A member of the Birkbeck Centre for Technology and Publishing has published an evaluation of offsetting agreements for UK open access across Jisc Collections’ deals for the 2015 period.
Doctoral candidate Stuart Lawson, whose work on the economics of scholarly communications is well known, examined the five agreements that were in place throughout 2015: from Wiley, Taylor & Francis, SAGE, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of Chemistry. His work estimates that the total savings to the UK’s higher education sector from offset agreements was £2.5m in 2015. This report, the first of three annual evaluations, notes that:
The combined value of offset agreements to the higher education sector in 2015 has been estimated at £2.5m. Some agreements reduce the total cost of publication more than others, with the Wiley agreement providing the largest cash savings but the IOP and RSC agreements proportionally reducing the TCP [Total Cost of Publication] the most. Administration costs are harder to calculate but make up a small percentage of the TCP.
For the UK, the possibility of RCUK/UKRI discontinuing support for APC payments in the future is the biggest risk to progress on the transition to gold open access. In this scenario, offset agreements would be key to maintaining continuity and allowing authors to publish open access. The Springer agreement is an example of how this could work.