How We Pay for Publishing Page: 2
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How We Pay for Publishing, Page 2
edit, and design the publication before producing copies to sell). This would free the
publishers from the need to recover their investment through sale or subscription
prices, allowing them to make their publications open-access.
b) The academy could find a way to redirect the money that libraries pay for
subscriptions towards covering the first-copy costs for open access. Proposals vary
in the extent to which they propose publishers remain involved in this reimagined
system of scholarly communication, but this action would in any case come at the
expense of the profit margins currently made by many publishers.
The most notable version of (a) is the use of grant or institutional funding to pay an
article processing charge (APC), a fee charged by a publisher to make open-access
an article that would normally be available only to subscribers. (This is sometimes
referred to as "gold open access", though "gold" can also refer to a journal whose
content is entirely open access, rather than containing a hybrid of open-access and
non-open-access articles.) But librarians and administrators are wary of paying
such fees to publishers without a guarantee that they would save a corresponding
amount on their existing purchases and subscriptions with these publishers. In our
era of permanent fiscal austerity, there isn't extra money for this sort of thing. Some
efforts, like the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE), are designed to
keep APCs from going to hybrid OA journals, thereby preventing "double-dipping"
by a publisher receiving both subscription revenue and APCs.i
Concern over double-dipping-and more generally a concern that if publishers are
allowed to set the fees, institutions will not really correct the dysfunctional
market-is leading to greater interest in variations on (b). Most strategies risk a
"free rider" problem: if you could pay to make content open-access, why not let
others do so instead and simply take advantage of what they do? While there is
generally goodwill among libraries to effect change, those libraries feel powerless to
do so alone and under pressure to achieve as much access to content as possible.
To get around this conundrum, and no doubt drawing inspiration from SCOAP3,
schemes like Knowledge Unlatched,ii the proposal for a Library Partnership Subsidy
(LPS) by the Open Library of the Humanities,iii and the AAU/ARL Task Force on
Scholarly Communication's "Prospectus for an Institutionally Funded First-book
Subvention"iv (which proposes that colleges and universities give a publication
subvention for their faculty members' first books that are accepted by a reputable
publisher) use assurance contracts, whereby the arrangement only goes into effect if
enough institutions commit, making the investment affordable to all of them, with
none left subsidizing a large number of free riders. Funders such as the Open Society
Foundations and the Mellon Foundation have stepped in to help launch Knowledge
Unlatched and the Open Library of the Humanities, bridging the funding gap during
pilot periods in order to keep costs down till a large number of institutions have
committed. There is optimism that libraries will be willing to participate, even with
the risk of free-riders, if the commitment is modest.
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Hawkins, Kevin S. How We Pay for Publishing, article, November 22, 2014; [Charleston, South Carolina]. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc461693/m1/3/: accessed June 22, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .