A hybrid open-access journal is a subscription journal in which some of the articles are open access. This status typically requires the payment of a publication fee (also called an article processing charge or APC) to the publisher in order to publish an article open access, in addition to the continued payment of subscriptions to access all other content.
The concept was first proposed in 1998 when Thomas Walker suggested that authors could purchase extra visibility at a price. The first journal recognized as using this model was Walker's own Florida Entomologist; it was later extended to the other publications of the Entomological Society of America. The idea was later refined by David Prosser in 2003 in the journal Learned Publishing.
Hybrid journals are low risk for publishers to set up, because they still receive subscription income, but the high price of hybrid APCs has led to low uptake of the hybrid open access option.
Some universities, research centers, foundations, and government agencies have funds designed to pay publication fees (APCs) of fee-based open access journals. Of these, some will pay publication fees of hybrid open access journals. However, policies about such payments differ. The Open Access Directory provides a list of funds that support open access journals, and provides information about which funds will pay fees of hybrid open access journals. A substantial number of funds (40%) will not reimburse APCs in hybrid journals, including Harvard University, CERN, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Columbia University and the Norwegian Research Council. The European Commission has also announced that the ninth framework program (Horizon Europe) will not cover the cost of APCs in hybrid journals. Science Europe has set up a coalition of European research funders (cOAlition S) who have explicitly ruled out reimbursing APCs in hybrid journals from 2020 with the express aim of driving a more rapid transition towards full open access.
Since one source of funds to pay for open access articles is the library subscription budget, it has been proposed that there needs to be a decrease in the subscription cost to the library in order to avoid 'double dipping' where an article is paid for twice – once through subscription fees, and again through an APC. For example, the Open Access Authors Fund of the University of Calgary Library (2009/09) requires that: "To be eligible for funding in this [hybrid open access] category, the publisher must plan to make (in the next subscription year) reductions to the institutional subscription prices based on the number of open-access articles in those journals." On 12 November 2009, Nature Publishing Group issued a news release on how open access affected its subscription prices.
A report on work carried out by the University of Nottingham since 2006 to introduce and manage an institutional open access fund has been published by Stephen Pinfield in Learned Publishing. In this article, the author comments that: "As publishers' income has increased from OA [open-access] fees in the hybrid model, there has been little or no let-up in journal subscription inflation, and only a small minority of publishers have yet committed to adjusting their subscription prices as they receive increasing levels of income from OA options."
An author who wants to publish in an open-access format is not limited to the relatively small number of "full" open-access journals, but can also choose from the available hybrid open-access journals, which includes journals published by many of the largest academic publishers.
However, the author must still find the money. Many funding agencies are ready to let authors use grant funds, or apply for supplementary funds, to pay publication fees at open-access journals. (Only a minority of open-access journals charge such fees, but nearly all hybrid open access journals do so.) So far, the funding agencies that are willing to pay these fees do not distinguish between full and hybrid open-access journals. On 19 October 2009, one such funding agency, the Wellcome Trust, expressed concerns about hybrid open-access fees being paid twice, through subscriptions and through publication fees.
If an author is unable to pay the fees or chooses not to do so, they often retain the right to share their work online by self-archiving in an open access repository.
The American Society of Plant Biologists has adopted a policy that articles contributed by society members to its journal, Plant Physiology, will be made open access immediately on publication at no additional charge. Non-member authors can receive OA through payment of $1,000, but since membership is only $115/year, it is expected this initiative will boost membership.
Partial open access exists when only research articles are open (as in BMJ), while articles in other categories are paywalled.
- Walker, Thomas (1998). "Free Internet Access to Traditional Journals". American Scientist. 86 (5): 463. Bibcode:1998AmSci..86..463W. doi:10.1511/1998.5.463.
- David Prosser (2003). "From here to there: a proposed mechanism for transforming journals from closed to open access". Learned Publishing. 16 (3): 163–166. doi:10.1087/095315103322110923.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Björk, Bo-Christer; Solomon, David (2014). "How research funders can finance APCs in full OA and hybrid journals". Learned Publishing. 27 (2): 93–103. doi:10.1087/20140203. hdl:10138/157329.
- Robin Peek (ed.). "Open Access Directory". US: Simmons School of Library and Information Science. OCLC 757073363. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
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- "cOAlition S - Making open access a reality by 2020". Science Europe. Archived from the original on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
- Open Access Authors Fund[permanent dead link]
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- http://ukpmc.blogspot.com/2009/10/wellcome-trust-calls-for-greater.html Archived 22 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine Wellcome Trust calls for greater transparency from journals on open-access publishing costs
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- Nine questions for hybrid journal programs by Peter Suber, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue No. 101, 2 September 2006.
- More on society publishers with OA journals by Peter Suber, Open Access News, 3 November 2007.
- When Is Open Access Not Open Access? by Catriona J. MacCallum, PLoS Biology, 2007; 5(10): e285.