Subscribe to Open: A Mutual Assurance Approach to Open Access  – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Annual Reviews announced today that the 2020 volume of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology has been published open access and that the back volumes of this journal are also now available for free reading. As the pioneer of the Subscribe to Open model, congratulations are due on achieving their first open title. The 2020 articles are published copyright to Annual Reviews with a CC-BY license. The backfiles do not carry a CC license. Annual Reviews developed their Subscribe to Open model in partnership with Raym Crow, Managing Partner, Chain Bridge Group, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As interest in Subscribe to Open grows based on the experiences of early innovations, publishers and libraries need to develop an understanding of the various approaches to Subscribe to Open and the benefits and limitations of the model….

Subscribe to Open is an example of an assurance approach to addressing a collective action challenge. In the Subscribe to Open model developed by Annual Reviews, each subscribing library is motivated to continue to subscribe (because they have been a subscriber and as such have already made a decision that the content is worth paying for) by a discount that is built into the Subscribe to Open offer. The model is two-fold. First, if all libraries continue to subscribe, then not only will those libraries have access to the content for their users, but Annual Reviews will also make the content openly available to non-subscribers as well and apply a CC-BY license to the articles. Second, if all libraries do not continue to subscribe, then those that do will still receive the discount — as well as access to the content — but the content will not be made available to non-subscribers. In either scenario, the subscribing libraries receive a discount and access to the content. Essentially, this is a no-risk opt-in for the subscribing institution. Martin Paul Eve has outlined a similar possible model for society publishers but with a three year rather than annual timeframe. …”

The Simplest of Models for Open Access to Research Proves Itself: Welcome to Subscribe-to-Open – Slaw

“I devote this blog to a far more here-and-now breakthrough in increasing public access to research.

It arises out of the work of a half-dozen anthropologists (and me), who think that, given their study of people and society, they have a moral duty to share that work with those people and that society. This group, Libraria by name, has worked over the last two years with Berghahn Books, a social science publisher of books and journals. Like other scholarly publishers these days, Berghahn is part of the open access consensus on the value of this approach to research, while still exploring how best to get to there.

For 2020, Berghahn and Libraria agreed to try out an idea that I introduced in a 2017 SLAW blog post on tapping into research libraries’ strong support for open access by asking them – wait for it – to actually subscribe to open access. That is, what if libraries agreed to continue paying the subscription fees to journals that they were already subscribing to, only the journals flipped to open access. The libraries would be subscribing to open access by supporting journals to which they were already subscribing, providing those journals with a path to open access.

The advantages of a subscribe-to-open model go beyond this simplicity: The journal moves overnight to complete, immediate open access. No article processing charges (APC) for authors to pay (as in many other open access journals). No 12- 36 month embargoes before the work is open. No revenue loss or quality reduction for publishers. No additional expense for libraries. And no – this one’s a complicated new one – use of a publisher’s subscriptions fees to pay for its APCs to allow a limited number of authors from the subscribing country to make their articles open, which is known as Read and Publish (often requiring months if not years of negotiation)….”

FAQ on the Berghahn subscribe-to-open model

“As a scholar-led publisher whose mission is to advance scholarship and disseminate knowledge, we are supportive of open access aims and respectful of open access policies. However, given the lack of funding particularly in the social sciences and humanities and the inequities in how those sparse funds are allocated, we advocate for funding models that do not place the financial burden on the author, as APCs do. In addition, we maintain that librarian selection plays an important role in the curation of content for researchers and so we support approaches that preserve their role in the process in addition to those intermediaries, such as subscription agents, who reduce the related (and considerable) administrative burdens. Subscribe-to-open is a compelling model because it seeks to take what is good and working well in the current system and applies it to achieving a sustainable and more universal model of open access across publications and publishers of all sizes….”