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The “author pays” model of open access and UK-wide information strategy

Joint, Nicholas (2009) The “author pays” model of open access and UK-wide information strategy. Library Review, 58 (9). pp. 630-637. ISSN 0024-2535

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to comment on recent trends in UK information strategy which aim to further the development of a coherent national “author pays” open access (APOA) research publication system. Design/methodology/approach – A description of APOA national policy initiatives, which is put into a wider context by looking at some economic analyses of the principles underlying this form of open access. This is in turn followed by the author's own conclusions, which synthesise these two perspectives. Findings – It is not at all clear that the economics of APOA are well enough understood to guarantee that the original aim of open access – to deal with unaffordable serials price inflation – will be achieved by a large scale move towards a national APOA system in the UK. An enhanced, nationally coordinated move geared towards establishing APOA on a proper footing would be a bold experiment, and, as such, it might not fully achieve its aims. In recognition of this possibility, it would be worth considering the establishment of a similar, enhanced, UK-wide programme for the development of purely repository-based open access materials, to be developed in parallel with an APOA system, as an insurance policy in case the author pays model does not realise its full potential. Research limitations/implications – This paper does not give any clear description of the nature of an enhanced, UK-wide repository-based open access programme. Further investigation would be required to ascertain if this suggestion is feasible. It may be the case that existing national initiatives aimed at supporting the growth of open access subject and institutional repositories have exhausted the potential for coordinated UK-wide development of this strand of the open access movement.