Textbooks are pricey. So students are getting creative. – The Washington Post

“George Mason and hundreds of campuses throughout the country — including American University and the University of Maryland — are slowly adopting open educational resources, materials that are written by academics for the public domain and available at no cost to students and professors.

Max Paul Friedman, a history professor at American, started using open-source textbooks five years ago. Before that, he had been assigning a textbook that cost about $100.

“For some time, I’d been concerned about the high price of textbooks. All of our students are struggling,” Friedman said. “For generations, textbook publishers have enjoyed captive markets of students who don’t have a choice when it comes to what they have to pay for and who have paid fairly high, if not inflated, prices for books.” …

Nearly a quarter of educators who taught introductory courses during the 2017-2018 school year required students to use open-source textbooks, up from 15 percent the year before, according to data from the Babson Survey Research Group….”

Textbooks are pricey. So students are getting creative. – The Washington Post

“George Mason and hundreds of campuses throughout the country — including American University and the University of Maryland — are slowly adopting open educational resources, materials that are written by academics for the public domain and available at no cost to students and professors.

Max Paul Friedman, a history professor at American, started using open-source textbooks five years ago. Before that, he had been assigning a textbook that cost about $100.

“For some time, I’d been concerned about the high price of textbooks. All of our students are struggling,” Friedman said. “For generations, textbook publishers have enjoyed captive markets of students who don’t have a choice when it comes to what they have to pay for and who have paid fairly high, if not inflated, prices for books.” …

Nearly a quarter of educators who taught introductory courses during the 2017-2018 school year required students to use open-source textbooks, up from 15 percent the year before, according to data from the Babson Survey Research Group….”

Sci-Hub users cost ASA journals thousands of downloads, and that’s OK | Family Inequality

“I use Sci-Hub a lot, often for things that I also have subscription access to. (I do not, however, contribute anything to the system; I free-ride off their criminality.) Why? I’m not in the paywall game business, I’m in the information business. I am always behind on my work, and adding a few seconds or minutes of hunting for the legitimate way to get each of the many articles I look at every day is not worth it. (And when I find my university doesn’t subscribe? Interlibrary loan is wonderful, but I don’t want to spend more time with it than necessary.) Does my choice cost the American Sociological Association a few cents, by reducing legitimate downloads, which somehow factors into the profits that get kicked back to the association from Sage? I don’t know.

Of course, one of the dumb things about the paywall system is that it’s expensive and time-consuming to manage who has access to what information — it’s not a small task to keep information from reaching millions of determined readers from all around the world. (I assume one of the reasons my university recently introduced two-factor authentication — requiring me to click a pop-up on my phone every time I log in to university resources [even when I’m in my office] — is because of Sci-Hub. Ironic!)

Chris Bourg is right: “let it be a lesson to us for what we should be doing differently.” Elbakyan may have committed the most efficient product theft in history, in terms of list price of stolen goods per unit of effort or expense on her part. Her archive has been copied and distributed to different sites around the world (it fits in a large suitcase). And it was made possible by the irrational, corrupt nature of the scholarly communication infrastructure. Her success is the system’s failure.”

Who Is Competing to Own Researcher Identity? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“To date, ResearchGate appears to be winning the battle to build a sector-wide identity instance for researchers, regardless of university or publisher, with Academia.edu as its primary competition. Though many have predicted the demise of these academic social networks, their continued growth cannot be dismissed. 

ResearchGate reports having 15 million members worldwide. Some portion of these “members” are presumably inactive, or active only in limited ways. Even so, there is reason to believe that ResearchGate represents a substantial share of the global scientific community. While it is difficult to know exactly what its members are doing on the platform — anything from reading articles to engaging with collaborators to searching for jobs — the amount of traffic they generate is enormous. According to data from SimilarWeb, in a recent three month period, ResearchGate’s traffic was nearly equal to that of ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, and Nature.com combined. Or, to provide another comparative, ResearchGate’s usage was almost equivalent to that of a basket of major Elsevier properties, including ScienceDirect and all its other major STM properties, including Mendeley, bepress, SSRN, and Pure. 

There is power to this scale. ResearchGate has been able to associate much of the scientific literature with its authors, enabling a variety of analytics that it is able to turn into services and in some cases to monetize. Even though ResearchGate is one of the largest sources of leakage and is therefore being sued by an array of the major publishing houses, the power of ResearchGate’s data has been sufficient to enable it to develop a partnership with  Springer Nature, at least on a pilot basis, in which Springer Nature content is freely distributed on ResearchGate. …”

News & Views: Shifting Power Balances in Global Scholarly Output – Delta Think

“The following figure analyzes the spread of output across major regions, comparing papers published in all journals with those published in fully OA journals….

 

Authors from Asia-Pacific (APAC) account for just under 45% of papers, with Europe a close second and the Americas third. (Total papers in this model amount to just under 2.4 million.)
However, Europe leads in authorship in fully OA journals, covering 52% of output compared with APAC’s 43%. (The model covers just over 500,000 papers in fully OA journals.)…
The top chart shows publications in all journals. Each color represents a different year. We can see that APAC’s share of output is growing, while Western Europe is flatlining and North America lessening.
Share of output in fully OA journals (the bottom chart) shows a slightly different picture. APAC is growing, but in this case, Western Europe’s share is declining, and North America’s share is shrinking even faster.
Smaller economies are growing their share of fully OA faster than they are growing their share of overall output, albeit from lower bases….

By measuring share of output and including overlap between multi-author papers, we can analyze how the “influence” of authors from different regions is changing. As shown above, data confirms the increase in APAC output and the static or decreasing trends in Western Europe and North America, respectively.

The story is much more nuanced when you drill into each country’s contributions. For example, China accounts for a bit less than half (48%) of the APAC region’s influence. While countries such as South Korea, Japan, India, and Australia account for single-digit percentages each, together they are moving the needle, accounting for almost 38% of APAC’s total output….”

Is Medical Education Ready for Universal Open Access to Research? | Journal of Graduate Medical Education

“At the current rate of growth, aided by public access policies of the National Institutes of Health and other funders, as well as publishers’ growing open access options, we can reasonably expect that by 2030, readers will have universal public access to most biomedical research literature. This includes the medical education research of interest to readers of JGME. This exciting development is part of a larger open access movement in scholarly publishing that reflects a growing recognition that research and scholarship is better served by freely sharing this work, in ways that were not possible in the age of print. Given its value to science, open access is now attracting the institutional support needed to make it sustainable. At this point, close to half of current research across all disciplines of science is being made open by various means, whether by publication in open access journals, authors posting their final drafts (with publishers’ permission), or articles becoming open access after an embargo period.1 While there are competing models for how universal access will be achieved,2 amid sometimes bumpy negotiations between publishers and libraries,3 none of the stakeholders disagree over the contribution of open access to the advancement of science….

As teachers and educational researchers, our contribution to such considerations has been to study the points and basis of access for physicians and the public. For example, would physicians have the time and interest to access biomedical literature if it was fully open access? In one study, 336 physicians were provided free access to the literature through Stanford University libraries for a year.4 While two-thirds of the participants did not access a research article over that year (with some attributing this to a lack of reminders or promotion of the service), one-third viewed 1 article a week, on average, for purposes that ranged from assisting with clinical care to educating fellow physicians. Some reported withdrawal symptoms when the access ended; others informed us of how, prior to this study, they had been deterred from consulting research by encountering a paywall. The results suggested that physicians need to be informed of their growing access to research, and guidance on how to skillfully and effectively use this access should be added to their training. Building expectations of access to this work will support its realization, while providing guidance on its use will result in better medical education and better informed medical practices….”

Adoption of the open access business model in scientific journal publishing – A crossdisciplinary study

Abstract:  Scientific journal publishers have over the past twenty-five years rapidly converted to predominantly electronic dissemination, but the reader-pays business model continues to dominate the market. Open Access (OA) publishing, where the articles are freely readable on the net, has slowly increased its market share to near 20%, but has failed to fulfill the visions of rapid proliferation predicted by many early proponents. The growth of OA has also been very uneven across fields of science. We report market shares of open access in eighteen Scopus-indexed disciplines ranging from 27% (agriculture) to 7% (business). The differences become far more pronounced for journals published in the four countries, which dominate commercial scholarly publishing (US, UK, Germany and the Netherlands). We present contrasting developments within six academic disciplines. Availability of funding to pay publication charges, pressure from research funding agencies, and the diversity of discipline-specific research communication cultures arise as potential explanations for the observed differences.

An Open Letter to MDPI publishing | Dan Brockington

“Dear MDPI,

 

Your journal publications have grown dramatically, and quite extraordinarily. But there are sceptics who suggest that this reflects low standards and distorting financial incentives. I was one of them. To prove my views I explored trends in publications of 140 journals for which data were available from 2015 onwards. But doing so proved me wrong; I could not sustain my sceptical view. Instead I think I have a better understanding of why researchers are so keen to publish with you. But my exploration also makes plain challenges that you will face in the future, that are caused by your remarkable success. In this letter I describe your growth, the lack of substance to sceptics’ criticism and the challenges which your success creates. I also describe potential solutions to them. Here is the word version of it….”

Open Access gathers momentum: 10 organisations pledge financial support – ESF – Science Connect

“To support the implementation of Plan S, the European Science Foundation, in partnership with cOAlition S, will host and operate a newly established cOAlition S office.  To date, 10 funders, including national funding agencies and philanthropic organisations, have pledged support of over €2m for this activity….

To date the cOAlition S office will be financed by (in alphabetical order): Academy of Finland, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dutch Research Council (NWO), FORMAS – Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, FORTE – Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, FWF Austrian Science Fund, Luxembourg National Research Fund, Research Council of Norway, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, Wellcome Trust.”

Open Access gathers momentum: 10 organisations pledge financial support – ESF – Science Connect

“To support the implementation of Plan S, the European Science Foundation, in partnership with cOAlition S, will host and operate a newly established cOAlition S office.  To date, 10 funders, including national funding agencies and philanthropic organisations, have pledged support of over €2m for this activity….

To date the cOAlition S office will be financed by (in alphabetical order): Academy of Finland, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dutch Research Council (NWO), FORMAS – Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, FORTE – Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, FWF Austrian Science Fund, Luxembourg National Research Fund, Research Council of Norway, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, Wellcome Trust.”