37 SPEC Kit 353: Funding Article Processing Charges
No requests for this have been made and therefore no funding sources have been explored. There are no
funds in the library budget to pursue this.
Our library has, thus far, opted not to establish an APC fund for several interrelated reasons. Broadly
speaking, these reasons can be said to fit the category of “the hybrid OA problem.” In other words,
during a period of stagnating and contracting budgets, the library cannot justify redirecting funds from
resources with clear, large-scale impact to an APC fund with uncertain or questionable impact. Our
prevailing sense, as a library and more broadly as an institution, is that APC-funded Gold Open Access
still presents substantial drawbacks for researchers and for libraries. The following list of drawbacks is
excerpted from the “Report of the University of Illinois Open Access to Research Articles Task Force.”
There are many concerns about APC-funded Gold Open Access. For example: 1. The cost structure of
APCs continues to be highly volatile, and varies widely in a manner not directly related to the quality
of the journal. For example, in mathematics, APCs vary from $750 to $3,000 for reputable journals. 2.
Subscription journals remain very important and active venues for publication of academic research,
resulting in a situation where libraries cannot reduce subscription costs to cover faculty APCs without
also reducing the number of subscriptions. Thus, APCs are a new and additional cost in the system. 3.
Payment of APCs from authors to journals may create an incentive for a publisher to publish the work
of those who can pay rather than publishing the highest quality research, thus lowering standards of
publication. Indeed, we have seen the emergence of “predatory” or fraudulent open access journals
that have no reputational value and capitalize on revenue from APCs. 4. Because of this extraordinary
variability in quality of journals that receive APCs, an institutional commitment to APCs will also
require institutions to review journals for quality, a practice that will be problematic and expensive.
Based on the above drawbacks, the task force tendered the following recommendations: 1. That the
University of Illinois not adopt a university-wide policy on institutional support for APCs. 2. That
the University monitor the adoption of APCs by Gold open access journals, as widespread adoption
of this model will result in institutional support for APCs becoming an important component of
competing with our peers. (Wilkin, John, Mary Case, Matthew Ando, Doug Beck, Danilo Erricolo,
Anna Lysakowski, Joyce Tolliver, et al. “Report of the University of Illinois: Open Access to Research
Articles Act Task Force,” October 15, 2014. pp. 15–16, 18. http://www.trustees.uillinois.edu/trustees/
agenda/November-13-2014/r-OARAATF-and-Minority-110314.pdf). Thus, while the University of
Illinois has adopted an open access policy, it has not mandated a specific route to open access, nor has
it adopted a university-wide policy for supporting a specific route. Costs for any APC support funding
would therefore be solely the library’s budgetary responsibility. The library continues to feel any
viable approach to supporting journal subventions requires a systematic approach to categorizing and
assessing each potential publication or external OA initiative for quality and potential contribution to
establishing a true path to offsetting future library costs. A library study group will continue to assess
external opportunities (especially larger-scale experiments like the Open Library of the Humanities,
etc.) and recommend strategic investments based on rigorous criteria.
Some authors include APCs in grant applications and fund publishing via 3rd-party funding agencies.
Some authors might receive APC support through their academic colleges, but this approach isn’t
coordinated between colleges or formalized within colleges, but rather handled primarily on a case-by-
case basis.
The library does not have plans to subsidize employees’ contributions to scholarly publications.
The University Libraries actively support open access. The decision to not support APC’s was made
consciously, on principle.
The university is large, with decentralized centers of authority. APC funding on campus may be
handled by units (departments, colleges) or via grants. The grant funding and APC climate varies
substantially across disciplines, of course.
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