Company of Biologists adopts transformative approach

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The Company of Biologists has become the first not-for-profit publisher to commit to the transformative journal approach, with its three hybrid journals – Development, Journal of Cell Science and Journal of Experimental Biology – choosing the ‘transformative’ route towards open access.

The Company of Biologists has offered open access publishing options since 2004 and two of its five journals are already fully open access. The transformative journal strategy signals more clearly the journals’ commitment to move towards full open access, while a transition period allows the company to provide publishing options that support all authors through this change in the publishing landscape.

Transformative journals proactively champion open access publishing and have open access growth targets. Over the 2021 to 2024 transition period, the three journals aim to grow the proportion of open access research content by five per cent year-on-year. When open access research content reaches 75 per cent, the journals will flip to full open access. 

'We believe open access is the direction of travel and we are excited about this next step on our open access journey. This is about more than just becoming Plan S-compliant,’ said Claire Moulton, publisher at The Company of Biologists. ‘The transformative journal approach helps us balance two key priorities – making research accessible to everyone and our support of the whole author community. Our open access growth targets will be challenging. We plan to be transparent about our progress so there are no big surprises along the way.’

Open access growth will require real changes in the marketplace, such as funder mandates (including financial support for gold open access) and more libraries/consortia taking up read and publish agreements to enable authors to publish free open access articles in the journals. These changes may be even more challenging given the financial difficulties expected in the university sector after Covid-19. To maximise the chances of success, The Company of Biologists says it will be working closely with its stakeholders.

Robert Kiley, head of open research at Wellcome, commented: ‘I am delighted that The Company of Biologists is fully committed to transitioning its journals to full open access – as evidenced by the read and publish arrangements developed last year and the announcement today that their three subscription journals will become transformative journals, from January 2021. We welcome the commitment to transition to full open access, to offset subscription income from payments for publishing services and to work to increase the share of OA content, year-on-year. I hope other journals follow the lead set by The Company of Biologists.’

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