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COPIM's toolkit for running an Opening the Future programme at an academic press

Step-by-step guide for presses that wish to implement an ‘Opening the Future’ model now published

Published onAug 01, 2022
COPIM's toolkit for running an Opening the Future programme at an academic press
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Opening the Future: How to Implement an Equitable Revenue Model for Open Access Monographs
Description

COVID-19 has thrown many aspects of university research culture into acute relief. As the reality of the virus dawned and campuses worldwide went into lockdown, publishers scrambled to unpaywall their research. Publishers made topical works and more general material openly available, through their own sites and platforms such as Project Muse and JSTOR. Physical collections became inaccessible and demand for openly accessible research skyrocketed. It is unclear that it is desirable to return to the previous systems of scholarly communication in the book publishing world, in which physical copies may remain affordable, even while e-licensing agreements for libraries are not. This has been recognised in several recent global policy announcements including the cOAlition S/Plan S guidelines, and the recent UKRI consultation on OA. The latter’s proposed measures include the possibility of zero-embargo green OA, more liberal open licensing, and the long- vaunted requirement for funded monographs to be in scope. This last element built on a longstanding policy history in the UK foreshadowing a mandate for OA monographs. That said, the path to OA monographs is not free of obstacles. Among the many issues, the most frequently raised is the business model of Book Processing Charges (BPCs) and their apparent unaffordability, mostly due to distributional allocation of library resources. Happily, several recent reports have detailed non-BPC OA revenue and business models that presses could use to transition to OA - one of the most recent being COPIM’s Revenue models for Open Access monographs 2020. That report describes a variation on the journal ‘Subscribe to Open’ model whereby members ‘subscribe to a backlist, with the revenue then used to make the frontlist openly accessible’. This constitutes a new business model for OA monographs that had not previously been implemented. We implemented this model, dubbed ‘Opening the Future,’ in a partnership between the COPIM project, the Central European University Press (CEUP), and Liverpool University Press (LUP). This model presents a potential route for the mass and sustainable transition to OA of many small-to-mid sized university presses. This document sets out how we implemented this model, including the documentation of challenges, resources, timetables, and activities. It is intended as a roadmap for other presses that wish to implement an ‘Opening the Future’-esque model. Of course, this document is unlikely to cover everything, but the authors are happy to respond to individual queries where this will prove helpful.

In spring 2020, COPIM Work Package 3 started work on devising a new revenue model for university presses and open access books. Through a series of fact-finding meetings, workshops and reports the team gathered lots of information on the business models of scholarly presses with the aim of creating a sustainable revenue stream that would allow presses to publish their books openly, without using unaffordable book processing charges.

That research led to us devising and launching an innovative revenue model called Opening the Future in October 2020 with our first partner publisher Central European University (CEU) Press. In essence, it is a library subscription membership programme whereby the press provides term access to portions of their (closed) backlist books at a special price, and then uses the revenue from members’ subscriptions to allow the frontlist to be OA from the date of publication. This model presents a potential route for the mass and sustainable transition to OA of many small-to-mid sized university presses. Liverpool University Press (LUP), joined as our second project partner with their own Opening the Future initiative in June 2021. The programme is proving to be a success and, to date, the two presses have together accrued enough library funding to produce 10+ new OA monographs. Opening the Future continues to grow with both publishers. 

Screenshot of the toolkit report front cover

DOI 10.5281/zenodo.7003979

One of the final deliverables for Work Package 3 is to produce a toolkit report which outlines, in detail, exactly how we implemented this model, including the documentation of challenges, resources, timetables, and activities. We are pleased to say that this toolkit report has now been published and can be read and downloaded at DOI 10.5281/zenodo.7003979

It is intended as a roadmap for other presses that wish to implement an ‘Opening the Future’-esque model. Of course, this document is unlikely to cover everything, but the authors are happy to respond to individual queries where this will prove helpful.

Opening the Future is a collective subscription model that, through its membership scheme, makes library funds go further: achieving the dual objectives of increasing collections and supporting Open Access.

Image credit: Photo by Haupes on Unsplash

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