The University Libraries at Virginia Tech is now supporting two innovative open access efforts, Knowledge Unlatched and PeerJ. Knowledge Unlatched enables open access for books in the humanities and social sciences, while PeerJ is an open access journal in the life sciences.
Open access journals are hardly new, but PeerJ is pioneering a new pricing model that dispenses with article processing charges (APCs) in the thousands of dollars. Instead, it charges for lifetime memberships in three tiers. The University Libraries is now automatically covering these fees for Virginia Tech authors. The fees are slightly different since payment only occurs upon article acceptance, and there is a discount for purchasing memberships in bulk. Prices are radically lower than the APCs charged by other journals, and PeerJ has received positive reviews, especially for its fast peer review process. We hope our authors in the biological, medical, and health sciences will benefit from this arrangement.
The University Libraries is also a charter member of Knowledge Unlatched and provided support for its pilot collection of 28 open access monographs (at this writing 22 have been made available). PDFs of the books will be available (with no DRM) under a Creative Commons license. The project benefits all involved, and the Featured Authors section is particularly worth reading. Given the strain that scholarly monograph publishing has been under in recent years, Knowledge Unlatched and other open monograph initiatives have the potential to begin turning things around. While this support for KU does not provide direct aid to Virginia Tech authors, it does reduce the pressure on academic presses, and hopefully more books in the humanities and social sciences can be published.