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….”

Research Access and Scholarly Equity | Perspectives on History | AHA

“The AHA’s 2017 survey on this issue captured the breadth of the problem. Unequal access affects historians working in a wide variety of contexts, including full-time faculty at institutions unable to afford subscriptions, part-time and irregularly employed historians, independent scholars, job candidates, and historians employed outside of higher education. Faculty with inadequate access cannot keep up with the latest scholarship for teaching and have circumscribed access to the primary sources that enliven a classroom and stand at the center of highly regarded history pedagogy. This is not only a matter of academic careers or the pursuit of what we customarily refer to as “producing new knowledge”; it is also a matter of equity in higher education. Unequal access for faculty means unequal educational opportunity for students.

For contingent faculty, uneven research access reflects another aspect of job insecurity—if they lose their job, they lose access. …

The AHA encourages history departments to provide full library access to their own scholar alumni and to unaffiliated historians in their regions. History departments and academic units can play a positive role by supporting the scholarship of their alumni and by bringing more unaffiliated scholars into their orbit. Providing these historians a university affiliation—whether as a visiting scholar or by whatever means is feasible—will help close the gap between those with and without adequate research access. These actions will enable every historian to fully realize their potential as scholars and contributors to our discipline.”

NGOs’ experiences of navigating the open… | F1000Research

Abstract:  Grant-led consortia working in the global development sector rely on the input of local and national non-government organisations in low- and middle-income countries. However, the open access mandates and mechanisms embedded within grants and promoted by funders and publishers are designed almost exclusively with large universities and research institutions in mind. Experiences from the consortium of health research non-government organisations comprising the Communicable Diseases Health Service Delivery research programme show that implementing open access mandates is not as simple or frictionless as it initially appears.

 

NGOs’ experiences of navigating the open… | F1000Research

Abstract:  Grant-led consortia working in the global development sector rely on the input of local and national non-government organisations in low- and middle-income countries. However, the open access mandates and mechanisms embedded within grants and promoted by funders and publishers are designed almost exclusively with large universities and research institutions in mind. Experiences from the consortium of health research non-government organisations comprising the Communicable Diseases Health Service Delivery research programme show that implementing open access mandates is not as simple or frictionless as it initially appears.

 

Worldwide inequality in access to full text scientific articles: the example of ophthalmology [PeerJ]

Abstract:  Background

The problem of access to medical information, particularly in low-income countries, has been under discussion for many years. Although a number of developments have occurred in the last decade (e.g., the open access (OA) movement and the website Sci-Hub), everyone agrees that these difficulties still persist very widely, mainly due to the fact that paywalls still limit access to approximately 75% of scholarly documents. In this study, we compare the accessibility of recent full text articles in the field of ophthalmology in 27 established institutions located worldwide.

Methods

A total of 200 references from articles were retrieved using the PubMed database. Each article was individually checked for OA. Full texts of non-OA (i.e., “paywalled articles”) were examined to determine whether they were available using institutional and Hinari access in each institution studied, using “alternative ways” (i.e., PubMed Central, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, and Online Reprint Request), and using the website Sci-Hub.

Results

The number of full texts of “paywalled articles” available using institutional and Hinari access showed strong heterogeneity, scattered between 0% full texts to 94.8% (mean = 46.8%; SD = 31.5; median = 51.3%). We found that complementary use of “alternative ways” and Sci-Hub leads to 95.5% of full text “paywalled articles,” and also divides by 14 the average extra costs needed to obtain all full texts on publishers’ websites using pay-per-view.

Conclusions

The scant number of available full text “paywalled articles” in most institutions studied encourages researchers in the field of ophthalmology to use Sci-Hub to search for scientific information. The scientific community and decision-makers must unite and strengthen their efforts to find solutions to improve access to scientific literature worldwide and avoid an implosion of the scientific publishing model. This study is not an endorsement for using Sci-Hub. The authors, their institutions, and publishers accept no responsibility on behalf of readers.

Offline Archive Brings Knowledge Anywhere | Internet Archive Blogs

“The Internet Archive’s central mission is establishing “Universal Access to All Knowledge,” and we want to make sure that our library of millions of books, journals, audio files, and video recordings is available to anyone. Since lack of an internet connection is a major obstacle to that goal, we created the Offline Archive project—that works to make online collections available regardless of internet availability….”

bjoern.brembs.blog » Scholarship has bigger fish to fry than access

” For the last 6-7 years, paying for subscriptions has ceased to be necessary for access. One sign of the changing times is the support that initiatives such as DEAL, Bibsam etc. have: two years without subscriptions to Elsevier and what do you hear out of, e.g., Germany? Crickets! Nothing! Of course, it would be silly to conclude that in these two years nobody in Germany has read any Elsevier articles. The reason for the silence and the continued support for DEAL is that we now can access anything we want without subscriptions….

With the realization that EOSC; Plan S, DEAL, etc. are actually working on different aspects of the same issue, the problem to be solved is no longer that scholars publish in toll-access journals, but that institutions haven’t come up with a more attractive alternative. If individuals are not to blame, than there is no reason to mandate them to do anything differently. Instead, institutions should be mandated to stop funding journals via subscriptions or APCs and instead invest the money into a modern, more cost-effective infrastructure for text, data and code. Obviously, in this specificity, this is nearly impossible to mandate in most countries. However, there is a mandate that comes very close. It has been dubbed “Plan I” (for infrastructure). In brief, it entails a three step procedure:

Build on already available standards and guidelines to establish a certification process for a sustainable scholarly infrastructure
Funders require institutional certification before reviewing grant applications
Institutions use subscription funds to implement infrastructure for certification….”

Publishing, technology, and lawsuits – IO: In The Open

“When Arizona State’s University Librarian, Jim O’Donnell, posted a link to an article about the status and strategy of four lawsuits brought in the past few years by commercial publishers on the LibLicense list, it started me on a series of rather disparate reflections about the state of scholarly communications.

Jim’s post was quite innocuous, of the “folks might be interested in this” variety, but he did note that some people might encounter a paywall. The article, “On the limitations of recent lawsuits against Sci-Hub, OMICS, ResearchGate, and Georgia State University,” by Stewart Manley, was published this summer in Learned Publishing, which is available, only with a subscription, through Wiley. My institution ended its Wiley “big deal” a year ago because we could no longer afford it, so I did encounter a paywall — $42 for this single, seven-page article (I ultimately obtained the article using inter-library loan, and am not providing a link to the pay-walled version). I commented, in response to Jim’s post, on this high cost of access, which leads to my first observation about the state of academic publishing.

It s not surprising that many replies to my comment came from people who routinely use the LibLicense list to defend the status quo in commercial publishing, but I was bemused by a common theme that emerged, that I should obtain the article by subscribing to Learned Publishing via a membership in the Society for Scholarly Publishing, which, I was told, was a good deal at $180, with a discount for librarians. Since one of the major points made by Manley, in the article this was all about, is that publishers are using litigation as a last-ditch effort to avoid the ramifications of digital technology, this struck me as quite ironic. The journal issue as a package for multiple articles, only some of which might interest any particular reader, is an anachronism related to print technology. One of the great new affordances of the digital environment is to break open the journal issue and provide article-by-article access. But, because of the continuing desire to maintain excessive profit margins, publishers have undermined this potential with big deals and paywalls. The solution suggested was to return to still another way of paying for lots of stuff I don’t need in order to see the article I do want, just as I had to do in the print era….”

Publishing, technology, and lawsuits – IO: In The Open

“When Arizona State’s University Librarian, Jim O’Donnell, posted a link to an article about the status and strategy of four lawsuits brought in the past few years by commercial publishers on the LibLicense list, it started me on a series of rather disparate reflections about the state of scholarly communications.

Jim’s post was quite innocuous, of the “folks might be interested in this” variety, but he did note that some people might encounter a paywall. The article, “On the limitations of recent lawsuits against Sci-Hub, OMICS, ResearchGate, and Georgia State University,” by Stewart Manley, was published this summer in Learned Publishing, which is available, only with a subscription, through Wiley. My institution ended its Wiley “big deal” a year ago because we could no longer afford it, so I did encounter a paywall — $42 for this single, seven-page article (I ultimately obtained the article using inter-library loan, and am not providing a link to the pay-walled version). I commented, in response to Jim’s post, on this high cost of access, which leads to my first observation about the state of academic publishing.

It s not surprising that many replies to my comment came from people who routinely use the LibLicense list to defend the status quo in commercial publishing, but I was bemused by a common theme that emerged, that I should obtain the article by subscribing to Learned Publishing via a membership in the Society for Scholarly Publishing, which, I was told, was a good deal at $180, with a discount for librarians. Since one of the major points made by Manley, in the article this was all about, is that publishers are using litigation as a last-ditch effort to avoid the ramifications of digital technology, this struck me as quite ironic. The journal issue as a package for multiple articles, only some of which might interest any particular reader, is an anachronism related to print technology. One of the great new affordances of the digital environment is to break open the journal issue and provide article-by-article access. But, because of the continuing desire to maintain excessive profit margins, publishers have undermined this potential with big deals and paywalls. The solution suggested was to return to still another way of paying for lots of stuff I don’t need in order to see the article I do want, just as I had to do in the print era….”

International Day for Universal Access to Information

“Since 2016 UNESCO marks 28 September as the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI), following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).  

The IDUAI has particular relevance with Agenda 2030 with specific reference to:

SDG 2 on investment in rural infrastructure and technology development,
SDG 11 on positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas and
SDG 16 on initiatives to adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information….”