Mason Libraries Expand Support for Sustainable Open Access Publishing

The Mason Libraries are changing how we support open access (OA) publishing. We are pivoting from paying OA fees for a limited number of individual articles each year to investing in collective action initiatives that fund hundreds of OA publications. OA publishing makes scholarly articles freely available online, so that anyone, regardless of their institutional affiliation, can read articles free of charge. By supporting OA, the Mason Libraries contribute to making the results of academic research available to researchers, learners, and policymakers around the world.

From 2012 to 2023, the Libraries supported OA publishing by helping Mason researchers cover the fees some journals charge to make an article OA. These OA fees range from a few hundred dollars to over ten thousand dollars per article. Mason students and faculty without grant funding could apply for financial assistance via the Libraries’ Open Access Publishing Fund (OAPF). In its ten years of operation, the OAPF contributed almost $400,000 towards over 300 OA journal articles with Mason corresponding authors.

While the OAPF was impactful at the individual level, it could not advance system-level change in scholarly publishing. Today there are many more options for supporting OA, including options that reject the idea of charging authors fees to publish OA. The University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and other research universities have already retired their OA article publishing funds in favor of more sustainable, scalable, and equitable channels.

After a decade of supporting faculty and student publications, therefore, the OAPF will be redirected to support three high-impact, collective action approaches to OA. First, the libraries will contribute to “Diamond” OA initiatives that charge no fees to authors or readers, such as MIT Press’s Direct 2 Open. Second, we will participate in innovative “read and publish” agreements negotiated by VIVA, our statewide academic library consortium. These agreements cover both subscription access to a publisher’s journals and OA publishing fees in that publisher’s journals for all VIVA authors. Finally, we will continue to support OA infrastructure programs such as ArXiv e-print archive.

Going forward, Mason authors will continue to enjoy options for fee-free and discounted OA publishing via VIVA’s read and publish agreements and any additional agreements that can be negotiated by the Mason Libraries on their own. These deals provide full funding for all OA articles, where the OAPF could only cover a portion of more costly fees. In 2022 alone, VIVA’s state-wide agreement with Wiley funded 49 Mason-authored OA articles, amounting to over $150,000 in APCs. In the same year, VIVA’s agreement with the Association for Computing Machinery funded 47 Mason-authored OA articles, valued at an estimated $70,000. By working at scale with other Virginia institutions, Mason Libraries’ collections funding can go further, providing far more OA capacity than has been possible through the article-level impact of the OAPF.

As of January 2023, Mason authors may publish OA journal articles at no cost through VIVA’s read and publish agreements with the following publishers:

  • Association for Computing Machinery
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Institute of Physics
  • International Water Association
  • Rockefeller University Press
  • Wiley

In addition, Mason authors may deposit their preprints or eligible published work in our institutional repository, Mason Archival Repository Service (MARS).

The Libraries are committed to advancing sustainable, scholar-led, not-for-profit, and fee-free open access. Email to learn how the Libraries can help you open up your work to a wider world of readers and increased impact.

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