Director, Center for Digital Research and Scholarship
Dean of the Library and Academic Information Service
In the 11 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 humanities and social sciences has been particularly difficult, for reasons that expose the limitations of the current OA models: 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; these societies 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 operation were to change.
The proposal offered in this briefing tackles head-on the major drawback to the predominant OA business model at the heart of the complaints: that it is based on micropayments made by individuals for only certain types of publication. The alternative model described in this presentation, 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, or format not yet envisioned. This model looks to societies to play a central, rather than peripheral, role within the scholarly communication ecosystem, and for academic libraries to become true partners with them.
A bold rethinking of the economics of OA, this plan is nevertheless designed to assuage the fears and embrace the investments of the stakeholders in the scholarly communication system. It is intentionally incremental, acknowledging the inherent conservatism of academia. 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. The alternative model enables societies to have the financial freedom to develop the strategies to provide their members with services that are useful and meaningful. It allows all the partners in the scholarly communication ecosystem to begin to work together to agree on best practices. It provides a clear but ever-evolving and expanding roadmap to address concerns about “free riders.” And just as research and scholarship are increasingly global and collaborative, this plan is not bound by national borders but can be adopted by all those looking for a more equitable and sustainable OA model. This presentation will outline the proposal with the goal of engaging the audience in a conversation about the pros and cons of the proposed model.