Open Access funding: new report

Study suggests total move to OA is possible with no extra costs.

A new study by the Max Planck Digital Library sets out to explore the full costs of a switch to an OA model.

In the past decade there has been a significant increase in 'Gold' open access which sees researchers or their funders/ institutions paying to publish articles in freely accessible online journals.  Research councils and governments – particularly in Europe – are also supporting a shift to OA, setting ambitious targets for the proportion of output to be published OA.   At the moment, approximately 13% of research papers are published OA. 

Some publishers have developed hybrid and offsetting publishing models as they seek to retain control over cashflow.  However, the researchers at the Max Planck Digital Library don’t believe these transitional models go far enough.  They are calling for ambitious transition plans and believe that the large scale transformation of business model of scientific journals is possible with no financial risk.

Approximately two million research articles are published every year.  The researchers estimate that each article costs between 3,800 and 5,000 Euros using the library subscription model.  Now that OA acquisition data is being collected, the costs per article can be compared.  The Max Planck Digital Library for example is paying on average an article processing charge of 1200 Euros.

This insight leads the researchers to conclude there is already enough money in the system to cover the cost of OA publishing.


  • The underlying business model of scholarly publishing needs to be shifted from subscription-based payments to open access services-based payments – on a global scale
  • Research libraries should demand access to new offsetting publishing models
  • Libraries have to change their processes
    • Develop new criteria for selection and aggregation processes
    • Redesign internal workflows
    • Consider what new skills and tools are required
    • Ultimately, all subscription spending must be stopped and savings reinvested in the co-creation of a range of publishing services that will truly serve the scholarly community.

 The full report ('Disrupting the subscription journals' business model for the necessary large-scale transformation to open access) is available for download.