Note: PLOS and other prominent organizations delivered the following letter to the Trump Administration on January 17, 2020. We encourage all publishing organizations and scholarly societies who would like to join us in support of OA in the USA to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org — we can prepare an expanded letter with more signatories as necessary. Please also consider voicing your support on social media with the hashtag #OAintheUSA.
“Guess what. After pestering the EU Commission and the European Ombudsman for exactly NINE months (since November 2018) the baby is born and I got the emails between the former EU Special Envoy for Open Access (OA), Robert-Jan Smits, and the Swiss, Lausanne-based, OA publisher Frontiers, namely its CEO Kamila Markram, who founded Frontiers together with her husband, the EPFL professor and brain simulator Henry Markram.
I previously published an analysis of same emails where, aside of addressee, sender and date only the subject line was made available. That was enough to establish the influence of Frontiers over Plan S conception. The finally released emails are still heavily censored yet even more revealing. We learn that the Frontiers vision of the OA future mediated to Smits neatly translated into what became on 4 September 2018 his Plan S, with one initial exception: The caps for Article Processing Charges (APC) were put in place, though not specified. Much of the email exchange between Smits and Markram was about APC caps, which the latter protested against, so the free market and innovation are not impeded. Frontiers highest APC is currently at €2440 or $2950, and Markram conceded to Smits to accept a cap of €3000. Soon after Plan S was announced, Smits turned to speaking of caps as not being necessary; at the revised Plan S, all talk of capping APC ended.Plan S was designed to flip scholarly publishing first in Europe, then in the world, to full OA, by banning all scientists from publishing in subscription journals and even by punishing them for attempting to do so. That is, all scientists who receive funding from Plan S-subscribing cOAition S members of national and EU funders as well as charities. Learned societies were ordered to flip their journals to OA and to cease using the publishing revenue for any outreach, training and community activities not directly related to publishing….”
“The University of California, Davis supports its researchers in making their research more widely available. As part of this support, UC Davis Library has entered an institutional agreement with Frontiers. Under the terms of this agreement, UC Davis-affiliated corresponding authors will benefit from a 7.5% membership discount on article processing charges (APCs) when publishing in any of Frontiers’ open access journals, irrespective of what fund covers the APC….”
“Why, after toiling so hard for five years — and creating a resource cherished by scientists wary of exploitative publishers — did the University of Colorado at Denver’s Jeffrey Beall abruptly give it all up? Who, or what, forced his hand?
There are several prime suspects:
- His fellow university librarians, whom Mr. Beall faults for overpromoting open-access publishing models.
- A well-financed Swiss publisher, angry that Mr. Beall had had the temerity to put its journals on his list.
- His own university, perhaps fatigued by complaints from the publisher, the librarians, or others.
- The broader academic community — universities, funders of research, publishers, and fellow researchers, many of whom long understood the value of Mr. Beall’s list but did little to help him out.
- Mr. Beall himself, who failed to recognize that a bit of online shaming wouldn’t stop many scientists from making common cause with journals that just don’t ask too many questions.
In the end, all played important roles in the demise of Beall’s List. On one level, Mr. Beall’s saga is just another tale of warring personalities. On another, though, it points to a broader problem in publishing: Universities still have a long way to go to create systems for researchers to share and collaborate with one another, evaluate one another’s work, and get credit for what really matters in research….”
In addition to a centralised invoicing process that covers the publishing fees (article processing charges), researchers at participating organisations benefit from a discount. This is the first Nordic agreement of its kind and follows the Austrian Open Access framework publishing agreement between Frontiers, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the University of Vienna in late 2017. The Agreement is open to all participating organisations of the Bibsam Consortium, which includes universities, university colleges and government-funded research institutions. Twenty organisations have already joined, including leading universities. All new participating organisations will benefit from the same terms and conditions, regardless of size or research output.
“Under a landmark Open Access Publishing Framework Agreement signed today between Frontiers, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the University of Vienna, Austrian researchers affiliated with or funded by these institutions can now publish their articles in Frontiers’ open access journals through a simplified process that covers article processing charges. In addition to a national discount and centralized invoicing process, the signatory institutions benefit from transparent, comprehensive reporting on expenditures and research outputs at an institutional and national level.”
An application (2006-2009) from Frontiers for a US patent on a method of peer review. Excerpt: “A technical method for evaluation, publication and distillation of information, such as scientific articles and other similar work, said method, process and system comprising at least the following technical process steps (1) an interactive online reviewing process of said information before it is published; (2) a publication process of said information if accepted; (3) an evaluation process of said information once published; (4) a distillation process of said published information in a tier filtering system based on said evaluation process….”The invention laid out is a “mutation” that allows the next step in the evolution of an emerging knowledge society where knowledge is sorted for reliability in an objective manner and freely accessible to all….”
“Frontiers is a community-oriented open-access academic publisher and research network. Our grand vision is to build an Open Science platform that empowers researchers in their daily work and where everybody has equal opportunity to seek, share and generate knowledge….We are seeking enthusiastic recent graduates for the position of Editorial Assistant. This paid, full-time internship position in our Lausanne office will last for six months, and will provide the successful candidate with an excellent opportunity to learn about the rapidly changing environment in scientific publishing from an insider’s perspective, to see all aspects of the peer-review and publishing process, and to be involved in the operations of academic journals….”