5 Scholarly Publishing Trends to Watch in 2020

“The vision for a predominantly open access (OA) publishing landscape has shifted from a possibility to a probability in the opinions of many. A 2017 Springer Nature survey of 200 professional staff working in research institutions around the world found that over 70% of respondents agreed scholarly content should be openly accessible and 91% of librarians agreed that “open access is the future of academic and scientific publishing.” …

As noted, there is growing consensus within academia that the majority of scholarly content will be available OA in the future — but how to reach that end is still a matter of debate. The announcement of Plan S in September 2018, an initiative by a consortium of national and international research funders to make research fully and immediately OA, sent shockwaves throughout academia. 2019 saw the release of the revised Plan S guidelines with some significant changes, including an extension of the Plan S deadline to January 2021, a clearer Green OA compliance pathway, and greater flexibility around non-derivative copyright licenses. What remains the same — and has been a matter of significant debate — is that Plan S will not acknowledge hybrid OA as a compliant publishing model.

In response to concerns raised by scholarly societies around the feasibility of transitioning to full and immediate OA publishing without compromising their operational funding, Wellcome and UKRI in partnership with ALPSP launched the “Society Publishers Accelerating Open Access and Plan S“ (SPA-OPS) project to identify viable OA publishing models and transition options for societies. The final SPA-OPS report was released in September of 2019, encompassing over 20 potential OA models and strategies as well as a “transformative agreement toolkit.” …”

The Case for an Institutionally Owned Knowledge Infrastructure

“Academic journals, the dominant dissemination platforms of scientific knowledge, have not been able to take advantage of the linking, transparency, dynamic communication and decentralized authority and review that the internet enables. Many other knowledge-driven sectors, from journalism to law, suffer from a similar bottleneck — caused not by a lack of technological capacity, but rather by an inability to design and implement efficient, open and trustworthy mechanisms of information dissemination.

Fortunately, growing dissatisfaction with current knowledge-sharing infrastructures has led to a more nuanced understanding of the requisite features that such platforms must provide. With such an understanding, higher education institutions around the world can begin to recapture the control and increase the utility of the knowledge they produce….

But signs suggest that the bright future envisioned in the early days of the internet is still within reach. Increasing awareness of, and dissatisfaction with, the many bottlenecks that the commercial monopoly on research information has imposed are stimulating new strategies for developing the future’s knowledge infrastructures. One of the most promising is the shift toward infrastructures created and supported by academic institutions, the original creators of the information being shared, and nonprofit consortia like the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation and the Center for Open Science….

The Case for an Institutionally Owned Knowledge Infrastructure

“Academic journals, the dominant dissemination platforms of scientific knowledge, have not been able to take advantage of the linking, transparency, dynamic communication and decentralized authority and review that the internet enables. Many other knowledge-driven sectors, from journalism to law, suffer from a similar bottleneck — caused not by a lack of technological capacity, but rather by an inability to design and implement efficient, open and trustworthy mechanisms of information dissemination.

Fortunately, growing dissatisfaction with current knowledge-sharing infrastructures has led to a more nuanced understanding of the requisite features that such platforms must provide. With such an understanding, higher education institutions around the world can begin to recapture the control and increase the utility of the knowledge they produce….

But signs suggest that the bright future envisioned in the early days of the internet is still within reach. Increasing awareness of, and dissatisfaction with, the many bottlenecks that the commercial monopoly on research information has imposed are stimulating new strategies for developing the future’s knowledge infrastructures. One of the most promising is the shift toward infrastructures created and supported by academic institutions, the original creators of the information being shared, and nonprofit consortia like the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation and the Center for Open Science….

Guidance for research organisations on how to implement the principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment | Wellcome

The draft guidance […] provides information for Wellcome-funded organisations on how to implement the core principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

We want to hear your comments and feedback on this guidance, before we publish an updated and final version in spring 2020. Fill in our short survey (opens in a new tab) by 17:00 GMT, 24 February 2020. 

[1912.08648] Inferring the causal effect of journals on citations

Abstract:  Articles in high-impact journals are by definition more highly cited on average. But are they cited more often because the articles are somehow “better”? Or are they cited more often simply because they appeared in a high-impact journal? Although some evidence suggests the latter the causal relationship is not clear. We here compare citations of published journal articles to citations of their preprint versions to uncover the causal mechanism. We build on an earlier model to infer the causal effect of journals on citations. We find evidence for both effects. We show that high-impact journals seem to select articles that tend to attract more citations. At the same time, we find that high-impact journals augment the citation rate of published articles. Our results yield a deeper understanding of the role of journals in the research system. The use of journal metrics in research evaluation has been increasingly criticised in recent years and article-level citations are sometimes suggested as an alternative. Our results show that removing impact factors from evaluation does not negate the influence of journals. This insight has important implications for changing practices of research evaluation.

 

PSI | OA Metrics Generator

“This new tool from PSI generates open access usage statistics for publishers and university repositories. Partnership with Scholarly IQ ensures these metrics can be fully COUNTER compliant. With PSI’s OA Metrics Generator you can develop a deeper understanding of your organisational readership….”

Further improvement of our metrics—will plan S affect them?: Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences: Vol 124, No 4

“What impact could these changes have for our journal? Quite likely, forcing researchers funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils to publish under open access policies would benefit our journal. Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences has applied gold Open Access for the last 10?years, i.e. all published articles have been fully accessible immediately upon release without a publication paywall. It is most likely that this feature of our journal has enhanced our performance substantially. When investigating the influence of the open access publishing format on the IF values of open access and closed access journals over a 5-year period, we found no obvious effect on the journals chosen for the review (4). In order to have a longer time perspective, we looked at the same journals 5?years later when the IF values for 2018 were released (Tables 1 and 2). Interestingly, there was no obvious increase of the values during this 10-year period. This was despite a remarkable increase of both the number of journals and articles. But, again, no differences between the two groups of journals were discernible. It is worthy of note that two Uppsala-based journals, one in the closed category (Amyloid; more than two-fold) and one in the open access (UJMS; almost four-fold) display quite obvious improvements. So, in essence we have nothing to fear. Open access publishing will most probably slowly increase, and fees will have to be paid in some way for the service publishers provide. APCs will become a more common phenomenon, and the level will depend on the quality and reputation characterising the journal. At present the board of our society has no plans for a change of our no-APC policy. Of course, such an offer attracts many contributions from research environments with meagre economic resources. It also constitutes a substantial work load for the editorial board. There is only room for some 40–50 published papers a year, and, with submission figures close to 300, there is a fairly high rejection rate. From the editors’ point of view, we have to attract more papers good enough for acceptance. And we take this opportunity to repeat that we offer a fast track for high-quality papers….”

AN OPEN LETTER FOLLOWING THE CONSULTATION ON TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNALS

“While we are supportive of the vast majority of the criteria proposed in the consultation, we are concerned that, if the transformative journal concept as envisaged by the cOAlition is applied in full, Transformative Journals will not deliver the full transition we believe is possible. We feel duty bound, having proposed this approach, to share our concerns with you now in an open way.

1. The timelines proposed and the rates of OA transition are unworkable and could be counterproductive In our earlier responses to Plan S, we repeatedly and publicly committed ourselves to transitioning all of our journals, our hybrid portfolio of 1900 journals (Springer Nature-owned and society-owned) along with Nature itself and all other Nature-branded journals, to immediate, full OA for all primary research and we will do everything we can to make this a sustainable reality in the shortest possible time. But the speed by which this can happen is not solely in our hands; it is also hugely dependent on the rate at which other funders, institutions and consortia commit to supporting Gold OA, as a zero embargo green OA approach will undermine the sustainability of journals as they transition and hamper the move to open science. …

2. The waiver requirements are unsustainable 

At Springer Nature we have established waiver policies already in place6 for researchers unable to access APC funding and for those authors based in the world’s lowest income countries as defined by the World Bank. As the largest OA publisher we have given more waivers than anyone else. For obvious reasons, this applies only to authors seeking to publish in one of our 600 fully OA journals. For authors without OA funding and seeking to publish in one of our other journals, they are able to do so for free via the subscription route….

We propose the below as an alternative timeframe and workable set of metrics:

1. Year-on-year growth of OA content at the same rate as the increase in global research supported by funders and institutions committed to funding Gold OA.

2. Journals to be flipped when OA content reaches 90%.

3. Progress to be reviewed in 2024, as per cOAlition decision to review progress more widely, and commitments adapted accordingly then in light of progress to date….”

Alternative conditions needed in order for cOAlition S’s proposal for Transformative Journals to succeed | Group | Springer Nature

“As the largest OA publisher, and the publisher that first floated the idea of Transformative Journals, Springer Nature is appealing to cOAlition S in an open letter not to lose the opportunity Transformative Journals offer to speed up the transition to OA. Unless changes are made to the conditions being proposed the publisher believes it would be unable to commit to its journals participating.

Commenting, Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing Officer Springer Nature, said:

“Springer Nature remains committed to moving more quickly towards OA and is proud to be the publisher of almost a quarter of all fully OA articles ever published. We first floated the idea of Transformative Journals in May as we believed that, by harnessing the investment, track record, editorial expertise, and the trust the research communities have in these long-standing journals, the transition to OA could be significantly accelerated and enable many of these journals, including highly selective ones such as Nature, to get on the path to OA.”

“We are concerned, however, that the thresholds proposed by cOAlition S could have unintended consequences. Authors of research funded by cOAlition S members are likely to see their journal choice severely restricted, organisations committed to OA could see a doubling of the content they need to fund, and ultimately many journals may have to rule themselves out, resulting in a slowdown of the very transition we both want to see.”

While Springer Nature is supportive of the vast majority of the criteria proposed in the consultation, the company has significant concerns regarding:

the proposed timelines and metrics which would place conditions on publishers to not only grow OA content at a faster rate than the growth of funders willing to fund immediate OA but to do this at a time when the global share of cOAlition S funded research is effectively declining, and
the requirements for waivers which would see much more research published for free, undermining the sustainability of those journals. This could lead to those organisations that are committed to Gold OA having to support twice the content they were funding at the point of the flip, which is not fair, reasonable or sustainable….”

Good Practices – Research Institutes – DORA

“DORA’s ultimate aim is not to accumulate signatures but to promote real change in research assessment.  One of the keys to this is the development of robust and time-efficient ways of evaluating research and researchers that do not rely on journal impact factors. We are keen to gather and share existing examples of good practice in research assessment, including approaches to funding and fellowships, hiring and promotion, and awarding prizes, that emphasize research itself and not where it is published. 

If you know of exemplary research assessment methods that could provide inspiration and ideas for research institutes, funders, journals, professional societies, or researchers, please contact DORA….”