The Cambridge University Press has launched the Cambridge Open Equity Initiative, a pilot project that aims to provide free access to publishing for academics in 5,000 institutions across 107 low- and medium-income countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and South America, and Europe. Through this initiative, researchers will be able to publish their work in about 400 open-access journals owned by the Cambridge University Press (CUP) without incurring any cost.
The main objective of the Cambridge Open Equity Initiative is to eliminate financial barriers that hinder researchers in countries with limited research funding from accessing open access publishing. Typically, authors in high-income countries do not pay open access fees themselves as their institutions usually cover the costs. In contrast, researchers in low- and medium-income countries often lack the funds to pay the article processing charges, which can be as high as £2,000 or $3,000.
According to Mandy Hill, the managing director of academic publishing at CUP, the initiative will operate from 1 July 2023 to the end of 2024 with the aim of eradicating barriers that affect academic authors in developing countries who want their research to be visible globally.
A total of 47 African countries will benefit from the proposed initiative, while Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Namibia, South Africa and Uganda, which are not included, will continue to enjoy transformative agreements, or contracts, facilities that provide researchers in those countries waivers and other financial discounts when they publish their research in open-access journals of the CUP.
To ensure the sustainability of the initiative, Cambridge University Press is calling on institutional partners, such as major university libraries, to make voluntary financial contributions.
The funds raised will be a publisher-library collaboration, recognizing the role multiple stakeholders will be playing in the open-access transformation. “We have chosen to take this collaborative approach to create the fund, as we believe it gives greatest transparency,” said Hill.
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Article by Jed Mwangi