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….”

cOAlition S reaction to Springer Nature’s Open Letter on Transformative Journals | Plan S

“Thank you for sharing your open letter outlining your concerns about Transformative Journals.

cOAlition S has now reviewed your letter and would like to make the following points.

1- As we made clear when we published the Transformative Journals (TJ) framework, we consider this a draft and we look forward to receiving the views from all actors and stakeholders who respond to the consultation. Once the consultation closes (6th January 2020) we will then assess how the concept of TJs can best be implemented.

2- TJs have been developed to help the transitioning of journals that are committing to full OA, outside of Transformative Agreements. We expect this option may be useful to journals which have high costs – which may make it more difficult to include these titles in Transformative Agreements, at least in the short term – or where publishers (like scholarly societies) wish to offer a global OA option, but are not yet able to flip to full OA without some support during a transition period to reduce risks.

3- The SN letter argues that year on year growth can only increase at the rate in which funders mandate gold OA publishing and provide the necessary funding. However, data from SN’s own journal Nature Communications provides clear evidence that the volume of published papers can increase year on year, even without a corresponding increase in the number of funder mandates….

4- The SN letter also suggests that journals can only flip to full OA, once 90% of publications are OA. However, publication data from Nature Communications – which started publishing as a hybrid journal – shows that the decision to flip this title was taken when slightly less than 50% of the content was OA (see Table 2).Considering this finding it is difficult to give much credence to Springer Nature’s statement that “we cannot place authors in a situation where they could be unable to publish in the most suitable journal, purely for financial reasons”….

5- No data is presented to support the assertion that “international collaboration will be negatively impacted”. As funders we are keen to encourage collaboration between researchers, recognising the benefits which can arise. We are working with our partners to encourage other funders from around the world to join cOAlition S. We anticipate that support will continue to grow and that funders will increasingly adopt consistent approaches. Many international groups will still want to work with the world-class researchers we fund. The desire to join forces to address shared research questions should supersede any considerations over where the resulting work can be published. We have also established a Task Force to monitor the effects of Plan S, including its impact on early career researchers and international collaborations.

6- The alternative model for TJ that is proposed in the Springer-Nature letter provides no clearly defined timeframe for transitioning journals to full Open Access, other than when a threshold of 90% OA uptake has been reached. For all intents and purposes, this proposal is nothing more than an attempt to perpetuate the hybrid model, which less and less funders are willing to support. The hybrid model has clearly failed to achieve the transition to OA and there are absolutely no reasons to believe that things will be any different in the future. This is a tactic to stall progress. For cOAlition S, TJs are considered as a means for publishers to really deliver on their promise of transitioning their journals to full OA in a smooth way, but within a defined timeframe. Our proposed deadline is the 31st December 2024 – 5 years from now. We are not aware of any other area of economic activity where businesses are given 5 years to change their models to meet demands (with support from funders). Native OA publishers (who are competing with Springer-Nature in the market) do not claim that they can only run full OA journals under the condition that all funders worldwide must commit to fund Gold OA. The line of argumentation that the transition to OA can only happen at the rate that funders commit to finance Gold OA is futile. We could as well argue that funders will only commit to fund OA at the rate that publishers transition to OA. But there should be no mistake: we prefer zero-embargo Green OA over hybrid journals.

7- In conclusion, we hope journals and publishers will see this as an opportunity to take the bold step of changing their business model, and we are looking forward to receiving more inputs to our open consultation on Transformative Journals by January 6th 2020.”

AN OPEN LETTER FOLLOWING THE CONSULTATION ON TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNALS

“While we are supportive of the vast majority of the criteria proposed in the consultation, we are concerned that, if the transformative journal concept as envisaged by the cOAlition is applied in full, Transformative Journals will not deliver the full transition we believe is possible. We feel duty bound, having proposed this approach, to share our concerns with you now in an open way.

1. The timelines proposed and the rates of OA transition are unworkable and could be counterproductive In our earlier responses to Plan S, we repeatedly and publicly committed ourselves to transitioning all of our journals, our hybrid portfolio of 1900 journals (Springer Nature-owned and society-owned) along with Nature itself and all other Nature-branded journals, to immediate, full OA for all primary research and we will do everything we can to make this a sustainable reality in the shortest possible time. But the speed by which this can happen is not solely in our hands; it is also hugely dependent on the rate at which other funders, institutions and consortia commit to supporting Gold OA, as a zero embargo green OA approach will undermine the sustainability of journals as they transition and hamper the move to open science. …

2. The waiver requirements are unsustainable 

At Springer Nature we have established waiver policies already in place6 for researchers unable to access APC funding and for those authors based in the world’s lowest income countries as defined by the World Bank. As the largest OA publisher we have given more waivers than anyone else. For obvious reasons, this applies only to authors seeking to publish in one of our 600 fully OA journals. For authors without OA funding and seeking to publish in one of our other journals, they are able to do so for free via the subscription route….

We propose the below as an alternative timeframe and workable set of metrics:

1. Year-on-year growth of OA content at the same rate as the increase in global research supported by funders and institutions committed to funding Gold OA.

2. Journals to be flipped when OA content reaches 90%.

3. Progress to be reviewed in 2024, as per cOAlition decision to review progress more widely, and commitments adapted accordingly then in light of progress to date….”

Alternative conditions needed in order for cOAlition S’s proposal for Transformative Journals to succeed | Group | Springer Nature

“As the largest OA publisher, and the publisher that first floated the idea of Transformative Journals, Springer Nature is appealing to cOAlition S in an open letter not to lose the opportunity Transformative Journals offer to speed up the transition to OA. Unless changes are made to the conditions being proposed the publisher believes it would be unable to commit to its journals participating.

Commenting, Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing Officer Springer Nature, said:

“Springer Nature remains committed to moving more quickly towards OA and is proud to be the publisher of almost a quarter of all fully OA articles ever published. We first floated the idea of Transformative Journals in May as we believed that, by harnessing the investment, track record, editorial expertise, and the trust the research communities have in these long-standing journals, the transition to OA could be significantly accelerated and enable many of these journals, including highly selective ones such as Nature, to get on the path to OA.”

“We are concerned, however, that the thresholds proposed by cOAlition S could have unintended consequences. Authors of research funded by cOAlition S members are likely to see their journal choice severely restricted, organisations committed to OA could see a doubling of the content they need to fund, and ultimately many journals may have to rule themselves out, resulting in a slowdown of the very transition we both want to see.”

While Springer Nature is supportive of the vast majority of the criteria proposed in the consultation, the company has significant concerns regarding:

the proposed timelines and metrics which would place conditions on publishers to not only grow OA content at a faster rate than the growth of funders willing to fund immediate OA but to do this at a time when the global share of cOAlition S funded research is effectively declining, and
the requirements for waivers which would see much more research published for free, undermining the sustainability of those journals. This could lead to those organisations that are committed to Gold OA having to support twice the content they were funding at the point of the flip, which is not fair, reasonable or sustainable….”

Addendum to the cOAlition S Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S | Plan S

“cOAlition S endorse a number of strategies to encourage subscription publishers to transition to Open Access. These approaches are referred to as ’transformative arrangements’ and include transformative agreements, transformative model agreements and transformative journals[1].

The Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S indicates an ambition of developing a framework for ‘transformative journals’. Such ‘transformative journals’ are journals that (i) gradually increase the share of Open Access content, (ii) offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments), and (iii) have a clear commitment to a transition to full and immediate Open Access for all peer-reviewed scholarly articles within an agreed timeframe.

The requirements below constitute this framework.

[Here omitting 8 mandatory criteria for transformative journals and 3 suggested criteria.]

We are now seeking input from the community on this draft framework and encourage all interested stakeholders to respond. The consultation on this draft framework is open until 09.00 CET on Monday 6th January 2020. We plan to publish a final version of this framework by the end of March 2020.”

Addendum to the cOAlition S Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S | Plan S

“cOAlition S endorse a number of strategies to encourage subscription publishers to transition to Open Access. These approaches are referred to as ’transformative arrangements’ and include transformative agreements, transformative model agreements and transformative journals[1].

The Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S indicates an ambition of developing a framework for ‘transformative journals’. Such ‘transformative journals’ are journals that (i) gradually increase the share of Open Access content, (ii) offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments), and (iii) have a clear commitment to a transition to full and immediate Open Access for all peer-reviewed scholarly articles within an agreed timeframe.

The requirements below constitute this framework.

[Here omitting 8 mandatory criteria for transformative journals and 3 suggested criteria.]

We are now seeking input from the community on this draft framework and encourage all interested stakeholders to respond. The consultation on this draft framework is open until 09.00 CET on Monday 6th January 2020. We plan to publish a final version of this framework by the end of March 2020.”

On Plan S/transformative publishing, or … A disptach in the wake of the Charleston Conference

“–Depending on how much APC funding eventually shifts from libraries to the federal government, will the price mechanism for APCs adjust to accommodate the readiness of grant funding agencies to bankroll APCs?  If so, can we assume the government will have a more price-elastic posture than universities historically have had, given the latter’s tenure and promotion demand-side incentives to publish in high tier journals regardless the cost? If federal agencies are not elastically responsive to prices (i.e., if they reward publication in high priced journals without regard to prices), don’t we just perpetuate the high pricing that librarians have so long lamented, therefore shifting this malaise’s remedy to the public’s dime? Is this fair to the citizenry? How does this affect public funding for other federally funded initiatives?

–Concerns about “existential threats” now appears in discussions about scholarly publishing. Scholarly societies have them. Can societies be assured of stable revenue streams, erstwhile from library journal subscriptions, if some complex admixture of federal government grant funds and university funds fund APCs?

–There seems to be no discussion among librarians about an “existential threat” to their own profession. If funding of journals shifts from universities to federal funding agencies, doesn’t this cut out librarian involvement in selecting and funding journals? Correlatively, wouldn’t this reduce their budgets? Also, would this reduce their collection development role  to APC bean-counting, much of which will become the purview of offices of research whose involvement will merely be one of marking APCs as a line item in grant funding disbursement accounting? Would this be a good or a bad thing? 

–Where is discussion about the opportunity cost of diverting a portion of hard-to-get state-funded research dollars to funding APCs? What research, e.g. for renewal energy, or cancer or agricultural research for developing countries, now goes by the wayside?  

–Will societies and university publishers just gradually assimilate the newly emerging APC regime for their economic survival in funding membership activities, without discussions about possible threats to financial stability or discussions about the larger philosophical premises of doing so?

 

–On the philosophical issues, shouldn’t society publishers worry about governmental ideological manipulation of who within their memberships gets grant-funded APCs?  Sure, one could make that argument about federal grant funding per se. But doesn’t the latter arguably addresses an externality that (in an ideal world) concerns the common good, while APC funding is an externality that does *not* necessitate federal subsidizing–given that scholarly publishing mechanisms can and should be developed that don’t require federal subsidy?  These are points everyone should ask regardless of political affiliation.

–From what one speaker at Charleston said, the complexities of negotiating with publishers has a new overlay: tortuous internecine discussions among consortial members. If  this is true of all consortia, one has the sense that consortial leaders now have to have to engage game theoretic scenarios not only with respect to publishers, but also their individual members. Just imagine how much more complicated all this will now become with the pressures on libraries to pay for APCs. Isn’t it undesirable to introduce this added complexity, at least at this juncture? Why not just work on contracting the number of journals published, about which . . . 

–I’ve been arguing for contracting the number of journals, a la something like Bradford’s Law. A refinement on that: we need to distinguish two rationales for contracting the journal space. These are:

Rationale (1.) An argument on the principled basis that it is desirable to contract the number of journals, given that the ever-growing glut of journal articles undermines the common good of discoverability and assimilation of research findings.

Rationale (2.) An argument from economic reality: library budgets are relatively flat so we need to deconstruct Big Deals or even the number of subscribed journals regardless the journal sales model.

Shouldn’t big consortia use their negotiating power to argue that the ever-rising prices of journals (not to mention pressures for APCs merely to replicate the price dynamics of toll-access publishing) necessitates contracting the number of journals?  This point extends not just to toll-access publishing, but also gold ones? If so, pursuing rationale (1) for contracting the journal space aligns neatly with rationale (2) for doing so. I.e., rationale (2) becomes the vehicle for accomplishing rationale (1).

–I’ve also argued that consortia with journal negotiating power should educate their faculty about the need to contract the journal space. A refinement to that, too: the discussions should focus on rationale (1) above, rather than (2), which concer

Scholarly Communications Licence

“PA members are deeply concerned about a proposal from a scholarly communications working group to introduce a new model licence within HEIs. The SCL would give the implementing university a non-exclusive licence to make work open access on publication, in conflict with any green open licence in place with a publisher, and with an option for a researcher to secure a waiver from the HEI should the publisher require it. 

Principal concerns are the significant administrative burden on researchers, institutions and publishers that could arise as waivers are requested; a conflict with UK policy on OA; the way the SCL seeks immediate non-commercial re-use rights for all UK research outputs; and the potential limit it places on the choice of researchers over where to publish. 

The documents on this page set out the publisher position. …”