UKSG 2024: open access and the evolving scholarly landscape for libraries

The UKSG 47th Annual Conference and Exhibition just concluded, and one key theme dominated discussions: the ongoing transition to open access (OA) publishing. While the benefits of broader research dissemination are clear, librarians are grappling with complex challenges – tight budgets, the slow pace of change, and economic sustainability concerns. 

This year, Frontiers took the opportunity to demonstrate how our innovative open access solutions address those very challenges. Our exhibition booth buzzed with conversations about how libraries can leverage the Frontiers platform to support their open access goals.  

Bridging the gap between the big picture and institutional practice 

Discussions ranged from the JISC Transformative Agreements (TA) review to institution-specific OA initiatives, reflecting the need for a multi-layered approach where national frameworks support local efforts. Librarians are eager for solutions that champion open access while ensuring financial viability. Frontiers addressed the nature of its most recent partnerships with Bibsam, ZB MED, the University of California Libraries, and the University of Kansas, emphasizing the critical importance of fair, sustainable, and transparent funding models. 

As Brian O’Connor, institutional partnerships global sales manager, mentioned, "The conversations at UKSG 2024 and comprehensive JISC TA report reaffirmed the critical need for change in shaping the open access landscape. The data is clear; a sustainable commitment to fully OA models is needed in scholarly publishing to drive positive change." 

There is also an increased interest in preprints, alongside post-publication data, instigated by the Gates Foundation revised policy that states grant recipients must share manuscripts as preprints. This allows for a more holistic view of research impact and facilitates early discovery.

Eva Guiducci, institutional partnerships customer experience manager, said: “Librarians at UKSG 2024 emphasized their need for a more comprehensive approach to open access. The strong interest in preprints and consortium-level data highlights their desire to support researchers effectively." 

The power of data for libraries in open access 

Analytics are crucial for libraries to justify budget allocations and track institutional performance.

Hubert Virtos, head of product at Frontiers, recognized: “The focus on data at UKSG 2024 was truly inspiring. Librarians' engagement with our platform demos, particularly around data capabilities, underscores the growing importance of data-driven insights. This empowers libraries to optimize their open access strategies and maximize the impact of their research.”

This data revealed valuable insights on publication trends, including the proportion of hybrid/gold open access vs. traditional publishing models and the number of articles funded by research bodies. Librarians' specific interests within the Frontiers platform varied depending on their roles, as some sought consortium-level views, while others were more concerned with individual researcher output.

"We were particularly pleased with the chance to demo our new platform that streamlines the open access partnership process for librarians and institutional decision-makers. The feedback confirmed a strong need for tools that empower them with contract management, budget optimization, and open access model assessment. This platform directly addresses those needs and will make open access publishing more accessible and institutional partnerships easier to establish", noted Hélder da Silva, lead product manager.  

The future of open access 

“UKSG is my favorite conference as it always has interesting sessions and discussions with attendees. This year didn’t disappoint, and I left with a lot of food for thought about the future of open access”, commented Helena Meskanen, institutional partnerships development team lead.

The discussions held at this year’s UKSG Annual Conference and Exhibition solidified a vital truth: libraries are not merely passengers on the open access train, but rather the engineers shaping its course. Their commitment to researcher success and a flourishing scholarly ecosystem is evident in their focus on three crucial areas.

Firstly, the quest for sustainable models shows a collective desire to move beyond financially restrictive publishing practices. Libraries actively seek solutions that champion open access while ensuring financial viability. This paves the way for a future where financial barriers don’t impede knowledge dissemination. 

Secondly, the rise of preprints signifies a shift towards a more open and collaborative research environment.  Libraries are embracing the value of preprints, recognizing them not only as a tool for early dissemination but also as valuable data points that can reveal research trends and gauge interest. 

Finally, data-driven decision-making is becoming increasingly important for libraries. By leveraging data analytics, they gain deeper insights into research performance and optimize their open access strategies. This data-driven approach allows libraries to maximize the impact of their investments, ensuring researchers receive the support they need to achieve their full potential. 

By prioritizing these key areas, libraries can help accelerate the transition to a truly open access future. This future promises wider research dissemination and a more collaborative and equitable research landscape, where knowledge is truly accessible to all. 

About Frontiers

Frontiers is the 3rd most-cited and 6th largest research publisher. We publish groundbreaking discoveries by the world’s top experts. Scientists empower society and our mission is to accelerate scientific discovery by making science open. We place the researcher at the center of everything we do and enable the research community to develop the solutions we need to live healthy lives on a healthy planet. Featuring custom-built technology, artificial intelligence, and rigorous quality standards, our research articles have been viewed more than 2.6 billion times, reflecting the power of research that is open for all. If you want to learn more about our institutional agreements, contact us at or visit our website