THE NORWEGIAN DIRECTORATE
FOR ICT AND JOINT SERVICES IN
HIGHER EDUCATION AND
Norwegian open journals in the social sciences and humanities
An experience-based attempt to develop a sustainable model
• The Norwegian Research Council have granted
support for Norwegian SSH journals for decades,
initially to support print editions of
• NRC announced in 2015 that its grants for SSH
journals would from 2017 onwards only be
awarded to open access journals.
• The task of forming a consortium for Norwegian
SSH journals was given to Unit. In 2017, a model
was developed which runs from 2018 to 2021.
• 2018-2021: Unit administers a model for transformation from subscription-
based journals to open access journals, in Norwegian
• Academic fields: The social sciences and the humanities
• The journals should not require payment of an APC.
• Based on application from the publisher, including estimated costs
• Applications evaluated by a committee consisting of scholars
• Of 41 applicants, 25 journals were granted support and are openly available
• The evaluation of this model will form a basis for a possible future funding
Current model: Collaboration
• Collaboration with
• The Ministry of Education and Research
• The Norwegian Research Council
• Universities Norway
• These have to a large extent developed the
framework and the mandates.
Current model: Covering of costs
• The Norwegian Research Council (approx. 55 %)
• The Ministry of Education and Research (approx. 40 %)
• (Most of) the universities and university colleges in Norway (approx. 5 %)
• Most of the universities and university colleges agreed to give a sum
comparable to their former subscription costs for these journals.
• The Ministry has requested that also other institutions contribute
• The Ministry’s contribution is temporary, in expectation of a sustainable cost
Current model: Strenghts
• Basic funding in place.
• Full support from the Ministry, the Norwegian Research Council and
• Positive feedback for using a non-APC model
• Most of the journals were subscription journals prior to the arrangement. All of
them have substantially increased their downloads. Examples:
• Norsk Lingvistisk Tidsskrift 2016-18: + 58,57 %
• Maal og Minne 2016-18: + 191,07 %
• Tidsskrift for kulturforskning 2016-18: + 49,28 %
• Collegium Medievale 2016-18: + 51,07 %
Current model: Weaknesses – 1
• Difficult to develop a sustainable and fair cost model for the institutions. Should
it be based on
• previous costs? (current model – but their share of costs are very low (5 %))
• size of institution?
• publishing in the journals?
• a combination?
• Challenging to conclude on a sustainable amount of institutions as contributors
• Most of the journals (22 of 25) are published by commercial publishers
• High prices
• Low transparency and sustainability
• Change to other platforms/publishers may be challenging
Current model: Weaknesses – 2
• The selection process was not sufficiently transparent:
• The committee's mandate did not include description of the evaluation process
• Unit had neither the mandate nor the competence to give the journals feedback on the
quality of the journal
• The framework and the mandates were to a lesser extent developed and
interpreted by Unit and were thus experienced as less sustainable
• Sometimes difficult to front the decisions
• Sometimes less knowledge about the process prior to 2017
• Unit didn't contribute with our competence as negotiators
On basis of our experiences with the current model we hope to develop a
more sustainable model for the period from 2021:
• Develop a new framework and mandates
• Invite to dialogue both with traditional publishers as well as new OA publishers who
would be applicable as a publisher for the selected high-quality journal
• The publishers (perhaps, especially open access publishers affiliated to the
academic institutions) should present a tender to Unit describing the technical solution,
publishing costs and terms and conditions.
• Unit will negotiate with the publishers.
• The journals should be invited to publish on the platform(s) which proves most
sustainable in terms of quality and costs. They are however free to continue publishing
with their chosen publisher, but should themselves cover the difference between the
stipulated cost for publishing on the new platform and the cost for publishing with their
• The model should be scalable.
• Challenging to fund the model without support from The Research Council
and the Ministry.
• Challenging to develop a cost model which is evaluated as fair by
the institutions, and they are willing to pay for.
• Difficult to demand payment from a limited group of institutions for a
service that is openly available for all.
Unit – The Norwegian Directorate for ICT and Joint Services in Higher Education and