January 16, 2022

Open Access: “UC Davis and California Digital Library Complete Pay It Forward Project”

From a CDLInfo News Post:

The University of California, Davis and the California Digital Library have recently completed the 15-month Pay It Forward project, an effort funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation.

The project brought together research libraries at Harvard, Ohio State University, the University of British Columbia, and all ten University of California campuses; publishing industry and bibliometric partners Thomson Reuters (Web of Science), Elsevier (Scopus), and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers; and scholarly communications experts and researchers at several institutions across North America and Europe.


The project draws several important conclusions which we hope will further the discussion of an APC-funded model for scholarly publishing- and, more broadly, of the prospects for a large-scale ‘flip’ of the journal literature to open access.

  • First, for research-intensive North American institutions, library journal budgets alone are unlikely to be sufficient to fund publishing activities through APCs. However, the difference in funding could be made up by other stakeholders, such as granting agencies, who in many cases already support publishing costs.
  • Second, while author attitudes towards open access publishing vary across disciplines, all authors exhibit price sensitivity with regards to publishing charges. Leveraging this price sensitivity appropriately has the potential to induce competition in the marketplace, thereby restraining costs.
  • And finally, funding models can be developed which ensure that authors have some “skin in the game” while still providing sufficient financial support to allow these authors the freedom to choose where to publish. One possibility would be to provide a flat library subsidy which would approximately cover the costs of publishing in a baseline-level journal, and then to establish author discretionary funds that are controlled by authors and can be used for publishing costs above the subsidy level, as well as for any other research activity.  In this way, the institution provides funding to support its authors’ publishing activity along with other research activities, requiring authors to think strategically about where their discretionary funds would be best invested.

Read the Complete Post

Pay it Forward Project Resources

Final Report: Pay It Forward: Investigating a Sustainable Model of Open Access Article Processing Charges for Large North American Research Institutions (185 pages; PDF)


Data Files

UC Pay-It-Forward Model Calculation Tool (MCT)

Pay It Forward Project Website and Additional Materials


About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.