How to make #OpenAccess in Science more sustainable? 30 possible answers



As many others probably,  I always thought that the confusion between free and libre was problematic and likely to cause a great deal of confusion (English adjective “free” does not distinguish between “free of charge” and “liberty”, the phrases “free as in beer”). Although a similar confusion arises between free and gratis. In Science for instance, for many of us, there’s no doubt that Open Access Science should be free, but that has little to do with the real question: How to make Open Access in Science Economically Sustainable?

As discussed in previous post (i.e. changing business models or new metrics), one of the main challenges that the Open Access movement faces is to explore (more) economically sustainable models to embrace and support openness. Shieber (2014) argues a ‘transitional process should allow for a smooth transition path from toll-access to open-access‘, which as you will see in the Table above, it goes far beyond the Green and Golden possibilities of publication.

‘A transitional process is revenue-neutral in the short term does not mean that no moneys will be saved in the longer term as the result of the transition; a move to author-side fees from reader-side fees has the potential to be a much more transparent, competitive, and efficient market, which may well lead to overall cost reductions. It requires knowledge of the average revenue per article, as well as transparency of subscription prices to verify that subscription fees are reduced.’

Chang (2006) when explored “Business models for open access journals publishing“, wrote that there are four critical factors in the sustainable solutions to open access:

(1) By saving costs: The publisher can set up an expenditure reducing plan to decrease any expenditure.

(2) By increasing incomes: Try to increase incomes by not only subscribing to print journals, printed advertisements and online advertisements, but also the fee of association membership and author reprints.

(3) Through the adoption of innovative technology: By utilisation of creative ways of developing a sustainable operation of open access publishing and continuing to exploit new technology to improve the cost-efficiency of publishing.

(4) By control of the quality of journals: The high quality of journals makes the author willing to publish research in those journals.

These four factors, according to Chang, can guarantee the open access publishing model with sustainable development and make the research permanently visible and accessible, ensuring permanent preservation and making the research results available.

From these critical factors described by Chang, we have elaborated a chart focus on how increasing the income (compilation of different sources) which explores nearly 30 sub-models for funding Open Access for journals and publishers (they provide diverse levels of economic sustainability). All these sub-models are organized under the Cross-subsidy model of Anderson: cross-subsidies, three-party market, freemium and non monetary markets (previously presented). Pros and cons will be explore lately.










  1. Chen Chi Chang, (2006) “Business models for open access journals publishing”, Online Information Review, Vol. 30 Iss: 6, pp.699 – 713.
  2. Shieber, S. (2014). » A true transitional open-access business model The Occasional Pamphlet. Retrieved from
  3. UNESCO. (2012). Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access. UNESCO. “
  4. Open Access Directory (2013) OA journal business model.
  5. Anderson, C. (2009). Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Hyperion.

Leave a Reply