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Sage Subscribe to Open Pilot

Sage is launching a Subscribe to Open pilot in 2023 for two law journals – Medical Law International and Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights.

What is Subscribe to Open?

Subscribe to Open (S2O) is an approach to converting subscription journals to open access. It is an alternative subscription model which enables libraries to use their collections budgets to support open access publishing. Existing library customers are asked to continue to subscribe every year, and if all subscriptions are renewed, that year’s content is published open access. First introduced by Annual Reviews, S2O has been adopted by a growing number of publishers who have come together in the S2O Community of Practice.


Subscribe to Open Pilot Update 

We are pleased to announce we have met our 2023 renewal target to successfully proceed with our Subscribe to Open pilot. Commencing in April all articles published in Medical Law International and Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights will be published on a fully open access basis with no Article Process Charge (APC) to authors. Articles published between January and April 2023 will also be made open access. We would like to thank our subscribers for their support. Any subscribers without current access to the backfile archive to Volume 1, Number 1 will gain complimentary access, also commencing in April 2023.  


Why is Sage launching this pilot?

An early driver of open access, Sage was a founding member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), as well as one of two publishing partners in the European Commission-funded FP7 Framework project, the Study of Open Access Publishing. Additionally, in 2011 Sage launched SAGE Open, the first broad-spectrum open access journal aimed specifically at the social and behavioral sciences. We are keen to experiment with all open access models that provide sustainable paths to open access for all subject areas. We are particularly attracted to the inclusiveness of the S2O model whereby open access publishing is available to everyone and not dependent on direct research funding or affordability.


What are the benefits of the S2O model?

There are benefits for subscribers, authors and the wider community under the S2O model. Subscribers, by continuing to subscribe to the journals that their patrons value, serve to support the common good of open access for the wider academic community at no extra cost or administrative burden. All authors can publish open access, free of charge (no APCs) and have their work accessed without restriction and in full compliance with any known open access mandates. The whole community benefits from the advancement of open access scholarship.


Why have we chosen to pilot these two journals in the model?

We have chosen to pilot S2O in law because this is a subject area with established subscription journals and limited open access publishing. Through Sage’s open access agreements both titles have grown the proportion of open access content they are publishing but converting to Gold OA is not an option because there isn’t research funding to pay for APCs. To fully transition these titles to OA requires an alternative open access model like Subscribe to Open that will preserve current subscription funding.  


How will the Sage pilot work?

Sage will set an annual revenue target for each journal based on current subscription income and be expected to reach most of this target by the end of March in any one renewal year. If the renewal target is met, each journal will publish all newly-accepted content open access from April 1st. For articles published between January 1st and  March 31st we will retrospectively contact all authors to republish articles open access to ensure the whole of 2023 volume is published open access.

As an additional benefit of continued subscription support, Sage will additionally open the deep backfile archives to both journals back to Volume 1, Number 1 for any subscribers without current access to the complete archive.

Each year the same process repeats and, so long as Sage meets its annual revenue target through normal renewals, the journals will continue to publish on a Subscribe to Open (S2O) basis. If, in anyone year, however, we are not successful in reaching our renewal target (meaning that subscribers cancel their subscription in greater numbers than normal annual rates of attrition), the journal(s) will return to a paywalled publication basis. This will mean that open access publication is once again only available to those who can pay via the Sage Choice program or an Open Access agreement with Sage.


Who can I contact if I have questions about the Sage Subscribe to Open Pilot?

We would be very pleased to hear from you should you have any questions about Sage’s S2O pilot. Please contact