Professor Matthew Freeman, FRS, Cell biologist and Head of the Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford
I wanted to share with you the story of our Open Access (OA) journey at The Company of Biologists (writing in my capacity as Chairman of the Board).
We are a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and inspiring the biological community. We do this by publishing high quality peer-reviewed journals and the income we receive enables us to help biologists in other ways – for example by facilitating scientific meetings, giving travel grants and funding biological societies. The Board of Directors are nearly all biology researchers.
We have participated in Open Access over the past 16 years as we believe OA publishing leads to broader dissemination and faster reuse, accelerating the sharing of quality information. We have launched two open access journals – Disease Models & Mechanisms and Biology Open. Authors can also contribute OA articles to our three hybrid journals, under a CC_BY licence and we deposit their articles into PMC.
Although we are fully committed to OA, it has been a challenge to find a way to transition fully to OA whilst maintaining financial stability (particularly for a small company like the Company of Biologists), sustaining quality and thus supporting biology and biologists in the longer term. This is because not every biologist has access to funds for APCs at a level that covers the costs of quality publishing. It is also true that there has been much discussion and debate about what the best mechanisms are to promote OA fairly.
Following a great deal of work in association with other not-for-profit publishers, libraries and funding organizations, we believe that our new Read & Publish (R&P) initiative offers a great way forward for all. These agreements enable biologists to share their work widely without having to pay for APCs, remove the barriers to reading and publishing articles, whilst also securing a baseline of income to enable us to sustain our activities in the coming years. This is all made possible because librarians at institutions are taking steps to repurpose their subscription budgets to financially support sustainable OA publishing.
We are therefore very excited about the launch of our new R&P initiative and we look forward to working with libraries, authors and funders to ensure that it is a success. Researchers at institutions in the UK and Israel are already benefitting from these agreements.
And to finish on a personal note, from my perspective as a working scientist, the best news is that because Oxford now has an R&P agreement with the Company of Biologists, my group can publish in our journals without paying any APCs.
Our latest Read & Publish agreement is with the Irish consortium IReL