Subscribe to Open (S2O): An Interview Post in Two Parts (Part 1) – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The AMS is not bucking the open access trend — indeed, we are launching a major new electronic-only, Diamond Open Access journal – Communications of the AMS (CAMS) – a research journal that sits at the interface of theoretical and applied mathematics. The journal is donor funded and will be endowed to ensure the journal succeeds in perpetuity.

However, we are looking for other ways to avoid reliance on article processing charges (APCs) for revenue. One of the most intriguing options is Subscribe to Open (S2O) – or at least it seems that way. But then again, there are pros and cons to a model that is philosophically appealing, but may not be sustainable in the long term….

For an independent academic society, I can see many advantages in S2O. I see the pros of a collective approach to openness that in principle is sustainable. Yet, I do see risks. Right now, there is an ethical force that sits beyond the boundary of logical institutional expenditure. Ongoing financial support requires university administration to accept the idea that their school should subscribe so that others may not need to. Will this approach work globally? Is this how an institution’s Provost or VP of Research sees sensible institutional spend going forward? On the one hand, usage may grow, but it is hard to see how there could be subscription, or financial growth with such a model – perhaps this is the point – but a publisher has to consider these issues….

Rather than letting all this keep me awake at night, I thought I would turn to a few experts with a few burning questions, asking them to help me navigate my way through this complexity.

As you read the thoughtful responses below, I am interested to know what you think. My take-away is that there is a symmetry and determination to S2O that appears to defy the logic of unsustainability. It is also clear that we need to know more over a period of time to see if S2O will work or not. The question I pose on Creative Commons Licensing appears to be an afterthought for many, and indeed the answers below solidify my sense that there is no clear link between S2O and the use of Creative Commons licensing, or if there is, it needs to transparently be the authors’ decision

Voices included here are: Curtis Brundy (Associate University Librarian, Iowa State University), Larry Howell (Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Academic Vice President, Brigham Young University), Judith Russell (Dean of University Libraries, University of Florida), Rick Anderson (University Librarian at Brigham Young University and Scholarly Kitchen Chef), Tom Ward (Professor of Mathematics and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education), Newcastle University), Richard Gallagher (President and Editor-in-Chief, Annual Reviews), Michael Levine-Clark (Dean of the University of Denver Libraries)….”

Opening Access to AAA’s Publishing Future | Society for Cultural Anthropology

“The American Anthropological Association (AAA) publishing contract with Wiley comes to term in 2022. In light of this pressing deadline, several journal editors and section presidents have been meeting to uncover the common ground in our commitments and to determine what collective action might keep AAA’s expression of values front and center in our publishing practices and decisions.

We share AAA’s commitment to five “bedrock values” for our publishing program: quality, breadth, sustainability, access, and equity. Open access (OA) can be compatible with all five values, and should be a strategy that AAA considers deliberatively. We also advocate that in this moment of transition, AAA takes stock of ways in which all our interactions around publishing can become more democratic. We want more transparency around the publishing contracts and valuations that govern sections’ relative capacities. We want more input from editors as a collective in publishing decisions. And we want equitable labor practices that benefit our community.

We know from the 2020 AAA Editors Survey that there’s wide interest in and strong support for OA across AAA sections and journals. In June 2021, we carried out our own survey of twenty-seven journal editors and publishing section leaders, representing at least twenty-two AAA sections. We found that respondents had disparate understandings of what OA is and what it means for authors and journals. Nonetheless, 9 out of 24 respondents (37.5 percent) indicated that “if the AAA decides to renew its (previously 5-year) contract with Wiley and postpones discussion of Open Access publishing,” then “Yes,” their journal would “be interested in pursuing alternative means of going OA in the next year or so,” with another 13 (54 percent) indicating openness to the possibility (“Maybe”). Only 2 said “No.” We recognize that the questions OA raises about funding and revenue are significant. We further believe that once one learns more about the current academic publishing and OA landscape, these concerns are no longer as daunting….”

EDP Sciences and Knowledge Unlatched announce a Subscribe-to-Open collaboration

“An Open Access initiative to sustain the barrier-free availability of EDP Sciences’ complete mathematics portfolio

Paris / Berlin, June 10, 2021. In May 2021, EDP Sciences announced that its complete mathematics journal portfolio of six subscription titles—including the flagship journal “ESAIM: Mathematical Modelling and Numerical analysis”— transitioned to Open Access (OA) under the innovative Subscribe-to-Open (S2O) model. In partnership with Knowledge Unlatched (KU), EDP Sciences will be asking libraries and institutions currently subscribing to any of the six journals to renew for 2021 and beyond on a S2O basis, thus contributing to maintaining these journals Open Access in years to come….”

Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, the flagship journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, will transition to Open Access starting in 2022

“Starting with Volume 30, Berghahn Journals will be the new publisher of Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, the journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. The journal will be leaving Wiley to embark on becoming a fully open access journal as a part of the Berghahn Open Anthro – Subscribe to Open (S2O) initiative, which will enter its third year in 2022….”

Librarian Community Call: the Subscribe to Open (S2O) model

“Join us for the June OpenCon Librarian Call to discuss the Subscribe to Open (S2O) model which has been gaining traction as a sustainable and equitable open publishing model without the headache of contract negotiations. Allison Langham-Putrow, University of Minnesota and Ashley Farley, Gates Foundation will provide an overview of S2O, what you need to know as a librarian, and some of the challenges the model may face. We will leave time for questions and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with S2O.

This call brings together all librarians working with, or learning about, all things Open–and gives folks an opportunity to connect with each other to better their work and librarianship. …”

EDP Sciences – Momentum builds for Subscribe-to-Open as mathematics portfolio transitions to open access

“It is confirmed that five mathematics journals published by EDP Sciences and the Société de Mathématiques Appliquées et Industrielles (SMAI) will join Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena (MMNP) in open access under the Subscribe-to-Open (S2O) model in 2021*. The transition will further bolster S2O, a transformative model first introduced by Annual Reviews and recently endorsed by cOAlition S.

The decision to transition the journals to open access at this time has been reached despite challenging operating conditions. Inevitably, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to influence library finances and complicate subscriptions. The decision to proceed is therefore based on a range of exceptional factors and would not necessarily have been taken had finances alone been considered….”

cOAlition S endorsing Subscribe to Open is a great start. We need the same thinking about books from the beginning. | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

This week, cOAlition S endorsed the Subscribe to Open (S2O) business model.

This group of international funders is committed to a complete transition to open-access publishing. To date, critics have claimed that the cOAlition has been too wedded to the (inflationary) Article Processing Charge business model, although Plan S is theoretically neutral on this matter. However, coupled with their recent publication on “Diamond” OA, this endorsement marks a milestone for open access without author-side payments.

[…]

cOAlition S endorses the Subscribe to Open (S2O) model of funding open access | Plan S

“Using existing budget and subscription processes without imposing paywalls, S2O provides a rapid route to open access that is applicable to research from all disciplines and all countries. cOAlition S encourages publishers to seriously consider the Subscribe to Open Model as a model for achieving full transformation to open access publishing and Plan S compliance.”

Feasibility, Sustainability, and the Subscribe-to-Open Model – The Scholarly Kitchen

“In this post I’m going to be discussing the feasibility and sustainability of open access (OA) business model du jour: subscribe-to-open (S2O for short). Briefly put, S2O is a model whereby a journal shifts from subscription access to OA, but the libraries who were subscribers under the old model continue paying in order to keep the journal financially viable. Some publishers (such as Annual Reviews) offer a discount to supporting libraries; others (such as IWA Publishing) don’t….”

Attracting new users or business as usual? A case study of converting academic subscription based journals to open access | Quantitative Science Studies | MIT Press Journals

Abstract:  This paper studies a selection of eleven Norwegian journals in the humanities and social sciences and their conversion from subscription to open access, a move heavily incentivized by governmental mandates and open access policies. By investigating the journals’ visiting logs in the period 2014-2019, the study finds that a conversion to open access induces higher visiting numbers; all journals in the study had a significant increase which can be attributed to the conversion. Converting a journal had no spillover in terms of increased visits to previously published articles still behind the paywall in the same journals. Visits from previously subscribing Norwegian higher education institutions did not account for the increase in visits, indicating that the increase must be accounted for by visitors from other sectors. The results could be relevant for policymakers concerning the effects of strict polices targeting economically vulnerable national journals, and could further inform journal owners and editors on the effects of converting to open access.

 

Jisc and Berghahn Journals offer UK universities a “Berghahn Open Anthro UK Flexible Journals Package”

“Jisc and Berghahn Journals have entered into an agreement to offer UK libraries a bespoke subscriptions package as part of the Berghahn Open Anthro – Subscribe to Open (S2O) initiative. Launched in 2020, the initiative has been successfully adopted by the library community and partner organisations, Libraria and Knowledge Unlatched. S2O is a sustainable and equitable open access model that is gaining steam as the benefits to all participants in the publishing ecosystem is ever more apparent. Berghahn Open Anthro now enters its second year of providing full open access to all thirteen journals in the collection….”

Review of OA agreements post SPA OPS Survey

“Thank you very much for agreeing to complete this short survey. We have been commissioned by the European Science Foundation, on behalf of cOAlition S, and ALPSP to review the progress of open access agreements around the world.

 

Transformative OA agreements are made between libraries and publishers and include both OA publishing services and reading services (if any content is paywalled). They remove the need for authors to pay Article Processing Charges (APCs) or other transactional charges for their open access publishing. Many types of transformative OA agreement initiatives operate today, including Read & Publish, Subscribe to Open, Community Action Publishing, and journal flipping programs via Knowledge Unlatched, Libraria, or SCOAP3.”

EMS Press | 10 EMS Press Journals Become Open Access in 2021

“EMS Press is pleased to announce that all 10 of its Subscribe To Open (S2O) journals will become open access for 2021, including its flagship publication Journal of the European Mathematical Society. The Press chose S2O as its preferred route to open access as it does not rely on author fees, allowing for equitable and sustainable open access with a focus on high-quality research….”

S2O Survey

“On behalf of the Subscribe to Open Community of Practice, a group of publishers, librarians, and funders, I ask for your help by completing this 8-minute survey on open access in general, and the Subscribe to Open (S2O) approach in particular.

We are interested in how the S2O model is currently perceived among librarians at different types of institutions and in different parts of the world. We will make the results of the survey freely available to you as well as seek opportunities to present them at relevant librarian conferences.

The S2O Community of Practice comprises academic publishers (currently 9), a diverse group of librarians from around the world, and representatives of the funder community. Together, we are pursuing S2O as a novel approach to convert closed access journals to open access….”

Wellcome’s support for Transformative Arrangements – 2021 to 2024

“Transformative Arrangements are strategies which encourage subscription publishers to transition to full and immediate Open Access and where fees are charged for providing publishing services rather than subscription fees for reading.

These approaches include Transformative Agreements and Transformative Journals as well as other open access publishing initiatives.

This document provides guidance for organisations in receipt of open access block grant funding when using Wellcome funds to support Transformative Arrangements for the period January 2021 – December 2024. This Guidance will be kept under review and may be updated from time to time….

By definition, TAs are transitional in nature….

Transformative Journals (TJ) are subscription/hybrid journals that are committed to transitioning to fully OA journals. Transformative Journals must gradually increase the share of Open Access content and offset subscription income from payments for publishing services thereby avoiding double payments….