Open science round-up: March 2024

Welcome to the latest edition of our Open Science Round-up, curated by Moumita Koley. Join us as she brings you the key reads and news in the world of Open Science.

Open science round-up: March 2024

In this issue, we feature an editorial by Ashley Farly, Programme Officer of Knowledge and Research Services at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As the Foundation recently announced its new Open Access (OA) Policy, Ashley shares her insights on what the Foundation has learned on OA over the last decade.

  A Decade of Open Access Policy: Our Learnings

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will soon celebrate a decade of  Open Access Policy. In this policy space, it feels as though everything is constantly changing, yet simultaneously remains unchanged. I believe this is why it’s such an interesting focus area and I’m grateful to spend my career championing for change.

The Foundation recently announced their open access policy refresh set to take effect from 1 January 2025. In taking time to think through what an Open Access Policy refresh could look like, the Foundation reviewed internal data, learnings, and external research to inform our thinking.

Here are what I think are the most important takeaways:  

  • The academic publishing machine is slow to change – experimentation is difficult, yet the problems require urgent solutions.  

Due to the academic incentive system researchers are reluctant to participate in new or novel publishing models or platforms.  Similarly, due to legacy systems, such as indexing, it can be hard for publishing alternatives to take root and grow.  

  • Policy does drive the behavior change of researchers – less so for publishers.  

I think this is the way it should be, but we should be very careful in thinking that policy can change business models. What we pay for is what we value.   

  • Focusing solely on the journal version of record is impeding opportunities for a better model – it then becomes even more important to support multiple routes to achieving open access. For the career incentives to change emphasis on journal reputation measured in terms of journal impact factor has to be deprioritized. This is the only way to avoid paying steeply for journal brand or prestige. Otherwise, we are quickly solidifying a system where only the privileged will achieve open access at any and all costs. On the other hand, Preprints are journal-independent: for the author the research is evaluated on its own merits and for the reader the responsibility is on them to evaluate that research.  
  • Authors funded by grants aren’t always sensitive to prices, particularly when the grants do not put a cap on Article Processing Charges (APC), and more so because their careers depend on being published. They may also be unaware of the nuance and impacts of commercial versus not-for-profit publishing, thus inadvertently perpetuating an expensive and inequitable system. From a service standpoint, paying APCs on behalf of our authors from a central fund was helpful, but it also created an environment where authors do not have to consider the cost at all.

While discussing policy refresh, it is crucial to note that we don’t see this as the perfect Open Access Policy, but it marks a critical step towards unlocking future potential. We recognize that there is a cost to disseminating, marketing, and preserving knowledge in the journal format but these costs remain non-transparent, continually increasing, and tied too intrinsically to journal brand. It’s been hard for me to see what value and service we get when we pay an APC. With preprints, we are alleviated from the above issues and can begin to focus on what is most critical for advancing research.

 Together, we’ve ignited tangible change in scholarly publishing, but our journey towards equity in knowledge remains unfinished. As part of our mission to promote equity for all people around the world, we must work toward a more inclusive future in research dissemination. 

Ashley Farley, Programme Officer of Knowledge & Research Services – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In her capacity, as Programme Officer of Knowledge & Research Services, Ashley leads the foundation’s Open Access Policy’s implementation and associated initiatives. This includes leading the work of Gates Open Research, a transparent and revolutionary publishing platform. Other core activities involve supporting the strategic and operational aspects of the foundation’s library. This work has sparked a passion for open access, believing that freely accessible knowledge has the power to improve and save lives. 

Over the past decade Ashley has worked in both academic and public libraries, focusing on digital inclusion and facilitating access to scholarly content. She completed her Masters in Library and Information Sciences through the University of Washington’s Information School.

You might also be interested in

The Open Access rising tide: Gates Foundation ends support to Article Processing Charges

For Björn Brembs and Luke Drury, the recent announcement by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of their new Open Access Policy signals a growing consensus regarding the imperative to transform the scholarly publishing landscape.

Big stories in Open Science

American Physiological Society Adopts Subscribe to Open Model to Transition to Open Access 

Australia’s Push for Open Access via a Centralized Digital Library 

The Netherlands Launches Diamond Open Access Initiative for Sustainable Scholarly Publishing 

University of Zurich Withdraws from THE Rankings 

The BMJ Leads the Way in Research Transparency with Mandatory Data and Code Sharing 

MIT OpenCourseWare: Revolutionizing Global Education through Free Online Courses 

ERC Introduces New Application Process to Promote Inclusive Research Excellence 

OurResearch Receives $7.5M Grant to Build OpenAlex 

International Open Access Week 2024 Emphasizes Continued Conversation on ‘Community over Commercialization’ 

Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation Partners with OSF to Enhance Preprint Accessibility 

Open Science events and opportunities 

Job opportunities

Our top ten Open Science reads


The information, opinions and recommendations presented by our guests are those of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the values and beliefs of the International Science Council.

Image by Parsa on Unsplash


Skip to content