Adapt and Advance

Opportunities to drive openness and equity in scholarly publishing

October 18, 2021

Nearly 400 participants, representing hundreds of institutions and consortia from around the world, came together for the 15th Berlin Open Access Conference (B15) to discuss the ongoing transition of the scholarly publishing system to open access.

Co-hosted by the University of California and the Max Planck Society's Open Access 2020 Initiative, the conference placed particular emphasis on negotiation processes with publishers. The conference took place from 28 September to 1 October 2021. To facilitate global participation in this online event, the B15 conference was offered two tracks, one targeted at audiences in North and South America, the second track was offered to participants from Africa, Asia and Europe.

In the two and a half years since the community came together at B14, negotiations of transformative agreements have advanced worldwide, demonstrating growing support for leveraging publisher agreements to accelerate the transition to open access.

President Martin Stratmann of the Max Planck Society welcomed the conference cohort by highlighting how, “in Europe, transformative agreements between national licensing consortia and publishers have proven to be sustainable methods to transition,” further declaring B15 an “opportunity to discuss the changing landscape and the challenges that remain,” and underscoring the “need to learn from each other to generate greater leverage from our alignment.”

University of California President Michael V. Drake, M.D., emphasized the importance of global partnership to reduce barriers to research access. “To ensure that critical research is made widely available around the world, we must work together,” Drake said. “That’s why I am heartened that delegates from six continents and nearly 50 countries gathered this week to discuss how we can advance science, and equity in science, collectively.”

Stakeholders and decision-makers in research and scholarly communication from 46 countries reflected on their progress in transforming the current subscription-based system of scholarly journal publishing to a system based on open dissemination of research results for the benefit of science and society.

Under the theme “Adapt and Advance”, B15 shed light on the ways negotiating teams around the world are adapting to the changing landscape of scholarly publishing, refining their principles and objectives, and setting new agreement benchmarks, while also acknowledging different local contexts and current financial realities, and the need for greater transparency and sustainability in these transitional frameworks. The many testimonies and lively discussions shared during the conference illustrated how the global community has now reached a new vantage point from which to better scope and grapple with these challenges, including global equity in scholarly publishing, the cost distribution of open access transformation, and transitioning high impact as well as society journals.

Transformative agreements remain a powerful tool in ensuring the open dissemination of research and scholarship, with equitable access to read and to publish for all, an aim whose importance has been clearly highlighted by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the need for rapid dissemination of science globally.

You can find a summary of key insights emerging from B15 and opportunities for action to advance transformative agreements that drive openness, sustainability and equity in scholarly publishing in the B15 Executive Summary.

Further details, recordings and reports of the 15th Berlin Open Access Conference are available on the OA2020 website

Go to Editor View