The year 2023 has witnessed remarkable strides in open science, with universities and research institutions leading the charge toward sustainable open-access publishing. Oxford University Press (OUP) is at the forefront of this endeavor, aiming to make trusted, high-quality research accessible to everyone while addressing the challenges posed by Article Processing Charges (APCs).
In this article, we’ll explore some of the sustainable developments in open science and delve into how universities, particularly in Sweden, are reshaping their strategies to transition to a fully open publishing system.
Sustainable Developments in Open Science
The year 2023 marks a turning point in the embrace of open science principles. A recent report from Sweden’s ‘Beyond transformative agreements’ working group (the BTA group) recommends a strategic shift towards fully open access (OA) journals. The report, titled “Charting Sweden’s Path Beyond Transformative Agreements – Analysis and Proposals for Strategic Direction,” urges the Bibsam Consortium, consisting of 85 higher education and research institutions in Sweden, to refrain from ‘read and publish agreements’ and focus on fully open journals.
At the same time, OUP recognizes the necessity of APCs to maintain journal quality but acknowledges that charges can be a barrier for some authors, particularly those lacking research funding.
OUP’s Approach to Eliminating Barriers
To address the challenges associated with APCs, OUP is committed to a multifaceted approach. Key strategies include:
- negotiating transformative agreements with institutions and national consortia
- centralizing OA publishing fee payments
- alleviating financial burdens on individual authors.
Additionally, OUP publishes diamond OA journals, where sponsoring organizations cover OA costs, eliminating the need for APCs.
Recognizing some authors’ financial constraints, OUP employs various APC waiver programs. These include:
- discretionary waivers for authors without funding
- automatic waivers for corresponding authors in low and middle-income countries
- editorial waivers for commissioned work.
The aim is to ensure that financial considerations do not hinder researchers from publishing their work.
Impact and Continuous Improvement
Between 2021 and 2022, OUP’s fully OA journals saw over 3,800 papers with waived APCs, reflecting approximately 15% of total publications in those journals. OUP acknowledges that the waiver process can be complex and strives to simplify it while exploring additional collective and diamond OA approaches. The commitment to participation in cross-publishing initiatives further underscores OUP’s dedication to equitable and sustainable OA publishing.
Oxford University Press’s commitment to a sustainable open-access future aligns with broader developments in the academic publishing landscape. As OUP continues to refine its approach, the collaboration of authors, readers, and partners is crucial in building a more inclusive and sustainable future for academic research. Together, these efforts contribute to the ongoing transformation of scholarly communication, fostering change and ensuring equitable access to OA publishing.
Universities and Sustainable Open-Access Publishing
Universities are at the forefront of sustainable open-access publishing, driving innovative models and collaborative initiatives. The BTA group advises universities to sign agreements only with publishers committed to open-access journals. Furthermore, universities are urged to establish national independent publishing platforms, migrate researcher-owned journals to alternative platforms, and address copyright issues related to open access.
While the push towards sustainable open access is commendable, challenges persist. Financial constraints and concerns about the quality of open-access publications are hurdles universities are navigating. However, the opportunities presented by open science, such as increased global collaboration and societal impact, outweigh these challenges.
Sweden as Open Access Leaders
Sweden has been a pioneer in promoting open access to scholarly publications. Despite being ahead in the open access movement, the Stockholm University statement accompanying the report highlights the need to avoid a perpetual transformation that favors large commercial publishers. The report underscores the importance of strategic initiatives and actions during negotiations with publishers, emphasizing agreements with publishers dedicated to open access.
The Swedish government has played a proactive role in advocating for open access. The research and innovation bill, Forskning, Frihet, Framtid, called for publicly funded scholarly publications to be openly accessible by 2021. The government’s commitment to open science was further emphasized during Sweden’s chairmanship of the European Union Council in the first half of 2023.
The move away from transformative agreements has sparked an international discussion on the future of open-access publishing, and the BTA group’s report is Sweden’s contribution to this global conversation. Key figures in academia, such as Professor Johan Rooryck and Robert-Jan Smits, advocate for aligning national initiatives with broader European efforts to create a robust scholarly communication system.
As universities navigate the evolving landscape of open science, 2023 is a milestone in pursuing sustainable open-access publishing. The recommendations put forth by the BTA group provide a roadmap for universities and institutions worldwide to embrace open science principles, foster collaboration, and work towards a future where scholarly knowledge is universally accessible. The international discourse surrounding open access continues to gain momentum, promising a more inclusive and transparent future for academic publishing.
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As a key player in the drive towards sustainable open science, Orvium exemplifies the transformative potential of technology in reshaping the scholarly publishing landscape, fostering accessibility, and promoting the principles of open science. If you want to learn more about our platform, make sure to visit our website and platform. And also, make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or Instagram to keep up with the latest news and product features.