A new Q&A in a series exploring the current state of Open Access has been published. This one is with Alexander Grossmann, who earlier this year  took up a post as Professor of Publishing Management at the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences. To do so Grossmann gave up a job as Vice President at the scholarly publisher De Gruyter, returning to research after ten years in the publishing industry. In that time he also served as Managing Director at Springer-Verlag GmbH in Vienna and as Director of physics publishing at Wiley.


Grossmann has also recently co-founded an OA venture called ScienceOpen.


*Some excerpts from the Q&A*:


“I have the impression that there is no publishing house which is either able or willing to consider the rigorous change in their business models which would be required to actively pursue an open access publishing concept. However, the publishers are certainly aware of the PR value of Open Access and many are taking steps in this direction by founding new gold Open Access journals, offering hybrid models or acquiring OA companies. All attractive trimmings as long as the profit margins from subscription-based journals are not threatened. Active lobbying against OA takes place in parallel to these cosmetic offerings.


“I have been involved in many internal meetings with publishers since the early 2000s in which copyright issues, embargo periods, or self-archiving were heavily discussed. The Science/ Technology/Medicine (STM) sector has always been particularly demanding, and even within a publishing house one always remains an advocate for one’s authors — physicists were early proponents of open access with the ArXiv preprint database for example. I always tried to sensitize my colleagues to these demands — only a fair and transparent handling of access issues would result in a positive and persistent settlement between authors and publishers.  But at complete variance to my earlier expectations, publishers continue to tighten their rules, for instance for self-archiving and embargoing. The yearly drop in subscription numbers has everyone on edge and the occasional experiments in Open Access are not designed to save the bottom line.”



“The introduction of ‘Green OA’ should be considered simply as the first response of the publishing industry to the new legal requirements or regulations introduced by funding agencies such as the National Institutions of Health (NIH) in the US. When it was first introduced I expected Green OA to be an intermediate concept to be replaced by a new business and publishing concept in general. At variance to this expectation, the concept has become established as something which shall exist forever. Certainly Green OA cannot be considered as meeting researchers’ demand for an easy way to immediately make their research freely available to everybody who is interested in accessing the results.”



“[I]t is not sufficient to continue to launch single new OA journals in individual scientific disciplines. Rather, both the visibility and acceptance of OA concepts among the scholarly community worldwide needs to be increased. The development of a platform concept similar to ScienceOpen for many scholarly disciplines may be one approach, and that is one of the reasons why I launched the project.”



“The OA movement should uniformly focus on supporting libraries to develop strategies to modify their budget policies. This should result in having more money available to be spent on OA at their institutions. At least it should be possible to reallocate a part of the present budget which is spent on big deals for subscription journals towards OA in order to meet the costs of Gold OA publications. As long as libraries are caught in the big deals and traditional subscription models, we all have less chance to move forward with OA. Although this task sounds of a technical nature, it seems to me to be the prerequisite to providing the necessary budget for more OA publishing today and in the future.”



“The present business models of subscription based publishing forces librarians to spend most of their budget or all of their budget on package deals with the major publishers. Just to illustrate the situation: For some libraries, in particular smaller libraries which cannot afford all the journals they need, publishers offer to take their whole budget to get access to the complete list of that publisher. As a result, no money is left to buy the publications of other publishing houses, or other content resources. However, those libraries accept that situation as the lesser evil.


“It is apparent that such a situation and such a business practice is totally unacceptable in terms of providing researchers and their institutions with the freedom and flexibility to access the information they need for their work, and to make the outcome of that research available for everybody worldwide working on the same problem. I am confident that it simply requires one or a few key scholarly institutions to make a significant change in how their libraries acquire and fund their research content.”


The Q&A with Alexander Grossmann can be read here:




Richard Poynder