Flexible membership funding model for Open Access publishing with No author-facing charges
This model is an extension of what is known as "consortial membership" model to fund Open Access publishing without author-facing charges. The descriptions and made general (even abstract) on purpose to allow for maximum flexibility, creativity and innovation from all participants.
Concerns and criticism are most welcome and every other feedback is appreciated!
- OLH Model, see also the related discussion on How Learned Societies Could Flip to Open Access, With No Author-Facing Charges, Using a Consortial - Model by Martin Eve.
- SciPost Organizations.
- arXiv Membership Program.
- SCOAP3 - Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics
- Knowledge Unlatched GmbH
- Associations. Societies, publishers, universities, university presses, libraries, platforms, servers, individual journals or books, any entity providing publishing products.
- Members. Institutions, universities, laboratories, institutes, libraries, research funders, foundations, charities, government organizations, hospitals, private donors, anyone benefiting from association's products or interested to support them.
- Services. Publication online hosting, replication and preservation, printing, managing, negotiating, indexing, legal support, editorial and reviewer support, formatting, copy-editing, any services used by associations for their products. Can be provided by libraries, publishers, researchers, companies etc.
- Associations select and contract competing services for their production.
- Members choose associations competing for their membership.
- Members pay fees to associations of their choice.
- Fees are agreed between associations and their members.
- Membership benefits are similarly agreed between associations and their members.
- Contingency plan is agreed between associations and their members, for the event of too many members dropping out. Examples include converting to subscription or fee-based open access, see #91.
- All members, their fees, benefits and contingency plans are transparently and publicly displayed on the association's website.
Associations are free to select, combine and contract their services or provide their own. It is up associations to determine their costs and choose services, however, members can recommend certain services and vote for them. Associations compete for their members that incentivize them to keep their costs low and use low cost service providers. Add-on products can be sold at discounts as agreed with members.
Members are free to chose associations to become members of, according to values and benefits provided by associations. If the value drops, association may risk losing members. This should put healthy competitive and pricing pressure on associations and their products, to retain members and upholding value. In the event of budget cuts or constraints, associations of higher value and lower costs have competitive advantage. The more expensive/lower value ones will be under pressure to downsize, look for cheaper service providers or more members. A possible way to downsize can be reducing number of published articles by means of increased selectivity, a step usually welcomed by the community, that may lead to desired value/price adjustment.
Members pay fees for each term as agreed and can renew, renegotiate or cancel their membership after the term ends. The terms can be agreed individually for each member or on some fixed basis for all members. Member acquisition and negotiation can be led by dedicated services contracted and paid by associations.
Membership fees can be negotiated on fixed or flexible basis, the same for all or based on geographic location. The main principle should be to keep all parties satisfied, as otherwise members can obviously decide to leave.
The main membership benefit is preserving the no-fee open access status and avoiding to pay more for a worse product, in the event of conversion to unfavorable models as per contingency agreement. See also this thread for more details. Further benefits can be direct, such as usage data by members or other add-on services or discounts, or indirect such as reputation, visibility and potentially higher ranking for the member institution from being listed on the association site. Additional benefits can be agreed directly with associations, that may include voting power on important parts of the service or discounts on add-on services such as printing.
Contingency plan is important to prevent excessive number of members dropping out. In the event of total revenue dropping below agreed level, association can convert to subscription or fee-based open access at a price higher than membership. Keeping that price higher will discourage members from dropping. Potential consequence, that hopefully will not happen, would mean for all members, along with everyone else, having to pay higher fees for worse product. At that stage, members would have benefited and invested into the product, that would persuade them to pay the price or see the product die. See also this comments.
Transparency in publicly displaying all members, their fees and benefits is important to make it easy and efficient for the existing and prospective members and everyone else to review all details. This should make it attractive for new members to join and help keeping membership fees low.
- Associations and their members should monitor their services used to prevent lock-ins.
- Services should ideally be open-source, competing and substitutable.
- Proprietary technologies with lock-in potential should be approached with care and ideally avoided.
Upholding added value
- It is important not to make the membership fees depending on the number of published articles. This is because otherwise association would be financially incentivized to accept more papers that may potentially lowering value. This is a major weakness of any APC-based model, even fully sponsored.
- In contrast, keeping fees decoupled from numbers of publications should incentivize associations to keep their costs low by publishing less and hence raising the value standards.
Additional revenue ideas
- Advertising on the association website.
- Sales from add-on services.