IOP Publishing and 21 UK university libraries collaborate on open access offsetting pilot

IOP Publishing (IOP), one of the world’s leading scientific publishers, has today announced the launch of a three-year pilot project under which participating universities will be able to offset the majority of their expenditure on hybrid article publication charges (APCs) in IOP journals against their subscription and licence fees.

The agreement follows discussions between IOP, Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the Russell Group of leading universities.

IOP has developed a sliding scale for its offsetting model, under which its income from APCs for open access publication in subscription-based journals is offset against the licensing costs of universities paying the APCs and is also used to reduce subscription prices for all customers.

At low levels of open access publication in subscription journals, most of the cost is offset to the universities in the pilot; as the number of open access articles increases, the balance moves towards greater global reductions in subscription prices. The sliding scale recognises that as open access publishing grows, all libraries will expect to benefit from a reduction in their subscription prices, but at low levels the primary beneficiaries of the offsetting are the early adopters that are supporting open access ahead of many of their peers.

21 UK universities, from University College London to Queen’s University Belfast, have committed to take part in the pilot project, starting in 2014. Their APC payments for articles published by their researchers in the 2014 volumes of IOP’s journals will be offset against their 2015 subscription and licence fees, and so on thereafter.

The pilot project has been warmly welcomed by the Rt Hon. David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, who said: “Freely sharing knowledge helps our scientists and businesses to conduct new research and create innovative new products. This imaginative pilot is a valuable initiative. It enables IOP Publishing customers to publish their publicly funded research by the most effective route of gold open access without feeling financially penalised.

I welcome this bold step and strongly encourage other publishers to follow suit to the benefit of science and the future prosperity of our country.”

Steven Hall, Managing Director of IOP Publishing said: “IOP has developed this pilot, in direct response to the strong demand from UK universities for collaborative approaches that will help them to support gold open access and funder mandates while managing their costs. We have created an extensible and scalable offsetting model that benefits both the UK and international scholarly community. We look forward to working with our colleagues from the participating universities to maximise the pilot’s potential.”

Phil Sykes, University of Liverpool Librarian and RLUK Board Member, said: “Research Libraries UK welcomes the offsetting model developed by IOP Publishing. It sensibly balances the interests of the publisher and our universities, and makes it possible for us to make more of our research output instantly and universally available. We look forward to working with other publishers to implement similar models.”