Open-access fees creating ‘a crisis’ for African research – Research Professional News

“The fees that some open access journals charge scientists to publish—known as article processing charges, or APCs—are keeping African researchers out of top publications, an editorial in BMJ Global Health has warned. 

“The stifling effect of APCs on publications [by African researchers] must now be considered a crisis,” it says. 

The editorial was written by four African health researchers who are based in Congo, South Africa and Australia. It appeared in the journal’s September issue.

On average, APCs are in the US$1,250-US$2,225 range, they write, but for top journals the fee can rise to US$5,000.

Partial and full fee waivers exist for researchers in Africa. But there are caveats, the authors write. Researchers may be based in a country with a per capita income above the waiver threshold, but where government support for science is paltry. Or they can be ineligible for waivers because they have partners in high-income countries….”

Article processing charges are stalling the progress of African researchers: a call for urgent reforms | BMJ Global Health

 

Introduction

The recognition and progression of an academic or research career is hinged on the number and quality of publications in high-impact journals. Open access publication, especially in high-impact journals, confers a significant citation (ie, recognition and progression) advantage. However, there is increasing demand for publication fees or article processing charges (APCs), by high-impact open access journals. Where does this leave African researchers who earn too little (personal income or research grants) to publish in such top-tier open access journals? Already, Africa contributes much too little (1.3% in one estimate) to research publication output globally, of which 52% are accounted for by just three middle-income countries—South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

The local and global challenges that limit the publication and citation potential of African researchers are well known. For example, at the local level, there are very few full-time researchers (5 per million people in low-income countries vs 363 per million people in high-income countries), with weak investment in research (and academic writing) capacity, research infrastructure and research governance. And at the global level, there are exploitative international research collaborations, gender constraints affecting female researchers and inability to attract global research funding. Now, APCs are systematically excluding African researchers from publishing in high-impact open access journals. Researchers in Africa are typically not in a position to win or have access to grants that cover APCs as eligible research expenditure.

[…]

Brock University Open Access Policy – Brock University Library

“3. Brock Scholars are expected to deposit an electronic copy of their academic journal articles in Brock’s Open Access Repository (“Brock University Digital Repository”) by the date of publication. If needed, articles may be embargoed within the repository upon deposit to meet time periods required by publishers.

4. Each Brock Scholar who deposits their academic journal articles in the Brock University Digital Repository grants the University the non-exclusive permission to archive and disseminate those articles through the Repository, provided that the articles are properly attributed to the authors, and that dissemination is for non-commercial purposes only.

5. Brock Scholars who choose not to deposit an academic journal article in the Brock University Digital Repository shall notify the University Library through the opt-out form made available through the Brock University Library….”

Plazi and Pensoft join forces to let biodiversity knowledge of coronaviruses hosts out | EurekAlert! Science News

“Pensoft’s flagship journal ZooKeys invites free-to-publish research on key biological traits of SARS-like viruses potential hosts and vectors; Plazi harvests and brings together all relevant data from legacy literature to a reliable FAIR-data repository.”

Read-and-Publish Open Access deals are heightening global inequalities in access to publication. | Impact of Social Sciences

“The problem, however, is illustrated by Springer Nature’s European quartet: The read-and-publish strategy is making global inequality worse. Nearly all the deals involve wealthy northern European countries or rich North American institutions like the University of California system. The practical effect is to grant selective OA authorship rights—with all their citation and visibility benefits—to scholars from the affluent West. If you’re Dutch, your Springer Nature article will appear OA by default; if you’re not, chances are that you’ll need $3,000 to $5,000 for that privilege. The OA citation-and-visibility advantage is one of the best-established findings in the scholarly communication literature. In practice if not by intent, the read-and-publish deal-makers are buying that advantage for their constituent-scholars. Scholarly publishing is already stratified along North-South lines—making read-and-publish an insult to long-standing injury….

 For the Plan S architects, the deals are “transitional and temporary,” to give way to full open access by 2025. That’s if all goes well, and if the plan withstands aggressive lobbying from big publishers. There’s no surprise that Springer and SAGE find the agreements appealing in the meantime: They lock in libraries  subscription spending while winning short-run Plan S compliance.

It’s this leg-up to the legacy publishers that critics find objectionable. The deals offer, in Roger Schonfeld’s phrase, “to crown the existing major publishers as the OA Royalty.” …

More fundamentally, the move to fold in author fees is an implicit endorsement of the deeply flawed APC regime—one that lowers barriers to readers only to raise them for authors. For scholars in the Global South—and in the humanities and social sciences everywhere—the APC option is laughably beyond reach. Yes, some publishers offer fee waivers, but the system is limited, shoddy, and patronizing—a charity band-aid on a broken system….

The short-run effect of read-and-publish and its variants, then, is to amplify the voices—through the OA visibility and citation advantage—of scholars from rich countries and universities. There are indeed other paths to publish open access: There’s the ramshackle APC waiver system, of course, and many natural scientists have their fees covered by funders. Nearly half of all OA articles are published in no-fee journals—so-called “diamond” titles that operate on a shoestring or through third-party subsidies. As a barrier to authorship, the APC regime has some gaps….”

Independent, Publicly Funded Journals Adhering to Platinum Open Access Are the Future of Responsible Scholarly Publishing

“Addressing the gap between advanced and emerging research communities cannot be achieved only by implementation in emerging communities of the practices generated in an advanced environment. Due to the time delay of acceptance and adaptation of these practices, even if they would be systematically applied, the gap would still grow. Subsequently, the only way to close the gap would be to apply a disruptive approach using advantages already present in emerging communities which would propel them by fast tracking even beyond the level of the current world leaders. These disruptive advantages grow in the cradle of emerging communities asking to be recognized and utilized. One of the advantages aimed at knowledge production is indeed the publishing model of independent journals supported by public money based on platinum open access. Being free of dependence on financial contribution from the authors, they can indeed concentrate on increasing ethical standards and scrutinizing submitted manuscripts at a higher standard. The latter would depend on the quality of reviewers. However seeing a higher purpose, reviewers would eventually move away from providing their free services to pro-profit businesses, and rather, move towards non-profit, community based, and ethically justified efforts, which we refer to here as responsible scholarly publishing. Without the intention to replace the current massive operations of major commercial publishers, the small, independent and publicly funded journals outside of mainstream business, could represent a “craft-beer revolution” in academic publishing, becoming carefully curated arts and crafts for presenting new knowledge.”

The NERL Executive Board Approves Support for the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts

“The Executive Board of the NERL Consortium (The Board) approved support for the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts. At the forefront of this framework is the belief that authors should retain copyright with generous reuse rights and the ability to immediately place scholarly articles in institutional repositories.

The NERL Board strongly supports the open and equitable dissemination of scholarly research output and believes that this framework is a pivotal step in this direction….”

The NERL Executive Board Approves Support for the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts

“The Executive Board of the NERL Consortium (The Board) approved support for the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts. At the forefront of this framework is the belief that authors should retain copyright with generous reuse rights and the ability to immediately place scholarly articles in institutional repositories.

The NERL Board strongly supports the open and equitable dissemination of scholarly research output and believes that this framework is a pivotal step in this direction….”

Lancet editor-in-chief calls for ‘activist’ journals | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Academic journals must become more “activist” if they are to survive, seeking to “change the direction of society” rather than “passively waiting” for manuscripts, according to the editor-in-chief of The Lancet.

The medical journal is one of a number of titles now explicitly committed to helping pursue the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which range from eradicating hunger to reducing inequalities, as titles try to carve out a new role in a world where publishing has moved online….

Instead of “sitting in our office passively waiting for manuscripts to be submitted to the journal”, Dr Horton said, The Lancet, founded in 1823, now had a mission to “gather the very best scientific evidence, [and] to then think strategically about how that evidence fits within the overall trajectory of scientific and political policy in the world”.

For example, last year the journal published a report setting out how to eradicate malaria by 2050, backed by research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This was one of dozens of “commissions” initiated by the journal, which bring together experts to formulate proposals on subjects ranging from defeating Alzheimer’s disease to reforming medical education for the 21st century….

Still, some journals have faced long-standing criticism that their subscription costs mean they are unaffordable for readers in developing countries – or conversely, that the price of publishing an open-access article excludes scholars from poorer university systems.

Some publishers offer discounts to academics in poorer countries. The Lancet, for example, waives open-access publishing fees for scholars whose main funder is based in a state with a low human development index….”