Scaling up Publish and Read

Issue: SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

12 October 2021 article


Charting the progress of our journals as they transition to more Open Access (OA) has been fascinating,” says Gaynor Redvers-Mutton, who is leading the business model transformation underpinning the Society’s publishing programme from subscriptions to a Publish and Read model, “and the next three years will be key in determining whether the route we have adopted will fly globally, as it has done in the UK and Australia/New Zealand since first piloted in 2020.

The Society’s OA business model, created in collaboration with other membership organisations that formed Society Publishers’ Coalition, is a unique way for institutions to repurpose subscription spend. Offering researchers from a Publish and Read institution unlimited OA publishing and full access to all content on the platform, the model removes the administration involved in similar commercial models that operate paydown funds and article processing charge (APC) discounts.


Pilot years (2020–2021) enabled us to listen to customers, learn how to deliver Publish and Read and, crucially, gave us time to develop the model so that it could be extended beyond the early adopter institutions and consortium groups. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, for instance, offered this feedback: “All institutions should try using P&R deals as opposed to just read only deals if they can afford it. It increases the amount of research which isn’t closed off behind paywalls.” This new phase in Publish and Read addresses a key obstacle that many of our subscribers face in a budget climate impacted by the pandemic.

From 2022, Unlimited Publish and Read will be offered to a broader range of subscribing institutions with a tiered structure to help bridge the gap from current subscription spend to Publish and Read. Allowing for a period of adjustment to the new model, re-tiering according to article output will be introduced using a transparent formula designed to smooth out peaks and troughs in research output. By doing this, we hope to avoid any yo-yoing between tiers and provide greater budget predictability for our librarian customers.

Why are we doing it and why should you care?

As the subscription business model continues to crumble and the tidal wave of Open Science initiatives carries us along to a new future, the Society will prioritise the following areas:

  • Ensuring the quality and relevance of the research it publishes on behalf of its community.
  • Putting its full force and energy behind the most inclusive OA business model of all those that we’ve reviewed and analysed – one that removes the burden of publication costs from researchers.
  • Working proactively to make the new model a success through outreach to researchers.

The publishing programme has financially underwritten many great activities – events, grants, prizes and professional development resources – that the Society undertakes on behalf of microbiologists. A key objective in pursuing more OA is to maintain our muscle power to provide these resources: it’s a win-win for authors looking to make an impact with OA and support their community. Publishing in one of the Society journals will throw weight behind our OA transformation. This is how you can support us in this:

  • Take advantage of the benefits of Publish and Read if in participating institutions.
  • Ask your library to sign up if in non-participating institutions.
  • In either case, publish your research in Society journals and on the new open research platform.
  • Spread the word to colleagues.

Image: jakkaje808/iStock.