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The Economics of Open Access Publishing


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The RIN's Branwen Hide spoke about the economics of open access publishing at this event, organised by The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association and the DOAJ/Lund University Libraries, see her presentation below.

Further information about the event and programme is available on the conference website at

Recordings of the presentations are also available at

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The Economics of Open Access Publishing

  1. 1. The Economics of Open Access Publishing Branwen Hide September 14th, 2009
  2. 2. Outline Introduction Costs associated with publishing journal articles and monographs Funding Mechanisms Changes to the current publishing models – implications for costs and funding Author-side payment fees – policy implications Summary
  3. 3. Why publish? Enhances access to information and use Ensures appropriate recognition and reward Quality control – peer-review and editorial process Allows one to evaluate usage and impact Long term preservation
  4. 4. Research Publication Distribution Access Usage/ Production Consumption • Libraries • Researchers • Funders • ICT • Institutions • Publishers and secondary publishers • Public • Commercial • Government • Researchers providers • Funders • Publishers
  5. 5. Costs associated with publishing journal articles Activities, costs and funding flows in scholarly communications, RIN May 2008 Only looked at journals – excluded monographs and unpublished data Excluded secondary publishing and aggregation Detailed article allocation function (i.e. per journal type) Economic implications of alternative scholarly publishing models: Exploring the costs and benefits, Houghton et al. Jan 2009 Included monographs Activities include R&D funding process and research performance Note: The RIN and Houghton models are available for others to use and manipulate
  6. 6. CEPA: Global Costs of Scholarly Communications 140.0 120.0 115.8 100.0 £ Billions 80.0 60.0 40.0 33.9 16.4 20.0 6.4 2.1 0.0 Research Publishing & Access provision User search and Reading production Distribution print cost
  7. 7. UK Research Sytem Costs UK Research System Costs 25.00 23.20 CEPA JISC 22.50 20.00 17.50 £ Billions 15.00 12.50 10.00 7.73 7.50 6.23 5.00 2.50 1.53 1.34 0.43 0.85 0.07 0.07 0.54 0.00 Research Publishing & Access User search Reading production Distribution provision and print cost
  8. 8. UK Publication and Distribution Cost 900.0 847.3 CEPA JISC JISC (Books) JISC (UK total) 800.0 700.0 600.0 573.9 £ Millions 500.0 473.2 424.9 374.1 400.0 334.4 299.8 300.0 239.5 202.8 200.0 163.1 125.1 100.0 70.6 70.6 39.7 0.0 Non-cash peer editorial work additional costs Total cost review
  9. 9. Cost ratios 60 Ave Journal Biology Journals Biomedical Journals HSS Journals 50 40 % 30 20 10 0 content creation publishing support manufacturing distribution Fixed cost Variable cost Modified from The future of scholarly journals publishing among social science and humanities associations, Waltham, Mary February 2009
  10. 10. How is the Scholarly Communications Process funded?
  11. 11. How are the costs of publishing and distribution met? Global Humanities and Social Science 3.4 2.3 2.0 5.5 1.2 8.8 29.4 1.7 62.9 82.8 peer review non cash cost subscription subscriptions author fees (e.g page charges) author side payment fees advertising advertising other sources other sources grants and endownments
  12. 12. UK funding sources for scholarly communications 500.0 CEPA JISC 450.0 418.0 408.5 400.0 350.0 £ m illions 300.0 250.0 201.8 200.0 132.0 150.0 117.5 113.0 100.0 56.0 71.3 32.8 31.9 45.6 50.0 8.6 16.0 0.0 academic Other (non- Academic academic other Academic Special Total cost (non-cash) cash) peer Author-side subscription subscription & library access access peer review review payment revenues provision provision funding funding
  13. 13. Changes to the current publishing models Recent technical developments in publishing, library services Researchers’ are becoming more vocal about their desire to have complete and unhindered access to all research outputs Changes in policy to encourage broad dissemination and access to research outputs
  14. 14. OA publication (the gold route) Implications for costs and funding
  15. 15. CEPA: global scholarly communications cost savings - move to gold route 4000.0 3245.5 3000.0 2000.0 C o s t S a v in g s £ M illio n s 1000.0 0.1 -2912.6 -591.9 -8.2 -5.5 -272.6 0.0 Research Academic Other Author-side Advertising Membership Total cost -1000.0 funders (peer subscriptions subscriptions payment fees & review non individual cash cost) subscriptions -2000.0 -3000.0 -4000.0
  16. 16. Impact of the Gold Route on the UK Costs: Publishing and distribution of UK-authored articles further cost savings to publishers of between £18m (CEPA) and £93m (JISC) assume some of those savings passed on UK (and overseas) research authors and funders Access costs for UK libraries in providing access to global journals and articles further cost savings of between £9m (CEPA) and £11m (JISC) Funding: Access costs for UK libraries of c £120m offset by increases for HEIs and other research institutions of between £213m (CEPA) and £172m (JISC) in publication fees differentials between institutions Transition costs* *The RIN is currently working with JISC to develop a project examining the costs associated with transitioning
  17. 17. Impact of the differences between the reports Both can be used to argue towards a move to OA (gold route) Both show a signifiant cost savings over all But there are still questions that need to be clarified
  18. 18. What do we mean when we say ‘Scholarly Communications Landscape’? How do you measure the impact of research? How much money is it really going to save? Is it worth it? What about the cost of transition? What are the differences between STM and HSS? Will the model work for both?
  19. 19. Author-side payment fees – policy implications Needs to be a coordinated approach within HEIs/research institutions and funding bodies HEIs should establish dedicated funds, particularly for those researchers not supported by external funders, with clear criteria Funders need to clarify how they will provide support Publishers need to be clearer and alert authors to relevant fee waivers, discounts and membership schemes during the submission process Authors need to familiarizes themselves with there funders policies and requirements and ensure they have the funds to meet the publication fee
  20. 20. “The only thing I knew about [Open Access] was what I learned from the recent PhD comic series …”
  21. 21.
  22. 22. Summary Publishing, distributing and providing access to scholarly publications is pivotal but is not the only part of the scholarly communications system accounts for only 5% of the overall costs Majority of the cost lies in the time taken to by readers to search, download and read the articles Which are overwhelmingly met by the HE sector There is scope for cash savings, and improvements in efficiency and effectiveness across the entire system There is a savings that could arise from a move to OA publishing on the author-side payment model But, terms of funding, there is a large-scale shift from subscription payments to author-side payments The shift in funding source is much bigger than the cost saving.
  23. 23. Branwen Hide Liaison and Partnership Officer Research Information Network
  24. 24. References RIN: Research and the Scholarly Communications Process: Towards Strategic Goals for Public Policy. (2007) statement RIN, Activities, costs and funding flows in scholarly communications (May 2008) Houghton et al.: Economic implications of alternative scholarly publishing models: Exploring the costs and benefits (Jan 2009) sfinalreport.aspx RIN: Paying for open access publication charges (March 2009) Waltham, Mary: The future of scholarly journals publishing among social science and humanities associations, (February 2009) Fowler, Mike: Theoretically speaking, Paying to support open access (Nature Networks September 2009) support-open-access PhD Comic, Nature vs. Science vs. Open Access (May 2009)