Open Access (OA) publications, meaning that they are free of subscriptions and/or pay-walled access, of academic content help researchers gain easier access to a wealth of information and speed up the progress of various scientific disciplines. OA publications, by being more accessible to everyone, increase the impact of the researchers’ work and better their visibility (Knowledge Unlatched, 2022). However, funding OA publications may prove challenging, especially when the authors of the project lack the funds to support their work. This may make the process of OA publication seem like a trade-off between furthering the progress of science and having enough funds to support the project, but it does not have to be that way.
Funding OA systems for scholarly communications usually poses a challenge for architects of such systems, especially when forms of publications other than journals are taken into consideration. For many OA journals, there are a number of models that include publication fees, submission fees, institutional subsidies, endowments, advertising, and more. A publication may also use multiple models, combining submission fees with institutional subsidies, for example. In many cases, the funding for publication comes from a number of entities that actively contribute to the production and progress of research. This is usually the assistance of an employer and/or a funder, so the membership models will usually target institutions that are involved with funding research (Bulock, 2018).
In recent years, there has been a rise in crowdfunding as a way to fund OA publications. Crowdfunding is a way to fund a project by pooling incremental investments from a large number of funders. In a way, it can be seen as the preorder or subscription model, as a larger number of funders implies higher interest in the subject of the project. The launch of three websites involved with crowdfunding between 2008 and 2010 helped put the process in the spotlight. These websites were IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe. All these websites have roughly the same model where a fundraiser describes their proposed idea and sets a reward level so that individuals pledging money are promised a kind of benefit. Funders interested in the project would then create profiles and pledge a certain amount of money. When the project finally wraps up, the platform processes payments according to the pledges promised by the funders and delivers the total amount of money to the creator who proposed the project on the platform (Bulock, 2018).
These crowdfunding platforms have been used for a number of different projects and not directed towards specifically OA publications. However, there has been a rise in new services that are specifically geared towards crowdfunding for OA publication purposes. The first crowdfunding site specifically for OA purposes was Unglue.it, which was launched in 2012. It was first launched as Eric Hellman’s Gluejar, Inc., but it has now become a program of the Free Ebook Foundation. Unglue.it focuses on a straightforward pledge model, and the organization works with rights holders of books that have been published to set a fundraising goal to turn the book into an OA publication under a Creative Commons license. The site is available for anyone wishing to fund a project, but they offer specific services that make the platform especially attractive to libraries aiming to fund OA publications (Bulock, 2018).
Knowledge Unlatched (KU) offers a more streamlined process than Unglue.it, as it is more focused on using library funding to provide open access to books from scholarly publishers. Another thing that makes this platform special is that it offers titles in batches, making it easier for libraries to support titles for OA publication in one pass. In recent years, the program has moved beyond simply flipping existing books to OA and started including a set of journals, providing an interesting model for journals hoping to make the switch to OA publication. Language Science Press is working with KU to support the upcoming publication of front-list titles through the crowdfunded OA model used on the platform (Bulock, 2018).
Unlike how other platforms focus on scholarly journals and books, Reveal Digital has been able to apply the crowdfunding model to digital collections. Digital collections are usually curated by libraries in an effort to make physical objects more accessible to users and easier to reach. However, this is not a cheap undertaking, as the costs of creation and continuous maintenance may prove to be expensive. This sometimes requires libraries to seek grant agencies or use commercial database providers. Reveal Digital provides a way for libraries that have access to these collections to reach out to other committed funding libraries to produce digital collections that are open and accessible for all. Similar to KU, Reveal Digital establishes a model of ongoing funding commitments from libraries (Bulock, 2018).
OA publication ensures that the valuable work you publish makes the impact you anticipate it to by providing you with the visibility and reach needed in a competitive global academic world. With accessible content, you are able to positively and meaningfully make a difference in your discipline and shape the future for its research. To read more about OA publishing, read this blog piece by eContent Pro.
eContent Pro offers both editorial services, such as English Language Copy Editing & Proofreading and Scientific & Scholarly Copyediting, as well as publishing services, offering libraries, open access organizations, university presses and commercial publishing houses, and research individuals a way to publish. By using eContent Pro’s services, you can be confident that you have access to the best quality and affordable services in support of your publications.