Paywall Watch

“Paywall Watch is a website dedicated to monitoring and documenting notable problems at academic publishers.

TL;DR we are like Retraction Watch, but we focus on fraud and incompetent errors made by academic publishers. 

Unlike most multi-billion dollar industries there is virtually no regulation in the academic publishing market. Publishers can get away with seemingly anything. Poor service, poor ethics, and outrageous prices are a common feature of the market. We hope the aggregation of content on this website will empower funders, authors, readers, subscribers, research institutes and libraries to make better choices in future when it comes to entrusting scholarly research outputs with digital service providers….”

Paywall Watch

“Soon after Peter Murray-Rust had noted that Elsevier and RightsLink were selling permissions to re-use ‘open access’ content, he blogged about Springer and RightsLink doing the same thing too.

In August 2013, Peter wrote a blog post entitled Springer charge academics for using CC-NC ‘Open Access’ in lectures.

The price set by Springer and RightsLink to re-use 2 figures from a single ‘open access’ paper in classroom materials was an eye-watering $151.80.

The journal involved was Drugs in R&D. “

AAAS and Gates Foundation Partnership Announcement | Science | AAAS

“The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have formed a partnership to advance scientific communication and open access publishing. The partnership will also ensure open access to research funded by the Gates Foundation and published in the Science family of journals….As a result of this partnership, AAAS will allow authors funded by the Gates Foundation to publish their research under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) in Science, Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, Science Advances, Science Immunology or Science Robotics. This means that the final published version of any article from a Foundation-funded author submitted to one of the AAAS journals after January 1, 2017 will be immediately available to read, download and reuse….”

When is a Publisher not a Publisher? Cobbling Together the Pieces to Build a Workflow Business – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Ultimately, Elsevier’s user acquisition and monetization strategy here is as sophisticated as anything we have seen in scholarly publishing to date. Open access advocates might be concerned about some of these directions, but my sense is that many of these scientists and librarians remain largely focused on trying to compete with, or at least influence, scientific publishing. Building businesses that support, and potentially monetize, researcher workflow is a very different animal.”

Making a Few Elsevier Predictions – Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe

“At this point it is no secret that Elsevier intends to be and is becoming (or maybe already has become?) the leading provider of scholarly metrics and analytics.

Mendeley’s Stats is an impressive author service to track the performance of one’s own publications that rivals the tracking in Google Scholar with an attractive and intuitive user interface. The release of CiteScore in December competes directly with Clarivate Analytics’ Journal Impact Factor. Last week’s announcement of the unsurprising acquisition of Plum Analytics from EBSCO evidences the comment at the ALA Midwinter 2017 Hunter Forum by Lisa Colledge, Director of Research Metrics at Elsevier, that Elsevier will continue to invest in securing data sources that will allow Elsevier to develop more metrics.

These metrics activities are no doubt important inherently; however, at the encouragement of some colleagues, I’d like to look out a bit further in time and share a few thoughts about the implications I see. I’m going to do so using the provocative but risky format of making predictions. We can check back in a few years and see how I did!…

Flips Journals to Open: The pivot to metrics and analytics underscores that Elsevier is on a trajectory to convert its journal portfolio to being open and no longer behind a paywall. Elsevier is already a leading open access publisher and initiatives to deliver author manuscripts to institutional repositories, among other projects, indicate a shift to making publications more and more discoverable and accessible. Discovery and access generate data that are critical for developing useful metrics and analytics. I go back and forth on how many years before this conversion of everything to open reading (including backfiles) will become reality but I am confident that it will happen, especially after this Twitter exchange with William Gunn, Director of Scholarly Communications at Elsevier – (it is a long thread of conversation but this link goes to the most relevant point in the exchange). As a side benefit, fighting off piracy becomes far less and maybe even a non-issue. My current thought is the timeline is about six years….”

False claims of copyright and STM | Chris H.J. Hartgerink’s Notebook

“Recently, I have become interested in the issue of false claims of copyright (i.e., copyfraud) in publishing. I just wrote to the publisher’s association (STM) to ask them what their perspective is on copyfraud is and whether they condone such behavior by their member associations. Read my letter here. I will update this blog when I get a response….”

The Strategic Investments of Content Providers | Ithaka S+R

“From Elsevier and Springer to EBSCO and ProQuest, these publishers and content providers are reducing their reliance on their content businesses as engines of growth. While these businesses remain strong, they are pursuing one of two newer directions for greater growth….The “big deal” model of licensed content products has proved enormously profitable for the commercial scientific publishers and deeply problematic for academic libraries. The open access movement has sought to rebalance these dynamics, and political and organizational developments could yet unleash changes that would profoundly and negatively impact their business. Certainly, looking at other information businesses, such as journalism, there is reason for caution.  To date, however, if publishers have not actually co-opted open access they have certainly found ways to coexist with “gold” or hybrid models in conjunction with their licensed content products. Overall, the academic content product businesses have continued to thrive in recent years.

Nevertheless, in assessing the risks, major academic publishers and content platforms have recognized that their businesses are mature and have taken a number of steps to diversify…”

Research Practices and Tools: Germany vs Elsevier, and the race for legal open access

“The German consortium DEAL, however, did adopt a firm negotiating stance, and let subscriptions run out at the end of 2016, rather than accepting an unsatisfactory proposal by Elsevier. And DEAL’s Ralf Schimmer is not afraid to publicly mention Sci-Hub, and to advocate the collapse of the subscriptions system. As a result, many German researchers are now unable to legally access Elsevier journals, except through slow, unsystematic and/or inconvenient procedures. Academics who write in Elsevier journals should know that their German colleagues may find it difficult to read their work: this is one more reason not to write in Elsevier journals.

With a Finnish and a Taiwanese consortium in comparable situations, DEAL is not alone, but it is the largest and probably the boldest consortium to take on Elsevier. We may soon learn how long academics can survive without the subscriptions to which they are accustomed, and whether important concessions can now be extracted from publishers. DEAL has a sound strategy (including begin prepared for not reaching an agreement) and favourable environment (easy access to Sci-Hub): if it fails, nobody else is likely to succeed. If DEAL succeeds, it will find imitators, and the end of the subscriptions system could come as soon as the current subscription contracts expire. (These contracts are typically for five years.) Threatened with the demise of subscriptions, the publishing industry has two options:

  1. performing a revenue-neutral switch from subscriptions to gold open access,
  2. trying to block access to Sci-Hub.

Option #1 is not popular with big publishers, who have rather been trying to earn money from gold open access on top of subscriptions. After all, from their point of view, they should earn more for giving access to everyone, than for giving access to subscribers only. Hints that option #1 is still not pursued seriously include the rejection by Elsevier of DEAL’s demand that articles with German authors be made open access, and the recent launch by Springer Nature of five new subscription journals. So publishers are most likely pursuing option #2. Their efforts can hardly be limited to the rather ineffective lawsuit of Elsevier against Sci-Hub, and there may soon be further attempts to make Sci-Hub less accessible in countries where subscriptions matter, including especially Germany. The future of open access may be determined by whether publishers manage to have Sci-Hub effectively blocked, before subscriptions irreversibly collapse. At the moment, publishers seem to think that they can win this slow-moving race. But at least, thanks to the DEAL consortium, the race has begun.”

Streit um wissenschaftliche Publikationen – “Irgendwo muss Geld fließen – denn der Prozess kostet Geld”

From Google Translate: “Universities and scientific specialist publishers are arguing about access to scientific publications – the universities are becoming too expensive for their subscriptions. Hannfisch von Hindenburg from the publishing house Elsevier defended the money demands of the publishing houses in the DLF – but signaled willingness to talk to enable more open access.”