The Simplest of Models for Open Access to Research Proves Itself: Welcome to Subscribe-to-Open – Slaw

“I devote this blog to a far more here-and-now breakthrough in increasing public access to research.

It arises out of the work of a half-dozen anthropologists (and me), who think that, given their study of people and society, they have a moral duty to share that work with those people and that society. This group, Libraria by name, has worked over the last two years with Berghahn Books, a social science publisher of books and journals. Like other scholarly publishers these days, Berghahn is part of the open access consensus on the value of this approach to research, while still exploring how best to get to there.

For 2020, Berghahn and Libraria agreed to try out an idea that I introduced in a 2017 SLAW blog post on tapping into research libraries’ strong support for open access by asking them – wait for it – to actually subscribe to open access. That is, what if libraries agreed to continue paying the subscription fees to journals that they were already subscribing to, only the journals flipped to open access. The libraries would be subscribing to open access by supporting journals to which they were already subscribing, providing those journals with a path to open access.

The advantages of a subscribe-to-open model go beyond this simplicity: The journal moves overnight to complete, immediate open access. No article processing charges (APC) for authors to pay (as in many other open access journals). No 12- 36 month embargoes before the work is open. No revenue loss or quality reduction for publishers. No additional expense for libraries. And no – this one’s a complicated new one – use of a publisher’s subscriptions fees to pay for its APCs to allow a limited number of authors from the subscribing country to make their articles open, which is known as Read and Publish (often requiring months if not years of negotiation)….”