What Will the Future of Scientific Publishing Look Like? | The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

“Recently though, there have been more and more attempts to change that system and find a new way of measuring scholarly achievements other than via the impact factor. But to change the status quo, what exactly needs to change and how can this be achieved? These are just three of the many issues that were discussed during a Panel Discussion on Wednesday afternoon of the 68thLindau Nobel Laureate Meeting….”


Increasing open access publications serves publishers’ commercial interests

Publishing for free is great, but when journals start charging researchers fees, they don’t lose business. A new journal might introduce a fee after a free introductory period. For example, when eLife introduced a US$2,500 publication fee in 2017, it still published more articles in 2017 and 2018 than it had in 2016. Similarly, Royal Society Open Scienceintroduced a US$1,260 fee in 2018 and continued to grow….

I then looked at the four biggest commercial open-access publishers that relied on publication fees: BMC, Frontiers, MDPI and Hindawi. I tracked 319 of their journals, their listed prices and the number of research articles they published between 2012 and 2018. I fed this data into a statistical model and it showed academics preferred to publish in more expensive journals.

The two publishers who raised their prices the most, Frontiers and MDPI, also saw the most growth in the average number of articles in each journal….”

The death of the learned societies? – ScienceGuide

Also the statement that potential profits are used to benefit science seems legitimate, but what exactly do we really know about the business model of learned societies and their journals? To answer these and other questions ScienceGuide spoke with editors and publishers deeply involved with the business of learned societies, and asked them about the value of learned society journals, and what they know about the underlying business model….

Van Ommen starts out to say that he is totally on board with open access, “but Plan S is reckless and ill-conceived.” ….

A similar line of reasoning moved the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to seek out the commercial publisher Elsevier as their partner for a newly launched journal. Former president of the Royal Academy and current president of the (ISSCR) Hans Clevers was involved in the negotiations with the publisher on launching the open access journal Stem Cell Reports….

All of this provided a perfect opportunity for commercial publishers to either co-opt or completely take over these society journals. In 2004 a survey by the Association Learned & Professional Society Publishers found an estimated half of the learned society journals, especially the smaller ones, were run by third party commercial publishers. A 2013 also found that most of the learned societies have little information about how their income is derived….

Fletcher is somewhat baffled by the fact that learned societies don’t know about the full picture behind the business model of co-publishing. …

Although the level of detail in the annual reports of learned societies is too low to get a good estimate on costs and benefit, Kramer is positively surprised by the level of transparency. “If you’d want to have an overview like this for most commercial publishers you’d have a very hard time.” She points out that under Plan S journals are urged to be even more transparent on the way in which costs are derived. “Hopefully we’ll get an even better insight into the cost model of publishers.”


In the revised implementation of Plan S transparency is still a key conditional for compliance. In a previous interview with ScienceGuide president of the Dutch research funder NWO Stan Gielen indicated that in order to comply with the Plan S requirements journals would have to be upfront on how their APC is compiled. “We’re not going to require full transparency from every journal, but if an APC is ludicrously high, we’ll definitely ask questions about their business model.” …”


The gold rush: Why open access will boost publisher profits | Impact of Social Sciences

“An important justification for transitioning from a subscription based journal publishing system to an open access journal publishing system, has been that whereas printing and distributing physical copies of journals is an expensive process, the cost of digital publication and dissemination are marginal. In this post Shaun Khoo argues that whilst a shift to gold (pay to publish) open access would deliver wider access to research, the lack of price sensitivity amongst academics presents a risk that they will be locked into a new escalating  pay to publish system that could potentially be more costly to researchers than the previous subscription model….”

Paywalls block scientific progress. Research should be open to everyone | Jason Schmitt | Education | The Guardian

“Academic and scientific research needs to be accessible to all. The world’s most pressing problems like clean water or food security deserve to have as many people as possible solving their complexities. Yet our current academic research system has no interest in harnessing our collective intelligence. Scientific progress is currently thwarted by one thing: paywalls.

Paywalls, which restrict access to content without a paid subscription, represent a common practice used by academic publishers to block access to scientific research for those who have not paid. This keeps £19.6bn flowing from higher education and science into for-profit publisher bank accounts. My recent documentary, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, uncovered that the largest academic publisher, Elsevier, regularly has a profit margin between 35-40%, which is greater than Google’s. With financial capacity comes power, lobbyists, and the ability to manipulate markets for strategic advantages – things that underfunded universities and libraries in poorer countries do not have….”

Gilead profits from Tuvada HIV treatment funded by taxpayers and patented by the U.S. government – The Washington Post

“Thomas Folks spent years in his U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab developing a treatment to block deadly HIV in monkeys. Then San Francisco AIDS researcher Robert Grant, using $50 million in federal grants, proved the treatment worked in people who engaged in risky sex.

Their work — almost fully funded by U.S. taxpayers — created a new use for an older prescription drug called Truvada: preventing HIV infection. But the U.S. government, which patented the treatment in 2015, is not receiving a penny for that use of the drug from Gilead Sciences, ­Truvada’s maker, which earned $3 billion in Truvada sales last year….

Gilead argues that the government’s patents for Truvada for PrEP, as the prevention treatment is called, are invalid. And the government has failed to reach a deal for royalties or other concessions from the company — benefits that could be used to distribute the drug more widely….”

Elsevier profits near £1 billion despite European disputes | Times Higher Education (THE)

The publisher has reported steady growth and profit margins of more than a third but warned of threat to business from open access….

Elsevier has shrugged off a breakdown in contracts with German and Swedish universities to swell its profits to nearly £1 billion in 2018, its latest financial results reveal.

The Amsterdam-based publisher reported an all but unchanged profit margin of 37.1 per cent….

It made £942 million in profits on revenues of about £2.5 billion, according to financial results released on 21 February….”

Plan S: Motivations of for-profit publishers | Science

“Most scientists would agree that they want their research to become more publicly accessible, but the fact of the matter is that it costs money to publish an article and host it online for both for-profit and nonprofit publishers. Yet, unlike for-profit publishers, nonprofit publishers such as AAAS (the publisher of Science), the Public Library of Science (PLoS), and the Royal Society reinvest their profits into programs that benefit the community. Although these organizations need enough revenue to remain sustainable, they may be more flexible about adjusting their model for the sake of accessibility.

Important questions to consider beyond open access vs. paywall remain: Should the products and services that scientists provide to journals for free—manuscripts, peer review, editorial oversight—be used for profit? Do for-profit publishers’ interests align with those of the scientific community to make science more accessible for both researchers and readers? Initiatives such as Plan S might also consider whether publicly funded research published by for-profit publishers aligns with a mandate to make access to science more open overall….”

OSF Preprints | Market research report: What has become of new entrants in research workflows and scholarly communication?

Abstract:  Over the years, many names of new entrants in research workflows and scholarly communication have appeared. These players aim to provide improvements on solutions for existing needs, or address new requirements or unarticulated needs in all areas of the research cycle. What has become of these hopeful new entrants and their products, services, and tools? This Fall, market research was conducted to investigate various questions in this respect:

 1. Did they still exist (independently) in 2018? 2. If so, how were they funded and how were they doing? 3. If acquired by 2018, by whom and when were they taken over? This white paper describes the approach and results of the market research. The underlying data are available from Zenodo….”

Science ouverte, le défi de la transparence

From Google’s English: “A new way of conceiving scientific research, open science, was born with the computer revolution. In the wake of Open Access (free access to the results of research funded by public money), it accompanies the great ideal of transparency that today invades all spheres of life in society. This book [by Bernard Rentier] describes its origins, perspectives and objectives, and reveals the obstacles and obstacles to private profit and academic conservatism. …”