June 10, 2023


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Brussels (Chrono): At the same time that warnings are being issued against the rising costs of scholarly publishing with open access – the so-called open access – many are now pushing for alternative publishing models.

Now the Swedish EU Presidency is also working to get a statement from the EU Council in June, calling for support for alternative models.

in statement project of the Council of the European Union states that the increasing costs of both “access to scientific publications and scientific publishing, lead to inequality and are not sustainable for public funds that finance research and institutions responsible for the use of public funds, and reduce the funds available for research”.

At the same time, the “importance of non-profit, open publishing models of scholarly publishing, where no payment is required from authors and readers,” is emphasized. They request Member States and the European Commission to increase support for the development of harmonized financing policies and strategies for these deployment models.

weather expenses

The draft was welcomed by the university alliance The Guild, with the University of Oslo as a member.

Our universities are panicking, and the expenditures for publishing it are over the top, says a statement from Julien Chicot, chief policy officer at The Guild.

“What we need is a return of the system to its first and foremost goal: to give researchers the most appropriate, fair, and effective means of transmitting and accessing high-quality research results,” he says in connection with the alliance. Announcing on Monday a statement warning of a publishing system they believe is financially unsustainable.

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The coalition points to a draft statement from the Council of the European Union asking member states to support models of open publishing that are not based on author payments, the so-called Article Processing Fee (APC).

Such author payments have become increasingly important, in line with the transition to open publishing, as the European Union has played a central role in its Plan S, which requires all research to be funded, among others, by the European Union and the Research Council of Norway.

Made billions in author fees

In a report commissioned by the Norwegian Publishing Commission published earlier this year, a pattern was described in which traditional publishers are heading in the direction of so-called gold publishing, open publishing with a paying author.

“Author payments have become a dominant business model replacing or combining with subscriptions. Market growth is occurring particularly in large, broad-topic journals that publish a large number of articles annually,” the report concludes.

Fees vary and are often quite high. For publishers, paying an author means lots of money in the coffers. in a report From the European Association of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (Allea), it has been estimated recently that publishers earn around US$2 billion in publishing fees.

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For researchers and universities, the situation is very different.

While they believe the system is not financially sustainable, The Guild maintains that it is not only an economic issue, but also a matter of academic freedom. The coalition warns that high author payouts can cause researchers to forgo publication and publication of their research findings in journals or on platforms that are too expensive for them or their organization.

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“This severely affects academic freedom and leads the academic publishing system away from what should be its primary mission: to support quality research, research integrity, and academic freedom,” they wrote.

indicates multiple options

When asked by Khrono what he envisions as an alternative, Julien Chicot at The Guild points to the so-called Diamond model, with open magazines or platforms that don’t require payment for publication, as an alternative model.

However, we are clear that they need additional quality assurance support in the publishing process, including peer review. Chicot believes that one should carefully consider the financing model of these publishing sites, to avoid that they also generate high costs.

It is critical that EU countries support alternative models without payment from authors or readers, such as the diamond model, they wrote in the statement.

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This model is also referenced in the aforementioned report from Allea. The report states that “the development of community-led journals that do not require payment by authors and readers (Diamant OA) is an important contribution to a more equitable publishing landscape.”

Another possibility mentioned in the discussion is a cap on publishing fees. That’s also an option, believes Chicot, who says The Guild supports that publishing fees should be commensurate with the services publishers actually provide. He says that many universities have faced high publishing fees and appear to be out of touch with the services provided.

– These options are not mutually exclusive, they can exist side by side, depending on publishers and their business models, he believes.

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