The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Proposal to Create an Open Access Fund (Approved, April 18, 2014)

STATUS:  Approved, UMass Amherst Libraries, Senior Management Group, April 18, 2014


Open Access Fund



The University Libraries propose a funding pool to support open access publication by faculty, research staff, and graduate students.


In this past year alone, the Libraries have received, unsolicited, several requests for financial support for open access publishing, and additional inquiries about the possibility of establishing such a fund. It is clear that there is a need and desire on our campus to support such publishing efforts, especially for early-career academics who may not have their own independent funding. 

Peer institutions and numerous state universities have established open access funds to support research published in open access publications. These include the University of California, Santa Barbara, and several other UC campuses; Univ. of Colorado (Boulder); Univ. of Florida; Univ. of Michigan; Univ. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Univ. of Oregon; Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville; Univ. of Wisconsin; Johns Hopkins University; Harvard; MIT; Dartmouth; and four dozen other institutions.

This proposal is in support of the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (, which commits each university to "the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication charges for articles written by its faculty and published in fee-based open-access journals and for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds."  The aim is twofold: One, to support scholars and researchers as they attempt to publish in a transitioning scholarly communication environment; and two, to support the development of self-sustaining economic models in scholarly publishing.



The Libraries will commit seed funding of $25,000 for a fund, and welcome partners to raise the funding pool for FY 2014-15 to $50,000. 

The Libraries’ Scholarly Communication Department will administer the fund, and make awards on a first-come, first-serve basis. If necessary, the Department may conduct ad hoc reviews of applications. All works published with the support of the open access fund will be deposited in the UMA institutional repository, ScholarWorks (, and a list of recipients will be made publicly available on the library website. See Appendix A for the sample Fund description.

Funding criteria have been devised in keeping with, and based on models developed by, peer institutional signatories to the Coalition for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COAPE).  See Appendix B for further resources.

In particular, guidelines were drafted to support only fully open access journals operating in an ethical manner.  The proposal deliberately excludes commercial journals that offer “hybrid” or “delayed” open access models, since those journals are also supported by library subscriptions and database costs.  The proposal also deliberately excludes so-called “predatory publishers”, by requiring that publishers be members of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), or demonstrably adhere to its Code of Conduct.  See OASPA requires peer review and expert editorial boards, and prohibits certain business practices common to predatory publishers. 

Assessment: The Scholarly Communication Department will compile an annual report for library administration and the Senior Management Group, and for public access.  The report will include the use of funds, including recipients, types of works, and awards made.  The report will be available by April of each year, in order to allow recommitment of unused funds.


APPENDIX A : Draft Guidelines

University of Massachusetts Amherst “Supporting Open Access Research” (SOAR) Fund

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA) Supporting Open Access Research (SOAR) Fund underwrites reasonable article-processing fees for open access journals when funds are not otherwise available. The fund is supported by the University Libraries, which have contributed $25,000 for FY 2014-2015.

The goals of the UMA SOAR Fund are to:

  • build innovative models of scholarly publishing, in particular publications that are not supported by subscription revenue models or user-access fees;
  • increase access to research and scholarship from the UMA; and
  • support UMA faculty, students, and staff who choose to publish in open-access journals but lack other sources of funding for article processing fees.



Authors with a manuscript accepted (dates: current academic/fiscal year) for publication in an eligible journal or venue may apply for funds by submitting an application; documentation of the peer review and acceptance; and proof of payment of the article page charge.  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year until funds are fully expended.



Up to $3000 in UMA SOAR funding per applicant may be available annually on application from:

  • Any current UMA faculty member, post-doctoral researcher, staff member, or graduate student author
  • who has no other source of funding for open access publication charges,  for
  • publication charges for scholarly peer-reviewed articles, chapters, or published contributions, in
  • eligible publication venues.

UMA SOAR is a funding source of last resort, available only to authors for publications for which no other sources of funding are available.  Authors whose grants include funding for publication charges, or who have support from other venues, must apply those funds first.  

For example, the National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute all provide funding for open access publication.  Authors must apply to those sources of funding first.  Only if those funds are exhausted or not available for some other reason will UMA SOAR support be available. Authors must document their funding sources and efforts.

Eligible applications will support open access publication of completed manuscripts, reviewed and accepted for publication, but not yet published. This can include:

  • scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles;
  • chapters or contributions to peer-reviewed scholarly monographs (not textbooks); and
  • scholarly peer-reviewed monographs.

Eligible publications and publishing venues must be fully and immediately open access. Publications in “hybrid open-access” (which also charge subscription fees) or “delayed open-access” journals and monographs are not eligible. 

  • Journals must be fully and immediately open access, in their entirety.
  • Monographs must be fully and immediately open access, in their entirety.
  • Journals or monograph publishers must be members of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), , OR demonstrably adhere to the OASPA Code of Conduct (many of these journals are listed at the Directory of Open Access Journals, );
  • Journals or monograph publishers must have a standard article fee schedule, publicly accessible, and a policy to waive fees in cases of economic hardship or economic equity.

Additional Restrictions and Limitations

  • Funding is available annually for any one author up to $3000. 
    For example, a faculty member may apply for two separate awards of $1500 each for two publications, or one award totaling $3000.
  • Funding is available for any one paper up to a maximum of $3000. 
    For example, a paper with two UMA authors may be the subject of only one application for UMA SOAR support.  The funding may be counted against either author’s allocation, or both, as the authors choose.
  • Support for non-UMA collaboratively authored papers will be available on a prorated basis.
    For example, if a UMA author collaborates with a non-UMA author, the UMA author may submit an application for support for up to $1500 for a single publication. 
    Financial hardship on the part of non-UMA collaborators may be considered but will not in any case increase funding beyond the $3000 annual and per-article maximums. 
    For example, a UMA author collaborates with a non-UMA author from a developing nation, who has no access to funding sources.  The UMA author may apply for a waiver of the proration calculation on that article, citing financial hardship in support of a request to pay the entire fee.  Please note: Journals should have a policy to waive fees in case of financial hardship, and this should be the first approach.
  • All works will be deposited on UMA Amherst ScholarWorks.

NOTICE:  UMA SOAR will provide funds on a first-come, first-serve basis, apportioned equitably to those with eligible publications, until UMA SOAR funds are exhausted.  UMA SOAR cannot guarantee funding in advance, and authors should only consider themselves funded after their application is approved and they have received a notice of award.



The UMA SOAR is administered by the Scholarly Communication Department at the UMA Libraries.  Applications are reviewed by an ad hoc team of reviewers, including librarians and faculty not affiliated with the application.  Awards and lists of publications will be accumulated annually and posted at the University Library website.  Funding for future years will be dependent on number of applications, available funds, and evaluations of the program.  We encourage feedback about the program.  Please contact .


APPENDIX B : Additional Resources



Model funds and other resources:



Additional resources: