The University of Southampton

Report highlights building a business case for an Open Access policy

Published: 26 February 2010

A new report launched yesterday (25 February) and written by Dr Alma Swan of the University of Southampton shows how universities can work out how much they could save on their profit and loss accounts as well as increasing their contribution to UK plc when they share their research papers through Open Access.

The ‘Modelling scholarly communication options: Costs and benefits for universities’ report, is based on different types of university. It shows how universities might reduce costs, how they can calculate these saving and their greater contribution to society by following an Open Access route.

Neil Jacobs, programme manager at JISC says: “This is the first time that universities will have a method and practical examples from which to build a business case for Open Access and to calculate the cost to them of the scholarly communications process; for example, working out the value of researchers carrying out peer-reviewing duties or the comparative costs of the library handling of journals subscribed to in print, electronically, or in both formats.

“As universities such as Edinburgh, Salford and UCL lead the world to mandate self-archiving and adopt Open Access policies, this report gives evidence to help universities make informed decisions about how their research is disseminated. There are still issues to overcome and the benefits of adopting an Open Access route can be seen through economies of scale, the more researchers disseminate their work through this route the greater the benefits.”

The key findings from the report show:

• The annual savings in research and library costs of a university repository model combined with subscription publishing could range from £100,000 to £1,320,000

• Moving from Open Access journals and subscription-funding to per-article Open Access journal funding has the potential to achieve savings for universities between £620,000 per year and £1,700,000 per year if the article-processing charge is set at £500 or less

• Savings from a change away from subscription-funding to per-article Open Access journal funding were estimated to be between £170,000 and £1,365,000 per year for three out of the four universities studied when the article-processing charge is £1000 per article or less

• For the remaining university in the study a move from subscription-funding to the per-article Open Access journal funding saw the university having to pay £1.86m more in this scenario

Jacobs adds: “While some research intensive universities may pay more for the subscription-funding to per-article Open Access journal scenario, it should be noted that many research funders, including the Research Councils and Wellcome Trust, may contribute article-processing charges as a part of normal research grant, so that all universities have a potential source of income to cover the majority of such costs.

“JISC is working with partners in the sector to overcome the barriers which exist to adopting Open Access.”

The University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science was the first in the world to mandate OA (2003) and the provider of the world's first OA repository software (EPrints, 2000). Dr Swan, a graduate of the University of Southampton, works closely with the EPrints team advising on many aspects of OA. Earlier this month a major article in Information Today highlighted the work of ECS Professor Stevan Harnad in the worldwide Open Access movement.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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