Since the start of 2021, the library of the Graduate Institute has joined the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries and taken part in Read & Publish (R&P) agreements signed with 6 major academic publishers. These agreements allow Graduate Institute researchers to publish in open access (OA) in most of their journals, using included Article Processing Charges (APC).
A success with our researchers
In 2021, our researchers, professors or PhD researchers used these agreements to publish 45 open access articles with Cambridge UP, Elsevier, Sage, Springer, Taylor & Francis and Wiley. This number could have been higher, if not for limited quotas of articles set by publishers. These agreements are called “transformative agreements”, aiming towards full open access in 2024 or 2025.
For Taylor & Francis (T&F), our allowance was reached at the beginning of July. The Library paid to cover additional APCs, but our limited budget could not cover the costs of 5 articles. That research remains locked behind a paywall. The T&F quota will grow with each year, but will still not cover all articles accepted in 2022. This makes it somewhat of a lottery, since getting your manuscript accepted in the first half of the year might be necessary to benefit from the R&P agreement.
Open-access articles are, of course, easier to access, especially for academics from the Global South, activists, or NGO staff. But they also allow researchers to keep their copyright instead of transferring it to publishers. They use Creative Commons (CC) licenses, and researchers may usually choose between several options, such as CC BY (the most open), or the much more restrictive CC BY-NC-ND.
This choice is important since you can not revoke a Creative Commons license. Surprisingly, most researchers do not seem to care much: their choice of license varies a lot between the publishers, based on the display order of the licenses on their websites and the information they are providing. For instance, all articles in Taylor & Francis journals were published under CC-BY-NC-ND licences except one… which was written by the only researcher who has contacted the library to learn more about CC licenses.
If you cannot go gold, go green!
Researchers who can not publish open access (because of these quotas or for another reason) usually have an alternative: they can make their article accessible for all after an embargo period. This is called self-archiving, aka the “green route”.
Authors can legally archive their accepted manuscript (not the published version) in an open-access repository such as the Graduate Institute repository. This gives their research more visibility, as the repository is harvested by Google Scholar and Unpaywall, and helps them comply with their funders’ OA mandates.
R&P agreements, an imperfect solution
The open access strategy of Swissuniversities aims for all publicly funded research in Switzerland to be published open access in 2024, and R&P agreements are the main tool to achieve this. However many observers think this is actually locking in the resources allocated to traditional publishers and marginalising new entrants on the market.
As long the academic publication system (and above that the researchers’ evaluation system) is not thoroughly modified, is there really any workable alternative? Only time can tell. In the meantime, the Swiss consortium hopes to be able to sign other agreements with additional publishers in the near future.
Illustration: Fishpool gold coins, by Lawrence OP, CC BY 4.0.