Publishing, P&T, and Equity, an Open Access Week Miniseries, Part 3: How Librarians Became Experts on Publishing and Equity

Happy Open Access Week! This is the final installment in our 3-part mini-series of blog posts on Publishing, P&T, and Equity. The overarching issue: how to reform our research evaluation processes to eliminate bias and promote structural equity. On Monday I argued for ending P&T standards that reward journal ‘prestige.’ On Wednesday I wrote about why institutions who want to build structural equity should reward open publishing practices in their research evaluation processes. Today I will conclude with a little meta-piece on the Library’s place in all this.

Publishing, P&T, and Equity, an Open Access Week Miniseries, Part 3: How Librarians Became Experts on Publishing and Equity

Happy Open Access Week! This is the final installment in our 3-part mini-series of blog posts on Publishing, P&T, and Equity. The overarching issue: how to reform our research evaluation processes to eliminate bias and promote structural equity. On Monday I argued for ending P&T standards that reward journal ‘prestige.’ On Wednesday I wrote about why institutions who want to build structural equity should reward open publishing practices in their research evaluation processes. Today I will conclude with a little meta-piece on the Library’s place in all this.

Proprietary Grapes Come With Draconian End User License Agreement

“A company put an end user license agreement (EULA) on a bag of grapes: “The recipient of the produce contained in this package agrees not to propagate or reproduce any portion of this produce, including ‘but not limited to’ seeds, stems, tissue, and fruit,” read the EULA on a bag of Carnival brand grapes….”

[KEI recommendations to WHO on COVID-related research]

“The WHO secretariat should request in writing that the funders of COVID-19 R&D including in particular governments and philanthropies include language in contracts and use their financial leverage to enable sharing of know-how, cell lines and rights in data and patents, for COVID-19 related technologies.

The WHO secretariat should request in writing that the funders of COVID-19 R&D including in particular governments and philanthropies include language in contracts and use their financial leverage to enable sharing of know-how, cell lines and rights in data and patents, for COVID-19 related technologies.

There should be no monopolies on patents, regulatory exclusivities, data or know-how in this pandemic. All relevant technology for COVID-19 products should be available either free or openly licensed with non-discriminatory, reasonable and affordable royalties….”

One Journal Publishing Company is More Profitable Than Netflix – Library News

“If your article was published within the last few years, there’s a good chance it was in a journal owned by one these four companies: Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer and Taylor & Francis. In the early 1970s, they published 15% of the researched produced in the world*. Today, it’s up to 53% of the world’s research.*

Over the years, these publishing companies have merged and acquired smaller publishers, in an effort to own even more of the journal landscape. The lack of competition allows these companies the ability to charge a high price, often not allowing universities to buy journals outright, instead only letting universities rent journals through subscriptions. Universities often pay millions to rent access to research their own faculty conduct.

The biggest contender in the journal publishing market is Elsevier. With 3,000 journals and publishing nearly half a million articles per year, RELX, the parent company of Elsevier, had revenues of US $9.8 billion in 2019. Elsevier’s profits account for about 34% of RELX’s total profits.

You can read more about these oligopolies (market shared by a small number of producers or sellers) and how they are contributing to the unaffordability of journals in the Vox article The War to Free Science. …”

New York Times Again Forgets to Mention the Fool Proof Way to Prevent Foreign Governments from Stealing Vaccine Research – Center for Economic and Policy Research

“Of course that would be having open research that was freely shared. That would immediately make theft impossible, since there would be nothing to steal.

This simple and obvious point is not mentioned once in a piece describing efforts by Russia and China to gain access to vaccine research being done at U.S. universities and private companies. Since the whole world is struggling to get a vaccine as quickly as possible to bring the pandemic under control, it might have made sense to have a cooperative effort, where all research would be freely shared and any vaccines that are developed could be produced by any manufacturer with the capability to make it.

Instead, we went the route of restricting research access, which is both likely to slow down the development of effective vaccines and also lead to otherwise pointless security costs. It also is likely to mean that any vaccines that are developed will be expensive, since the producers will own patent monopolies that allow them to restrict access….”

After Open Access

“The dominant model of open access is dominated by commercial values. Commercial licenses, such as CC-BY1 are mandated or preferred by governments, funders and policy makers who are effectively seeking more public subsidy for the private sector’s use of university research, with no reciprocal financial arrangement.2 Open access platforms such as academia.edu are extractive and exploitative. They defer the costs of publishing to publishers, universities and independent scholars, while selling the data derived from the uses of publicly funded research. As such they represent the next stage in the capitalization of knowledge. Commercial platforms are emphatically not open source and tend towards monopoly ownership. Presenting themselves as mere intermediaries between users, they obtain privileged access to surveille and record user activity and benefit from network effects.

A major irony of open access policy is that it aims to break up the giants of commercial journal publishing but facilitates existing or emerging platform monopolies….

Open access benefits commercial interests. The current model also serves to sideline research and scholarship produced outside of universities altogether, creating financial barriers to publishing for scholars outside of the Global North/West and for independent scholars, as well as for early career researchers and others whose institutional affiliation is, like their employment status, highly precarious and contingent, and for authors who do not have the support of well-funded institutions and / or whose research is not funded by research councils….”

Open access publishers: The new players – InfoDoc MicroVeille

“The essential role of journals as registries of scientific activity in all areas of knowledge justifies concern about their ownership and type of access. The purpose of this research is to analyze the main characteristics of publishers with journals that have received the DOAJ Seal.

The specific objectives are a) to identify publishers and journals registered with the DOAJ Seal; b) to characterize those publishers; and c) to analyze their article processing fees….

The results reveal a fast-rising oligopoly, dominated by Springer with 35% of the titles and PLOS with more than 20% of the articles….”

Open access publishers: The new players – InfoDoc MicroVeille

“The essential role of journals as registries of scientific activity in all areas of knowledge justifies concern about their ownership and type of access. The purpose of this research is to analyze the main characteristics of publishers with journals that have received the DOAJ Seal.

The specific objectives are a) to identify publishers and journals registered with the DOAJ Seal; b) to characterize those publishers; and c) to analyze their article processing fees….

The results reveal a fast-rising oligopoly, dominated by Springer with 35% of the titles and PLOS with more than 20% of the articles….”

Community-Owned Infrastructure

“Data and data analytics are playing an increasingly central role at higher education institutions, and the academic community is at a critical juncture. The growing trend of publisher acquisition of critical infrastructure has underscored a pressing need to understand the changing landscape and develop actions that institutions can—individually and collectively—take to maintain and regain control of data infrastructure. These actions will determine who ultimately controls the research and education process and whether we meaningfully address inequities created by legacy players or simply recreate them in new ways….”