Discussing our transformative deal with librarians, consortia, editors, authors and industry colleagues has been full of surprises.

A butterfly  in a cocoon

In this strangest of years we have continued to develop our journey to open access by launching Read & Publish for 2021. Next year researchers from over 50 institutions in 11 countries will be able to publish open access in Royal Society journals with costs completely covered by their library.

Discussing this transformative deal with librarians, consortia, editors, authors and industry colleagues has been full of surprises. Many more institutions than we expected are ready to make the move and support our open access goals. While we anticipated that UK and European institutions would be enthusiastic, our conversations in North America, South Africa, Israel, Australia and New Zealand showed us that the importance and value of open access has become widely understood and accepted across the world. Over the next few years we’re expecting a significant shift in practical support for open access publishing from institutions and publishers. 

The role of the higher education library varies from country to country and from institution to institution, even though the core mission remains the same and matches closely with our own as the UK’s national academy of science. We’ve seen a steady increase in understanding of open access and a commitment to it, but the ability to implement change is different for everyone. 

Read & Publish requires unique changes to library budgets and the combination of funds from other sources; changes which many institutions already have well in hand and towards which others are actively working. Many have told us they have the will to move to transformative models but simply need more time to establish processes as many of their Article Processing Charges are ‘in the wild’. 

But some organisations are more than ready, and our agreement with Max Planck Digital Library for a Publish and Read style arrangement shows that our plans for transformation have to be flexible to allow us to work positively with those who are moving fast, and those who have yet to begin.

Our subscriptions and Open Access Membership continue to be available to allow institutions to choose the right option for them, and we are her to help support those taking their first steps towards managing new business models.

Early in 2021 we expect to publish the first papers made fully open access through this new business model and we shall then be well on our way to establishing a long and fruitful collaboration with institutions around the globe to deliver an open future.

For more information on our Read & Publish agreements contact sales@royalsocietypublishing.org.


Image by Ian Lindsay from Pixabay


  • Stuart Taylor

    Stuart Taylor