Publishers and the FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot

At the moment, when an author gets an approval for a funding request from the FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot s/he is asked to tell the publisher to please issue the invoice for the APC payment to Athena Research Centre and then to upload such invoice in the central system in order for the payment to the publisher to be processed by the project. This is a time-consuming, suboptimal procedure that could be significantly simplified if the Pilot had pre-finance schemes in place with publishers in order to directly charge the payments to the agreed pre-existing fund.

The streamlining of the invoicing process, plus ideally getting some preferential conditions in terms of the applied APC fees, is one of the main drivers of the Pilot’s strategy towards engaging with publishers. These agreements would not just focus on procedural issues, but would also aim to ensure that the technical requirements set by the project on licensing, file versions to be released, deposit into an OpenAIRE-compliant repository, etc, are met by the publishers the Pilot engages with for this purpose.

The trickiest bit at this rather early stage of the initiative is the selection of publishers to sign pre-finance agreements with, since the approved funding requests collected so far cover a wide range of them.

The Pilot team have been holding conversations with a number of publishers since mid-May to inform them about the new funding initiative and to discuss its requirements and technicalities – including the possibility of signing pre-finance agreements. These discussions have been held with both book and journal publishers, and among the latter ones, both fully Open Access publishers – who were reached out to via the OASPA association in early July – and “mixed” publishers for which fully OA titles are just a fraction of their journal portfolio.


The main criteria for selecting the publishers with whom pre-finance agreements will be signed with – a process the Pilot would like to be as transparent as possible – is author preference. This will result in a higher likelihood for a given pre-finance amount to be fully spent. The “popularity” of a given publisher among eligible authors can be estimated by checking the number of FP7-funded outputs that have been published in the last few months. This publication filtering by funder (see an example in the figure above) is a technical process the Pilot is very keen to explore with interested publishers. The key factor that will decide which publishers to start working with on this strand is however the number of approved funding requests that have been collected in the first few months of Pilot operation.

Understandably, the project uptake has been rather slow at the beginning – see the data for the first progress report issued early Aug – so the figures to be taken into consideration for the final choice of pre-finance schemes will be those available at the end of September. Early discussions held by the project team in view of the results collected so far have however resulted in the agreement to sign pre-finance deals with both Frontiers and Ubiquity Press – provided the trends identified so far are still evident at the end of September.

The first pre-finance schemes will be useful for testing the resulting technical workflows around invoicing and reporting, but will not necessarily be the only ones. Agreements with additional publishers may follow where the number of approved funding requests makes it advisable. In order to raise these figures, publishers are then being invited to let their authors know about this funding opportunity. The possible strategies to follow for this are part of the discussions presently taking place with them.


Pablo de Castro

Open Access Project Officer - LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche)

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