Open Access agreements expand opportunities for ISU researchers

Oct 13, 2021 · Abbey Elder

Publishing Open Access (OA) is a great way to increase the impact of your research and to expand access to knowledge for anyone with an internet connection. Articles published OA have been shown to receive 4 times more downloads, 1.6 times more citations, and 2.5 times more attention in news outlets and policy than equivalent articles in closed access venues (Draux, Lucraft, and Walker, 2021).

However, publishing OA is not always an easy choice. Some open access journals charge Article Processing Charges (APCs), author-facing fees which are necessary for many OA journals to sustain themselves. Since they don’t charge a subscription, OA journals do not generate revenue to cover the publisher’s editorial, hosting, or other production costs. However, APCs have been a major barrier for many early career researchers and others whose research has no funding to support the cost.* It is exciting to share, then, that many faculty at Iowa State are publishing their journal articles OA now with support from the University Library, a trend that we featured in September Your Library newsletter.

OA Agreements at ISU

Iowa State University’s OA Agreements are contracts and memberships that the University library manages to expand OA publishing options for ISU researchers. The first of our OA agreements was made in 2019 with De Gruyter, a German publisher with more than “900 journals in the humanities, social sciences, medicine, mathematics, engineering, computer sciences, natural sciences, and law.” Since then, we have since expanded our efforts to support over 10 individual publishers. These include both full OA journals, like PLOS and Frontiers, and hybrid OA journals like those published by Oxford University Press and Wiley.

Impact of the Agreements

The early impact of the library’s OA agreements was humble, but this changed in 2020, as more researchers across campus came to learn about these agreements through the University Library’s marketing and a new Open Scholarship Services website highlighting the publishers covered. That year, the library’s agreements supported the publication of more than 200 journal articles from ISU faculty, with nearly half of those articles coming from the departments of animal science or the College of Veterinary Medicine. This is due in large part to our agreements with Oxford University Press and Frontiers, which support excellent journals in the areas of animal science, genetics, and veterinary science. Other departments seeing noticeable support from our agreements include chemistry, agronomy, entomology, and ecology, evolution and organismal biology (EEOB).

Thanks to our new agreement with Wiley and the growing popularity of Frontiers, publishing under the library’s OA arrangements is on track in 2021 to more than double our 2020 output. A breakdown of our expected OA publishing output can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1. Articles published under ISU OA Agreements, 2020-2021.

Discussion and Future Developments

OA agreements are not the be-all, end-all for making OA publishing attainable for our authors. We cannot negotiate with every publisher or pay every APC for ISU authors, and we recognize that other institutions cannot afford to play hardball with publishers and push for open access in the same way we do. So, it’s good to know that our agreements are not the only way that the University Library is supporting OA at Iowa State.

In addition to this effort, Iowa State University Library is committed to advancing openness by supporting preprint archives, aiding in the development of new systems for supporting open access publishing, and helping OA book publishers support more publications that might otherwise go unpublished. Learn more about University Library investments in OA on the Open Scholarship Services website under “Our Investments.”

*Do you want to make your research OA without having to worry about fees? Consider publishing in an open access journal with no APCs, like those managed by the Open Library of Humanities, or share a copy of your work in the ISU Digital Repository.