Read & Let Read: An Alternative to the Transformative Agreement | Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication
peter.suber's bookmarks 2021-11-06
Abstract: In March 2021, the University of California (UC) and Elsevier announced a new so-called “transformative agreement” that included slightly discounted article processing charges as UC’s route to open access in Elsevier journals. Librarians and researchers expressed immediate concern that this deal upheld inequities in the research system. The UC/Elsevier deal, however, is just one of many that include expensive pay-to-publish structures. This commentary proposes an alternative contract between libraries and publishers that would enable wider reading and lower costs, called Read & Let Read. The three main points of a Read & Let Read deal include a half-dollar valuation of individual journal articles, prepayment on a university’s estimated usage, and an equal payment made for usage outside of the university. If a Read & Let Read deal were implemented at UC, UC would pay a slightly higher amount of money to Elsevier than they are expected to at present, and they would not flip any articles to open access. Instead, they would contribute toward a more equitably distributed system of scholarly readership.
From the body of the text:
" Flipping paywalled research to open access research is a noble goal, but paying APCs to do so is an inefficient method toward universal access that ultimately benefits well-resourced institutions, thereby perpetuating inequality in the research system. Flipping paywalled journals to a model in which neither the reader nor the author pays is a positive step, but, as long as scholarship continues to specialize in subdisciplines, commercial publishers will continually initiate new titles to accommodate author demand. Building out new journals on noncommercial infrastructure should be our long-term goal. However, while large numbers of scholars still use commercial publishers, the focus of research institutions/libraries negotiations with such publishers should be on cost efficiency models that create downstream benefits and minimize downstream harms.
Under R&LR, publishers (like Elsevier) could continue to receive a level of income similar to or higher than what they presently enjoy, which should make them amenable to this plan. Researchers affiliated with a subscribing institution (like UC) would be granted all the research articles they want from a partnered publisher without delay, which should keep a participating campus satisfied. Furthermore, researchers not affiliated with a subscribing institution would gain a likelihood of access through one of the (potentially) 11 million prepaid article downloads put onto the Web annually, which addresses the most immediate concerns of global researchers. If 11 million prepaid article downloads would be the result from one R&LR alone, just imagine if there were two."