Ten myths around open scholarly publishing [PeerJ Preprints]

Abstract:  The changing world of scholarly communication and the emergence of ‘Open Science’ or ‘Open Research’ has brought to light a number of controversial and hotly-debated topics. Yet, evidence-based rational debate is regularly drowned out by misinformed or exaggerated rhetoric, which does not benefit the evolving system of scholarly communication. The aim of this article is to provide a baseline evidence framework for ten of the most contested topics, in order to help frame and move forward discussions, practices and policies. We address preprints and scooping, the practice of copyright transfer, the function of peer review, and the legitimacy of ‘global’ databases. The presented facts and data will be a powerful tool against misinformation across wider academic research, policy and practice, and may be used to inform changes within the rapidly evolving scholarly publishing system.

Plan S leaders resist pressure for slower open access transition | Times Higher Education (THE)

Little sympathy among scheme’s architects for suggestion that embargoed dissemination should continue to be supported…

The architects of Plan S are unlikely to back away from strict and rapidly approaching deadlines for a “big flip” to open access publishing despite mounting pressure for a longer transition period, Times Higher Education understands….

But THE understands that Plan S leaders are unlikely to back down, regarding “no paywall” as a key principle of the scheme. A source said that “no special allowances” would be made for funders or participants even in countries where a zero embargo period was perceived to be problematic….”

Open-Access Is Going Mainstream. Here’s Why That Could Transform Academic Life. – The Chronicle of Higher Education

“That may soon change. Smaller-scale efforts are mixing with top-down decisions — through universities’ subscription negotiations and a major European plan that mandates open-access publication for certain research — to put unusual pressure on publishers.

Don’t think these battles are confined to the library or an individual discipline. The changes have the potential to alter nearly everything about how research is disseminated — and therefore how departments spend money, researchers collaborate, and faculty careers advance….”

‘Those who hold the purse can change the system’ | Research Information

Smits spelled out the three ways to be compliant with Plan S:

  • Publish in high-quality open access journals/platforms;
  • Deposit in open access repositories without embargo; or
  • Publish in a hybrid journal that is subject to transformative agreement. The journal must be committed to a full OA transition within a period of four years.

He continued: ‘We have also heard that there are issues in some fields of science where there is no suitable open access journal in which to publish. To this end we are undertaking gap analysis, Where this proves to be the case, we will provide incentives to set up suitable journals or platforms.

‘On the subject of APCs, I am firmly advocating that there should be a cap on APCs; however we decided to adopt the Wellcome Trust approach and to say that APCs should be “reasonable”. We are going to do an in-depth study into what should be considered as reasonable, but I am very much of the opinion that the charge should be based on the service provided by the publisher.’

Smits concluded: ‘I had never expected Plan S to get so much attention and I think the fact that it is being debated around the world shows that people think there is change in the air, and that it is time for something new. That’s why it is important that all of us – particularly the publishers – come clean: do you believe that the results of publicly-funded research should no longer be behind expensive paywalls? Secondly, do you think it’s time for your businesses to move to new models based on open access? Answer these two questions with a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and I think you will make everyone happy – particularly me….”

The University of Manchester response to the implementation of Plan S

“We are pleased to note the cOAlition’s support for the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), to which the University was one of the first signatories, which aligns with UoM’s commitment to responsible metrics. A significant proportion of UoM research is subject to existing funder OA policies. The University Library has enabled Gold or Green OA for more than 3000 papers annually since 2016 and we achieve high levels of funder compliance (currently over 90% for the UK REF OA policy). Since 2012 we have supported publisher experimentation with OA models and contributed to the development of the UK-Scholarly Communication Licence (UK-SCL). This experience, together with responses from a University-wide consultation on the implementation of Plan S, informs our comments and concerns detailed below. The ‘Supporting Document’ section includes further consultation responses from UoM researchers….”

UKSCL Community Response to Plan S | UKSCL

“As written, the guidance appears to require publishers to undertake/facilitate the work of repository deposit and the repository criteria appear to have been drawn up with this in mind.

However, we envisage a scenario, particularly in the early years of Plan S implementation, whereby our community’s Model Institutional Open Access Policy,incorporating rights retention and Plan S compliant licensing and embargo periods, will be needed in addition to publisher negotiations for transformative publisher deals, particularly in the event that those deals proving to be unaffordable.

That being the case, author self-archiving will most likely be the means by which Author Accepted Manuscripts (AAM) will be deposited and made available through repositories. To this end, it would be helpful if the current repository infrastructure were also considered as a valid and valuable mechanism to meet Plan S aims.

With the above in mind, we support the COAR response[4] to the Plan S repository requirement statement.

To set this in context: at UKSCL community institutions we have already experienced strong publisher pushback on proposals to roll out adoption of the UKSCL Model Institutional Open Access Policy. Rather than contributing to the perpetuation of the status quo for subscribed content, it is our belief that widespread adoption of our Model Institutional Open Access Policy which meets Plan S requirements will provide a further legal lever to encourage publishers to develop their own affordable and transformative routes towards achieving Plan S aims and to demonstrate the value that they otherwise add to the scholarly communications process beyond the availability of the AAM text in a repository.

The Policy, based on the “Harvard model OA policy”[5], enables the automatic retention of rights by the institution, rights which individual academics at that institution can choose to exercise in full or in part.

The work undertaken in the UK has achieved a policy which works in the context of UK Copyright legislation. It’s development has been supported by expert IP legal advice.

The work was originally prompted as a result of the “policy stack”[6] situation in the UK: multiple funder OA policies with differing compliance criteria coupled with multiple publisher policies, some of which varied according to the funding received by the authoring academics. However, we also believe that the Model Institutional Open Access Policy has a potentially significant role to play in the realisation of cOAlition S aims of “making full and open access a reality”.[7]

The UKSCL Model Institutional Policy is fundamentally about rights retention and early release of the findings about research – all called for in Plan S. Despite the differing copyright regimes in the USA and the UK, we have been able to draw up a policy which works legally within UK copyright legislation.

It is important to understand how the UKSCL Model Institutional Open Access Policy works in practice as there are three components:

  • Where an institution has adopted the UK-SCL as its model OA policy, rights retention on behalf of the academic come into existence at the point the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) comes into existence. Those rights are then transferred back to the academic. This step is essential – those steps that follow could then be made optional, particularly in the early days of Plan S funder policies.
    • Licence choice on deposit: the current default UK-SCL licence is CC BY-NC in line with the minimum requirements for the current RCUK policy. It is our intention to align the licence with cOAlition S funder policies once those are clarified. However, particularly in the early days of want we envisage to be a new set of cOAlition S-aligned policies, institutions could choose to allow the academic to select a more restrictive licence on deposit. The academic will still, themselves, have the right at a future date to re-release the output on the more liberal licence retained on their behalf should they so wish.
    • AAM availability through the repository: the UKSCL default is zero months after publication (earlier if publishers allow). Institutions could also allow academics to request a longer embargo, up to the maximum allowed by their research funders for those academics not funded by a funder with shorter embargo periods….”

An HSS Perspective on Plan S

“This is an open letter to all funding agencies, government bodies and institutions that support Plan S. It is written from the perspective of publishers working across the humanities and social sciences (HSS) and will be submitted to the open consultation of cOAlition S. This letter does not represent a comprehensive critique of the recently published guidelines. In the past few weeks, the research community has offered detailed analysis and feedback on the guidelines and we share many of the concerns.[1] This letter focuses on the unintended consequences and deleterious impact of applying a model designed for STM journals to all humanities and social science disciplines. It also offers ideas for a collaborative way forward….”

Plan S: how important is open access publishing? | Times Higher Education (THE)

Dislike of gold open access is also partly responsible for researchers’ opposition to Plan S. Lynn Kamerlin, professor of structural biology at Uppsala University, is one of the instigators of the open letter against it. While she pledges strong support for open access, she is happy with the current rate of progress and sees the recent “explosion” in the use of preprint servers as illustrative of the range of routes towards it. She fears that the details of Plan S’ “embargo requirements and repository technical requirements…are so draconian that paid-for gold becomes the easiest way to fulfil them”. This will convert the “nudges” towards gold in existing funder mandates (which she supports) into a “shove”, which will be “a disaster for the research community” because it will disadvantage those unable to pay article processing charges and “seriously jeopardise the much more rigorous quality control standards provided by high-quality society journals compared to the high-volume for-profit business model, which has an inbuilt conflict of interest”.

Nor is Kamerlin alone in expressing a concern that the allegedly lower standards of peer review practised by fully open access journals have compromised quality. But, for Suber, debating quality rather misses the point. “Yes, there is some low-quality open access work, but there’s also low-quality subscription journal work, and people who step back [to see the bigger picture] always acknowledge that,” he says. “Quality and access are completely independent of each other. Open access isn’t a kind of peer review, it’s a kind of dissemination.”

However, he agrees with Kamerlin that the “green” form of open access, whereby academics post work that is in subscription journals on their institutional repositories or elsewhere…is another good option….”

What does the recently revisited Belgian copyright law for scholarly publications say, actually ? | Ouvertures immédiates / Immediate openings

My previous blog post triggered a lot of interpretations on the actual content, extend and meaning of the amendments to the Belgian copyright law. The best response is the actual text, translated here….

Except for the potential loophole of the King (i.e. the Federal Government)’s good will who can, for some obscure reason (publishers’ lobbying ?) extend the embargo period in an undefined way, and which appears as a very weak point, the rest of the text is quite strong: the right to re-publish and re-use is mandatory and irrecusable. It overrides any previous contract between the author and the publisher, even anterior to the law itself.

Of course, one would presume it applies to Belgian citizens in a scholarly institution in Belgium, leaving a fuzzy zone when the author is working abroad transiently or when he/she is a coauthor among foreign researchers….”