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A Growing Number of International Open Access Initiatives Are Launched by Scientific Associations

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Mudd Hall, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California, USA, September 19, 2015 | © Courtesy of Ken Lund.

As the august American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) founded in 1848 and publishing Science and other scientific journals, has announced on November 21, 2017, its Science Partner Journals initiative for Open Access publications, it has joined the larger trend of academic institutions making transitions to Open Access publishing.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

Seeking to enter into collaborative relations with international scientific societies, institutions and foundations, the AAAS seeks to position its Science Partner Journals digital program in the high-quality sector of Open Access publishing, while banking on its reputation, visibility and expertise, in order to increase the accessibility of scientific findings to research organizations around the world. To pull off this initiative that intends to publish its articles under a generic Creative Commons license (CC BY), the AAAS has partnered with Hindawi as a publishing services provider, which indicates that this association did not have sufficient internal resources to go this project alone.

Since organizations joining this program will be editorially responsible for the content they publish, such as in respect to peer review and author relations services, it follows that the Science Partner Journal will be able to accommodate both the launch of new journals and the conversion of existing publication into Open Access. In this respect, a study by Reinhold Haux et al., published in 2016, indicates that Open Access is increasingly perceived by the international scientific community as an adequate format for disseminating research results, which has led to multiple cases flipping established journals, e.g., Methods of Information in Medicine, into one of existing Open Access models. These Open Access transformations are spurred by both government-supported mandates and available funding for transitioning subscription-based journals into Open Access, despite the concerns that may raise.

The grounds for these transitions to Open Access comprise the continued need to push forward scientific progress by communicating ever more widely scholarly knowledge and original findings, while maintaining good scientific practices and reducing accessibility barriers. Yet, despite the 2003 Berlin Declaration in favor of Open Access, reluctant or critical positions toward Open Access models have been expressed, due to the growing competition in this publishing sector, even though Gold and Green Open Access approaches are generally positively received. Furthermore, for journals and publishers it could be difficult to justify the payment of both article processing charges (APCs) and subscription fees, such as in the framework of hybrid Open Access models, as universities and libraries are interested in controlling their growing journal subscription costs.

However, it remains to be seen whether the individual cases of journals being transformed into Open Access will amount to a majority of scientific journals adopting Open Access, as some expect. Additionally, the successful conversion of subscription-based journals into Open Access may need to meet certain requirements, such as sustainability, which may explain the relatively slow pace of transition to Open Access in the journal publishing industry. Moreover, it appears that European academic and research institutions primarily prefer Gold Open Access, whereas their American counterparts tend to utilize Green Open Access.

At the same time, in spite of the need to maintain service for existing subscribers, conform to existing peer review standards and conduct internal and external consultations and information sessions, a growing number of journal publishers convert scientific journals into Open Access models of their choosing based on their quality criteria, support sources and market positioning.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Mudd Hall, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California, USA, September 19, 2015 | © Courtesy of Ken Lund.

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