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No-fee Open Access publishing trial period for MBLWHOI Library scientists through The Company of Biologists Read and Publish agreement

Author-researchers know about Open Access (OA) through having paid article processing charges (APCs) enabling the publication of their journal papers as free to read by anyone with or without a subscription. The system in which a researcher pays an article processing charge of a few thousand dollars (or more) to have their article published OA (and at the same time) their institution library is also payRead and Publish Open Access Agreementing annual subscription dollars to that same journal, is a situation which results in inefficient use of precious grant funding and institutional library paid subscription dollars. This type of publishing can discriminate against early career researchers with limited resources, poorly funded institutions and others without funding, as the open access publishing of a single article in some cases can cost over $10,000.

This inequity is one byproduct of yet to be fully fleshed out open access models which academic institutions and publishers globally are working to develop. The change towards more equitable publishing models has been led by large university consortiums and national library groups working with major publishers. For some smaller publishers such as The Company of Biologists (the nonprofit British scientist-run publishing house), an open access model which any library can become a part of is now offered. Over the last half year, the MBLWHOI Library license negotiation staff successfully negotiated a “Read and Publish Agreement” with The Company of Biologists, publisher of the journals Development, Journal of Cell Science, Journal of Experimental Biology, Disease Models & Mechanisms, and Biology Open.

Under this currently in effect Read and Publish agreement, articles authored by MBL, WHOI, SEA, WHRC, and USGS (Woods Hole Marine and Coastal Science Center) full-time in-residence researchers in which the corresponding author of an article meets this eligibility, the author will not be asked to pay any article processing charge, and the accepted article will be published OA. The MBLWHOI Library now pays an annual Read and Publish fee, which relates directly to the past annual subscription fee the Library has paid for decades. Not for profit publishers have been able to develop plans like this because they are able to cover their costs through subscription payments only.

This new open access initiative is a three-year experiment for the MBLWHOI Library, which will review the agreement in 2024 to determine its success. In other OA news, in 2023 the Microbiology Society will be converting its journal Microbiology to the “Read and Publish” model. We benefit from these efforts because these publishers have “scaled down” previous open access models which only benefited large institutions and consortia.

You can read here about the elements of The Company of Biologists read and publish agreement. Corresponding authors from MBL, WHOI, SEA, WCRC, and USGS (Woods Hole Center) who publish in The Company of Biologists journals will be informed of the workflow leading to publication through their contact with The Company of Biologists. If you have any questions about this agreement, please email  MBLWHOI librarian Matt Person at

article and graphic by  Matt Person