Developing the backend infrastructure to support an open access world

So you want your society’s journal to go open access. What does that involve?

By Yvonne Le - June 10, 2020
APC validation process
Elsevier’s process for validating article publishing charge (APC) discounts for society members. The society membership step in the Online Author Communication System and the Elsevier Open Access Platform are various systems we have developed to improve pricing transparency and user-friendliness during the author journey.

As authors increasingly choose to publish open access, publishers are having to pivot their business from one that is predominantly subscription-based to one more focused on open access. Beyond the much discussed changes to the access models, supporting this evolving world requires significant investment in infrastructure – developing systems and processes that meets the needs of both authors and institutions.

Given that many academic and professional societies are also making this journey, we wanted share what we consider some of the key requirements for authors and institutions and the steps we have taken to address them.

Requirement: Clear and transparent APCs

Our Online Author Communication System enables authors to complete their copyright and access forms while making an informed decision on open access options and payments. A personalized APC is provided based on the author’s affiliation details and takes into account any special agreements from which the author is entitled to benefit.

Requirement: Connecting an author’s work with the open access policy/agreement of their institution or funding body

As part of our Elsevier Open Access Services (EOAS), we have developed a dedicated Online Author Communication System (OACS) that links eligible authors to an open access agreement based on the affiliation and funding information they provide. With this information, we can present authors their personalized publishing options that accommodate, for instance, the appropriate user license and any central funding or Article Publishing Charge (APC) discounts agreed between their institutions and Elsevier.

Librarians receive an email notification when an author goes through OACS and is eligible for an OA agreement to validate the author’s details. If the librarian accepts the validation, the author does not have to pay an APC or receives an APC discount, depending on the agreement. If the librarian rejects the validation, the author will receive a full OA invoice.

The system is designed to improve the experience for all parties, offering a self-service tool for authors and payment management system for librarians.

Requirement: Unified systems throughout the author workflow

We have taken steps to enable authors to use the same login details for multiple stages of the workflow, including logging in to our editorial office submission system (Editorial Manager) and making open access decisions and payments. What’s more, all author-related information is stored (in a GDPR-compliant way), so when an author logs in for a second time, the system remembers their details and pre-populates appropriate fields. This saves the author time and avoids unnecessary duplication.

Requirement: Flexibility to cater to multiple scenarios

Given the number of potential scenarios (e.g., in licensing and APCs), we realize it is vital to offer a range of price points and other options to serve the diverse needs of our journals. This is particularly the case for the journals we publish on behalf of societies with multiple stakeholders. One recent example in which we sought to meet a specific society need is through our new society membership validation workflow. (See image above.) This feature allows us to support the process of validating the eligibility of society members for an APC discount by enabling a society representative or a member of our membership team to automatically validate a person’s credentials. The introduction of this process ensures society member discounts are only granted to eligible authors.

These are just some of the backend services we have developed to help you navigate the open access landscape. Is there still more work for us to do as the market continues to evolve? Absolutely, but we believe we are on the right track. We welcome the opportunity to share our experiences with you in more detail.

Read more about publishing open access with Elsevier.

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Written by

Yvonne Le

Written by

Yvonne Le

Yvonne Le is Project Manager, Open Access, for STM Journals at Elsevier. She has a masters’s degree in Neuropsychology. She joining Elsevier in 2011, she has held a variety of roles, starting her current position as an open access business development manager in 2017. She writes: “Our OA team enables Elsevier to grow open access and improve the author’s experience. … In my spare time, I get energized from running and functional fitness, taking my dog for walks and going to concerts in Amsterdam.”

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