Thursday 15 May 2014

Setting up Open Access policies and the different business models

Vicky Gardner from Taylor & Francis
The second half of the morning at The Mechanics and Reality of Open Access seminar covered practical implementation issues for setting up internal policies. Vicky Gardner, Open Access Publisher at Taylor & Francis, described 'the third age of publishing' as subscription, site licence and OA. There is the increasing influence of funders and policy makers and changing roles for libraries and publishers.

What does it mean? Operational challenges include:
  • increasing granularity with article-level workflows.
  • increased variation
  • APC mechanisms
  • implications for subscription business (conversion to full gold) OA would render many journals unsustainable
  • anticipating OA policies and mandates - impact on institutional processes
  • internal and external reporting
  • cost.
Questions to ask yourself when implementing Open Access include: Do we hold publication until payment is received? Should we offer multiple APCs? How much information do we provide to authors? How can we consistently capture data for reporting?

Underlying considerations for consistently capturing data have a cross-industry element (FundRef, CrossMark, Prospect, NISO standards). There is classification (research funder vs APC funder), accuracy of data inputs (eg APC funding). You also need to consider how the data might be used (future proofing): it takes investment. And don't forget about past articles. With embargoes do you increase (will it protect subscriptions? Link to article half lives?). Should you decrease? (But some think you can't put genie back in the bottle... and what is the value of the version of record?)

Areas to consider with waivers include whether they are regional (corresponding author, offer only on full? What about local titles?) or no questions asked (is this sustainable? It allows those in genuine hardship to publish.)

Considerations for double dipping
  • Global offset - equitable to subscribers, but difficult to calculate.
  • Local offset - can accommodate in bulk deals. Equitable to those investing in OA. Is there granularity? Can be difficult to calculate.
  • Top up model - avoids double dipping issue. Maintains the subscription market.
Thinking about licence choice
  • How many?
  • Which ones?
  • What do authors want?
  • What do funders want?
  • Subject differentials?
  • Permissions and third party content.
What are the lessons learned? Flexibility is key: sometimes a small tweak is all it takes. You need to engage with many different departments, editors, societies, librarians, funders. Make sure to use the talent in your business. Accept that you don't have all the answers - new workflows won't be right straightaway, strategic planning can only anticipate future developments.

We're all on a learning curve - manual workarounds are easy to implement in the short term and more practical in many senses than immediate investment in automation. Keeping staff informed about OA developments is just as important as external communications. One size does not fit all - there are many different preoccupations, perspectives and opinions, not just funder, policy maker, publisher. Consultation is key.

It is early days and the market is immature. This relates to APC intermediaries, HEI and publisher knowledge, and the take up of OA by researchers. Internal workflows are short to medium term. Change and complexity will be constant. And it is not just about research, also think about grey literature. But remember, OA is scalable.

The Royal Society's Phil Hurst
Phil Hurst from The Royal Society provided an overview of the different business models. At The Royal Society, their subscription model dates back to c1800. Originally, RS Fellows (400) received copies as part membership dues (no opt out). There were 300 on general sale through the Society's bookseller, and the Society received income, minus fees and expenses. External sales did not recoup the cost of printing. Only in recent years has the subscription model become more profitable.

Now? They use a subscription and green OA model. The institution or individual pays a regular fee for access to content, it is free to submit articles, but access is only available to subscribers. The advantages are that it is a proven model and infrastructure; the subscription supply chain is relatively efficient; there is no processing of APCs. The disadvantages are that the dissemination of content depends on budget availability. There is more content, but stagnant library budgets are a challenge. While it is relatively easy to manage, they still need people or agents to develop new business. Green OA requires repository infrastructure and it can be a challenge to get authors to deposit post prints.

Hybrid gold OA is relatively easy to implement. You retain the subscription income and it can be a transition to full OA as authors choose preferred publication model. However, there is potential for double dipping. It can be difficult to provide subscription discounts in a granular way and it is not always compliant with OA funders/mandates. Practical considerations include setting the price, collecting payments and a transparent pricing mechanism. At The Royal Society they have 'no fee, no free' model, but authors can retrospectively convert to OA.

Pure gold OA is a model where cost scales with submissions. It can lead to a more effective market (cost competition) with greater dissemination of content and potentially faster/higher citations. However, funding sources are not always available and quality and income are in conflict. Predatory publishers hinder OA reputation and can undermine authors' trust. Practical considerations include the need to collect a greater number of payments and the need to promote online payment (by credit card). The customer (author) will often not fund payment, so you need to demonstrate quality.

OA membership is where authors from member institutions receive a discount on pure or hybrid OA. This can take the form of a supporter or pre-pay (eg PMC, Hindawi) or postpay approach. The Royal Society has an OA 'supporter' membership. The benefits are that authors receive 25% discount on APCs, it increases research awareness about options, provides a customised institutional web page and is a cost-effective flat annual fee. Practical considerations include linking the author with institution, dealing with multi-authored papers: which institution gets the discount? You need a new system, have to set the price and while it is proving cost-effectiveness, they still need sales people. Other examples include PeerJ, IOP Publishing OA funding pilot in Austria and the RSC gold for gold programme.

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