At the end of the 2016/2017 fiscal year, Western Libraries decided to close its Open Access Fund permanently.
Open Access (OA) continues to be a central element of Western Libraries’ vision of future scholarship; however, an Open Access Fund no longer seems the best way to support this transformational change in scholarly publishing.
The fund was founded to address the rise of article processing charges (APCs) put in place by various scholarly OA publishers to finance their peer-reviewed journals in lieu of subscription fees. In effect, APCs represent a shift of the pay system from subscribers to researchers. By assisting with these new costs, Western Libraries took back the financial burden in the hopes of encouraging more researchers to explore the potential benefits of Open Access publishing.
Although Western Libraries allocated $60,000 CAD during the 2016/17 fiscal year to the Open Access Fund, that amount supported the publication of only twenty-eight articles. 78% of the funds, supporting twenty-one articles, went to commercial publishers that also publish subscription-access journals. Only 22% of the funds went to support fully OA or non-commercial publishers. Ongoing budgetary constraints and continuing downward pressure on the value of the Canadian dollar make the OA Fund no longer viable.
To support OA in ways that will change the landscape of funding scholarly publishing in the longer term, Western Libraries will explore a number of different strategies including:
Memberships to OA academic publishers such as BioMed Central, Springer Open, Cogitatio, and Open Library of the Humanities, which ensure lower APCs for the hundreds of Western authors who publish through these platforms;
Mediated deposit, by which library staff and students gather a researcher’s scholarship, determine what can be deposited in an institutional repository and in what version and format, and upload the eligible content to Scholarship@Western; and
Development of a Western University Press in order to provide high quality support to new Open Access journals and monographs.
We appreciate your interest in Open Access and look forward to working with you as we build these initiatives. If you have any questions about the closure of the OA Fund, making your work openly available, or these new initiatives, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.