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Taylor and Francis launches new open-access books scheme

Pledge to Open initiative, open to UK institutions, aims to make 70 books freely available

The academic publisher Taylor and Francis has launched a new pilot scheme giving UK institutions the chance to fund open access to books.

While open access to academic papers has gained ground in recent years, many academic books remain paywalled. Finding suitable funding models is one obstacle, with authors or their institutions often required to cover the costs. Calls to find such models have intensified ahead of a new policy for open access to books from the national funder UK Research and Innovation coming into force in January 2024.

On 19 July, Taylor and Francis—which is one of the so-called ‘big five’ companies responsible for a large share of academic publishing—launched an initiative called Pledge to Open. All UK universities can take part in the scheme as the publisher struck a deal with Jisc, the national higher education firm representing institutions in open-access agreements.

Under the scheme, academic institutions can pledge their support for a themed collection. If funding targets are met from the pledging, the collection will be published with open access. This is similar to the ‘subscribe to open’ model, whereby institutions subscribe to a collection that is made openly available when a funding target is met.

“Support for open-access books is growing and we hope Pledge to Open will enhance that by providing an equitable option that doesn’t rely on authors having access to funding to cover open-access publishing charges,” said Jeremy North, managing director of advanced learning at Taylor and Francis.

The pilot gives institutions the chance to pledge to seven themed collections on climate change, green renewable energy, pandemic, populism and extremism, race and racism, wellbeing and mental health, and women’s health and rights. Each collection has 10 books and Taylor and Francis hopes all 70 will be made open access.

The required pledge will vary by institution, according to their size as well as the number and subjects of the collections they want to support, Taylor and Francis said.

If the funding target is not met but over half is achieved in the year-long pledging period, the funder said a proportion of the titles will be made open access. Institutions that have pledged to the collection will have unlimited access to all the books in the collection, regardless of whether the funding target is met. 

Correction 24/7 – This article was amended to clarify that the books could be authored from anywhere in the world