Wellcome, UKRI, and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) commissioned Information Power Ltd to undertake a project to support society publishers to accelerate their transition to Open Access (OA) in alignment with Plan S and the wider move to accelerate immediate OA. This project is part of a range of activity that cOAlition S partners are taking forward to support the implementation of Plan S principles.
27 business models and strategies that can be deployed by publishers to transition successfully to OA were published. We surveyed society publishers about their experience of and interest in these models, and found that transformative agreements – including models such as Subscribe to Open – emerged as the most promising because they offer a predictable, steady funding stream. Also very useful are APC models if authors are funded and willing to pay such charges, immediate sharing of accepted manuscripts or final articles under a CC-BY license, cooperation, cost savings, and revenue diversification. Respondents often equated OA generally with the Article Publishing Charges (APC) business model in particular, and expressed concern about this model because of the uneven availability of funding for authors or willingness to pay APCs even when funding is available. However, only three of the 27 models that emerged during the project relied on author payments for articles.
In parallel, we surveyed library consortia about their willingness to engage with and support learned society publishers to make a full and successful transition to OA. Outcomes demonstrate support in principle from library consortia and their members to repurpose existing expenditure to help society publishers make this transition. Librarians see working together in this new way as strategic because it offers the prospect of creating new business models that are more equitable, sustainable, and transparent. It is essential in the short term to gain practical experience of working with small and medium-sized publishers on transformative agreements, and in the medium term to develop models that do not shift costs exclusively to authors or research-intensive institutions. Principles to inform the short- and medium-term development of an OA transformative agreement toolkit were generated jointly by consortium representatives and publishers.