Last spring, we discussed the costs of publishing open access and the various models that can support the creation and publication of openly available research. Publishers, institutions, societies, and authors continue to search for fair and sustainable means of providing barrier-free access to scholarship. A familiar model uses APCs (author processing charges) to support publishing costs.
But what of the other less familiar but pragmatic approaches? Today, I’d like to review a collaborative, community-centered approach to open access (OA) publishing and talk about why the University Libraries supports such initiatives. This model depends on funding commitments, usually from libraries or institutions, to collaboratively support the publication costs of scholarship, resulting in the end-product being made available to all.
Let’s walk through how this could work. Instead of many libraries buying separate copies of a published book, several of those libraries could pool their money to pay for publishing costs. Without the need to recoup publishing costs, the publisher can immediately make the book freely available online to anyone who wants to read it. The library has paid about the same price for something they would have purchased, but others beyond their affiliates benefit from the investment as well.
This type of model not only benefits those who have invested in the publication of the content, but other stakeholders who might not otherwise be able to access the research: practitioners, underfunded institutions, journalists, K-12 educators, and even policymakers. If institutions equitably contribute to diverse initiatives in lieu of exclusively purchasing unique content, overall costs could potentially decrease while access increases.
One initiative that has used funding commitments to publish open access content is Knowledge Unlatched. To support emerging publishing models and open access to research, the University Libraries pledged funding for two collections through Knowledge Unlatched. If the KU Select 2020 Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Collection and the KU Select 2020 Modern Languages and Linguistics Collection are fully funded, all of the titles within will be “unlatched” and published openly. If the pledging goals are not fully met, as many titles as possible will be made free to access. These valuable collections are carefully curated and include titles from Bloomsbury, De Gruyter, and other well-known publishers.
We are optimistic that other institutions similarly perceive the benefits of open access publishing and will be able to support these valuable initiatives.
-Contributed by Amie Freeman