Offsetting agreements in academic publishing in Sweden – a means to what end?

In an academic world transitioning from “paying for reading” to “paying for publishing” (and not both), it makes sense to sign agreements with publishers to “offset” the publishing costs against reading costs to prevent total costs from sky rocketing.

The article processing charges (APC) associated with Open Access publishing have traditionally been paid by individual researchers, without transparency and beyond the control of their institutions. Through the Bibsam Consortium Swedish institutions can sign offsetting agreements with publishers in attempts to centralize and thus gain control of publishing costs. Such agreements provide a foundation for supporting Open Access publishing in Sweden, increases efficiency (less administrative work for researchers), and create leverage in negotiating and lowering the overall costs for publishing Swedish research.

An evaluation group currently evaluates two offsetting agreements with respects to their effects on economy, administration, researcher attitudes and research dissemination. The first agreement is Springer Compact (running from July 2016 to December 2018). The second is Institute of Physics (running from January 2017 to December 2019).

So far, the evaluation group concludes that the Springer Compact agreement has led to an increase in Open Access publications and a great economic and administrative ease for researchers. By centralising the publishing costs and involving the university libraries, offsetting agreements also creates a foundation for the transition to a system of paying for publishing rather than for reading, at controlled costs.

As for disadvantages, the evaluation group points out increased costs compared to the previous Springer Nature agreement and the promotion of Open Access publishing in hybrid journals, over Open Access journals.

Attached you find the latest interim report (the second in a series of five). The main report is in Swedish, but also you find an English summary attached here.

For any questions, please contact the coordinator of the evaluation group: Lisa Olsson (lisa.olsson [at] sub.su.se).

Attachments:

[Blog post by Ulf Kronman, on behalf of the evaluation group]