CCC Puts OA Workflow Tools Front and Center
by Corilee Christou
There is no question that OA publishing is growing. Supporters, including universities, asso ciations, and governments, strongly advocate that research funded by the public should also be free for the public to use. Elsevier recently announced an agreement with the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and the Dutch Consortium of University Libraries and Royal Library (UKB) “to help Dutch authors publishing in Elsevier journals make their research open access. The agreement enables Dutch universities to make 30% of their researchers’ publications gold open access by 2018.” Additionally, VSNU “and the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW) established an agreement with Springer which includes access to more than 2,000 of Springer’s subscription journals as well as a commitment to rapidly moving toward open access publishing for all publicly financed research results from the Netherlands.” Also, Oxford University Press has agreed to a 100% OA deal with VSNU.
|Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) recognized early on that OA was growing, but if it was to succeed in the long term, the workflow among authors, institutions, funders, and publishers needed to evolve from one of manual transactions.
Needless to say, the number of OA journals is growing. According to Bo-Christer Bjork in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, “A  study has estimated that the number of OA journals increased by 500% and the number of articles by 900% during the decade 2000-2009. The difference between the two growth measures is explained by the fact that the average yearly number of articles published per OA journal rose from around 20 to 40 during the period. In 2009, there were around 4800 active OA journals, which published approximately 190,000 articles. An estimated 7.7% of all peer-reviewed articles were published in full OA journals.” As of April 16, 2018, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) referenced 11,193 journals—with 8,108 searchable at article level—from 125 countries, as well as 3,014,699 articles.
Introducing RightsLink Author
Publishers, universities and university libraries, authors, and institutions comprise a large part of Copyright Clearance Center’s (CCC) stakeholders and users. With its February 2018 release of the RightsLink Author platform (previously the RightsLink for Open Access platform, which launched in 2014), CCC has once again shown incredible insight into the hearts and minds of its customers and their workflow challenges by further leveraging the internet and its overall delivery capability. CCC says RightsLink Author is “a unique standards-based, end-to-end author transaction solution providing a best-in-class experience for authors throughout the article production process.”
According to Jennifer Goodrich, director of product management at CCC, RightsLink Author’s APC Manager module has been used to handle tens of thousands of article-processing charges (APC), with more than 70% of these transactions placed by the author directly. The remaining orders are checked out by administrators, research management offices, and support faculty. Currently, several dozen publishers use the platform.
The OA Agreement Manager
CCC recognized early on that OA was growing, but if it was to succeed in the long term, the workflow among authors, institutions, funders, and publishers needed to evolve from one of manual transactions. Goodrich explains how its new product, the OA Agreement Manager, developed:
Over the last few years, we’ve closely listened to the needs of current and prospective publisher partners, authors, funders, and institutions at industry events, CCC-sponsored roundtables, and in regular business conversations. CCC recognizes that for OA to be sustainable in the long-term, current methods used by many publishers, institutions, and funders to manage and track funded APCs must evolve. One-off invoices involve high-touch manual processes, while insufficient metadata leads to poor reporting and a lack of transparency. Even more importantly, reliance on author knowledge of policies, licensing, and payment requirements introduces errors and creates a highly frustrating user experience. The OA Agreement Manager is new as of the February release, and works in tandem with the RightsLink Author APC Manager to automate those APCs which are funded by a party other than the author. It’s a data-driven, cross-publisher solution that leverages business rules to streamline OA funding requests, thereby enabling publishers, institutions, and funders to easily coordinate a first-rate author-centric experience.
We received extensive feedback from all stakeholders regarding design and functionality throughout the development cycle. This solution was built with the intent to meet the most commonly voiced needs of the stakeholders. We also consider this first release to be a starting place, not an end point, with further enhancements planned for 2018 and 2019. Our first adopters will begin working with the new feature in the publisher sandbox over the next few weeks.
Several tools are included in the OA Agreement Manager, all of which contribute to the overall ease of use of the platform for publishers. They offer the following:
- Publishers can set up, manage, and track special billing arrangements with their partner funders or institutions.
- The support of many different types of offsetting arrangements makes it possible for publishers to honor these business rules without compromising the author’s user experience and minimizes the manual work required of all stakeholders.
- Using early notifications of accepted manuscripts combined with an online dashboard containing the information for prompt approval of funding requests, funders and institutions can now advise authors throughout the APC payment process.
- Authors benefit directly from an automated, rules-driven workflow that removes common obstacles related to licensing, billing, and tax requirements.
- Single-source, detailed reporting increases transparency for all participants.
RightLink Author also features Ringgold’s Identify Database, which determines unique identifiers and core metadata for institutions. In addition, users can select Creative Commons’ frequently used licenses for OA publications.
Goodrich describes planned features for the OA Agreement Manager, including “support [for] some of the emerging agreement types, including the ability to support free transactions and additional notifications to publishers and institutions related to meeting spending thresholds. In addition, we are working on tools that facilitate transactions that minimize direct author involvement for the deals or business arrangements between publishers and institutions which prefer or require minimal author involvement.” Future enhancements to RightsLink Author will include APC tokens and self-service tools in Release 16 and transactions without author involvement as well as enhanced notifications and reporting capabilities in Release 17/18.
CCC continues to excel in its ability to provide solutions to its customers for the challenges they face. Goodrich says, “CCC remains committed to delivering data- and rules-driven workflows that streamline open access transactions and that connect open access stakeholders as they navigate the challenges of supporting simultaneous business models—subscription-only, hybrid OA, and pure OA.”