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. …”

MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts | Scholarly Publishing – MIT Libraries

“The core principles of an MIT Framework for publisher contracts are:

No author will be required to waive any institutional or funder open access policy to publish in any of the publisher’s journals.
No author will be required to relinquish copyright, but instead will be provided with options that enable publication while also providing authors with generous reuse rights.
Publishers will directly deposit scholarly articles in institutional repositories immediately upon publication or will provide tools/mechanisms that facilitate immediate deposit.
Publishers will provide computational access to subscribed content as a standard part of all contracts, with no restrictions on non-consumptive, computational analysis of the corpus of subscribed content.
Publishers will ensure the long-term digital preservation and accessibility of their content through participation in trusted digital archives.
Institutions will pay a fair and sustainable price to publishers for value-added services, based on transparent and cost-based pricing models….”

MIT announces framework to guide negotiations with publishers | MIT News

“The MIT Libraries, together with the MIT Committee on the Library System and the Ad Hoc Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, announced that it has developed a principle-based framework to guide negotiations with scholarly publishers. The framework emerges directly from the core principles for open science and open scholarship articulated in the recommendations of the Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, which released its final report to the MIT community on Oct. 18.

The framework affirms the overarching principle that control of scholarship and its dissemination should reside with scholars and their institutions. It aims to ensure that scholarly research outputs are openly and equitably available to the broadest possible audience, while also providing valued services to the MIT community….”

Welcome to Open Access Week 2019! | The Official PLOS Blog

“It’s Open Access Week! This year, publishers, librarians, researchers, and institutions are discussing and organizing events around the theme: “Open for whom?” 

Why is that question so important? Well, over the past 20 years, OA research has surged from as few as 523 articles in 2001 (OASPA) to as much as 45% of all new research publications (Piwowar et al). Now that Open Access is a staple of scientific communication, we should be using that momentum to promote greater inclusivity for every discipline, every career stage, and every demographic of researcher….

APC models have dominated the space from the launch of the first Open Access journals in the early 2000s. The model assumes researchers’ funding can help pay for the costs of publishing in order to make the work immediately and freely available to the public. While this model has gained widespread recognition from funders, and even become a mandate of taxpayer-funded research and policies like Plan S, not all authors who want to publish Open Access have the funding to do so. 

Many journals, like PLOS, offer fee-assistance programs for authors who lack the funding, particularly for researchers in low and middle-income countries. But these programs don’t cover every researcher or every paper. We need to look beyond APCs to partner with libraries, institutions, and funders to ensure authors can choose where to publish and how to share it with the world….”

Ecography’s flip to a pay‐to‐publish model – Araújo – – Ecography – Wiley Online Library

“The Nordic Society Oikos (NSO) has decided to flip Ecography from a pay?to?read model to a pay?to?publish model. All papers published after the flip, in January 2020, will become open access immediately. As a bonus, all published papers since 1997 will be also free to read.

According to NSO, the main reason for the flip is that the subscription income of Ecography is insufficient to cover the costs of publication. NSO has decided that, given the current changes in the publication landscape, the best strategy to guarantee the future of Ecography is to change its funding model.

As senior editors of Ecography (i.e. Editor?in?Chief and Deputy?Editors?in?Chief), we witness these changes with mixed feelings. On the one hand we acknowledge that there is little justification for limiting readers’ access to the scientific literature under a pay?to?read model. Most of the research published by journals is funded by taxpayers’ money and the general public should have the right to access it freely from any Internet terminal.

In an information?driven society, it is also disingenuous to allow fake news to roam freely on the Internet, while keeping the highest?standard information ever created by humankind behind paywalls. A better world will no doubt emerge from open science.

On the other hand, we share with many others the concern that a pay?to?publish system will increase inequality among authors….

The frequent flyer’s programmes of airline companies inspires the system we propose. Essentially, reviewers of manuscripts should obtain, for each review they perform for Ecography, a voucher that is worth a specified discount on the billed open access fees of their next paper in Ecography, valid for a specified time period. Within the same time window, editors will obtain vouchers worth a specified discount for every year of service.

We also propose that discounts can be granted for those that do not have institutional support or other means of paying Open Access fees. An author’s ability to pay should not influence any aspect of the review process, including the decision on whether or not the manuscript is accepted for publication….”