The Budapest Open Access Initiative is almost 20:

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) – the first international open access declaration – will celebrate its 20th anniversary on 14 February 2022. In preparation, the BOAI2020 steering committee is working on a new set of recommendations, based on BOAI principles, current circumstances, and input from colleagues in all academic fields and regions of the world. 

The new steering committee is soliciting comments by email.

Here’s the note that I sent along:

With apologies for not specifying a single question, or answering them all, I have a proposal for your new set of recommendations: That you take a strong stand against APCs and the read-and-publish deals that perpetuate them, on the grounds that barriers to readers should not be dropped only to raise them for authors.

The original BOAI included a fateful boolean:

“There are many alternative sources of funds for this purpose, including the foundations and governments that fund research, the universities and laboratories that employ researchers, endowments set up by discipline or institution, friends of the cause of open access, profits from the sale of add-ons to the basic texts, funds freed up by the demise or cancellation of journals charging traditional subscription or access fees, or even contributions from the researchers themselves.”

The clause—”or even contributions from researchers themselves”—may have emboldened the adoption of the APC. The first OA author charge, from BioMed Central, was announced just a month after the Budapest gathering. The high-profile nonprofit Public Library of Science (PLOS) embraced the APC model on its 2003 launch. What began, with BioMed, as a $500 charge, became with PLOS a $1500 fee, and then on (with Springer’s 2004 uptake) the $3,000 to $5,000 we know so well.

Outside the grant-funded natural sciences and scholars at handful of rich North American universities and European countries, the fees are utterly unaffordable. The creaky and patronizing waiver system covers a tiny fraction of this blocked-access population—the vast majority of the world’s scholars.

BOAI, in its 20th anniversary slate of recommendations, should endorse collective funding—direct support from funders to publishers—so that authors, and not just readers, are included in the promise of open access that Budapest announced to the world twenty years ago.