ARL 227: On the Transition of Journals to Open Access

“The proposed solution presents a way to manage the inevitable transition period, with little financial risk to the owners. It is based on the model provided by Tom Walker in Florida Entomologist, published by the Florida Entomological Society <> and the journals of the Entomological Society of America <>. Authors would be presented with two options:

To pay a publication charge–the paper is then made open access on publication.

Not to pay the publication charge–the paper is only made available to subscribers.

This would result in a hybrid journal in which access to each paper would depend on the authors’ willingness to pay the publication fee. This is a low-risk strategy for the journal’s owner as they would still collect subscription revenue. In year one (say 2004) authors would be invited to pay for open access. The subscription price would be set to what is required to cover costs if no authors took up the offer. Any author payments would then be a bonus! In year two (2005), the subscription price would be set based on the experience in 2004….”

‘Guerilla Activist’ Releases 18,000 Scientific Papers – MIT Technology Review

“Yesterday, in response to this week’s indictment of a 24-year-old Harvard researcher and Internet activist [Aaron Swartz] for allegedly hacking into MIT’s network and collecting nearly five million scholarly articles, a second hacker released more than 18,592 (32 gigabytes) of subscription-only research obtained from the same service. The second man identified himself as Greg Maxwell, a 31-year-old “technologist, recreational mathematician, and scientific hobbyist” from northern Virginia….Maxwell says he released the papers for similar reasons. He says the papers come from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and were published before 1923, which means they’re in the public domain (his claim has not been independently verified). “This knowledge belongs to the public,” he argues. For the sake of scientific progress, Maxwell says, such databases shouldn’t keep research under lock and key at all, let alone beyond their copyright expiration, as is the current practice. “Progress comes from making connections between others’ discoveries, from extending them, and then from telling people,” he says….”  

Royal Society frees up journal archive

“The archive [of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society] was digitized in 1999 by JSTOR, the US-based archive for academic journals, for a sum in the ‘high five figures in US dollars’. Royal Society commercial director Stuart Taylor says they have been thinking about making part of the archive free for some time. As digitization of print works gets easier and cheaper, “we do not feel it is justifiable to continue charging for access [to out-of-copyright material]”, Taylor said. The Royal Society’s pay-per-view income for the entire archive (including papers after 1941) amounts to less than 0.5% of their total publishing revenues.

In July, programmer Greg Maxwell uploaded nearly 19,000 articles from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, all of them published before 1923, onto the file-sharing website The Pirate Bay (in stated support for computer coder Aaron Swartz, who is still facing a federal indictment for downloading over 4 million articles from JSTOR). The Royal Society’s release today means that the articles Maxwell uploaded are all now free to view. Maxwell’s action did not affect the Society’s decision, says Taylor….”

Medical research: The shackles of scientific journals | The Economist

“Science should not, and need not, be shackled by journal publication. Three sensible reforms would ensure that researchers’ results could be communicated to more people more quickly, without any compromise on quality. Step one is for the organisations that finance research to demand that scientists put their academic papers, along with their experimental data, in publicly accessible ‘repositories’ before they are sent to a journal. That would allow other researchers to make use of the findings without delay. Those opposed to such ‘preprints’ argue that they allow shoddy work to proliferate because it has not yet been peer-reviewed. That may surprise physicists and mathematicians, who have been posting work to arXiv, a preprint repository, for more than 25 years with no ill effects. After peer review, research should also be freely available for all to read. Too much science, much of it paid for from the public purse, languishes behind paywalls.

Step two is to improve the process of peer review itself. Journals currently administer a system of organising anonymous peer reviewers to pass judgment on new research—a fact they use, in part, to justify their hefty subscription prices. But this murky process is prone to abuse. At its worst, cabals of researchers are suspected of guaranteeing favourable reviews for each other’s work. Better that reviewers are named and that the reviews themselves are published. The Gates foundation has announced its support for an online repository where such open peer review of papers takes place. The repository was launched last year by the Wellcome Trust, meaning that the world’s two largest medical charities have thrown their weight behind it. Others should follow (see article).

Fight for your right

Finally, science needs to stop relying so much on journal publication as the only recognised credential for researchers and the only path to career progression. Tools exist that report how often a preprint has been viewed, for example, or whether a clinical data set has been cited in guidelines for doctors. A handful of firms are using artificial intelligence to assess the scientific importance of research, irrespective of how it has been disseminated. Such approaches need encouragement. Journals may lose out, but science itself will benefit.”

Plain-language summaries: Journals and other organizations that produce plain-language summaries | eLife

“As part of our “Plain-language summaries of research” series, we have compiled a list of over 50 journals and other organizations that publish plain-language summaries of scientific research.

Click this link to view the list and find out where you can read these summaries online.

We need your help to keep this list up-to-date. To add a new organization to the list, or to update existing information, please contact us by email at….”

Plain-language summaries: Results of the 2016 eLife digest reader survey

“eLife has been producing plain-language summaries – known as eLife digests – for research articles since the journal launched in 2012. The digests are written to explain the background and significance of the research clearly to people outside the field, including other scientists and members of the general public.

Who reads eLife digests? Is there anything we can do to improve them? To help us answer these questions we carried out a survey of our readers in late 2016. We advertised the survey on our website and social media over a six-week period and received 313 responses from readers of eLife digests. As part of our “Plain-language summaries of research” series we now present the results of the survey in detail below….”

Sting Operation Reveals Science’s Insane Fake News Problem 

“That being said, some folks I spoke to, including Beall and people in the open access community, thought it was a larger problem than open access publishing alone. The community tries to regulate itself after all, Andrew Wesolek, head of digital scholarship at Clemson, pointed out to Gizmodo. The DOAJ removed 39 of the 120 journals listed in its directory before the analysis came out in Nature today, though six of the eight journals that accepted the fake editor still remain. When I called Lars Bjørnshauge, their founder and managing director, he immediately asked to be put in touch with Pisanski so he could find out the titles of the six journals. He said the DOAJ removes journals with fake editors immediately. …”

Predatory journals recruit fake editor : Nature News & Comment

“We sent Szust’s application to 360 journals, 120 from each of three well-known directories: the JCR (journals with an official impact factor as indexed on Journal Citation Reports), the DOAJ (journals included on the Directory of Open Access Journals) and ‘Beall’s list’ (potential, possible or probable predatory open-access publishers and journals, compiled by University of Colorado librarian Jeffrey Beall; Beall took down his list in January this year for unknown reasons, after we had completed our study)….Although journals that accepted our fraud were informed that Szust “kindly withdraws her application”, her name still appears on the editorial boards listed by at least 11 journals’ websites. In fact, she is listed as an editor of at least one journal to which we did not apply. She is also listed as management staff, a member of conference organizing committees, and ironically, a member of the Advisory Board of the Journals Open Access Indexing Agency whose mission it is to “increase the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals”….”

Interview with PLOS ONE Academic Editor- Dee Carter | EveryONE

Dee Carter‘s lab at the University of Sydney, Australia focuses on eukaryotic microorganisms, in particular disease-causing pathogens. Since these organisms are more closely related to humans than bacteria or viruses for instance, it is challenging to find treatments that don’t damage the host at the same time. Her research revolves around understanding pathogen diversity using population and evolutionary genetic analysis, and on understanding cellular responses to toxins and stresses using transcriptomic and proteomic approaches. Dee graduated from the University of Otago, New Zealand, with a BSc and undertook her PhD at Imperial College London, UK, where she worked on the plant pathogen Phytophtohora infestans. She then did postdocs at the Faculte de Medicine de Montpellier, France and in the US at Roche Molecular Systems, Alameda, California and the University of Berkeley, under the combined mentorship of Dr Thomas White and Professsor John Taylor. She has been at the University of Sydney since 1995. Dee joined the PLOS ONE Editorial Board as Academic Editor at the launch of the journal in 2006.”

Berkeley commits to accelerating universal open access, signs the OA2020 Expression of Interest – UC Berkeley Library News

“The University Library at UC Berkeley took a major step today in its commitment to achieving universal open access for scholarly journal literature by signing the OA2020 Expression of Interest, in collaboration with UC Davis and UC San Francisco.”