International Open Access Week – Publishers talk about OA (Part III)

How does Open Access affect different areas of publishing, and international research and collaboration?

We’re at the end of International Open Access Week, and our blog series, where some fantastic academic and STM publishing professionals gave us some great insight into how Open Access affects the research community.

Once again, thank you so much to Sarah Cooper (Promotions & Marketing Manager) and Gaynor Redvers-Mutton (Head of Business Development & Sales) from Microbiology Society, Charles Lusty (former Head of Publishing Operations, The Royal Society), Claire Moulton, (Publisher, The Company of Biologists), and Rod Cookson (Managing Director, IWA Publishing), for their wonderful insights!

How is OA changing the work of researchers and librarians?

Operating as a not-for-profit community publisher, the Company of Biologists (CoB) look to support researchers and their dissemination of science – something which Open Access is very much in line with. Claire highlighted that their OA articles are read twice as much as their non-OA ones so the benefit can definitely be seen; but the transition to OA needs to be approached in a viable way for everyone. They have been working closely with librarians and have been receiving great feedback from both them and authors on the transformative agreements and their cost-neutral arrangements, as well as their transparency and innovative approach.

She also noted that funders have also been very helpful, especially to smaller NFP publishers like CoB who have wanted to engage with the process with initiatives like providing resources at JISC to enable Read & Publish agreements, and the ‘SPA-OPS’ initiative which aims to open the conversation to address some of the challenges of the transition towards OA.

As publishers, they have to be mindful that the aim of those accessing research is to ultimately reduce their costs, which poses a huge challenge to smaller publishers who have to then think about changing their offerings in the future. Transparency is key here, and the CoB are clear about different services that are supported in their fees.

Rod from IWA Publishing has also highlighted that through some of the conversations he has had with librarians and researchers, publishers also have to consider the workflow challenges which come with the transition to OA; librarians now have to capture data on how many articles are published through their faculties in specific journals, and keep track of funding for subscriptions. This poses a challenge in itself as the funding information can be very fragmented within universities so they then have to collate this information in a meaningful way. Gaynor and Sarah from the Microbiology Society also highlighted that, although librarians are very much in favour of OA for authors, publishers do need to work on a viable way to make this sustainable to manage for librarians.

From the Royal Society, Charles mentioned that, generally speaking, researchers are affected positively by OA, as long as their institution has been covered by Read & Publish agreements, they can liaise with institutional libraries to cover APC costs. However if they aren’t affiliated, or if their institution hasn’t got an agreement in place, they have historically had to find ways to access information they need through different initiatives like Research4Life or even just approaching authors directly, so none of these solutions have offered them a long term solution for their issues to gain access. However, Rod mentioned that pirate websites which bypass publishers’ journal paywalls have attracted attention as a solution for researchers, but problematic for publishers as they undermine the sustainability of journals publishing.

How is OA changing international collaboration among scholars? 

On a more global scale, OA removes barriers to wider sharing and discoverability of research which in turn opens up the possibility for collaborative research which is more important now than ever before. As a society publisher, the Microbiology Society want to replicate the author inclusivity which is seen under the subscription model, so they have promoted affordable Publish & Read all over the world, not just to well-funded institutions in Europe and North America.

All of the publishers we spoke with operate on an international level, with authors coming from all over the world; where they each might have had prominence in specific countries, they are now much more widely global. The Company of Biologists have waiver policies in place as well as some models which don’t require APCs so that authors in lower/middle income countries can easily publish without the financial barrier. They also have a landmark agreement in place with Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) offering immediate and fee-free Open Access publishing in CoB’s subscription journals to researchers in 30 developing and transition economy countries.

OA has also had a huge impact on IWA Publishing’s global profile with a rise in article downloads as well as submissions in various territories across the world. Their journals are all now compliant with the EU’s Horizon Europe requirements, so they are seeing strong increase in submissions from Europe.

In terms of discoverability and accessibility of content, with hybrid journals the non-OA content is behind a subscription barrier for 6 months before it is  free to read, but OA content is available straight away for reading and citation, and with specific licenses it can also be copied, re-used and combined with other research straight away - another benefit of OA! Through Plan S, however, this does mean that the metadata for discoverability is accurate and embedded in the status and license of each article, which can be time consuming. This can also get complicated, with different search platforms having different requirements, and with the amount of languages across the world it will need to be translated into.

It's safe to say, with all of the amazing benefits of OA for the research community, the workflow challenges never stop for publishers! The initiatives in place and open conversations publishers are having with the community are definitely helping with this, and we’re excited to see how the Plan S initiative, and OA agreements change. These changes do also mean that we’re seeing new roles crop up within academic and STM publishing all the time with new skills being needed in publishing teams. Here are just some of our top OA roles we’ve got available at the moment:

To see all of our available positions please click here, or get in touch with our academic publishing team! We look forward to hearing from you!