 minute overview will be:
– Why #scholcomm needs to examine new business models for sustainable Open Access Publishing
– Why PLOS developed the model
– What it’s meant to do
– How cost recovery works
– The implications of capped margins
– Potential for revenue redistribution back to members
– Details for participation…”

PLOS and Transparency (including Plan S Price & Service Transparency Framework) – The Official PLOS Blog

“As a non-profit, mission-driven organization PLOS abides by our commitment to transparency. We openly share information and context about our finances, including target revenue amounts in some of our emerging business models. The Plan S Price & Service Transparency Framework provided us — and other publishers — a clear, uniform structure to share information about the services we perform and a percentage breakdown of how these are covered by the prices we charge. Many of our mission-driven publishing activities go well beyond peer review and production services. We provide commentary on some of these services, including how the varied editorial setups of our journals contribute to different percentage price breakdowns per title. We encourage other publishers to be transparent and openly share their data via such frameworks. And, we remain confident in showcasing how our prices cover our reasonable costs for a high level of service, with some margin for reinvestment….”

New PLOS pricing test could signal end of scientists paying to publish free papers | Science | AAAS

“PLOS, the nonprofit publisher that in 2003 pioneered the open-access business model of charging authors to publish scientific articles so they are immediately free to all, this week rolled out an alternative model that could herald the end of the author-pays era. One of the new options shifts the cost of publishing open-access (OA) articles in its two most selective journals to institutions, charging them a fixed annual fee; any researcher at that institution could then publish in the PLOS journals at no additional charge….”


An FAQ on the PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP) program.

“In the case of PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, the community goal is to cover the costs of the journals (plus a 10% capped margin) by equitably distributing cost, rather than have individual authors pay the high APCs required to cover the cost highly selective publishing. Members of the collective receive the “private benefit” of publishing in both journals with no fees. Authors from non-member institutions are subject to “non-member fees” which increase considerably year-on-year to encourage participation in the collective….”

Scholarly Communication: An Interview With Joerg Heber Of PLOS New Books Network podcast

“Open Access is spelled with a capital O and a capital A at the Public Library of Science (or PLOS, for short), a nonprofit Open Access publisher. Among PLOS’s suite of journals, PLOS One is the nonprofit’s largest in number of articles published and its broadest in coverage, ranging as it does over all topics in the natural sciences and medicine, to include, as well, some in the social sciences, too. PLOS One appears only online, a format the staff bring into service to foster Open Access Science, whether they do this through initiatives for Open Citations and Open Abstracts, or through Transparent Peer Review, or also through PLOS One’s newest endeavor, registered reports.

Since its inception in 2006, PLOS One has been at the forefront of Open Access publishing. And today, against the trend to equate Impact Factors with journal names, PLOS One does not promote their own Impact Factor because the measure has been shown to be, at best, only an approximate indicator of research significance. However, in true PLOS fashion, PLOS One offers an alternative in various Article-Level Metrics. These ALMs (as the abbreviation goes) make a closer, tighter fit between value of research and quantifiable measures.

Joerg Heber is Editor-in-Chief of PLOS One. When you track Joerg Heber’s career in publishing, you get the sense of a clear mission: (1) provide access to good science and (2) make providing that access not only viable, but enviable….”

UK universities sign deal to waive Plos publication fees | Times Higher Education (THE)

“UK universities have signed a major deal with a US non-profit publisher that will allow researchers to publish without incurring article-processing charges (APCs).

Under the new three-year agreement announced by Jisc and the Public Library of Science (Plos) on 14 October, researchers at institutions affiliated with the UK digital services provider will be able to publish in seven journals owned by the San Francisco-based publisher without paying additional APCs.

The deal – which, in theory, would allow researchers to publish as many times as they wanted, pending the peer-review process, in a handful of Plos titles – is the first time that a large university consortium has provided collective agreements as an alternative to APCs at this scale, said Sara Rouhi, director of strategic partnerships for Plos.

At present, researchers who are unable to find APCs from their employer can ask for a fee waiver from Plos, but this deal would eliminate the need for these requests, Ms Rouhi told Times Higher Education.

“No one wants to ask for a handout, even if it is about asking for support for your research,” she said, adding that the deal would help to address the “inequalities in research which mean that some people do not have access to APCs”.

Under the flat fee agreement, which begins in January, annual fixed prices will cover unlimited publishing for corresponding authors in five journals, including Plos Genetics, Plos Computational Biology, Plos Neglected Tropical Diseases and the megajournal Plos One, which published 142,000 articles between 2006 and 2015….”