Five-Point Plan to Address Open Access

New publishing model for authors unveiled

7 March 2011

After studying how best to address open access to its publications, the IEEE Board of Directors approved a five-point approach in November.

Open access is a movement in scholarly publishing to make content available via the Internet at no cost to users.

Here is the formal plan:

  • IEEE will engage in a public dialogue to ensure that the publication of high-quality, peer-reviewed, financially sustainable journals remains an essential part of its mission as a learned society.
  • Open access is best accomplished using IEEE's existing approach to publishing. This preserves the peer-review process that ensures the integrity of the research presented.
  • Open access can coexist with traditional publishing. IEEE will continue to allow authors to post manuscripts of their articles accepted by IEEE journals on their own Web sites or those of their employers.
  • IEEE will continue experimenting with open access and monitor its impact on the organization.
  • Any open-access approach must respect the intellectual property rights of authors and publishers.
OpenAcc Illustration: Daniel Hertzberg

"I am very pleased that IEEE has a position on open access after several years of discussion," says Jon G. Rokne, 2010 vice president, IEEE Publication Services and Products. "IEEE's vision for open access responds to the open-access movement's desire for clarity and also protects IEEE and its societies from the financial erosion of their abilities to support their programs."

Rokne adds that IEEE will examine commercial sponsorship through advertisements or sponsorship by individuals or companies as possibilities for helping to make open access sustainable. He notes, however, that any such sponsorship would need to preserve the editorial independence and integrity of the publishing process.

As part of IEEE's experiment with open-access publishing models, the IEEE Board of Directors in August endorsed a so-called author-pays option. IEEE says that option will test the viability of the approach in supporting publishing costs. Authors of accepted manuscripts will be able to choose later this year to pay a processing fee of US $3000 per article so their work is available free of charge to all when it's published in the IEEE Xplore digital library. Traditionally, IEEE's journals and magazines have relied on charging members, research libraries, and other organizations a subscription fee.

In IEEE's experimental approach, known as hybrid open access, subscriptions will continue to support the overall publishing program, but articles supplemented by author fees will be made available at no cost to anyone through IEEE Xplore.

A handful of IEEE journals are already experimenting with hybrid open access. They include IEEE Photonics Journal and IEEE Magnetics Letters.

IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies uses another model, called delayed open access, which makes papers available for free one year after they've been published.

The different models resulted from several policies instituted by the Board of Directors during the past few years to encourage organizational units to experiment with new ways for distributing their information. The initial policy, approved in June 2007, set the direction by encouraging societies and other units to explore new business models. Another policy, approved in November 2007, provided a set of guidelines for units wishing to develop publishing models [see "Principles of Scholarly Publishing," The Institute, September 2008, p. 11].

Whatever model is developed must be self-sustaining, because operating costs must be recouped. These costs include paying for content management systems, article submission and review systems, bandwidth, editorial and typesetting services, and marketing and other business investments.

"IEEE recognizes that no single business model will fit the needs of its various scholarly communities," Rokne says. "Therefore, it will continue to experiment with various approaches to open access."

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