The demand for open access from funders, institutions and researchers is increasing worldwide and a future in which research outputs are open by default now seems inevitable. Learned societies, as a key part of their mission, seek to promote their academic disciplines and the researchers and others they represent. As such they support the widest dissemination of research outputs in the interests of the growth, use and impact of knowledge.
Learned societies use their publishing surpluses to fund their mission-related activity and support their disciplines. It is therefore vitally important that they can navigate the transition to open access using business models which do not jeopardise their long term sustainability or that of their publications.
The members of the SocPC represent a diverse range of academic disciplines which face an equally diverse range of challenges in making this transition. Some of those challenges are shared by all, others are more specific to individual disciplinary areas. Some members have commercial publisher partners and others are self-publishing. Our author base is truly global and we share a belief that authors must be able to publish with us regardless of their funding status or ability to pay. We are all united by a common ambition to embrace open access in the interests of scholarship and we have come together in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration to explore the challenges and develop solutions.
We formed in 2018 and are looking to expand our membership to any like-minded society publisher who agrees with our mission statement. We are also keen to make connections with other groups who share our aims.
How is SocPC governed?
We have a Council of six who are elected by the membership to each represent their organisation. The Council must contain at least one Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) organisation and at least one Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) organisation. The same principle applies for self-published and commercially published organisations.
How are you different from other scholarly publishing groups?
You can be a member of SocPC and other groups. However, our members must be non-profit, membership organisations with their own publishing program (books or journals) who use any surpluses from publishing to support their scholarly communities. This allows us to have very different conversations than we could if there were larger corporate publishers involved. We are not a trade association.
Is it OK that we publish with corporate publishing partners rather than self-publish?
Yes. Absolutely! Most of our members are not self-publishing. Societies publishing with corporate partners often have unique issues to discuss, but there are plenty of challenges and concerns that we all share.
Do you have any geographical restriction on membership?
No. Although most of us are based in Europe at the present time (which makes regular telephone and face to face meetings easier), we welcome members from anywhere in the world. We are also keen to work with similar groups in other regions.
Why are corporate publishers not included?
Our aims and priorities are different from corporate organisations. Knowledge sharing is a primary mission objective of societies in its own right and any surplus we make is reinvested back into our scholarly communities. Many societies depend on this income to survive. There are several trade associations open to corporate publishers, so we have chosen to have a more specific membership to allow us to discuss those issues and challenges of most relevance to society publishers.
What commitment is needed?
The Council meets monthly and the full membership meets bimonthly, with working groups meeting outside of this. Attending and contributing to those activities is optional, but you do need to sign up to our mission statement.
What is the cost of membership?
There are currently no plans to introduce a membership charge.