Annual Meeting Reports

Exploring Paths to OA Sustainability: Society Publishers Weigh In

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Heather Staines
Director of Community Engagement and Senior Consultant 
Delta Think 
Trumbull, Connecticut

Christopher Straub
Chief Operating Officer
Washington, DC

Jennifer Regala
Director of Publications/Executive Editor
American Urological Association
Washington, DC

Jeff Lewandowski
Director of Publishing & Acting Publisher 
American Physical Society (APS Physics)
Ellicott City, Maryland

Shari Leventhal
Executive Editor
American Society of Nephrology
Washington, DC


After a brief introduction from Heather Staines, Christopher Straub made some general statements about Open Access (OA) and then discussed his own experience launching an OA journal. Straub explained that the OA movement aims to make scholarly publishing more sustainable and pushes us to think about options to move the field forward and help people arrive where they want to be in the future. Straub discussed the acquisition and success of GeoScienceWorld’s Lithosphere, a collaboration of the most highly respected society publishers in the geosciences, “providing open access to all scientifically rigorous and valid research related to earth, planetary, and environmental sciences” (Figure 1).

The Lithosphere author publishing charge (APC) is $2,100 for all research and review articles, and members of the society collaborators receive a 10% discount. Straub attributed some of Lithosphere’s success to the partnership with Hindawi. Lithosphere is Gold OA and a collaboration between the following societies as of January 2020: American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), The Geological Society of America (GSA), Geological Society of London (GSL), Mineralogical Society of America (MSA), SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology, Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), and Society of Economic Geologists (SEG).

Jennifer Regala spoke next and provided a broad overview of the American Urological Association (AUA) publications. AUA’s current publications materials include The Journal of Urology®, Urology Practice®, AUANews, annual meeting publications, CME product, and assorted membership communications. An option for authors to opt-in to author choice/OA was established in the summer of 2020, laying the groundwork for OA. A manuscript cascade process was also established in the summer of 2020. This move towards OA was driven by funding mandates, an emphasis on accessibility, and a feeling that it was the right thing to do (Figure 2). JU Open Plus is a Gold OA journal that will begin accepting submissions in 2022, with the inaugural issue in January 2023.

Jeff Lewandowski spoke last and discussed the growth of OA at the American Physical Society (APS). He explained that OA is important to APS given its mission statement to “advance scientific discovery and research dissemination.” In 2018, they started a partnership with SCOAP3, “a global consortium of more than 3,000 libraries, research institutions in 44 countries, and 3 intergovernmental organizations, convened and managed by CERN, based in Geneva, Switzerland.”1 PRX Quantum is a fully OA journal with an acceptance rate around 10%. PRX Quantum authors pay an APC to make their articles available under a Creative Commons CC-BY2 license. OA articles increased from 5.1% in 2017 to 26.2% in 2021 (Figure 3).

The following are key takeaways from the session:

  • Education of authors and the entire community is key.
  • Launching (or acquiring) a new journal (OA or otherwise) requires everyone, including editors of existing journals, to pitch in.
  • The publisher should listen to the society and industry.
  • Indexing and obtaining a Journal Impact Factor (JIF) might take some time and require author/community support and buy-in, so consider acquisition as an option.
  • If the society journals are owned by a commercial publisher, they must work together to manage their relationship. Regala likened the relationship between a commercial publisher and society to a marriage/relationship. In the relationship, you must divide and conquer; one half does a, b, c and the other half does x, y, and z.     
  • There was discussion about having a future CSE session focused on how to have a strong society/commercial publisher partnership.

References and Links