‘Up to half’ of European papers to be open access under Plan S | Times Higher Education (THE)

European countries signed up to Plan S can expect to have about half their total research output published in open access format, according to new analysis that offers a snapshot of the scheme’s potential global impact.

The Plan S Footprint: Implications for the Scholarly Publishing Landscape, published by research data analysts Clarivate, examines the extent to which existing publications comply with the guidelines for Plan S, under which participating funders will require all the research that they had supported to be made freely available at the point of publication from next January….

While the papers funded by Plan S backers account for only about 6.4 per cent of total annual academic output, researchers found their impact to be much wider, with compliant papers racking up more citations on average, across all fields.

In molecular biology and genetics, for example, 2017 papers authored by one or more researchers supported by Plan S signatories received an average of 7.7 citations, compared with the total subject average of 4.7….

The paper estimates that about 90,000 papers funded by Plan S supporters which are currently published in hybrid or subscription journals would need to be “rehoused” if the titles did not flip to full open access.

“The relocation of content to open access titles would represent a 29 per cent overall movement in the volume of well-cited papers in the existing compliant venues,” the researchers add, which “could be disruptive in some subjects, and suitable compliant venues are not always available”. …”


Student Savings at Scale: LibreTexts – SPARC

LibreTexts offers materials in 12 widely used college-level disciplines from chemistry to humanities. It has 398 textbooks (68,500 pages) in its free online library and covers 154 courses. Since it was established 11 years ago, LibreTexts has been used by 223 million students saving them approximately $31 million….”

UV: Relx hit as University of California cancels $11m contract

“Relx’ shares tumbled after the University of California cancelled its contract with the company’s publishing arm Elsevier, publicly accusing its business model of blocking free access to academic knowledge.

The University, which produces nearly 10 per cent of academic articles in the US, said it cancelled the $11m contract after Elsevier would not make its academic articles — previously accessible by subscription — freely available to anyone, without charging a fee….

The FTSE 100 group’s shares were down 6 per cent by mid afternoon on Friday….

Analysts from Liberum said the development offered a potentially significant risk to the Elsevier subscription model. “Given that research is concentrated among the major universities, if the latter demanded that their content be made available to all for free under the terms of their contracts, then — very quickly — most of the world’s articles would effectively be available for free, undermining the scientific publishing model,” they said….”


“This roadmap for the next two years outlines a selection of Trump Administration objectives to make government information more open and accessible for developers, academics, entrepreneurs and everyday Americans….

3) Provide Public Access to Federally Funded Research

Primarily through the National Science and Technology Council (Council), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates United States efforts to make the results of Federally funded scientific research more accessible and useful to the public, industry, and the scientific community. In the Council’s Subcommittee on Open Science, thirty-two United States agency funders collaborate to improve the preservation, discoverability, accessibility, and usability of Federally funded scientific research, with the aims of bolstering the reliability of that research, accelerating scientific discovery, stimulating innovation, enhancing economic growth and job creation.

In 2018, the Subcommittee on Open Science was re-chartered to promote open science principles across the Federal Government and increase public access to Federally-funded research results. The Subcommittee’s priorities include: (1) Facilitating coordination across Federal Government agencies on open science efforts; (2) Developing appropriate incentives to encourage researchers to adopt open science principles; (3) Streamlining and synchronizing agency and researcher data management practices for maximum utility to the public; (4) Collaborating with academia, researcher communities, and industry toward the development of research data standards that further open science. As part of the Subcommittee’s objectives, it will develop a report that provides recommendations for improvements to existing Federal open access policies and continued collaboration between agencies on achieving open access objectives….”

Using open education isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ when students are starving (opinion)

Replying to a recent blog post, Jonathan Poritz argues that lowering students’ costs by using open educational resources isn’t just a nicety in an era when many students are hungry and textbook “quality” is exaggerated….

[H]igh textbook costs mean that students:

  • enroll in fewer courses — and consequently take longer to graduate,
  • choose courses based on textbook price rather than for academic reasons, and
  • don’t buy required textbooks — and consequently often do more poorly and more frequently fail or withdraw….

Green oddly misses the main takeaway from this study: it found a one-third reduction in DFW rates among minority and Pell-eligible students when courses switched from commercial textbooks to OER.

So not only are OER responsible for at least a modest academic improvement for all students while making a significant difference to one of the central issues of higher education in our time — skyrocketing costs and student debt — they also make a significant difference in the achievement gap between demographic groups….

  1. There is little actual reason to believe that commercial textbooks are of higher quality than OER — in fact, there is good evidence that they are not, at least by all reasonable metrics of quality — and to believe this is to have merely blind faith in a form of free-market fundamentalism that doesn’t even apply in the failed market of textbooks.”


OER as an Institutional Survival Strategy | Confessions of a Community College Dean

“Shift focus from “tuition and fees” to “total cost of attendance,” and foster the adoption of OER at scale.  Money not spent on textbooks can offset tuition increases from a student perspective, while still allowing needed operating revenue to flow to the institution.

In the right context, done well, OER represents the rare win-win.  A student facing a tuition increase of, say, a hundred dollars a semester probably breaks even with a single course moving to OER, and comes out ahead if two or more courses do.  Tuition may go up, but total cost of attendance — the meaningful number — remains flat or even drops. Even better, OER allows every single student to have the book from the first day of class, which can help with course completion and retention, and therefore enrollment.  (One of the most powerful predictors of retention is GPA. Students with GPA’s below 2.0 drop out at much higher rates than students above 2.0. Not having the book affects academic performance; presumably, having the book may affect it in a positive way.) You can maintain a sustainable funding level for the college, keep costs down for students, and improve retention rates at the same time.

In essence, it redirects revenue from publishers to colleges and students. Yes, that takes a bite out of some commercial publishers, but that’s their problem.  They should have thought of that before charging $300 for an Intro to Physics textbook, or before bundling non-transferable software codes with textbooks to short-circuit the used book market….

I ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers for Brookdale over the last few days, to see how much money OER has saved or will save students in the coming year.  Based only on courses that have already committed to adopting it, we’re looking at over a million dollars per year in textbook cost savings….”

Plan S: how important is open access publishing? | Times Higher Education (THE)

Dislike of gold open access is also partly responsible for researchers’ opposition to Plan S. Lynn Kamerlin, professor of structural biology at Uppsala University, is one of the instigators of the open letter against it. While she pledges strong support for open access, she is happy with the current rate of progress and sees the recent “explosion” in the use of preprint servers as illustrative of the range of routes towards it. She fears that the details of Plan S’ “embargo requirements and repository technical requirements…are so draconian that paid-for gold becomes the easiest way to fulfil them”. This will convert the “nudges” towards gold in existing funder mandates (which she supports) into a “shove”, which will be “a disaster for the research community” because it will disadvantage those unable to pay article processing charges and “seriously jeopardise the much more rigorous quality control standards provided by high-quality society journals compared to the high-volume for-profit business model, which has an inbuilt conflict of interest”.

Nor is Kamerlin alone in expressing a concern that the allegedly lower standards of peer review practised by fully open access journals have compromised quality. But, for Suber, debating quality rather misses the point. “Yes, there is some low-quality open access work, but there’s also low-quality subscription journal work, and people who step back [to see the bigger picture] always acknowledge that,” he says. “Quality and access are completely independent of each other. Open access isn’t a kind of peer review, it’s a kind of dissemination.”

However, he agrees with Kamerlin that the “green” form of open access, whereby academics post work that is in subscription journals on their institutional repositories or elsewhere…is another good option….”

A New Method for Estimating OER Savings

“Earlier this year, SPARC launched a community-wide effort to track $1 billion in worldwide savings through the use of OER, responding to a challenge issued in 2013. At the 2018 Open Education Conference, we announced that the OER movement had successfully reached this important milestone. This is the first of a multi-post series explaining our calculations behind the $1 billion, and what comes next.”

Recapping the year in digital learning

Open educational resources (OER) have been around — and gaining ground — for more than a decade, but 2018 was a turning point in a number of ways. Governments put nearly $20 million toward expanding OER in higher education, including $8 million from New York for the second year in a row, and $10 million from the U.S. Congress.

Similar investments have generated significant returns in student savings, most recently confirmed in a North Dakota state audit that documented savings 10 to 20 times the modest original investment. Worldwide, the savings through OER for students, parents and schools have surpassed $1 billion, according to our calculations.

Also this year, OpenStax announced that its free, open textbooks are used at nearly half of all U.S. institutions, and at least 38 community colleges are establishing degree pathways that use OER in every course. Links between OER and equity are emerging, with a new study from the University of Georgia that found the use of OER was associated with higher grades for Pell-eligible and other traditionally underserved students. Meanwhile, OER is becoming a focal point in mainstream higher education conversations, most recently with an OER implementation summit organized by the regional higher education compacts MHEC and WICHE.

Five years from now, we will still be talking about OER — but not in the way you might think. My prediction is that 2019 is the year when the national conversation about OER shifts from being solely about saving money to leveraging openness to make course materials better. OER has the power to unlock new ways for faculty to exercise academic freedom in the classroom, for students to meaningfully engage with their materials and for institutions to promote the success of all students.”