“Thus, transformative Gold Open Access agreements do not necessarily produce win-win results for publishers and universities, since they likely demand capital investment, protracted inter-organizational negotiations, and expertise-related costs. This indicates the likely continued importance of Green and hybrid Open Access for the scholarly publishing market and a significant role for innovative business models in this sector.”
“‘Threat infrastructures’ are platforms that are established or promised to be established solely or primarily in order to change the behavior of incumbent initiatives through fear. In recent years, such platforms have featured heavily in the scholarly communications landscape and have been driven primarily by funders pushing for open access. Examples include The Wellcome Trust’s Wellcome Open Research, the Gates Foundation’s Gates Open Research, and the European Commission’s Open Research Europe. Threat infrastructures are also a core mechanisms within cOAlition S’s ‘Plan S’ document (cOAlition S, 2018).
Such threat infrastructures are part of an encroaching structure of ‘platformization’, as Penny C. Andrews has it (2020) in the field of platform studies (Bogost & Montfort, 2009; Schweizer, 2010; van Dijck, 2013), in which the control of underlying infrastructures is becoming ever more important in the scholarly communications world. In this piece I outline why this framing of threat infrastructures is helpful; I document some recent cases of the development and use of threat infrastructures; I show the challenges of infrastructural governance and corporate ownership of such platforms; and I close with some remarks on the efficacy of a theory of change driven by such threats….”
Transformative agreements are an increasingly common way for universities and consortia to shift publisher business models towards open access. They do this through a prearranged payment that allows institutions to access subscription content while allowing future research to published in an openly accessible form. These deals are a way for publishers to continue to receive subscription income and boast about their open access content, while universities value them as a cost-neutral strategy for transitioning away from subscriptions towards open access (read Lisa Hinchliffe’s primer for an excellent summary of transformative agreements).
Such agreements are being announced by universities and national negotiating bodies on a weekly basis. This week Elsevier announced a pilot agreement with the University of Florida, while Taylor & Francis promoted its new deal with a Finnish library consortium. In recent weeks we’ve also seen deals announced between Springer-Nature and the University of California, and Elsevier and a consortium of Dutch universities. It has been pretty clear for some time that transformative agreements are going to be a dominant model for the transition to open access, particularly for the larger commercial publishers who are quickly learning how to work these deals to their advantage.
There are a number of critics of transformative agreements. Many commentators argue that these deals have a tendency to benefit the publisher rather than the university, as Sicco de Knecht argues with respect to the Elsevier-Netherlands deal. Similarly, Dave Ghamandi describes these deals as a ‘con’ that does nothing to shift power away from the ‘monopolists’. I’m embedding Dave’s Twitter thread below because it is an excellent and impassioned argument about commercial ownership of scholarly communication and the way that transformative agreements merely reinforce rather than counter this problem.
“The Internet Archive (IA) plays a critical role in democratizing access to the world’s knowledge. As a library, it provides a wide range of services, that include collecting and preserving materials ranging from books to audio recordings to the full content of the World Wide Web, and ensures that the public has barrier free access to this content.
In June, a group of publishers filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of one of these services, the National Emergency Library (NEL), a temporary program that the IA set up to ensure the public could access books online while most libraries are physically inaccessible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Critically, the lawsuit also targets the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the process of scanning a copy of a print book and lending it one digital copy at a time to one reader at a time—mirroring the long-standing library practice of lending physical books. CDL plays an important role in many libraries, and has been particularly critical to many academic and research libraries as they work to support students, faculty, and researchers through this pandemic.
SPARC supports Controlled Digital Lending and has joined other libraries, library organizations, and individual librarians in signing this Position Statement to voice our support for this important library practice, and we encourage others in the community to consider signing this statement as well….”
Abstract: Seen from Francophone Sub-Saharian Africa, the struggle for open access takes on a meaning different from that which prevails in the countries of the global North. The detour proposed in this article aims at uncovering issues that are often invisible in the debates around open access, in particular the mechanisms of exclusion set up by the world-system of scientific publication, dominated by the Anglo-Saxon mercantile model. We will show that a concept of open access, which is limited to the legal and technical questions of the accessibility of science without considering the relations between the center and the periphery, can become a source of epistemic alienation and neo-colonialism in the global South. On the other hand, if we integrate the concern for the development of the knowledge produced in the periphery and the awareness of all that hinders the creation of this knowledge, open access can become a tool of cognitive justice in service to the construction of an inclusive universalism associated to fair open science.
“In summary, the deal boils down to Elsevier offering Dutch (corresponding) authors open access publishing options in nearly all of its scientific journals. However, a number of journals from the Cell and Lancet families have been excluded from the deal, for now. Additionally, both sides agreed to work towards the creation of infrastructure for research data and information, and to enter into ‘open science’ projects. All of this comes at a price of € 16.4 million per year.
Going by headlines in the national newspapers, one would get the impression that the Dutch are making a giant step forward on the path to open access and open science. But is this really the case? ScienceGuide asked experts and (co)negotiators and scrutinized the fine print of the contract. As it turns out, parties have agreed on very specific definitions of open access and open science, with vague articles in the agreement to underpin them. Agreements that are at odds with earlier statements on open science and on rewards and recognition….
However, due to the ‘unique’ nature of the contract, no true comparison can be made with other agreements. Not only because various Elsevier tools and platforms are also included in the contract, but especially because of the arrangements around what has become known as ‘Professional Services’. The market value of the ‘open science’ component is, after all, unknown….”
Peer review remains problematic, but only partial resolutions to the problems have been identified.
The article processing charge financial model looks like a farmer who works hard to produce food but then must pay to sell his final products to consumers.
Article categories are largely meaningless – ‘original articles’ are not the only original content, and how rapid are rapid communications?
Word limits belong to the print environment and are overly proscriptive in the digital environment.
Why is only one author identified as the corresponding author when all authors should take responsibility for their articles?…”
“The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is joining forces with the law firm of Durie Tangri to defend the Internet Archive against a lawsuit that threatens their Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) program, which helps people all over the world check out digital copies of books owned by the Archive and its partner libraries….”
“The Internet Archive (also known as IA or Archive.org), home to the giant vault of internet and public domain history known as the Wayback Machine, is currently facing a crisis — one largely defined by misinformation. A group of publishing companies filed a scathing copyright lawsuit earlier this month over the IA’s controversial attempt to open an “Emergency Library” during the coronavirus pandemic. Ever since, confusion about the scope of the lawsuit and its potential impact on the IA as a whole has stoked fears of a crackdown on the IA’s many projects, including its gargantuan archive of the historical internet.
But much of that fear seems to be exaggerated. And while the lawsuit is a big deal for advocates of an open internet, it’s probably not the existential threat to the IA that you may have heard it is….”