Do ‘Inclusive Access’ Textbook Programs Save Students Money? A New Site Urges Everyone to Read the Fine Print

““Inclusive access,” a textbook-sales model touted as a way to ensure that students without deep pockets can afford books, doesn’t always deliver on that promise, according to a leading open-access advocacy organization. So the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition and its partners have launched a website they hope will encourage a healthy skepticism, and deeper research, into the increasingly popular model.

Inclusive access programs weave the cost of digital course materials into a student’s tuition and fees, and are marketed as a heavily discounted alternative to traditional print textbooks. More than 950 college campuses have adopted related programs since 2015, when a Department of Education regulation enabled institutions to include books and supplies in their tuition or fees.

But advocates of open educational resources like Nicole Allen, Sparc’s director of open education, worry that colleges — clamoring for low-cost textbook options — are buying into the model without knowing for sure whether it’s actually saving their students money, considering the breadth of used-book and rental options available….”

Affordable textbook programs save students $4.9 million | Nebraska Today | University of Nebraska–Lincoln

“Since 2019, affordable content programs have saved students an estimated $4.9 million on textbook costs, and have replaced over 80,000 textbooks with affordable content.

Multiple affordable textbook programs have been implemented at the University of Nebraska. There are two inclusive access programs: Follett Access (Campus Bookstore) and Unizin Engage. The third program is an OER seed grant program through the STAR initiative….”

Yes, Alternative Proteins Really Do… | The Breakthrough Institute

“Federally funded research dramatically lowers barriers for scientists in the public and private sector to conduct research and accelerate technological development. Unlike its private counterpart, federally funded research can be open-access and makes knowledge and technologies publicly available. Open-access research benefits everyone, companies and academic researchers alike, and would prevent the siloing of intellectual property within specific companies. Such non-proprietary technology and knowledge can help bring new competitors into the market and help drive both competition and further innovation based on the open-access findings. Although open-access research will also benefit incumbents to the industry, federal support to develop the alternative can build the alternative protein industry’s capacity to compete with conventional products in the long term….”

Does open access to academic research help small, science-based companies? | Emerald Insight

Abstract:  Purpose

This study investigates the extent to which a company’s usage of open access (OA) literature for R&D activities depends on its size. The authors’ assumption is that smaller pharmaceutical companies have less access to (usually expensive) journal subscriptions.


A fixed-effect Poisson model was used to study a panel dataset of USPTO pharmaceutical company patents. The dependent variable is the count of citations to OA resources in a given company patent.


Results support current anecdotal evidence that many SMEs suffer from high journal prices.


This result justifies the assumption made by policymakers about the potentially positive impact OA mandates have on national innovation activity. It was also shown that collaborating with universities can be a potential coping mechanism for companies that struggle to gain access to the journals they need. In addition to the novelty of its findings, this study introduces a new way to study the impact of OA in nonacademic contexts.

Economic assessment of the impact of the new Open Access policy developed by UK Research and Innovation

“2. Key findings

2.1 The UK’s academic publishing sector is world-leading and generates nearly 60% more value for the UK economy than it earns in profits. The UKRI Policy will affect the ability of all types of academic publishers – commercial organisations, learned societies and university presses alike – to contribute to the UK’s research ecosystem.

2.2 If the proposed UKRI Policy is pursued, the estimated loss to UK-based journals would be in the order of GBP 292 million per year or approximately GBP 2.0 billion in the period from 2022 to 2027. For some, monograph publishing will become unsustainable. This would prevent publishers from making the necessary investment to maintain the quality and impact of UK research, and perhaps even lead to some smaller publishers going out of business. The associated loss of economic output would be in the order of GBP 3.2 billion.

2.3 A significant proportion of the loss to UK-based journals would represent the loss of export revenue, with foreign entities standing to gain the most financially from the UK transition. Indeed, there would be a substantial ‘first-mover’ disadvantage for the UK, as a research-intensive nation, to transition at a faster rate than the rest of the world.

2.4 The UKRI Policy could also mean an increase in expenditure for research intensive universities in the UK in the order of GBP 130-140 million per annum, if a significant number of journals were to transition to ‘Fully OA’ in response to the UKRI Policy. In this scenario, the ‘Top 20’ most research-intensive universities in the UK would need to cover approximately half of the anticipated increase in publication costs.

2.5 Moreover, UK libraries would still need to subscribe to content that is not currently available on an OA-basis. The cost saving associated with certain journals or monographs transitioning to ‘Fully OA’ would be modest, in the order of a few million pounds per year.

2.6 Importantly, the UKRI Policy would inhibit scholars’ ability to conduct research in their respective disciplines in an effective and accurate way, with an associated cost to research productivity. Indeed, the Policy could dilute the benefits that could be expected from OA to the published outputs of academic research. Ultimately, UK research would risk becoming less impactful and less wellregarded, with a knock-on effect on the UK’s standing as a global research hub….”

Open Response to “Economic impact of UKRI open access policy” report – The Official PLOS Blog

“While we are not setting out to provide an extensive review and analysis of this report, we do want to generally refute the assertion that OA via the UKRI policy is economically damaging, and we’ll provide some references that support this position….

PLOS believes that publishers globally should be leading the efforts to devise and develop the next generation of business models that are able to support their operations in an Open Access context. This will, of course, require deep, and sometimes difficult, work by transitioning publishers. But we strongly believe this work is not outside the acceptable effort level of conscientious members of the scholarly publishing industry that have been aware of Open Access, and its benefits, for at least the last 20 years….

to successfully set up the most efficient,  frictionless Open Access ecosystem, we should leverage the existing budgets and infrastructures of scholarly publishing but with OA as the outcome. This way, Open Access is not viewed as a destructive force, or something external and different that traditional publishers are not part of, but simply as the new way to publish and communicate research that all publishers can facilitate..”

Economic Impact Assessment – Publishers Association

“The economic impact of a new Open Access (OA) policy from UK Research and Innovation Report (UKRI) is assessed in this report, produced by FTI Consulting.

The main focus of this exercise was to:

assess the impact of specific policy conditions that have been proposed for journal articles and long-form research publications (monographs), using the existing policy framework as a benchmark; 
consider the impact of the UKRI policy on different groups of stakeholders within the scholarly communications ecosystem;
understand the immediate economic impact of the proposed policy and how this might change in the future in light of industry trends; and
compare the impact of the policy proposals against UKRI’s stated policy objectives….”

Emerging from uncertainty International perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on university research

” Open access and open data have gained prominence just as library budgets are being squeezed. For university research funding a double impact is looming. Potential cuts in external research funding (from government, charities and industry) risk compounding the damage done by precipitous declines in other institutional income streams (including domestic and international student tuition fees, accommodation and conferences)….

Calls for open access have been strengthened by the crisis, as publishers made available COVID-related research that had a direct impact on health policy. But the digital infrastructure supporting the free exchange of research information and data is still not equipped for the scale-up required….

The case for open access and open data has been strengthened by the pandemic, but their adoption will require investment in supporting digital infrastructure and careful consideration of business models. This is all the more urgent given the added pressure library budgets will be under in a post-COVID world….

Librarians struggled to support blended learning alongside providing standard services. Interviewees noted that libraries continued to provide basic digital support for research including services relating to open access and institutional repositories, but the capacity to support research more broadly was severely constrained during the pandemic….

Interviewees from Australia indicated that COVID may provide an opportunity to move to a “pay to publish” model and to “break the control currently held by a small number of publishers”. Plan S, a European initiative to make publicly-funded scientific publications open access, is viewed favourably but some felt that it could increase costs for scholarly communication. Central budget allocations to pay for article publication charges (APCs), prevalent in some parts of Europe, are seen as an attractive option given the increased leverage it provides in budget negotiations. But the decentralised nature of library budgets in most Australian universities, where APCs are paid from a wide variety of sources (including departments, individual grants, researcher’s professional development funds etc.) reduces bargaining power. Interviewees were also concerned about universities’ ability to track APCs across the institution, which is seen as necessary to achieve better value for money….

There is strong consensus that the pandemic can be a catalyst for change to accelerate the transition to open access (OA). International actors including the European Commission, the World Health Organisation and UNESCO have all issued strong calls for greater and more equitable access to research results in recent months.59–61 Interviewees from all countries recognised that the pandemic has raised awareness of open science

among researchers that were previously unaware or not particularly sympathetic to it.62 At the same time, it has highlighted the importance of open research to decision-makers and the broader public….


As the dust settles, the expectation is that funders and open science advocates will use the pandemic as “the poster boy for open science”, providing new impetus towards change. This can in turn hasten the shift to open access in Europe and the UK. The European Commission, traditionally a strong proponent of open access and open data, notes that the achievement of a “Shared Research Knowledge System” by 2030 should

build on the collaborative efforts to tackle COVID-19 and considers these as “testament to the innovative power of opening up science, sharing knowledge and collaborating.” …


COVID-19 has exposed longstanding fault lines in the current system of scholarly communication. While the balance appears to have shifted decisively in favour of open science, tensions between rapid publication and robust quality assurance remain. Strategic thinking is needed to tackle a legacy of investment in digital infrastructure, redefine the roles of commercial and community actors, develop sustainable business models, and embed open science as the ‘new normal’ for research. …”


Focused business models and open-data policies key to accelerating uptake of climate services | News | CORDIS | European Commission

“Focusing mainly on finance, tourism and urban planning, EU-MACS project partners examined the structures and interactions of the different obstacles to the uptake of climate services, aiming to improve the design of policy scenarios and selection of appropriate policy instruments. They discovered that public and not-for-profit climate service providers need to better plan and evaluate their positions in the climate service value chain and adopt improved business models with a focus on collaborative needs-based climate services. In addition, an open-data policy at EU and Member State levels is a key element for a flourishing climate services market. Application of the project’s proposed policy packages in EU Member States, supported by EU-level initiatives on standardisation and market deployment monitoring, should accelerate the uptake and beneficial use of climate services across many sectors. “We loosely estimate that if the additional uptake of climate services takes place across the entire EU, this would represent easily a net societal benefit of several billion euro, as well as non-monetised benefits for societal resilience,” says project coordinator Adriaan Perrels of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.”

NestFlix Season 1, Episode 5: The OERevolution @ West Hills Colllege Lemoore – YouTube

“This episode features our OER Librarian, Kelsey Smith, as she explains Open Educational Resources, licensing, attribution, and open pedagogy….along with some of the highlights of our ZTC degrees and the OERevolution@ WHC Lemoore that has revolutionized our courses and saved our students over $3 million in textbook costs!”





Open Resource Textbooks At Texas A&M Will Save Students Millions, Provost’s Office Says – Texas A&M Today

“What if top-quality books, notes and other educational resources were made available – for free – by the professors who teach university courses? Texas A&M University has embraced that idea as a novel, high-quality way to reduce the cost barriers to college, said officials in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

Once completed, free online learning resources will save Texas A&M students more than $1.5 million in textbook costs, and those savings will expand as new courses are added….”

Open Resource Textbooks At Texas A&M Will Save Students Millions, Provost’s Office Says – Texas A&M Today

“What if top-quality books, notes and other educational resources were made available – for free – by the professors who teach university courses? Texas A&M University has embraced that idea as a novel, high-quality way to reduce the cost barriers to college, said officials in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

Once completed, free online learning resources will save Texas A&M students more than $1.5 million in textbook costs, and those savings will expand as new courses are added….”