Flipping journals from subscription to open access
More Elsevier journals are changing to open access; what will this mean for authors and customers?
By Rachel Martin Posted on 9 January 2014
Editor's Note: Since publication, several of you have raised a very good question on our Facebook page about the affordability of publishing fees for researchers in low-income countries. Elsevier is a founding member of Research4Life, a program that gives access to developing countries. Elsevier also has a waiver policy for open access publishing that gives preference for participating Research4Life countries. — Alison Bert
For some of Elsevier's journals, 2014 is the beginning of a new journey as an open access publication. Seven established subscription journals will change to open access. This article explores how plans for the journey began and what the impact will be on authors and customers.
Open access is not a new concept, and the start of the open access journey for these seven journals began several years ago. In any transition to open access, the aim is to find practical ways to implement it that will work over time and at scale while maintaining quality and research impact. Collaboration among stakeholders in each subject area is crucial for success.
Bringing the key stakeholders together – authors, institutions, publishers and associations – has led to collaborative and unique pilots. For example, the SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) initiative is a unique way to bring open access to the high-energy physics community. Essentially, this is a new program which centrally supports the open access fees needed to fund open access journals in this community.
To make this a reality, publishers and librarians needed to work together. Publishers have flipped established high-energy physics journals to open access to provide more publication choices for authors. SCOAP3 includes two former Elsevier subscription titles: Physics Letters B and Nuclear Physics B, which just became open access on January 1. The funds used by libraries to pay subscription costs for these two journals will be re-directed to SCOAP3, which centrally pays the open access costs of the flipped journals. Authors can continue to publish their research in familiar quality journals, with the additional benefit of the articles being immediately and publically available.
"As high-energy physics journals flip to open access, this is a time of reflection," said Dr. Salvatore Mele, who led the building of the SCOAP3 initiative at CERN. "Hard work and close collaboration have brought this open access initiative into reality. Many different stakeholders have reached unprecedented consensus: libraries, funding agencies, research organizations and publishers such as Elsevier. All together they have made this possible."
Listening to authors
In other communities, the open access journey for a journal begins with authors and their desire to publish open access. Elsevier has been supporting authors by launching new open access journals and by offering authors the option to publish open access in over 1,600 established journals. In some cases where there is clear and sustained support for open access from the author community, this will involve flipping journals from subscription to open access to better serve the research community.
In 2014, Elsevier will change five titles to open access in response to authors and the research community: Stem Cell Research, The International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Epidemics and EJC Supplements
"Open access actually presents an opportunity to bring us closer to our authors, and we are committed to providing more choices for them to publish and promote their research," said Dr. Philippe Terheggen, Managing Director of STM Journals at Elsevier. "In areas where we have seen a clear uptake and support for open access publishing from authors, funders and the wider community, we will take a carefully considered decision to flip a journal. Our priority is always to focus on what authors need and to provide the best quality journal to serve the community, regardless of the business model."
What exactly changes when a journal becomes open access?
The most important thing to understand about flipping journals is that the change in business model does not impact on the editorial or ethical standards of the journal. The journal maintains the same editorial board, and articles undergo the same peer review process. What changes is how the articles are made available and how the costs of publication are covered.
The costs of publication in a subscription journal are covered by subscription fees, and upon publication the articles are immediately accessible to subscribers. Articles in open access journals are broadcast to everyone. The costs are covered by an open access publication fee, paid by the author, his or her institution, or a funder.
After a journal is flipped from subscription to open access, libraries no longer need to subscribe to these titles as the new content is publically available. Past issues remain accessible to subscribers through their collection agreements, which will be adjusted to remove the new open access journals.
Elsevier's provides authors who choose to publish open access with a choice of Creative Commons user licenses, including CC BY, and offers a varied pricing structure of open access publication fees that range from $500 to $5,000 depending on the dynamics of the scientific community and the article type.
How does Elsevier support implementing open access?
We realize that the journey towards an open access world will take many different paths, reflecting the differences among disciplines. There is certainly no single, standard approach.
At Elsevier, we are working and collaborating in many different regions and fields to see how best to support open access where there is need from the research community. In some cases, this will mean expanding our open access options; in others, it will involve piloting and testing new approaches, such as SCOAP3. We are excited to see what will become of our new open access journals and to continue to work closely to implement open access.
Elsevier Connect Contributor
Rachel Martin (@rachelcmartin) is the Universal Access Communications Manager at Elsevier, based in Amsterdam. She is responsible for helping to communicate Elsevier's progress in areas such as open access, philanthropic access programs and access technologies.[divider]