The Max Planck Digital Library has put forward a study on the transformation of the subscription-driven system for scientific publications to an Open Access model. For the first time, quantitative parameters are presented showing that the liberation of scholarly literature is possible at no extra costs.
According to market analyses, annual turnovers of academic publishers amount to approximately EUR 7.6 billion. This money comes predominantly from publicly funded scientific libraries as they purchase subscriptions or licenses in order to provide access to scientific journals for their customers. Since more than a decade the Open Access movement, in which the Max Planck Society plays a major role, has been demanding free and immediate access to the results of academic research on the internet.
Open Access publishers ensure their financial sustainability through charging publication fees: Not readers but rather authors or their institutions or funders are supposed to pay for publications. While numerous publishers have already adopted an Open Access business model during the last few years, the share of openly available scientific articles is still only at a level of some 13%.
“We need to create an efficient and widely budget-neutral transition which offers fresh incentives to traditional publishers to cooperate and transfer established journals to Open Access,” says Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society.
The study which has now been presented by the Max Planck Digital Library is investigating the question whether the previously used subscription budgets would be sufficient to fund the Open Access publication charges and thus bring about a complete transition of academic publishing. The paper, entitled Disrupting the subscription journal’s business model for the necessary large-scale transformation to open access, concludes that such a transition would be possible at no extra costs. “An internationally concerted shifting of subscription budgets is possible at no financial risk, maybe even at lower overall costs”, says main author Ralf Schimmer.