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Berlin 12 Conference Focuses on Proposal to Flip Subscription Journals to Open Access

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On December 8 and 9, 2015, representatives from several regions (Asia, Europe, and North America) met in Berlin, Germany, to discuss a proposal to flip subscription-based journals to open access models. The initiative is being led by the Max Planck Society, the organizer and host of the invitation-only Berlin 12 Open Access Conference. The rationale for the initiative is based on an analysis undertaken by Max Planck Digital Library (MPDL), which found that a flip to open access would be possible at no financial risk, “maybe even at lower overall costs” to the system.

The objective of the conference was to build a consensus for an internationally coordinated effort to shift libraries’ journal budgets away from subscriptions and towards article processing costs (APCs). The meeting was attended by 96 participants from 19 countries, with several US and Canadian representatives. The major point of discussion was an expression of interest (EOI) that would form the basis for gaining support and moving forward with the initiative. Once published, organizations will be invited to sign the EOI and it will be used to galvanize interest in the initiative around the world.

In general, most conference participants were supportive “in principle” of a collaborative, international effort to accelerate the transition to open access, although a number of concerns were expressed about a model in which APCs would prevail. Several representatives, including US delegates, felt that this transition must come with real reductions in the overall costs of the scholarly publishing system. The next joint Association of Research Libraries (ARL)–Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, in April 2016, may offer a good opportunity for ARL and CARL members to discuss this initiative further and determine if there is sufficient support for moving forward.

For a summary of the key points of the EOI and a description of the discussions and concerns raised at the conference, read the Association of Research Libraries report on the Berlin 12 Open Access Conference (PDF).


About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.

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