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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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A Learned Society spoke to me last week about what they could do to move to an open-access model. They currently receive about 100,000 EUR per year from their subscription/hybrid-OA publisher but were willing to jettison this (!) if they could go OA with no author fees.

The problem was that implementing a new business model was a total pain. They did not have the resources on the ground to change from their current model to a new way of doing things, although they had thought about it extensively.

I then pointed out that the 100,000 EUR that they receive from their publisher – and that they were going to lose – was enough to cover APCs for everything published in a single year of the journal. They could simply use this to cover the APCs and they would have a gold OA journal with no author-facing charges.

Of course, this is an expensive way to do OA and it leads to its own impossibility in the longer term. 1. The publisher is just getting an extra 100,000 EUR out of this, on top of the subscriptions. 2. As the journal becomes 100% OA and libraries twig this, they may cancel subscriptions. This would mean that the 100,000 EUR no longer exists and cannot be used to cover APCs. However, as a declaration of intent that might worry a publisher that had previously been reticent re. OA, this would be an interesting tactic for a committed Society to adopt.