Publishers Invest in Preprints – The Scholarly Kitchen

“For years now, preprint communities have provided a glimmer of an alternative to the journal publishing system, that speed and efficiency might replace what has seemed to many like a cumbersome editorial and peer review process. What started in a small set of originating fields such as high energy physics in 1991 has, in recent years, begun to take hold elsewhere, including the biomedical sciences. Today, Ithaka S+R has published an overview of key developments in preprint communities, which are grappling with an array of policy issues as they seek to build trust in a contested information environment and build durable business strategies. 

Rob Johnson and Andrea Chiarelli recently looked at some of the options that publishers face in engaging with preprints. Today, we observe that beyond preprint communities that are typically organized around a field or set of fields, in recent years all the major publishers have made their own investments in preprint platforms. Publishers are integrating preprint deposit into their manuscript submission workflows, and adopting a common strategy designed to take back control of preprints….”

How Academic Science Gave Its Soul to the Publishing Industry | Issues in Science and Technology

“In recent years, frictions between the scientific community and the publication industry have emerged, mostly centering on the expenses associated with accessing the results of research. As libraries, either individually or acting through consortia, negotiate contracts with publishers, an emerging sticking point for many is open access publishing. The entire University of California university system recently dropped its subscription to all Elsevier-published journals, citing a desire to transition to open access publishing and an unwillingness on the part of the publisher to meet their related demands. The venerable Max Planck Society in Germany, with 14,000 associated researchers, dropped its Elsevier subscription when the publisher was unwilling to meet its demands regarding open access publishing. The same is true of consortia representing 300 universities in Sweden and Germany, and France dropped Springer Nature over similar disputes. Innumerable individual universities, including Cornell University and Florida State University, and other subscribers are actively choosing to drop or being forced by financial considerations to substantially reduce their access to journal packages offered by Elsevier, Springer Nature, Taylor and Francis, and other profit-oriented publishers….

Although corporate publishers played essential roles in distributing scientific findings in past decades, there is no reason that the scientific community—nor the taxpayers on whom researchers and their institutions depend—should accept the damaging dependence today. The journals these publishers own are “essential” to science only because the metrics of self-governance say they are. All of the research published in them today could be published in journals not subject to shareholder demands of continual profit growth….

The crowning irony in the story I have told here is that the power of publishers over science has been created by the mechanisms of scientific self-governance. But if science is self-governed, we scientists can change the metrics by which we assess our own work, and we can change our relationship to an industry that damages science. Many of us in academic institutions have a hand in writing and implementing tenure and promotion guidelines. We serve on grant review panels, and we serve on committees advising universities and libraries. We provide our free reviewing and editing labor to corporate publishers. We scientists therefore hold the power to help restore to science both a notion of self-governance that is consistent with the ideals expressed in Science, the Endless Frontier and a notion of quality that is appropriate for a world whose improved well-being depends on the creation of useful new scientific knowledge.”

 

The Faculty Lounge: @SSRN and the (Arbitrary) Determination of “Scholarly” Merit

Yesterday Brian Frye (@brianlfrye) (Kentucky) tweeted:

I am sad. @SSRN has decided that my article about Gremlins (1984), “In re Patentability of the Peltzer Inventions,” does not qualify for “public” status because it is “opinion, advocacy, or satire.” Why judge? Oh well.  You can still download it here: http://www.ssrn.com/abstrac_id=3371989.

I followed Brian’s direct link to the piece. The abstract refers refers to the many inventions of the movie’s Randall Peltzer character, and explains, “This essay takes the form of an opinion letter valuating the patentability of Peltizer’s inventions.” I don’t teach IP, but I like Brian’s work and so I downloaded the essay. It struck me as funny and as an excellent teaching tool.  But if you go to Brian’s author page on SSRN, you wouldn’t be able to access the paper.  You wouldn’t even see it.

I myself have posted material that apparently doesn’t meet SSRN’s criteria for a “scholarly paper,” including this interview with the principal drafter of some important state trust legislation (and the interview itself has been cited in subsequent scholarship) and this short piece for Tax Notes reviewing estate and gift tax law review articles published in 2016 (even though SSRN published my similar pieces reviewing scholarship for the years 2015, 20142013201220112010)….

Does the classification of publicly-available “scholarly” papers and privately-available “non-scholarly” papers as applied serve SSRN’s mission?  To me, the answer is no. Brian Frye’s patentability piece, which strikes me as a great teaching and learning tool, has an easy home in the “Law Educator: Courses, Materials & Teaching eJournal,” if not the substantive IP eJournals (not my field).  Oh, but wait, are “Courses” scholarship?  They must be.  So must be “Materials,” because they are publicly available and only “scholarly” works are publicly available.  But Brian’s piece isn’t “teaching material” in SSRN’s universe? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

Like others, I have been (and remain) skeptical of Elsevier’s acquisition of SSRN. Since then, I’ve noticed that papers tend to take longer to get “approved” (the longest wait I’ve had is 6 weeks, and even then, I had to contact customer service to point out that it had been 6 weeks since submission, and could SSRN pretty please post the piece). I find useless the JEL Classificiation Codes (not an Elsevier invention), at least in the case of the “Law & Economics” (or “K”) codes applied to most law review scholarship. These sort codes are so blunt as to be useless for my research, at least. Maybe the codes work better in Economics (after all, the classification system was developed by the Journal of Economic Literature)….”

Elsevier’s Presence on Campuses Spans More Than Journals. That Has Some Scholars Worried. – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Lyon, a librarian of scholarly communications at the University of Texas at Austin, listed scholarly-publishing tools that had been acquired by the journal publishing giant Elsevier. In 2013, the company bought Mendeley, a free reference manager. It acquired the Social Science Research Network, an e-library with more than 850,000 papers, in 2016. And it acquired the online tools Pure and Bepress — which visualize research — in 2012 and 2017, respectively.

Lyon said she started considering institutions’ dependence on Elsevier when the company acquired Bepress two years ago. She was shocked, she recalled in a recent interview.

“It just got me thinking,” she said. Elsevier had it all: Institutional repositories, preprints of journal articles, and analytics. “Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier.”

Scholars are beginning to discuss the idea of Elsevier-as-monolith at conferences and in their research. Not only are librarians and researchers speaking openly about the hefty costs of bulk subscriptions to the company’s premier journals, but they’re also paying attention to the products that Elsevier has acquired, several of which allow its customers to store data and share their work….”

Isn’t Leakage Good for Libraries? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“In recent weeks, I have argued that content leakage is reducing the value of the subscription big deal. The syndication model might enable publishers to recapture much of this leakage, a model that Springer Nature has begun to pilot with ResearchGate, indicative of the strategic dilemmas that syndication poses. For libraries, syndication offers the opportunity to provide dramatically improved experiences for their users — with a number of risks as well, including the prospect of substantially reducing their leverage at the negotiating table….

What kinds of levels of usage increases can libraries anticipate? Elsevier has calculated [PDF; slide 10] that ScienceDirect usage stats would increase by 4-5% if Mendeley usage was counted and that adding versions of record to SSRN for entitled users would provide at least another 1%. But ResearchGate is by far the biggest prospect, and it would not surprise me to see at least some publisher usage numbers grow by 10%, 25%, or more for major library customers — once versions of record are distributed there to license-entitled users….

I’ve made the case that leakage has allowed groups of libraries to walk away from subscription big deal bundles in recent years. The platforms through which content is leaking most extensively — ResearchGate and Academia perhaps more than any others, but also pirate sites and institutional and disciplinary repositories — have afforded libraries the greatest leverage in their big deal negotiations. To the extent that leaks are plugged up, we must examine how this affects publishers’ and libraries’ negotiating positions….

I have already explained why Elsevier fears ResearchGate as a syndication hub and Springer Nature would like to embrace it….”

 

Fordham Law Faculty Ranks High on SSRN

“Fordham Law School’s faculty rank among the most prolific and most highly downloaded legal scholarship writers, according to SSRN, a widely used open-access online repository. Fordham Law professors rank 8th all-time among U.S. and international law schools in authors posting papers (245), 18th in papers posted (1,379), and 20th in total number of downloads (335,295), based on figures updated on Jan. 1 listing SSRN’s top 750 law schools. In the past 12 months, Fordham also ranked 22nd in the United States and 27th globally in total downloads (37,113), and 22nd and 36th respectively in number of new papers (85)….”

Is the Center for Open Science a Viable Alternative for Elsevier? – Enago Academy

“Data management has become an increasingly discussed topic among the academic community. Managing data is an element of open science, which has proven to increase dissemination of research and citations for journal articles. Open science increases public access to academic articles, mostly through preprint repositories. Indeed, according to this study, open access (OA) articles are associated with a 36-172% increase in citations compared to non-OA articles. Publishers such as Elsevier have acquired preprint repositories to increase the dissemination of academic research.”

SSRN Considered Harmful by James Grimmelmann :: SSRN

Abstract:  The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has adopted several unfortunate policies that impair open access to scholarship. It should enable one-click download, stop requiring papers to bear SSRN watermarks, and allow authors to point readers to other download sites. If it does not reform, those who are serious about open access should not use SSRN.

Webinars | Accelerating Interdisciplinary research – Introducing BioRN @ SSRN

“Connect with SSRN experts through our SSRN webinar series. Scroll through our webinar channel, find a topic that interests you and register to attend. Even if you are unable to join the live session you will receive a link to the recording to watch at your own convenience.”