A Frankfurt Masterclass: PLOS, CCC, and How Open Is Open Access?

“The program looks at the nonprofit open-access publisher  Public Library of Science, better known in the acronym-laden world of scholarly publishing as PLOS.

As the program’s promotional descriptive material puts it, the center of PLOS’ approach is its “community action publishing” model, called CAP, which “relies on a flexible, sophisticated workflow that enables authors to publish open access easily, with or without funding under a formal PLOS publishing agreement.” …

“We really need to think about the missing voices,” says [Niamh O’Connor]. “Research is a global, collaborative enterprise. And we really need, as we transition to an open science future, to keep asking ourselves, open for whom? Because openness in itself, while valuable, doesn’t tackle all of the inequality in scholarly communications. It doesn’t increase inclusion, and the need for universal and equitable access to scientific knowledge and education is super-important.” …”

Open-access publisher PLOS pushes to extend clout beyond biomedicine

“Non-profit life-sciences publisher PLOS is gunning for a bigger share of science beyond the biomedical realm with the launch of five journals in fields where open science is less widely adopted. They will be its first new titles in 14 years. It is also piloting a new open-access business model, in a bid to spread the cost of publishing more equally among researchers….

The new business model is the first shake-up at the publisher for a while, and has been eagerly anticipated….

 The publisher’s financial history is chequered. It first broke even in 2010. In recent years it has fallen into deficit, with 2019 the first year that it made an operating surplus since 2015….

The idea behind the new model is that the cost of publishing a paper is spread more equally across all of the authors’ institutions, rather than the corresponding author’s institution or funder footing the bill, as is standard with an article processing charge. PLOS says that as more members join the scheme, it will become cheaper for researchers to publish papers. So far, more than 75 institutions in 8 countries have signed up….

PLOS’s chief publishing officer, Niamh O’Connor, says that PLOS hopes to circumvent the idea that open access moves the cost of publishing a paper from the reader to the author. “While the article-processing model has allowed open access to develop, we don’t see that as the future,” she says. “We are working to a future where those barriers are removed.” …”

For Institutions – PLOS

“At PLOS, we believe science should be shared globally, with everyone, regardless of ability to pay to read or publish. We believe APCs are just one part of a mixed-model ecosystem. And we believe partnership in collaboration with research institutions, consortia, funders, and service providers can achieve a truly open to read, open to publish framework for researchers…”

For Institutions – PLOS

“At PLOS, we believe science should be shared globally, with everyone, regardless of ability to pay to read or publish. We believe APCs are just one part of a mixed-model ecosystem. And we believe partnership in collaboration with research institutions, consortia, funders, and service providers can achieve a truly open to read, open to publish framework for researchers…”

PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP): Q1 Community Update

“Since PLOS launched PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP) in 2020, we’ve seen tremendous engagement with the model and uptake from across the scholcomm community. We’d like to use this webinar to reintroduce both journals to the library community, provide an update on our progress to goal, welcome new community members, and answer any questions the library community may have on this new collective action model.”

PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP): Q1 Community Update

“Since PLOS launched PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP) in 2020, we’ve seen tremendous engagement with the model and uptake from across the scholcomm community. We’d like to use this webinar to reintroduce both journals to the library community, provide an update on our progress to goal, welcome new community members, and answer any questions the library community may have on this new collective action model.”

PLOS and Uppsala University Announce Publishing Deal – The Official PLOS Blog

“Uppsala University and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) today announced two 3-year publishing agreements that allow researchers to publish in PLOS journals without incurring article processing charges (APC). The Community Action Publishing (CAP) agreement enables Uppsala University researchers to publish fee-free in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology. The Flat fee agreement also allows them to publish in PLOS ONE and PLOS’ community journals[1]. These models shift publishing costs from authors to research institutions based on prior publishing history and anticipated future growth with PLOS….”

MIT Libraries develop innovative open access agreements with PLOS | MIT Libraries News

“The MIT Libraries has negotiated two new open-access publishing agreements with the nonprofit publisher Public Library of Science (PLOS) that allow all MIT authors to publish in all PLOS titles with no publishing fees. The agreement aligns with the core principles of the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts.

The aim of the PLOS agreements is to remove the burden of cost of publishing articles from authors and allow MIT to support authors who publish open access. Instead of authors paying article processing charges (or APCs, payments charged to authors or their institutions to make a work available open access), PLOS charges the Institute transparent and equitable fees as guided by the Plan S Price and Service Transparency Framework.

“PLOS recognizes that APCs create barriers for some researchers to publish open access and contribute to inequity in scholarly communications,” said Chris Bourg, director of MIT Libraries. “This agreement was a true collaboration made possible by our shared goals of openness, equity, and transparency.”

Acknowledging that most research is a collaborative effort, these agreements break new ground by making all MIT authors, corresponding and contributing, eligible. Further aligning with MIT’s values, all authors from Research4Life countries are included in the Collective Action Publishing agreement; Research4Lifeprovides low-and middle-income countries with online access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content….”

MIT Libraries develop innovative open access agreements with PLOS | MIT Libraries News

“The MIT Libraries has negotiated two new open-access publishing agreements with the nonprofit publisher Public Library of Science (PLOS) that allow all MIT authors to publish in all PLOS titles with no publishing fees. The agreement aligns with the core principles of the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts.

The aim of the PLOS agreements is to remove the burden of cost of publishing articles from authors and allow MIT to support authors who publish open access. Instead of authors paying article processing charges (or APCs, payments charged to authors or their institutions to make a work available open access), PLOS charges the Institute transparent and equitable fees as guided by the Plan S Price and Service Transparency Framework.

“PLOS recognizes that APCs create barriers for some researchers to publish open access and contribute to inequity in scholarly communications,” said Chris Bourg, director of MIT Libraries. “This agreement was a true collaboration made possible by our shared goals of openness, equity, and transparency.”

Acknowledging that most research is a collaborative effort, these agreements break new ground by making all MIT authors, corresponding and contributing, eligible. Further aligning with MIT’s values, all authors from Research4Life countries are included in the Collective Action Publishing agreement; Research4Lifeprovides low-and middle-income countries with online access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content….”

Open Access Publishing in PLOS Biology Free for NC State Authors | NC State University Libraries

“The NC State University Libraries and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) have entered into an agreement for NC State University researchers to participate in PLOS’ Community Action Publishing (CAP) program. The CAP program is led by PLOS and aims to sustain highly selective journal publishing without Article Processing Charges (APCs) for authors. “Community Action Publishing takes into account the contributions of every author — not just corresponding authors — to help distribute publishing costs equitably among the institutions who support them. This ensures institutional members are charged a fair fee based solely on their authors’ publishing history.” (PLOS website). …”

PLOS and the Big Ten Academic Alliance Announce Publishing Deal – The Official PLOS Blog

“The Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) today announced an agreement for BTAA members to participate in PLOS’ Community Action Publishing (CAP) program. The agreement ensures time to test and evaluate this new community-based model and allows BTAA researchers to publish in PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine without incurring fees. The BTAA and PLOS will also collaborate on future data, metrics, and tools for institutions to evaluate Open Access publishing agreements….”

PLOS and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network Announce Community Action Publishing Deal – The Official PLOS Blog

“The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) today announced an agreement for CRKN members to participate in PLOS’ Community Action Publishing (CAP) program, a new collective action publishing model from PLOS, enabling 19 participating CRKN institutions to publish fee-free in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology. This model shifts publishing costs from authors to research institutions based on prior publishing history as affiliated with corresponding and contributing authors. The group collectively contributes to the shared cost recovery target and any surplus revenue collected by PLOS is redistributed to members….”

PLOS and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network Announce Community Action Publishing Deal – The Official PLOS Blog

“The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) today announced an agreement for CRKN members to participate in PLOS’ Community Action Publishing (CAP) program, a new collective action publishing model from PLOS, enabling 19 participating CRKN institutions to publish fee-free in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology. This model shifts publishing costs from authors to research institutions based on prior publishing history as affiliated with corresponding and contributing authors. The group collectively contributes to the shared cost recovery target and any surplus revenue collected by PLOS is redistributed to members….”

David Worlock | Developing digital strategies for the information marketplace | Supporting the migration of information providers and content players into the networked services world of the future.

“PLoS is a not for profit, and one of the first Open Access publishers. It is run by Alison Mudditt, a distinguished scholarly publisher with a proven track record of success in commercial academic publishing. In the last two years she has brought PLoS out of serious losses and back into balance again. She has created a strong management team and they have produced a new way of engaging with research institutions that moves beyond the bundling and discounting of “transformative agreements” and into an era of much longer term partnership agreements, where margins are predictable, where issues of volume and cost can be transparent and where institutional buyers can be certain that if they overspend in one year they will be compensated in another. This calls for levels of transparency in partnership that would make many commercial players expire in anguish. 

This is new. It is not complex. It is innovative in its rebalancing of the institution-publisher relationship. It is highly relevant to an industry largely created out of public money. It speaks of the sort of social capitalism that is reflected in Europe by developments like Plan S. Surely our first reactions should be to praise its authors, recognise their intelligent innovation and celebrate their attempt to provide a better solution? Criticism can then follow, and undoubtedly the scheme will change as it rolls out. Meanwhile, congratulations PLoS, welcome back to financial health and thanks for showing us that there is always something new we can do with business models. …”

A World Elsewhere: PLOS’s Community Action Publishing Model – The Scholarly Kitchen

“PLOS, the inventor of the megajournal, is no stranger to innovation. With its announcement of Community Action Publishing (CAP), the company is now seeking to move its two highly selective Gold open access (OA) journals, PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, to a new model in which universities agree to underwrite the costs of publishing for their faculty, if they should choose to publish their work with PLOS (and if PLOS’s editors will have them). While the details of the program are interesting in themselves, of greater moment is the aim, captured in the word “community,” to create a system outside the demand-driven marketplace….

the gist is this: rather than collect article processing charges (APCs) from the authors of accepted manuscripts, PLOS proposes that institutions become members in the two journals’ respective “communities” for three years. The cost of that membership is calculated by counting up the number of articles a particular institution’s faculty have published in the journals in previous years. A significant innovation comes into play here. Unlike most institutional payment schemes (such as transformative agreements) that associate a paper to an institution using only the corresponding author, CAP looks at the affiliation of all authors of a paper. This substantially increases the number of a institutions in the “community” and, by doing so, seeks to sidestep the greatest problem with OA payment models based on output, namely that such models result, by definition, in concentrating payments at a small number of research-intensive universities while encouraging the majority of institutions to become free riders. The CAP model is therefore, at least in theory (we’ll come back to the practical implications), an elegant solution to a vexing market problem….”