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Pay It Forward: Gold Open Access Model Update

ImageIn Fall 2014, the UCI Libraries joined with other campuses of the UC System, Harvard, Ohio State, and other major North American research institutions on a project entitled Pay It Forward: Investigating a Sustainable Model of Open Access Article Processing Charges for Large North American Research Institutions, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

From the outset, the goal of this project was to investigate the institutional cost of converting scholarly journals to the Gold Open Access Model. Gold Open Access models have at their core the premise that either the author of an article, or the author's institution, will underwrite the cost of publishing the article. Green Open Access, by contrast, does not have that payment model in place, but assumes that OA will be supported in some other way as a public good.

In choosing to investigate Gold OA, or Article Processing Charge (APC), the goal was to examine whether this model would be sustainable for institutions while providing scholarly communication processes that journal publishers would support. Sustainability, in this context, had the operational definition of, "costing institutions roughly no more than, and ideally considerably less than, current journal subscription costs for comparable content today." UCI first participated in the qualitative portion of the work. In March 2015, focus groups drawn from UCI faculty and graduate students were asked about their attitudes toward publishing activities, Open Access, and different models that financially support the scholarly communication enterprise. While this was underway, the Libraries' Acquisitions team began gathering the quantitative financial data to help illuminate that portion of the research. At UCI and at other universities participating in the Pay It Forward study--data was contributed that included library journal budgets, institutional publishing patterns, the cost to publish articles, and where possible, the average current Article Processing Charges that institutions pay. Data gathering was completed in December 2016. This research is groundbreaking in that it is the first project of its kind to put those disparate pieces of information together in order to create a coherent explanation for workable financial models going forward.

Currently, the research team based at the University of Tennessee, is continuing to evaluate the massive quantities of data that this project generated. While the Gold OA model is only one model which may help support scholarly communication and publishing in the future, the data gathered here will help inform institutions about their true costs in supporting these endeavors. The Libraries look forward to learning the results of this research that will be specific to UCI, as well as the generalized results of the information from other universities.

For more information, please contact John Renaud, Associate University Librarian, Research Resources at jrenaud@uci.edu or x 45216.