Breaking the Loop of Open Access Model – Creating a Revenue

In a speech made by Stuart Shieber at the SOAP symposium in January, the question of open access not being quite a major force yet was raised, although the model has gone through significant transformations since it has last been investigated at the SOAP “headquarters” and made into slides.

Do researchers realize that their research field benefits from OA? Yes, almost 90% of researches answered positively, although, not so many were encouraged to actually publish their work in an Open Access journal. The main reasons for their actions were either lack of funding for the article processing charge (APC) or, in their vision, an insufficient number of OA journals with sufficient quality, i.e. good impact factor.

The insufficient number of such OA journals creates the lack of demand for funding and this lack creates the lack of funding itself which again creates the lack of OA journals. “How to break this loop?,” Stuart asks us and at the same time he points at the problem of open access publishing lacking a revenue model. His slides show both revenue model of toll-access publishers and non-revenue model of open access publishing.

Toll-Access Model / Stuart Shieber

Open Access Model / Stuart Shieber

Basically, in a non-OA model or toll-access model, the faculty i.e. libraries pay money for access to published material, and researcher himself does not see this money flow. In an OA model, obviously, researcher pays money for publishing services. What would create a revenue model for Open Access is a university providing funds for the articles written by its faculty. Not to say that this isn’t already happening; the last year has seen institutions like CERN joining COPE, universities such as Simon Fraser University, Stellenbosch, or Trinity College signing to COPE, new member, JINR, was added to SCOAP3 project and so on. Their policy is either that author must provide for open access, green or gold, no later than a year after publication, or that incremented funding may be obtained by researcher to pay open access fees.

However, the idea that would actually break the loop immediately, would be, an anarchistic one – all should agree to stop subscribing to journals and commit the money to OA APCs, as one of Stuart’s friends suggests. Thus, “the monarch”, or toll-access publisher would need to “self destruct”. An another, more liberal approach of “hanging flowers” around governing neck, has rather took place with universities and funding agencies being convinced that to mandate open access is the right thing to do. The act may not get the “monarch” down, but it could reduce “his ransom” at least.

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