Karger has a long history of connecting across communities of researchers, healthcare practitioners, and patients. With over 130 years of experience publishing in the health sciences, we understand that experience must be coupled with innovation and flexibility. To engage with our broad audiences and make a difference for our customers, we need to actively respond to and consider their different needs with tailored options, content, and products. As an independent family-owned publisher, we have never taken a ‘one size fits all’ approach to making knowledge accessible, applicable, and visible. It is important to us that we customize and tailor our approach for virtually every organization, including around open access. That is why we not only publish journals, but also look at knowledge creation and engagement throughout the research lifecycle to connect with researchers and the people who read and are impacted by research holistically.
Different Community Needs
We’re vocal and proud that we are Open for Open, a statement we live by. With Open access (OA), our ethos of providing tailored solutions has been put to the test as, even within the health sciences, the communities who publish in our journals need different routes to publish. Even as a medium size publisher with around 100 journals within the Health Sciences, we see huge differences in funding, requirements, norms, ambitions, and guidance. Multiply that by the wide variety of Open Science policies that we see globally reflected in our author and editorial board profiles, and it is a complex picture. In 2022, our authors and editorial board members came from around 100 different countries.
From Europe-led initiatives like Plan S, which require recipients of participating funders’ research grants to publish in journals that make articles immediately open, to Japanese recommendations that articles should be made open access within 12 months of publication, a growing trend for Gold Open Access in China, US federally funded research to be made immediately open from 2025 as in the Nelson Memo, and recognition from the Budapest Open Access Initiative that APCs (Article Processing Charges) can be exclusionary, it is a challenging landscape to navigate!
While access to science is not to be debated anymore, it is increasingly clear that Gold open access is not a route that works for everyone, and this also holds true for Karger. Open access needs to be adaptable and responsive to the various needs of authors, editors, readers, and the sustainability of the journals.
Different Adaptable models
The needs of different communities are why we support different routes for Open Access.
This year, we have been excited to pilot S2O in two journals, Pediatric Neurosurgery and Developmental Neuroscience. We see S2O as an alternative way to move journals to Open Access, while alleviating some of the challenges it brings. It unites different stakeholders in Open Access and offers a bridge between established subscription paths and an OA future. This model uses the subscription base that already exists to make journals free to read and publish in. Unlike Gold Open Access journals that are continually Open Access, the OA status of S2O journals is decided volume by volume, dependent on the level of subscriptions.
We have also proactively encouraged increased Open Access via our Transformative Journals, which are another route to support authors to comply with their individual open access requirements whilst enabling compliance with Plan S mandates and advancing open access. Flipping to OA depends on authors’ needs and interests, so when a journal has more than 75% of its content open access, the whole journal is ‘flipped’ to open. It has been of utmost importance to us to give authors freedom to publish according to their needs and funder requirements, and to provide them with a suitable open access alternative. We have successfully converted 15 journals to open access in the last few years alone and while this was an undeniably challenging process, the benefits of visibility and outreach are clear.
A growing number of our authors who publish OA in our journals are covered by Transformative agreements negotiated with institutions whereby institutions pay the full or partial costs of their researchers’ OA publications (in hybrid or OA journals). This allows authors to publish Open Access according to their needs, in any journal of their choice. Flexibility is key. As well, Karger has long been supportive of Green Open Access – making articles open via a repository. This makes content widely accessible whether it’s published in an OA or a hybrid journal.
Several of Karger’s Open Access journals provide Diamond Open Access. Our Partner Publications are published on behalf of academic research institutions, societies government bodies or research funders. Both reading and publishing in the journals is free, with costs covered by the partner organizations – an alternative solution to provide Open Access in a somehow more equitable manner.
A Collaborative Approach
Crucially, it has been important for us to work with our Editors-in-Chief and our Editorial Board Members for a tailored and collaborative approach. The sustainability and success of the journals and the research they publish is the joint project that Karger and our editorial boards are invested in. It is an ongoing conversation we have with our editors and authors. As always, we return to our community, because no transition can be successful if the scope or timing does not meet the community’s needs.
This collaborative approach and team effort is emphasized by Prof. Dr Hendrik Scholl, from the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB), the Editor-in-Chief of a recently ‘flipped’ journal, Ophthalmic Research. Following the journal’s transition to OA., Prof. Scholl said, ‘The Editor-in-Chief is important, you give vision and direction, but you need people to implement it who have (…) experience. That’s the case with Karger Publishers.(…) It was a team effort. The second [important aspect] was communication …my colleagues in the Editorial Board…we discussed together. People were committed to the transition.’ And, overall how did it turn out? ‘The outcome was excellent. That’s the short summary.’
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About the author
Damaris Critchlow is a Project Manager at Karger, a worldwide publisher of scientific and medical content with the aim to connect and advance the health sciences. Since its foundation in 1890, Karger has been continuously evolving, keeping pace with developments and shifts in research and publishing. Damaris joined Karger in January 2023 and is excited by opportunities for innovation that come with close connections to researcher communities.