Re: Changing the game

From: Sandy Thatcher <>
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 16:42:34 EDT

Along with Stevan Harnad, I wonder how such initiatives really will change
the economics of the system overall, especially in the short term.
Universities will still be paying for subscriptions for many journals and
now adding fees in addition, both for new OA journals and for journals that
offer OA selectively on payment of the fee. For the latter, the bottom line
is more money out the door, unless the publishers really do reduce
subscriptions rates somehow in proportion to the number of articles for
which OA fees are paid (and since the finances of commercial publishers are
not open to the public, how will one ever really know?).

And, for OA journals like PLoS, do we know what profit margin is being built
into its business model (or, as we call it in the non-profit world,
"surplus")? Does Hindawi tell us what its profit margin is? If the
immediate future for scholarly communication just ends up costing more
overall (and we should also take into account all those hidden subsidies
provided for university-based OA journals that do not charge fees), what
then? Has the game really changed or just readjusted the pieces on the

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State University Press

> September 24, 2009
> Washington, DC -- Last year, the University of California at
> Berkeley and the University of Calgary were among a handful of
> institutions that established pools of money, through their
> libraries, to cover the cost of open-access journal fees. This
> approach -- aimed at supporting a new academic publishing model
> that could ultimately relieve at least some of the burden of
> expensive journal subscriptions -- has found a receptive audience
> among researchers on these two campuses.
> SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)
> is highlighting two approaches to establishing and maintaining
> open-access funds in a new SPARC Member Profile. SPARC is also
> preparing to launch a new initiative to provide additional
> information and resources detailing options for other
> institutions that may be considering such funds.
> "Reporting on the progress and challenges associated with
> innovative new approaches to sharing research results is a
> fundamental component of building change in scholarly
> communication," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC.
> "These two SPARC members have learned valuable lessons in
> establishing their funds and fighting for faculty attention, and
> we are grateful to them for sharing the details. We hope the
> wider community will join us online to build on these successes,
> share some more experiences, and contribute to what promises to
> be a deep and engaging discussion."
> At UC Berkeley, the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII)
> provides faculty, post-doc and graduate students up to $3,000 to
> cover the cost of publishing an article in an open-access
> publication -- and up to $1,500 for opening an article that
> requires copyright transfer to the publisher. During the 18-month
> pilot project, the fund covered 52 articles at an average cost of
> $1,500 for open-access publications and $1,280 for articles
> requiring copyright transfer. During Calgary's first 13 months,
> the library's Open Access Authors Fund received 67 official
> submissions to cover open-access fees at an average cost of
> $1,538 (in Canadian dollars).
> The cost of journal subscriptions at times is crippling for
> libraries and the Canadian university wanted to experiment with a
> different way of encouraging Open Access. "With money for Open
> Access coming from the library, we are trying to change the
> model," says Andrew Waller, serials librarian in Collection
> Services, Libraries and Cultural Resources at the University of
> Calgary.
> When David Ackerly, associate professor of integrative biology at
> UC Berkeley wanted to publish a paper about the potential impact
> of climate change on plants of California, he turned to the
> library to cover the fee to publish in PLoS One, an initiative of
> the Public Library of Science. "I absolutely wanted the results
> to be freely available to the press, state agencies and others
> who don't necessarily have access to the libraries and journals,"
> he says. "It really paid off. When it was published, we got
> great press coverage."
> The Berkeley initiative set out to encourage a more sustainable
> scholarly communication environment. "We shouldn't be beholden to
> a single fund-flow model supporting journal publishing," says
> Chuck Eckman, associate university librarian and director of
> collections at the UC Berkeley Library. In addition, Eckman
> suggests, "It is really important for academic libraries to forge
> relationships with research offices and think about their
> respective and complementary roles in the broader community of
> authors and readers."
> To read more about the UC Berkeley or University of Calgary
> open-access efforts visit the SPARC Web site at
> The new SPARC resource for
> open-access funds will be announced this fall.
> ###
Received on Fri Sep 25 2009 - 22:36:26 BST

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