Wiley agreement expands open access options

March 2, 2022

A new agreement between Wiley, publisher of more than 1500 academic journals, and the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) offers new open access publishing opportunities to the U-M community.

The agreement — a one-year extension and expansion of a prior agreement — includes full credit for the article processing charges, commonly known as APCs, for up to 374 U-M-authored publications in Wiley's hybrid open access journals. (Hybrid journals publish both open access and subscriber-only articles.) 

That number represents 65% of the total number of such articles  by U-M authors in 2020. Eligible manuscripts must be accepted between February 1 and December 31, 2022.

Bryan Skib, associate university librarian for collections, says that if the university reaches the article limit before the agreement ends, negotiations with the BTAA might provide additional APC credits for U-M authors. The agreement as it stands provides a 10% discount on APCs for articles beyond the initial allocation. 

Skib says the Wiley agreement delivers enormous value to Big Ten and Michigan authors, who are increasingly interested in publishing their findings and output in publicly-accessible venues, but don't always have research funds to cover the costs. 

"In our negotiations with publishers, we look for ways to make it easier for U-M authors to choose to publish their research openly, because free dissemination of research and scholarship benefits everyone," Skib says. This effort sits alongside negotiating with publishers for the expansive access to the subscription content that the university community relies on for research, learning, and teaching. The agreement with Wiley, like prior agreements of this kind, maintains full access to all Wiley journals.

A growing trend

The new agreement follows two BTAA agreements announced last year with Cambridge University Press and the open access publisher PLOS.  Both offer unlimited, no-charge journal publication to U-M authors in eligible journals. 

The Wiley agreement, despite its cap, is a big expansion of open access publishing opportunities for U-M authors because Wiley is so large, and its journals span a wide range of disciplines.  

Skib also notes that the library's recently-renewed agreement with Elsevier — an even larger publisher, with 2500 academic journals — includes a new 10% discount on charges for publication in its hybrid and fully open ("gold") journals, not including Cell Press and The Lancet. A similar agreement with publishers Sage and Taylor & Francis, for a 10% discount on hybrid journals, is being implemented.

"Our conversations with publishers are always ongoing, and we expect future agreements to move us further toward broad and sustainably-priced dissemination of U-M research and scholarship," Skib says. For now, an entirely open publishing ecosystem faces any number of challenges, he adds. "Like so many things, it really comes down to the costs; it's never entirely 'free' to publish because there are always costs, and someone has to pay." 

While some publisher business models provide an open access option for very little added cost, other models are enormously expensive. Academic institutions worldwide are exploring and experimenting both within and beyond these models to create affordable open access publishing options for all subject areas and disciplines.

Information for U-M authors

Cost is certainly a major barrier to open access publishing, but Skib also cites burdensome management systems as a disincentive. Fortunately, the process for participating in the Wiley agreement is close to frictionless — corresponding authors just need to confirm their U-M affiliation and their intent to publish open access in Wiley's Author Services Dashboard

Other publishers might require a little more work to access their credits and discounts. Library resources and experts can help make things go smoothly.

If you have questions about free and discounted open access publishing, contact your library specialist, or send email to lib-oa-pub@umich.edu.


by Lynne Raughley


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