Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Open access subscription model initiatives across the world

Open access refers to any publication that is freely available to readers at no cost and has no or limited restrictions on reuse provided by the open license. Free, immediate online access to scholarly research results and the right to use and reuse those results are necessary for further research. The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge, which was published in October 2003, defines and gives a complete understanding of Open Access to knowledge. The research output of any country depends upon the availability of resources and reading materials for free or at a lower cost. Open access helps reach these goals. The Open Access (OA) movement is prominent today because of the high cost of accessing scientific papers. Normally, in the "subscription model" for accessing the research papers in a journal, we need to pay for the research behind the paywall. These paywall fees have increased over time. The higher cost of research papers does not allow users to access the papers because they are somehow not able to bear this cost. Substantial charges levied by journals on various subjects place researchers in a precarious situation. In this way, access to research results is limited to some users, which is not the optimal use of research going on in any country. Due to various underlying issues arising from the present situation with regards to scientific publishing and access to scientific literature, various models of Open Access have been adopted across the globe. This article explores different open-access subscription models being employed across countries around the world and the future goals of these models for making more and more content openly and freely available to everyone.

Different subscription models implemented across the world

Plan S       

Plan S is a set of principles that ensure open and immediate access to funded research publications. It was first launched by cOAlition S in 2018 and the guidelines were amended in 2019. All funders who join cOAlition S commit to aligning their OA policies with Plan S.

cOAlition S is an international consortium of national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC)who have agreed to implement the 10 principles of Plan S in a coordinated way. The main Principle of Plan S to which cOAlition S committed to implement the necessary measures is "With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo"
The three Open Access Publishing option compliant with cOAlition S

 For all three options the publication must be openly available immediately with a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) unless an exception to this license has been agreed by the funder. 

  1. Open access publishing venues: the publisher make immediately available the open access to the article.
  2. Subscription venues and repository: it is a self archiving where author makes its either the final published version of article or the Author’s Accepted Manuscript openly available in a repository.
  3. Subscription venues under transformative arrangements: authors publish Open Access in a subscription journal under a transformative arrangement. 


With the support of the Arcadia Fund and in close collaboration with the library community, Direct2Open (D2O) is developed in which collectively the member libraries of this model will get the benefit of open access. It is an open access initiative by the MIT Press and the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) to make the scholarly books open access upon publication. The Direct to Open publishing model launched in 2021 and produced more than 80 open access editions of their books in first year with the generous support from 265 libraries. D2O opens access to new MIT Press scholarly monographs and edited collections (~90 per year) and provides participating libraries with term access to back list/archives (~2,500 titles).

One Nation One Subscription (ONOS) 

The plan will make scholarly literature accessible for free to everyone in the country. In this proposal the government will negotiate with the world’s leading scientific publishers to set up a nationwide “One nation one subscription” journal-access plan to make the scholarly literature available to everyone for free which is currently limited to the scholars of individual institutions subscribing to it. The idea of plan emerged from the discussions about whether the country  should join a global open access initiative “Plan S”. 

Government Actions regarding ONOS: The ONOS is implemented for the government, government-funded academic and research and development institutions, research labs across the country. In the first phase of its implementation starting from April 1, 2023, Ministry of Education, Government of India has appointed a core committee to negotiate with 70 prominent STEM publishers and database producers of the world. The negotiation is for open access to their contents which are already being subscribed by various institutions of higher education and research organizations either directly or through Government-funded consortia”.

Subscribe to Open (S2O)       

Subscribe2Open (S2O) is a realistic model for converting subscription journals to open access, which provides research immediately and for free online without depending on article processing charges (APCs). S2O allows publishers to convert journals from subscriptions to OA, one year at a time. For the subscribers who participate in S2O offer, the publisher provides open access to the content covered by that year’s subscription. A subscription journal switches to open access under the Subscribe to Open (S2O) model when a predetermined number of subscribing institutions is reached. Once the threshold has been reached, the content is made freely available to everyone because the participating libraries have agreed to maintain their subscriptions. With this arrangement, institutions are encouraged to keep their memberships while gradually expanding material access.Every year, the offer is extended, with the opening of the content being conditioned on a sufficient level of participation. Around 20 publishers employing Subscribe-to-Open with total journal counts 167 in the year 2023. (S2O Table 2023 - Google Docs)S2O membership is open to everyone who has an interest in making scholarly communication freely available to all for public benefit. From all nations, librarians, scholarly publishers, funders, scholars, and other stakeholders are welcomed to participate in the model.

Project DEAL       

Project DEAL is a consortium of member in the Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany They have negotiated and signed a transformative  open access agreements the three largest commercial publishers of scholarly journls (Elsevier, Springer Nature, and Wiley). More than 500 scientific institutions including universities and research institutes in Germany  get the benefit of the agreement. The publish and read (PAR) cost model of Project DEAL aims to secure immediate open access publication of all new research articles by authors from German institutions, permanent full-text access to the publisher’s complete journal portfolio, and fair pricing for these services according to a simple cost model based on the number of articles published. The participating institutions are eligible  for access to the publishers' entire range of journals, regardless of their size and research profile. In addition DEAL has also negotiated the rights of use for the publishers' journal archives, so that past volumes can also be used permanently. The access rights are also permanently secured, and institutions are able to access the past collection for an unlimited period of time even after the contract has expired.

       The ONOS (One Nation, One Subscription) in India is in the implementation phase, and to watch for its success and impact, we have to wait for one or two years. Countries like Egypt have already negotiated such agreements internationally. The United States has updated its policies regarding open access. European Union countries are struggling between the gold and green routes of open access. Still, the Open access movement is growing. Project DEAL is being criticized for the fact that it puts smaller and emerging fully open access publishers at a competitive disadvantage and encourages authors to publish only with the publishers with which DEAL is in agreement. Many big publishers are also making their journals open access and contributing to the movement toward open access. According to viewership data, which is based on 2.8 million uses of the Unpaywall browser extension in July 2019 (The Future of OA: A large-scale analysis projecting Open Access publication and readership | bioRxiv), It was found that open access articles received more views than closed articles, especially the Green route articles, and that the proportion of Green, Gold, and Hybrid articles is growing most quickly. It is estimated that by 2025, 44% of all journal articles will be available as OA, and 70% of article views will be for OA articles. The Action Plan for Diamond Open Access is developed by Science Europe, cOAlition S, OPERAS, and the French National Research Agency to further develop and expand a sustainable, community-driven Diamond OA scholarly communication ecosystem in March 2022. Diamond Open Access refers to a scholarly publication model in which journals and platforms do not charge fees to either authors or readers. No doubt, the various subscription models are ways to provide unhindered access to scientific knowledge. Better access to resources would also increase researcher productivity and quality. 


  1. Berlin Declaration | Max Planck Open Access (mpg.de)
  2. 'Plan S' and 'cOAlition S' – Accelerating the transition to full and immediate Open Access to scientific publications (coalition-s.org)
  3. Direct to Open | Books Gateway | MIT Press
  4. OP-111_Final_13.09.2022.pdf (iicdelhi.in)
  5. One Nation, One Subscription journal-access plan of India - LibCognizance
  6. https://www.libcognizance.com/2022/06/all-about-open-access-to-scholarly.html
  7. About - Subscribe to Open (subscribetoopencommunity.org)
  8. "About DEAL – Projekt DEAL". www.projekt-deal.de. Retrieved July 17, 2023.
  9. Project DEAL - Wikipedia
  10. OSTP Issues Guidance to Make Federally Funded Research Freely Available Without Delay | OSTP | The White House
  11. Open access agreement for Egypt | Open research | Springer Nature
  12. Few countries ready to adopt gold standard open access to scientific journals | Science|Business (sciencebusiness.net)
  13. Piwowar, Heather, Priem, Jason and Orr, Richard (October 2019) The Future of OA: A large-scale analysis projecting Open Access publication and readership | bioRxiv. Retrieved on July 12, 2023
  14. Action Plan for Diamond Open Access - Science Europe

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