David Worlock | Developing digital strategies for the information marketplace | Supporting the migration of information providers and content players into the networked services world of the future.

“PLoS is a not for profit, and one of the first Open Access publishers. It is run by Alison Mudditt, a distinguished scholarly publisher with a proven track record of success in commercial academic publishing. In the last two years she has brought PLoS out of serious losses and back into balance again. She has created a strong management team and they have produced a new way of engaging with research institutions that moves beyond the bundling and discounting of “transformative agreements” and into an era of much longer term partnership agreements, where margins are predictable, where issues of volume and cost can be transparent and where institutional buyers can be certain that if they overspend in one year they will be compensated in another. This calls for levels of transparency in partnership that would make many commercial players expire in anguish. 

This is new. It is not complex. It is innovative in its rebalancing of the institution-publisher relationship. It is highly relevant to an industry largely created out of public money. It speaks of the sort of social capitalism that is reflected in Europe by developments like Plan S. Surely our first reactions should be to praise its authors, recognise their intelligent innovation and celebrate their attempt to provide a better solution? Criticism can then follow, and undoubtedly the scheme will change as it rolls out. Meanwhile, congratulations PLoS, welcome back to financial health and thanks for showing us that there is always something new we can do with business models. …”

A World Elsewhere: PLOS’s Community Action Publishing Model – The Scholarly Kitchen

“PLOS, the inventor of the megajournal, is no stranger to innovation. With its announcement of Community Action Publishing (CAP), the company is now seeking to move its two highly selective Gold open access (OA) journals, PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, to a new model in which universities agree to underwrite the costs of publishing for their faculty, if they should choose to publish their work with PLOS (and if PLOS’s editors will have them). While the details of the program are interesting in themselves, of greater moment is the aim, captured in the word “community,” to create a system outside the demand-driven marketplace….

the gist is this: rather than collect article processing charges (APCs) from the authors of accepted manuscripts, PLOS proposes that institutions become members in the two journals’ respective “communities” for three years. The cost of that membership is calculated by counting up the number of articles a particular institution’s faculty have published in the journals in previous years. A significant innovation comes into play here. Unlike most institutional payment schemes (such as transformative agreements) that associate a paper to an institution using only the corresponding author, CAP looks at the affiliation of all authors of a paper. This substantially increases the number of a institutions in the “community” and, by doing so, seeks to sidestep the greatest problem with OA payment models based on output, namely that such models result, by definition, in concentrating payments at a small number of research-intensive universities while encouraging the majority of institutions to become free riders. The CAP model is therefore, at least in theory (we’ll come back to the practical implications), an elegant solution to a vexing market problem….”

CAP Model FAQ – PLOS

An FAQ on the PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP) program.

“In the case of PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, the community goal is to cover the costs of the journals (plus a 10% capped margin) by equitably distributing cost, rather than have individual authors pay the high APCs required to cover the cost highly selective publishing. Members of the collective receive the “private benefit” of publishing in both journals with no fees. Authors from non-member institutions are subject to “non-member fees” which increase considerably year-on-year to encourage participation in the collective….”

Introducing supporting memberships

“There’s little reason to blindly trust organizations, especially in these times of mass inequality. We recognize that Liberate Science is new—we want to earn your trust as we work on projects like Hypergraph. Supporting memberships are about building community and building trust.

One way we aim to build trust is by reinforcing that we won’t sell out. Liberate Science is not owned by venture capitalists or other third-parties, and we want to keep it that way. Ownership will remain with the people working on Liberate Science.

To that end, we will sign contracts with each supporting member that puts in writing that we will not sell or give any shares to third-parties. The more people sign up for supporting memberships, the bigger the lock-in.

We don’t want to be the next Mendeley.

Another way we aim to build trust is by giving supporting members the tools to hold us accountable. As a supporting member, you get to be part of our Assemblies, where we share information about the business and where we’re headed. You can request information, get to share your voice, and be part of the journey to liberate science. We want to co-create with you, not create for you.

We don’t want to be the next Elsevier….”

New contributions to DOAJ from U.S. libraries and academic institutions – News Service

“Covid-19 is hitting all of our institutions, such as libraries and the organizations which support them, very hard. At the same time, it is shining the public’s eye on the importance of access to information in general and to Open Science, in particular.

Contributions to DOAJ are especially valuable at this time. By keeping the costs of helping to fund DOAJ modest and extending the reach as broadly as we can, we hope to secure DOAJ’s ability to serve the world-wide academic community, even as the volume of new open access journal applications is increasing….”

Investments in Open: Canadian Research Libraries’ Expenditures on Services, Staff, and Infrastructures in Support of Open Scholarship

“Widespread sharing of research and scholarship is fundamental for addressing many of today’s most important problems. Research libraries have been at the forefront of promoting open scholarship for many years. They play a pivotal role in the creation, management, discovery, and use of scholarship and have been expanding their financial contributions towards open scholarship over time. However, to date, their investments in “open” have not been well-documented, nor have they always been widely recognized by the broader community. In 2019, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) undertook a comprehensive survey of CARL member libraries’ investments in open scholarship in order to have a better understanding of what is being spent by Canadian academic libraries on open services, platforms, content, and infrastructures. The survey found that the total, aggregate spending on open for all 28 responding libraries was $23 million CAD, with an average spend per institution of $827,086 CAD. This represents an average of 3.09% of the total library budget spent on open, ranging from 0.88% to 7.23% across respondent libraries. By far, the largest category of investment is in local staff, with an average of 74% of the libraries’ open investments going toward salaries. On average, respondent libraries have about 7 FTEs working in open activities, scattered across a number of areas: digitized content, scholarly communications, open repositories, and research data management (including staff contributing to the national Portage project). The second largest category of spending on open were funds directed to publishers through several means: consortial licences via the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) or, in Ontario, the regional association Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) via Scholars Portal, institutional membership with open access publishers, and payment of article processing charges (APCs). This amounted to an average of 14% of total open spending, or approximately $3.2 million CAD in total, 80% of which was directed toward licences with open access publishers or platforms. The rest of the open investments, approximately 12%, were spent on a wide variety of other types of open services, platforms and infrastructures….”

Fair OA publishers, infrastructures and initiatives supported by KU Leuven | KU Leuven Open Science

KU Leuven promotes non-commercial and community-owned approaches of OA, especially through the KU Leuven Fund for Fair OA. On the one hand, the fund supports innovative publishing initiatives and infrastructures. On the other hand, the fund covers membership costs for consortia and advocacy organizations focusing on a non-commercial approach to scholarly communication. On this page you can find an overview of everything that KU Leuven endorses.

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Utility, Morality, Strategy, and Scholarly Communication – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Here’s what has raised these questions for me again recently: our library regularly gets invited to contribute financially to programs that will make content freely available to the world. Sometimes (for example, with programs such as Knowledge Unlatched or SCOAP3) we’ve been asked to contribute to a program that will directly underwrite making current or future publications available on an open access (OA) basis; other times (for example, with consortial transformative agreements) we’ve been invited to pay more for a journal package in order to allow our institutional authors to publish in those journals on an OA basis. In the former case, we’re being asked to make a financial sacrifice for the good of the wider world; the latter case is similar, though arguably in that case our increased outlay would create a direct benefit to our institutional authors as well (to the degree that they do, in fact, want to make their work OA; in reality, of course, some care about that more than others do).

The argument in favor of these arrangements is usually based on a clearly (if implicitly) utilitarian position: creating utility for the whole world is morally superior to creating utility primarily for members of the immediate campus community.

What I think is interesting, though, is that you can also imagine utilitarian arguments against arrangements like these.

For example, from a utilitarian perspective you could argue that using a relatively large amount of campus money to make a relatively small amount of university-produced content OA will not necessarily create more global utility than using that money for another purpose. After all, the money could also be used to support scholarships for students from underrepresented groups, or to bolster the programs of our crisis center. Can we be confident that these uses would do less good in the world than would be done by making some of the articles of some of our authors freely available? …”

Seeking Sustainability: Publishing Models for an Open Access Age – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Last week I had the privilege of serving as the keynote speaker for “Seeking Sustainability: Publishing Models for an Open Access Age.” This virtual event was originally developed as a preconference for the annual UKSG conference, which like so many events was cancelled to help fight the global pandemic. This piece is a reconstruction of my remarks, highlighting the main points that are on my mind as I think about open access, business models, and sustainability. My slides are available via my university’s repository….”

Seeking Sustainability: Publishing Models for an Open Access Age – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Last week I had the privilege of serving as the keynote speaker for “Seeking Sustainability: Publishing Models for an Open Access Age.” This virtual event was originally developed as a preconference for the annual UKSG conference, which like so many events was cancelled to help fight the global pandemic. This piece is a reconstruction of my remarks, highlighting the main points that are on my mind as I think about open access, business models, and sustainability. My slides are available via my university’s repository….”