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Advancing the open access movement in Japan

Read and Publish (R&P) agreements have become an important mechanism for providing institutions with a simple, flexible, and inclusive way of managing access to subscription and hybrid journals, whilst supporting their faculty to publish with open access (OA) licenses. These agreements play an increasingly important role in OUP’s program for advancing high-quality open access publications and bring many benefits and opportunities for researchers. R&P agreements:

  • Ensure researchers without dedicated OA funding have the opportunity to publish their work under an OA license
  • Allow researchers to use more of their funding on their research, and less on publication charges
  • Simplify licensing for authors 
  • Streamline access and cost management for institutions.

Among our new agreements for 2023 is one with the Japan Alliance of University Library Consortia for E-Resources (JUSTICE). This is OUP’s first national agreement in Asia and our 30th worldwide. Researchers in Japan regularly choose OUP journals to share their research with the world; approximately 5% of all our journal articles are authored by Japanese researchers. Under this new agreement, more researchers will be able to benefit from open access publishing, increasing the visibility of their work, the number of citations they receive, and expanding the influence of their research on national and international government policies. 

Upon the commencement of our new agreement, we spoke with Mr Tomonari Kinto of University of Tokyo Library, the JUSTICE Secretariat, and Professor Wataru Sakamoto, Editor-in-Chief of Plant & Cell Physiology about the opportunities they’re excited for in our new partnership. 

Mr Tomonari Kinto, University of Tokyo Library

How is OA publishing being encouraged and implemented through R&P agreements at the University of Tokyo?

Upon entering our new agreement, we launched a website with details on the information on OA publication to support our faculty so they had all the information they needed to use the agreement. We also held a webinar for researchers. The university head librarian explained the significance of publishing OA articles and the objectives of R&P agreements. Library staff talked about the new process and workflow for publishing OA articles under the R&P agreements.

What do you consider the University of Tokyo’s challenges in publishing OA articles through R&P agreements?

The first challenge is to draw researchers’ attention to global trends and future developments in academic communication and to deepen their understanding on the significance and importance of OA. The second is informing the management of the University of Tokyo about the effectiveness of R&P agreements, such as growing the percentage of OA publishing, and securing stable funding to make R&P agreements sustainable.

JUSTICE Secretariat

What is the situation in Japan surrounding OA in general and R&P deals in particular?

In Japan, we expect that discussion of open access publishing and consideration of R&P agreements will be gaining further momentum at universities and other research institutions which publish many articles.  JUSTICE has been offered R&P agreements since 2020 and they got into full swing in 2022 with major publishers. For 2023, we reached seven opt-in R&P agreements, including the agreement with OUP. 

What possibilities will open up with your R&P agreement with OUP? And how do you think this will support the goals of JUSTICE?

Under the R&P deal proposed by OUP, members of the JUSTICE consortium can choose between the standard read only proposal and the R&P agreement. JUSTICE will continue to work to realize and enhance the OA publishing model based on our OA 2020 Roadmap.

In your view what changes will this agreement bring to the research and publishing trend of Japanese researchers in the future?

We hope that we will see an increase in researchers choosing to publish their work open access, which will help improve article visibility and make the research output of universities known more widely.

A growth in R&P agreements is anticipated over the next several years. How do you foresee the OA publishing landscape changing as a result?

We expect to see a rise in OA publishing generally. Aside from R&P agreements, there are also other means, such as S2O, Green OA, and Diamond OA. It is our hope that the publishing business continues to evolve to support fair OA publishing for all researchers.

Dr Wataru Sakamoto, Editor-in-Chief of Plant & Cell Physiology (PCP)

What is your view on researchers’ perceptions of open access in Japan?

In Japan’s plant science community, including the Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists (JSPP), OA is increasingly understood as a means of widely disseminating researcher findings. However, relatively high Article Processing Charges (APCs) from some journals seems to be a bottleneck for the transition to OA. Last year, about 16% of the articles published in PCP, a hybrid journal, were OA. As this figure indicates, OA publishing is increasing but still does not constitute the majority of publications. We predict that a system to subsidize OA publishing fees, like Read and Publish agreements, will be needed for the foreseeable future. Even JSPP, the society that publishes PCP, is considering subsidizing the publication fees paid by members to promote OA. Furthermore, institutions may need to actively take advantage of OA publishing support provided by research funding agencies.

While OA publishing shifts the financial burden on authors, they are sure to benefit significantly from the increased research impact and citations that OA provides. At PCP, we are discussing with OUP about transitioning to a fully OA model in the near future. However, with the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic making the number of future article submissions uncertain, the shift to fully OA will remain open for discussions.

How do you see this new R&P agreement supporting researchers in Japan and the community of Plant & Cell Physiology?

PCP is a plant science journal published by JSPP since 1959 and has been published online through a very good partnership with OUP since 2000. PCP is accessible online worldwide as part of OUP’s journal collection along with other influential plant science journals. We have high expectations that the R&P agreement will encourage authors to publish OA articles in addition to the subscription model. PCP has traditionally offered relatively low publication fees for authors. In contrast, OA publishing imposes a higher APC on authors. With the R&P agreement eliminating APC, we hope that OA publishing will increase going forward.

One concern PCP has is that, while the R&P agreement is reached between universities through JUSTICE, support for publishing articles in Japan may become inequitable between universities with and without such agreements.  

Learn more about OUP’s R&P agreements for authors and institutions →

Featured image by Studio Japan, credit: Bamboo forest in Japan, Studio Japan. 

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