Enabling smaller independent publishers to participate in OA agreements

An independent report released today by Information Power measures progress during 2020 and 2021 on Open Access agreements between consortia/libraries and publishers. OA agreements are now used around the world in low-, middle-, and high-income countries. During 2020 there was a clear uptick in the number of OA articles published in hybrid journals, which reverses a downward trend in the proportion of total articles published as OA in hybrid journals between 2016 and 2019. There is potential for further growth.

Smaller independent publishers – for example society publishers without a larger publishing partner, university presses, library presses, and small independent commercial presses – face some special challenges due to their scale. A number of practical task-and-finish groups are needed to align on shared principles, license language, data exchange, and workflows followed by engagement with standards bodies, intermediaries, and platform providers to ensure these can become embedded in practice.

The transition to OA requires change on the part of all stakeholders, and the report argues it is particularly crucial that there is active cross-stakeholder alignment focused on enabling smaller independent publishers to transition successfully. Amongst other things, the authors strongly recommend funders take steps to enable universities to aggregate all their expenditure with publishers via the library. They also encourage publishers who closely link the price of OA agreements to article volume to think carefully about more equitable models.