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
Fall 2013 : about 43,000 students
Four libraries ( Arts & Sciences, Health Sciences, Law,
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 selfarchiving 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): e1000165. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000165
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
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
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 motivating!
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 to everyone.
Speed of review process and the open access of the article.
2012-13 data (by type of
% 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
General satisfaction with the Library/reimagining the role of the
Increasing the proportion of the Collections budget dedicated to
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
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 publish.
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 scholarship:
Promoting broader access to Scholarly
“We believe that institutions (and the sub-institutional units that
manage collection funds) should be open to exploring alternative
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.
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
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
170 graduate programs, 200
How we have supported OA
Why we stopped paying author
fees via memberships
What does paying author fees
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 &
What is the true cost of publishing? What is
$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
Why paying author fees isn‟t a
Libraries supporting two systems – not
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
Authors not taking ownership of “author fees” unlikely to change.
Practical considerations and
Randomness re: who receives the funding
Randomness re: amount of funding given per
article or per researcher
Small numbers of faculty that can be supported in
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 process.
Don‟t pay author fees!
What do you think?
Questions to consider:
Should libraries pay OA author fees? Why or why
What has your experience been?
What is the best way forward for academic
institutions to effect change in scholarly