Blog post - Matching Publication Costs with Publication Funds

Authoritative data from source & connecting and complementing existing systems and solutions

14 September 2021 by Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director OA Switchboard

As we see the growth in Open Access output, the need to develop infrastructure to streamline communication between research funders, institutions/libraries and academic publishers becomes a priority. One of the challenges is matching publication costs with publication funds for which stakeholders have a number of aspects to deal with. At our most recent webinar, our speakers talked about their use cases and how the OA Switchboard comes into play in a variety of ways.

What do research funders, institutions/libraries and publishers want?

“We want to support our researchers in being compliant, while managing multiple OA funds (including block grants).”
John Murtagh, Imperial College London

“We want to support authors in their publication journey and help them find options to pay for the OA publication charges”

Alex Howat, Microbiology Society

“We want to implement OA policies on a publication-level, monitor compliance and control expenses.”
Tom Jakobs, FNR Luxembourg National Research Fund

“We want to support the University of California multi-payer model, and standardise the approach to tracking publications and spend.”
Mathew Willmott, California Digital Library & Charles Lusty, The Royal Society

"Iowa State University wants to facilitate funding for articles across the long tail of smaller publishers."
Matthew Goddard, Iowa State University, University Library

“As a pure OA publisher we are growing relationships with libraries, consortia and funders, sharing knowledge and automating streamlined communications.”
Adrian Stanley, JMIR Publications

“We want to track publications of our researchers in non-APC based journals, and may have (‘diamond’) funds available to subsidise and support.”
Pascal Braak, University of Amsterdam

What are 'publication costs' and 'publication funds'? What is an example of a 'business model'? What is a 'publication funder'?

To get a research article published, the person or entity organising the publication encounters costs -  the ‘publication costs’. Examples are staff handling the manuscript and supporting the peer review process, and system licenses or in-house system development and maintenance. There are various ways to cover these costs, such as:

  • A charge to the beneficiary of the publication service (i.e. the author) or a party on their behalf (e.g. their research funder or institution/library);

  • Funding of the overall publishing initiative (e.g. a host organisation subsidising staff time, computers, hosting, etc);

  • Financial support to contribute to the initiative (e.g. research funder grants, donations from authors’ affiliated institutions).


We refer to the way in which the publication costs are covered as the business or economic model (think of APCs, institutional membership, subscribe-to-open, P&R/R&P deals, publication agreements, non-APC based models, etc). Parties contributing to these costs hold the so-called ‘publication funds’. If a specific party is paying the costs for a specific publication, we can call them the ‘publication funder’.

The challenge in matching publication costs with publication funds for funders, institutions and publishers is that they are faced with a myriad of systems and processes. This causes complexity and administrative burden, hampering the implementation of policies and agreements and the development of new business models to support a broader move to OA. From a researcher’s perspective, this landscape is at best confusing, and at worst impenetrable.


How does the OA Switchboard help?

“The OA Switchboard addresses an acute market need and has mission alignment working in its favour... It is not intended to compete... Since standardized metadata will eventually benefit everyone in the market.”

Outsell Analysis, January 2021


The OA Switchboard – a central information exchange hub – is an independent intermediary, connecting parties and systems, streamlining communication and the neutral exchange of OA-related publication level information. Through its standard messaging protocol, automated validation and routing, it takes care of ensuring authoritative data from source. The shared infrastructure connects and complements existing systems and solutions, leveraged with PIDs.

Through predefined ‘messages’ - effectively a set of publication-level metadata sent from stakeholder 1 to stakeholder 2 to enable a question/answer or a notification – OA Switchboard supports a wide variety of use cases.

The Eligibility Enquiry (or ‘E1-E2 message’) supports the communication between the publisher and a specific publication funder and is exchanged during the publication workflow (usually between submission of a manuscript and acceptance for publication). This message type is relevant for APC-based models, as well as the ‘prior agreement’ scenario (transformative agreements, pure publish deals etc) when there is a direct relation between the publication cost of a certain publication and the coverage of such costs.

The Publication/Payment Settlement Notification (or ‘P1-message’) is sent by the publisher at the point of acceptance or publication, to confirm the version of record and financial settlement details (if applicable) to the publication funder of the publication concerned. The P-message also supports the matching of publication costs and publication funds in case of non-APC based models (e.g. diamond) and other models (e.g. subscribe-to-open). What the P-message enables here, is ‘Reporting Made Easy’, which can facilitate follow-up conversations on financial arrangements.


Why is this important to OA Switchboard stakeholders?
The 8 September webinar featured use cases presented by our stakeholders, together with details on how OA Switchboard supports many situations, and how OA Switchboard can be integrated with their own (or dedicated service provider’s) systems.

“We require enhanced publication information and easier communication to manage our new OA policy. Required publication information in E1 messages means quicker decision-making.”
Kate Beeby, Francis Crick Institute

“OA Switchboard will bring standardisation and scalability beyond implementation. For The Royal Society, across other institutional deals. For CDL, across multiple publishers.”
Mathew Willmott, California Digital Library & Charles Lusty, The Royal Society

"The OA Switchboard is the best way for these smaller open access publishers to indicate that they're open for business, allowing Iowa State University to spread our open access investments more equitably."
Matthew Goddard, Iowa State University, University Library

“For a small publisher it means a lot to have a direct connection with paying institutions and be more visible.”
Lucia Steele, AboutScience

“We want to automate pre-acceptance eligibility enquiries with auto-reject rules based on own and national funder policies.”
Katrin Seyler, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)

“We are enhancing and automating our reporting on deals to deliver a more streamlined and standardized service to our R&P partners.”
Rob O’Donnell, Rockefeller University Press

“We’re preparing a sandbox for testing and demonstrating the integration plugin (diamond scenarios), documentation and a short video to be developed and shared, and the the OA integration plugin will be included within the OJS’ plugin gallery, and thus widely available to all OJS 3.x users with the click of a button.”
Public Knowledge Project


Do you want to explore how OA Switchboard can support your organisation in matching publication costs to publication funds?

If you want to read more, view a recording or are looking for something specific, we have now made it easy for you to review our content at a new dedicated resources page on our website. The recording of the 8 September webinar and infographics on ‘Matching Publication Costs with Publication Funds’ can be found there as well.

If you would like to have an in-person discussion, please reach out for a meeting.

Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director
Yvonne.campfens@oaswitchboard.org