An HSS Perspective on Plan S

“This is an open letter to all funding agencies, government bodies and institutions that support Plan S. It is written from the perspective of publishers working across the humanities and social sciences (HSS) and will be submitted to the open consultation of cOAlition S. This letter does not represent a comprehensive critique of the recently published guidelines. In the past few weeks, the research community has offered detailed analysis and feedback on the guidelines and we share many of the concerns.[1] This letter focuses on the unintended consequences and deleterious impact of applying a model designed for STM journals to all humanities and social science disciplines. It also offers ideas for a collaborative way forward….”

Elsevier and the Open Science Monitor: Where are we at? – Green Tea and Velociraptors

For some time now, many of us having been deeply unimpressed with the fact that Elsevier, one of the chief opponents to the progress of Open Science, will be helping to monitor the future of Open Science in Europe. Metaphors about foxes and hen-houses have been flying everywhere.

We have launched several initiatives to try and combat this.

One of these was a formal complaint to the EU Ombudsman and the European Commission. Herein, we outlined 2 major groups of issues. The first was more around the awarding process to Elsevier and their group itself, and some elements which we believed required more transparency. The second was around the role of Elsevier, issues with the proposed methods, and the enormous conflicts of interest apparent in having Elsevier monitoring services and processes that they and their competitors sold.

 

Following this, there were a flurry of exchanges, the most important one being that the EU Commission produced a detailed report to respond to our questions. While this clarified many of the issues, mostly regarding the award process itself, it did not adequately address a number of others; primarily regarding the bias and conflicts of interest around Elsevier and the proposed methodologies.

 

 

Our latest step here was to obtain a copy of the awarding contract, which we have now made public (with permission). The original tender is still online here. It seems that pretty much everything checks out here from the EC, as we should have expected. We really appreciate the efforts of the Commission here in providing detailed responses and more transparency to our queries; especially after the callous dismissals by Elsevier and the Lisbon Council that we received when we originally raised these issues. It seems that our concerns were extremely well founded, as justified by the fact that the EC had to perform a full investigation into the process. No apology from either Elsevier or the Lisbon Council for their ad hominem retorts has been given since….

More than 1100 people signed our original complaint to the EU Ombudsman. However, as this was just drafted as a Google Doc, they weren’t ‘formal’ signatories. As such, one additional step taken was to launch a petition through the EU to request that Elsevier be removed as the sole contractor for the Open Science Monitor. It took a while to get processed, but this finally went live here recently….

What is next then?

Well, this is where things get a little vague. The Commission don’t seem to care about Elsevier, and their continuous exploitation of the public purse and research enterprise. They seem to not be fully conscious of the conflicts of interest inherent in having Elsevier in a position in which they will so clearly benefit from. They also do not seem to appreciate the fairly offensive irony in having Elsevier monitoring a system that was essentially catalysed by their regressive business practices….”

Public Domain Manifesto

” The following principles are essential to preserve a meaningful understanding of the Public Domain and to ensure that the Public Domain continues to function in the technological environment of the networked information society. With regard to the structural Public Domain these are as follows:

  1. The Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception. Since copyright protection is granted only with respect to original forms of expression, the vast majority of data, information and ideas produced worldwide at any given time belongs to the Public Domain. In addition to information that is not eligible for protection, the Public Domain is enlarged every year by works whose term of protection expires. The combined application of the requirements for protection and the limited duration of the copyright protection contribute to the wealth of the Public Domain so as to ensure access to our shared culture and knowledge.
  2. Copyright protection should last only as long as necessary to achieve a reasonable compromise between protecting and rewarding the author for his intellectual labour and safeguarding the public interest in the dissemination of culture and knowledge. From neither the perspective of the author nor the general public do any valid arguments exist (whether historical, economic, social or otherwise) in support of an exceedingly long term of copyright protection. While the author should be able to reap the fruits of his intellectual labour, the general public should not be deprived for an overly long period of time of the benefits of freely using those works.
  3. What is in the Public Domain must remain in the Public Domain. Exclusive control over Public Domain works must not be reestablished by claiming exclusive rights in technical reproductions of the works, or using technical protection measures to limit access to technical reproductions of such works.
  4. The lawful user of a digital copy of a Public Domain work should be free to (re-)use, copy and modify such work. The Public Domain status of a work does not necessarily mean that it must be made accessible to the public. The owners of physical works that are in the Public Domain are free to restrict access to such works. However once access to a work has been granted then there ought not be legal restrictions on the re-use, modification or reproduction of these works.
  5. Contracts or technical protection measures that restrict access to and re-use of Public Domain works must not be enforced. The Public Domain status of a work guarantees the right to re-use, modify and reproduce. This also includes user prerogatives arising from exceptions and limitations, fair use and fair dealing, ensuring that these cannot be limited by contractual or technological means….”

Public Open Statements/public statement against author-facing charges.md · master · Publishing Reform / discussion · GitLab

“1. We hereby state our strong opposition to any implementation of scholarly publishing based on submission and publication fees charged to authors. This includes page charges for traditional subscription journals, and open access journals charging an author fee per article (APC). There must be no financial barriers to submission or publication placed in the way of authors of research articles. 

2. Our opposition to author fees is based on: 

i) the historically observed fact that the global system of research and scholarship works best when barriers to participation by authors and readers are as low as possible; ii) the principle of fairness to authors – joining the global conversation should not be limited by inability to pay, or lack of powerful sponsors who will pay, but should depend on the quality of the author’s research; iii) the fact that author fee waivers that take account of ability to pay are extremely difficult to implement, and commonly used waiver schemes introduce unfairness and waste of resources; iv) the clear incentive to publishers using such a model to maximize revenue by overstating their costs and accepting and publishing articles without sufficient selectivity or value being added. 

3. We do not support the payment/reimbursement of author fees by funding agencies, because this does nothing to control the level of such fees, and further privileges researchers already helped by funders. 

4. Instead, we strongly support the model of open access journals whose production costs are paid by consortial membership contributions transparently related to publishing costs but not directly linked to specific authors or articles (for example, Open Library of Humanities, Redalyc, SciPost). We call on all research funders to take immediate steps to support such organizations of journals. 

5. The above is consistent with and informed by the 4th Fair Open Access Principle….”

Researchers sign petition backing plans to end paywalls

More than 1,400 researchers have signed an online letter backing the principles of Plan S, the bold open-access initiative led by research agencies who say that, by 2020, papers resulting from their funding should be immediately free to read on publication.

The petition, launched on 28 November, comes as scientists continue to debate the pros and cons of the European-led plan, which was announced in September and is now supported by 16 national science funders and charities….”

Open Letter in Support of Funder Open Publishing Mandates

“We, the undersigned, are researchers who believe that the world’s scholarly literature is a public resource that only achieves its full value when it is freely available to all. For too long we have tolerated a pay-for-access business model for scholarly journals that is inequitable, impedes progress in our fields, and denies the public the full benefit of our work. We therefore welcome efforts on the part of public and private research funders to require that publications based on work they fund be made immediately freely and openly available without restrictions on access or use.

Funders are uniquely positioned to transform scholarly publishing by changing the explicit and implicit rules under which we all operate. We recognize that funder mandates may superficially limit our publishing options in the short term, but believe they will lead to a system that optimizes what we really care about: maximizing the reach of our scholarship and its value to the research community and public.

We understand that effective scholarly communication costs money, and support substantial investment in this endeavor, but only if it allows everyone to freely access and use the scholarly literature. We acknowledge that challenges remain, especially ensuring that all scholars everywhere have the unfettered ability to freely share their work and have their contributions recognized. And we therefore commit to continue working with funders, universities, research institutions and other stakeholders until we have created a stable, fair, effective and open system of scholarly communication….”

Arguments over European open-access plan heat up

“Debate is intensifying over Plan S, an initiative backed by 15 research funders to mandate that, by 2020, their research papers are open access as soon as they are published.

The Europe-led statement was launched in September, but details of its implementation haven’t yet been released. And while many open-access supporters have welcomed Plan S, others are now objecting to some of its specifics.

On 5 November, more than 600 researchers, including two Nobel laureates, published an open letter calling the plan “too risky for science”, “unfair”, and “a serious violation of academic freedom” for the scientists affected; more than 950 have now signed.

Letter coordinator Lynn Kamerlin, a biochemist at Uppsala University in Sweden who sits on the boards* of both open-access journals and publications that may be affected by Plan S, talks to Nature about her problems with the plan….”

Big funders back plan for instant free access to journals, but researchers say it is risky for science | Science|Business

“Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation announce backing for EU’s Plan-S, requiring journal papers to be free to read on day of publication. But 600 chemists say this is going too far….

Grant holders subject to Plan-S would be banned from publishing in hundreds of journals, including influential titles such as Nature, Science and The Lancet, unless those journals flip their business model. Publishing in these high impact journals remains the main measure of the quality of individual researchers or their work. It is also a route preferred by the big publishers running big media relations departments.

Signatories to the letter, including two Nobel laureates, Ben Feringa and Arieh Warshel, say the ban on so-called hybrid journals envisaged by Plan-S is “a big problem, especially for chemistry”, as it would prevent scientists from publishing in journals that are important for their career progression.

“I expected resistance because Plan-S is a radical plan,” said Smits. “People have been publishing in subscription journals for ages and they are obsessed with journal metrics.”

In response to the 600 signatories of the letter, Smits says the ball is in their court. They should get involved in adapting and pushing for change to an outdated model that drains the budgets of university libraries and shuts out people who cannot afford hefty subscriptions, he argues. 

“One thing I was quite disappointed by – although these scientists are extending the frontiers of knowledge, when it comes to publishing, they still embrace the traditional subscription based model and, with this, the journal impact factor instead of going for full open access and developing new metrics,” Smits said.

“It’s not just what Plan-S can do for you, but what you can do for Plan-S.” …”