Lib4RI Update #21: Open Access Big Deals - A Closer Look


The new Swiss Open Access big deals with Elsevier and Springer Nature have been praised as an « important step » and « key milestone » towards achieving the goal of Open Access. Although Open Access big deals undoubtedly offer immediate benefits to scientists, they also might have adverse effects on scholarly publishing in the long run – a downside that is often glossed over. In this commentary, we therefore draw attention to the limitations and flaws of national Open Access big deals.

In our last newsletters, we informed you about the new Swiss Open Access (OA) big deals with major publishers Elsevier (see Lib4RI Update 19) and Springer Nature (see Lib4RI Update 20). While the contract terms differ in detail, OA big deals have one thing in common: They enable scientists to have their research papers published immediately OA by the publisher without having to personally pay article processing charges (APCs). Instead, libraries cover the costs within their subscription agreements.

The Swiss OA big deals are part of the Swiss OA Strategy intended to make all publicly funded research freely accessible by 2024. Not only do they give Swiss researchers unrestricted reading access to important journals, they also provide OA-publishing possibilities. This offers them many benefits: prepaid OA-publishing options in well-known journals, fulfilment of funder requirements, less administrative effort and – in the end – higher author visibility, citation, and impact. Furthermore, OA big deals prevent so-called «double-dipping», meaning that publishers cannot charge twice – once for subscription (i.e. reading) and again for APCs (i.e. publishing).

On the flipside, the immediate benefits of OA big deals for scientists are countered by possible long-term disbenefits to scholarly publishing, which we discuss in more detail here.

Read the entire Lib4RI Update #21.

See also: Lib4RI-Update archive