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How to make more than 200 monograph titles available OA annually on a small-ish budget

This is a blog post by Caroline Mackay.

When it comes to library budgets, how far can £10,000 stretch? Access to a small database, a couple of journals, a handful of article processing charges (APCs), maybe one OA book via a book processing charge (BPC)?

That figure might also support scholar-led and small university presses to publish more than 200 front-list monographs annually on an immediate open access (OA) basis. Sound interesting?

Jisc has been supporting a number of OA monograph community agreements, which operate on a few different models, but all with the aim of raising sufficient income to allow the publication of new monograph content without needing to charge the author a BPC.

BPCs can range from around £6,000 to £11,000 plus VAT depending on length, so there’s obvious benefit in supporting alternative models to allow many more monograph titles to be published open access. There is a variety of models available. Supporter memberships models include Punctum Books or Open Book Publishers, where funding goes into a publishing pot to pay for new OA titles. Others include MIT Press, the Opening the Future agreements and University of Michigan Press Fund to Mission models, where institutions gain access to paywalled archival book content either on an annual lease or perpetual basis, while the funding goes towards new front-list OA content. With De Gruyter Purchase to Open institutions pay a one-off fee to get perpetual unlimited multi-user access to selected content which is published on an open access basis should sufficient support be received.

As the number of community agreements grows, how can institutions decide which ones to support?

Selection criteria will obviously vary between institutions, with different local priorities and preferences. Jayne Kelly, e-book collections manager, and Rebecca Gower, collection development and academic liaison librarian at Cambridge University libraries, list the following as aspects to consider (with the caveat that the list is not exhaustive!):

  • The collection: does it stand on its own as offering monograph content that an institution would like to have, even if it wasn’t OA?
  • Publisher considerations: quality, potential e-book duplication owing to overlaps with paid e-book subscriptions/EBAs
  • Subject coverage: is the OA collection offering content in a subject or themed area the university wants to focus on?
  • Frontlist: is it for new front-list content rather than newly digitised content that may already be owned in print
  • Price: is it reasonable, value for money and sustainable year-on-year?
  • Ethics
  • Does the collection have quality catalogue records with timely updates?
  • Academics: what are their opinions?
  • Accessibility: consult with the library’s accessibility services team

Jisc agreements

Jisc has agreements in place with the following publishers and is actively working with others to develop additional non-BPC based agreements. Participating in these agreements is a cost-effective way of supporting OA monograph publishing, as you will see from the table below (indicative pricing for Jisc bands 1 and 5B)

Publisher Band 1    Band 5B Titles published per year
Central European UP Opening the Future (1) £1,000 £700 12
De Gruyter Purchase to Open (2) £1,267 £845 10
Liverpool UP Opening the Future £800 £550 4
MIT Press Direct to Open (3) £2,874 £1,324 90
Open Book Publishers £700 £500 45
Punctum Books £2,750 £1,500 40
Univ Michigan Press Fund to Mission (4) £4,540 £2,270 45
  £13,931 £7,689 246

1) Pricing shown for one collection

2) Pricing shown for one collection

3) Pricing shown for the HSS Collection

4) Pricing shown for 2022 front-list

If you are still sceptical about whether these initiatives will work. MIT Press have already reached the 50% participation threshold against its three-year target, with over 200 libraries taking part globally, and have just made their Spring catalogue fully open access. CEUP have recently announced the next two titles bringing the total to seven OA books via Opening the Future.

Interested in finding out more? Have a browse of active agreements in our catalogue.

You can also follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with Jisc open research.

Researcher looking at a laptop and writing notes

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