New Open Access Business Models – What’s Needed to Make Them Work? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The third CHORUS Forum meeting, held last week, is a relatively new entrant into the scholarly communication meeting calendar. The meeting has proven to be a rare opportunity to bring together publishers, researchers, librarians, and research funders. I helped organize and moderated a session during the Forum, on the theme of “Making the Future of Open Research Work.” You can watch my session, which looked at new models for sustainable and robust open access (OA) publishing, along with the rest of the meeting in the video below.

The session focuses on the operationalization of the move to open access and the details of what it takes to experiment with a new business model. The model the community has the most experience with, the individual author paying an article-processing-charge (APC), works really well for some authors, in some subject areas, in some geographies. But it is not a universal solution to making open access work and it creates new inequities as it resolves others….

Some of the key takeaways for me were found in the commonalities across all of the models. The biggest hurdle that each organization faced in executing its plans was gathering and analyzing author data. As Sara put it, “Data hygiene makes or breaks all of these models.” For PLOS and the ACM, what they’re asking libraries to support is authorship – the model essentially says “this many papers had authors from your institution and what you pay will largely be based on the volume of your output.” But disambiguating author identity, and especially identifying which institutions each represents, remains an enormous problem. While we do have persistent identifiers (PIDs) like ORCID, and the still-under-development ROR, their use is not universal, and we still lack a unifying mechanism to connect the various PIDs into a simple, functional tool to support this type of analysis.

One solution would be requiring authors to accurately identify their host institutions from a controlled vocabulary, but this runs up against most publishers’ desire to streamline the article submission process. There’s a balance to be struck, but probably one that’s going to ask authors to provide more accurate and detailed information….

[M]oving beyond the APC is essential to the long-term viability of open access, and there remains much experimentation to be done….”