Rebecca Ashworth, Institutional OA Membership Consultant, talks about our Open Access Membership Programme and how the Royal Society is helping to support universities publish research papers using the open access route.

Bee in lavender field

As the OA membership consultant, I’m the point of contact for all the universities in the Royal Society Publishing open access membership programme. I work with Open Access Managers, Research Administrators and Open Access Librarians to help them evaluate the value of the scheme for their institution.

The programme has grown again this year. While the majority of our members are in Europe, North America has recently seen the highest numbers of new members. Universities there are showing increased interest in discounts and a straightforward open access process for university libraries and their researchers.

Two topics have come up a lot this year in my conversations with OA Managers and Librarians; funding mandates and OA process.

Research funding that mandates open access publishing

An increasing number of funders are introducing mandatory OA publishing for any work they fund or providing strong signals that they will do so in the future.

We are discussing the implications of the move to mandated OA both with institutions and with country and regional consortiums. These organisations are keen to explore how we can support increasing numbers of open access papers that must align with particular funding requirements.

OA mandates are a challenge for researchers who haven’t considered OA before (though of course many have). From the perspective of OA Managers, it means there are more researchers publishing OA who need support and guidance.

This leads on to the need for a simple and effective OA process within institutions.

OA process

A common reason for organisations to join our membership programme is that they can see the advantage of giving their researchers a clear open access route that not only provides substantial discounts on article processing charges but also streamlines invoicing and provides detailed publishing records. Institutions need to closely monitor the research papers coming out of their organisation for formal impact measures and so they can promote the work.

Plan S

Many of our conversations are, of course, driven by Plan S. At the Royal Society we use a CC-BY licence and authors publishing in our hybrid journals are able to deposit their accepted manuscript version into an institutional repository with no embargo on access. Our approach has been cited as providing a model which will help other publishers to become Plan S ready. We also have a transparent pricing policy which prevents ‘double-dipping’ of subscriptions and article processing charges.

We are continually looking at exploring a range of membership models, including ‘read and publish’ in order to offer flexibility for different sizes and types of institution.

This year I’ve had some fascinating conversations with librarians in many different countries about the pace of change and way they are supporting their researchers, I look forward to reporting back on many more for OA week 2020!


To find out more about Open Access membership email Rebecca:


  • Rebecca Ashworth

    Rebecca Ashworth