The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) is launching a new library subscription model for its peer-reviewed basic research journal—Molecular Biology of the Cell—making it one of the first research journals to experiment with Subscribe to Open (S2O). With S2O, all MBoC readers may have open access in 2021, while the author’s cost will remain low.
Here’s how S2O works: existing institutional subscribers will receive a 5% discount off of the regular subscription price if they agree to participate. If all existing subscribers agree to participate in S2O by early 2021, the journal’s content will become completely open access for that year. If the plan is successful for 2021, the offer will be repeated annually. S2O has been successfully implemented by other publications, but MBoC is the first research journal to experiment with the model.
“I’m very excited that ASCB has launched this bold strategy to open access to MBoC content,” said Matt Welch, Editor-in-Chief of MBoC. “I hope this innovative experiment will lead to a sustainable path to open access, benefitting MBoC authors, readers, and subscribers.”
The purpose of the plan is to make MBoC an open-access journal while preserving some of the subscription revenue ASCB now collects in order to keep author costs low. In effect, the discounted fee library subscribers pay will partially underwrite universal access. ASCB believes the discount on library subscribers will be a key motivator for participation, either conventionally or under S2O terms, since it will be the only way they can guarantee access to the journal’s comprehensive basic research in cell biology for their users.
“ASCB has a long history of innovation in publishing, and offering free access to MBoC has been one of the Society’s goals,” said ASCB President Eva Nogales. “At the same time, it’s very important that we maintain the revenue stream from library subscriptions because it allows the Society to fund important activities like public policy efforts and professional development programs.” MBoC content is already free to ASCB members and then later to all readers after a two-month embargo period. ASCB was the first publisher to allow the full content of its journal to be hosted on PubMed Central.
About the Author:
Mark Leader is ASCB's Director of Publications.