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Natasha White, Journal Portfolio, B2C and Society Partner Marketing at Wiley, tells us what Open Access Week means to her and why it's important for the scholarly communications industry

The theme this year is climate justice and sustainability - how does that tie in with your goals as an open-access scholarly publisher?

I was energised when I saw this year’s theme for Open Access Week. I am an advocate for making the world a more sustainable place to live and have adapted my own life to support this cause. In the last year especially, I’ve changed to driving an electric car and started questioning flying across the Atlantic to the US for work meetings and conferences at every chance. I believe that we have to be responsible as individuals, and take action where we can for climate sustainability. I believe we must acknowledge that the impact of climate change is felt the greatest by those who are least able to influence it, so we are therefore responsible for the global community and to make choices for the good of the wider community.

We are taking action through our business practices to protect the environment, our global communities and our workplace. We believe that environmental responsibility and business objectives are fundamentally connected and essential to our operations. For fiscal year 2022, we are a CarbonNeutral® certified company across our global operations, in accordance with the CarbonNeutral Protocol. Our locations use 100% renewable energy through green tariffs and energy attribute certificates (EACs). Most of our global office real estate is leased and, whenever possible, we work with property owners to optimise sustainability. We also work with publishing partners, where possible, to reduce print production and consumption, reduce excess inventory through print-on-demand and encourage digital consumption of our products. We updated our Paper Selection and Use Policy, which supports high environmental standards. In July 2021, we completed our inaugural Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Forests disclosure and plan to expand our disclosures in the coming years. In a programme entitled 'Go Green', we partnered with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every copy of a journal we actively stop printing, up to one million trees. To date, over 230,000 trees have been planted as a result. We are always seeking opportunities to improve environmental performance. We comply with environmental laws and regulations, thoughtfully investing resources toward managing environmental affairs and raising awareness of global environmental issues through education and research.

We are already seeing signs that our transformational agreements are enabling researchers from countries who typically don’t pay to access subscription content to access articles published through open-access agreements. This enables them to access top-quality research. This subsequently benefits their own research in addition to benefiting their societies as a whole. While we acknowledge the concerns about open access being more readily available to researchers from wealthy countries, I’m proud of the partnership we have with Research4Life, and the opportunities that we can offer to authors from low- and lower middle-income countries.

Why is open access important, and why does Open Access Week matter?

I have worked in open-access publishing for over two decades. I was 25 years old when I took a 'risky' move to leave the big brand of Nature Publishing Group to work at BioMed Central in 2001, when open-access publishing was just beginning. After six fast-paced years at BioMed Central, I moved to Wiley to help build up the open-access publishing options to what we have today. I believed back then, as strongly as I do today, that open access is the right model for publishing academic research. Researchers have to share their work immediately and freely to ensure a greater and faster chance of solving the world’s greatest challenges – including climate change.

How will you be marking this year’s Open Access Week?

The open research community offers the greatest opportunity to our academic and research colleagues to speed up the pace of discovery and bring about meaningful and positive developments for the whole of society. Since 2008, Open Access Week has enabled those of us that believe open-access publishing offers a sustainable and equitable route to the future of academic publishing, the chance to raise awareness with our colleagues and partners, and drive towards a fully open access future.

At Wiley, we use Open Access Week as an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come, and consider how we can support our researchers, authors and partners with their own open access journeys. This year’s theme of climate justice is a reminder that those of us who are in a position of privilege must act responsibly both as consumers and as decision-makers in a large organisation. We have created a selection of content aimed at supporting people’s understanding of open access, and created a collection of open access articles on the theme, which will highlight some of the extraordinary work being done by researchers across many related fields. We have some insightful interviews from journal editors, plus articles on how we are committed to a sustainable future, and how our transition to an open future is coming along.

What is the future of open-access publishing?

When looking to the future of open-access publishing, sustainability and targets often come into the conversation. I feel strongly about ensuring that open-access publishing is sustainable. In my mind, if you are going to do something important, you need to do it well and there is no point in setting something up to fail. Putting it simply, there are lots of costs to publishing and disseminating quality research, and those costs need to be covered. Some costs are more visible than others, but the main items are to ensure that research is robustly peer-reviewed, shared freely and is discoverable as easily and quickly as possible, to allow other researchers to use and build on that work. As someone who has lost a parent to an incurable disease, I don’t want other families to suffer the way mine has. Equally, as someone with two young children, I don’t want to leave them with a planet that is broken. It is integral that we act now to ensure that this is avoided. I believe that the power to make a difference sits with scientific and medical research. We all have our reasons to want science and medicine to move forward more quickly – the difference that I can make is to drive open-access publishing forward sustainably so it’s here in the future for the next generation to benefit from. 

With regard to targets, I can say Wiley expects imminently to reach 50% of the overall publication output as open access. In addition, 550 journals, representing approximately 28% of the Wiley and Hindawi portfolio, will be fully open access. ​With over 40 transformational agreements now in place, I hope those percentages will rapidly increase in the next few years. When will Wiley and other publishers be fully open access? This is the big question. Well, if I had a crystal ball, my job would be much easier!

 Natasha White, Journal Portfolio, B2C and Society Partner Marketing at Wiley