Open-access publisher PLOS pushes to extend clout beyond biomedicine

“Non-profit life-sciences publisher PLOS is gunning for a bigger share of science beyond the biomedical realm with the launch of five journals in fields where open science is less widely adopted. They will be its first new titles in 14 years. It is also piloting a new open-access business model, in a bid to spread the cost of publishing more equally among researchers….

The new business model is the first shake-up at the publisher for a while, and has been eagerly anticipated….

 The publisher’s financial history is chequered. It first broke even in 2010. In recent years it has fallen into deficit, with 2019 the first year that it made an operating surplus since 2015….

The idea behind the new model is that the cost of publishing a paper is spread more equally across all of the authors’ institutions, rather than the corresponding author’s institution or funder footing the bill, as is standard with an article processing charge. PLOS says that as more members join the scheme, it will become cheaper for researchers to publish papers. So far, more than 75 institutions in 8 countries have signed up….

PLOS’s chief publishing officer, Niamh O’Connor, says that PLOS hopes to circumvent the idea that open access moves the cost of publishing a paper from the reader to the author. “While the article-processing model has allowed open access to develop, we don’t see that as the future,” she says. “We are working to a future where those barriers are removed.” …”

Discomfort with Gold OA · Commonplace

“In this essay, I’m going to make the case that open access agreements that rely upon a pay-to-publish model are good for the groups who sign them but bad for the overall system.  To do that, I’ll start with a quick refresher on public goods and then use that framework to discuss the state of open access and the variations in different colors as they relate to public goods.undefined  After laying out a model of open access as a public good, I’ll argue that what we are actually building is not a system rooted in public goods but one that has merely shifted the entry barriers from readers to authors.  I’ll conclude by offering some hope for the future, again rooted in the social science of public goods….”

Open access ‘excludes’ developing world scientists – SciDev.Net

“Pay-to-publish models adopted by science journals ‘exacerbate the exclusion of researchers from the global South’.

Open access publishing is excluding many developing world scientists as complex fee waiver systems fall short, say leading researchers….”

Open for business! Opening the Future goes live. · COPIM

“COPIM Work Package 3, in partnership with Central European University (CEU) Press is pleased to announce that our Opening the Future platform is now fully live, and member access to the programme’s curated backlist of books is available from Tuesday 19th January, through Project MUSE.

Opening the Future gives member libraries subscription access to portions of the Press’s highly-regarded backlist and uses the revenue to fund future/new publications in an Open Access (OA) format. We’ve been working hard with our platform partner, Project MUSE, to set up a simple sign-up and payment process, and technical access to the books. We’re pleased to say that this is all ready to go and already accepting memberships….”

Open access publishing and the promise of collaboration · COPIM

“In the discussions about the merits and demerits of collaboration, what tends to be missed though are the untapped potentials that exist in collaborations not just between academics, or between disciplines, or between academics and external organisations, or between academics and the public, but between academics, scholarly libraries, and publishers of scholarly work. This the subject of a new report co-authored by Elli Gerakopoulou, Izabella Penier and me. It focuses on the possibilities that might exist for collaboration between scholarly libraries and open access book publishers, including the kinds of open access publishers led by academics represented by ScholarLed, one of the partners in the COPIM project and with which I am also involved. The report draws on a combination of interviews, workshop discussions (including one workshop with librarians in the US, one in the UK, and one with publishers), and pre-workshop surveys with librarians and individuals involved in library consortia, as well as desk research.

In the report we examine various forms of collaboration that characterise the existing landscape of open access book publishing. This includes examining library membership programmes, of the kind run by both publishers — examples include programmes run by Lever Press, Luminos, punctum books, and Open Book Publishers — and infrastructure providers — notably the OAPEN library membership programme. We also look at intermediaries that aim to increase the likelihood of open access book publishers being able to receive financial support from scholarly libraries, such as Knowledge Unlatched and TOME. This forms part of a scoping exercise to enable us and our readers to understand the diversity of types of collaboration that already exist between and around open access publishers and scholarly libraries and where there are possibilities to learn from such initiatives….” 

The promise of collaboration: collective funding models and the integration of Open Access books into libraries | Zenodo

“This report tackles a simple question: how can open access books be more successfully integrated into scholarly libraries? While there are some important practical efforts being made to address this question in a variety of different contexts, we explore the areas where further work is required to progress from a situation in which supporting and integrating open access books often remains a peripheral concern for libraries.

The report draws on desk research alongside a combination of interviews, workshop discussions and pre-workshop surveys with librarians and individuals involved in library consortia. It explores issues such as the discoverability of open access content in library catalogues, the sustainability of open access monograph publishing, the difficulty of articulating the value of open access for supporting universities and the challenge of aligning open access values with those of stakeholders. It also reimagines a more diverse and inclusive system of scholarly communication in relation to open access monographs. As part of this, the report outlines some of the principles that could inform a new open access model/platform aimed at transforming the relationship between open access book publishers and libraries….”

Contracting in the Age of Open Access Publications. A Systematic Analysis of Transformative Agreements | Ouvrir la Science

The “socioeconomics of scientific publication” Project, Committee for Open Science

Final report – 17 December 2020 Contract No. 206-150

Quentin Dufour (CNRS Postdoctoral fellow) David Pontille (CNRS senior researcher) Didier Torny (CNRS senior researcher)

Mines ParisTech, Center for the Sociology of Innovation • PSL University

Supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation


This study focuses on one of the contemporary innovations linked to the economy of academic publishing: the so-called transformative agreements, a relatively circumscribed object within the relations between library consortia and academic publishers, and temporally situated between 2015 and 2020. The stated objective of this type of agreement is to organise the transition from the traditional model of subscription to journals (often proposed by thematic groupings or collections) to that of open access by reallocating the budgets devoted to it.

Our sociological analysis work constitutes a first systematic study of this object, based on a review of 197 agreements. The corpus thus constituted includes agreements characterised by the co-presence of a subscription component and an open access publication component, even minimal (publication “tokens” offered, reduction on APCs, etc.). As a result, agreements that only concern centralised funding for open access publishing were excluded from the analysis, whether with publishers that only offer journals with payment by the author (PLOS, Frontiers, MDPI, etc.) or publishers whose catalogue includes open access journals. The oldest agreement in our corpus was signed in 2010, the most recent ones in 2020 – agreements starting only in 2021, even announced during the study, were not retained.

Several results emerge from our analysis. First of all, there is a great diversity of actors involved with 22 countries and 39 publishers, even if some consortia (Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Germany) and publishers (CUP, Elsevier, RSC, Springer) signed many more than others. Secondly, the duration of the agreements, ranging from one to six years, reveals a very unequal distribution, with more than half of the agreements (103) signed for 3 years, and a small proportion for 4 years or more (22 agreements). Finally, despite repeated calls for transparency, less than half of the agreements (96) have an accessible text at the time of this study, with no recent trend towards greater availability.

Of the 96 agreements available, 47 of which were signed in 2020, 62 have been analysed in depth. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis on this scale, on a type of material that was not only unpublished, but which was previously subject to confidentiality clauses. Based on a careful reading, the study describes in detail their properties, from the materiality of the document to the financial formulas, including their morphology and all the rights and duties of the parties. We therefore analysed the content of the agreements as a collection, looking for commonalities and variations through an explicit coding of their characteristics. The study also points out some uncertainties, in particular their “transitional” character, which remains strongly debated.

From a morphological point of view, the agreements show a great diversity in size (from 7 to 488 pages) and structure. Nevertheless, by definition, they both articulate two essential objects: on the one hand, the conditions for carrying out a reading of journal articles, in the form of a subscription, combining concerns of access and security; on the other hand, the modalities of open access publication, articulating the management of a new type of workflow with a whole series of possible options. These options include the scope of the journals considered (hybrid and/or open access), the licences available, the degree of obligation to publish, the eligible authors or the volume of publishable articles.

One of the most important results of this in-depth analysis is the discovery of an almost complete decoupling, within the agreements themselves, between the subscription object and the publication object. Of course, subscription is systematically configured in a closed world, subject to payment, which triggers series of identification of legitimate circulations of both information content and users. In particular, it insists on prohibitions on the reuse or even copying of academic articles. On the other hand, open access publishing is attached to a world governed by free access to content, which leads to concerns about workflow management and accessibility modalities. Moreover, the different elements that make up these contractual objects are not interconnected: on one side, the readers are all members of the subscribing institutions, on the other, only the corresponding authors are concerned; the lists of journals accessible to the reader and those reserved for open access publication are usually distinct; the workflows have totally different

cOAlition S endorsing Subscribe to Open is a great start. We need the same thinking about books from the beginning. | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

This week, cOAlition S endorsed the Subscribe to Open (S2O) business model.

This group of international funders is committed to a complete transition to open-access publishing. To date, critics have claimed that the cOAlition has been too wedded to the (inflationary) Article Processing Charge business model, although Plan S is theoretically neutral on this matter. However, coupled with their recent publication on “Diamond” OA, this endorsement marks a milestone for open access without author-side payments.


Opening the Future: A New Model for Open Access Books

“CEU Press is going Open Access.

CEU Press welcomes members as we aim to convert to a fully OA monograph frontlist. In return, you will receive access to some of the most popular titles from CEUP’s extensive backlist. By purchasing access to the backlist, you can fund CEU Press’s future to be open access….”

New Open Access Business Models – What’s Needed to Make Them Work? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The third CHORUS Forum meeting, held last week, is a relatively new entrant into the scholarly communication meeting calendar. The meeting has proven to be a rare opportunity to bring together publishers, researchers, librarians, and research funders. I helped organize and moderated a session during the Forum, on the theme of “Making the Future of Open Research Work.” You can watch my session, which looked at new models for sustainable and robust open access (OA) publishing, along with the rest of the meeting in the video below.

The session focuses on the operationalization of the move to open access and the details of what it takes to experiment with a new business model. The model the community has the most experience with, the individual author paying an article-processing-charge (APC), works really well for some authors, in some subject areas, in some geographies. But it is not a universal solution to making open access work and it creates new inequities as it resolves others….

Some of the key takeaways for me were found in the commonalities across all of the models. The biggest hurdle that each organization faced in executing its plans was gathering and analyzing author data. As Sara put it, “Data hygiene makes or breaks all of these models.” For PLOS and the ACM, what they’re asking libraries to support is authorship – the model essentially says “this many papers had authors from your institution and what you pay will largely be based on the volume of your output.” But disambiguating author identity, and especially identifying which institutions each represents, remains an enormous problem. While we do have persistent identifiers (PIDs) like ORCID, and the still-under-development ROR, their use is not universal, and we still lack a unifying mechanism to connect the various PIDs into a simple, functional tool to support this type of analysis.

One solution would be requiring authors to accurately identify their host institutions from a controlled vocabulary, but this runs up against most publishers’ desire to streamline the article submission process. There’s a balance to be struck, but probably one that’s going to ask authors to provide more accurate and detailed information….

[M]oving beyond the APC is essential to the long-term viability of open access, and there remains much experimentation to be done….”