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Funding for Open Access Publications: a Brief Overview

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The benefits of Open Access publishing have been discussed in numerous places; they are well understood and appreciated by many people by now. Whether it is a question of reaching a dramatically wider audience, or improving ones chances to be read and cited, Open Access offers those benefits. On a broader plain, open and free access is of direct benefit to the scientific community and to society at large. Alas, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Books and journals are published at a cost and someone – at some point, has to pay, so that those who access the system can do it at no cost to themselves.

How to raise funds to pay for publication?

Whenever one discusses publishing fees associated with Open Access, it is most often assumed that one is referring to the “Gold” Open Access and a proprietary business model of publishers. Most publishers try to avoid charging fees directly to the authors and seek to raise revenue elsewhere. Thus, for example, the British Medical Journal or HarperCollins gain their income from advertisements placed directly within the content. Publishers also seek funding from private donors (such as PayPal), they try to secure institutional funding from universities, libraries and associations; they introduce partial payments for selected content (World Scientific) or they can use crowdfunding. There are other OA publishing models, and levying fees on authors is only one of many available options.

However, in cases where an author is faced with such requirements for submission – since it is unusual for authors to self-finance in Open Access – there are other systems in place to help finance publication.

Universities and Colleges: An ever-increasing number of universities now offer grants for affiliated professors and researchers to publish their papers in an Open Access model. The open-ended fund introduced by the University of Zurich, whereby authors receive 2000 CHF to finance publishing in Open Access, or the similar support of 1000 CHF per article now available at the University of Oregon, are just two examples. Another notable programme is Compact For Open-Access Publishing Equity, which involves major institutions such as Dartmouth, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley and Cornell.

Funding Agencies: Private and public institutions that finance scientific research now often require researchers with grants to publish the results of their work in an Open Access model. Therefore, they accordingly allocate resources within the research budget in order to allow authors to publish their papers in OA. Institutions of this kind include: the Arthritis Research Campaign, Arts and Humanities, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Genome Canada or the Wellcome Trust that awards grants to chosen universities.

Government programmes and public funding: Governments are also increasingly involved in Open Access, creating new programmes such as Research Councils UK (a £10-million project recently funded for by the British council). This change in government funding can be seen as a direct response to the report led by Professor Dame Janet Finch. Funds are now distributed between universities by RUCK. Other advances include the EU Research & Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020, which aims to promote publishing in both Gold and Green Open Access and pays expenses.

Following the lead of Amedeo Challenge, book authors who choose to publish in Open Access will not have to worry about fees and they will receive grants for the preparation of publications on given subjects.

Financing the publication of Open Access material is a broad subject and it will be part of an on-going discussion on openscience.com. The sources mentioned above are just some of the options available from various associations and organisations. When planning to publish in Open Access, it is important to bear in mind which business model the publisher uses and what it offers to authors – as well as to look for funding from universities, private institutions, or research grants for Open Access publishing.

However, these options do not eliminate the issue that there is a shortage of funding, as there is no universal system in place to allocate funding for authors. Instead, they use ad hoc methods and face obstacles that prevent the dissemination of Open Access among researchers and the growth of this model.

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