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Quick guide
Managing your open access costs
Last updated: 21 October 2019
The issue
Open access (OA) publishing requires new workflows and systems in order to track costs, particularly the article processing charges (APCs) that may be paid to publishers to make articles open access via the ‘gold’ route. Any new systems and processes themselves incur administrative costs.
How we can help
We provide support and shared services to help you improve your processes, and negotiate with publishers on behalf of the sector, in order to save you money.
What you can do
Streamline workflows and processes
The costs of implementing OA face any institution involved in publishing research. These include investment in cross-institutional technical systems that support effective implementation, and in the human resource required to apply, manage and advocate potentially new OA workflows and processes.
You may wish to baseline your current position on open access in order to identify areas to improve, streamline workflows through process mapping or implement a responsibility matrix.
Implementing ORCID, a unique researcher identifier, could help you streamline OA processes.
The completed OA good practice pathfinder projects produced a number of resources you may find useful:
cost modelling tool, which can be used to establish an internal business case to set up an APC fund for OA publishing
reporting checklist and sample APC payment workflows for institutions
 to help promote good practice in OA management and administration
Monitor your costs
Your institution needs reliable methods for monitoring research publications, and related APCs, in order to track the costs involved in implementing OA. Institutions vary in how this is managed. Some have existing research management systems adapted for this purpose. Others have more bespoke solutions involving spreadsheets or databases. Our Monitor Local service can help institutions record and report on their open access costs.
Record APC information in a standardised way to aid reporting and analysis. Our guide to implementing open access has more detail.
The administrative process for APC payments itself incurs costs. One case study explains how using functional cost analysis to evaluate the APC payments process helped identify the most resource-intensive functions with a view to later improvement.
Share your cost data
By sharing your data you can enable us to better help your institution and the sector - our guide to implementing open access explores this further.
Our Monitor UK service aggregates APC data, which enables institutions and funders to explore and evaluate UK cost and compliance data relating to OA publishing.
Through their total cost of ownership project, Jisc Collections use APC data collected from the sector to get a clearer picture of trends and inform negotiations with publishers.
Our study on APCs and subscriptions gives a summary of the situation in 2015 in the UK and has been followed up this year with a review of APCs paid in 2016.
Take advantage of publishers’ payment options
Open access is leading to the emergence of various new payment models.
One model involves ‘offsetting’, where APC and subscription payments are managed together. The publisher agrees to ‘trade off’ APC payments against a reduction in the subscription, in order to avoid paying twice for the same content.
This review of current APC payment offsetting deals focuses on the practical issues of implementing the available deals and compares the deals with our own principles for offset agreements.
Many publishers offer pre-payment options for APCs which can offer savings. This survey of the literature describes the benefits and disadvantages of pre-payment.
Some publishers offer deals where you can ‘read and publish’ as part of the same agreement, such as the Springer Compact agreement.
Jisc Collections has expertise in negotiating and procurement on behalf of the sector and is working with publishers to broker deals for the sector. We continue to review our deals with publishers informed by research, such as our institutional survey on the Springer Compact agreement.
Looking ahead
Following the release of a Universities UK report ‘Monitoring the transition to OA’ in 2017 and Plan S in 2017, UK academic institutions and sector agencies, working alongside Jisc Collections, have established a set of requirements for transformative agreements.
They set out the measures required to accelerate open access in the UK and ensure that journal agreements offer the maximum benefit to researchers and institutions, with the minimum burden on public finances. Our transformative agreement with Springer Nature was announced in April 2019 and we are currently working with several publishers and learned societies on new deals.
We funded four UK institutions to explore the viability of publishing their own e-textbooks and as more institutions explore this option we have created a toolkit to help. 
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