On August 25th, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released new guidelines to make federally-funded research immediately available to the public at no cost. As noted in the OSTP's press release, this policy shift will result in the swift (and embargo-free) opening of access to research and data supported by tax-payer dollars. The implications of these new guidelines range from the logistical to the cultural and signal a renewed reliance on the development and implementation of open access funding models and infrastructures.
On October 27, 2022, during Open Access Week, Knowledge Futures hosted a conversation on sustaining an open knowledge ecosystem in light of the OSTP guidelines and other existing trends in the scholarly communications space. Sharla Lair—Senior Strategist, Open Access & Scholarly Communication Initiatives at LYRASIS—spoke about the options available to existing and new publishing groups looking to adopt an open model, as well as the LYRASIS Open Access Community Investment Program (OACIP). Jefferson Pooley—Professor of Media & Communication at Muhlenberg College and the Director of Media Studies Press—then spoke to his experience running an open publication supported by the OACIP. This discussion is intended to be helpful to publications and knowledge-sharing groups that are new, existing, already open, and/or are looking to move to an open model. It is not limited to groups publishing on topics related to climate justice or those who receive funding from the US federal government.
Travis Rich: All right. Going to wait til my clock ticks to 35 and then I'm going to jump into it. Super. All right. The 11th attendee joining in. Everyone, welcome. I'm Travis Rich, the executive director Knowledge Futures. A few a few months ago now, just a few months ago, we sent out a newsletter in light of the OSTP memo that outlined the memos that outlined the policy that all federally funded US federally funded, peer reviewed articles and research data must be publicly accessible and by free by 2026.
And sometimes you send out a newsletter and have the newsletter list unsubscribe. Sometimes you send out a newsletter and folks email in saying like, Hey, we could have a good conversation about this. And so thankfully that newsletter, it was the letter. We got Sharla and Jeff with us today and sort of the the topic in the context to set the stage for a little bit is that in these sort of moments where we have these big shifts and I think the OSTP memo sort of represents one of these big shifts and certainly the US academic and sort of knowledge landscape.
But in these moments where you have a big shift and lots of things are changing and lots of things are moving about. There's likely the shift likely came about because of good reasons and there's likely to be lots of positive externalities. But in that shifting, there's lots of ways for things to land in a way that are not better and are not improvements.
And I think one of the ways in in one of the ways that we're concerned with in the open access space, this idea that great content is accessible to readers, but being able to produce that content, being able to afford the actual production of the content is not necessarily accessible to all the folks that it was before. Before APC is our sort of article processing charges were around and so as knowledge features as an infrastructure group are very concerned and focused on making sure everyone still has the ability and accessibility to produce and generate this content without the sort of accessibility requirements of certain financial barriers.
Sharla is the senior strategist of open access and scholarly communication initiatives at LYRASIS, and she of course cares very much about this as well. She's going to be speaking about options available for publishing groups that are looking to adopt an open model. And so helping folks through the process of realizing that these open models don't necessarily have to mean death to the groups that worked in a previous situation and the ways in which groups can sustain and thrive in this new landscape and Jeff Pooley, Professor of Media & Communication at Muhlenberg College and the Director of Media Studies Press
The Press is one of the groups that has worked with Sharla and the folks that LYRASIS on and been supported by the Open Access Community Investment Program (OACIP) that they're working on to actually let them live the experience of setting up one of those communities.
Okay, now lots of things are changing. What did we do? How do we do it? Are we going to be okay? We're definitely going to be okay. But but we have Sharla and Jeff who have some really good experience on what do we do and how do we do it. And so our hope is just to share those experiences and then have a conversation around other options that exist and other other ways for folks to also sort of replicate and engage in the things that Charla and Jeff are working on so far and just sort of have folks take it from there.
So thank you, Sharla Thank you, Jeff, for joining us. I think, Sharla, if we can start with you, I know that you have a little bit that you want to say and then I'll jump to Jeff and then I'll open up for Q&A at the end.
Sharla Lair: That sounds great. Let me see. I'm trying to get to where I could share my screen—and I don't know if we'll all be okay. That's a that's a lot of pressure. And I don't think that's something that Jeff and I can can predict. But what we can talk about is, I think, is action and what you can do and what is possible to do things even on an individual or individual press level.
So that's kind of what I'm going to talk about is what actions you can take. Here we go. I think we're good.
Click through Sharla’s slides above, or download them here:
So thank you for taking the time out of your day to be a part of this. My presentation is designed to be a resource for reference materials, so I will happily share these slides with everyone who has registered for this event.
First, I'm going to give you a little bit of background just to tell you about me and what influences how I navigate this crazy space we're all in. First and foremost, I am not a consultant. I'm a librarian. I am the senior strategist of open access and scholarly Communication Initiatives at LYRASIS, which is a nonprofit membership organization based in the U.S. that serves libraries, museums and archives.
I'm particularly interested in better understanding the dynamics around making scholarly publishing more sustainable through explorations and community building, open access publishing and building more equitable and inclusive revenue models. It's largely in service to those we serve and that in what I do. And so my role since 2015 at LYRASIS is to negotiate the best pricing and licensing terms for the products and services available to LYRASIS members and beyond as well as seek out new programs that demonstrate transformative influence across the scholarly communication landscape.
Although I manage a diverse portfolio of vendor and publisher relationships, including Elsevier, I am particularly focused on forming relationships with organizations that support nonprofit, mission driven publishing librarians often learn about publishing and scholarly communication through relationships we forge at our own institutions with other librarians, through consortium networks and professional organizations, as well as through the relationship we navigate with the publishers with which we work.
Like other informational professionals, I've expanded my interaction in this space through advisory roles for certain communities and boards. So I'm on the Board of Trustees for the Open Access E-book Usage Data Trust, where I'm serving as chair and member of the Diamond Open Access Community, which is an international community facilitated by Science Europe Coalition s Opera House and the French National Research Agency.
I participate in the Open Access Books Network Specialty Interest Group administered through operas. This last year I served on the Shared Principles Committee for the Coalition s al PSP Information Power Combined Efforts in helping smaller publishers transition to Open Access. I serve on the MIT Press Library Advisory Board and I actively participate in the Subscribe to Open Community of Practice as well as the Crossref Books Advisory Group.
I can certainly provide a U.S. perspective on the challenges before us, but I don't speak only for those in the States. More and more, I am interacting with non-U.S. libraries, publishers and funding agencies through my work and as I do so, growing to understand how much more complex all of this is. I'm learning to embrace them as though I refuse to be paralyzed by the messiness and immensity of these challenges through my work.
And I'm learning that meaningful change does not require radical change. We can move in small steps together and still be effective in transforming scholarly publishing. So little bit about places.
Travis Rich: Just the slides are still really small. I think you're sharing the notes and the slides screen. I don't know if there's a way to switch it just so.
Sharla Lair: You all can just read what I'm doing.
Travis Rich: Your emphasis gives it everything, though.
Sharla Lair: Oh, absolutely. And that's always so fun. Okay, so hopefully this is better. And that means now we're you're going to be surprised by what I say. So LYRASIS, I'm going to tell you a little bit about that and what we're doing. We're taking a multi-pronged approach and seeking out programs and publishers whose values align with ours and those in the library community.
We respect the diversity of open models, and we believe there's a need for many approaches to support the diversity of scholarship. And when we vet programs, we focus on those that create opportunities for diverse array of libraries and institutions to engage. We seek transformation through a variety of open models. There is not one model that rules them all, and as a result, we're building a connection infrastructure of funding communities around open research infrastructure, as well as content published by smaller nonprofit publishers like university presses, library publishers and scholar led publishers.
By interacting with these programs, either through consulting or as we try to educate the library community about them, we're learning the intricacies of how the revenue models work to sustain them. And I'm going to share with you today an overview of these models and that focus on a particular case study. And so forgive me because we're going to get into some details here, but maybe that's what you're here for.
And I hope so. But first, I want to make sure it's understood what an open access revenue model is. This is highly simplified, but I think it helps. Paywalled revenue models are where they're designed to capture the revenue needed to subsidize the cost after a work is published. So you publish the thing and then you sell it for access to recoup your costs.
This can be done through subscription or purchase models with open access revenue models. Those are used to capture the revenue needed to support the costs of publishing the work before it is published. Again, this can be done through ongoing spend like subscription or one time spend, but the difference is when in your workflow that you need to collect the funds.
It's important to choose the model that best fits your principles or mission and is most sustainable for your customers and for sustaining your business. Choosing revenue models for your publishing activities becomes more complex the more content you publish. There are also added complexities. If you are transitioning from paywall to open. But there's a growing community of small publishers facing these challenges and complexities that we can all learn from.
There is no need to reinvent any wheels. Although becoming an okay publisher might be new to you, it is not new. So the project called Cobham or the Community led open publication Infrastructures for Monographs recently published a listing of revenue models that support open access monographs. These models are not specific to supporting monograph publishing, but journals as well, and I thought it would be a good entry point in understanding the tangled ways that money flows through publishers to support what they do.
It is it's this tangle that slows the transition to open, particularly for smaller publishers. So I'm going to briefly go over all the models that are listed here. First, the earned revenue models. These are service provision models where the publisher conducts activity or provide services or sells items for which it charges a fee to generate revenue to finance its own operations with advertising.
This consists of advertisements, contextual links or product placement within the content itself, or on the publisher's website article or book processing charges where publishers charge the author or his or her employer or funder a fee upon acceptance of the book or the article for publication. Cross-subsidy. These are all over the place in which funding for content comes from revenue from the publisher's commercial activities.
So where you might have a program that's doing really well and gets a lot more revenue, you might use some of that for those that are not funded as well to cover those costs. Crowdfunding from individuals. This is where the publisher organizes crowdfunding like through Go Fund Me pitching open content online to readers embargoed and delayed open access.
This is where the content becomes open access only after a delay or an embargo. And during the embargo period, only paywalled editions are available. There are two versions of this revenue model. The length of the embargo period may be fixed in advance, so they might say on 12 months or the embargo may last until sales reach a certain level.
So there's a revenue threshold that has to be met with endowments. The publisher, Bill A, receives an endowment or a subvention. For example, as part of a startup grant and use its annual interest to cover its expenses, fund fundraising or donations and grants where the publisher solicits donations periodically or continuously from individuals or foundations. This is different from crowdfunding because publishers ask for continuous support for the organization to cover some of the operational costs.
There are two forms of hybrid. Same idea, though. It's where the and the digital only freemium is. Where the early edition is is in one digital format and made and available for everyone to be able to access. But there's a priced edition that has higher utility like for epub, PDF and in print. Same idea that the digital version is open access, but there's a priced version for the print edition, and then with third party licensing, the publisher license, some as some of its own content to third party distributors, and uses some of the revenue to support the costs of the way publishing the publisher might make the content available for commercial district distribution under a separate license. So publishers can generate additional revenue by licensing content to third party information aggregators. There's also the potential for the third party licensing of non material to cross subsidized versions. Embedded institutional support. These are unique largely to library publishers and to university presses in most instances. So this is where a publisher's operations are financed through a subsidy from its parent organization, and the revenue model may also include in-kind support from professional services like human resources, finance, I.T staff even with library based publishing.
This is where the publishing instance within the library collaborates with the university library as a whole. They share resources to make this financially feasible, and this model often involves sharing one budget between departments and a delineation of responsibilities according to each party's expertise, resource sharing is often both in-kind and financial, and then the subsidy models where a university faculty or research center or even library subsidizes a university press directly or indirectly through like providing equipment or personnel or in-kind institutional support.
This differs from library publishing above, as it refers specifically to funding a university press as a separate entity. Third party subsidies, or a revenue model where grants are provided from external stakeholders. We see this a lot in the open space. They're not this very long term, but the the for grants, specifically an institution like a learned society or a not for profit organization or foundation, subsidizes, in a way, publications in whole or part, directly or indirectly, financially or through facilities personnel.
This model often includes startup grants and may also work through commissioning. And then liberation is a model we're dealing with largely like works that have already been published that are on the backlist. And so sponsors can buy the copyright for books and then make them open access sponsors can also provide the financing for the publishers to convert their backlist to open access.
Source or collaborative models are where many stakeholders fund a publisher or many publishers without direct 1 to 1 service provision. And so the four types of these are organizational, organizational, crowdfunding or sponsorship. This is a model which an intermediate platform connects many purchasers with the option to unlock or unlatch a title. This revenue model is similar to crowdfunding, but here the crowd is made of institutions and there can be more than two parties that are engaged in cooperation with membership fees, which is very similar.
The user groups create a platform for economic exchange that provides each group with the benefits of a large network. So a little bit more community building in some sense around those membership fees, fee models. Shared infrastructure is a supply side model which entails sharing infrastructure and resources, and then with subscribe to open are sometimes called conditional models. This can be a model used to facilitate the transition of journals and books to open access and under subscribe to open or conditional.
The libraries subscribe to have access to the content its ongoing spend. But after the subscriptions reach a certain threshold, only then does the content become available to all readers. So revenue models do not exist in isolation. There are many of them, and publishers use a variety of them to diversify their revenue stream. And this is a good practice that fosters sustainability for that publisher.
And here's an example of the various revenue models that publishers employ in book publishing. Notice how some publishers appear on multiple lines, and I would bet that the other publishers listed have other revenue streams they rely on that come from nonprofit activities such as trade publication, journal subscriptions, database subscriptions and print sales. This is one of the reasons why open access models appear to be so confusing and why we hear the complaint.
There are too many models. This isn't much different than Paywalled products and services though, where you have subscription purchase, multi-year agreements, evidence based acquisition models, demand driven acquisition models, single title purchases varying in packages that are out there. We just understand those models because they've been around longer, this emerging array of OTA models, we need to find ways to normalize the language we use around them to describe them, just to reduce a lot of the confusion.
Another reason for confusion around the models is the varying names of the programs you hear words thrown around like Subscribe to open, flip it to open, direct to open, opening the Future and Fun Commission. These aren't all different models. They're just different program names, variations of the same model. And as you dove into them, you start to realize this.
So be very cognizant, cognizant of this when describing the model you use to sustain your program again, publishers use a variety of different business models to support open access publishing, often using several different models in order to capture enough money to sustain their operations. I spend a lot of time trying to understand revenue models because I believe it's important to understand how money flows in this work.
Money flow varies based on political OSTP memos, economic and legal structures. Money flows very differently in the U.S., for instance, as opposed to the EU, because national and private funding agencies are different due to the fact that higher education and the money that flows through those systems are highly decentralized. In the U.S., where there is much more centralized funding in the EU, however money flows, it's important to take into consideration how libraries participate in funding scholarly content as you choose revenue models.
For most of the models, library participation typically falls into two buckets. They either think, is this one time spend or is this ongoing spend and one time spend. Libraries pay the full cost of publishing a book or an article out of library funds, or they choose to commit to pay only one time. Like to open a backlist example business models include publication fees like Abebooks, BP, CS, subvention grants or liberation models.
And programs are the TOME Initiative, which is a book program along with scope threes Open Physics Book Fund with ongoing spend, libraries pay an ongoing fee or subscription usually less than any apps or BTC. An example business models are membership subscribed to open collective collaborative funding diamond or Platinum? Okay, these are words you hear thrown around with these models and the example programs are opening the future Open Library for Humanities and Annual Reviews.
So what are the dominant models that libraries can participate in and that you might want to consider for your program? For journals, they're primarily subscribed to open or collective crowdfunding models. I'm not going to talk about transformative agreements in Apex because I want to talk about what I think might be more sustainable for publishers and for those who fund them.
These are very similar in nature. They subscribe to open and collective crowdfunding models because they're both ongoing spend for libraries or renewing year on year, and both result in free to read and free to publish. If successful, if the threshold is not met for subscribe to open, then the content remains gated and only accessible to those libraries who participated.
Subscribed to open is designed to be built upon a publisher's legacy subscription model. So it's best suited for publishers with an existing customer base so that they are not tasked with building a community rather than the transitioning the funds from the existing funding community. The model requires all subscribers to renew or content remains gated. This removes a lot of risk for the publisher, so on the library side as to how journals work through normal procurement workflows at their institutions, so that's really important to remove barriers for them to be able to participate.
So in Studio Journal, they typically have license agreements as well as some kind of incentive like term access to a backlist or at the very least guaranteed paywalled access for those libraries that subscribe in the event the threshold is not met. Subscribe to open works really well for publishers who trying to remain revenue neutral they want to make about the same level of revenue they made under a fully paywalled model.
And this is great for mission driven legacy publishers like societies and university presses for collective or crowdfunding models. They don't necessarily have traditional license license agreements. However, they usually have an optional participation agreement available. If an institution requires once there's still a little bit of that going on, they typically are very transparent about how much funding is needed to meet their goal and are operating in a fully open environment. They don't have a plan B of going back to paywall. There is no way of reverting to gated content because of that. So rather they will have to seek other revenue streams or just may not publish as much if they don't meet their funding goals.
And then the ebook revenue Models. Ironically, some of the same models work for these. What we're finding the difference between the journal iterations of these two models with the book iterations are the price points for various reasons. Books cost more to publish and those that are native or scholar led, meaning they don't hold a legacy of gated content. Models, have an advantage over those transitioning to open access, and that they started off with lower publishing costs.
Example of programs that are established subscribe to open or they often seek conditional models as their model of choice or in MIT press Direct to Open COPIM’s opening the future was Central European University Press in Liverpool University Press and University of Michigan Press is Fund to Mission Open Access Monograph Program. And so examples that are collective crowdfunding or membership models include Lever Press, Punk and books and the LYRASIS Books Fund.
So I want to go a little bit and dive into the Open Access Community Investment Program as a case study for how one of these models is used. I'm going to give you kind of a background of how we came to this program in the emerging open access publishing space, the library community is often confronted with increasing opportunities to invest in open access publications.
And remember, the work I do isn't serving much of the library community. So libraries don't always have the sufficient information about all of the new programs that are emerging. They don't know how to evaluate them or make informed investment decisions relative and relevant to their institutional values, and it's preventing them from participating and funding them. In addition, libraries are also faced with the administrative hurdles of having to deal with a multitude of different individual procurement processes.
And this problem is not unique to open access publishing. However, in the context of publishing, having to set up and maintain individual procurement processes for every single publication transition to open access is not sustainable. So in 2019, I found that there were many others exploring these problems and began talking to one community in particular. It called the Transitioning Society Publications to open access or to play.
And we began holding joint consultations in 2020 with library publishers and university presses to explore how to address many of these problems. We learned in those conversations that the library, publisher and university press community was struggling to find sustainable funding for diamond journals. And Diamond just means that it's free to read and free to publish. And these problems, free for especially diamond journals, is common.
The recent Diamond Journal study performed by Coalition S and Science Europe, reveals that diamond journals are very numerous, relatively small, often published by small university based publishers and largely dependent on volunteer labor. Only 40% of the time in journals reported breaking even. Almost one third of journals reported not knowing their financial status was over one third of those reporting, but both university owned journals and university presses.
So overall, the survey indicated that funding beyond in-kind contributions must be considered vital to ensure strong and healthy diamond journals. And so, as our discussions evolved, a vision for a community driven framework to match funders, and particularly from the library community with diamond journals, emerged. And this vision was based on three goals. The first was to provide potential funders with useful information or criteria about the publications and publishers to make informed funding choices. The second goal was to provide a place to bring everyone together to escape the one off investment administration and procurement woes. And the third goal was to facilitate coordination through outreach strategies and support to investors to establish a truly community driven environment.
We built upon these three goals and developed a community driven single entry point that allows multiple stakeholders to evaluate and fund open access content initiatives, particularly diamond journals, and we call it the Open Access Community Investment Program or Ownership LYRASIS.
O.A.C.P.O launched a pilot in 2020. We collectively developed criteria that publishers have an opportunity to respond to and support criteria driven decision making by the potential investor. We found two way diamond journals to participate and that the web page for each journal on the lyricist website and these web pages included a brief description of the journal, a link to the journals, completed criteria form, and then the funding goal as well as how much funding has been raised and the recommended pledge amount.
The pages also make transparent who has committed support and then this was done and a lot of partnership with with some people that I always want to give a call out to, which is Catherine Mitchell, E Scholarship and Rob Dilworth and Eric Staid at Duke University Press, who provided the journals for that pilot, and then the folks at TSPOA, Rachel Sandberg from UC Berkeley and Curtis Brundy at Iowa State. I could not have done this without them.
So here's a glimpse of some of the criteria established for OACIP. There's a link there that link will take you to the form. When you get the slides, you can go and check it out. The criteria seeks to ask the right questions of publishers and to have publishers provide those answers to potential investors.
Based on the answers the publishers give to those questions, potential investors can make more informed decisions based on how those answers align with whatever values they hold locally, and if they haven't articulated their own local values yet, it's an opportunity for them to do so. So how it works, we developed document Nation. We have the the journal completes that OHIP form.
We define expectations so the lyricist has an email you with each of the journals it's a five year agreement because what we're doing is we're asking for five years of funding from the libraries and any other funders who step up. We also draft participation agreements for libraries who require some form of documentation. Then we work together with lyricists and the journal to make sure that they have the right business modeling in mind for what they're doing.
And that includes not just expenses to cover costs, but also some kind of sustainability fund we recommend of at least 15% because partly, you know, there's inflation, unexpected costs. And also we actually charge a fee to these journals because we're providing a service here and it's a partnership. And so that 15% covers all of that. We also help them develop a pricing model that's fair to the libraries.
Then we do we set up all the outreach and marketing. We work through our fiscal systems, our CRM and our website, to make sure that's all set up for the campaign, which we do with promotion through listservs, social media, and publications. Lots of presentations like this one and targeted campaigns done in coordination with the Journal LYRASIS, manages all the invoicing and participation agreements, and we send regular reports to the journals about the activity of the fundraising.
Then at the end of the campaign, which it it's about a ten month campaign, LYRASIS sends the money to the journals, we continue to invoice libraries each year for the five years. If they didn't pay it all up front, which some libraries do, and then we act as a hub for annual reports from the journals coming soon, where we can report out to the libraries how the journal is doing each year.
Opportunities for the OACIP partner publisher have been expressed to me from others that for some of these it's just the journal and the editorial board, and that's all I'm working with. And so we're helping amplify who they are and what they're trying to do and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and , initiatives the Journal might have increasing access to third party services like copyediting and typesetting.
These funds help them actually do that. It's also reduced reducing workload for their editors, providing more professionalization of publications, and they're getting paid. We're trying to remedy that free labor problem. Has OACIP proven successful? I think we still need more time to determine if it truly is a success. However, the data we've collected has exceeded our expectation, and since OACIP has launched, 56 institutions from four countries have committed over half a million dollars to support five journals sustainably for five years.
And we're in the middle of now the third funding campaign, but the program head has been gaining international attention. It's a huge honor that the steering committee of the Budapest Open Access Initiative and their recent 20th anniversary recommendations specifically cited OACIP. And we have come far in a very short period, but there's still much we can do that third round is one of those. We just launched that was six journals. I expect to learn so much more by working with these journals as a few of them are published by societies. This is our first time working with societies through OACIP. One journal is transitioning from print to open access! That's going to be something we're going to learn a lot about. We're also featuring to non-U.S. based journals, one is published in India, and another in the U.K. And the journal from the U.K. is only asking for partial funding because they're receiving a portion through JISC’s Open Access Community Framework.
We're testing to see if this federated network of funding could work. This funding round ends next July, and we've already received some commitments, but we have a long way to go to reach the funding goals for this round. In the meantime, we have plans to add to our documentation by creating a template report for OACIP journals to complete each year that will communicate how they've spent the funds that were raised and and levels of impact that they're seeing.
Selecting next year's journals is already underway. I'm getting more and more of journals coming to me. I won't be able to start them until next year. And then I do want to reiterate, we're not the only ones doing this. As I mentioned, JISC has their program, but there's also programs like SCOSS, Open Library of Humanities and the COPIM Project that are doing similar type efforts.
And then in Germany, TIB has KOALA and JISK’s open access community framework in the U.K. This is simultaneous invention, it just reveals the kind of infrastructure, infrastructure that our global community really needs to sustain open scholarship. So it's open is our future. OACIP has the potential to engage many stakeholders in the research and scholarly communication ecosystem to sustain the participating programs, utilizing workflows that already exist, as well as provide an opportunity for libraries and consortia to operationalize principles and values they have adopted and create a more sustainable, scholarly communication ecosystem.
So thank you. I'm going to move things over to Jeff.
00:34:52:00 - 00:35:14:09
Jeff Pooley: All right. Well, thank you, Sharla I am going to be brief and informal and I'm just going to go ahead and share my screen. I just want to thank, though, Travis and Catherine and others at Knowledge Futures Group, one of my favorite infrastructure providers in the scholarly communication world. As Sharla mentioned, I'm going to kind of jump off from her baton toss.
I guess if I could mix metaphors there to just mention that one of the journals that has been funded successfully in what was the second round of OACIP is a journal that I co-edited called History of Media Studies, and it was successfully funded last year and for five years going forward in the OACIP program and it itself is part of this small, scholar led open access, no fee publisher that publishes books in journals called Media Studies.Press, which fittingly is posted on KFG’s PubPub platform.1
What I wanted to do basically is from the point of view of a no APC publisher that is nonprofit and scholar led is talk about some of the same things that Sharla did, but really from the point of view of a born native, OA publisher. So it will be more specific.
And I'm really going to just zoom in on the example of OACIP, but also a couple of others that Sharla briefly mentioned. And just as the and so I want to talk about what I have called at the risk of introducing yet another acronym into what is already, as we just saw, quite a soupy mix the mission align funding exchange.
And I want to mention these four very, very briefly examples. One of them being the case study that you just saw. So doesn't need much more description. And but I'll mention the other three, the Open Book Collective, KOALA and SCOSS in a moment but just the back story I thought I would, first of all, just share. I don't know if Catherine, you could throw in the chat an article I wrote that kind of goes into this idea of the mission-aligned funding exchange.
Read along: Collective Funding to Reclaim Scholarly Publishing, by Jefferson Pooley in, Commonplace
But the backdrop is the sort of collective funding that Sharla was talking about in which in open access terms, neither the reader nor the author pays. Instead, there's direct support for publishing and infrastructure from funders like libraries, but not just libraries. And as as you could pick up from Sharla’s talk, it's especially important for outfits like Media Studies.Press that are born OA, that don't have sort of that catalog leverage and other points of private good leverage.
So the mission-aligned funding exchange is one example of how publishers, Media Studies.Press can stay afloat. And I guess to go quickly, I wanted to also make a plug for the report that I think Sharla was citing herself, this COPIM report that really goes through all of the collective funding models that Sharla discussed in great detail. It's I think in the chat as well and free to download.
But the backdrop to all of this is just for from my point of view is the unfairness fundamentally of the APC and ebook processing charge based publishing model that has disastrously become the kind of main backbone of the open access movement, which drops barriers to readers only to erect them for authors. Even though most scholars and their host institutions around the world can't afford them.
And here I am referring not just to epics, but also transformative agreements and the like. And it's so it's it's the case that lots of us may be preaching to the choir here, that the emerging landscape is pretty much dominated by the APC model. And in that sense, it's actually arguably worse than the old system just because it bars authors from participating.
And I think we need a different kind of movement where the A refers to authorship like open authorship with the core principle that no one's ability to publish should ever, ever hinge on whether they or their employer can afford fees and. Right, I mean, here's just an example from nature. Of course, Sharla referred to those models that work quite well for publishers who are legacy like university presses or told journals published by societies that want to transition to an open model.
So subscribe to open, she mentioned. I'm not going to go into any detail of the book side of things that she said is really quite similar direct to open or see. For instance, printers here the I'm opening the future model at Central European University press the difference for those folks is that they do have either established spending commitments or they can leverage back catalog access or the threat, as Starla said, of closed access reversion.
The born owa world has no such leverage. So that's where the mission online funding exchange comes in. And just to briefly discuss its main contours, these are essentially matching platforms that funders, libraries, but also in theory government agencies and foundations with nonprofit APC, free, BBC, free publishers and infrastructure providers. And these, like the KIPP example can be fiscal clearinghouses as well.
But the fundamental idea is that they that recipients or would be recipients elaborate mission criteria like structured answers like the one that L.A. has and that the funders receive information on things like scope or budget, governance, licensing, and get reports on those things after the fact. And ideally, these platforms, as they're emerging, should be ideally governed by jointly by funders, publishers, and even scholars.
And so the examples that I could point to very quickly, I just wanted to say that the first reference to this idea I ever saw was 2019 with Jack Highlands and his coauthors piece Insights. But I really do credit Sharla and I'm just I'm not saying that because she's here, but Charlo working with Rachel Sandberg and Curtis Grundy, who she mentioned briefly from UC Berkeley, with introducing the crucial mission component in early days of Awaken.
And that really think is the sort of missing piece from the idea as it was floated. So we already heard about okay I'm there's a very exciting platform for books that's about to launch. It's been publicized but not yet operational. I should say that media studies that press is going to be one of its charter members and it will be somewhat like, okay, it's a kind of web based platform with structured answers to fiscal management and and accept a fee to fund its own operations.
That's Open Book Collective. And one really exciting thing about what they're doing is they're allowing bundles of would be funding recipients to put a joint appeal together. So to take the example of this scholar led coalition of small publishers, we're going to have a kind of joint appeal in the Open Book Collective, I think Sharla mentioned in passing this German based KOALA.
It's got the very best acronym ever with no close competitor, though I can't quite pronounce what it stands for. They just successfully went through their first round of funding and I did want to shout out the SCOSS Infrastructure Fund that is been around since 2017 that basically does rounds of funding for important infrastructure. And I will mention, though, that the Open Book Collective wants to do infrastructure as well, and it's going to have bundles for infrastructure.
So anyway, I just thought to go through that particular model, this mission aligned funding exchange and mentioned that it helps with one major challenge of providing direct funding. This major challenge is sometimes called free ridership. If you're being cynical about it, that issue of libraries and other funders providing dollars for outputs that are free to everyone and the way it helps on that front is by providing kind of governance in some cases and or some, you know, some shared governance and some reporting back, including institution level metrics, at least in theory, in the future.
But what it most helps with, and this is something that Sharla touched on briefly, is what is right now an utter nightmare for all funders, especially librarians, the one off funding request and the related issue of one of vetting, like trying to vet individual membership programs or individual publications is, is nightmarishly and and unsustainable nightmarishly difficult and unsustainable for the librarians and others who are doing the actual funding.
So just this off burning of coordination, vetting and financial procurement is pretty damn crucial for its success. And I guess I'll just close. You know, Travis, you mentioned the OSTP memo, and it is, as I and many others have mentioned, and this is a piece that maybe KCatherine could drop in the chat a little bit for all of its excitement, disturbingly, if implicitly all in on the author processing charge, you know, to explicitly mention that and permits it for the U.S. agencies that are going to be involved.
And as a spitball, I've been thinking about whether, you know, the idea of something like, an infrastructure match and I've been writing about this a little bit whereby require some rule changes, but whereby the APC which in realistic terms isn't going to go away in the primarily science based disciplines that most of the agencies that this memo will apply to are involved in.
But the federal rulemaking process could require an infrastructure match. There's already a dollar for dollar. The idea, in other words, would be like a dollar for dollar match for every dollar of APC funding. And there already is a process at least outlined in the memo, which is to basically allow individual agencies to designate appropriate green self archiving sites that are not part of the federal government or to designate data repositories that are not part of the federal government.
You can imagine a similar vetting process for infrastructure match funds governed by entities like perhaps lyricists, or even invest in open infrastructure, a US based nonprofit. So anyway, I just threw that out there as an idea to think about how some of these funds could be raised and fundamentally interested in this idea of the mission align funding exchange for publishers like Media Studies dot press thank you.
Travis Rich: Super. Thank you both. I'm going to have a couple of questions for both of you, but there is one good question in the Q&A that I started this that you're going to answer. Yes, I'll read that off and we'll kick off with that of the jump into more. So anonymous attendee at 1:01 p.m. said Do subscribe to open public to share what the revenue thresholds are in order to go away in the way that a kept journals are transparent.
And if per customer costs will go down, if their customer base grows and want to like subscribe to open as a model. But I'm troubled by what seems like a lack of transparency and what they've been able to find online anyway.
Yes, yes. So this is, this is my struggle. I actually belong to the community of practice because this is the one thing I struggle with. I'm not one to just say, Oh, I don't like it, so I'm going to just dispose it or not. Think of it. I actually want to jump in and engage with them to try to make it work because there are a lot of really good things about this model.
There are some publishers and I would say it's more on the book side than on the journal side that are transparent about what it costs to do the publishing and how much money they actually need to be successful, not all of them are are transparent about their threshold that has to be met. There are a variety of reasons for this, some of them that they're being told by others that they shouldn't.
There's also a fear that if people found out how much it costs to publish the journal, that they might disregard it. And honestly, that the what I'm seeing out there and what the thresholds are, it's not unreasonable, but it is a higher number than perhaps those that we see on OHIP, because they are legacy publishers. They're paying for labor and they're paying for, you know, immense amount of labor.
It costs money. And they're looking to, you know, for their staff to be able to buy their groceries because this is just part of how it's all built. You have to take that and to consideration, okay. Does not mean low pay. It shouldn't. And so there's this fear, though, that it'll throw the it'll scare everyone away. But I will say, all of us subscribe to open models of the journals that have done this and the journal side have had spent have been successful.
There aren't very many that they're reaching their goals. And yes, they do some of them do have it written in that they will lower the costs if they get to a certain amount. But I don't think that they're getting to that level just yet. And so there's a lot of shift in there. And I am talking to them the transparency of how much they need to raise.
It's important in making a better understanding of the scholarly communication landscape of how much money actually needs to be in the system to support it sustainably, especially for the mission driven publishers. And I will say thus far it's only been mission driven publishers doing subscribe to open. Commercial publishers are afraid of it because of that transparency piece, and they want to just keep making more and more and more and more and that that's a dangerous thing for them.
Travis Rich: One of the one of the things that I think resonates so much with what both of you are saying is just this idea that, yeah, like, oh, okay, let's call it and just assume that everyone assumes that to mean open access authorship. That doesn't guarantee that there won't still be players who are profit motivated and, you know, seeking to land in a better financial situation than they were before.
One of the realities that we see dealing with a lot of communities is that there's just because there are so many models and because it is so sort of tumultuous at the moment, there's a lot of anxiety around knowing how to decide which sort of way to go with. And of course, like, you know, sort of the you outlined some ways that if you're mission driven, here's the set of things.
That mission driven organizations tend to do. You're somewhere else if you're the library, if you're pressed, if you're something else, maybe these sort of fit for you. But maybe this is starting off for you. Just how much patience do you have? Like, how long do you try a thing before you realize, Oh, that's actually not going to work or something else?
Like, how do you do that experiment? And and you know, I think we're all sort of in the same boat where we can, like, theorize and come up with the exact perfect model of how the whole, you know, if only everyone did this one thing, then it would work. And so this becomes the theory of a business model based in that sort of thing.
But as you sort of live it and as you sort of played out in reality and as sort of as lots of these experiments, different commutes, how long how long do you try something before staying that and working to try something else? Or now we just need to do like keep pushing in this one certain funding direction and then we're confident in that.
Jeff Pooley: Know, I mean, it's a very good question and I want to sidestep it at first just to say that I feel like there is this sense of urgency that we all feel because of the steady march of Elsevier Center nature and so on, to move on APC so aggressively through transformative agreements with I would add, I mean unfortunately with unfriendly from plan s and coalition s on essentially pumping the gas on on encouraging those sorts of APC based deals that there's a prospect of kind of funding lockdown or a kind of way in which the dollars that are currently circulating in the system that are for told and the subscription based funding models are being quickly hoovered up for the APC counterparts and that as a result the alphabet soup direct funding options we've talked about today are left with the kind of crumbs of funding. And so I take your point that you're asking about, like how if you're a publisher and you're trying out one of these funding models, how long do you stick with one before you give it up?
And I want to almost take it to the point place of the prospect of in the short timeframe that we have to actually establish the viability of demand. No APC funding models before commitments are made on the ground that in effect lock down the vast majority of the funding that would otherwise go to such models. So there's that particular urgency that I feel very strongly about.
Travis Rich: Does does that Sharla, any thought on how you address that urgency? And we're like, okay, I've been able to sort of like it. Yeah.
Sharla Lair: It's tough. So we fully funded five journals and there are there have been arguments of, you know, 20 to 50000 demento journals in the world. So, I mean, it is a very, very small, you know, impact that has been made, but it has a lot of potential if it can be scaled. The problem is, is that the way the money flows right now, like what Jeff's talking about with the funding agencies, funding agencies have always been paying authors.
So it makes sense that they would think, oh, let's do this. You know, that's enforces APC because that's the only way their systems work. They don't pay publishers, they can't some block grants to libraries, but libraries have to apply for them. And it's a lot of work in it. There's just some there's not just this easy way of, hey, here's where the money needs to flow.
Let's, let's let it go there. And so with with ownership, you know, I have visions and I'm talking to lots of people always say people never solve every problem. That will not be the solution for every journal, not even in the U.S. But I'm trying to create a federated network of these programs around the world that like koala like discourse program like others, where we we work together in our own geographies where it makes sense, but that we connect so that we can amplify and work better and trying to collect the money that is in the system through these kinds of channels and have them go this way.
Because I didn't mention the I've had to journal to OACIP journals have left one left Elsevier, one left Springer Nature. And the ones that we have now, there are some that have some of their toes dipped in Wiley, you know, and it's so they're they're at this point where, you know, where do they go if they don't have these commercial entities?
Where do they go when the commercial entities are the only way that they can get funding for it through that APC system. So there's a lot of the lot of plates being spun right now. But to scale, you know, that's that's the thing here where the real challenges and trying to get people to get to like this language, this jargon, a shared language, a shared understanding and then getting all of us together rather than in silos.
Jeff Pooley: I just jump in with. Oh, sure. I, I was just going to jump in quickly with an issue that Sharla, you can correct me and others might know better here. But the way in which library procurement and funding currently works in many North American libraries and I suspect in Europe too, is that open access funds are set aside as their own silo in many cases, and they have specific librarians or scholarly communication librarians that have control over that part of money that's relatively small.
One development that's been so exciting to see is that libraries like Berkley's and within and in Belgium have adopted the explicit kind of criteria that are value driven for their own investing. And to the extent that the kind of silo funds can be combined with an otherwise completed, with the broader procurement funds, with values driven criteria for investing, that that seems to be like the crucial step, especially as it gets mediated through professional organizations like the American Library Association and so on, to take what is currently just like an experimental fund for, you know, in most libraries to find a few apex and perhaps investments like a it's great for at times I'm going to
Travis Rich: I'm going to do the risky thing of say does anyone treat the audience have a question live that they want to jump on to camera or make and if not, just thank everyone for coming. We have a recording of this that will be sharing more than happy to connect folks with with Jeff and Sharla This is obviously a conversation more than just a thing.
We're going to solve a quick webinar, but thank you, guys. Thank you, Sharla. Thank you, Jeff. We'll share a lot of these links. We'll send them around. Thank you. Yeah.
Sharla Lair: Thank you all.
Jeff Pooley: Thanks, everyone.