I hate open science

Now that I’ve got your attention: what I hate—and maybe dislike is a better term than hate—isn’t the open science community, or open science initiatives, or open science practices, or open scientists… it’s the term. I fundamentally dislike the term open science. For the last few years, I’ve deliberately tried to avoid using it. I don’t call myself an open scientist, I don’t advocate publicly for open science (per se), and when people use the term around me, I often make a point of asking them to clarify what they mean….

Further, as in any other enterprise, if you monomaniacally push a single value hard enough, then at a certain point, tensions will arise even between values that would ordinarily co-exist peacefully if each given only partial priority. For example, if you think that doing reproducible science well requires a non-negotiable commitment to doing all your analyses programmatically, and maintaining all your code under public version control, then you’re implicitly condoning a certain reduction in diversity within science, because you insist on having only people with a certain set of skills take part in science, and people from some backgrounds are more likely than others (at least at present) to have those skills. …

[A]t this point in time, there are a few fairly distinct sub-communities of people that all identify closely with the term open science and use it prominently to describe themselves or their work, but that actually have fairly different value systems and priorities….”

Plan S in Latin America: A precautionary note [PeerJ Preprints]

Abstract:  Latin America has historically led a firm and rising Open Access movement and represents the worldwide region with larger adoption of Open Access practices. Argentina has recently expressed its commitment to join Plan S, an initiative from a European consortium of research funders oriented to mandate Open Access publishing of scientific outputs. Here we suggest that the potential adhesion of Argentina or other Latin American nations to Plan S, even in its recently revised version, ignores the reality and tradition of Latin American Open Access publishing, and has still to demonstrate that it will encourage at a regional and global level the advancement of non-commercial Open Access initiatives.

They Know We Know They Know: Does Sci-Hub Affect Library Subscriptions? – The Scholarly Kitchen

The question of whether — and, if so, to what degree — Sci-Hub and similar pirate portals will lead (or are already leading) libraries to cancel journal subscriptions has been a fraught one for some time, and the debate doesn’t seem likely to settle down anytime soon.

One recent case in point: on the LIBLICENSE listserv last week, librarian and consultant Danny Kingsley made mention of a recent story in the Times Higher Education in which it was argued that universities in Europe are finding it “easier… to ditch their journal subscription contracts because so many articles are now available for free.” Furthermore, the article observed that academic library consortia, in particular, “have in recent years struck a much more assertive line with publishers over cost and open access,” with the result that, for example, “Germany’s consortium is currently without a contract with Elsevier… in part because librarians believe that academics can access free papers through sites such as ResearchGate.”

Kingsley quoted this article with some asperity, describing it as “frustrating,” given that “there is NO causal arrow between material being online somewhere and library subscriptions.” In response, Scholarly Kitchen Chef and consultant Joe Esposito called Danny’s claim “remarkable,” saying that “ResearchGate and Sci-Hub are in the background of every library negotiation with publishers now.” 

In the course of agreeing with Kingsley, noted scholarly communication researcher Anthony Watkinson observed that he was “not aware of any research on library decision making processes” — which suggests not so much that there is no causal connection between library subscriptions and free online availability, but rather that we don’t yet know what, if any, causal connection there may be. But some anecdotal evidence in support of Kingsley’s position quickly came in on the list: several librarians chimed in, one of them saying that such considerations “have certainly never been in the background on any negotiations with vendors that I have been involved in,” and another saying that the availability of free or pirated content “does not influence my decision-making and isn’t considered when it comes to subscription renewals.” A third librarian suggested that such considerations are more likely to be “in the back of the minds of every Publisher, rather than in the minds of the Librarians.” Lisa Hinchliffe, a librarian at the University of Illinois and a Scholarly Kitchen Chef, pointed out that while librarians may not specifically assess the availability of free or pirated content when making subscription or cancellation decisions, they certainly do take cost per download into account — and to the degree that any library’s patrons download articles from subscribed journals through platforms like Sci-Hub and ResearchGate rather than from the publisher through the library’s website, that library’s cost per download will go up. (The entire discussion thread may be read here.) …”

Half-life is half the story | Unlocking Research

This week the STM Frankfurt Conference was told that a shift away from gold Open Access towards green would mean some publishers would not be ‘viable’ according to a story in The Bookseller. The argument was that support for green OA in the US and China would mean some publishers will collapse and the community will ‘regret it’.

It is not surprising that the publishing industry is worried about a move away from gold OA policies. They have proved extraordinarily lucrative in the UK with Wiley and Elsevier each pocketing an extra £2 million thanks to the RCUK block grant funds to support the RCUK policy on Open Access.

But let’s get something straight. There is no evidence that permitting researchers to make a copy of their work available in a repository results in journal subscriptions being cancelled. None.

The September 2013 UK Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Fifth Report: Open Access stated “There is no available evidence base to indicate that short or even zero embargoes cause cancellation of subscriptions”. In 2012 the Committee for Economic Development Digital Connections Council in The Future of Taxpayer-Funded Research: Who Will Control Access to the Results? concluded that “No persuasive evidence exists that greater public access as provided by the NIH policy has substantially harmed subscription-supported STM publishers over the last four years or threatens the sustainability of their journals”…”

Do Business Schools have a Plan B for Plan S? – GlobalFocus

“For those involved in STEM research and the publishing industry, the last year has been all about Plan S and its potential impact on both constituencies. But what are the consequences, unintended or otherwise, for business schools and their research programmes? Simon Linacre lifts the lid on Plan S and what might be in store for the sector. …”

Appeal from the victims of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) | NWU

As working writers, translators, photographers, and graphic artists; as unions, organizations, and federations representing the creators of works included in published books; as book publishers; and as reproduction rights and public lending rights organizations; we oppose so-called “Controlled Digital Lending” (CDL) as a flagrant violation of copyright and authors’ rights.

The copyright infringement inherent in CDL is not a victimless crime. As the victims of CDL, we want librarians, archivists, and readers to understand how they are harming the authors of the books they love by participating in CDL projects, even if they have the best of intentions.

The attached FAQ was written to explain to authors, publishers, readers, librarians, and archivists what CDL is, how it differs from traditional and legitimate new forms of library lending, how it violates the economic and moral rights of authors, and how it makes it even harder for authors to try to make a living from writing or to afford to devote time to writing.

When writers can’t make a living, they can’t afford to keep writing, and readers lose too….”

The politics of open access in action – Samuel Moore

“Open access is a movement constituted by conflict and disagreement rather than consensus and harmony. Given just how much disagreement there is about strategies, definitions, goals, etc., it is incredible that open access has successfully transformed the publishing landscape (and looks set to continue to do so). As OA increases in popularity and inevitability, more conflict arises between those from a range of disciplines and positions, and especially those encountering OA for the first time (often through coercive mandates)….”

The death of the learned societies? – ScienceGuide

Also the statement that potential profits are used to benefit science seems legitimate, but what exactly do we really know about the business model of learned societies and their journals? To answer these and other questions ScienceGuide spoke with editors and publishers deeply involved with the business of learned societies, and asked them about the value of learned society journals, and what they know about the underlying business model….

Van Ommen starts out to say that he is totally on board with open access, “but Plan S is reckless and ill-conceived.” ….

A similar line of reasoning moved the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to seek out the commercial publisher Elsevier as their partner for a newly launched journal. Former president of the Royal Academy and current president of the (ISSCR) Hans Clevers was involved in the negotiations with the publisher on launching the open access journal Stem Cell Reports….

All of this provided a perfect opportunity for commercial publishers to either co-opt or completely take over these society journals. In 2004 a survey by the Association Learned & Professional Society Publishers found an estimated half of the learned society journals, especially the smaller ones, were run by third party commercial publishers. A 2013 also found that most of the learned societies have little information about how their income is derived….

Fletcher is somewhat baffled by the fact that learned societies don’t know about the full picture behind the business model of co-publishing. …

Although the level of detail in the annual reports of learned societies is too low to get a good estimate on costs and benefit, Kramer is positively surprised by the level of transparency. “If you’d want to have an overview like this for most commercial publishers you’d have a very hard time.” She points out that under Plan S journals are urged to be even more transparent on the way in which costs are derived. “Hopefully we’ll get an even better insight into the cost model of publishers.”

 

In the revised implementation of Plan S transparency is still a key conditional for compliance. In a previous interview with ScienceGuide president of the Dutch research funder NWO Stan Gielen indicated that in order to comply with the Plan S requirements journals would have to be upfront on how their APC is compiled. “We’re not going to require full transparency from every journal, but if an APC is ludicrously high, we’ll definitely ask questions about their business model.” …”

 

Researchers reject APC-based OA publishing as promoted by Plan S – For Better Science

“Lynn Kamerlin, Bas de Bruin and their colleagues have been the most vocal critics of Plan S from the very beginning, braving continuous opposition from certain OA leaders. Now that final Plan S guidelines were released, the chemists publish this Open Letter expressing their worry about a possible dystopian OA future….”

Plan S, the Verschlimmbesserung of Scholarly Information

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that Germany steered clear of signing on to Plan S. If you can create the word verschlimmbesserung to describe an attempted improvement that actually makes things worse, you are probably pretty good at spotting and avoiding a verschlimmbesserung more quickly than you can say it….

But if we widen the aperture to align with the mission of Plan S funders and consider whether Plan S is good for science, medicine, humanities, and knowledge, the focus changes, and we can see that Plan S could well actually make things worse….

Plan S undermines this complex ecosystem, making the more selective and curated subscription outlets less viable. In doing so, Plan S flattens the multitude of venues where scholarly information appears, and funnels research towards high-volume, low-cost, less-discerning outlets. …

Plan S is not really about advancing science, or OA, but about harming large commercial publishers (I made this argument here). …

[W]e may find that low-margin society publishers, who are dedicated to advancing their fields, find Plan S makes their operations unsustainable and are forced to divest their publishing assets. As a result, we may well see large commercial players become even larger, and while there be some margin compression in traversing to a Plan S-catalyzed flipped world, net profits of commercial players could well grow….”