The IPLC Library Directors sent the following letter to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy on March 1, 2023.
On behalf of all 13 Ivy Plus libraries, we write to express our strong support for the updated policy guidance issued by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) that will make funded research immediately available to the public to freely access and fully use.
At higher education institutions across the world, libraries play a critical role in supporting our scholars in finding and using research, and in sharing the research they produce – all in support of institutional missions to leverage our research and teaching in service of creating a better and more equitable world for future generations. It is in that spirit that we want to highlight the dangers of allowing the interests of commercial publishers to dictate the paths available to implementing this bold new guidance on open scholarship. We refer here to the pay-to-publish model of open access to research publications, as exemplified by individual APC (article processing charge) fees charged directly to authors, and/or institutional Read and Publish agreements where libraries pay bulk APCs on behalf of their scholars and unlock institutional access to read pay-walled content.
Some might argue that well-resourced institutions like ours can afford to pay for both the right to access research and the right to publish and participate in research, but such investment detracts from our core mission of open access and more specifically our ability to comply with the proposed policy changes that we so overwhelmingly support. Implementing the Nelson memo via an APC model is antithetical to the equity goals so clearly articulated in the guidance memo and the values of our institutions.
Locking in a norm where an author, funder, and/or institution must pay an opaque and often costly fee for the right to publish an article risks locking out scholars from less resourced institutions and less well funded disciplines. The equity issue in the APC model extends globally for authors and researchers in lower-income countries who must navigate publishers’ convoluted and demeaning APC waiver procedures that may result in denial of the waiver or discounted APC fees that are still unaffordable.
Equitable opportunity to contribute to scholarly literature is as important for the integrity and usefulness of scholarship globally as is the open accessibility to read. As representatives of some of the most well-resourced libraries in the country, we are committed to using our resources to promote public access to all research, not just the research our scholars produce. If public access to research outputs is achieved via a pay-to-publish model, we will have squandered an opportunity to promote equity in scholarly communication by simply substituting economic barriers to access to research for economic barriers to contributing to research.
This policy guidance is the culmination of many years of steady progress towards making research more openly available. It provides a much-needed update to strengthen U.S. policy that will bring our country to equal footing with governments across the world that have established strong open access policies to promote their national innovation agendas. We hope to be a partner to the administration to support and implement this important policy guidance.
We both applaud this policy change and are aware that it may result in significant additional costs related to publication, repositories, data management, and staffing which we anticipate will be shouldered by individual researchers and institutions. We urge you to work with the research community to identify appropriate financial support to these additional burdens in future spending bills. Investing in infrastructure and services that are directly aligned with the research mission will be critical to laying the foundation for a more open and equitable system of research that will result in better, faster answers to the problems of our time.
Joseph S. Meisel
Joukowsky Family University Librarian Brown University
University Librarian and Dean of the University Library University of Chicago
Vice Provost and University Librarian Columbia University
Elaine L. Westbrooks
Carl A. Kroch University Librarian Cornell University
Dean of Libraries Dartmouth College
Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs Duke University
Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian Harvard University
Elisabeth M. Long
Sheridan Dean of University Libraries, Archives, and Museums Johns Hopkins University
Director of Libraries MIT
Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of Libraries University of Pennsylvania
Dean of Libraries and Robert H. Taylor 1930 University Librarian Princeton University
Michael A. Keller
Vice Provost & University Librarian
Director of Academic Information Resources Stanford University
Stephen F. Gates ‘68 University Librarian Yale University