April 23, 2014

Yale Drops BioMed Central

By Andrew Albanese

Costs to support open access publisher said to be too high

Yale University Library has cancelled its institutional support of pioneering commercial open access publisher BioMed Central (BMC), citing skyrocketing costs. Under the BMC institutional plan, the library covered 100 percent of author processing charges (APCs) for Yale authors, resulting in a rapid, significant increase in costs.

In 2005, BMC charged the Yale Library $4,658. In 2006, those fees jumped to $31,625. In 2007, the library was charged $29,635 through June 2007, with another $34,965 in potential additional charges pending for articles under submission. The rapid rise in expenses comes after BMC changed its institutional access model beginning in 2005 from a flat fee, based on institution size, to an estimated “per-article-published” plan.

BMC does, however, still offer a “Supporters Membership” option, under which libraries can negotiate a flat annual fee that entitles researchers at that institution a 15 percent discount on their APCs. Compounding the financial ramifications of BMC’s institutional membership change, BMC’s APCs have also risen since 2005, to an average of $1,615 from $525.

Trend?

In 2004, when the change to BMC’s institutional plan was first announced, librarians reacted with skepticism. BMC publisher Matt Cockerill, however, said the shift was necessary. Cockerill agreed that Yale’s departure emphasizes “the importance of looking at open access from the perspective of the institution as a whole, rather than treating it as a pure library issue.” He added, however, that it would be “wrong to draw too many conclusions” from Yale’s decision when “many more libraries are increasing their support for open access.”

Yale librarians said they support the ideal of the widest possible access to research and said they would reconsider BMC under “a viable economic model” that would “more equitably share costs across all interested stakeholders.”

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