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September 24, 2009

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 ext 121

Washington, DC – Last year, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Calgary were among a handful of institutions that established pools of money, through their libraries, to cover the cost of open-access journal fees. This approach – aimed at supporting a new academic publishing model that could ultimately relieve at least some of the burden of expensive journal subscriptions – has found a receptive audience among researchers on these two campuses.

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is highlighting two approaches to establishing and maintaining open-access funds in a new SPARC Member Profile. SPARC is also preparing to launch a new initiative to provide additional information and resources detailing options for other institutions that may be considering such funds.

“Reporting on the progress and challenges associated with innovative new approaches to sharing research results is a fundamental component of building change in scholarly communication,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. “These two SPARC members have learned valuable lessons in establishing their funds and fighting for faculty attention, and we are grateful to them for sharing the details. We hope the wider community will join us online to build on these successes, share some more experiences, and contribute to what promises to be a deep and engaging discussion.”

At UC Berkeley, the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) provides faculty, post-doc and graduate students up to $3,000 to cover the cost of publishing an article in an open-access publication – and up to $1,500 for opening an article that requires copyright transfer to the publisher. During the 18-month pilot project, the fund covered 52 articles at an average cost of $1,500 for open-access publications and $1,280 for articles requiring copyright transfer. During Calgary’s first 13 months, the library’s Open Access Authors Fund received 67 official submissions to cover open-access fees at an average cost of $1,538 (in Canadian dollars).

The cost of journal subscriptions at times is crippling for libraries and the Canadian university wanted to experiment with a different way of encouraging Open Access. “With money for Open Access coming from the library, we are trying to change the model,” says Andrew Waller, serials librarian in Collection Services, Libraries and Cultural Resources at the University of Calgary.

When David Ackerly, associate professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley wanted to publish a paper about the potential impact of climate change on plants of California, he turned to the library to cover the fee to publish in PLoS One, an initiative of the Public Library of Science. “I absolutely wanted the results to be freely available to the press, state agencies and others who don’t necessarily have access to the libraries and journals,” he says. “It really paid off… When it was published, we got great press coverage.”

The Berkeley initiative set out to encourage a more sustainable scholarly communication environment. “We shouldn’t be beholden to a single fund-flow model supporting journal publishing,” says Chuck Eckman, associate university librarian and director of collections at the UC Berkeley Library.In addition, Eckman suggests, “It is really important for academic libraries to forge relationships with research offices and think about their respective and complementary roles in the broader community of authors and readers.”

The new SPARC resource for open-access funds will be announced this fall.


SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research.