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Contracting in The Open Access Age: Unboxing ‘Big Deals’ In Academic Publishing

Abstract : Since the digitalization of academic publications, subscription to journals had taken the form of access rights to content platforms for users. Despite almost 20 years of open access policies, paywalled papers and subsequently subscriptions are still paramount for the oligopoly of publishing industry in its relations with ever-growing consortia of universities and libraries. Nevertheless, in the last five years, new forms of agreement have been signed, notably including paying open access publishing options. The range of names given to these "Big Deals" underlines their complexity and diversity: offset agreements, read and publish, publish and read, transformative agreements. Whereas previously subscription agreements included confidentiality clauses on their content, the transparency requirements of some consortia have led to their availability. Thanks to this publicity, we will present a first systematic comparison of more than 50 agreements between "big" or "medium" publishers (ACS, Elsevier, Sage, Springer, Wiley, etc.) and European or North American consortia. Drawing on STS approaches, we will first describe the various content of these agreements and the material effects of the reciprocal obligations they define (system of recognition of authors and rights holders, financial payment circuits, monitoring of actual costs, etc.). We will then analyze the expected, hoped for or feared effects of these agreements (tipping point effect for open access, reinforcement of publishers oligopoly, stabilization of APC or subscription prices…) from contrats themselves, monitoring reports and grey literature. Finally, we will discuss how the interactions between agreements as a container vs papers and journals as content are conceived.
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Contributor : David Pontille Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, November 27, 2020 - 9:09:36 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:33:27 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-03027185, version 1


Quentin Dufour, David Pontille, D. Torny. Contracting in The Open Access Age: Unboxing ‘Big Deals’ In Academic Publishing. 4S / EASST Conference, Locating and Timing Matters: Significance and Agency of STS in Emerging Worlds, Aug 2020, Prague, Czech Republic. ⟨halshs-03027185⟩



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