Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Open Access landscape and the challenges of hybrid programmes

Michael Jubb kicks off proceedings
Michael Jubb opened The Mechanics and Reality of Open Access seminar with a handy overview. A contemporary definition of the purpose of scholarly communications was published by The Royal Society in their Science as an Open Enterprise report. They outlined this as
  • discoverable
  • accessible
  • intellegible
  • assessable
  • usable.
Key announcements in the history of Open Access development include Budapest (2002), Bethseda (2003) and Berlin (2003). The latter included an extension of what is covered to include original scientific research results, raw data and metadata, source materials, digital representations of pictorial and graphical materials and scholarly multimedia material.

Increasingly the terms 'gratis' or 'libre' are used to reflect actual practice in Open Access. Both have free online access, but 'Libre' includes additional usage rights.

Jubb cited the results of the Elsevier, International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base, 2013, a Report for BIS in identifying uptake levels for routes to Open Access.

Global uptake:
  • fully OA journals with APCs 5.5%
  • fully OA journals no APCs 4.2%
  • hybrid journals 0.5%
  • delayed free access journals 1.0%
  • pre-print repositories 6.4%
  • accepted ms repositories 5.0%
UK take-up
  • fully OA journals with APCs 5.9%
  • fully OA journals no APCs 1.2%
  • hybrid journals 2.7%
  • delayed free access journals 4.2%
  • pre-print repositories 7.4%
  • accepted ms repositories 11.6%
It is interesting to note the biggest differential - for example the jump in hybrid take-up from 0.5% globally to 2.7% in the UK.

Three key sets of policies in the UK are from RCUK, Funding councils and REF and the Wellcome Trust. In Europe there is the pilot in FP7, the policy for Horizon 2020. In the USA, the NIH since 2008 ask for a deposit in PMC with a 12 month embargo and more recently the OSTP memorandum was announced.

Key issues include licensing, embargoes, costs and revenues. Jubb noted that the Bj√∂rk and Solomon report Developing an Effective market for Open Access Article Processing Charges and how it suggested that the hybrid journal market is dysfunctional as hybrid journals APCs are on average much higher than full OA.

Wiley-Blackwell's Liz Ferguson
Liz Ferguson is Publishing Solutions Director at Wiley-Blackwell. She provided an overview of the challenges of hybrid Open Access publishing and the transition to a full OA programme, and noted that the world of hybrid journals can be confusing, discussions can be heated about it.

Ferguson described hybrids as subscription journals that offer authors the opportunity to make articles openly available for a fee.

It was a model started c.2000 by the Entomological Society in America and has grown ever since.

In 2011, the top 5 publishers by number of hybrid journals and articles was as follows:



  • Springer - 1360 journals; 7243 articles
  • Elsevier - 1160 journals; 1014 articles
  • Wiley - 726 journals; 596 articles
  • Taylor & Francis - 577 journals; 153 articles
  • Sage - 177 journals; 37 articles
  • OUP - 109 journals; 882 articles
At Wiley, they initially had life and health sciences supporting hybrid. There was a big escalation in 2012 (driven by RCUK policy) which had a big effect on the humanities and social sciences community. It raised awareness of Open Access. and proved to have a 'carrot and stick' effect: 12 or 24 months with Gold option, 6 or 12 months without. This drove hybrid publishing due to concern about subscription income. Ferguson reflected on whether growth was driven by an increasing number of outlets, but felt probably not. In 2013 the increased number of hybrid journals have seen some sort of hybrid activity - c. 5 articles per title.

Wiley regularly survey their authors and one of the areas they ask them about is what they choose to do with licensing. They asked authors who are not mandated to take a particular route which licensing option they would prefer: 50% said CC-BY-NC-ND, 28% CC-BY and 22% CC-BY-NC. It was interesting to note that half have chosen to go for the most restrictive licences. It is not known why. It could be down to lack of understanding or a desire to protect content.

Are hybrids a transitional model? This year they have seen hybrid activity of up to 18% on journals which is much higher than anticipated. Challenges associated with them include a rapid transition to new models, CC-BY and commercial revenues and financial transparency. With green running alongside there are issues around versions, embargo periods, depositions and enforcing/enabling policies.

There is often a lot of confusion as to what is expected with hybrid and publishers need to redevelop and refine systems to provide a good service. Financial transparency is key. Double dipping (money from subscribers, money from authors) is an issue - whether perceived or real. Currently, hybrid money is low, but this is changing, so it is important to deal with the issue clearly and transparently. There is a need to do this because 1) it is ethical; 2) for clarity; and 3) it will lead to a more sustainable future in the long run. Ferguson noted that offsetting against subscriptions may not be scaleable if gold is adopted more widely.

So what is the outlook for hybrids? The offer to authors remains compelling, hybrid OA continues to grow (so does subscription content), but the financial challenges of a mixed model remain and there will be further transitions to full gold OA.

1 comment:

  1. This presentation http://www.slideshare.net/lisbk/hybrid-journals-ensuring-systematic-and-standard-discoverability-of-the-latest-open-access-articles gives a solution, using RSS feeds, for the problem of ensuring systematic and standard discoverability of the latest Open Access (OA) articles published in Hybrid journals

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