Memorial University of Newfoundland

Memorial University of Newfoundland
With an enrollment of ~18,000, Memorial University of Newfoundland is a comprehensive university located in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
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Memorial University wanted a way to support the benefits of Open Access at very low cost

In mid-2013, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada entered into an Institutional Arrangement with PeerJ in which they pre-paid for PeerJ Memberships for their faculty members who choose to publish with PeerJ. In this Case Study, they talk about why this arrangement was important to them.

What are your issues with the current system of publication?

In Canada, academic research is largely funded by public institutions and subsidized by taxpayer money. Commercial publishers rely on the free labor of university faculty to research, write, and peer-review scholarly articles. When a paper is accepted, faculty members are required to transfer their copyrights to the publisher. Publishers then lock research behind subscription paywalls and sell it back to the university at a substantial mark-up. This model has its roots in a paper-based world where publishers had to make major capital investments in printing presses and transportation. Digital publishing has removed these entry barriers to publishing and has significantly reduced the cost of journal production and distribution. Unfortunately, these savings have not been passed back to universities. Academic libraries find ourselves increasingly unable to pay for the research produced by our institutions, while the majority of scholarly papers languish behind paywalls, completely inaccessible to most of the world.

Why is Open Access important to your institution?

Open Access publishing removes paywalls that lock academic research away from most of the world. It provides free, global access to the knowledge that is created by universities. This is a huge benefit to authors, whose work will be more widely read and more frequently cited. It’s also a benefit to researchers and students, who no longer have to contend with logins, proxy servers, and per-article payments. Open Access allows communities, governments, non-profit organizations, policy makers, and private businesses to use publicly funded research to drive development and innovation. When libraries invest their funds in Open Access journals, they are buying perpetual access for everyone in the world, rather than buying a year’s worth of access for their own user community. For this reason Memorial University Libraries see a much greater return of investment on Open Access publishing than we do on the traditional subscription model.

What is it about the PeerJ model that interests you?

Memorial University Libraries are looking for sustainable Open Access business models. We recognize the need for publisher profit but we also have to operate within our own budget limitations. PeerJ aims to demonstrate that Open Access publishing can be done at a very low per-article fee. We hope that the PeerJ approach will be successful, and that it will provide a model for other Open Access publishers.

What kind of arrangement have you entered into with PeerJ?

Memorial University Libraries have pre-paid for a block of PeerJ memberships. These memberships will be distributed to our faculty members as they submit articles to PeerJ. Once we have paid the Membership fee for a researcher, then he or she can publish an Open Access article every single year at no additional cost.

What problem does the PeerJ Arrangement solve for you?

There are several advantages to our arrangement with PeerJ. The membership model is a very low-cost approach to Open Access publishing. PeerJ is widely indexed, and the articles are highly visible and easily accessible. PeerJ also helps to minimize our administrative overhead. PeerJ staff deal directly with faculty, walking them through the submission process, and dealing with the paperwork to establish memberships. Memorial University Libraries pay a single invoice and receive reports about our faculty activity in PeerJ.