Pathfinder update – September 2015

 The last few months have seen a number of outputs from the GW4 Pathfinder group based around models of payment, from off-setting, to the current state of play with APC intermediary services to a wish list for the Ultimate Prepayment Account.

 Our Exeter colleague, Finlay Jones, has been examining the situation around third party JiscAPClogo200intermediary services for APC payments.  We assumed this would be a growth area when we started this Pathfinder Project, hot on the heels of the Jisc APC project

As is often the case in the Open Access landscape, this has changed dramatically.  There has been a significant cooling round the idea of establishing intermediaries.  As Finlay notes in his blog post, ‘the focus on savings has thus shifted. Any savings that we as a community might make now come from lowering, or controlling, the total cost of publication, rather than directly from removing administrative burden as was thought a little over a year ago at the commencement of the project.

This ultimately changed the overall focus of our project, and we’ve since moved towards looking at off-setting, in tandem with material emerging from the Jisc.  We have a brief report in progress on the key issues with off-setting at the moment, and the main models available in the UK.

 Back to the everyday functions of processing APCs, and we’re largely dealing with invoice payments.  We released a FAQs for Publishers guide which gave a few of the common problems faced by institutions paying APCs.  Encouraging use of a generic email address, for example, has also been included in a more recent Jisc guide of the Top Ten Tips for Implementing Open Access, although more from the perspective of communications with researchers.  

Our University of Bristol colleagues have been putting together an ‘Ultimate Prepayment Account’ wish list, based on their experiences with the APC deals they’ve encountered to date.  Their key issues are around who can access and authorise prepay accounts,  how to monitor and report on spend, and a focus on the authors’ experience with the account.

 The next few months will see us hold a workshop on Good Practice for APC Payment Management (18th November at the EngineShed in Bristol). Join us there to discuss payment practices from institutional, publisher and third party perspectives.  We also plan to release some of the work we’ve undertaken around streamlining financial reporting and on the wider market effects of prepayment deals.

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The Ultimate Prepayment Account

The University of Bristol has taken on a number of prepayment accounts to manage RCUK APC payments. We have these in part to take advantage of discounts but also to reduce administrative costs.

Some of our accounts do save administrative time for a combination of the author, the Library and the Finance department (a couple even save time for all three), but sometimes signing up for a prepayment can lead to a level of work far above that of paying individual invoices.

No two publisher prepayment systems operate in the same way, which causes inefficiencies for libraries and authors in itself, but it does allow us to view many different features and see what works for us and what doesn’t.

Here is our wish list for the ultimate prepayment account.

1. Process activated at the point of acceptance rather than submission.
2. Easy and intuitive system for authors with clear information about who is eligible to use the account.
3. Information for library staff about what the author will see as they go through the process.
4. Licence choice restricted to CC-BY.
5. Approval process that does not involve an extra step for the author. Codes or vouchers do not work well for us.
6. Ability to view proofs and check acknowledgements as part of the approval process.
7. Easy mechanism for managing RCUK and Wellcome Trust payments separately.
8. Ability to view online reports to monitor spending in real time.
9. Spending reported in GBP (or at least the same currency as the invoice for the original deposit).
10. Named point of contact to help when things go wrong.

Kathryn Smith
University of Bristol

FAQs for publishers

These ‘FAQs for publishers’ are intended to assist publishers in processing APC payments for Gold Open Access on behalf of authors and their institutions. We hope they will provide answers to commonly recurring questions, explain issues and promote understanding between all parties involved in APC payments.

FAQs for publishers

The FAQs are an output of our Jisc Good Practice Pathfinder project, any feedback, comments or issues please tell us! We’ll update the FAQs if appropriate.

Update of the Open Access Reporting Checklist

The recently published checklist has been updated with the data required for version 2 of the RCUK APC spreadsheet as applicable to HEI APC expenditure reporting in January 2016. The changes were identified in an email from Stuart Lawson to the UKCORR discussion group dated 21st May 2015 and reported by Neil Jacobs on the Jisc Scholarly Communications blog .

Open Access Reporting Checklist for Institutions V2

Review of APC Intermediary Services

At the beginning of this pathfinder project I was tasked with examining intermediaries for APC payments, specifically in regards to reducing the administrative burden placed on HEI’s by Open Access, but it quickly became clear there was a problem – the rapidly changing Open Access environment we all deal with everyday had already moved past APC intermediaries.

Off the back of the JISC/OAK Pilot I spoke to CCC, EBSCO, Swets and Turpin Distribution. At first there seemed to be some interest in establishing intermediaries. But after initial positive responses, and some development work, the responses cooled down.

Turpin Distribution had presented at UKSG 2014 and mentioned the possibility of an interface for institutions in 2015. Now this has been delayed until a review in early 2016. EBSCO had plans in place but development has since been shelved. CCC still has potential given the services they supply for publishers, but it seems that any Institutional interface, if it comes at all, will still be a while away.

Instead of focusing on APC Intermediaries to enable administrative savings, these will instead have to come from Good Practice and further “bedding in” of Open Access processes and workflows into the operational life of institutions.

At the same time as the interest in Intermediaries was dwindling, the community had turned towards offsetting deals. When I started working on the project there was already information on offsetting in theory, and IOP had launched their offsetting pilot. We are now well and truly stuck into offsetting in practice, with several other publishers now offering offset deals following the work JISC has done establishing these deals and providing guidance.

The focus on savings has thus shifted. Any savings that we as a community might make now come from lowering, or controlling, the total cost of publication, rather than directly from removing administrative burden as was thought a little over a year ago at the commencement of the project.

My next blog post will examine these offsetting deals, the pros and cons of the different models that have been adopted, and how these deals are being embedded in practice, looking at the main pain points of implementation as well as things we would potentially change.

Finlay Jones
University of Exeter

Open Access Reporting Checklist and Sample APC Payment Workflows for Institutions

This checklist is intended to assist institutions in identifying data required for OA reporting to Jisc for RCUK (APC spreadsheet) and HEFCE for REF OA. We are aware of other work in this area but developed the guide with other work for our Jisc Good Practice Pathfinder project and we believe it may be useful for other institutions. It has confirmed there is very little overlap in data requirements for RCUK and HEFCE OA reporting.

Open Access Reporting Checklist for Institutions

Mapping workflows at our four collaborating institutions identified a generic series of ‘steps’ in each payment scenario used by our institutions. This led to the development of sample workflows for each payment method which we hope will prove a useful aid for institutions developing new, or adapting old, workflows. Institutions may need to adapt the sample workflows to suit their own requirements, systems and processes.

Sample payment workflows

We welcome feedback and comments on the checklist and workflows.