An overview of the institutional membership programs offered by Open Access publishersIf you are a researcher, a librarian or an administrative worker in a
research facility, you may want to suggest for your institution to
enroll in one of the membership programs offered by Open Access
publishers. These programs are designed to decrease the cost of
publishing Open Access works and to diminish the administrative issues
related to paying them.
Open Access books and journals are generally funded via Processing Charges
(APC or BPC), which must be paid every time a new work is being
published. Usually, these are not paid by the authors themselves, but by
the institution supporting the author – his/her employer or research
funder. However, institutes that have already published a lot in this
model, or that simply would like to promote Open Access among their
authors, may facilitate this process (and save money) by signing an
agreement with one or more chosen publishers, instead of paying
separately for the publication of every single work.
At present, almost every Open Access publisher offers membership
programs. Some of them only apply to publishing in journals, while
others (including the ones from De Gruyter Open)
may also be adapted to Open Access book publishing. Although most
programs differ when it comes to the details, it is not difficult to
identify a few major models.
1) The first, and probably most popular, is the ‘partners fee model’,
which is offed by several publishers under different names. In this
model, research institutes pay a custom annual fee based on their number
of researchers, and they receive a discount (usually around 15%) on
each article/book processing charge. However, this model forces all
authors working for the institution to publish a given amount of
research every year. As a result, it is possible that the institute in
question may only save very little money – or no money at all.
2) The second most popular model is the ‘pre-paid institutional membership’,
whereby the institution deposits some funds on the publisher’s account.
In turn, this money is used to cover further article/book processing
charges for any of the researchers, including a discount ranging from 10
to 25% (depending on the publisher).
3) The ‘partners fee extra’ – which is offered by
Hindawi under the name of ‘annual membership’ – is a custom annual fee
that covers the costs of all works published by institution members in
the following year, regardless of how many articles they write. The
actual fee is based on the number of researchers affiliated with the
institute, as well as their research output level. In this model, the
obligation to publish a given amount of research with the contracted
publisher is even stronger.
4) Finally, the ‘post-paid institutional membership’
is a model in which the institution only pays once for all the articles
published by its authors in a given elapsed period of time. However,
this form of membership, which PLOS calls ‘direct billing’, does not
certify any discounts. It is simply a system of monthly billing for all
5) On the other hand, the ‘post-paid institutional membership’ that was recently introduced by De Gruyter Open
also includes a 15% reduction of processing charges for all contracted
institutions (without any additional fees). As a result, the institute
pays for all the books and papers published by its authors at the
beginning of the following year, while also benefiting from a discount.
Therefore, if you work for an institution that supports its authors
by paying article/book processing charges, it may be a good idea to
approach your administration and discuss joining an institutional
membership program. If your research institute does not have sufficient
funds to cover the cost of Open Access publications, try to establish
it. Do not let your colleagues rely on aunt Agatha any more!
An overview of the institutional membership programs offered by Open A