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The Swedish Bibsam Consortium is taking a leading role in the transition to Open Access and aims to switch from “read-and-publish” agreements to “pure publish” deals after 2024. This next generation of contracts will ensure transparency in pricing, be more cost-effective and have fewer transaction costs than the current, single-paper charging system. Financial transactions will no longer occur between the author and the editor or journal, removing concerns about potential incentives for lax quality control.

The academic world has been demanding Open Access to scholarly articles for nearly two decades and the European Commission continues to prioritise Open Access, for instance within Horizon Europe. The Swedish government stated in 2016 that “all scientific publications resulting from research financed with public funds shall be published in Open Access immediately. All stakeholders within the research system have a responsibility to work towards this goal.”

In Sweden, the Swedish Rectors’ Conference, the Swedish Research Council and the National Library of Sweden, have all signed the OA2020 initiative for the necessary large-scale transformation to Open Access. Furthermore, Coalition S with its bold plan is supported by three Swedish signatories, aiming to accelerate the transition to Open Access. But to break the cycle of the current subscription system, we need to adopt measures to pull funding away from paywalls and redirect toward Open Access.

The average publication output by corresponding authors affiliated with Swedish higher education institutions amounts to around 17,000 articles per year. Assuming, as in a White Paper by the Max Planck Digital Library, that article processing charges (APC) are below €2,000 in a purely Open Access scenario, the total expenditure on APCs would amount to €34 million. This is equivalent on e-resource licences and proves that a flip from a business model based on paying for subscriptions to paying for publishing articles in Open Access is possible.

The Bibsam Consortium requires that any publisher contract renewal must include an Open Access provision. If no acceptable Open Access provision is offered, contract renewal will be limited to one year or even cancelled. This is what happened in the spring of 2018 when our agreement with the largest scholarly publisher, Elsevier, was cancelled. The cancellation was a crucial element in reaching a new agreement allowing unlimited Open Access publishing with continuous reading rights. The Bibsam Consortium has since signed several transformative agreements with other publishers such as Springer Nature, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, and SAGE. Based on our commitment to support and enhance pricing transparency, these agreements will be publicly available in the ESAC registry of transformative agreements.

In a study commissioned by the National Library of Sweden, entitled Financing the transition from a subscription-based to an openly available publishing system (2019), it is recommended that research funding organisations and higher education institutions share the financial responsibility for research publications. Subsequently, a high-level group of four vice chancellors and four CEOs of research funders has been formed for national consultation to redirect payment streams. It will meet regularly during 2020 to discuss and develop possible solutions. In one new pilot agreement, this shared responsibility is already a fact. The Swedish Research Council, Formas, Forte and Vinnova fund 50% of the cost of publishing in Springer Nature’s fully Open Access journal portfolio.

But introducing a pay-to-publish model also poses the challenge of how to apply new cost distribution parameters among the consortium participants and at the same time keep costs reasonable compared to current spending. Therefore, an independent consultant has conducted a study about new ways of distributing and reallocating publication costs. It recommends introducing a new cost distribution model consisting of an entrance fee (10%) and 90% weight on publications. The study will form the basis for future strategic discussions within the steering committee of the Bibsam Consortium when making cost distribution future proof for Open Access publishing.

Apart from journal negotiations, libraries also support initiatives for both Open Access infrastructure services and for Open Access content services. It is important to participate in this kind of co-funding to make sure that these initiatives survive and develop into sustainable Open Access services. Bibsam intends to participate in new initiatives that redirect funds currently used to pay subscriptions to make journals Open Access.

As more and more universities and funders are following up and monitoring their Open Access mandates, as well as signing the DORA declaration, we expect to see positive changes in the merit and allocation systems in order to advance Open Science. It is an important development to not use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.

We plan to work with publishers who demonstrate leadership in this important new era of research reporting and with all stakeholders to develop new business models, which will make journals open to users all over the world.

About Bibsam

The Swedish library consortium, Bibsam, was formed in 1996 and consists of 85 participating organisations from Swedish higher education institutions, research institutes and governmental agencies. The Consortium is administered by the National Library of Sweden and has a turnover of 46 million euros (2020) which includes 11 transformative agreements. It is governed by a steering committee consisting of seven representatives from participating organisations and headed by a vice-chancellor.   




Astrid Söderbergh Widding
Stockholm University
Astrid Söderbergh Widding is President of Stockholm University and Chairwoman of the Swedish Bibsam consortium. She has a background in Cinema Studies at Stockholm University, where she obtained her PhD in 1992 with a dissertation on off screen space in Andrei Tarkovsky's films. She was appointed Professor in Cinema Studies in 2000 and has held positions as Head of Department, Deputy Dean and Deputy President. Astrid Söderbergh Widding is a fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, member of the Advisory Council of the National Library of Sweden, board member of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation and committee member of the King Gustaf VI Adolf’s fund for Swedish Culture.
Wilhelm Widmark
Stockholm University

Wilhelm Widmark is the Library Director of Stockholm University and Director of Stockholm University Press. He has an MA in literature and an MA in library and information science from Uppsala University. Wilhelm is the Vice Chairman of the Swedish Bibsam consortium. He was a member of the LIBER Executive Board from 2011 to 2018. He is a Member of European Universities Association Expert Group on Open Science and a member of the Association of Swedish Higher Education Open Science group. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the 2020 Researcher to Reader Conference.

Anna Lundén
National Library of Sweden
Anna Lundén works at the National Library of Sweden heading the Division for National Coordination of Libraries. This division handles the national library consortium for universities and research institutes, Bibsam, negotiating e-resources with all major publishers. The national coordination task to work towards a transition to Open Access to scholarly publications is also managed within this division. She is the Swedish representative of the European University Association’s high-level group on Big Deals and is a member of the LIBER program committee and peer reviews for their journal LIBER Quarterly.
Britt-Marie Wideberg
National Library of Sweden

Britt-Marie Wideberg is the Head of Licensing at National Library of Sweden, coordinating the license and Open Access team within in the Division for National Coordination of Libraries. She negotiates e-resources with all major publishers for universities, governmental organisations and research institutes on behalf of the Bibsam Consortium. She is actively working in the ESAC and OA2020 initiative and is a member of the CCC Open Scholarly Communications Advisory Group. She is the Sweden’s representative in the SCOAP3 Governing Council.

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