Towards universal open access? Why we need bibliodiversity rather than a “silver bullet” | SciELO in Perspective

“As a conclusion, too often, the discussion on open access models is sometimes completely confused, sometimes too simplistic, and usually based on undue generalization of local situations and even singular experiences. It doesn’t reflect properly the variety of parameters that influence the way research is practiced and communicated amongst peers and towards societies at large. Therefore, we desperately need a better-informed discussion based on case studies and probably driven by the actor-network theory because it allows for a modelling of how diverse stakeholders interact in the scholarly communication process. Because we need not only open access, but above all open scholarly communication models that serve the actual needs of the research communities and societies to create knowledge and benefit from it, we need an open access model based on bibliodiversity.”

Impact of Social Sciences – A variety of strategies and funding approaches are required to accelerate the transition to open access. But in all, authors are key

“More than two decades of work towards liberating scholarly publishing from paywalled constraints has left many within the scholarly community exploring ways to accelerate the transition to open access. Not all institutions or author communities will agree upon which strategies or funding approaches to undertake, and nor do they need to. But whichever strategy is pursued, having university faculty lead the charge represents the most effective way forward. Rachael G. Samberg, Richard A. Schneider, Ivy Anderson and Jeff MacKie-Mason share the University of California’s range of open access policy and advocacy materials, and highlight some potential next steps that may be of use to faculty and author communities.”

[Urging Germany and Sweden to hold firm in negotiations with Elsevier]

“The background to this story is that Germany and Sweden have been setting a great example to the rest of the world by refusing to let Elsevier walk all over them in negotiations. (My own country, the UK, talked tough and then meekly accepted a deal that basically changed nothing.) Interestingly, Elsevier decided at first not to cut off access to its journals. Why might they have done this? My interpretation, which could be wrong, is that they were afraid of the world seeing that an entire country can walk away from its expensive subscriptions to ScienceDirect, the Elsevier platform, and continue to function without any major inconvenience. 

But of course, that left them in an awkward position: if they are letting you read their articles for no charge, then you have no incentive to reach a deal where you will start to pay for them — quite the reverse. So now they have done what I suppose they had to do and finally cut off access to their papers. This is a very important moment: please, Germans and Swedes, hold firm. If it becomes clear that your academics are suffering badly, then maybe you’ll have to do something, but it is in the interests of the whole world that you should do this experiment properly so that we get an idea of how serious the consequences are of not having access. Of course, I’m expecting that they will not be all that serious, which would, in principle at least, hugely improve the bargaining position of everyone who negotiates with Elsevier.”

Championing Change in Journal Negotiations

“Because the lion’s share of both the University’s research output and of our library budgets is bound up with the services of journal publishers, advancing these goals [journal affordability and the moral imperative of achieving a truly open scholarly communication system] is inextricably entwined with the University’s ongoing relationships with publishers and must be addressed in the context of the agreements we sign with them.  Our goal, simply put, is to responsibly transition funding for journal subscriptions toward funding for open dissemination.  As we approach major journal negotiations for 2019, the UC system will be guided by the principles and goals outlined below in negotiating agreements with publishers….

We believe the time has come to address these issues head-on through a combined strategy that places the need to reduce the University’s expenditures for academic journal subscriptions in the service of the larger goal of transforming journal publishing to open access.  Through our renewal negotiations with publishers, we will pursue this goal along two complementary paths: by reducing our subscription expenditures, and investing in open access support….

It has become increasingly clear that the problem of rising journal costs in the context of a widespread movement toward open access can only be addressed by tackling the subscription system itself….

As a leading research institution that produces 8% of all US research output, UC is uniquely positioned to both contribute to and accelerate such transformation, locally, nationally, and globally.  Indeed, we believe that as a public university sustained by taxpayer and extramural funding, we have a signal obligation to do so; and we invite our colleagues in the North American research community to embark with us on this journey….

Strategic Priorities for Journal Negotiations

  1. We will prioritize making immediate open access publishing available to UC authors as part of our negotiated agreements.
  2. We will prioritize agreements that lower the cost of research access and dissemination, with sustainable, cost-based fees for OA publication.  Payments for OA publication should reduce the cost of subscriptions at UC and elsewhere.
  3. We will prioritize agreements with publishers who are transparent about the amount of APC-funded content within their portfolios, and who share that information with customers as well as the public.
  4. We will prioritize agreements that enable UC to achieve expenditure reductions in our licenses when necessary, without financial penalty.
  5. We will prioritize agreements that make any remaining subscription content available under terms that fully reflect academic values and norms, including the broadest possible use rights.
  6. We will prioritize agreements that allow UC to share information about the open access provisions with all interested stakeholders, and we will not agree to non-disclosure requirements in our licenses.
  7. We will prioritize working proactively with publishers who help us achieve a full transition to open access in accordance with the principles and pathways articulated by our faculty and our libraries.

Strategies guiding our near-term actions


  • We will evaluate all publishers on both cost-benefit and values-based grounds in our cancellation and retention decisions, including conformance to the UCOLASC Declaration of Rights and Principles to Transform Scholarly Communication, and sustainable, transparent, cost-based OA fees.
  • We will adjust our investments to follow and support transformative initiatives mounted by academic authors, editorial boards, and societies when they seek to establish a journal on fair open access principles, including transitioning support from prior legacy journals when necessary.
  • We will actively seek to partner with other national and global research institutions in transforming research output to OA….”

MIT and Royal Society of Chemistry Sign First North American “Read and Publish” Agreement for Scholarly Articles | MIT Libraries News

“The MIT Libraries and the Royal Society of Chemistry have signed a groundbreaking license agreement that incorporates elements of a traditional subscription purchase and open access to scholarly articles. The experimental two-year agreement is seen as an important step on the path toward making more research freely and openly available to the world.

The new agreement combines traditional subscription-based access to Royal Society of Chemistry articles for the MIT community with immediate open access to MIT-authored articles, making them freely available to all audiences at the time of publication. It is the first of its kind among North American institutions….

In order to encourage this overall transition to open access, MIT and the Royal Society of Chemistry collaborated on significant new language in the agreement, signaling the Royal Society of Chemistry ’s commitment to a fully open access publishing model in the future. The agreement affirms that the current read and publish model is a “transitional business model whose aim is to provide a mechanism to shift over time to full open access.” Making this successful transition to full open access will require collaborations across universities.”

Frontiers and the National Library of Sweden sign Open Access Framework Agreement

In addition to a centralised invoicing process that covers the publishing fees (article processing charges), researchers at participating organisations benefit from a discount.  This is the first Nordic agreement of its kind and follows the Austrian Open Access framework publishing agreement between Frontiers, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the University of Vienna in late 2017.  The Agreement is open to all participating organisations of the Bibsam Consortium, which includes universities, university colleges and government-funded research institutions. Twenty organisations have already joined, including leading universities. All new participating organisations will benefit from the same terms and conditions, regardless of size or research output.

Europe’s open-access drive escalates as university stand-offs spread

“Sweden is latest country to hold out on journal subscriptions, while negotiators share tactics to broker new deals with publishers.

Bold efforts to push academic publishing towards an open-access model are gaining steam. Negotiators from libraries and university consortia across Europe are sharing tactics on how to broker new kinds of contracts that could see more articles appear outside paywalls. And inspired by the results of a stand-off in Germany, they increasingly declare that if they don’t like what publishers offer, they will refuse to pay for journal access at all. On 16 May, a Swedish consortium became the latest to say that it wouldn’t renew its contract, with publishing giant Elsevier. Under the new contracts, termed ‘read and publish’ deals, libraries still pay subscriptions for access to paywalled articles, but their researchers can also publish under open-access terms so that anyone can read their work for free. Advocates say such agreements could accelerate the progress of the open-access movement. Despite decades of campaigning for research papers to be published openly — on the grounds that the fruits of publicly funded research should be available for all to read — scholarly publishing’s dominant business model remains to publish articles behind paywalls and collect subscriptions from libraries (see ‘Growth of open access’). But if many large library consortia strike read-and-publish deals, the proportion of open-access articles could surge….”

Springer Nature is delivering on open access and calls for continued partnership | WebWire

“Today the leading open access publisher Springer Nature announces that it has achieved a milestone in advancing discovery through open research, with over 70% of corresponding authors from four European countries now publishing via gold open access….This achievement has been made possible through a unique environment in these markets, with support from governments and institutions who back open access, funders who fund APCs, authors who are willing to publish via open access, and a publisher providing authors with a range of publishing options, making open access a reality.  Globally, 27% of all research published by Springer Nature is now published under an immediate gold open access model. Most of this is in pure OA journals but in the four countries above increased hybrid OA take-up means offsetting is occurring there while more generally more article growth is being funded outside of library budgets….”

Springer Nature’s Report Demonstrates the Viability of Open Access Transitions for both Journals and Countries | Open Science

“As its recent data demonstrate, in some European states between 70% and 90% of Springer’s newly published articles are in Open Access, which indicates that the journal- and country-level adoption of Open Access becomes increasingly mainstream, even though it depends on author fee funding availability….”

Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts | The Scientist Magazine®

“In Germany, the fight for open access and favorable pricing for journals is getting heated. At the end of last month (June 30), four major academic institutions in Berlin announced that they would not renew their subscriptions with the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier once they end this December. Then on July 7, nine universities in Baden-Württemberg, another large German state, also declared their intention to cancel their contracts with the publisher at the end of 2017.

These institutions join around 60 others across the country that allowed their contracts to expire last year….”