Germany has claimed a first victory in its campaign to strike a new type of deal with academic publishers, unveiling a contract with US-based publisher Wiley.
The country’s institutions have collectively been trying to shift to a model where they pay publishers based on the number of articles published – the so-called “publish and read” model – rather than paying subscriptions for access.
Under the three-year deal with Wiley, German institutions will pay a fee based on the number of articles that German researchers publish per year, currently around 10,000.
At a press conference in Berlin, Horst Hippler, spokesman for the steering committee of Project Deal, the consortium of institutions negotiating with the publishers, said that the deal was “revolutionary”.
It all gives Germany-based corresponding authors the option to publish open access in Wiley’s journals at no extra cost, although in Germany, he said, authors cannot be “obliged” to publish open access in a particular journal.
The full contract is set to be published online by mid-February. The deal does also not include “gold” open access journals, which make articles immediately freely available to all readers, for which article processing fees will have to be paid separately.
Judy Verses, executive vice-president at Wiley, framed the deal as the company getting in the “front seat” of an inevitable change in the publishing landscape. Prior to the announcement, she had urged publishers at the Academic Publishing in Europe 2019 conference in Berlin to look hard at their business models, using the cautionary tales of once dominant companies such as Kodak, Yahoo and Nokia.
Wiley is the first of the three big publishers targeted by German institutions to strike a deal. Negotiations with Springer Nature and Elsevier still have not concluded, with many German libraries currently cut off from new Elsevier research since last summer.
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