Library will fund publishing of open access scholarly books

Library to fund open access book publishingThe Library is expanding the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) program so that Berkeley authors can publish scholarly books open access at zero or substantially reduced costs—making these books free and accessible to readers around the globe.

The BRII program fosters broad public access to the work of Berkeley scholars by encouraging the Berkeley community to take advantage of open access (OA) publishing opportunities. OA literature is free, digital, and available to anyone online. With barrier-free access, researchers and decision-makers from anywhere in the world can read the scholarly output of UC Berkeley authors.

“OA publishing is helping us advance the relevance and reach of our science so that it can get in front of the people who need to be seeing it, and who are in a position to act upon the results of our research in ways that we as scientists alone can’t,” says Rachel Morello-Frosch, UC Berkeley Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. “BRII helped me make access to my research affordable and it wiped away a lot of barriers.”  

Morello-Frosch has published several articles OA using BRII funds. The funds are applied toward article processing charges (APCs), which many journal publishers impose on authors and which can range from $750-$3500 or more. These fees serve to replace revenue the publisher would have generated via library subscriptions if access to the journal had been licensed by the library for campus readers. BRII began in 2008 by redirecting a small amount of Library collections funds to help authors cover these APCs for open access journals so that Berkeley authors could participate in the wider dissemination that OA publishing offers.

While many scholars in the humanities and social sciences publish in OA journals, they also publish scholarly books, termed “monographs”. These books become a critical component of professional credentialing, yet their readership is limited by the same kinds of access barriers endemic to subscription-based journals: The scholarly books are quite expensive, and increasingly fewer libraries can afford to purchase them. By expanding BRII to also cover the publishing fees for OA books, BRII can help Berkeley authors publish long-form scholarship that can be read by anyone at no cost.

These digital editions of peer-reviewed and professionally edited OA books typically offer readers more than just the text itself. Digital monographs can also incorporate multimedia with the text, include annotation and commenting tools, and provide platforms that further encourage the development of innovative scholarship.

University presses’ funding models for financing OA books are innovative and evolving. UC Press’ Luminos program, for instance, is formulated as a partnership in which costs and benefits are shared by member organizations. Many academic publishers also offer a print or print-on-demand version of the book for sale to readers who prefer hard copies, further enabling cost recovery through traditional print sales. Some publishers have found that making the book available OA not only drives up digital readership but also print sales, too.

At their core, most OA book funding models typically charge academic authors the equivalent of an APC. Yet, given the greater investment needed to create and edit longer and more complex manuscripts, the book processing charges (BPCs) can range upwards of $7000. This sum can be out-of-reach for humanities and social sciences authors if available funding sources do not adequately cover research and publication needs.

To address this situation, in this first pilot year of funding BPCs, BRII will offer $7500 a piece in publishing fees for up to three OA scholarly books.

The expanded BRII program will support increased OA publishing by Berkeley humanists and social scientists, and augment the reach of their work,” explains University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason. “We aim to democratize scholarly publishing by lowering access barriers and increasing Berkeley impact, and subvention funding for OA books allows us to do just that.”

To learn more about the expanded BRII program, please see the updated BRII guide. With questions about obtaining BRII funding, contact

UC Berkeley Open Access Authors: We’re Celebrating You!

BRII & Brie Author Recognition Event Invitation
Click to RSVP for the BRII & Brie Author Recognition Event

Join faculty, students, and colleagues for wine and cheese as the UC Berkeley community recognizes and discusses UCB open access papers at the BRII & Brie Author Recognition Event (open to all) being held in Morrison Library on Feb. 22, 2017 from 5:00-6:30 p.m.

We’re Celebrating Because You’ve Published For Impact

You’re over the moon because your new paper has just been accepted to a high-impact journal that is published open access—free, digital, and available to anyone online. You chose this journal because open access (OA) publishing can promote increased readership by lowering access barriers, and can spur innovation through fewer restrictions on use.

But suddenly you’re faced with a quandary: There’s a steep fee to make all this happen—an “article processing charge” (APC), typically somewhere between $650-$3,500, that authors are asked to provide to publishers for OA publication in lieu of typical print-subscription fees paid for by libraries. You want people to read and cite your scholarship, and you hope to advance knowledge by enabling maximal use of your scholarly output. But how can you finance and participate in this new scholarly publishing landscape?

One option is to deposit a copy of the article you submitted into a repository, in keeping with the UC system’s OA policy. (For more on the OA policy, see the UCOP Office of Scholarly Communication’s helpful guide.) To that end, UC scholars and staff can deposit pre-print copies of their publications in eScholarship (the repository created by California Digital Library), or can choose a discipline-specific repository like arXiv or the new Humanities Commons.

Depositing preprints and making them available at no cost to the public in this fashion can have remarkable impacts for building knowledge and augmenting your academic reputation. Yet, there is still one other parameter of an APC-based OA publishing system that remains to be addressed: covering the APC, itself. What can you do when an esteemed open access journal like BMC Biology asks you to provide $2,785 to publish your accepted paper in their online journal? Maybe you have grant funds to cover this APC, but maybe you don’t, and maybe you don’t have a grant at all.

What’s The Solution?

UC Berkeley’s Library can help, and we’re about to start celebrating that. The Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) makes APC funding available to UC Berkeley authors (current faculty members, post-docs, students, researchers) and publishers (campus Centers, Organized Research Units, and Departments) to make your publications free to all readers immediately upon publication—thereby also helping to increase the impact of your scholarship.

Started in 2008, BRII has provided around $400,000 of funding for several hundred articles and publications across numerous discipline areas. In a 2016 paper, authors Teplitzky and Phillips reported that 89% of responding BRII recipients agreed that the availability of BRII to help pay the APC or open access fee for their article affected their decision about where to publish, and 44% had not published an open access article prior to the one funded by BRII. Most respondents (82%) believed their article had a greater impact overall because it was OA.

Let’s Celebrate UC Berkeley Scholarship!

So, it’s high time to recognize the scholarship of BRII-funded authors, and raise awareness about available BRII funding. That’s exactly what the Library will be doing with the BRII & Brie Author Recognition Event (open to all) being held in Morrison Library on Feb. 22, 2017 from 5:00-6:30 p.m.

You can hear remarks from University Librarian Jeff MacKie-Mason and BRII-funded faculty members about their scholarship, and the impact of BRII and open access. There will also be a lightning round of paper discussions by attending BRII recipients, so you can learn more about the OA scholarship being created here at UC Berkeley. BRII-funded works will also be displayed, so if you already are a BRII recipient, please RSVP by January 20 to have your work shown at the event.

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate your colleagues in an evening of learning and author recognition. If you know little about OA or BRII, but aspire to publish, please join us to find out more about this important funding program. RSVP here!