Open Access Doesn’t Need APC Part 1: Charting a New Course with Community Action Publishing


Note: This is an article republished for the purpose of sharing relevant PLOS articles for early career researchers. the the blog post was originally published on the PLOS official blog, the PLOS BLOGS network site which covers PLOS initiatives. The republished article covers a new series exploring alternative models of PLOS APC from Sara Rouhi, Director of Strategic Partnerships at PLOS. APC’s founding model has also been described here.

Open Access has always been at the heart of PLOS, starting with PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine which notably contributed to changing the editorial landscape more than 15 years ago. These journals broke boundaries at the time by making some of the most outstanding work in the field available to all readers without restrictions. These, along with other open access journals, helped launch the Article Processing Charge (APC) model. But as the demand for Open Access solutions has grown, it has become evident that APCs alone cannot fairly meet the needs of all authors and readers. This is why we set out to find a new solution that would make highly selective Open Access publishing more sustainable while making publishing freefor the authors.

The answer we developed was Community action publication (CAP).

What Makes the Community Action Post Unique?

So many things! Basically, Community Action Publishing works the same way as a cooperative. Institutional members of each journal community share an equitable share of the journal’s total publishing costs, based on the publishing activity of their authors. These authors therefore have unlimited possibilities to publish in PLOS Medicine, PLOS Biology or our new journal, Sustainability and transformation of PLOS for free, giving authors more freedom to choose where to submit their work based on what is best for their research and readers, not their budget.

Before going into the detail of how the CPA works, we want to recognize that the model is currently supported by non-member publication costs as well, only when the authors’ institutions are not members. However, our ultimate goal is to make these journals open for reading and open for publication. How? ‘Or’ What? We actively contact institutions to encourage them to join the CAP. Authors can help by completing this form, or by contacting their institutional librarian directly to let them know they want their support.

Community Action Publishing is not APC-based, it is community-based

It is not just a partnership agreement aimed at streamlining institutional support to CPAs. CAP is a new way of thinking about open access publishing in terms of the total journal costs spread over as many stakeholders as possible, rather than the cost of individual articles paid by a smaller community of authors. This is ideal for selective journals that serve as a platform for specific research communities and incur higher costs due to the nature of their services. This allows us to re-examine how we allocate costs more equitably based on the activity of researchers. The model also automatically includes institutions in Research 4 Life countries as members so that researchers in those regions can also publish for free.

Most importantly, Community Action Publishing is built on transparency, openness and collaboration.

The CAP is moving Open Access beyond the PCA to ensure the sustainability of highly selective Open Access publishing for all of its stakeholders. We have worked with the library and research communities to develop this model and continue to seek their advice and share information as our pilot project progresses.

From the start, we made our total cost recovery goals for each journal transparent on our website, and our partners get a detailed breakdown of their authors’ publishing activity and pricing level before deciding to work with. we. We are committed to capping our margins at 10%, which will be used to reinvest in programs that support our mission and bring value to the research community. Because the pie does not grow, the more institutional partners that come together to support the journal community, the lower the costs become for everyone.

We are continually experimenting to find new solutions that meet the needs of our distinct research communities. Each of our journals now offers APC alternatives adapted to the editorial activity of this community. Keep an eye out for future articles in this series with more information on our fixed fee and global equity models.


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