Learned societies turn against scholarship

“In a recent letter to the White House, a group of corporate publishers and scholarly organizations implore the president to leave intact the current arrangements between publicly funded researchers and the publishing industry. Their letter is the latest move in a decades-long struggle between researchers and publishers over who controls the fruits of the researchers’ labor….

At least one learned society is already reconsidering the issue. The Association for Computing Machinery released a statement on January 9, saying that it regretted signing onto the publishers’ letter and reiterating its commitment to open access. We hope that readers of this essay will contact the leaders of their own learned societies to express their support for open science and their opposition to continuing the current publishing model. In order to solve the challenges the world now faces, the public needs reliable, affordable science. Producing it will require scientific institutions — including systems of scientific publishing — that serve science instead of holding it for ransom.”

How society publishers can accelerate their transition to open access and align with Plan S – Wise – 2020 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  Wellcome, UK Research and Innovation, and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers commissioned Information Power Ltd. to undertake a project to support society publishers to accelerate their transition to open access (OA) in alignment with Plan S and the wider move to accelerate immediate OA. This project is part of a range of activities that cOAlition S partners are taking forward to support the implementation of Plan S principles. The objective of this project was to explore with learned societies a range of potential strategies and business models through which they could adapt and thrive under Plan S. We consulted with society publishers through interviews, surveys, and workshops about the 27 business models and strategies identified during the project. We also surveyed library consortia about their willingness to support society publishers to make the transition to OA. Our key finding is that transformative agreements emerge as the most promising model because they offer a predictable, steady funding stream. We also facilitated pilot transformative agreement negotiations between several society publishers and library consortia. These pilots and a workshop of consortium representatives and society publishers informed the development of an OA transformative agreement toolkit. Our conclusion is that society publishers should consider all the business models this project has developed and should not automatically equate OA with article publication charges.

 

Building new societies: Insights and predictions from the 5th Wiley Society Member Survey – Roscoe – 2020 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Ten years ago, research conducted by the Biosciences Federation found that 60% of responders said they read OA journals, and 25% said that they published in them. Although a minority had claimed to have published in more than one OA journal, ‘they were not always able to distinguish between (fully or optionally) OA journals and other resources’ (Morris & Thorn, 2009). In fact, 31% of the journals mentioned were not OA journals at all. Over the course of our annual surveys, we have seen the understanding and significance of OA increase. In this year’s survey, 80% recognized the description of open research and 78% open science, for example, and only hybrid OA received the relatively low recognition rating of 61%. OA has moved from being a side issue to one of central importance, particularly among students, ECRs, and those in Africa and Central Asia. In last year’s survey, supporting OA was the sixth most important thing a society should do (65%), far behind publishing a journal (89%) and providing education and training (83%). In the current survey, it is the top service of which members want to see more. There is less interest in the USA (47%) and among senior members (61%), but if you are a student (85%) based in Africa (84%) or have less than 5?years’ experience (75%), then increased OA publishing is a major motivation towards society membership (see Fig. 6)….”

Building new societies: Insights and predictions from the 5th Wiley Society Member Survey – Roscoe – 2020 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Ten years ago, research conducted by the Biosciences Federation found that 60% of responders said they read OA journals, and 25% said that they published in them. Although a minority had claimed to have published in more than one OA journal, ‘they were not always able to distinguish between (fully or optionally) OA journals and other resources’ (Morris & Thorn, 2009). In fact, 31% of the journals mentioned were not OA journals at all. Over the course of our annual surveys, we have seen the understanding and significance of OA increase. In this year’s survey, 80% recognized the description of open research and 78% open science, for example, and only hybrid OA received the relatively low recognition rating of 61%. OA has moved from being a side issue to one of central importance, particularly among students, ECRs, and those in Africa and Central Asia. In last year’s survey, supporting OA was the sixth most important thing a society should do (65%), far behind publishing a journal (89%) and providing education and training (83%). In the current survey, it is the top service of which members want to see more. There is less interest in the USA (47%) and among senior members (61%), but if you are a student (85%) based in Africa (84%) or have less than 5?years’ experience (75%), then increased OA publishing is a major motivation towards society membership (see Fig. 6)….”

Recommendations for transparent communication of Open Access prices and services – Information Power

“An independent report published today by Information Power aims to improve the transparency of Open Access (OA) prices and services. The report is the outcome of a project funded by Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on behalf of cOAlition S to inform the development of Plan S. During the project funders, libraries, publishers, and universities worked together to inform the development of a framework intended to provide information about OA services and prices in a transparent, practical, and insightful way.

Imperative need for customer-centric approach

The framework provides opportunities for publishers to build better awareness of and appreciation by customers of the value of their services, and to demonstrate publisher commitment to open business models and business cultures.

And a collaborative, pragmatic approach

cOAlition S aims to help make the nature and prices of OA publishing services more transparent, and to enable conversations and comparisons that will build confidence amongst customers that prices are fair and reasonable. Addressing cOAlition S, the report emphasises that the introduction of a new reporting requirement needs to be organised with clear implementation guidelines, and a proper plan for testing, development, release, review, and refinement. It also recommends an iterative approach to implementation, with a pilot as the next step.

cOAlition S has accepted the recommendation that such a framework needs to be piloted before implementation and agreed a project extension to pilot and refine the framework during the first quarter of 2020. Participants include Annual Reviews, Brill, The Company of Biologists, EMBO Press, European Respiratory Society, Hindawi, PLOS, and SpringerNature. Other publishers are welcome and are invited to express interest in joining the pilot via info@informationpower.co.uk.

Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at Wellcome and interim cOAlition S coordinator, said “On behalf of cOAlition S we are delighted to see all stakeholders engage in the development of this transparency pricing framework and support the idea of road-testing it through a pilot.  Based on the outcome of this pilot, cOAlition S will decide how to use this framework, or a refinement of it, together with other models for inclusion in the requirement for those journals where Plan S requirements apply.”

The project is guided by a steering group which provides expert advice and support….”

Research Access and Scholarly Equity | Perspectives on History | AHA

“The AHA’s 2017 survey on this issue captured the breadth of the problem. Unequal access affects historians working in a wide variety of contexts, including full-time faculty at institutions unable to afford subscriptions, part-time and irregularly employed historians, independent scholars, job candidates, and historians employed outside of higher education. Faculty with inadequate access cannot keep up with the latest scholarship for teaching and have circumscribed access to the primary sources that enliven a classroom and stand at the center of highly regarded history pedagogy. This is not only a matter of academic careers or the pursuit of what we customarily refer to as “producing new knowledge”; it is also a matter of equity in higher education. Unequal access for faculty means unequal educational opportunity for students.

For contingent faculty, uneven research access reflects another aspect of job insecurity—if they lose their job, they lose access. …

The AHA encourages history departments to provide full library access to their own scholar alumni and to unaffiliated historians in their regions. History departments and academic units can play a positive role by supporting the scholarship of their alumni and by bringing more unaffiliated scholars into their orbit. Providing these historians a university affiliation—whether as a visiting scholar or by whatever means is feasible—will help close the gap between those with and without adequate research access. These actions will enable every historian to fully realize their potential as scholars and contributors to our discipline.”

ARL Comments on Draft NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing – Association of Research Libraries

“On November 6, 2019, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a request for public comments on a DRAFT NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing and supplemental DRAFT guidance. NIH has a long history of promoting public access to the research it funds, including policies for sharing scientific data generated from large awards, genomic data, and data from clinical trials.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) welcomes the opportunity to comment on these new draft policies, expanding the guidance on data sharing to all extramural awards, contracts, intramural research projects, and other funding agreements. ARL offers these comments in consultation with member representatives, experts in the data librarian community, and through consultation with a wider group of institutional stakeholders who recently met to draft implementation guidelines for effective data practices recommended by the US National Science Foundation….”

The insanity (and probably illegality) of transformative agreements (including Plan S and Project Deal) – An Open Letter to Libraries and Coalition S | Gunther Eysenbach’s random research rants

“The reality is that libraries are used to negotiate with legacy publishers about subscriptions, and there has been no historic need to negotiate with OA publishers about anything, as they already do exactly what librarians or Plan S/Coalition S and other government entities want them to do – but open access publishers do need support, and need it more than those “poor” publishers like Springer-Nature who wants the transformative deals (all APCs covered) but is screaming and kicking having to abandon their hybrid journals which allows them to double-dip (getting paid for subscriptions AND article processing fees). Why are we spending public tax money to “help” commercial entities to switch to a different business model because they didn’t understand the sign of times 20 years ago? The situation is similar to a government wanting to switch from Internal Combustion Engine cars to electroc cars nationwide, and not subsidizing the costs for buying from Tesla, but only throwing money at GM and BMW to fund their costs to switch production.

In my 20 years of publishing fully open access journals, we have not once received a single dime (or $) of funding from libraries (other OA publishers, like Frontiers, MDPI, Plos, have more muscle and may have institutional agreements, but as niche publisher we simply do not have the market size and staff to negotiate with hundreds of universities/libraries)  – rather than being paid by libraries, it  is all our authors paying from their research grants. The only exception is our recent deal with the University of California (which frankly seems to be the only institution having the vision to support native OA publishers) – but it remains to be seen if other libraries/consortia replicate this model (our emails to Project Deal and other libraries who made transformative deals and are coveering the APC of large publishers, asking them to match the conditions they gave to Wiley and Springer have not been responded to at all). And to be clear, if you want to go with the “quality argument”, keep in mind that 4 out of the 8 leading health informatics journals are published by us.

If the general model changes in the future from APCs being paid by authors/research grants towards libraries picking up these costs, libraries/funders must ensure an “open-access first” policy, where APCs of native open-access publishers and their journals are equally paid or even paid first (i.e. transformative agreements should only be made for journals where no OA journal are in existence and where there is significant demand to publish in a former subscription/hybrid journal). And by the way, don’t use Web of Science or Scopus for these assessments (rather use DOAJ)….”

After a golden age and a lost decade, where next for academic digital publishing? | Zenodo

“The resultant welter of narrowly defined projects and services does little to improve the overall ability of researchers to accomplish their primary goals, or drastically simplify their working lives, and so the transition to open is occurring at only a modest rate. The frustration this engenders amongst the open activists leads them to resort almost exclusively to political tools, the aim being to coerce the adoption of various ugly ducklings which, with luck and sufficient prayer, might over time develop into some kind of beautifully open research communications swan – but equally well might not. 

To adopt another metaphor, the approach to reaching openness pursued to date, and exemplified by Plan S, could be compared to an attempt to replace a plane’s fuselage whilst the plane is in mid-air. But rather than attempting massive ‘in-flight re-engineering’ of the existing scholarly communications system, which risks creating as many new problems as it solves, it would seem sensible to do what one does in any information systems project involving wholesale change: build a pilot of the new system which can be run alongside the existing system. Once the new system is proven, the old system can be retired. It would not be premature, after several decades of mudslinging, politicking and piecemeal tinkering, for interested stakeholders now to attend as a practical matter to the development of a parallel academic publishing infrastructure. I’m thinking here of a unified, global, end-to-end system that enabled authors to submit, with a single click, research outputs into a single academic content space, which would be indexed and clustered to enable readers to find content effortlessly according to multiple criteria.”  

After a golden age and a lost decade, where next for academic digital publishing? | Zenodo

“The resultant welter of narrowly defined projects and services does little to improve the overall ability of researchers to accomplish their primary goals, or drastically simplify their working lives, and so the transition to open is occurring at only a modest rate. The frustration this engenders amongst the open activists leads them to resort almost exclusively to political tools, the aim being to coerce the adoption of various ugly ducklings which, with luck and sufficient prayer, might over time develop into some kind of beautifully open research communications swan – but equally well might not. 

To adopt another metaphor, the approach to reaching openness pursued to date, and exemplified by Plan S, could be compared to an attempt to replace a plane’s fuselage whilst the plane is in mid-air. But rather than attempting massive ‘in-flight re-engineering’ of the existing scholarly communications system, which risks creating as many new problems as it solves, it would seem sensible to do what one does in any information systems project involving wholesale change: build a pilot of the new system which can be run alongside the existing system. Once the new system is proven, the old system can be retired. It would not be premature, after several decades of mudslinging, politicking and piecemeal tinkering, for interested stakeholders now to attend as a practical matter to the development of a parallel academic publishing infrastructure. I’m thinking here of a unified, global, end-to-end system that enabled authors to submit, with a single click, research outputs into a single academic content space, which would be indexed and clustered to enable readers to find content effortlessly according to multiple criteria.”