Libraries Face a Future of Open Access – The Scholarly Kitchen

“When librarians prepare for a negotiation, they now routinely reach for the muscle. At least that’s how I read the news about the Swedish library consortium and its dealings with Elsevier. If you have been too preoccupied with the Royal Wedding to pay attention to news coming out of the world of STM publishing, you can get a good backgrounder here. Briefly, the Swedish consortium attempted to dictate terms to Elsevier, terms that Elsevier would not accept. The result is that Elsevier’s contract will be cancelled, meaning that there will be no authorized access to Elsevier content for the consortium users.

I have written previously about how the current landscape looks to publishers. In every negotiation, publishers are mindful that their ability to control access to their publications is compromised by unauthorized access from such sites as Sci-Hub and ResearchGate. How can Elsevier or any publisher shut off the Swedes or the Germans when Alexandra Elbakyan is waiting in the anteroom? Librarians have learned to reach for the muscle and now confidently demand terms that no publisher can or will accept. This raises the obvious question of whether librarians knowingly and actively seek the support of copyright pirates; or perhaps librarians simply are going about their business in their usual upbeat way, working diligently to make the world a better place, and the critical involvement of the shady characters is neither sought nor recognized. My own view has changed. I think the cynicism quotient in academic libraries, measured against other organizations and institutions, is very low. This is not, after all, Wall Street or, lord help us, the telecommunications business. But, like the populist governments that have now been installed in a number of Western democracies, the party of cynicism has taken control of some leading library organizations. Thus a nod to the likes of Luca Brasi no longer seems out of line. Having grown up in New Jersey, I have some qualms about what it means for anyone to form an alliance with unsavory characters. What do you do when they ask for a favor in return?

So it’s about time to consider what happens if the libraries win. By “win” I mean they refuse deals with publishers and turn their constituencies over to unauthorized sites. This will save them huge amounts of money, of course, money that they would surely like to put to other uses. Publishing is an ecosystem, however, and a significant change in one element can ripple across the entire field. If Sci-Hub becomes the default place to go for full-text content, what else will change?


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….”

A DEAL for open access | EMBO Reports

“The negotiations between the German DEAL project and publishers have global implications for academic publishing beyond just Germany

Open access (OA) publication dates back at least 40 years in some fields such as computation research, but, for the past decade, has attracted increasing attention among scientists from all disciplines as an alternative to subscription?based journals as the main route for disseminating the results of research. The life sciences were rather slow to join the movement for OA, which took root early in the Millennium. One important step then was the “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” in October 2003. It was inspired by Germany’s Max Planck Society and the European Cultural Heritage Online (ECHO) to support “[n]ew possibilities of knowledge dissemination not only through the classical form but also and increasingly through the open access paradigm via the Internet” ( The declaration sets out two key principles, firstly that authors grant “to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship”. The second principle is that authors deposit copies of their work in a suitable OA repository. Back then, proponents of OA had hoped that the mandate would help to transform scientific publishing towards payment for publication rather than subscriptions, especially as it gained support from other major funding bodies, such as the UK’s Wellcome Trust and the US Howard Hughes Medical Institutes (HHMI). Yet, progress towards OA has been patchier and slower than expected. “I think that most people involved in the open access debates in the early years, including myself, did not expect that changing the scholarly publishing system would take that long”, commented Georg Botz, Coordinator for Open Access Policy at the Max Planck Society. …”

Wellcome ‘disappointed’ over fall in open-access compliance

“The Wellcome Trust has announced it will keep a vigilant eye on how Oxford University Press complies with open-access policies, after data showed that the publisher’s adherence fell significantly last year….

The data show that overall compliance with the fund’s policies has fallen from 91 per cent in 2016 to 87 per cent in 2017….

In particular, compliance by Oxford University Press fell “significantly”, according to the trust, because the publisher has been experiencing problems with converting outputs to a format that is compliant with Europe PubMed Central’s technical requirements.

Wellcome said it would monitor the situation over three to six months, to ensure that it was resolved, and seek compensation from the publisher “for the poor service delivered to researchers, institutions and funders over the last 12 months”, it said.

A total of 34 per cent of articles paid for by the Charity Open Access Fund in 2016-17 and published by Oxford University Press were non-compliant—compared with 5 per cent the previous year. The second and third-most non-compliant publishers were Elsevier at 11 per cent and Wiley at 10 per cent….

Overall, the trust calculates that the cost of open-access publishing has seen “a significant increase”, and that the average cost of journal article-processing charges has risen by 11 per cent since last year….”

OA2020-DE – What to do with funds after subscriptions with Elsevier are cancelled? | National Contact Point Open Access

“At the start of 2017, fifty German universities and libraries cancelled their license agreements with Elsevier, and a further 90 or so have announced that they, too, will let their agreements expire at the end of 2017. As allotted funds in subscription budgets must be employed or lost, many librarians in Germany are faced with the decision of how best to use the monies liberated from their Elsevier deals.

OA2020-DE, the German constituency of the Open Access 2020 Initiative, proposes that institutions seize the funds that were destined to Elsevier renewals and reinvest them, at least in part, in publishing initiatives that support the open access transformation. …”

How Elsevier plans to sabotage Open Access – Hacker Noon

“It was a long and difficult road to get the major publishing houses to open up to open access, but in the end the Dutch universities got their much awaited ‘gold deal’ for open access. A recently revealed contract between Elsevier and the Dutch research institutes lays bare the retardant tactics the publishing giant employs to stifle the growth of open access….”

Open Data: The Researcher Perspective

“The Open Data report is a result of a year-long, co-conducted study between Elsevier and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), part of Leiden University, the Netherlands.  The study is based on a complementary methods approach consisting of a quantitative analysis of bibliometric and publication data, a global survey of 1,200 researchers and three case studies including in-depth interviews with key individuals involved in data collection, analysis and deposition in the fields of soil science, human genetics and digital humanities….”