Scholarly Publishers Are Happy to Give Stuff Away If Someone Pays Them – BNN Bloomberg

“For almost two decades, a battle has been raging over access to scholarly research. On the one side have been scholars, librarians, funders and others arguing that in an age of near-costless global communication, research findings and the data that underlie them should be shared freely and openly. On the other side have been publishers, led by Elsevier, a (very large) unit of under-the-radar London-based media giant RELX Plc,(2) fighting to maintain the remarkable profit margins that paywalled scholarly journals can provide.

That’s the simple version, at least — things have always been a little more complicated than that. But it was still jarring to observe this week in Berlin how much the battle lines have shifted.

An executive with Wiley, the third-largest academic journal publisher by revenue, got up in front of the room at the APE (which originally stood for Academic Publishing in Europe) 2020 conference to extol his company’s commitment to “open access, open data, open practices, open collaboration, open recognition and reward.” A counterpart from Springer Nature, the No. 2 publisher, proudly reeled off the paywall-free share of the papers published in Springer journals by researchers from various countries — Sweden was the champ, at 90%. And Kumsal Bayazit, who took over as chief executive officer of Elsevier last February amid tense standoffs between the company and pro-open-access university systems in Germany, California and elsewhere, declared that “Elsevier fully supports open access, as I think is the case for all scholarly publishers today.” …

Elsevier in particular has been gearing up for years to reposition itself as a data analytics provider. A report prepared last year for the pro-open-access Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition speculated that these efforts could reap big profits and give the company even more influence over universities than it wields now. …”

Who Is Competing to Own Researcher Identity? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“To date, ResearchGate appears to be winning the battle to build a sector-wide identity instance for researchers, regardless of university or publisher, with as its primary competition. Though many have predicted the demise of these academic social networks, their continued growth cannot be dismissed. 

ResearchGate reports having 15 million members worldwide. Some portion of these “members” are presumably inactive, or active only in limited ways. Even so, there is reason to believe that ResearchGate represents a substantial share of the global scientific community. While it is difficult to know exactly what its members are doing on the platform — anything from reading articles to engaging with collaborators to searching for jobs — the amount of traffic they generate is enormous. According to data from SimilarWeb, in a recent three month period, ResearchGate’s traffic was nearly equal to that of ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, and combined. Or, to provide another comparative, ResearchGate’s usage was almost equivalent to that of a basket of major Elsevier properties, including ScienceDirect and all its other major STM properties, including Mendeley, bepress, SSRN, and Pure. 

There is power to this scale. ResearchGate has been able to associate much of the scientific literature with its authors, enabling a variety of analytics that it is able to turn into services and in some cases to monetize. Even though ResearchGate is one of the largest sources of leakage and is therefore being sued by an array of the major publishing houses, the power of ResearchGate’s data has been sufficient to enable it to develop a partnership with  Springer Nature, at least on a pilot basis, in which Springer Nature content is freely distributed on ResearchGate. …”

What to Expect in the Publishing World in 2020 | The Scientist Magazine®

“Earlier this month, a rumor began to circulate that the US government was planning on passing an executive order that would mandate all papers from federally funded research be open access immediately upon publication—abolishing the 12-month paywall allowed under current rules.

In response, more than 135 scientific societies and academic publishers penned an open letter to President Donald Trump’s Administration strongly opposing such a policy, warning that the proposed changes would “jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results.” The letter has been widely criticized by academics and open-access advocates on social media….”

Écrits scientifiques: la fin du racket pour nos universités ? – La Libre

“Each year, the universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation spend around fifteen million euros to subscribe to scientific publications. Their contract with Elsevier, one of the world’s heavyweights in the sector, which gives them access to more than 2,000 scientific journals, ends on December 31. This is an opportunity to put things back on track. A group of university experts was therefore mandated by Cref (the Council of Rectors of French-speaking universities) and BICfB (the Interuniversity Library of the French Community of Belgium) to negotiate the follow-up. According to our information, the discussions promise to be long….”

2019 Was Big for Academic Publishing. Here’s Our Year in Review | The Scientist Magazine®

“The global push to make the scholarly literature open access continued in 2019. Some publishers and libraries forged new licensing deals, while in other cases contract negotiations came to halt, and a radical open access plan made some adjustments. Here are some of the most notable developments in the publishing world in 2019:…”

Open science contract met Elsevier stap dichterbij – ScienceGuide

“With the approaching deadline of 1 January 2020 in sight, the VSNU, NFU, NWO and data company Elsevier have today come to a joint statement. The parties agree to continue to negotiate full open access, in combination with extensive cooperation in the field of open science….

In the past two years , extensive negotiations have taken place between the VSNU, NFU and NWO with the publishing company and data giant Elsevier about a follow-up to the first transformative deal from 2015. Where it was initially possible to work with an extension of the previous contract, the parties negotiated it last year with the prospect that on 1 January 2020 Elsevier would go black for Dutch knowledge institutions.


At the end of 2019, the parties have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that guarantees access to the more than 2500 scientific journals of Elsevier at least until the beginning of May 2020. In addition, Dutch researchers who submit (submit) an article during this period do not have to pay an open access fee. “This remains unchanged from the current OA deal with Elsevier,” says a spokesperson. “The number of titles in which this is possible has increased considerably.” In the meantime, the parties agree to work together on a wide range of pilots that should make open science and research information possible….”

Leaked Dutch Contract with Elsevier Raises Significant Alarm Bells – SPARC

“In recent weeks it has emerged that Elsevier is negotiating a new deal with VSNU, a consortia of Dutch Universities. According to press reports on leaked details of the deal, Elsevier is discussing a contract to provide Dutch universities with access to its journals at no extra cost (a major concession after decades of significant annual increases for most of their customers). However, the deal comes with significant new strings: Elsevier will essentially accept a “zero revenue growth” position for its journal in exchange for the universities purchasing a large set of their data analytics products. While the exact details of the deal are unconfirmed (and Elsevier has indicated that there are several inaccuracies in the leak), we have no reason to believe that the main storyline is incorrect.

There are many reasons why signing a deal like this would represent a very insidious precedent for the academic community. …”