The ‘upside down’: Exploring offset pricing models and article deposit terms at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

Stephen Buck

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    In the ‘normal’ world of retail and commerce you pay for an item and receive the item. In the world of academic journals you prepay for a journal which you might later receive and you might then get some money back (depending on what journals you did or did not receive). In the world of offset pricing you prepay, then you pay again, and you sometimes use vouchers; you might get a discount the following year, then you might get money back (or you might not). Are publishers knowingly placing barriers to offset models, and not transparently offsetting the APCs to the subscription cost, in order to raise more income? Where a publisher is operating a hybrid open access model, institutions wish to offset the cost of the university’s APCs against their subscription fees, and avoid effectively paying twice. The new business model of scholarly communication is based on shifting the costs from subscriptions to publishing. Can we get to a mutually beneficial position where the author can deposit the accepted version of the article into the institutional repository without any embargo period if the institute agrees to pay the subscription fee on an ongoing basis? This article will explore how resolving the inherent complexities in offsetting models will save libraries money and also time wasted on tedious and unnecessary administration work. Researchers do not want to know about offsetting agreements nor should they need to know. It is difficult enough to do, and write up, valuable research without having to do further research on offset pricing models. If libraries can organize as groups at regional or international level, more favourable licensing agreements, including standardized offset pricing model language, can be leveraged which will be advantageous to all parties: publishers, libraries and, most importantly, authors. Publishers need to understand that, while the goal is ultimately to by-pass the necessity for APCs, this approach is an attempt to reimagine the business model, not to put them out of business. While profit margins may be the bottom line for the majority of publishers, it is clear from our University’s recent communications with these publishers that the existing publishing model will change, and the questions remaining are by how much and how long it will take to implement the change. This article builds on a breakout session given by the author at the 2018 UKSG Conference.
    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalInsights: the UKSG Journal
    StatePublished - Oct 31 2018


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