Earlier this month, London Book Fair organizers announced cancellation of the 2020 program schedule for March 10-12. The news was disappointing, of course, though not unexpected at a time when the world is confronting the pandemic spread of COVID-19.

On Monday, CCC released a Beyond the Book podcast for “Getting the Combination Right For Transformative Agreements,” originally scheduled for the first day of London Book Fair 2020.

For the transition to Open Access to be sustainable over time, publishers are innovating to create frictionless, flexible, and scalable workflows for funders, institutions and researchers. Panelists Niamh O’Connor of PLOSSara Bosshart of IWA PublishingAdam Blow of Cambridge University Press and CCC’s Jennifer Goodrich shared with me insights on how they’ve adapted systems to support emerging needs under terms of Transformative Agreements.

Niamh O’Connor opened our discussion with an assessment of where PLOS fits in this time of transition and transformation.

“I think PLOS has always been at the forefront of [publishing] transition,” she said. “We are really proud to be a publisher that has made open access and open science a reality. What we see as the next step in open access is the transition to open science, and not just open access (OA).”

“We think we still have a lot to contribute,” O’Connor added. “There’s a huge amount of focus on how to transition subscription publishing models to an open access/open science culture. We want to make sure that those who have been publishing open access for a long time are part of that conversation. We want make sure that funding is available for those of us who are not transitioning, but just looking at ways that we can make sure that our journals are open for everybody.”

At IWA Publishing, the publishing branch of the International Water Association, Sara Bosshart is Open Access Publisher, where she is responsible for implementing a strategic transition towards open access. Originally a marine geologist, Sara began her career in publishing in 2013 at Frontiers, where she helped to launch a suite of new open access journals.

“We were one of the first smaller society publishers to start establishing transformative agreements. We started back in 2018, and we were really fortunate to get into contact with the KEMÖ Consortium in Austria and TU Delft and Wageningen University in the Netherlands,” Bosshart told me.

“They were very pro-OA and they were willing to work with a small society publisher right off the bat to develop models for which there were no precedents. We came out with was something we thought was both fair for us as a publisher, and also for the institutions, and was very transparent.”

For Cambridge University Press, Adam Blow, describes how “read-and-publish” agreements are essential for a sustainable transition to open access.

“That’s kind of the whole key, isn’t it?” he said. “Cambridge is very, very much on the side that at the current state of play, read-and-publish agreements are the best way for us at making gold open access happen for our list.

“Sustainable has to be sustainable for both parties. It’s about making sure that we get the revenues that we need as a not-for-profit academic press and support the communities that we represent around the world. And it’s about making sure that we don’t place unnecessary administrative or fiscal burdens on our customers.”

Pulling together these strands, my CCC colleague Jennifer Goodrich observed that 2020 marks a critical time.

“The arrival of January 1, 2020 and with it, the Horizon 2020 mandate, has added pressure to implement transformative agreements that publishers and their institution and consortia partners have been working on for some time,” she said.

“At CCC, we expedited some functionality in December, 2019, for RIghtsLink for Scientific Communications to be able to support certain kinds of transformative agreements,” Goodrich noted. “This is all about getting to open access more quickly and efficiently and in a sustainable and scalable way.”

Next Steps

Over the next several weeks, CCC will continue our series of virtual programming planned as London Book Fair presentations. For a complete schedule, please click here.

To learn more about CCC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here.


Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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