6 Survey Results: Executive Summary
Another factor contributing to the absence of an APC fund might be lack of direct financial
support from the institution’s administration. Half of the 14 libraries who discontinued their funds had
received supplementary funding to support APCs. Most frequently, this funding came from the provost
or office of research. By contrast, a smaller percentage of libraries who have maintained their APC fund
indicated receiving external funds specifically earmarked for APCs.
Promoting APC Funds
Promoting awareness of funds is primarily achieved through library liaisons, the library website, word
of mouth, and related OA activities. Half the libraries with current APC funds hold events for Open
Access Week. To a lesser extent, libraries use email lists, newsletters or flyers, blogs, workshops, outreach
through university governance, and journal sites (such as the PLOS list of OA funds). About one-third
of libraries formally recognize recipients of APC funds, typically through listings on library websites or
documents such as annual or periodic reports. For some libraries, a distinct collection in the institutional
repository suffices to recognize authors who receive APC support. APC funds can create awareness of
the institutional repository for authors, some of whom subsequently submit non-funded articles.13 Given
many libraries’ comments about APC funds becoming unsustainable and having to impose funding limits,
it may be that outreach and promotion resulted in an “excess of interest,” which was noted as the cause of
one fund’s demise.
Fewer than half of the respondents share data from the fund openly. Of these, most provide this
data on a website or in a blog, and about a quarter issue it in an annual report. Only one library shares the
data in an online spreadsheet. Four comments indicated internal sharing or sharing “upon request.” This
is somewhat ironic as several libraries bemoaned the fact that publishers are not more transparent about
their funding models.
Support for External Initiatives
We also wanted to know how libraries support OA initiatives outside of paying APCs. This includes
memberships that support making books or journal articles open to the world, such as SCOAP3, Open
Library of humanities, and Knowledge Unlatched. Fifty-eight libraries do provide support in this way,
compared with 23 libraries that subsidize APCs. Memberships were the most common form of support
(48 of 58 respondents). Three libraries mentioned HathiTrust as an example of support, “since it is OA
after the fact.” It is also notable that of the 48 libraries that either discontinued their APC fund or have no
plans to start one, 32 support other OA initiatives such as the ones mentioned above.
The significant growth in the number of APC-funded OA journals and hybrid journals has not been
accompanied by a similar growth in the number of ARL libraries funding APCs. For example, between
2013 and 2016, Elsevier increased the number of its APC-funded OA journals from 46 to 55014, while APC
fund growth has been much more gradual. Among existing funds, few support hybrid OA, and libraries
with no APC fund or a discontinued fund exhibit significant skepticism of APCs as a sustainable model
for funding OA.
There are numerous advantages to library or institutional APC funds. APCs are direct support
for an institution’s authors, whereas an institution may not have evidence of its authors publishing in
a journal it subsidizes. This support is often met with gratitude by authors, and funding APCs expands
the role of libraries within their institutions.15 Many libraries advocate for OA practices, and APC funds
remove a barrier to authors for OA publishing. Choice of where to publish is sometimes considered
an aspect of academic freedom, and can be part of the rationale for an APC fund.16 Because APCs are
listed on journal sites for all to see, there is a degree of cost transparency that does not exist in the
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