The question of whether — and, if so, to what degree — Sci-Hub and similar pirate portals will lead (or are already leading) libraries to cancel journal subscriptions has been a fraught one for some time, and the debate doesn’t seem likely to settle down anytime soon.
One recent case in point: on the LIBLICENSE listserv last week, librarian and consultant Danny Kingsley made mention of a recent story in the Times Higher Education in which it was argued that universities in Europe are finding it “easier… to ditch their journal subscription contracts because so many articles are now available for free.” Furthermore, the article observed that academic library consortia, in particular, “have in recent years struck a much more assertive line with publishers over cost and open access,” with the result that, for example, “Germany’s consortium is currently without a contract with Elsevier… in part because librarians believe that academics can access free papers through sites such as ResearchGate.”
Kingsley quoted this article with some asperity, describing it as “frustrating,” given that “there is NO causal arrow between material being online somewhere and library subscriptions.” In response, Scholarly Kitchen Chef and consultant Joe Esposito called Danny’s claim “remarkable,” saying that “ResearchGate and Sci-Hub are in the background of every library negotiation with publishers now.”
In the course of agreeing with Kingsley, noted scholarly communication researcher Anthony Watkinson observed that he was “not aware of any research on library decision making processes” — which suggests not so much that there is no causal connection between library subscriptions and free online availability, but rather that we don’t yet know what, if any, causal connection there may be. But some anecdotal evidence in support of Kingsley’s position quickly came in on the list: several librarians chimed in, one of them saying that such considerations “have certainly never been in the background on any negotiations with vendors that I have been involved in,” and another saying that the availability of free or pirated content “does not influence my decision-making and isn’t considered when it comes to subscription renewals.” A third librarian suggested that such considerations are more likely to be “in the back of the minds of every Publisher, rather than in the minds of the Librarians.” Lisa Hinchliffe, a librarian at the University of Illinois and a Scholarly Kitchen Chef, pointed out that while librarians may not specifically assess the availability of free or pirated content when making subscription or cancellation decisions, they certainly do take cost per download into account — and to the degree that any library’s patrons download articles from subscribed journals through platforms like Sci-Hub and ResearchGate rather than from the publisher through the library’s website, that library’s cost per download will go up. (The entire discussion thread may be read here.) …”
Objectives Academical and not-for-profit research funders are increasingly requiring that the research they fund must be published open access, with some insisting on publishing with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to allow the broadest possible use. We aimed to clarify the open access variants provided by leading medical journals and record the availability of the CC BY licence for commercially funded research.
Methods We identified medical journals with a 2015 impact factor of ?15.0 on 24 May 2017, then excluded from the analysis journals that only publish review articles. Between 29 June 2017 and 26 July 2017, we collected information about each journal’s open access policies from their websites and/or by email contact. We contacted the journals by email again between 6 December 2017 and 2 January 2018 to confirm our findings.
Results Thirty-five medical journals publishing original research from 13 publishers were included in the analysis. All 35 journals offered some form of open access allowing articles to be free-to-read, either immediately on publication or after a delay of up to 12 months. Of these journals, 21 (60%) provided immediate open access with a CC BY licence under certain circumstances (eg, to specific research funders). Of these 21, 20 only offered a CC BY licence to authors funded by non-commercial organisations and one offered this option to any funder who required it.
Conclusions Most leading medical journals do not offer to authors reporting commercially funded research an open access licence that allows unrestricted sharing and adaptation of the published material. The journals’ policies are therefore not aligned with open access declarations and guidelines. Commercial research funders lag behind academical funders in the development of mandatory open access policies, and it is time for them to work with publishers to advance the dissemination of the research they fund.
Abstract: Repository management relies on knowledge of numerous attributes of academic journals, such as revenue model (subscription, hybrid or fully Open Access), self-archiving policies, licences, contacts for queries and article processing charges (APCs). While datasets collating some of this information are helpful to repository administrators, most cover only one or few of those attributes (e.g., APC price lists from publishers), do not provide APIs or their API responses are not machine readable (self-archiving policies from RoMEO), or are not updated very often (licences and APCs from DOAJ). As a result, most repositories still rely on administrative staff looking up and entering required attributes manually. To solve this problem and increase automation of tasks performed by the Cambridge repository team, I developed Orpheus, a database of academic journals/publishers written in Django. Orpheus was recently integrated with our DSpace repository Apollo and auxiliary systems via its RESTful API, enabling embargo periods to be automatically applied to deposited articles and streamlining the process of advising researchers on payments, licences and compliance to funders’ Open Access policies. Orpheus is Open Source (https://github.com/osc-cam/orpheus) and may be easily expanded or tailored to meet the particular needs of other repositories and Scholarly Communication services.
“The ‘Framework’ is aligned with developing European Commission policy in this area and is structured accordingly. The European Commission Recommendation of 25 April 2018 on access to and preservation of scientific information asks Member States to ‘set and implement clear policies (as detailed in national action plans)’ covering: Open Access to Publications; Management of Research Data; Preservation and re-use of scientific information; Infrastructures for Open Research; Skills and Competencies; Incentives and Rewards….”
“Plan S, the program to crack down on scientific journals’ paywalls led by European research funders, has fleshed out and relaxed some of its rules in revised implementation guidelinespublished today. The update addresses many concerns raised by researchers, librarians, and scientific publishers about Plan S’s rollout, allowing more time before full, immediate open access (OA) is required and dropping the proposed cap on publishing fees that funders will pay to journals.
The architects of Plan S “have engaged in a good quality dialogue” with the people and institutions that are going to deal with the plan’s consequences, says Lidia Borrell-Damián, director for reseach and innovation at the European University Association in Brussels. As a result, the revised guidelines seem “much more nuanced and more realistic” than the initial set, says astrophysicist Luke Drury, former president of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.
Still unclear is whether the changes will convince other funders to join the movement. And the plan’s fiercest detractors are unmoved….”
“With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo….”
“Following a large consultation, we have updated our open access (OA) policy so it now aligns with Plan S. The changes will apply from 1 January 2021. …
These are the key changes to our OA policy.
All Wellcome-funded research articles must be made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC at the time of publication. We previously allowed a six-month embargo period. This change will make sure that the peer-reviewed version is freely available to everyone at the time of publication.
All articles must be published under a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC-BY), unless we have agreed, as an exception, to allow publication under a CC-BY-ND licence. We previously only required a CC-BY licence when an article processing charge (APC) was paid. This change will make sure that others – including commercial entities and AI/text-data mining services – can reuse our funded research to discover new knowledge.
Authors or their institutions must retain copyright for their research articles and hold the rights necessary to make a version of the article immediately available under a compliant open licence.
We will no longer cover the cost of OA publishing in subscription journals (‘hybrid OA’), outside of a transformative arrangement. We previously supported this model, but no longer believe that it supports a transition to full OA.
Where there is a significant public health benefit to preprints being shared widely and rapidly, such as a disease outbreak, these preprints must be published:
before peer review
on an approved platform that supports immediate publication of the complete manuscript
under a CC-BY licence.
This is a new requirement which will make sure that important research findings are shared as soon possible and before peer review.
Wellcome-funded organisations must sign or publicly commit to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment(opens in a new tab) (DORA), or an equivalent. We may ask organisations to show that they’re complying with this as part of our organisation audits. This is a new requirement to encourage organisations to consider the intrinsic merit of the work when making promotion and tenure decisions, not just the title of the journal or publisher….”
Scientific knowledge generated with public funds is a common good and access to it is a universal right.
Open Access must be protected legally to avoid the appropriation of scientific knowledge for profit.
Open Access has no future or meaning without an evolution in the systems of evaluation to research.
The consolidation of Open Access must consider the transition to digital scientific communication as an essential axis.
The economic investment in Open Access must be consistent with its benefit to society, just as commercial solutions are paid.
The adverse economic scenarios that the AA faces must be overcome with work schemes based on collaboration and sustainability, favoring that the scientific publication continues sustained and led by the academy.
It is necessary to recognize the diversity of scientific journals and stop the pressures that seek to homogenize them. For their part, journals should support the strengthening of institutional repositories through the disappearance of embargo and assignment of rights policies.
The social impact of science is the basis of the existence of Open Access.
It is necessary to respect the different dynamics of generation and circulation of knowledge by area, especially the dynamics of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Open Access must be permanently conceptualized and defined accordingly. The three “B” homogenize the conditions of the development of science and the conditions of the South are different from those of the North….”
“At Springer Nature we want to find the fastest and most effective route to immediate open access (OA) for all primary research. This blog describes a potential significant way to progress it and we are asking other interested stakeholders to read, consider and comment on this LinkedIn post so all can see if this would receive widespread support.
In February, along with many others, we responded to the consultation request from cOAlition S on its implementation guidance. In our submission, we expressed continued strong support for hybrid journals, given they currently publish most of the world’s research and their proven ability to enable growth in OA take-up, particularly as part of transformative read and publish deals where we have seen 73-90% success rates. In light of the evidence we presented, we asked Plan S to think again. Similarly, we explained why Plan S’s proposed zero embargo green OA, immediately utilising a CC-BY license, would not be a sustainable alternative.
Although we await the conclusions of cOAlition S’s consultation, we understand that their views haven’t changed and that Plan S will require hybrid journals to commit to flip to OA within a specified period….
What did we conclude? That as publishers, while we cannot force change upon researchers, institutions, and research funding bodies, we can move from being an enabler to being a driver of the OA transition. We can stimulate demand by advocating, promoting, educating, and making the technical changes needed to measure and showcase the benefits of OA, and ensure our pricing and fees leave no doubt about which articles are funded in which ways during the transition. We can work together to establish a set of standards that all agree to and that compliance is measured against to embed trust and confidence in all stakeholders – researchers, institutions and funding bodies. To make it easy to recognise compliance with this standard, those meeting the criteria could be called a Transformative Publisher. The full proposed requirements of this standard can be found in the attached document….
In the four European countries where Springer Nature’s transformative deals are most mature, well over 70% of authors published by us from those countries are now publishing OA. In one country this is over 90%. …”
“For some, this may seem better than the Wiley Deal in Germany: French universities and research institutions have agreed in principle, through their Couperin consortium, to renew their national licence with Elsevier. In a letter sent on April 11 to Elsevier by Lise Dumasy, president of Couperin, details of the agreement, which is valid for 4 years, effective as of January 1 this year, are revealed.
With this agreement, French universities and research institutions will have access to the publisher’s „Freedom complete edition“ journal bundle including e.g. The Lancet and Cell Press. However, the consortium does not guarantee to the publisher that all its members will adhere to the national licence….
Here are the main points:
Most surprising: This agreement provides for a gradual 13.3% reduction in license costs over 4 years -5% in 2019, -4% in 2020, -3% in 2021 and -2% in 2022, in total -13.305% over four years.
There is 25% discount on article processing charges (APC). There will also be a compensatory clause if these APCs increase by more than 3.5%. Excluded from this discount are – as I understand it – only the society journals, e.g. The Lancet and the Cell Press titles. Included are all Open Access journals and hybrid journals. The 3.5% threshold refers to annual price increases.
Regarding Green Open Access the agreement allows automatic access 12 months after formal publication to the „accepted author manuscript“ (AAM) or post print directly on Elsevier’s service Sciencedirect. After 24 months the pdf file of this manuscript will be deposited on the HAL platform (the CNRS Open Access Repository). The license to make AAMs available is more restrictive than most Creative Commons licenses. It allows reading, downloading, printing, translating, text & data mining but does not allow redistribution or re-use (neither commercial or non-commercial)….”