The end of the road for hybrid open access?

By Rob Johnson, 17/07/2018

Over the past few weeks, I have discussed the role of ‘hybrid’ open access (OA) in a post on the Scholarly Kitchen (Time to Check Out of the Hybrid Hotel?) and in a Podcast in the Copyright Clearance Center “Beyond the Book” series. Hybrid journals are closed-access subscription journals that allow authors, institutions, or funders to pay a fee (usually in the form of article publication charges or APCs) in order to make individual articles immediately OA.

In both cases I emphasised the growing disillusionment amongst funders and policymakers with the hybrid model of open access and suggested that existing support for hybrid is likely to be withdrawn in the near future. A preliminary communication last week from Science Europe indicates that changes are indeed imminent, with a ‘decisive and concerted step’ towards full Open Access to be announced shortly by Europe funding bodies. ‘Plan S’ has been developed jointly by Science Europe and Robert-Jan Smits, Senior Advisor on Open Access within the European Political Strategy Centre at the European Commission (EC). It foresees that, from 1 January 2020, all scholarly publications resulting from public research funding must be published in Open Access journals or on Open Access platforms.

In trailing the plan at the EuroScience Open Forum on 11 July, Smits himself made it clear that the plan will support only genuinely immediate open access. Hybrid journals, it seems, will be acceptable only as part of a ‘damn short’ transition period to full open access.

What is clear is the academic publishing market is in a transition period and things are changing rapidly – join the discussion and have your say by adding a comment to the pages below: