Diverting Leakage to the Library Subscription Channel – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Likewise, we’ve known for some time that, while some publishers take a highly contentious stance towards ResearchGate, others have taken a different approach. Whatever one might have thought about ResearchGate earlier in its development, it has clearly arrived as a major service for researchers. ResearchGate is one of the most trafficked science websites globally and has more than twice the traffic of Google Scholar and many more times that of Sci-Hub. ResearchGate is also without question a site of leakage and that is precisely what also makes it an attractive platform for syndication. …

ResearchGate users without entitlements via a Springer Nature institutional subscription will continue to have access to articles in a non-downloadable format. It is worth noting that this is the version of record, which diverges from Elsevier’s tactic of providing an author manuscript to the non-entitled, and so all users (entitled and non-entitled) have access to the version of record….

The code behind the rendered web pages did not seem to show that the entitlements information was being passed from Springer Nature, but rather that ResearchGate is determining authorization using a database it accesses directly or perhaps via API. …

We also noted that the PDFs one downloads from ResearchGate are different files than the PDFs that are downloaded from the Springer Nature platform. Both platforms provide the version of record PDF but the files from ResearchGate had different watermarks in the footer than those from the Springer Nature platform. This makes even clearer that this is truly a case of syndication to the ResearchGate platform and not linking out from ResearchGate to the publisher platform, such as is done from library discovery layers. …

Bringing library-subscribed resources into the scholar’s workflow on ResearchGate helps to ensure that scholars have easy and seamless access to licensed materials and bypasses the cumbersome process of moving from a citation on ResearchGate, back to the library website, only to then be required to navigate the link resolver, authentication mechanisms, and the publisher platform before getting the PDF. With syndication, discovery is delivery. …”

Cost-benefit analysis for FAIR research data – ENVRI community

FAIR research data encompasses the way to create, store and publish research data in a way that they are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. In order to be FAIR, research data published should meet certain criteria described by the FAIR principles. Despite this, many research performing organisations and infrastructures are still reluctant to apply the FAIR principles and share their datasets due to real or perceived costs, including time investment and money.

To answer such concerns, this report formulates 36 policy recommendations on cost-effective funding and business models to make the model of FAIR data sustainable. It provides evidence to decision makers on setting up short and long-term actions pertinent to the practical implementation of FAIR principles….”

Turning FAIR into reality: Review – Hill – 2019 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Key points


  • Implementation of FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) offers significant return on investment (ROI) but requires major changes in research culture, incentives, and substantial funding, and implementation is hindered by the need to coordinate across European Union’s member states.
  • FAIR is constituted by data objects and a wider technical and data ecosystem.
  • Publishers’ role is broad but prescribed in this report – although there may be business opportunities.
  • While the continued validity of non?open data is acknowledged, the report recognizes that ROI is maximized where data are both FAIR and open….”

Steven James Bartlett, The Case against the Conventional Publication of Academic and Scientific Books – PhilPapers

An essay that weighs the main factors that lead authors of academic and scientific books to consider conventional publication of their work, with realistic and practical recommendations for these authors so they may avoid the contractual “imprisonment” of their books after the period of initial active sales has passed.

Steven James Bartlett, The Case against the Conventional Publication of Academic and Scientific Books – PhilPapers

An essay that weighs the main factors that lead authors of academic and scientific books to consider conventional publication of their work, with realistic and practical recommendations for these authors so they may avoid the contractual “imprisonment” of their books after the period of initial active sales has passed.

Journal articles ‘should cost £300 to publish’ | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Publishers are hugely inflating their costs through unnecessary spending on marketing, lobbying and executive pay packets, according to open access campaigners who have calculated what they claim is the real cost of publishing.

It should cost on average just $400 (£315) to publish an academic paper, and at the very most about $1,000 for very selective journals with high rejection rates, an analysis says.

This is far less than the prices universities currently pay publishers, it argues: estimates of costs vary, but subscription journals receive about $4,000 to $5,000 per article, while article processing fees for open access papers average at least $1,470….”

An introductory guide to the UC model transformative agreement – Office of Scholarly Communication

On the basis of these ideas, UC developed a unique “multi-payer” model for transformative agreements designed to engage authors and encourage shared funding between university library and research funds that can be replicated at other U.S. institutions. The model combines library funding — in the form of baseline financial support for all authors and full financial support for authors lacking grant funds — with an author workflow that asks authors with grant funding to pay a portion of the article publication costs. This is the model that UC proposed to Elsevier and that has formed the basis for our discussions with other publishers (including our April 2019 agreement with Cambridge University Press).

It is important to note that the co-funding elements of this model need not be limited to subscription publishers, but are intentionally designed for implementation with native open access publishers as well. The model is intended to create a level playing field for publishers of all types. Specific characteristics of the UC model include:

  • Default open access. Open access is the default publication option for all UC corresponding authors who publish in the target publisher’s journals. Authors have the choice of opting out.
  • Reading fee. The former subscription fee is greatly reduced and becomes a “reading” fee for access and perpetual rights to articles that are still behind a paywall.
    • UC has set its desired reading fee at 10% of the previous license fee, to allow for the bulk of the former subscription fee to be allocated to APC payments. The size of the reading fee recognizes that the proportion of closed to open access articles is decreasing as similar agreements are negotiated elsewhere around the globe.
  • Discounted APCs. The library negotiates reduced article publication charges (APCs) with the publisher, to bring the overall costs of the agreement into an affordable range that can facilitate a rapid transition to open access while protecting both the university and the publisher from undue economic risk.
  • Overall cost. In general, the total of all fees (reading fee + APCs) should be no more than the current licensing cost, possibly also including any existing APCs that have been paid outside the previous license agreement. To achieve this aim, negotiated APC discounts may be 30% or higher.
  • Co-funding model. Publication fees are subject to a co-funding model involving both institutional (library) funds and author (grant) funds, in a unified workflow:
    • Library subvention. The library provides a baseline subvention to cover a significant portion of the publication fee for all authors (e.g., $1,000 per article).
    • Grant-funded authors. Authors with access to grant funding are asked to pay a remaining portion of the article publication fee at the time of acceptance if they are able to do so, to allow for sustainability and scalability over time.
    • Unfunded authors. The library covers the publication fee in full for authors without access to grant funding (e.g., many authors in the humanities and some in the social sciences). Authors indicate the need for this support after their article has been accepted, as part of the publisher’s standard APC payment workflow.
    • Author choice. Authors can opt out of open access and publish their articles behind a paywall at their discretion.
    • Aggregated library payments. All library-funded components (baseline subvention and full funding for authors lacking grants) are paid through direct, periodic bulk payments to the publisher; there is no need for authors to request funding explicitly from the library. However, the full article publication costs, including library subvention amounts, should be disclosed to authors in the publisher interface.
  • Cost controls. Once established, the overall cost of the agreement varies up or down from year to year by a designated amount keyed to publication volume, to allow for gradual adjustments in response to author publishing behavior while allowing both the institution and the publisher to predictably manage costs.
    • UC’s model puts this standard variance at 2% — thus, the overall fees paid to the publisher can vary up or down by 2% per year….”

Assessing the size of the affordability problem in scholarly publishing [PeerJ Preprints]

Abstract:  For many decades, the hyperinflation of subscription prices for scholarly journals have concerned scholarly institutions. After years of fruitless efforts to solve this “serials crisis”, open access has been proposed as the latest potential solution. However, also the prices for open access publishing are high and are rising well beyond inflation. What has been missing from the public discussion so far is a quantitative approach to determine the actual costs of efficiently publishing a scholarly article using state-of-the-art technologies, such that informed decisions can be made as to appropriate price levels. Here we provide a granular, step-by-step calculation of the costs associated with publishing primary research articles, from submission, through peer-review, to publication, indexing and archiving. We find that these costs range from less than US$200 per article in modern, large scale publishing platforms using post-publication peer-review, to about US$1,000 per article in prestigious journals with rejection rates exceeding 90%. The publication costs for a representative scholarly article today come to lie at around US$400. We discuss the additional non-publication items that make up the difference between publication costs and final price.

Increasing open access publications serves publishers’ commercial interests

Publishing for free is great, but when journals start charging researchers fees, they don’t lose business. A new journal might introduce a fee after a free introductory period. For example, when eLife introduced a US$2,500 publication fee in 2017, it still published more articles in 2017 and 2018 than it had in 2016. Similarly, Royal Society Open Scienceintroduced a US$1,260 fee in 2018 and continued to grow….

I then looked at the four biggest commercial open-access publishers that relied on publication fees: BMC, Frontiers, MDPI and Hindawi. I tracked 319 of their journals, their listed prices and the number of research articles they published between 2012 and 2018. I fed this data into a statistical model and it showed academics preferred to publish in more expensive journals.

The two publishers who raised their prices the most, Frontiers and MDPI, also saw the most growth in the average number of articles in each journal….”

The death of the learned societies? – ScienceGuide

Also the statement that potential profits are used to benefit science seems legitimate, but what exactly do we really know about the business model of learned societies and their journals? To answer these and other questions ScienceGuide spoke with editors and publishers deeply involved with the business of learned societies, and asked them about the value of learned society journals, and what they know about the underlying business model….

Van Ommen starts out to say that he is totally on board with open access, “but Plan S is reckless and ill-conceived.” ….

A similar line of reasoning moved the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to seek out the commercial publisher Elsevier as their partner for a newly launched journal. Former president of the Royal Academy and current president of the (ISSCR) Hans Clevers was involved in the negotiations with the publisher on launching the open access journal Stem Cell Reports….

All of this provided a perfect opportunity for commercial publishers to either co-opt or completely take over these society journals. In 2004 a survey by the Association Learned & Professional Society Publishers found an estimated half of the learned society journals, especially the smaller ones, were run by third party commercial publishers. A 2013 also found that most of the learned societies have little information about how their income is derived….

Fletcher is somewhat baffled by the fact that learned societies don’t know about the full picture behind the business model of co-publishing. …

Although the level of detail in the annual reports of learned societies is too low to get a good estimate on costs and benefit, Kramer is positively surprised by the level of transparency. “If you’d want to have an overview like this for most commercial publishers you’d have a very hard time.” She points out that under Plan S journals are urged to be even more transparent on the way in which costs are derived. “Hopefully we’ll get an even better insight into the cost model of publishers.”


In the revised implementation of Plan S transparency is still a key conditional for compliance. In a previous interview with ScienceGuide president of the Dutch research funder NWO Stan Gielen indicated that in order to comply with the Plan S requirements journals would have to be upfront on how their APC is compiled. “We’re not going to require full transparency from every journal, but if an APC is ludicrously high, we’ll definitely ask questions about their business model.” …”