Is Your APC Workflow Working?

In 2019, change is the new normal for the scholarly publishing workflow. After advocacy groups’ calls for change sent shockwaves through the system last year, the processes for collecting article processing charges (APCs) and Open Access (OA) submissions don’t need to be rebuilt so much as reimagined.  

With 2020 only months away and pressure closing in from multiple sides, is your workflow healthy enough to thrive in the new normal?  

Vienna University Report: Roadblocks 

Even before the widely-publicized Plan S, librarians with Vienna University co-published a report with UKSG which described major obstacles for publishers handling the publication of OA research.  

While the research community’s perception and awareness of OA publishing has evolved in recent years, OA publishing is far from universally adopted and endorsed,” the report states. “At the same time, it is impossible for the University’s OA support staff to efficiently inform every single potential author about the intricacies of all the various systems. 

The inefficiencies posed by “the intricacies of all the various systems” afflict more than just authors and OA staffers at universities. Confusion permeates every part of the publishing workflow. Specific roadblocks called out in the report include:  

  1. Too many workflows are currently in use, each with its own user experience, guidelines, etc.  
  2. The overabundant workflows are supported by sub-optimal infrastructures  
  3. There is limited context-specific support from one platform to another (recognition of pre-existing agreements, pricing, etc.)  
  4. Some agreement types are not represented  

In addition to workflow issues, the report found administrative barriers, metadata concerns, and reporting and performance gaps. There are too many options, and many of them underperform. Publishers and other workflow providers must take advantage of today’s technological tools like smart content, auto-populating data, and sophisticated metadata tagging. 

Plan S: Mandates 

Plan S is more specific about their demands, publishing a list of mandates rather than a research report. All the same, an improved, common workflow approach should be able to satisfy many of those prescriptive changes, including, but not limited to: 

  1. Content must be openly available upon publication without an embargo period 
  2. Authors must publish in compliant OA Journals or compliant Open Access Platforms 
  3. Stakeholders must provide full transparency and monitoring of Open Access publication costs and fees 
  4. Publication fees should be covered, where applicable, by funders or universities, not by individual researchers 
  5. Automatic APC waivers must be available for authors from low-income counties and discounts for authors from middle-income countries  

Plan S demands that OA article publishers produce a strategic plan to meet these mandates by January 1, 2020, with a deadline to come later for OA book publishers. 

Workflow Solutions from RightsLink Author 

Any valid workflow solution must support the requirements listed above, and then some. RightsLink Author’s platform addresses nearly all the market problems of the Vienna University Library report. Additionally, the robust workflow of RightsLink Author supports every Plan S workflow requirement. 

For more detailed analysis of how CCC’s RightsLink Author platform and its OA Agreement Manager module can help you solve all identified market problems and requirementsDiscover how RightsLink Author, the industry-leading Open Access e-commerce and workflow platform, can help you transform your OA business. Contact to learn more.  

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Author: Kurt Heisler

Kurt Heisler is Director of Sales, Publisher, for Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). He has been with CCC for over 10 years and is responsible for helping publishers find efficiency through automation, technology and market-wide collaboration. His primary focus is the market-wide adoption of the RightsLink® platform, and the exploration of new efficiencies and revenue opportunities for publishers. 
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