“If we try to move [from subscription models to OA] too quickly, the impact on scholarly

publishing would be huge”


and have a rigorous peer review process?’ he says. ‘And for humanities and social sciences the cost of APCs is prohibitive... At the moment I just can’t see this [move to full OA] happening wholesale.’ Like Johnson, Aimee Nixon, head of open access at Emerald Publishing, believes widespread change is going to take time. ‘OA is so varied in different regions, with the need of our authors in China and the US being very different to those in the European market, and not everyone is pushing for OA at the same speed,’ she points out. ‘I think we need to develop a mixed economy model, for what will always be a mixed economy.’ Nixon also agrees that access to funding presents problems for many. Emerald Publishing’s titles largely focus on the social sciences and, as such, many authors don’t always have direct access to funding to pay for APCs. Given this, the company introduced what it calls a ‘liberal green open access policy’ as part of its Emerald Reach programme. Here, embargoes from all journals were removed and the organisation gave authors the option to make their accepted manuscript openly available within their institutional repository, free from payment and embargo periods.

‘We wanted to give all our authors at least one route to OA, so if they didn’t have the budget to go Gold, then they could go Green,’ says Nixon. In a similar vein, the publisher also

offers what it calls ‘platinum’ OA in which a journal is sponsored by a third party university or association, so the author doesn’t pay the APC. The list of participating journals is growing, and as Nixon highlights: ‘The model appears to work well for our communities... and we’re seeing a lot of growth.’ But it isn’t just the rising cost of APCs that has raised issues. As Johnson also points out, actual APC payment is proving to be problematic for authors, librarians and publishers alike. ‘We really should be doing more to reduce this administrative burden... and increasingly institutions are looking at offsetting schemes, prepayment arrangements and using platforms to manage APCs,’ he adds. US-based supplier of the RightsLink

licensing platform, Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), is well aware of these issues. Four years ago, the company launched RightsLink for Open Access, which aimed to streamline the entire author fee transaction for OA charges, APCs, page charges and more. And, earlier this year, CCC released OA Agreement Manager to automate and streamline funding of APCs. As Jen Goodrich, product manager at CCC highlights, managing and tracking the increasing number of APCs is becoming increasingly difficult. ‘The real problem is the complexities associated with APCs right now,’ she says. ‘There are so many deals out there, as well as data elements about the author, journal, manuscript, author affiliation and relationship with the publisher and institution that need to be taken into account to make sure the APC is priced properly.

Rob Johnson, Research Consulting

‘Then there is the very real issue of metadata and how it is not persisting throughout the research and submission of a publication life cycle,’ she adds. Given this, and the cacophony of changing mandates, revised licensing and shifting regulations, OA Agreement Manager is intended to automate approval processes. Crucially, its suite of tools aims to help publishers to set up, manage and track billing profiles that reflect the OA agreements with funders or institutions. Goodrich is confident the latest

product will solve a lot of these problems in the industry. ‘The goal is to connect stakeholders, but I do hope the effort and costs around managing and executing transactions, approval processes and reporting will also decrease significantly,’ she asserts. ‘The costs are still very high for all parties, and that doesn’t lead to sustainability.’ Beyond the APC, the transition to OA is bringing even more challenges to working practices, data management, infrastructure costs and more. So, with sustainability at the forefront of many minds, should caution – rather than calls for change – be acted out? As Research Consulting’s Rob Johnson puts it: ‘Right now, this is all about the mechanisms by which OA can happen without having unintended consequences. ‘UK learned societies, for example,

The League of European

Research Universities recently slammed OA developments

8 Research Information August/September 2018

derive a lot of revenue from publishing activities, which “cross-subsidises” charitable activities to promote research,’ he highlights. ‘If we try to move [from subscription models to OA] too quickly and subscriptions are cancelled on a wide scale, the impact on scholarly publishing would be huge.’

@researchinfo |

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