Growing support for central open access publication funds

BioMed Central has long argued that institutions can most effectively encourage their researchers to embrace open access publication by setting up central open access funds. Such funds are analagous to the central library budgets that cover the cost of the
traditional publication model, and are the best way to ensure  that authors are not dissuaded by financial
barriers from publishing in open access journals. 

In recent months, the idea of central open access funds has attracted more and more attention. Below is a quick roundup of activity in this area:

1. ARMA/INORMS conference

Last year, BioMed Central helped to organize a satellite
at the Association of Research Administrator (ARMA) annual
conference on the topic of open access, and how the costs of open access publication could be covered using
indirect research funding. This year, a similar
session now forms part of the main
of the 2008 ARMA conference which is taking place in Liverpool, UK from 16-19 June 2008. This year the ARMA conference is being held jointly with the International Network of Research
Management Societies (INORMS), ensuring that the issue of funding for open access publication will receive international attention.

Session details:

Session 607: Putting Open
Access Publishing into Practice: funding mechanisms, institutional collaboration and
building repositories

Wednesday 18th June 2008,

  • Open
    access publishing business model and why sustainable funding streams are needed
    Matthew Cockerill, BioMed Central
  • Case
    Study: Setting up an open access fund at Nottingham University
    Stephen Pinfield, Nottingham
  • Open
    access and the Wellcome Trust: providing funds for open access publishing
    Margaret Hurley and Nicola
    , The Wellcome Trust
  • Setting
    up an institutional repository
    Bill Hubbard, SHERPA Manager, SHERPA

2. SRA conference

The US counterpart to ARMA is
the Society for Research Administrators (SRA). At  the SRA
annual meeting
, which takes place at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel outside Washington, DC from October 9-13, BioMed Central is again involved in a session focusing on open access publishing from the perspective of a research administrator, with an emphasis on the topic of central open access funds.

Session details:

Introduction to Open Access
Publishing for Research Administrators and

Sunday, October 12th
2008, 10:30am – Noon
See conference
for further information

3. Research
Information Network / Universities UK working group on payment of OA publishing

With mandatory open access policies from all the  largest UK biomedical funders, many UK universities are trying to establish how best to administrate funds to cover the cost of open
access publishing. For example, the Research Council UK open access policy statement  makes clear that institutions can treat open access publication fees as an indirect cost under Full Economic Costing, but it is not necessarily clear how this should be done, in practice.

The recent decision by the UK Research Information Network, together with Universities UK, to set up a working group looking at these issues is therefore very timely. BioMed Central is actively participating in this working
group, which aims to develop recommendations and best practices for the channeling of funds towards open access publication fees, and is due to deliver its recommendations later this year.

4.  Harvard’s new Office of Scholarly Communication

One of the challenges for institutional funding of open access publication costs (and open access policy in general) is that it is not always clear whether this responsibility is part of the remit of the Research Office, or to the Library. Harvard University has addressed this problem by setting up an Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) explicitly focused on the issue. In a recent  interview  with the Library Journal Academic Newswire, Stuart Shieber, the newly appointed Director of the OSC, called attention to the need for central funding for OA publication fees:

‘Shieber’s goal is to see OA journals exist on "equal footing" with
subscription-based journals. As of now, he says, they do not, because much of
the money that underwrites the services of subscription-based journals comes
from libraries while the money that underwrites OA journals comes mostly from
author charges. “Authors don’t get underwriting help from the library when they
publish in OA journals, while they do from publishing in subscription-based
journals," he explains. To put OA and subscription journals on a "level playing
field," he suggests, "you’d want to underwrite OA journals just as you do
subscription journals."’

Update 24th June 2008

The University of Calgary has joined the growing ranks of institutions with central open access funds. See the announcement.

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