By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief
Open Access (OA) publishing and licensing models for academic, scientific, medical and other research based journal publishing can be a baffling topic for many. And “if you are confused, then you are only beginning to understand the problem,” says Christopher Kenneally, Director, Business Development, for Copyright Clearance Center.
Ultimately, it all depends on what you mean by “open.” “There are a multitude of definitions,” says Kenneally. “It varies by what funder mandates apply. In the UK, the Wellcome Trust, which is a significant funder of research in the UK and around the world, has issued mandates stating that if you receive money, the published results of that research much be published on what is the ‘Gold Road’ of Open Access — free and available publicly online, for example.” In the US, the federal government has different policies regarding research it has funded, as does the government of China, which has recently issued some requirements for articles published through open access.
But don’t confuse “open” with “free,” as there are fees involves. Once the article has been accepted via peer review journal, the author can make the article available typically through Open Access by paying an Author Processing Charge (APC) and fees that can range from hundreds or thousands of dollars. Typically this is paid by the author or the author’s institution.
Furthermore, “Policies of the publishers apply as well…and anything to do with copyright and licensing can get really complicated, really fast. We are trying to offer as much information about this as possible at Copyright Clearance Center, as we see education as part of our mandate.”
To this end, CCC has partnered with ALPSP — the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers — to offer OpenAccessResources.org, a free site with information on OA and it offers information by region.
As Open Access grows as a business model in the publishing community, it is not likely to become, as many have stated, the only business model, notes Kenneally. “It is not going to flip overnight, we are going to see — and are seeing already — a world of many varieties of publishing in the scientific and publishing world. There are subscription models; there are pure-play OA journals by Wiley and Nature and others that are not merely evangelical; and there are also hybrid journals.”
And when it comes to rights and licensing, it boomerangs back to the mandates of the funder. With Creative Commons licenses for example, there are many varieties of those as well. CC BY, the most common license, is just one, and there are limits there regarding commercial re-use.
Ultimately, though, the landscape is proving to be much more transparent. And CCC is helping. “The funders expect to have reporting regarding the license chosen, so on and so forth. They expect data gathering,” says Keneally. “They find all this important because they are now in a different relationship with the author. Today the author and researcher is a customer. If they are paying the APC, it’s not just about the impact factor in a journal, but how user-friendly the process for working with a journal.”
CCC’s RightsLink for Open Access sits on top of the publisher’s article submission process and has been developed by “listening to stake holders,” says Kenneally. “When you are online these days, we’re all conditioned by Amazon and its ease-of-use. But what we are talking about here is more than just a shopping cart — a click and pay and get out of here. And we are talking about research that could be the cure for cancer, and its not a trivial matter of clicking a button paying a fee and being done.”
The solutions themselves and the whole issue has ripple effects across all of the manuscript workflow, submission and publication and beyond. What we think is unique in the marketplace is we have put together an interlocking solution and moves the authors article from submission to publication.”
The scholarly publishing world we are going to see in the future is one of a variety of business models. “Open Access will be one of those varieties,” says Keneally. “This isn’t a garden planted with just one kind of flower. I think expectations of black and white and drastic change, of business models flipping, may be overstated. What publishing needs to do is respond to funders needs and researchers/authors needs. RightsLink is a ten-year-old product, so we have some experience in this field. Our relationships with publishers are just as deep and close as you would expect.”
Further resource: Open Access: Who Holds the Power?: A Frankfurt Book Fair “Town Meeting”