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Open Access Costs, risks and benefits in improving access to journal articles

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This paper reports on a study – overseen by representatives of the publishing, library, and research funder communities in the UK – investigating the drivers, costs, and benefits of potential ways to increase access to scholarly journals. It identifies five different but realistic scenarios for moving towards that end over the next five years, including gold and green open access, moves towards national licensing, publisher-led delayed open access, and transactional models. It then compares and evaluates the benefits as well as the costs and risks for the UK. The scenarios, and the modelling on which they are based, amount to a benefit–cost analysis to help in appraising policy options. Our conclusion is that policymakers should encourage the use of existing subject and institutional repositories, but avoid pushing for reductions in embargo periods, which might put at risk the sustainability of the underlying scholarly publishing system. They should also promote and facilitate a transition to gold open access, while seeking to ensure that the average level of publication fees does not exceed c.?2.000; that the rate in the UK of open access publication is broadly in step with the rest of the world; and that total payments to publishers from UK universities do not rise as a consequence.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

    Learned Publishing articles are available free online to members of ALPSP and SSP.
    ALPSP members: log in to If you do not have a password contact
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