News & Media

Independent society publishers and the path to open scholarship

News, May 30 2023

Moves to support open scholarship agendas continue apace as recent global events and changes to certain funder mandates trigger the acceleration of open access publishing models, among other initiatives to support more ‘open’ practices in support of the research sector.

As an independent society publisher navigating our own path to open scholarship, we’re pleased to outline our position and highlight the importance of society publishers to broader research endeavours.

The sharing of knowledge and expertise has always been central to the Biochemical Society and our publications are integral to the fulfilment of this objective. Publishing top-tier research and reviews across seven journals, we stand in distinction to larger commercial players in several ways, many of which can be characterised as the community-focused nature of our initiatives – we direct all our publishing surpluses back to the molecular bioscience community in support of those working across the sector.

Publishing represents a key cornerstone of our mission to advance bioscience-related disciplines and even more forms the primary facilitator of the work we do to meet the interconnected needs of bioscientists. Representing a symbiotic and mutually beneficial partnership, income generation from our publishing portfolio drives our programme of scientific meetings and training events, grants and awards, educational resources, policy work, public engagement, and many other charitable activities.

As we look towards new research agendas and sustainable pathways to open access, we’re choosing to stand behind an equitable and inclusive model to cover open access publishing costs, challenging the more commercial imperatives of larger publishers. Remaining in control of our own destiny and following self-determined priorities (as led by our governance structure of scientists who guide our decisions), we’re looking to establish as many routes as possible to achieve fee-free open access publishing options for all our authors. Making sure researchers have the chance to be published based solely on scientific merit has been at the heart of the Society’s publishing ethos and will continue in our open science future.

Scaling up our open scholarship ambitions over the next two years, we will be working with our communities to identify and deliver more publishing services, moving away from generating publishing income by licensing access to content. Authors benefit from their work being open access: it is easier for them to share the results of their work with colleagues and peers, and it is easier for us to market and promote, with notable citation advantages and increased usage proven across our portfolio.

We’re excited about the changes ahead and trust our key communities – researchers, librarians, and other stakeholders worldwide – align with these more open principles. By adapting and taking a forward-thinking approach to the mechanisms of sharing research and knowledge, we aim to hold fast to principles that remain as relevant today, in an open access world, as they did when the Society was first formed. The landscape ahead will undoubtedly bring many changes and we look forward to working alongside the varied cohorts within our community to support our mutual interests for the benefit of bioscientists and wider society.

Read more about our work in this area and stay tuned for further developments as we take steps towards more open scientific outputs.