New Open Access Publishing Agreements

Dimity Flanagan, Manager, Scholarly Communications speaks about the new open access publishing agreements benefiting University of Melbourne researchers. A full list of these agreements can be found on the Open Scholarship website.

While the campaign for open access to research has been in flight for decades, recent years have seen the movement gain significant momentum. With the introduction of stronger open access policies by major international research funders, traditional subscription publishers have had to rethink their publishing models. Many such publishers are now committing to increasing the open access content in their journals through transformative arrangements, which can replace the need to levy Article Processing Charges (APCs) on authors.

We are now seeing the scholarly publishing sector experiment with different types of open access publishing models. The most common to arise is the Read and Publish (R&P) agreement, where both subscription fees and open access publishing fees are combined into a single contract.

The University is committed to disseminating its research as widely as possible, as declared in our Principles for Open Access to Research Outputs at Melbourne. As such, the University is exploring ways to increase open access publishing opportunities through engaging with these agreements where appropriate. The University’s first R&P agreements commenced in January 2021 with the Microbiology Society and Portland Press.

This year, significantly more publishers have offered R&P agreements to Australian universities, thanks to negotiation by the Council of Australian University Librarians. From January 2022, the University of Melbourne will have several of these agreements in place, including with Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Springer and Wiley. These agreements will be reviewed annually as the University acquires data on their success and insights into the financial sustainability of the model.

It is important to note that there are differences between each agreement. Some agreements cover open access publication in both hybrid and open access journals, while others only include a selected list of hybrid journals. Most importantly, some agreements have an article cap (shared across participating Australian universities), while others cover unlimited open access publishing. Agreements with caps operates on a first come, first served basis, so it is likely that these limits will be reached before the end of 2022. Once the cap is met, articles will be published behind a paywall. As per the University’s Principles for Open Access, if you publish behind a paywall, you are expected to deposit your author accepted manuscript into our institutional repository, Minerva Access, or a subject repository if preferred.

Another model gaining momentum is called Subscribe to Open. This is quite a simple model: if the journal reaches their target subscription revenue at the start of each year, they will make the entire year’s content open access. The University subscribes to multiple journals that are transitioning to open access through this model. We list these on our open access agreements page too, so that our researchers are aware that the journal is now publishing open access.

Of course, with both these models removing author-facing APCs, where does that leave open access publishers that rely on APCs as their main source of revenue? These publishers are starting to offer institutional level agreements too, but it is difficult to fund these given APC payments are currently dispersed across so many budgets. Overcoming such a challenge may take some time, but the University just signed its first publishing agreement with a fully open access publisher, Cogitatio Press, and continues to investigate such models. The University is also exploring how it can better support scholar-led open access journals that do not levy APCs.

The University continues to explore new opportunities to support open access publishing and open research initiatives more broadly. If you are a member of the University community and would like to be involved in these conversations, please get in touch with the Scholarly Communications team.

For the full list of current open access publishing agreements, please see the Open Scholarship website.

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