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Cambridge waives open-access fees for over 100 countries


Initiative aims to overcome financial barriers to open access in countries with little research funding

Cambridge University Press has announced it will waive open access fees for academics in 107 low- and middle-income countries.

As academia transitions to open access, some researchers have criticised the means of achieving freely available content, saying the gold open access model in particular, where article processing charges must be paid, is unequitable.

Critics say gold open access has shifted the responsibility of paying for publishing from the reader to the author, or their institution.

Authors in high-income countries do not tend to have to pay open-access fees themselves as their institution often picks up the bill. Researchers in countries with scarce research funding are often unable to pay article processing charges, which are typically around £2,000 or $3,000, according to Cambridge University Press.

But from 1 July, authors from 5,000 institutions in 107 countries will not need to apply for funding to publish in 400 Cambridge University Press journals, the publisher announced on 11 April.

Avoiding ‘unintended consequences’

“We want to publish the best research, wherever it comes from. As open access shifts costs from readers to authors, we should guard against unintended consequences—especially in an unequal global higher education system,” said Mandy Hill, managing director of academic at Cambridge University Press and Assessment.

The countries included in the fee waiving scheme, called the Cambridge Open Equity Initiative, include: Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jamaica, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.

Cambridge University Press is asking for institutional partners, such as major university libraries, to make voluntary financial contributions to the initiative.