Is the SNSI the new PRISM?

“This past week, these public relations efforts were dialed up a notch or ten to a whole new level. At an SNSI webinar entitled „Cybersecurity Landscape – Protecting the Scholarly Infrastructure“, hosted by two Elsevier employees, one of the presenters suggested „develop or subsidize a low cost proxy or a plug-in to existing proxies“ in order to collect user data. That user data, it was explained, could be analyzed with an “Analysis Engine” to track biometric data (e.g., typing speed) or suspicious behavior (e.g., a pharmacology student being suspiciously interested in astrophysics). The angle towards Sci-Hub was confirmed by the next speaker, an Ex-FBI agent and security analyst.

Considering the track record of academic publishers, this reeks strongly of PR attempts to ‘soften the target’, i.e., to make installing publisher spyware on university servers sound less outrageous than it actually is. After the PRISM debacle, the publishers now seem to have learned from their PR mistakes. This time, there is no ‘pitbull’ around. This time, there is only a strange article in a major newspaper, a shady institute where it appears hard to find out who founded it, who is running it and who funds it.

SNSI is an apparent PR project aimed at compromising, not strengthening, network security at research institutions. However, unlike with PRISM, this time the PR effort may pay off.”

Are Publishers Learning from Their Mistakes? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“At the STM Association Annual Meeting in “virtual Frankfurt” last week, much of the focus was on how scholarly publishers are responding to the COVID crisis. Publishing executives reported how they have accelerated their editorial and peer review processes for COVID submissions, rightly taking pride in the contributions they have made to fighting the pandemic. They also emphasized again and again that they want to be more trusted. This is a formidable challenge in light of some recent failures. To achieve their objectives, publishers need to become more comfortable talking about their mistakes to prove convincingly that they are learning from them….

At the same time, I would encourage publishers to balance their celebrations with self-reflection. Scholarly publishers wish to see themselves as stewards of the scholarly record and of the transition to open science. To do so in a way that is compelling to all stakeholders, they must continuously increase the quality and rigor of their work, probe their processes for weaknesses, and make their work ever more resilient against potential points of failure. …

Today, the scholarly publishing sector looks to reestablish itself as a steward of the scholarly record and a trusted party to lead the transition to open science, and we need it in this type of role more than ever. Being entrusted with this role requires that publishers identify problems honestly and with humility, since trust is earned, or squandered, at a sector-wide level. The sector does not need triumphalism from leaders that enables their organizations to downplay festering problems. And, it does not need its boosters to selectively amplify concerns with preprints — when publishers should focus on their own shortcomings. The sector needs not only to ask for trust but also to make sure that it is continuously earning it every day.”

IFLA and IATUL Joint Statement on Publisher Pricing | IATUL – International Association of University Libraries

“On behalf of the member institutions of both our associations, we are writing to the publishers and service providers of the publishing industry about the 2021 subscriptions and renewals of electronic resources and databases.  We want to make the industry aware that universities, schools, industries, and libraries worldwide are facing significant budget cuts for the next fiscal year as a result of the  COVID-19 pandemic, and that library subscription is an area that is being looked at for potential savings.  To assist libraries and institutions in this possible financial crisis, we request that you support them by reducing prices in 2021. We greatly appreciate such generous gestures already extended by many publishers and vendors, and honestly expect a similar approach from the rest….”

Scholarly Networks Security Initiative | Combat Cybercrime

“SNSI brings together publishers and institutions to solve cyber-challenges threatening the integrity of the scientific record, scholarly systems and the safety of personal data….

Members include large and small publishers, learned societies and university presses and others involved in scholarly communications….”

New APC-free Open Access agreements test alternative funding models – The Official PLOS Blog

“Under the flat fee agreement, which begins on January 1, 2021, annual fixed prices will cover uncapped publishing in five PLOS journals[1] for corresponding authors affiliated with participating Jisc institutions as well as custom reporting and collaboration on future reporting standards initiatives. The PLOS Community Action Publishing agreement, facilitates uncapped publishing in PLOS’ two highly selective journals[2] through a collective action model. Both corresponding and contributing authors affiliated with participating Jisc institutions are eligible. The model itself is predicated on cost recovery, capped margins, and redistributing revenues above target back to community members….”

Initiative pushes to make journal abstracts free to read in one place

“In a bid to boost the reach and reuse of scientific results, a group of scholarly publishers has pledged to make abstracts of research papers free to read in a cross-disciplinary repository.

Most abstracts are already available on journal websites or on scholarly databases such as PubMed, even if the papers themselves are behind paywalls. But this patchwork limits the reach and visibility of global research, says Ludo Waltman, deputy director of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and coordinator of the initiative for open abstracts, called I4OA.

Publishers involved in I4OA have agreed to submit their article summaries to Crossref, an agency that registers scholarly papers’ unique digital object identifiers (DOIs). Crossref will make the abstracts available in a common format. So far, 52 publishers have signed up to the initiative, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the US National Academy of Sciences….”

Serials Price Projection Report 2021

“At the time of writing, we expect the overall effective publisher price increases for academic and academic medical libraries for 2021 (before any currency impact) to be in the range of 2 to 3 percent for individual titles. Also important is the role of e-journal packages in the information marketplace. More than half of EBSCO’s sales for 2020 were from e-journal packages; likewise, library budgets are, in large part, spent on these collections. As a result, their impact on the overall serials price increase is significant. We expect the overall average price increase for e-journal packages, including provisions for mandatory take-over titles, upgrades, etc. to be in the range of 1 to 3 percent….”

 

Publishers worry as ebooks fly off libraries’ virtual shelves | Ars Technica

“But the surging popularity of library ebooks also has heightened longstanding tensions between publishers, who fear that digital borrowing eats into their sales, and public librarians, who are trying to serve their communities during a once-in-a-generation crisis. …

The debate has attracted attention in Washington. The House Antitrust Subcommittee last year launched an investigation of competition in the digital marketplace, and subcommittee chair Representative David Cicilline (D–Rhode Island) has met with library advocates. “The whole issue of this negotiation [between libraries and publishers] over the last decade derives from a place where libraries have almost no rights in the digital age,” says Alan Inouye, the senior director of public policy and government relations at the American Library Association. “In the longer run, there needs to be a change in the environment or in the game. That means legislation or regulation.” ”