Toward Sustainable Publishing

The scholarly communications landscape in Canada and worldwide is currently under technological and economic pressures that will inevitably lead to new models and approaches. Many factors are converging: the continuing impact of digital technology on teaching and research, the growing expertise of academic libraries in utilizing and supporting technology-based initiatives, the move towards policies of open access, the oligopoly of international academic publishers and the financial constraints of university budgets. The CARL position paper CUSP: Canadian Universities and Sustainable Publishing (2016), by Martha Whitehead and Brian Owen, explores these topics at length.

Through our committees and in collaboration with external organizations and stakeholders, CARL is exploring a variety of paths that could enable research results to be as widely distributed and accessible as possible, internationally, in high quality publishing venues at the lowest possible costs.

A key initiative towards this goal was the Canadian Scholarly Publishing Working Group, a multi-stakeholder group that engaged in discussions from July 2016 to June 2017.


Canadian research libraries, faced with the difficult task of managing dwindling or stagnant collections budget in a time of increases to journal prices and a struggling Canadian dollar, are looking for alternatives to overpriced subscription packages and individual journal subscriptions. At the same time, publishers are exploring new access models, and many are venturing into open access publishing while continuing with their established subscription journals.

In the last 25 years, open access has emerged and become an established model for the publication of journals. While subscriptions are still the dominant approach, the number of open access journals is steadily increasing. Nevertheless, sustainable funding models are still evolving and require ongoing inquiry in order to determine long-term viability.

CARL will continue to support our members and related organizations who are developing strategies to ensure a sustainable future for journal publishing.

Long-form Publishing

As with journal publishing, long-form publishing is seeing an evolution in both funding models and technology. Scholarly books are increasingly being released electronically, sometimes without a simultaneous print release. Some authors are negotiating with their publishers to have the electronic version of their books released in open access. Governmental and institutional support for open textbooks is swelling while ventures like Knowledge Unlatched are asking academic libraries to collectively leverage their acquisitions funds to allow books to be released in open access and benefit the greatest possible audience.

CARL will continue to review the ongoing research and work in this area, and to listen to our members who are developing institutional strategies in collaboration with scholarly and university presses.

Author Funds

A number of Canadian institutions have established funds to support individual researchers who are subject to article process charges (APCs) when publishing in open access journals. There are multiple perspectives on the viability of author funds and on article processing charges in general, especially considering the extreme budget pressures faced by academic libraries.

CARL will continue to enable discussions among our members and explore possible ways to evolve and improve the author funds model.

For a more extensive discussion of this topic, please read the following CARL report and documents:

Author Funds and other OA supports at CARL Institutions

Please see below for links to pages on CARL member libraries’ websites that offer details on institutional supports for open access, as well as information on author funds where applicable. Please consult the librarian responsible for scholarly communication at your institution for the most complete and up-to-date information.