OpenAIRE alternative funding for non-author fee publishing platforms: IBL PAN

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Open Business Model of Indirect Institutional Benefits

Enhancing Accessibility and Sustainability of  “Teksty Drugie” Design and Implementation of a Sustainable Open-Access Business Model for Polish Journals in the Humanities

This blog post presents conclusions drawn from the process of converting a journal to open access, carried out at the Publishing House of the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Wydawnictwo IBL PAN) as part of the project “EAST. Enhancing Accessibility and Sustainability of Teksty Drugie. Design and Implementation of a Sustainable Open-Access Business Model for Polish Journals in the Humanities” funded by OpenAIRE as part of the programme “Alternative Funding Mechanism for non-author fee based Open Access Publishing”. The project aimed to develop the optimum open access model for scientific journals in Poland. The review selected for the pilot implementation of open access is the bimonthly journal Teksty Drugie published by IBL PAN and the Pro Cultura Litteraria Association since 1990.

Assessment Phase

Preparations for the project included the analysis of legal and institutional considerations of journals published by IBL PAN. The print was the main form of publication of the journals, and digital copies were made available in the open Digital Repository of the Scientific Institutes (Repozytorium Cyfrowe Instytutów Naukowych, RCiN) after a year-long embargo. The publisher has never felt the need to introduce a hybrid model (i.e. Article Processing Charges), since the journals enjoy different sources of public funding: statutory resources of IBL PAN and its co-publishers (the University of Warsaw, scientific associations), publishing programmes of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and grants from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The aim of the project was thus to develop a sustainable model that would help the Institute implement the open access policy and at the same time ensure funding options for its journals.

In the course of the project, we also analysed the existing business models of Polish and foreign journals, as well as the technical accessibility and legal status of journals published by the Publishing House of IBL PAN. We paid particular attention to the visibility of those titles in international scientific communication networks, participation in which is the primary objective of the modernisation works on the online availability of journals. Moreover, we analysed IBL PAN institutional policies on intellectual property and publishing activities.

It was of crucial importance to select the right platform for the journal distribution. Although Teksty Drugie is regularly deposited in the institutional RCiN, it cannot serve as an equivalent to digital publication. Since IBL PAN does not run a publishing platform, we have considered it reasonable to use available solutions instead of building its own service from scratch. To ensure the openness and international distribution of the journal, we have decided in the implementation phase to use OpenEdition as the publishing tool.

OpenEdition is a comprehensive infrastructure for digital communication in humanities and social sciences, whose main aim is to promote digital publications in open access. OpenEdition is based on the OJS (Open Journal Systems) software connected with a dedicated text editor (Lodel). The articles are available in different formats (HTML, ePub, PDF) and automatically assigned DOI numbers (Digital Object Identifier). The platform is also a source of detailed statistical information about the usage of the portal that can be an advantage while evaluating the journal. OpenEdition is also one of the founders of the international OPERAS consortium (Open Access in European Research Area through Scholarly Communication), which connects different European open science initiatives and develops infrastructure for open scientific texts.

To summarise, we have decided that using a reliable and developing platform will make the journal internationally visible and will eventually help connect access to journals with the distribution of IBL PAN books. Another advantage of using a large international platform is the considerable number of institutional subscribers (academic libraries) that pay fees for restricted content or content available in ePub and PDF formats (freemium model).

Business model

During the preparation phase, we have developed an open model of indirect institutional benefits for IBL PAN. It assumes that adopting open access to one’s publications and putting them in international circulation is a means to increase the journal’s importance, which indirectly translates into more measurable benefits for the institution. These include a higher mark during the evaluation of scientific units, more points for articles published in the journal, a solid argument in the process of seeking financial resources for the journal (usually in programmes that demand open publications, for example, Horizon 2020). The model also assumes that the institution benefits from supporting and opening a journal because profits from other sources and unmeasurable benefits (e.g. prestige) exceed possible earnings from subscription-based distribution. It has to be added that the model does not exclude paid distribution altogether: the journals can still use the freemium model described below (paid access to selected formats). Furthermore, the model applies to journals published at scientific institutions or associations that can at least partially support their work.

The main disadvantage of the model is its dependence on the fluid and unpredictable scientific system in Poland. The adopted solutions meet the requirements set by the European Commission and the declarations of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, but the potential indirect benefits (e.g. the result of the unit in evaluation or assessment of the journal) can depend on detailed regulations. It seems, however, that with the above-described trend in access to scientific texts in mind, open access remains a wise investment for the future.

While analysing the business model, we have also considered the freemium model for open-access publications popularised by OpenEdition (the HTML version is available free of charge in open access, but more advanced formats like ePub or printable versions are downloadable for a fee). We, however, decided to choose full open access and distribute journals under Creative Commons Attribution license to maximise the accessibility of our scientific content. Visibility for all groups without unnecessary restrictions increases the possible range of the journal, including audiences from outside strictly scientific circles. Presence in the international network is in turn recommended by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and appreciated in European funding programmes.

Outcomes

  1. We formulated the openness policy of IBL PAN, which contains a set of rules for the whole Institute and describes issues relating to access to scientific texts and openness-related recommendations for IBL employees.
  2. We translated the OpenEdition interface into Polish and prepared informational materials for editors of Polish journals who would like to use the platform and the model (we already work with two interested editorial boards)
  3. We launched the “Teksty Drugie” profile on the OpenEdition website and made available the articles from recent issues.
  4. We prepared a set of guidelines for publishers presenting the model and main legal challenges to be faced when transforming a journal into an open model. The guidelines are available in Polish and English

Gwen Franck

Open Access Programme Coordinator at EIFL - Electronic Information for Libraries / Open Access Project Officer at LIBER - Association of European Research Libraries

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