In the 13 years since the Budapest Open Access (OA) Initiative launched what is now known as the “OA movement,” considerable strides have been made toward widespread adoption of the principles of OA. Practice, however, has lagged behind, as both credibility and business models have struggled to gain traction. The transition to OA from subscription-based society publishing operations in the humanities and social sciences (HSS) has been particularly difficult, for reasons that expose the limitations of many current OA models: in HSS, articles are not the only publication type of value or even the most valued type of publication; external funding for research is minimal or non-existent; and societies often consider their publications to be the primary benefit they offer their members, and many find it difficult to imagine how they would support their society’s activities if their current publishing operations were to change.
The model we offer in this white paper tackles head-on the major drawback to the predominant OA business model at the heart of these complaints: that it is based on individual payments (known most often as article-processing charges [APCs]) made by researchers for only certain types of publications. Our model, in contrast, asks tertiary institutions to contribute to systemic support of the research process itself, including its entire scholarly output — whether article, monograph, dataset, conference presentation, multimodal Web site, or format not yet envisioned. Our model looks to societies to play a central role within the scholarly communication ecosystem, and for academic libraries to become true partners with them.
A bold rethinking of the economics of OA, our plan is nevertheless designed to assuage the fears and embrace the investments of all the stakeholders in the scholarly communication system. It is intentionally incremental, acknowledging the inherent conservatism of academia. It enables societies, along with their publishing partners, over time to develop strategies to provide their members with services that continue to be useful and meaningful. It suggests preservation and curation should be a primary role for libraries, because this is a natural space for libraries to occupy and has always been part of their mission. It allows all the partners in the scholarly communication ecosystem to begin to work together to agree on best practices. And it provides a clear but ever-evolving and expanding roadmap to address concerns about “free riders.”
Just as research and scholarship are increasingly global and collaborative, our plan is not bound by national borders but can be adopted by all those looking for a more equitable and sustainable OA model.