Taylor & Francis scraps extra charges after university protests

Taylor & Francis scraps extra charges after university protests

Taylor & Francis has backtracked over plans to charge extra for access to older research papers online, after more than 110 universities signed a letter of protest.

The latest renewal of UK universities’ deal with the publisher, which is yet to be signed, only covers papers published in the last 20 years, reported Times Higher Education. Research released before this would have to be bought in a separate package by university.

The 20-year span of papers included in the main deal would have moved forward in time with each year. This would mean the archive would increase and costs would escalate further as researchers attempted to access papers from 1997 onwards, described by academics as the beginning of the born digital record. 

In an open letter dated 13th February, head librarians from more than 110 UK and Irish institutions, as well as representatives from Research Libraries UK, the Society of College, National and University Libraries (Sconul), and the Irish Universities Association, urged Taylor & Francis to drop the extra charges.

“A “moving wall” approach for non-subscribed titles within the journal package will increase administration activities and costs substantially for libraries and for Taylor & Francis, impose direct additional licensing costs, and create confusion and annoyance for your customers and our reader communities,” the letter reads.

“In each previous licence agreement we have resourced 'big deal' access for the current year and for the period back to 1997, the beginning of the born digital record. Diminishing this coverage is opportunistic and potentially profiteering within a sector which is recognised to enjoy substantial profit margins at present as it greatly monetises the outputs and inputs of publicly-funded research.”

In a statement, Taylor & Francis communications manager Laura Montgomery acknowledged the “considerable feedback” on the new policy and pledged to “reinstate courtesy access back to 1997 and will not enact the rolling wall”.

Montgomery said: “We apologise for the concern that the new policy generated, this was resolutely not our intention. Taylor & Francis is committed to remaining a long-term partner not just to researchers and librarians, but to all those that participate in the scholarly process.”

Dr Parsons, director of the Library and Learning Centre at the University of Dundee, told the THE that library directors "will be generally very welcoming of this development".

Negotiations on Irish universities' next deal with Taylor & Francis are ongoing, according to the magazine.

Last month, it was revealed that the publisher’s parent company, Informa, is in talks to merge with UBM.