Recommendations for transparent communication of Open Access prices and services – Information Power

“An independent report published today by Information Power aims to improve the transparency of Open Access (OA) prices and services. The report is the outcome of a project funded by Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on behalf of cOAlition S to inform the development of Plan S. During the project funders, libraries, publishers, and universities worked together to inform the development of a framework intended to provide information about OA services and prices in a transparent, practical, and insightful way.

Imperative need for customer-centric approach

The framework provides opportunities for publishers to build better awareness of and appreciation by customers of the value of their services, and to demonstrate publisher commitment to open business models and business cultures.

And a collaborative, pragmatic approach

cOAlition S aims to help make the nature and prices of OA publishing services more transparent, and to enable conversations and comparisons that will build confidence amongst customers that prices are fair and reasonable. Addressing cOAlition S, the report emphasises that the introduction of a new reporting requirement needs to be organised with clear implementation guidelines, and a proper plan for testing, development, release, review, and refinement. It also recommends an iterative approach to implementation, with a pilot as the next step.

cOAlition S has accepted the recommendation that such a framework needs to be piloted before implementation and agreed a project extension to pilot and refine the framework during the first quarter of 2020. Participants include Annual Reviews, Brill, The Company of Biologists, EMBO Press, European Respiratory Society, Hindawi, PLOS, and SpringerNature. Other publishers are welcome and are invited to express interest in joining the pilot via

Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at Wellcome and interim cOAlition S coordinator, said “On behalf of cOAlition S we are delighted to see all stakeholders engage in the development of this transparency pricing framework and support the idea of road-testing it through a pilot.  Based on the outcome of this pilot, cOAlition S will decide how to use this framework, or a refinement of it, together with other models for inclusion in the requirement for those journals where Plan S requirements apply.”

The project is guided by a steering group which provides expert advice and support….”

OA price and service transparency project

“This independent report is published by Information Power. It reports on a project funded by Wellcome and UKRI on behalf of cOAlition S to engage with stakeholders to develop a framework for the transparent communication of Open Access (OA) prices and services. cOAlition S aims to help make the nature and prices of OA publishing services more transparent, and to enable conversations and comparisons that will build confidence amongst customers that prices are fair and reasonable.

Ultimately, it seeks a frame work which enables publishers to communicate the price of services in a way that is transparent, practical to implement, and insightful. During the project we

consulted widely with stakeholders to gain an understanding of

concerns and needs and worked to gain the voluntary engagement and support of publishers. It was clear from the outset that mobilising this engagement and support would be crucial to success.

It was also clear that this would be a challenge. While funders, libraries, and library consortia were broadly supportive of the

work, many publishers – both mixed model and OA-only – expressed significant concerns about:

• being told what to price, how to price, or how to communicate about price ;

• greater transparency with competitors giving rise to anti-trust issues, or conflict with fiduciary duties to charity/shareholders;

• any focus on costs, because publisher prices reflect the market and the value provided and not only costs;

• usefulness, as publishers record price and service information in

different ways and costs and practices vary enormously between houses, subject areas, and titles;

• a range of negative outcomes including the imposition of price caps, downward pressure on prices, or funders and libraries ruling out of scope services that are valued by researchers or societies or that are important for business continuity and innovation….

In this report we present a draft framework and we propose ways in which it could be implemented. It consists of 24 pieces of metadata about platforms or titles providing OA publishing services. The

metadata are clustered into three sections: the first for high-level information about the title itself, the second for a range of metrics that together convey a sense of the nature and quality of the title,

and the third to indicate the percentage of the total price apportioned to publishing services….”

Eight publishers to volunteer pricing info in pilot study | Science | AAAS

“To help transition toward transparent open access (OA), eight journal publishers, including SpringerNature, PLOS, and Annual Reviews, will share anonymized pricing information with a limited group. This is part of a test of a transparency template proposed today in a report commissioned by cOAlition S, a group of funders leading a push for immediate OA to science publications. If the pilot is successful, funders may ask that publishers use a similar template to share data more widely.

The template aims not to influence pricing, but to give funders and libraries information to decide what to pay for, says Alicia Wise, director of the consulting company Information Power who co-authored a report presenting the template. “I would hope that by providing these data we can build trust and a better atmosphere,” she says.

Many discussions about publishing prices and services have been “emotive rather than constructive,” says Bernd Pulverer, head of scientific publications at EMBO Press, which will take part in the pilot with four of its five journals. Sharing information could encourage more “pragmatic” discussions, he says. “It is legitimate for the research community, funders, and taxpayers to be able to understand how taxpayer-supported research is being published,” he adds….”

Comments on “Factors affecting global flow of scientific knowledge in environmental sciences” by Sonne et al. (2020) – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  There are major challenges that need to be addressed in the world of scholarly communication, especially in the field of environmental studies and in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Recently, Sonne et al. (2020) published an article in Science of the Total Environment discussing some of these challenges. However, we feel that many of the arguments misrepresent critical elements of Open Access (OA), Plan S, and broader issues in scholarly publishing. In our response, we focus on addressing key elements of their discussion on (i) OA and Plan S, as well as (ii) Open Access Predatory Journals (OAPJ). The authors describe OA and Plan S as restricting author choice, especially through the payment of article-processing charges. The reality is that ‘green OA’ self-archiving options alleviate virtually all of the risks they mention, and are even the preferred ‘routes’ to OA as stated by both institutional and national policies in Denmark. In alignment with this, Plan S is also taking a progressive stance on reforming research evaluation. The assumptions these authors make about OA in the “global south” also largely fail to acknowledge some of the progressive work being done in regions like Indonesia and Latin America. Finally, Sonne et al. (2020) highlight the threat that OAPJs face to our scholarly knowledge production system. While we agree generally that OAPJs are problematic, the authors simultaneously fail to mention many of the excellent initiatives helping to combat this threat (e.g., the Directory of Open Access Journals). We call for researchers to more effectively equip themselves with sufficient knowledge of relevant systems before making public statements about them, in order to prevent misinformation from polluting the debate about the future of scholarly communication.


Food Modelling Journal: New open-access venue provides a platform for food scientists | EurekAlert! Science News

“The open-access Food Modelling Journal (FMJ) was launched by the AGINFRA+ community and Pensoft with the aim to encourage food science specialists, agronomists and computer scientists to come together and work on assuring and improving food supply, quality and safety in our globalised and rapidly changing world….

FSK-ML is an open information exchange format that is based on harmonised terms, metadata and controlled vocabulary to harmonise annotations of risk assessment models and that was significantly improved and extended during the AGINFRA+ project.”

The insanity (and probably illegality) of transformative agreements (including Plan S and Project Deal) – An Open Letter to Libraries and Coalition S | Gunther Eysenbach’s random research rants

“The reality is that libraries are used to negotiate with legacy publishers about subscriptions, and there has been no historic need to negotiate with OA publishers about anything, as they already do exactly what librarians or Plan S/Coalition S and other government entities want them to do – but open access publishers do need support, and need it more than those “poor” publishers like Springer-Nature who wants the transformative deals (all APCs covered) but is screaming and kicking having to abandon their hybrid journals which allows them to double-dip (getting paid for subscriptions AND article processing fees). Why are we spending public tax money to “help” commercial entities to switch to a different business model because they didn’t understand the sign of times 20 years ago? The situation is similar to a government wanting to switch from Internal Combustion Engine cars to electroc cars nationwide, and not subsidizing the costs for buying from Tesla, but only throwing money at GM and BMW to fund their costs to switch production.

In my 20 years of publishing fully open access journals, we have not once received a single dime (or $) of funding from libraries (other OA publishers, like Frontiers, MDPI, Plos, have more muscle and may have institutional agreements, but as niche publisher we simply do not have the market size and staff to negotiate with hundreds of universities/libraries)  – rather than being paid by libraries, it  is all our authors paying from their research grants. The only exception is our recent deal with the University of California (which frankly seems to be the only institution having the vision to support native OA publishers) – but it remains to be seen if other libraries/consortia replicate this model (our emails to Project Deal and other libraries who made transformative deals and are coveering the APC of large publishers, asking them to match the conditions they gave to Wiley and Springer have not been responded to at all). And to be clear, if you want to go with the “quality argument”, keep in mind that 4 out of the 8 leading health informatics journals are published by us.

If the general model changes in the future from APCs being paid by authors/research grants towards libraries picking up these costs, libraries/funders must ensure an “open-access first” policy, where APCs of native open-access publishers and their journals are equally paid or even paid first (i.e. transformative agreements should only be made for journals where no OA journal are in existence and where there is significant demand to publish in a former subscription/hybrid journal). And by the way, don’t use Web of Science or Scopus for these assessments (rather use DOAJ)….”

Emerald news – An HSS perspective on the mandatory criteria for transformative journals

“Dear cOAlition S,

This is an open letter to the funders, government bodies and institutions that support Plan S and will be submitted to the open consultation of cOAlition S draft framework for transformative journals.

We thank you for the provision of a draft framework for transformative journals and appreciate the opportunity to consult on the guidance. We are responding from the perspective of publishers working across the humanities and social sciences (HSS) who typically publish a large proportion of unfunded authors, be that by region, discipline or organisational setting. We remain committed to realising the benefits of full and immediate open access for our authors and their stakeholders and we appreciate the efforts of cOAlition S to date to engage with the wider discussion and assist smaller publishers to transition to open publishing models. Given that scholarship remains a global and collaborative endeavour, we urge cOAlition S to continue to be mindful of the unintended consequences for academic colleagues and disciplines that do not have the luxury of direct funding, or access to money for APCs from their organisation or institution.

The issues as previously stated in our open letter of 8th February 2019 remain a reality. Transformative agreements – and thus funding for APCs – are not available to all of the many varied publishers within the ecosystem. Globally there remain mixed approaches to achieving open access with many customers, including within Europe, preferring non-APC routes to open publishing. This includes green open access. Other models, such as subscribe-to-open, remain interesting but un-tested with respect to long-term sustainability….”

Articles in ‘predatory’ journals receive few or no citations | Science | AAAS

“Six of every 10 articles published in a sample of “predatory” journals attracted not one single citation over a 5-year period, according to a new study. Like many open-access journals, predatory journals charge authors to publish, but they offer little or no peer review or other quality controls and often use aggressive marketing tactics. The new study found that the few articles in predatory journals that received citations did so at a rate much lower than papers in conventional, peer-reviewed journals.

The authors say the finding allays concerns that low-quality or misleading studies published in these journals are getting undue attention. “There is little harm done if nobody reads and, in particular, makes use of such results,” write Bo-Christer Björk of the Hanken School of Economics in Finland and colleagues in a preprint posted 21 December 2019 on arXiv.

But Rick Anderson, an associate dean at the University of Utah who oversees collections in the university’s main library, says the finding that 40% of the predatory journal articles drew at least one citation “strikes me as pretty alarming.” …”

VACANCY: DOAJ Database Assistant – News Service

“DOAJ is looking for a person to join its dynamic team as Database Assistant.

The role is a part-time role, working remotely. The number of hours required is 25 hours per week. 

The role is responsible for maintaining the accuracy and recency of the DOAJ database, and ensuring a steady flow of work reaches the DOAJ Team. The role is split into two main parts: processing new applications and update requests, and reviewing existing journal metadata for accuracy and recency….”

OPEN ACCESS – Subscription journals braced for open access

“An ESHRE [European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology] expert meeting in November reviewed what we know so far about open access publishing for medical journals. The meeting in particular explored where we now are with Plan S and how its implementation might affect the Human Reproduction journals….”