Curtin University, Australia
Curtin University Library is committed to supporting open and FAIR practices in research, learning and teaching, and supports multiple publishing initiatives, including open publishing via Read and Publish (R&P) agreements. Traditionally, access to research has only been available via subscription and publishers often make journal articles and books openly available by charging authors Article Processing Fees (APCs), which means both libraries and authors pay publishers, with libraries paying for read access to articles authors may pay to publish. R&P agreements bundle together access to a publisher's content (the read component) with the ability for researchers to publish their articles direct to open access in some of their journals, free of any additional charges for article processing.
Traditionally, libraries pay for books and journal subscriptions which allow students and scholars to read the world’s latest research. Without a subscription, users cannot access research and articles mainly funded by public money from government grants. In response to this, funders are increasingly insisting that all research paid for by them is made open and free immediately on publication. Transformative agreements have emerged as a strategy to accelerate the uptake of open access publishing. The R&P Agreement is one form of transformative agreement. This is a negotiated agreement between a publisher and an institution for access to journal content – the library continues to pay a subscription, but the cost also covers open access publishing by the institution’s researchers. In 2021, Curtin University Library had R&P agreements with three publishers (CSIRO Publishing, The Royal Society and Karger) increasing to six in 2022. These agreements have been negotiated by the Consortium of the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).
R&P agreements negotiated by CAUL continued to grow in 2021/2022. While these agreements may accelerate the uptake of open access publishing, the conditions applied by each agreement may also prove prohibitive. From 2022, three of the agreements negotiated by CAUL have limits on the number of articles that can be published open access under the agreements each year. These allowances also form part of a collective pool for all participating CAUL member institutions and require administration and management at the sector-wide level. If the caps are reached, publishers will then revert back to their OA charging models, which will potentially lead to inequitable access to articles. As this is the first time institutions in Australia have agreements with caps, it will be important for the sector to monitor publishing patterns, usage of included articles, and approval processes, as well as to evaluate return on investment, over the next 12 months.
With research funders increasingly insisting that all research is made open and free immediately on publication, Curtin is in a good position to enable open access via the R&P agreements. Curtin authors were amongst the first to take advantage of the open access agreement with CSIRO Publishing. For example, thanks to the Library’s commitment to R&P agreements, anyone in the world can read the article ’Imaging Cannabinoid Receptors: A Brief Collection of Covalent and Fluorescent Probes for CB1 and CB2 Receptors’. The process has been straightforward and the continued negotiations with publishers via the CAUL Consortium will prove invaluable. The resources provided for library staff by CAUL to date have also been crucial to support communication of key information regarding R&P agreements in institutions. As noted in the impact story included here, Curtin authors would like to expand this OA initiative with future publishers if resources allow. Some major publishers will be coming on board in 2022, which may give these authors access to fee-free publishing options in a wide range of journals across many disciplines.
The very first article by Curtin authors to be made OA under this new arrangement was a paper by Curtin PhD student Alexander Hamilton, his supervisor Dr Hendra Gunosewoyo (Senior Lecturer, Curtin Medical School), and co-authors Dr Alan Payne (Senior Lecturer, School of Molecular and Life Sciences) and Professor Mauro Mocerino (Professor, School of Molecular and Life Sciences). Thanks to the Library’s commitment to read and publish agreements, anyone in the world can read the article Imaging Cannabinoid Receptors: A Brief Collection of Covalent and Fluorescent Probes for CB1 and CB2 Receptors.
Asked about the process required to make their article open, Dr Gunosewoyo said:
'We are fortunate to be the very first Curtin authors to take advantage of the Open Access agreement between CSIRO and Curtin. The process was refreshingly straightforward, and the editorial assistance from CSIRO Australian Journal of Chemistry was second to none. We are grateful to be part of Curtin’s Read and Publish agreements for CSIRO, The Royal Society, and Karger. If resources allow, we think it would be a fantastic opportunity for Curtin to expand this Open Access base with future publishers sharing similar spirit.'
With other major publishers coming on board in the future, Curtin authors will soon have further open access publishing options.
(Image: Dr Hendra Gunosewoyo, Catherine Clark (former University Librarian) and Dr Alan Payne, showing their support for Open Access.)
Case study and impact narrative adapted from Read and Publish Agreements: Making Curtin Research Freely Available to the world (article by Curtin Library, 20 October 2021)