Divest of subscriptions, invest in Open Access!
This principle is the foundation of the Open Access 2020 Initiative, and we are encouraged to note it is now also the underlying strategy of an increasing number of new Open Access initiatives with whom we share the common vision of making open the default in scholarly communications. In support of our mutual goal, we are excited to announce the launch of our newly expanded website, OA2020.org, where libraries and institutions can find practical information, best practice and resources to plan and execute their own transformational roadmaps that address local needs and have impact in the drive for Open Access at a global scale.
Ms. Midori Ichiko, of the Keio University Library, and Steering Committee Chair of JUSTICE, the Japanese University Library Consortium, a signatory of the OA2020 Expression of Interest says: “The completely renovated OA2020 website gives clear and strong support to my colleagues of the Japanese consortium. This hub helps us isolate the issues we are facing and provides instruments to help us collaborate.”
As set out in the OA2020 Expression of Interest, drafted at the 12th Berlin Open Access Conference in 2015, the key to achieving large scale transformation of the current scholarly publishing (subscription) system is by “converting resources currently spent on journal subscriptions into funds to support sustainable OA business models”. The OA2020 Expression of Interest goes on to clarify that the envisioned transformation shall be made “in accordance with community-specific publications preferences” while continuing “to support new and improved forms of OA publishing”.
One bold manifestation of these principles can be found in Germany, where nearly 200 institutions have announced that, pending positive results of the ongoing DEAL negotiations to incorporate open access publishing entitlements into a national content license agreement, they will not extend their current licenses with Elsevier; consequently, the local OA2020 coordinating body for Germany proposes that the funds saved on non-renewal with Elsevier be diverted to sustaining OA publishing initiatives.
Yet, in keeping with the OA2020 objective of incorporating community-specific publication preferences, there are diverse proposals to be explored:
The recent Jussieu Call, echoes the principles voiced by OA2020 in their declaration by calling “on research organizations and their libraries to secure and earmark as of now a share of their acquisition budgets to support the development of scientific publishing activities, which are genuinely open and innovative, and address the needs of the scientific community.”
In the US, while not specifically calling out a conversion of subscription funds, the 2.5% Commitment recommends that libraries “commit 2.5% of their total budgets to organizations and projects that contribute to the common digital infrastructure need to support the open scholarly commons”. And, the “Red OA” proposal being studied by the Association of Research Libraries, albeit moving a step further, proposes to convert not only subscription funds but also the funds that scholars use to pay publishing fees, to support open, discipline-based pre-print repositories.
While adopting the tactics most appropriate for each geographic and discipline context, these strategies are united by a common denominator: the realization that Open Access can only be achieved on a large scale if libraries and institutions take an active and systematic approach to divesting of subscriptions and investing in open access. Prof. Gerard Meijer, Director of the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society and co-chair of the OA2020 initiative says: ”With the relaunch of its new website, the OA2020 initiative renews its invitation to the many voices within the global academic and research communities to partner with us in transformative, coordinated actions to liberate scholarly communications from the subscription system and propel the open access movement forward.”
Whatever the strategies adopted, as institutions move their budgets away from subscriptions and invest in Open Access publishing models, the stronghold of the traditional subscription system is weakened. Nearly 80% of scholarly publishing lies with only a small group of publishers, and a growing percentage of institutions whose scholarly outputs publishers depend upon, are embracing the OA2020 strategy and adopting tactics to remove their financial support of the subscription model in order to inject open access into the system.
Based on current world publication trends, transformative actions from a relatively small number of global research-intensive institutions would be sufficient to bring down the subscription paywall, but the involvement of institutions from every geographical and academic context are essential for creating a truly open and just information environment.
Visit the OA2020 website to learn how you can drive the transformation.
Your action will make the difference!