The price of gold: The KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access
Keywords:Fair OA, Gold OA, APC, BPC, funding mechanisms
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We need to ask ourselves why we support Open Access: is our main goal to provide free and unrestricted access to the results of scholarly research to everyone who might be interested, or is it to change the current model for scholarly communication because we consider it inefficient as well as too expensive? If our main goal is to open up research results as much as possible, there seems to be little reason to part ways with legacy publishers, who should – after initial resistance – prove to be willing partners as long as academic institutions are equally willing to pay. If, on the other hand, the intention is to introduce a new model for scholarly communication that operates according to cost-effective standards, then it seems very unlikely for academic institutions to achieve this together with the same partners, who have worked according to a commercial logic for decades. In short: do we want evolution or revolution?
If we want a revolution, then it will not be brought by Green OA, which provides too little challenge for the traditional model for the publication and distribution of scholarly work. It will also not be brought by for-profit Gold OA, which is extremely expensive (even more so than the traditional model) and keeps commercial partners in control of the dissemination of research results. Therefore, an alternative model for no-profit Gold OA is on the rise, namely Fair Open Access. Publications in Fair Open Access are immediately freely available to all, are produced according to cost-effective (rather than commercial) principles and guarantee full control of researchers over the entire publication process.
KU Leuven has been supporting Green OA through its institutional repository Lirias for many years already. As it is clear, however, that Green OA provides some but certainly not all of the solutions, the university was looking to intensify its efforts to maximize scholarly exchange, collaboration and innovation. This resulted in the establishment of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access in March 2018. This fund provides financial support for the production costs of OA monographs published by Leuven University Press as well as articles in selected OA journals, on the condition that these journals are published according to the Fair OA model and maintain the highest academic standards.This paper analyses current business models for OA, explains the reasoning behind the establishment of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access, discusses its day-to-day operation and presents its initial results.
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