Open access and media acquisition: First transformation workshop of the National Contact Point Open Access in Bielefeld

"We need a complementary objective for the library media acquisition: it is no longer just about buying media and putting it on a shelf or licensing for a campus. It is increasingly a contribution from libraries, so that scientific literature can even be published in open access."

This is a key finding of the OA2020-DE transformation workshop for acquisition librarians, which took place on 19 and 20 April 2018 in Bielefeld. The workshop covered topics relevant to the open access transformation: "collecting cost and publication data at a university" and "alternative publication models for open access journals and open access monographs". The short introduction round at the beginning showed that the topic is gaining relevance not only for universities, but increasingly also for universities of applied sciences.

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Beyond APCs - OpenAIRE workshop on alternative open access publishing business models

OpenAIRE, an EC-funded initiative to support the Open Access policy of the European Commission via a technical infrastructure, aims also to fund and foster the development of non-APC based publishing models. For this they made two calls, the first in 2016, where projects received funding for the development and implementation of technical improvements in open science infrastructures (the full report can be found here). The second call last year focused on supporting initiatives with alternative open access business models.

To present different aspects of non-APC models and the mid-term reports of the bids from the second call, OpenAIRE organised a workshop on April 5th and 6th 2018 at the Royal Library in The Hague.

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Analysing the article coverage of offsetting contracts

This is a repost from our partner project INTACT, you can find the original post here

As a result of the first ESAC Offsetting Workshop 2016, the collection of articles published under offsetting contracts like the Springer Compact agreements has been established as a side project of OpenAPC. Data providers include the Austrian Academic Library Consortium (KEMÖ), the Max Planck Digital Library, VSNU / UKB for all Dutch universities, the Bibsam Consortium for Sweden and JISC Collections for the UK. The data collection starts with the first data from 2015, the years 2016 and 2017 are now completely available.

While those articles are not associated with cost data in the sense of APCs, they can still be aggregated and visualised with treemaps, using a simple numerical count as measurement. With the offsetting collection now covering more than 13,000 articles from 3 years, it became feasible to attempt measuring the coverage of offsetting contracts by answering 3 questions:

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Open Access instead of "nationalization of science publishers"

In her article "Is it time to nationalise academic publishers?" from 2018-03-02, Times Higher Education (source) puts the big science publishers in the spotlight of a discussion that has put the break-up of economic monopolies on the agenda. The listed profits in the scientific publication system are indeed impressive:

  • Elsevier's shareholder RELX profit in 2016 was over GBP 900 million, with a 36.8% return on sales.

  • Taylor & Francis and Routledge, part of Informa, generated more than £ 160 million in profits in 2016 (38% return on sales).

  • Wiley achieved a profit of £ 183m in 2017 and a margin of 29.6%.

Profits and margins for Springer Nature were not mentioned in the Times Higher Education article, but the figures for the open access movement are sobering, as most of the profits still come from the subscription system, which is largely determined by acquisition budgets funded by the libraries. Times-Higher-Education therefore asks in the article between the lines also why libraries, in spite of Open Access and SciHub finance such returns.

If the library community really means open access seriously then - as Ralf Schimmer put it in the same place last year - the "plug from the subscription system" has to be drawn (source) if publishers do not want to go with the transformation into open access. In any case, there are already plenty of alternative uses for library budgets:

  • Organizing publication funds for pure open access publishers
  • Support for membership models such as SCOAP³, Open Library of Humanities, etc.
  • Participation in models for financing open access ebooks
  • Support for public open access infrastructure (institutional and subject repositories, central open access services such as DOAJ and others)

How long do libraries want to wait? It´s time to take action!

Infographic - 5 ways to support the open access transformation

OA2020-DE presents 5 ways in which you and your institution can support the transformation of subscription based journals into gold open access. These paths should help you to develop and implement a strategy for your institution.

  1. Support gold open access publishing
  2. Publishing infrastructure
  3. Analysis of publication and cost data
  4. Alternative publishing models
  5. Networking

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Alternative Publishing Models to Support Gold Open Access

The year 2018 starts with a positive message: even if the number of institutions without Elsevier contract in Germany with the new year has risen to over 200, the publisher continues to grant access to its content. That said, the negotiations between DEAL and Elsevier will probably continue: "We will continue our conversations in the first quarter of 2018 to find an access solution for German researchers in 2018 and a longer-term national agreement," says Harald Boersma, spokesman for Elsevier.

Nevertheless, it makes sense to look for alternative publishing models in Gold Open Access. In addition to the quasi-standard article / book processing charges to pay for an open access publication, there are other variants, ranging from a publication without payment of a publication fee to co-operative models.

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Fair Open Access and OA2020-DE

The Open Access movement has produced many initiatives and approaches over the last 15 years, which have led to remarkable advances in the free availability of scientific publications. A key success factor here is the interaction of different transformation approaches with a public open access infrastructure. In the current discussion about Fair-Open-Access and the need for a public Open Access Infrastructure is often neglected that the growth rates of gold Open access publications are still very low.

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Divest of subscriptions, invest in Open Access!

Divest of subscriptions, invest in Open Access!
Open in order to innovate! For Open Access Week 2017, OA2020 launches new website with a call to libraries worldwide to divest of the traditional subscription model in order to finance innovative, sustainable business and publishing models.

This principle is the foundation of the Open Access 2020 Initiative, and we are encouraged to note it is now also the underlying strategy of an increasing number of new Open Access initiatives with whom we share the common vision of making open the default in scholarly communications. In support of our mutual goal, we are excited to announce the launch of our newly expanded website,, where libraries and institutions can find practical information, best practice and resources to plan and execute their own transformational roadmaps that address local needs and have impact in the drive for Open Access at a global scale.

To the full press release.

OA2020-DE – What to do with funds after subscriptions with Elsevier are cancelled?

At the start of 2017, fifty German universities and libraries cancelled their license agreements with Elsevier, and a further 90 or so have announced that they, too, will let their agreements expire at the end of 2017. As allotted funds in subscription budgets must be employed or lost, many librarians in Germany are faced with the decision of how best to use the monies liberated from their Elsevier deals.

OA2020-DE, the German constituency of the Open Access 2020 Initiative, proposes that institutions seize the funds that were destined to Elsevier renewals and reinvest them, at least in part, in publishing initiatives that support the open access transformation. The proposal is in line with the Recommendations for an Open Access Transformation, issued by the Ad hoc Gold OA Working Group of the Alliance of German Scientific Organizations, and the overall strategy of OA2020.

Academic institutions and libraries who have been looking at piloting an institutional fund to support Open Access publishing could take this opportunity and channel the liberated subscription monies to establishing such a fund. Or if such a fund already exists, this would be an opportunity to replenish and expand it.

Libraries could also consider investing in OA publishing initiatives such as SciPost Physics, SCOAP3, Knowledge Unlatched, LingOA, Open Library of Humanities and F1000, as well as supporting publication of their researchers in journals by a whole range of pure open access publishers (Copernicus, Hindawi, Frontiers, MDPI, PLOS, etc.).

Using funds freed from Elsevier deals to support OA initiatives not only gives libraries an opportunity to take a lead role in the Open Access transformation, it gives them a chance to pilot emerging business models, create and test new workflows, collaborate more closely with faculty in the research cycle, and have direct impact on the visibility of the scientific publications of their own institution.

OA2020-DE is currently setting up an advisory service to support academic and research institutions who want to get a clear picture of their own publication volume and the costs associated with the subscription and / or distribution of scholarly outputs. Further information on the current status of Open Access in German institutions can be found in the research report "Publications in gold open access journals on a global and European level as well as in research organizations" issued by the INTACT project.

OA2020-DE is the coordinating body of some 23 German organizations that have endorsed OA2020 to date, including the HRK (German University Rectors Conference) and the DfG (German Research Foundation).

Offsetting and Open Access Transition

If one observes the negotiations that are currently being conducted with Elsevier by both Germany and Finland (see here and here), it becomes clear that the path via the offsetting agreements is only very slowly contributing to an increase in the share of open access in the volume of publications. Despite the termination or non-renewal of the contracts with Elsevier by the individual scientific institutions of the countries, the publisher does not seem prepared to present an adequate and sustainable "read & publish" concept. The aim of such a concept is the combination of a license agreement with simultaneous open access publication possibilities for the members of the institution involved in the license, without additional costs.

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