“Scottish Universities Press (SUP) was conceived as a collaborative, institution-led approach to exploring the benefits of open access publishing, with a particular focus on the shift towards open access mandates from funders of research.
SUP is owned and managed by the 18 participating libraries through SCURL and operates on a not-for-profit basis, investing any surpluses generated back into the Press. The objective was to develop a Scotland-wide solution, providing researchers across institutions with a clear and cost-effective route to publishing open access. We were also keen to better understand the costs associated with publishing, and to scope the potential for savings associated with open access and realising economies of scale through collaboration. Through SCURL’s work in coordinating the Scottish Higher Education Digital Library (SHEDL), we had a strong basis for collaborative working and confidence in the benefits of shared services.
The first collective challenge we faced was in raising the funds to get SUP off the ground. We explored external funding possibilities but found that approach was not an obvious fit with most existing funding streams available to us in libraries.
SCURL member libraries, therefore, agreed to fund the start-up through a subscription paid from existing library budgets. We were also fortunate to secure a small Innovation and Development grant from the Scottish Library and Information Council.
Keeping costs low was a priority as our member libraries emerged from the pandemic into a precarious funding climate. Library budgets alone are not sufficient to meet the entire cost of providing a high-quality open access publishing service.
SUP therefore opted for a hybrid model involving authors (or their funders/institution) paying a per-book production charge in addition to the annual subscriptions. The latter covers core costs such as staffing and platform hosting, which is provided by the Edinburgh Diamond service from the University of Edinburgh. The subscription income does not cover any of the costs associated with book production (e.g., copyediting, typesetting, design, distribution, marketing) so the production charge fills that gap….”