Keeping Open Access sustainable

Open Access (OA) is a rapidly growing movement in the academic and research community. It brings information to people and institutions that might not be able to afford traditional journals and enables research in institutions and countries which would not otherwise have access to the necessary prior studies.

Last week, the research community celebrated Open Access Week 2016 with the theme of “Open in Action.” As a relatively new movement, however, questions of sustainability arise. Without the traditional subscription fees charged by journals, how can research and data dissemination continue to exist?


Here are some key factors in OA growth and sustainability:

Article Processing Charges. Article Processing Charges are often covered by grants, but when researchers are unable to secure funding for these hefty fees, there should be a back-up source of funding to ensure that authors can distribute their research. Both librarians and publishers can work to create these funds to ensure that researchers who are unable to pay or secure grant funding for their APCs can still make their findings openly available.

Institutional Repository publishing. For librarians, one of the most important ways to grow OA is to build their own Institutional Repositories (IRs). This means encouraging researchers to publish in the IR. By making it easy to publish and showing the benefits of uploading both raw data and completed papers to IRs, librarians can dramatically enhance the OA movement.

Journal funding models. While APCs are emerging as the dominant OA funding source, publishers can also consider other models. Some publishers work with donations, or the money from partnerships with universities or other organization. Some journals are even operated from IRs.

Researcher confusion about copyright. Librarians can help researchers understand and protect their rights with OA publishing by acting as advocates and agents for them. Librarians can help researchers navigate the world of publishing and copyrights.

Concerns about “parasitic” researchers. Some researchers are reluctant to upload their data to IRs because they feel that it’s allowing others to unfairly benefit from their work. When OA data is viewed as a natural resource, though, people are encouraged to run their own algorithms and hypotheses on already-available data. This means that more research and deeper understanding can be achieved with less funding, and the research community as a whole benefits. Researchers should be educated about this.

Long-term accessibility. For publishers, ensuring that OA journals will be available two or three decades down the line is important to ensure future generations’ access to information. Long-term security can also help authors feel more comfortable that their work will continue to be available, enhancing their reputation in the future.

Dedication. OA is a comparatively new development for both publishers and librarians, and one of the biggest ways to ensure future success is to constantly work to improve and enhance OA publishing. Dedication to the success of OA is more important than any single step you can take to encourage it.


Catch up on our blog posts from Open Access Week 2016
Ready, Set, Open.
RightsLink integrates with ScholarOne for improved open access workflow
An easier way to find Open Access
Keeping Open Access sustainable