Open Access Author Funds: A
Problem or Solution?
Tony Horava & Denise Koufogiannakis
Nov. 8, 2013
Open Access Author Funds: Many
Reasons to Support it
University of Ottawa, Canada
Snapshot of the University of Ottawa
North America’s largest bilingual university (English/French)
One of Canada’s top 10 research universities
An ARL member
About 200 undergraduate programs and over 185 graduate programs
Fall 2013 : about 43,000 students
Four libraries ( Arts & Sciences, Health Sciences, Law, Management)
Collections budget: 15.7M
2,293,781 print books
~ 775 research databases
Compact for Open-Access Publishing
Signatory universities commit to "the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for
underwriting reasonable publication charges for articles written by its faculty and
published in open access journals and for which other institutions would not be
expected to provide funds.“
“It is important to keep in mind that the goal of the compact is not to increase access to
the individual articles it underwrites. That goal is already reasonably satisfied by the
possibility of open-access self-archiving that any author can unilaterally perform and
that various open-access policies such as that of the National Institutes of Health
promote. Rather, the goal of open-access funds as envisioned in the present
proposal is to reduce the disincentives to authors and thus the risk to
publishers of the processing-fee business model.”
- Shieber SM (2009) Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing. PLoS Biology 7(8):
OA Authors Fund (begun in 2010) Eligibility criteria*
Authors are free to publish in the journal of their choice [NB - this is being reassessed
Eligible articles may be accepted for publication in open access journals, hybrid journals
or traditional journals that allow self-archiving.
Eligible open access journals must be listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals or
meet the DOAJ’s selection criteria (found in the "About" section of their site).
Eligible hybrid and traditional journals must make articles available immediately and
allow self-archiving of the publisher PDF immediately upon publication (no embargo
The fee schedule must be publicly available online
Eligibility criteria (cont’d)
The Fund also covers open access books up to a maximum
contribution of $2,500 per publication (research and scholarly
books only, no textbooks). The contribution can be used for
entire books or book chapters.
Publishers must make content available immediately and
allow self-archiving of the publisher PDF immediately upon
publication (no embargo period imposed).
Fund recipients must deposit their work in UO Research,
the University’s institutional repository.
Researchers can receive funding for a maximum of two (2)
publications per fiscal year (May 1 to April 30).
Question: “Why did you choose to publish your article in an
open access or hybrid journal?”
I want my research to be viewed by the entire research community.
Speed of publication because its an online journal.
Hybrid. It was a good journal which I publish in anyways. Since the cost for
open access was to be reimbursed through the program, this allowed me to
publish it with open access.
Greater access to policy makers. Our work is more likely to be used and
referenced in policy discussions and have a practical impact.
It was the right readership for the topic and there are no other similar journals
with that focus.
Appropriate venue. Tried something new.
The concept is the way of the future! It also is very liberating to know that
one's contribution can be accessed internationally. It makes research FUN and
Speed of review and publication is a real plus. There is nothing SO frustrating
than waiting 2-3 years for a journal to publish one's academic work.
It was by chance. I choose the journal for its quality, and it offered open access
as an option. It is nice because I often get requests for reprints from people who
do not have access to the some of the journals.
I decided to publish in a hybrid journal before deciding whether to apply to the
Fund. When the article was accepted and I found out the program was still
running and could cover all the fees for Open Access, I decided to apply to the
program. Faster publication, Open access for developing country research
partners, funder recommendations.
It allows people in developing countries to read articles. The fund supports
activities of scientific organization that publish journals.
It is important to me to provide information to all in the speediest of ways and
Speed of review process and the open access of the article.
2012-13 data (by type of
by Faculty (201213)
% of total
Data organized by choice of major
What are the benchmarks of
Increased awareness of scholarly communication issues
Greater dialogue/better relationship with the Library
Assisting faculty to publish who might not be able to otherwise, hence
enhancing the mission of the institution to advance knowledge
General satisfaction with the Library/reimagining the role of the library
Increasing the proportion of the Collections budget dedicated to OA initiatives
Influencing the economics of publishing, eg:
Providing greater access to scholarly literature;
Reducing the double-dipping of commercial publishers;
Feeding into the broader public policy discourse on OA
Some arguments in favour of an OA
Sowing seeds of awareness of scholarly communication issues and Open Access
Demonstrating Library leadership in promoting dissemination of scholarship as a public
good; aligning with our mission as stewards of the scholarly record
Engaging with younger researchers & graduate students who need financial assistance to
Ripple effect: as these researchers move upstream into faculty positions, this can be a
catalyst for major changes in Promotion & Tenure committee criteria for assessing
value, i.e. changing the cultural mindset re Open Access.
OA author funds can help build a groundswell of support for OA in the academic
community (whether Gold or Green).
In three years, we have benefited about 200 researchers in disseminating their
Promoting broader access to Scholarly Communications
“We believe that institutions (and the sub-institutional units that manage
collection funds) should be open to exploring alternative funding
models for scholarly communication. Institutions should highly value funding
models that promote universal access to their research output. And during an
economic crisis, these institutions should question the extensive financial and
human resource investments required by the subscription model, a model that
both excludes non authorized users and entails large-scale and complex licensing
and legal obligations. The time is now for broad-scale adoption of
institutional OA funds.” [emphasis added]
- Eckman CD, Weil BT (2010) Institutional Open Access Funds: Now Is
the Time. PLoS Biol 8(5): e1000375. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000375
To echo the quote from Eckman and Weil:
“The time is now for broad-scale adoption of institutional OA funds.”
• Support your researchers in their goal to disseminate
scholarship, and support OA Author Funds!
Problems with libraries paying open
access author fees
University of Alberta
Snapshot of the University of Alberta
Top 5 Canadian University
ARL library ranking is 16th in North America
170 graduate programs, 200 undergraduate
How we have supported OA
Why we stopped paying author
fees via memberships
What does paying author fees achieve?
Immediate gold OA
Helps out some individual researchers with costs
Assessing author fees
Wildly divergent costs - $0 - $5000/article
Only 26% of gold OA journals use an authors pay model
(Solomon & Bjork, 2012)
Average per article OA charge - $906 (Solomon & Bjork, 2012)
What is the true cost of publishing? What is reasonable?
$188.39 (Edgar and Willinsky, 2010)
£1136 (Research Information Network, 2008)
By just blindly accepting whatever fees publishers charge in
order to reduce the “risk to publishers of the processing-fee
business model” (COPE), we will drive fees even higher and
make such high fees seem normal.
Why paying author fees isn’t a solution
Libraries supporting two systems – not sustainable
Same publishers making more money – the big ones control
the most and have the highest fees
Libraries preferencing the OA journals that do charge fees –
what about the non-fee journals?
No fundamental change to the way we disseminate
Authors not taking ownership of “author fees” - unlikely to
Practical considerations and problems
Randomness re: who receives the funding
Randomness re: amount of funding given per article or per
Small numbers of faculty that can be supported in this way
Cost of staff-time related to management of the fund and
processing work involved
Is it sustainable?
What libraries can do instead that may
lead to greater change
Support green OA initiatives
Use money to support new initiatives, new models that may
lead to change
Publishing initiatives at the Library Level – make
Work with faculty on making change to the scholarly
communication system - ultimately the faculty drive this
Don’t pay author fees!
What do you think?
Questions to consider:
Should libraries pay OA author fees? Why or why not?
What has your experience been?
What is the best way forward for academic institutions to
effect change in scholarly communications system?