Open and Shut?: The OA interviews: Arianna Becerril-García, Chair of AmeliCA

“A professor in the School of Political and Social Sciences at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM), Arianna Becerril-García is also the Executive Director of Redalyc, the Network of Scientific Journals from Latin America and the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. Redalyc is a regional open access portal for the social sciences and humanities that indexes 1,305 local journals and hosts the full texts of more than 650,000 articles. …

In addition, Becerril-García is the Chair of a new project called AmeliCA (Open Knowledge for Latin America and the Global South). AmeliCA’s goal is to propagate the Redalyc model to the more than 15,000 journals in the region and elsewhere in the Global South.

As Chair of AmeliCA, Becerril-García has become a vocal critic of Plan S – the European OA initiative announced last year by a group of funders that call themselves cOAlition S. While AmeliCA shares cOAlition S’s goal of achieving universal open access, says Becerril-García, it fears that, as currently conceived, Plan S would disenfranchise researchers in the Global South and exclude them further from the international scholarly publishing system….”

Open access book publishing should be community-focused and aim to let diversity thrive, not be driven by a free market paradigm | Impact of Social Sciences

“The whole reasoning around open access for books is now aligned to a commercial agenda, where authors invest in openness with the prospect of greater downloads, citations, and impact in return. Marcel Knöchelmann argues that the free market paradigm is particularly ill-suited to humanities and social sciences book publishing and its many diverse scholarly communities. Equitable foundations for open scholarship should mean having shared infrastructures that support openness, without openness being for sale. We need to radically rethink collaborative efforts to preserve diversity and refocus the intentions of openness on scholarship – requiring a new, community-focused approach….”

Knowledge Unlatched, failed transparency, and the commercialisation of open access book publishing | Impact of Social Sciences

“Over recent years, Knowledge Unlatched has harnessed the effectiveness of its consortial funding model to become the largest gatekeeper to open access for scholarly books. But as Marcel Knöchelmann describes, the changing of its status from that of a community interest company to a German GmbH or public limited company, and that it is now fully owned by the consultancy fullstopp, has gone largely uncommunicated. This information has assumed greater pertinence and urgency following the decision to appoint fullstopp to collect and analyse data that will be used to inform future policy decisions on open access. The researchers, publishers, and librarians inevitably impacted by the outcomes of this consultation should be afforded the transparency to know that the parent company of the commercial entity which stands to profit from a future of open access book publishing is advising on what the future of open access book publishing in the UK should be….”

The Forest of the SPARC Landscape

The recent “Landscape Analysis” from SPARC, released at the end of March, walks readers through a sober-sided evaluation of the market, with an emphasis on the major publishers — Elsevier, Wiley, and Springer Nature on the journals side, with Pearson and McGraw-Hill (and Cengage, now part of McGraw-Hill) on the education side.

There are some interesting analyses in the document, and some surprising figures to be sure (for example, Elsevier makes less money per article than either Springer Nature or Wiley). There are tables showing the asymmetry of usage (~5-7% of journals account for ~50% or more usage in multiple fields), but drawing what I consider to be unforgiving conclusion (I don’t agree that low usage equates to low value — a lot of good science and scholarship comes out of small disciplines, new ways of thinking, or emerging fields). The authors confirm in passing my finding that subscriptions only cost academic institutions 0.5% of their budgets. There are arguments about productivity gains, and some contradictory and incomplete data. But overall, the analysis seems solid at the detailed level, missing the mark only a few times here and there.

What’s truly interesting about the analysis is the forest it describes — the big picture it asserts — which is alive with customer knowledge and Big Data assumptions. The authors examine how Elsevier and other companies are now pivoting away from content and into the surveillance economy.

The implications of this are examined in the analysis through a narrow premise — that academic institutions can and should guide the data acquisition and analysis practices of private firms using information products as ways to ignite data exhaust they can use to sell information and projections about academic practices, research areas, and individuals back to institutions.

What the analysis describes is a fascinating — and totally expected — pivot, one we’ve seen developing for quite some time. The SPARC analysis puts a pin in it, and states it quite explicitly.

But exploring the forest is where the analysis falls down, failing multiple times to answer questions its own premise begs — for instance, it asserts data acquisition and analysis should be guided by academic culture, without testing whether there is actually something we can identify as “academic culture” against which proper data utilization practices can be judged….”

Is there a place for a Subscription Journal in an Open Access world?

“At the Annual Meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) in San Diego later this month [30 May, 2 p.m.] I will assert that yes, a subscription journal can continue its subscription business-model while effectively accelerating the transition of their discipline to Open Access—but only in the right circumstances, and only if a publisher adopts what I call “Maximum Dissemination” of the authors’ work, including elimination of its paywall….

Accepting an author’s final accepted manuscript (post peer-review) is the ideal point at which the publisher could take on the mantle of providing maximum dissemination of the author’s work.

Imagine at that point that a publisher informs the author as follows:

 

  • Congratulations. Your article “xxxxx” has now passed peer-review and has been accepted for publication in the Journal of yyy.
  • Part of our commitment to you is that we will seek maximum dissemination of your work, both the published version that we will now be preparing and your Author’s Accepted Manuscript (post peer-review) for those who do not yet subscribe to the Journal of yyy.
  • Upon publication of our published version we will archive your accepted manuscript in an Open Repository that meets all the requirements of sustainable accessibility. If you have a preference for which Open Repository, you’d like it submitted to, please check the appropriate box(s) below:
  • {The author’s home institution Institutional Repository}
  • {An Open Repository used by many in this particular discipline.}
  • {A National Repository used by scholars in the scholar’s home country.}
  • {etc.}…”

Open and closed – What do reverse flips tell us about the scholarly publishing landscape? | Impact of Social Sciences

“The progress of Open Access (OA) is often measured by the proportion of journals that have transitioned to OA publication models. However, a number of journals have made the opposite choice and moved from open to closed access models. In this post Lisa Matthias, Najko Jahn and Mikael Laakso report on findings from the first study of journals that have made this reverse flip and assess what this phenomenon says about the wider ecosystem of research communication….

One key issue here might be that OA journals that do not charge APCs, or have low APCs, are seen to be ‘low quality’, or even ‘predatory’, in comparison to the more prestigious (higher price) journals associated with larger publishers and societies. It is difficult to project an image of higher quality while giving away your services for free, especially within a culture that is addicted to journal brands and prestige. This factor might partially explain why at least 21 currently hybrid journals operated by a learned society flipped from an APC-free ‘diamond OA’ model to one leveraging APCs in excess of $1,500.

Although launching OA journals seems to be relatively easy, consistent and stable publication over several years is not, especially if financial support is lacking and the journal is largely dependent on the voluntary labor of scholars. Developing and strengthening support mechanisms for the sustainability and growth of existing scholar-led OA journals is essential in this regard.

Moreover, we also found that in some cases, research articles originally published as OA were put behind a paywall when the journal reverse-flipped. This was not the main focus of our study, but we do want to raise the issue of proper content licensing and emphasize its importance to increase the likelihood that materials remain in open circulation and decrease uncertainties regarding their reusability.

We suspect, the OA model is not the root cause of these problems, but rather other problematic aspects of the scholarly publishing system; for example, the prestige-driven evaluation system, and the increasing concentration of journals within a few large commercial entities. However, with initiatives such as Plan S, it is clear that for many scholarly publishers it will no longer be business as usual. As new stakeholder groups, including researchers, policymakers, NGOs, and academic and library consortia become increasingly engaged with scholarly communication, it remains critical that we have a sound, evidence-informed view of how the landscape is changing. Reverse-flip journals represent one small but critical part of this and we encourage others to pool their resources, efforts, and data to help to create a more holistic understanding of the global scholarly publishing ecosystem, and ultimately a more sustainable open scholarly infrastructure….”

Flaws in Academic Publishing Perpetuate a Form of Neo-Colonialism

Some publications charge up to $3,900 (Rs 2.7 lakh) as APCs, which leaves researchers from lower to middle-income countries such as India much poorer. And if academic publication is skewed in favour of high-income countries, science becomes skewed in favour of them.

Explaining real-world phenomena objectively has always been touted as the “white man’s burden” and has been the backbone of the colonising mission. Often only researchers and academics from certain privileged pockets have the resources to conduct and publish cutting-edge research. After all, they enjoy superior infrastructure and funding opportunities.

This disparity is exacerbated when they have sufficient resources to publish their work, often allowing knowledge to be created by only a certain kind of individual. Further, their blinkers and biases may continue to play a role in what they propose is a universal phenomenon – a form of neo-colonialism. Therefore, making science open access from both the production and the consumption perspectives is essential to make knowledge more democratic….”

Applying the Logic of Intellectual Property Incentives Outside the Law – Slaw

“That was then, and this is now. And for now, what encourages learning and promotes science’s progress amounts to a legal work-around that largely circumvents the law. For example, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Open Access Policy (following the example of NIH in the US) insists that the Canadian research it sponsors be made publicly available one year after publication, rather than 50 years after the author’s death prescribed by law as a necessary incentive to stimulate science. Or consider the widespread use of Creative Commons licensing that similarly works around the automatic application of lifetime-plus restrictions to encourage the ready and free use of the content. when it comes to promoting the benefits of research and scholarship, funding agencies and universities find little incentive in the law.

In earlier blog posts, I have suggested that this is reason enough to revisit the law, and my goal for the coming academic year is to begin in earnest just such a Sisyphean uphill push for legal reform….”

Open Access dystopia arrives at Karolinska – For Better Science

“I know of a case where an unemployed researcher saw his postdoctoral research paper blocked in limbo by Taylor & Francis after acceptance, with the demand that the author either pays the hefty APC of $2500 or formally withdraws the manuscript. All he was offered was a minor discount. Eventually, that ex-postdoc’s former employer conceded to his pleas and agreed to pay the APC. Only that it hasn’t happened yet and the accepted proofread paper is stuck for already over half a year in the Taylor & Francis black box, unpaid and unpublished. You can call it blackmail if you like. [this story has been corrected, I initially wrote the author was in luck and the university did pay.] …”