Inefficient publishing industry costs us billions. Unrealized opportunities cost us much more.

“Almost 20 years since Budapest Open Access Initiative, library consortia are finally leading the move with large scale journal cancellations. Editors can preserve and improve journal’s reputation and quality by changing to fairer and better services.

The new Plan S initiative by major national research funding agencies declares paywalled publishing venues unsuitable for their funded researchers. Still room is left for pay-to-publish barriers, where numerous problems have been documented.

Both initiatives still affect only tiny fractions of global academic publishing and we are currently very far from a large scale transition to cheaper more efficient models allowed by available technologies….”

Plan S coming soon (as of Sept 27, 2018)

“Regarding the ban on publishing OA in hybrid journals, last time we said we did not see the reason for it. A kind reader has pointed out that the Preamble actually addresses this issue. The reason is that using hybrids supports the subscription model. This makes it clear that Plan S is a full scale attack on the subscription model, which may make it a hard sell in the U.S., at least as long as the Republicans are in charge.

This leads us to the first big confusion. Some OA experts argue that subscription journal articles made immediately available via a repository comply with Plan S.  One Coalition leader seems to support this, saying the Plan S does not distinguish gold OA from Green.

On the other hand, allowing this sort of green compliance supports the subscription model. If hybrid OA articles are ruled out because they support the subscription model, then by that reasoning green OA ought to be ruled out as well. Statements from other leaders seem to support this view.

In addition, the conditions under which a repository deposit might comply may be of a sort that most subscription publishers do not allow. This adds a significant degree of complexity to the case. Since this issue of green OA compliance is now well known it should be interesting to see just how the coming Plan S Coalition rules handle it (if they do).

Also on the hybrid front, there is supposed to be what the Coalition is calling a “transition period,” wherein hybrid OA articles are allowed to comply with Plan S. One leader says this is period likely to be 3 or 4 years.

There is some hubris in calling this a transition period, because it assumes that the subscription model will largely disappear by the end of the term. Thus the transition intended is to the end of subscriptions, perhaps where all the subscription journals flip to gold OA, or something like that. As we have said before, the relatively small number of articles that flow from Coalition member funding makes this a questionable scenario….”

The Tangled Web of Scientific Publishing — The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

“How to vet submitted manuscripts, how to reform the inefficient and in many ways corrupt, journal system, how best to limit costs; all are tricky questions. I offer no simple answers, but here are some suggestions as starting points for debate:

  • Consider abolishing the standard paper-journal structure. (The system I describe below also allows for aggregators to arise, selecting papers based on quality or interest area as a substitute for area-specific journals.)
  • Suppose that all submissions, suitably tagged with interest-area labels by the author, were instead to be sent to a central SUBMISSIONS repository. (A pirate site containing “scraped” published papers, Sci-Hub, already exists and there are already open access repositories where anyone can park files.)
  • Suppose there were a second central repository for prospective reviewers of the papers submitted to the first repository. Anyone who is interested in reviewing manuscripts ? usually but not necessarily a working scientist—would be invited to submit his or her areas of interest and qualifications to this REVIEWER repository.
  • Reviewing would then consist of somehow matching up manuscripts with suitable reviewers. Exactly how this should be done needs to be debated; many details need to be worked out. How many reviewers? What areas? How much weight should be given to matching reviewers’ expertise, in general, and in relation to the manuscript to be reviewed? What about conflict of interest, etc.? But if rules could be agreed on, the process could probably be automated.
  • Reviewers would be asked to both comment on the submission and give it two scores: (a) validity—are the results true/replicable? (b) Importance—a more subjective judgment.
  • If a reviewer detects a remediable flaw, the manuscript author should have the opportunity to revise and resubmit and hope to get a higher score.
  • Manuscripts should always be publicly available unless withdrawn by the author. But after review, they will be tagged with the reviewers’ evaluation(s). No manuscript need be “rejected.”
  • Employers/reviewers looking at material to evaluate for promotion, salary review, etc. would then have to decide which category of reviewed manuscript to count as a “publication.” Some might see this as a problem—for employers if not for science. But publishing unreviewed material is well accepted in some areas of scholarship. The NBER, for example, has a section called “Working Papers” which “are circulated prior to publication for comment and discussion.”
  • Interested readers can search the database of manuscripts by publication date, reviewers’ scores, topics, etc. in a more flexible and unbiased way than current reliance on a handful of “gatekeeper” journals.

This is not a finished proposal. Each of these suggestions raises questions. But one thing is certain: the present system is slow, expensive, and inadequate. Science needs something better….”

The STM Report An overview of scientific and scholarly publishing: Fifth edition, October 2018

“Average publishing costs per article vary substantially depending on a range of factors including rejection rate (which drives peer review costs), range and type of content, levels of editorial services, and others. The average 2010 cost of publishing an article in a subscription-based journal with print and electronic editions was estimated by CEPA to be around £3095 (c. $4,000), excluding non-cash peer review costs. An updated analysis by CEPA in 2018 shows that, in almost all cases, intangible costs such as editorial activities are much higher than tangible ones, such as production, sales and distribution, and are key drivers in per article costs (page 73).

The potential for technology and open access to effect cost savings has been much discussed, with open access publishers such as Hindawi and PeerJ having claimed per article costs in the low hundreds of dollars. A recent rise in PLOS’s per article costs, to $1,500 (inferred from its financial statements), and costs of over £3,000 ($4,000) per article at the selective OA journal eLife call into question the scope for OA to deliver radical cost savings. Nevertheless, with article volumes rising at 4% per annum, and journal revenues at only 2%, further downward pressure on per article costs is inevitable (page 74)….

 Gold open access is sometimes taken as synonymous with the article publication charge (APC) business model, but strictly speaking simply refers to journals offering immediate open access on publication. A substantial fraction of the Gold OA articles indexed by Scopus, however, do not involve APCs but use other models (e.g. institutional support or sponsorship). The APC model itself has become more complicated, with variable APCs (e.g. based on length), discounts, prepayments and institutional membership schemes, offsetting and bundling arrangements for hybrid publications, read-and-publish deals, and so on (page 97)….

It is unclear where the market will set OA publication charges: they are currently lower than the historical average cost of article publication; and charges for full open access articles remain lower than hybrid, though the gap is closing. Calls to redirect subscription expenditures to open access have increased, but the more research-intensive universities and countries remain concerned about the net impact on their budgets (page 101; 139). …

Recent developments indicate a growing willingness on the part of funders and policymakers to intervene in the STM marketplace, whether by establishing their own publication platforms, strengthening OA mandates or acting to change the incentive structures that drive authors’ publication choices (page 113). …

Concerns over the impact of Green OA and the role of repositories have receded somewhat, though not disappeared. The lack of its own independent sustainable business model means Green OA depends on its not undermining that of (subscription) journals. The evidence remains mixed, with indications that Green OA can increase downloads and citations being balanced against evidence of the long usage half-life of journal articles and its substantial variation between fields. In practice, however, attention in many quarters has shifted to the potentially damaging impact of Social Collaboration Networks (SCNs) and pirate websites on subscriptions (pages 114; 174). …” 

Societies, Mission and Publishing: Why One Size Does Not Fit All – The Scholarly Kitchen

“I read with interest the recent Scholarly Kitchen Guest Post entitled “Why a Society Publisher is Moving Toward Read and Publish Models” by Emma Wilson of the Royal Society of Chemistry on their adoption of the Read and Publish model. The article was well written and cogent, but with one significant flaw – a fundamental dissonance between mission and publishing business sense that denudes the argument. You come away with a fatal sense that if the Read and Publish model succeeds, the ability of the Royal Society of Chemistry to raise enough operating income to fulfill its mission as a society falls away….”

UNIFI demands Open Access and gives its full support to FinELib’s negotiation goals

”We can make science more efficient by making research based knowledge available to everybody”

Universities Finland UNIFI considers it to be important that Open Access principles will be implemented quickly and therefore gives its full support to the FinELib consortium’s goals in the negotiations with international science publishers.

Academic-led OA Journal Publishing

“Scholars and academic institutions are committed to making research more affordable and accessible – they should be the ones controlling journals, not corporate publishers. Academic-led publishing is about learned societies, universities, and groups of scholars taking back control of research by using software and services to publish modern journals on their own….”

New Resource to Help Promote Academic-led Journal Publishing

“Have you heard the term “academic-led journal publishing” and are you wondering what it means? Or are you familiar with the growing movement of learned societies, libraries, and groups of scholars introducing alternatives to the corporate journal publishing model, and wondering how to get involved?

We’ve just launched a new public resource page titled “Welcome to the age of academic-led journal publishing“ to provide an overview of the academic-led publishing movement and resources for scholars and institutions looking to support or launch academic-led titles. The page overviews why academic-led publishing is the solution to lowering rising journal prices and how scholars and institutions are operating modern academic-led journals at a fraction of the cost of the traditional journal publishing model. The page is also full of links to resources you can use to operate or support academic-led journals….

Academic-led publishing is about learned societies, universities, and groups of scholars taking back control of research by using software and services to publish modern journals on their own. Academic-led journals like Glossa, which was launched by former editors of the Elsevier journal Lingua who decided to leave the corporate-run title due to rising access costs, are making waves in the journal publishing world. With affordable and easy-to-use technology the academic community is taking back the reins of research access….”

Movements and Models Supporting Open Access

“Open Access (OA) continues to gain momentum, present new opportunities, and is at the forefront of the open science movement. Although OA is only 30% of published research globally, it continues to shape the direction of how scholarly communications are evolving.

At the NFAIS 2018 Open Access conference, Movements and Models Supporting Open Access, all sectors of the industry will come together to explore the emerging trends and business models that drive OA forward—from funding to policies to best practices—as well as the role technology, funders, academia, and publishers play in support of OA.

You’ll learn about:

  • The growth of OA over the past several years, trends in article processing charges (APCs), and the market impact of hybrid journals.
  • The growing pressure for researchers to extend their reach beyond traditional academic peer audiences.
  • The “Read & Publish” and “Subscribe to Open” models, and how they meet the goals of academia, while remaining financially sustainable.
  • The use of Open Source technology for streamlining publisher workflows, and how publishers can sustainably adopt and support OA submissions.
  • The Government Purpose License, and how it is being used to provide public access to government-funded journal articles.
  • And much more!…”

Potential Impact of Plan S – Delta Think

“As we have discussed in our analysis of consortia cancellations, the early, concerted action of a few may not move the needle alone, but could be the beginning of a snowball effect. The question is whether the Plan S snowball will roll down the mountain, growing as it goes, or simply melt away.

The figures suggest that, even at its current levels of coverage, Plan S will take revenue out of the scholarly publishing market, and so reduce its growth. Although the effects may seem small, annual market growth is a modest 2% per year. The 0.1% reduction in market value by 2022 suggested by our models is equivalent to a 5% change from underlying growth rates.

Given Plan S principles are consistent with those of some currently non-participating organizations, others are likely to join, as we discuss above. Widespread uptake across the EU (or funders adopting similar principles in other regions) could see annual market growth reduce by a quarter to a long-term 1.5% annual figure.

An amplification effect appears to be driving the dynamics. Plan S funders attach their conditions to part-funded papers, so multi-author or joint-funded papers enable them to affect research beyond their immediate sphere of influence. Being at the vanguard of OA, the participating funders are more likely to give rise to OA publications and so pay above average in publication costs….

Whatever your position, the use of hybrid journals as a temporary stepping stone to a fully OA world is hardly news. Plan S is clearly aimed at accelerating change in this direction, and our data suggest that its small core of funders can have a significant effect….”