Adding up the Flipped Subscription Model

Scott Nicholls, Simon Hart, Howard Amos, Jill Benn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper


One of the common pathways proposed to achieving a global open access scholarly publishing model is the “flipped” approach. In this scenario, journal publishers “flip” their pricing model from subscription to gold open access (gold OA) and library budgets are redirected from supporting subscriptions to Article Publishing Costs (APCs) associated with gold OA. Initiatives such as OA2020, and more recently Plan S, have to varying degrees advocated for this approach.

Underlying the flipped model is the assumption there is enough money in the global academic library subscription system to cover the costs of a scholarly publishing model based on APCs. A number of studies have tested this assumption including the Mellon Foundation Pay It Forward report which focused on large, research intensive universities in North America and the Max Planck Digital Library Open Access Policy white paper which used global market reports and publishing figures to derive their calculations. However, is this assumption valid for other sized universities or using different analytical approaches?

In 2018, the Matariki Network of Universities (an international collaborative venture of seven medium sized universities) used its unique partnership to test this assumption for medium-sized universities using shared subscription and publishing data. The project had two specific objectives. Firstly, to determine if the amount of money paid by Matariki institutions for journal subscriptions both individually and collectively is enough to cover APC costs of a flipped model. Secondly, to determine what the average APC cost would need to be if each Matariki institution only had their subscription budget to cover gold OA publishing.

This paper describes the approach taken in the study and outlines the findings in comparison to other studies. It will also discuss the implications of the results in the context of current initiatives supporting a flipped model.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the IATUL Conferences
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherPurdue University Press
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2019
Event40th Annual IATUL Conference: Shifting Sands and Rising Tides - Leading Libraries through Innovation - University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 23 Jun 201927 Jun 2019 (IATUL 2019)


Conference40th Annual IATUL Conference
Abbreviated titleIATUL 2019
OtherThe International Association of University Libraries (IATUL) invites you to attend the 40th Annual IATUL Conference at The University of Western Australia and Curtin University in Perth, Australia from 23 June to 27 June 2019. This is an excellent opportunity to hear about the latest academic library initiatives and network with colleagues and friends from all over the world.
Technology has fundamentally changed the role of the academic library and how it operates. This is evident in the increased access to digital sources of knowledge, and digital tools and services for students, teachers and researchers along with the increasingly important role of the library’s physical place on campus. The IATUL 2019 conference themes will provide ample opportunity to explore and learn about how the library can enable work, study and research in higher education.
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