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….”

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….”

Support Diego Gomez: An Update

“Last Summer, we learnt about the case of Diego Gomez. Diego Gomez, a Colombian graduate student, currently faces up to eight years in prison for doing something thousands of researchers do every day: posting research results online for those who would not otherwise have a way to access them.”

Bullied Into Bad Science: Leading individuals and institutions in adopting open practices to improve research rigour

“We are postdocs and a reader in the humanities and sciences at the University of Cambridge. We are concerned about the desperate need for publishing reform to increase transparency, reproducibility, timeliness, and academic rigour of the production and dissemination of scholarly outputs (see Young et al. 2016Smaldino & McElreath 2016).

We have identified actions that institutions and managers can take to better support ECRs (below). These actions are crucial for our success because we are eager to publish openly and at places that keep profits inside academia in accordance with many modern online publication venues (Logan 2017). However, ECRs are often pressured into publishing against their ethicsthrough threats that we would not get a job/grant unless we publish in particular journals (Carter et al. 2014Who is going to make change happen?Kent 2016; usually these journals are older and more familiar, have a print version, a high impact factor, and are not 100% open access). These out of date practices and ideas hinder ECRs rather than help us: evidence shows that publishing open access results in increased citations, media attention, and job/funding opportunities (McKiernan et al. 2016). Open dissemination of all research outputs is also a fundamental principle on which ECRs rely to fight the ongoing reproducibility crisis in science and thus improve the quality of their research.

To support ECRs in this changing publishing landscape, we encourage funders, universities, departments, and politicians to take the following actions (below) and to announce these actions in public statements….”

Petition · Theresa May MP: Open access to research findings (All diseases) free Journal articles access for all · Change.org

“Unfortunately, most of the latest research articles (e.g., cancer, diabetes) are not free to access to general public. These two ailments cost the government nearly half the budget of NHS. Most of the research published is either restricted or very expensive to obtain by general public and students (who completed their course). For better understanding and development of new era scientists, information should be free to access. The most significant problem among scientist community is currently, all the latest research is too expensive to obtain. All newest research articles should be published on open access basis so transparency in result reporting and repeatability of experiments can be monitored.

Education is essential as low rates of literacy are associated with regions of poverty. Knowledge about cancer could result in earlier diagnosis, better engagement with screening, and acceptance of diagnostic and treatment services. Such approaches need to reflect the local cultural requirement. Improve the public’s understanding of and attitude towards cancer (World Cancer Declaration, 2009)….”

Taylor & Francis scraps extra charges after university protests | The Bookseller

“Taylor & Francis has backtracked over plans to charge extra for access to older research papers online, after more than 110 universities signed a letter of protest.

The latest renewal of UK universities’ deal with the publisher, which is yet to be signed, only covers papers published in the last 20 years, reported Times Higher Education. Research released before this would have to be bought in a separate package by university.

The 20-year span of papers included in the main deal would have moved forward in time with each year. This would mean the archive would increase and costs would escalate further as researchers attempted to access papers from 1997 onwards, described by academics as the beginning of the born digital record. 

In an open letter dated 13th February, head librarians from more than 110 UK and Irish institutions, as well as representatives from Research Libraries UK, the Society of College, National and University Libraries (Sconul), and the Irish Universities Association, urged Taylor & Francis to drop the extra charges.

“A “moving wall” approach for non-subscribed titles within the journal package will increase administration activities and costs substantially for libraries and for Taylor & Francis, impose direct additional licensing costs, and create confusion and annoyance for your customers and our reader communities,” the letter reads….”

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

“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….”

Petition · Universités: Déclaration du Maroc sur les Ressources Educatives Libres-OER Morocco Declaration · Change.org

“1. This declaration is addressed the Moroccan Government, education agencies, schools, middle schools, high schools, universities, the third sector, and all organizations and individuals involved in teaching and learning including galleries, libraries, archives and museums.

2. Two considerations guide this declaration. First, Open Education can expand access to education, knowledge transfer, social inclusion, and create a culture of collaboration and sharing. Second, there is a sound economic case for Open Education: releasing publicly funded educational resources under open licenses represents an investment return on public spending. …”

No deal, no review – #nodealnoreview

“Since November 2016, more than 2700 members of the academic community in Finland have signed tiedonhinta.fi online petition which called for fair pricing for academic journal subscriptions and increased open access in the ongoing negotiation with international publishers. More than two thirds of those who signed the petition were prepared to abstain from editorial and reviewer duties in journals whose publishers are unwilling to meet the demands of the Finnish negotiators. It’s time to stand by that commitment: no deal, no editing and reviews.”

Petition · The University of Ottawa Senate: Preserve uOttawa’s library holdings · Change.org

“The University of Ottawa has announced in September 2016 to cancel its subscription to thousands of print and online journals, including 2,123 journals by Taylor & Francis and 2,368 journals by Springer, which are critically important for the education, training and research at the University of Ottawa (See other details at http://biblio.uottawa.ca/en/about/collections/titles-being-cancelled-2016-09”

“THEREFORE we the undersigned, call upon the University of Ottawa Senate and the University of Ottawa Board of Governors to protect these critically important library resources for the benefit of its students and research staff, its undergraduate and graduate programs, and its national and international reputation.”