The Association of European University Presses (AEUP) welcomes different approaches to overcome the challenging situation that we are facing during the Corona crisis.
AEUP sees potential to provide Open Access to the scientific content in this situation, be it books or articles in journals, and enable researchers and public to have free access also to digital libraries during the lockdown period.
The value of free access to scholarly content is acknowledged. Many publishers have already opened their Corona-related content to foster diagnostic, therapeutic and epidemiological progress as well as encouraging international collaboration on treatments and the development of a vaccine.
Some academic publishers have reduced prices for their e-books, and most AEUP members have at least some of their content open, and some are already fully Open Access publishers.
Sustainable access to content
Access to specialized content is currently difficult, because institutions such as public libraries or commercial infrastructures such as the book trade or publishing houses, are not accessible in the normal way.
AEUP encourages national and other initiatives taken by academic publishers that require publicly financed research results to be freely accessible during the Corona crisis.
However, giving temporary free access will create additional challenges for AEUP members and other small university presses, as free digital access requires digital content management as well as digital publishing platforms. Not all content is immediately available in a digital form, and not all platforms are equipped to grant temporary free access. Another challenge is that many small presses have an economic model relying on sales revenues to cover at least a part of their operating costs.
The transition to Open Access depends on knowledge, different standards (content, reviewing, producing, publishing, metadata, distributing/spreading etc), which require investing means and work – it cannot be done over a day but needs to be sustainable in the long run.
It should be up to each University Press to decide the possibility to give free access to their content at the moment and consider the transition to Open Access, depending on their prerequisites and business models.
In these challenging times, AEUP recommends to strengthen public and political efforts to have more scholarly content available without access barriers and that funding on national levels must be on board.
Together we are working on a sustainable future of academic publishing.
Please contact the AEUP Board regarding this statement: firstname.lastname@example.org