Defining the Future of Scholarly Communication in Latin America

“There is no “one size fits all” solution for open access. In Latin America, which has a very strong tradition of open access, the favoured approach has been the use of publicly-funded, non-commercial services. To raise awareness of this perspective both inside and beyond the region, LA Referencia has recently published a report, “Scholarly Communication and Open Access: Actions for a Public Policy in Latin America“.

LA Referencia is a network of ten Latin American countries that provides a discovery service for open access content in the region. The council of LA Referencia is governed by representatives from the science and technology departments of the participating governments.

The report was prompted by concerns that discussions in the international community, which are having an impact on all regions, do not appropriately reflect the priorities and traditions of Latin America. In particular, not enough attention is being paid to the importance of repositories and repository networks, especially in terms of their role in changing the economics of the current system.

The report was written for the regional authorities of LA Referencia that attended the annual Global Research Council meeting, which took place in Brazil at the beginning of May. It describes the situation of open access in Latin America, reflects on “Plan S”, and gives a series of recommendations. In particular, the report urges decision-makers to develop and promote a joint vision for the future of open access that reflects the Latin American perspective, and recommends actions for other stakeholders in the system, emphasizing the central role of S&T organisations in achieving this vision.

The report contains several recommendations related to repositories including:

  • Favour a distributed, interoperable model with national, regional, and global aggregators, where each layer offers value-added services, as reflected in the vision for Next Generation Repositories published by Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR).
  • Strengthen the role of repositories in the scientific communication and research information management ecosystem. Repositories are not only a place to deposit and preserve articles, but also to share a wide range of other valuable research outputs.
  • Support relationships across networks in order to strengthen local, regional and national repository services.  LA Referencia already collaborates closely with OpenAIRE and participates in COAR aligning repository networks discussions. These relationships are being enhanced to include other value-added interoperable services such as standard and distributed statistics, notification systems (“brokers”), and alternatives for the use of scientific data repositories such as Zenodo (operated by CERN)….”

Turning principles into practice: EUA’s response to the Plan S Implementation Guidance

“Following the publication of the Plan S Implementation Guidance, EUA reiterates its supports for Plan S, and its vision to accelerate the transition to full Open Access, even if more details on Plan S will still need to be fleshed out in the future. EUA is looking forward to a renewed version of the Implementation Guidance and is encouraging more research funders to sign or follow Plan S. On behalf of its members in national rectors’ conferences and universities, EUA offers to continue the dialogue with research funding organisations on the implementation of Plan S….”

ARL Comments on Plan S Open Access Implementation Guidelines | Association of Research Libraries® | ARL®

In particular ARL:

  • Supports the acknowledged role of open repositories as mechanisms for achieving immediate open access to scholarship, and endorses the February 6, 2019, response to Plan S implementation guidelines from the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR). COAR both articulated the challenges of the open repository community in meeting the high technical requirements of Plan S as written, and offered minimum viable requirements necessary to achieve the vision of Plan S.
  • Shares the cOAlition S acknowledgement of a diversity of models for OA journals, in particular non-APC-based outlets. ARL has concerns about the technical requirements in the implementation guidelines for non-APC-based OA journals. ARL urges cOAlition S not to classify long-term good actors in scholarly communication as non-compliant with Plan S based on their inability to meet stringent technical requirements currently out of reach for the majority of these journals. Rather, cOAlition S could consider lengthening timelines to meet requirements, and/or, as ARL member libraries Harvard and MIT suggested in their public comments, provide funding for these journals to become compliant.
  • Welcomes cOAlition S establishment of a “fair and reasonable APC level,” and encourages maximum transparency in the accounting of that level so that publishers of all sizes can fairly compete, and so that the rubric may become an accepted standard among all stakeholders. This rubric should include waivers or provisions for scholars who are unable to pay APCs in the absence of external or institutional funding. To be successful, Plan S must ensure equitable, barrier-free access.
  • Supports author retention of copyrights and ability to issue open licenses. Scalable mechanisms for asserting copyright retention remain a challenge for research institutions, and we look forward to ongoing conversation with cOAlition S to find solutions that work for the scholarly community and in support of greater openness.
  • Looks forward—as a partner in the research ecosystem—to the findings of Wellcome, UK Research and Innovation, and Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) on Plan S–compliant business models for scholarly and learned societies. ARL commits to working with the learned society community to find a path forward for open, equitable, scholarly publishing.
  • Affirms that research libraries are critical stakeholders within scholarly publishing, particularly within their own institutions. ARL, along with our international research library partner associations in Australia (Council of Australian University Librarians), Canada (Canadian Association of Research Libraries), Europe (Association of European Research Libraries), and the United Kingdom (Research Libraries UK), would welcome ongoing communication and engagement with cOAlition S on these implementation guidelines to ensure the success of the Plan S vision….”

Asia Open Access Meeting Dhaka 2019

“The Asia Open Access (OA) meeting will provide an opportunity to learn about global trends, share information across Asian countries, and help with local strategies for increasing the adoption of OA in Bangladesh. We will also present the results of the Next Generation Repositories initiative at Confederation of Open Access repositories (COAR), and work with participants to develop a strategy for their adoption across the region.

The meeting will be organized by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) in Dhaka, Bangladesh in Collaboration with Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR)….”

Good Practice Principles for Scholarly Communication Services

“Science and scholarship are critical to improving our lives and solving the world’s most intractable problems. The communication of research, a vital step in the research process, should be efficient, effective and fulfill the core values of scholarship. There is growing concern about the increasing concentration of control of research communication functions in the hands of a small number of players, whose objectives do not reflect the interests of scholarship. In September 2017, COAR and SPARC published a joint statement related to this issue and pledged to collaborate with others on actions that will ensure research communication services are better aligned with the aims of research.

Accordingly, COAR and SPARC have developed seven good practice principles for scholarly communication services. The aim is to ensure that services are transparent, open, and support the aims of scholarship. These principles can be used by users/clients to make decisions about which services they will contract with, and by service providers to improve their practices and governance. These principles have drawn heavily on other existing principles and, in particular, we gratefully acknowledge the principles developed by Bilder G, Lin J, Neylon C (2015) Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructure-v1 [retrieved Nov 2018] http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1314859 …”

Towards Open Access Self Archiving Policies: A Case Study of COAR

Abstract:  This paper examines Open Access (OA) self archiving policies of different Open Access Repositories (OARs) affiliated to COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) as partner institutes. The process of scrutiny includes three major activities – selection of databases to consult; comparison and evaluation of Open Access policies of repositories listed in the selected databases and attached to COAR group; and critical examination of available self archiving policies of these OA repositories against a set of selected criteria. The above steps lead to reporting the following results: key findings have been identified and highlighted; common practices have been analyzed in relation to the focus of this paper; and a best practice benchmark has been suggested for popularizing and strengthening OARs as national research systems. This paper may help administrators, funding agencies, policy makers and professional librarians in devising institute-specific self archiving policies for their own organizations.

COAR’s Feedback on the Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S

“We recognize and agree with the aim of transforming the publishing industry, however to truly improve and transform the system there needs to be a multipronged approach, with a number of actions undertaken concurrently. We would like to stress the importance of repositories as complementary mechanisms for advancing innovation in research communications, as outlined in the COAR Next Generation Repositories report and ensure that their role is adequately reflected in Plan S.

In general, COAR supports the implementation guidelines outlined in Plan S and therefore we will focus our comments on the requirements for repositories. COAR and others in the repository community have significant concerns related to several of the requirements for repositories, a number of which we argue are not necessary and will create artificial barriers to the participation of universities and other research organizations in the scholarly communication system. While some of these recommendations may be ‘nice to have’, they are not prerequisites for robust and interoperable repository services. Instead they could result in driving repository functionality in the wrong direction, create too high of a bar for less resourced institutions, and further centralize research infrastructures and services because they cannot be adopted, leading to a replication of the existing inequalities in the scholarly communication system. 

We strongly urge Plan S to remove or reword some of the requirements, and move others into a “Recommended additional criteria” section, such as the section that has been included in the Open Access Journals and Platforms section. …”

COAR Response to Plan S

“The Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) welcomes the strong stance taken towards open access by a coalition of 11 European Funders, coordinated by Science Europe as outlined in “Plan S” and we strongly support the goal of accelerating the transition to open access….

Plan S commits funders to “the establishment of robust criteria and requirements for the services that compliant high quality Open Access journals and Open Access platforms must provide”. The terms ‘journal’, ‘platform’, ‘archive’ and ‘repository’ are becoming increasingly blurred as functionalities and services evolve and innovate. In a digital, networked environment, the different functionalities of publishing can be unbundled and undertaken in a distributed manner. Therefore, we recommend that any criteria for services be defined according to function (e.g. peer review), rather than type of infrastructure (e.g. journal or platform)…. 

While repositories are referenced in Plan S, it is mainly for their preservation role. This overlooks the main role of the global network of over 3000 repositories around the world, which is to provide Open Access to research articles and other valuable outputs….

As an international association, COAR seeks to ensure that the transition towards open access is responsive to the needs and priorities of all regions and countries. Many in the international community are concerned about the negative impact of APCs, especially on less economically developed countries, which have limited budgets (or no funds at all) to support publication fees. A large-scale shift to the APC model would create new barriers for participation in the system for many regions and researchers. In 2017, the major research funders in Latin America asserted that they are not in favour of an APC-based model and that open access “through the payment of APC fees, is impossible to undertake from a financial point of view for the participant countries”….We therefore urge Science Europe to promote a variety of models that will ensure the development of an inclusive system for scholarly communication….”

A new journal in combinatorics

Advances in Combinatorics is set up as a combinatorics journal for high-quality papers, principally in the less algebraic parts of combinatorics. It will be an arXiv overlay journal, so free to read, and it will not charge authors. Like its cousin Discrete Analysis (which has recently published its 50th paper) it will be run on the Scholastica platform. Its minimal costs are being paid for by the library at Queen’s University in Ontario, which is also providing administrative support