Europe’s open-access drive escalates as university stand-offs spread

“Sweden is latest country to hold out on journal subscriptions, while negotiators share tactics to broker new deals with publishers.

Bold efforts to push academic publishing towards an open-access model are gaining steam. Negotiators from libraries and university consortia across Europe are sharing tactics on how to broker new kinds of contracts that could see more articles appear outside paywalls. And inspired by the results of a stand-off in Germany, they increasingly declare that if they don’t like what publishers offer, they will refuse to pay for journal access at all. On 16 May, a Swedish consortium became the latest to say that it wouldn’t renew its contract, with publishing giant Elsevier. Under the new contracts, termed ‘read and publish’ deals, libraries still pay subscriptions for access to paywalled articles, but their researchers can also publish under open-access terms so that anyone can read their work for free. Advocates say such agreements could accelerate the progress of the open-access movement. Despite decades of campaigning for research papers to be published openly — on the grounds that the fruits of publicly funded research should be available for all to read — scholarly publishing’s dominant business model remains to publish articles behind paywalls and collect subscriptions from libraries (see ‘Growth of open access’). But if many large library consortia strike read-and-publish deals, the proportion of open-access articles could surge….”

Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts | The Scientist Magazine®

“In Germany, the fight for open access and favorable pricing for journals is getting heated. At the end of last month (June 30), four major academic institutions in Berlin announced that they would not renew their subscriptions with the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier once they end this December. Then on July 7, nine universities in Baden-Württemberg, another large German state, also declared their intention to cancel their contracts with the publisher at the end of 2017.

These institutions join around 60 others across the country that allowed their contracts to expire last year….”

Pirate Radical Philosophy – Radical Philosophy

“Peter Suber, a leading voice in the open access movement, has recently provided an instance of just such a withdrawal. In January, Suber announced (using Google+ to do so) that he would ‘not referee for a publisher belonging to the Association of American Publishers unless it has publicly disavowed the AAP’s position on the Research Works Act’. The latter, which was introduced in the US Congress on 16 December 2011, was designed to prohibit open access mandates for federally funded research in the USA. The Research Works Act would thus in effect countermand the National Institutes of Health’s Public Access Policy along with other similar open access policies in the USA. To show my support for open access and Suber’s initiative, I publicly stated in January that I would act similarly. [17] Having met with staunch opposition from within both the academic and the publishing communities, all public backing of the Research Works Act has now been dropped as of 27 February. But I can’t help wondering, rather than taking this as a cue to abandon the strategy of refusal, should we not adopt it all the more? Should we not withdraw our academic labour from all those presses and journals that do not allow authors, as a bare minimum, to self-archive the refereed and accepted final drafts of their publications in institutional open access repositories? [18]

As a supporter of long standing, I feel it is important to acknowledge that the open access movement – which is concerned with making peer-reviewed research literature freely available online to all those able to access the Internet – is neither unified nor self-identical. Some regard it as a movement, [19] yet for others it represents a variety of economic models or even just another means of distribution, marketing and promotion. It should also be borne in mind that there is nothing inherently radical, emancipatory, oppositional, or even politically or culturally progressive about open access. The politics of open access depend on the decisions that are made in relation to it, the specific tactics and strategies that are adopted, the particular conjunctions of time, situation and context in which such practices, actions and activities take place, and the networks, relationships and flows of culture, community, society and economics they encourage, mobilize and make possible. Open access publishing is thus not necessarily a mode of left resistance.

Nevertheless, what is interesting about the transition to the open access publication and archiving of research is the way it is creating at least some ‘openings’ that allow academics to destabilize and rethink scholarly publishing, and with it the university, beyond the model espoused by free-market capitalism….”

Projekt DEAL – Bundesweite Lizenzierung von Angeboten großer Wissenschaftsverlage

From Google’s English: “The goal of the DEAL project is to conclude nationwide license agreements for the entire portfolio of electronic journals (e-journals) of major science publishers from the 2017 license year. It seeks a significant change from the current status quo in negotiation, content and pricing . The effects of a consortium agreement at federal level are intended to provide financial relief to individual institutions and to improve access to scientific literature for science on a broad and sustainable level. At the same time, an open access component is to be implemented….”

Petition · Peer Review Boycott of Academic Publications that Censor Content in China ·

“While we acknowledge that it can be difficult to discern which publications or their holding companies are censoring in China, we call for a peer review boycott of any non-PRC-based academic publication known to be censoring its content in the People’s Republic of China. From now on, we will not agree to provide peer review service until editors confirm that their publications do not censor content in the PRC, and we call on all others to do so as well….”

Prof Randy Schekman: Giving Science To The People

“It is a peculiar situation when commercial science journals can not only ask investigators to pay for the privilege of sending in their work but also charge universities and others for the privilege of accessing work that was publicly funded.”

Carrico on Springer, Cambridge | MCLC Resource Center

“Yet something is different this time around [Springer Nature acceding to Chinese censorship versus Cambrudge University Press first acceding to Chinese censorship and quickly reversing its decision]. By this point in the Cambridge controversy, six days after the news broke, the press had already reversed its initial cowardly decision. There is no sign that Springer Nature is about to experience any such change of heart. In its most recent statement, Springer again emphasized that it is simply abiding by “China’s regulatory requirements”. And on Saturday, Chinese state media announced a new “strategic partnership” between Springer and Chinese IT censorship and monitoring giant Tencent, purportedly to encourage scientific innovation. Springer is also publishing the English translation of the latest tome in Xi Jinping’s rapidly proliferating corpus, Xi Jinping Tells a Story. If this is not a case of doubling down, I don’t know what is.

Why, then, have these two parallel cases of censorship unfolded so differently within the narrow span of just three months? One factor could be the respective publishers’ stakes in the China market….

If none of the factors above can explain the different courses of the two censorship scandals, another more distressing explanation, and a possibility that I have come to consider increasingly likely in recent days, is that these types of attacks on academic freedom for access to the China market could gradually become the new normal for all of us: shocking the first time, but gradually something to which we will all grow accustomed.

Springer has been the most determined proponent of such normalization of censorship, claiming that this is simply a matter of obeying the law….

In the face of such obstinate and self-serving cowardice, we as academics and readers need to recapture our shock….

Springer’s “legal” actions are of benefit to no one besides itself and the increasingly retrogressive Xi regime and are a disservice to its forward-looking content providers and consumers- writers, reviewers, and readers. Authors and reviewers who have volunteered their time to a for-profit company are having their trust violated by overeager censors. Meanwhile, readers in China are being turned into second-class readers in a secret agreement between the Xi regime and Springer, which leaves them paying full price but denied full access in a condescendingly separate and unequal arrangement that will directly impede Springer’s stated goal of “discovery.” And the insults don’t stop there- the wholesale deletion of “Tibet” and “Taiwan,” indiscriminately erasing entire peoples from the academic record, should be met with revulsion in a global academic community increasingly vigilant against such racism….

Until Springer takes these steps to correct these outrages, all academics who care about academic freedom and the rights and dignity of the Chinese people should refuse to work or write for Springer Nature or any of its subsidiaries (BioMed Central, Palgrave Macmillan, Nature, Scientific American, Adis Internation, Apress, Macmillan Education) in any form. Only then will Springer be reminded of whom they really rely upon for their success….”

An open letter to “No deal, no review” participants

“As you have most likely heard, FinELib has reached a deal with Elsevier. For the time being, the only thing we can say for sure is that Elsevier subscriptions will not be cancelled in the beginning of 2018. The original pledge in the No Deal No Review boycott was the recluse from reviewer and editorial tasks for Elseviers journals until a satisfactory deal is reached. We still do not know the exact details of the deal between FinELib and Elsevier have not been disclosed and therefore we cannot comment on whether the deal can be considered satisfactory or not. …”

Open and Shut?: Realising the BOAI vision: Peter Suber’s Advice

Peter Suber’s current high-priority recommendations for advancing open access.

Petition · Christopher Balding: Petition Cambridge University Press Not to Censor China Articles ·

“As academics and China focused academics, we are disturbed by the request by the Chinese government for Cambridge University Press to censor articles from the China Quarterly.  As academics, we believe in the free and open exchange of ideas and information on all topics not just those we agree with.  It is disturbing to academics and universities world wide that China is attempting to export its censorship on topics that do not fit its preferred narrative.  

We call upon Cambridge University Press to refuse the censorship request not just for the China Quarterly but on any other topics, journals or publication that have been requested by the Chinese government.

If Cambridge University Press acquiesces to the demands of the Chinese government, we as academics and universities reserve the right to pursue other actions including boycotts of Cambridge University Press and related journals. …”