RLUK is pleased to see the Publishers’ Association (PA) engaging in the debate triggered by the joint RLUK/JISC/SCONUL/ARMA thought piece on academic journal markets. Unfortunately, the PA appears keen to discount any evidence that there are problems with hybrid journals. These problems can be split into three main areas: cost, double-dipping, and compliance.
APCs for hybrid journals are on average higher than for born-digital OA journals and this difference cannot be explained away by variations in quality as the PA asserts. Many members of the PA are working closely with the academic community to guard against double-dipping (paying full subscriptions for journals where some of the content has been made OA through payment of APCs). Unfortunately, some other publishers are not and it is disappointing that the PA is supporting the latter rather than the former. Finally, on compliance, the Wellcome Trust has recently shown that disturbingly large proportions of papers that they have funded to go OA in hybrid journals do not meet the Trust’s compliance requirements – while there are few if any such problems for papers in born-OA journals.
Hybrid journal have the potential to help ensure that more research is made open access. But we should be willing to acknowledge where there are flaws in the implementation of open access in some of these journals and with some of their publishers. We cannot solve these problems if we pretend that they don’t exist.
David Prosser, RLUK Executive Director.