10 August 2016

Flipping journals to Open Access: an extensive Harvard University literature review

Harvard University last week released an extensive 224 page literature review on subscription journals flipping to Open Access. The review's principal aim is to "disentangle different options", in order to "help publishers deliberate intelligently about their options". In total the authors find 15 options available to journals wanting to flip to OA, and interestingly 5 of these do not involve levying charges (most commonly referred to as Article Processing Charges).

The inclusion of so many non-APC reliant flipping pathways is very illuminating and certainly will be news to some people.
"Truncating or oversimplifying the range of options causes harm. For example, as noted, many stakeholders believe that there’s only one business model for OA journals, namely, charging APCs. This assumption has never been true and has never even been close. Every measurement for more than a decade has shown that roughly three-quarters of OA journals charge no author-side fees at all, and in fact, that roughly three-quarters of subscription journals charge author-side fees on top of their reader-side fees. The false assumption that all OA journals charge APCs stultifies the debate by limiting discussion to the one best-known option. It also stultifies the deliberations of publishers who believe, perhaps correctly, that the best-known option won’t work for them, and therefore conclude, prematurely, that no model will work for them." (Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences. p. 4)
In the introduction Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and editor of the review, mentions the value of the review in offering a resource for libraries struggling with rising subscription prices. He suggests that the rising cost of subscriptions could be a catalyst to stimulate talks about flipping to OA, given that another possible outcome is losing subscriptions entirely which benefits neither side.
"Academic Librarians are in a good position to make the case that converting to OA is better than cancellation, for everyone, and that new evidence shows that converting to OA can preserve or enhance readership, submissions, quality, and financial sustainability." (Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences. p. 5)
Solomon, David, J. Mikael Laakso, and Bo-Christer Björk (authors). Peter Suber (editor). 2016. Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:27803834. CC-BY

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