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Investing in open access

This page details the University of Minnesota Libraries investment in open access, how this model aids researchers, and the shift away from author fees.

The University of Minnesota Libraries has been an advocate for open access (OA) for over fifteen years. We 

The Libraries are committed to investment in models that have the potential to lead to real, lasting change.

Rethinking investments in author fees

An article processing charge (APC) is a fee sometimes charged to authors to make a work open access. When they were introduced, they had the potential to be a tool to move publications towards open access, and create an option for non-profit publications to cover publication costs.

When article processing charges (APCs) were first introduced to open access publishing, it was hoped they might be a transitional tool for moving established publications towards open access, and that they might be a useful option for non-profit publications to cover their publication costs. 

To support those hopes, the University Libraries and the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) collaboratively launched the Open Access Publishing Fund in 2012, to provide direct subsidies for APCs of University-affiliated authors who had no other funds. 

Since 2012, perspectives on APCs among open access advocates have evolved.

While supporting individual author fees has helped some individual authors, APCs have generally not decreased subscription costs. Instead, many APCs provide an additional revenue stream to publishers. This model has not shown itself as scaleable or effective for changing the landscape of scholarly publication.

In consultation with representatives of University governance, including faculty and graduate student authors, the University Libraries and OVPR decided to stop providing direct subsidy of individual fees as of June 30, 2019.

Instead, we focus on more global, collaborative, and strategic investment that will have greater overall impact, fostering more accessible and sustainable models of scholarly publication. In addition, we are working with scholars to pursue the many ways for authors to make their work open that don’t involve paying an APC.

Additional perspectives on APCs

Increases in APCs is proceeding at a rate three times that which would be expected if APCs were indexed according to inflation.

Khoo, S. Y.-S. (2019). Article Processing Charge Hyperinflation and Price Insensitivity: An Open Access Sequel to the Serials Crisis. LIBER Quarterly, 29(1), 1–18. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10280

From 2013 to 2016

...subscription expenditure rose by 20%, from £13.4 million to £16.1 million. But expenditure on APCs rose more than fourfold, from £758,000 to £3.4 million.

Together, the increased payment was an increased £5.34 million or 38%.

Contact openaccess@umn.edu with questions or comments.