Different Goals, Different Strategies

“I think Michael Feldstein is directionally correct in his analysis of what has been happening to “open education” for the past several years. Without wading into the labeling fray (are we a movement? a coalition? a community? a field? a discipline?) I’d like to add a bit of my own perspective. Where Michael sees three groups with different goals, I see four groups who are trying to use OER to solve closely related – but ultimately very different – problems:

The negative impact on access to education caused by the high price of traditional learning materials
The negative impact on student success caused by limitations in the traditional publishing model
The negative impact on pedagogy caused by copyright-related constraints inherent in traditional learning materials
The negative impact on students caused by a wide range of behaviors related to the business models of traditional publishers….”

David Wiley steps down and adjourns the Open Education Conference

“Last weekend, at the Open Education Conference in Phoenix, David Wiley, chief academic officer of Lumen Learning and the conference’s organizer for 16 years, announced that this would be its last gathering, or at least the last with him at the helm. The conference, which grew from 40 attendees in 2003 to 850 this year, was a meeting place for advocates of open education, a sometimes hard-to-define goal that often involved the use of open educational resources — free, openly licensed digital textbooks.

“This is not a call for another person or organization to come forward to keep the same conference running the same way into the future. Rather, it’s a call to reset and start over,” Wiley wrote on his blog. “This reimagining must be owned by the community. It must be driven by the community. And it would be inappropriate for me to try to facilitate that process beyond extending a brief invitation.”…

The announcement prompted reactions across blogs and Twitter feeds, with some commentators saying that the announcement represented a fracturing of the tenuously aligned coalition of open education advocates. Michael Feldstein, chief accountability officer at e-Literate, wrote on his blog that differences in the goals and preferred tactics of open education advocates could no longer be bridged. Tensions within the “coalition” of open education supporters had become insurmountable, he wrote.

Many people in the coalition had different goals, Feldstein wrote, such as increasing access to education, improving educational quality or promoting the values of education. They also had different strategies, such as lowering the cost of instructional materials, increasing their quality or fostering autonomy for educators. As awareness and adoption of open educational resources has grown, so have tensions, he said….”

The Crumbling of the OpenEd Coalition –

“The OpenEd coalition has long consisted of (at least) three different groups with three different primary goals:

Increase access to education by lowering cost of curricular materials
Increase quality of education by increasing quality of curricular materials
Promote values of education by fostering autonomy for educators and agency for learners…

Depending on how you interpret and rank these three priorities, your beliefs about strategy and values could be quite different. And there have long been signs that, in fact, there were very serious tensions among the views and priorities of the coalition members.

In 2015, Phil Hill and I gave a joint keynote at the OpenEd conference in Vancouver. The theme of our talk was precisely that OpenEd was a brittle coalition that could fracture if the coalitional challenges were not addressed. Phil, in his part, talked about the challenge and opportunity that faculty surveys about OER demonstrated. There was a lot to be accomplished. My half of the talk was about my experience as a climate activist and how hard it is to build a coalition that holds together and accomplishes its goals over time (hint hint)….”

Digitizing Printed Arabic Journals: Is a Scalable Solution Possible?

“In 2017, JSTOR received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to investigate processes for digitizing Arabic-language scholarly content. Our goal in the project was to develop a workflow for scanning Arabic materials–especially journals– that is reasonably cost-efficient, feasible to implement at scale, and likely to produce high-quality images and metadata, including fully searchable text….

Through this investigation, we concluded that, using new metadata guidelines and OpenITI’s software, and leveraging specific workflows created jointly with Apex, it is possible for JSTOR to digitize Arabic language journals with the high-degree of accuracy needed to support search and discovery at a cost of approximately $3 per page, with the promise that this per page cost could be reduced further through continuous improvements in the OCR software engine. In this white paper, we contextualize our investigation in the broader landscape of digital scholarly literature in Arabic. We then document our approach and findings from this project, which took place over 20 months from April 2017 through December 2018. And finally, we lay out some areas we identified for potential further research….”

Open and Shut?: The OA Interviews: K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India

“It is, however, clearly problematic that cOAlition S has remained an essentially European initiative. For this reason when, in February, the Indian Government’s Principal Scientific Adviser, Professor VijayRaghavan posted a series of tweets saying that India was joining cOAlition S the news was greeted with great excitement by cOAlition S members, as well as by Plan S supporters like the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas.

 

The news was greeted with less enthusiasm back home in India, with concerns raised about the cost implications, the likely impact on small journals and publishers, and the way in which it would allow commercial publishers to continue to profit excessively from the research community – see, for instance, here, here and here.

 

Following Prof. VijayRaghavan’s tweets, however, radio silence set in, with no confirmation that India had formally joined, or any updates on the status of its plans. For this reason many ears pricked up last Friday when, during a lecture he gave at IISc Bangalore to mark Open Access Week, Prof. VijayRaghavan commented, “We are not committed to whatever Plan S does or does not do.” This sufficiently piqued the interest of Vasudevan Mukunth that he sought out Prof. VijayRaghavan and asked for clarification, which led to an interview in The Wire where it was confirmed that India no longer plans to join cOAlition S.

 

As I had been trying to interview Prof. VijayRaghavan for some months, I too was piqued by his comments and so took to Twitter to again invite him to answer the questions I had sent him in June. He agreed and below are his answers to an updated list of questions I emailed over to him….”

PeerJ Preprints Succumbs

“The number and range of preprint initiatives has been expanding for a few years now, with bioRxiv, medRxiv, chemRxiv, and socRxiv among a much longer list, some quite obscure.

The recent announcement that PeerJ Preprints won’t be posting any more preprints after the end of this month may represent the beginning of “preprint deflation,” the first obvious retreat in the preprint realm, a world that has been haunted by questions of financial viability since Day 1.

Even long-standing preprint servers like arXiv have wrestled with the expense and work involved in posting free drafts of papers. The systems, people, and bandwidth needed to support technology platforms longterm aren’t cheap. Preprint platforms are no exception. This year, arXiv moved from one part of Cornell to another, in what looked like an attempt to shuffle overheads out of budgetary approval scrutiny for a time — after all, as I’ve calculated, if you include these, arXiv is hemorrhaging money every year, and nobody seems to want to confront that possibility.

Other indications of preprint deflation are observable in the analyses I’ve done around bioRxiv and socRxiv. The goals of these platforms — to encourage collaboration and pre-publication review — aren’t shared by most users, with authors increasingly using the platforms as marketing adjuncts or to meet Green OA requirements after successful submission to a journal….”

How journals are using overlay publishing models to facilitate equitable OA

“Preprint repositories have traditionally served as platforms to share copies of working papers prior to publication. But today they are being used for so much more, like posting datasets, archiving final versions of articles to make them Green Open Access, and another major development — publishing academic journals. Over the past 20 years, the concept of overlay publishing, or layering journals on top of existing repository platforms, has developed from a pilot project idea to a recognized and growing publishing model.

In the overlay publishing model, a journal performs refereeing services, but it doesn’t publish articles on its website. Rather, the journal’s website links to final article versions hosted on an online repository….”

Can Open Access pay the bills? | Eldis

“For over 20 years, Eldis has provided free access to relevant, up-to-date and diverse research on global development issues. The Eldis database now includes summaries and links to over 60,000 full-text research and policy documents from a growing global network of several thousand research organisations and networks.  

Open Access has always been at the core of our values but through our long engagement in this area we are also well aware that Open Access isn’t free. For smaller research organisations, the costs required to build the technical capacity and maintain the systems required to adopt open access publishing methods can be difficult to meet. This in turn means that they might not benefit from the increased visibility and reach for their ideas that open access approaches potentially offer.  

For this reason, a large part of what we do has revolved around supporting smaller research producers to make their knowledge, visible and accessible to audiences online. 

But Eldis currently receives no core funding from any donors so continuing this support, maintaining our collection online, and keeping our services free for users, is a constant challenge for us too.  

Our solution is to offer bespoke, cost-effective products, alongside our free services, designed to help research projects and programmes to introduce their knowledge and evidence to the broad global audience of development practitioners, decision-makers and researchers that we have established over the years. …”

Decrypting the Big Deal Landscape: Follow-up of the 2019 EUA Big Deals Survey Report

“As of 2017, the European University Association (EUA) assembled a unique collection of ‘Big Deals’ data on agreements between scholarly publishers and (national) consortia of libraries, universities and research organisations. This was carried out in the light of mounting higher education institution concerns about the increasingly unsustainable cost of subscriptions to scholarly publications. In 2016, EUA committed to “establishing an evidence base about current agreements and on-going negotiations with publishers in collaboration with NRCs”.1 Subsequently, data collected by EUA has served as the basis for two reports released in 2018 and 2019, respectively.2 Big Deals now receive increased attention due to their potential to ‘flip’ entire segments of the scholarly publication market from closed to open access publications. Big deals have also been widely criticised for locking-in library budgets, due to constantly increasing subscription costs. The 2019 EUA Big Deals Survey Report surveyed covered 30 European countries and found that over €1 billion is spent on electronic resources each year, including at least €726 million spent on periodicals alone. Big Deals are said to limit competition and innovation in the scholarly publishing system3 and curb universities’ and consortia’s financial freedom to pursue other priorities. However, recently, several European negotiating consortia and scholarly publishers have concluded Big Deals that allow eligible authors to publish articles in open access formats in specific journals. Known as ‘transformative agreements’, these contracts are also supported as one way to comply with future funder requirements that will apply as of 2021 under Plan S.4 In a system that is largely defined by Big Deals, this report aims to inform the transition to open access debate, by providing additional insights and indicators on these agreements’ costs, publication volumes and timelines. This has been achieved by placing EUA Big Deals data into context….

Part 1 explains the methods used to obtain the underlying data as well as limitations and responsible use of the data. Part 2 links the publication outputs of journal articles and reviews to the large five publishers’ market share. It seeks to provide a bigger picture of the relation between subscription costs and publishing output. Part 3 sets out an analysis of the price-per-article for each country and publisher, calculated on the basis of subscription prices and publication volume. It provides European negotiators with comparative Big Deals price per article data in 26 countries. Part 4 takes a closer look at the timeline of Big Deal agreements collected by the EUA Big Deals Survey. It shows that the 2018-2020 period is crucial for negotiations with scholarly publishers (in terms of market volume). Negotiations that occur during this time may also be crucial for the further development of ‘transformative’ agreements and therefore compliance with Plan S requirements. Part 5 provides a brief summary of our main findings, contextualises them with current developments and provides policy recommendations….”

Decrypting the Big Deal Landscape: Follow-up of the 2019 EUA Big Deals Survey Report | EUA

by Lennart Stoy, Rita Morais and Lidia Borrell-Damián

Based on the data collected for the 2019 Big Deals Survey Report, this publication aims to deliver additional transparency of the dynamics of the scholarly publishing market by providing insights and indicators on the costs, publication volumes and timelines of Big Deal contracts. The report is part of EUA’s support to universities and consortia striving to create a transparent and sustainable open access publishing system, in particular in the context of Plan S.

This has been achieved by placing EUA Big Deals data into context. Specifically, this report uses aggregate data obtained from the Web of Science by Clarivate Analytics provided by the German Competence Center for Bibliometrics and correlates it with EUA data on Big Deals. The report uses data from 26 countries and contracts with the publishers Elsevier, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, Wiley and American Chemical Society collected in late 2018.