RightsLink for Scientific Communications has made some significant strides in the past few years, especially in the way of developing and involving an ever-more extensive user community. So, now seemed a good time to check in with Principal Consultant Andrew Robinson about some of the latest aspects.

Open Access (OA) publishing itself — as an organized, global initiative — is barely over 20 years old, as is (coincidentally) CCC’s RightsLink platform. Over the past decade, more than 30 scholarly publishers representing over 2600 journals have adopted RightsLink for Scientific Communications to manage their OA article processing charges (APCs). During this time, the business models for APCs used in the industry have greatly evolved and expanded, creating significant complexity and change for publishers as well as for individual researchers, institutional librarians, and funders who each play a role in the APC workflow. Developed in close collaboration with these critical stakeholder groups, RightsLink has evolved from a simple transaction management tool to an advanced data and workflow solution. It is not too much to say that APCs and RightsLink co-evolved.

RightsLink for Scientific Communications was created when a forward-thinking publisher, already familiar with various CCC publisher support services, started a conversation with us about creating a better way to serve the needs of the researchers who were in the process of  submitting their research articles for publication in OA journals. At the time, the publisher realized that automating its manual process would address the publisher’s own needs but would certainly not address the needs of the thousands of authors submitting manuscripts to multiple publishers. As a result, our team soon began an informal collaboration with publishers, authors, institutions, and funders about their respective needs related to APC management, and ultimately delivered RightsLink. From its earliest beginnings in APC processing, to its latest feature set (which provides integrated, customized workflows, advanced tracking and reporting, and touch-free transactions), the objectives of RightsLink development have never wavered: to support the management of OA commitments through a simple, intuitive interface that supports the changing needs of the market. In other words: focused, reliable efficiency and scalability.

It is true, of course, that over the years various scholarly publishers have designed their own (proprietary) APC management software, perhaps out of concern that their unique business needs and system integration requirements could not be met by an independent platform. And, anecdotally, we know that many of those publishers still at the early stages of their OA journey continue to make do with good old “spreadsheets and email” to manage, process, and track APC transactions. Yet, with 850+ institutions on the RightsLink platform – and counting – it’s impossible to ignore a global community that combines those institutions with publishers, authors, and funders, and their collective collaboration and innovative ideas that allow RightsLink to drive their individual OA programs forward.

Each time we’ve added a new RightsLink feature or identified a timesaving practice among our RightsLink community, we’ve made it immediately available (as an option) to everyone on the platform, thus benefitting those funders, institutions, and authors who interact with the publishers who’ve adopted RightsLink. For example, one publisher identified ways to better reflect the terms of their latest institutional agreement, resulting in every publisher on the platform gaining access to more robust data capture and reporting tools. Even publishers who didn’t yet have these changes on their own internal roadmaps were able to benefit from this community-informed innovation.

Looking ahead, the future is bright for RightsLink, and for Open Access publishing generally. Informed by listening carefully to the RightsLink community, we’re expanding RightsLink capabilities beyond transactions to bring new support and value to publishers, funders, institutions and authors. Our expanded services will continue to facilitate innovative new agreements and business models as we add features, integrations and workflows that meet the evolving needs of the community.


Author: Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson has been a Principal Consultant with CCC since 2012. He has helped clients make informed investment decisions for significant content management system implementations. He has worked with the delivery of content and information systems for over 30 years including in senior roles in publishing and related industries in UK, Europe, USA and South East Asia across multiple domains including food research, trade magazines and directories, defence, Standards, and shipping.
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