APC benefits increase open publishing


Openly published scientific articles are freely available to anybody on the internet. In 2019, 1751 articles were published Open Access in the journals of several publishers through  agreements negotiated by the FinELib consortium.

Last year FinELib had nine journal package agreements, containing  the right to publish articles Open Access for free  or with discounted Article Processing Charge (APC). The amount of articles published through the agreements increased by 73% compared with the previous year.

Towards open access

Both in Finland and internationally there is an increasingly strong drive towards agreements enabling the OA publishing of all articles without charging authors article processing charges. In 2019 cOAlition S funders published Plan S to promote openness in scientific publishing. Academy of Finland is one of the funders. Plan S requires that scientific articles funded by cOAlition S must be immediately openly available Open with extensive usage rights  from 2021 onwards.

The goal of the Finnish research community’s program of action, Open Access to Scholarly Publications, is that all new scientific article and conference publications are immediately openly available in 2022 at the latest.

Transitional agreements, which enable OA publishing, are one of the central ways to carry out these objectives. Furthermore, the agreements strive to effect a rapid change towards the fall of journal paywalls  and towards OA becoming the new normal of scientific publishing. Several countries around the world are now concluding transitional agreements. Information about them is gathered to the ESAC Transformative Agreement Registry.

Getting rid of the article processing charges

FinELib agreements guarantee various APC benefits  depending on the publisher. Some agreements enable OA publishing in hybrid journals, in others there are also benefits to fully open journals.

The agreements with Royal Society of Chemistry and SAGE cover the OA publishing of all articles published by the subscribing organizations. Springer Compact agreement made it possible to publish all articles Open Access in 2019 and in 2020 the coverage will probably be close to a hundred percent. Wiley agreement will presumably enable the OA publishing of nearly all articles in 2021.

Taylor & Francis, Emerald, American Chemical Society (ACS) and Lippincott agreements contain a fixed amount of OA articles published without additional costs. The downside of these agreements is that for the rest of the articles the researchers must pay APCs or otherwise they will be published behind paywall.

Also the discounted model (FinELib agreement does not cover the whole APC) results in the researcher having to make further payment to the publisher. The Elsevier agreement, for example, provides the researchers with a 50% discount on APCs to publish an Open Access article.

Another example for a funding model for OA publishing is the SCOAP3 consortium. In this model, researchers regardless of the country can publish articles on high energy physics openly in the journals part of the cooperation. The costs are covered by the international consortium, which also Finland is part of.

The various models affect the number of articles published Open Access in the journals covered by the agreements.

Overview of the open access articles covered by FinELib agreements

* the OA benefit of the AAAS Science Journals agreement is limited to publishing in Science Advances journal only
* agreed open access benefit: gratis articles per year or discounted APC

Better publishing process, more open articles

The fluency of the publishing process affects significantly how uncomplicated OA publishing is for the researcher. The benefit negotiated by FinELib may remain unused if the researcher does not get enough information about it during the publishing process. In the FinELib negotiations, attempts are made to affect the publishing process so that OA publishing will be easy for the researcher.

Only last year the SAGE agreement gave the researchers a considerable discount on the APC. However, the discount was not used since the publisher did not notify the authors of the discount. This was clearly seen in SAGE’s article numbers: in 2019 only 10% of the authors entitled to the discount used it. The new FinELib agreement for the years 2020–2022 covers a hundred percent of the APCs and, among others, there are improvements in the publishing process related to identifying the authors.

The Lippincott journal package agreement contains a fixed number of OA articles, that can be published without extra costs. Ovid’s publishing process does not support OA publishing and the authors are not given enough information on the benefits of OA publishing during the publishing process. Because of this, nearly all free articles included in the FinELib agreement have remained unused.

Reuse rights of Open Access articles

Creative Common licenses are generally used for OA publishing. The license defines how users can utilize the articles. The science funders of cOAlition S require mainly the use of CC BY license, which enables the extensive use of the articles. It is only natural that research funded by the taxpayers can be widely utilized by the whole society.

The selection of licenses varies by publisher and journal title. Some only use CC BY, others offer primarily more restricted CC licenses. FinELib negotiations  aim to guarantee researchers affiliated to Finnish research organizations the right to publish their articles using the CC BY license.

In 2019, 1751 articles were published through FinELib agreements. In 1361 of them, the researcher had chosen the CC BY license. If the publisher offers several licensing options, the researcher is likely to be affected by how the options are presented in the publisher’s system. If the researcher chooses the non-commercial CC BY NC license, the commercial use rights are often left to the publisher and not to the researcher.


Who can use the OA benefits?

The OA benefits can be used by the corresponding author affiliated to the organization which is part of the FinELib agreement if the author is publishing an article in a journal covered by the FinELib agreement. In SCOAP3 journals, the article can be published OA if it is about high energy physics.

The OA benefits negotiated by FinELib can be found on the Take Advantage of OA Benefits pages.