Abstract: This article provides an overview of open access publishing and its emergence in the arts. Open access scholarship, which is online, free for users to access, and free of most licensing restrictions, has enjoyed numerous successes in the sciences and is gaining widespread attention in the humanities and social sciences. Its presence in the arts, however, has been marginal. The author examines the various reasons for the problematic reception of open access publishing in image-rich disciplines like art history, highlights notable open access projects, and explores their potential impact on art librarianship.
“This document is a report prepared for the JSTOR Presses project “Exploring Usage of Open Access Books via the JSTOR Platform”. JSTOR’s Open Access Books platform launched in October 2016. The first four publishers to submit content to the platform were UCL Press, University of Michigan Press, Cornell University Press and California University Press. Usage of the OA books made available via JSTOR by these publishers has been far in excess of the usage that each publisher has previously recorded via other distribution channels. This report is the outcome of research commissioned and funded by the four presses. It engages with usage data made available by JSTOR relating to OA books in order to assist publishers in understanding how their OA content is being used; inform strategic decision making by individual presses in the future; and shed light on the potential for data relating to the uses of OA books to support the potential of open access books to reach wide audiences. Additional key aims of the research are to help inform JSTOR in the development of the JSTOR OA Books platform; and to inform the development of JSTOR usage reporting. Ensuring that JSTOR usage reporting reflects the needs of OA publishers is also an important goal of the project. All four publishers have contributed to a discussion of the role and practicalities of usage reporting services provided by JSTOR. The project focuses primarily on data collected by JSTOR and made available to the research team for the purposes of this study. The data considered in the report relates to the period between 12 August 2015 and 7 August 2017. This data has been augmented by a short questionnaire and interviews, carried out by phone with some of the publishers. It is important to note that books considered in this report became available via the JSTOR platform at different times. Some of the books included in the data set are also available in both OA and gated formats via the JSTOR platform.”
“Digital scholarly book files should be open and flexible. This is as much a design question as it is a business question for publishers and libraries. The working group returned several times to the importance of scholarly book files being available in nonproprietary formats that allow for a variety of uses and re-uses…. Another pointed out that the backlist corpus of scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences is an invaluable resource for text-mining, but the ability to carry out that research at scale means that the underlying text of the books has to be easy to extract. “It’s so important to be able to ‘scrape’ the text,” one participant said, using a common term for gathering machine-readable characters from a human-readable artifact (for example, a scanned page image)….Whether a wider group of publishers and technology vendors will feel that they can enable these more expansive uses of a book file without upending the sustainability of the scholarly publishing system is a larger question than this project sought to answer….Our working group also pointed to other challenges for the future of the monograph that have little to do with its visual representation in a user interface: for example, what might be a viable long-term business model for monographs, and whether a greater share of the publishing of monographs in a free-to-read, open-access model can be made sustainable….As interest continues to grow in extending the open-access publishing model from journals to scholarly books, publishers and librarians are working to understand better the upfront costs that must be covered in order to operate a self-sustaining open-access monograph publishing program—costs that have been complicated to pin down because the production of any given scholarly book depends on partial allocations of staff time from many different staff members at a press, and different presses have different cost bases, as well….”
“Yesterday, in response to this week’s indictment of a 24-year-old Harvard researcher and Internet activist [Aaron Swartz] for allegedly hacking into MIT’s network and collecting nearly five million scholarly articles, a second hacker released more than 18,592 (32 gigabytes) of subscription-only research obtained from the same service. The second man identified himself as Greg Maxwell, a 31-year-old “technologist, recreational mathematician, and scientific hobbyist” from northern Virginia….Maxwell says he released the papers for similar reasons. He says the papers come from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and were published before 1923, which means they’re in the public domain (his claim has not been independently verified). “This knowledge belongs to the public,” he argues. For the sake of scientific progress, Maxwell says, such databases shouldn’t keep research under lock and key at all, let alone beyond their copyright expiration, as is the current practice. “Progress comes from making connections between others’ discoveries, from extending them, and then from telling people,” he says….”
“The archive [of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society] was digitized in 1999 by JSTOR, the US-based archive for academic journals, for a sum in the ‘high five figures in US dollars’. Royal Society commercial director Stuart Taylor says they have been thinking about making part of the archive free for some time. As digitization of print works gets easier and cheaper, “we do not feel it is justifiable to continue charging for access [to out-of-copyright material]”, Taylor said. The Royal Society’s pay-per-view income for the entire archive (including papers after 1941) amounts to less than 0.5% of their total publishing revenues.
In July, programmer Greg Maxwell uploaded nearly 19,000 articles from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, all of them published before 1923, onto the file-sharing website The Pirate Bay (in stated support for computer coder Aaron Swartz, who is still facing a federal indictment for downloading over 4 million articles from JSTOR). The Royal Society’s release today means that the articles Maxwell uploaded are all now free to view. Maxwell’s action did not affect the Society’s decision, says Taylor….”
“After a month of intense conversations and negotiations, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) will bring the ‘Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act’ up for mark-up on Wednesday, July 29th. The language that will be considered is an amended version of FASTR, officially known as the ‘Johnson-Carper Substitute Amendment,’ which was officially filed by the HSGAC leadership late on Friday afternoon, per committee rules. There are two major changes from the original bill language to be particularly aware of. Specifically, the amendment Replaces the six month embargo period with ‘no later than 12 months, but preferably sooner’ as anticipated; and Provides a mechanism for stakeholders to petition federal agencies to ‘adjust’ the embargo period if the12 months does not serve ‘the public, industries, and the scientific community.’ We understand that these modifications were made in order accomplish a number of things: Satisfy the requirement of a number of Members of HSGAC that the language more closely track that of the OSTP Directive; Meet the preference of the major U.S. higher education associations for a maximum 12 month embargo; Ensure that, for the first time, a number of scientific societies will drop their opposition for the bill; and Ensure that any petition process an agency may enable is focused on serving the interests of the public and the scientific community …”
“Impact is multi-dimensional, the routes by which impact occur are different across disciplines and sectors, and impact changes over time. Jane Tinkler argues that if institutions like HEFCE specify a narrow set of impact metrics, more harm than good would come to universities forced to limit their understanding of how research is making a difference. But qualitative and quantitative indicators continue to be an incredible source of learning for how impact works in each of our disciplines, locations or sectors.”
“Open access for monographs and book chapters is a relatively new area of publishing, and there are many ways of approaching it. With this in mind, a recent publication from the Wellcome Trust aims to provide some guidance for publishers to consider when developing policies and processes for open access books. The Wellcome Trust recognises that implementation around publishing monographs and book chapters open access is in flux, and invites publishers to email Cecy Marden at email@example.com with any suggestions for further guidance that would be useful to include in this document. ‘Open Access Monographs and Book Chapters: A practical guide for publishers’ is available to download as a pdf from the Wellcome Trust website.”
“The purpose of this post is to shed some light on a specific issue in the transition to open access that particularly affects small and low-cost publishers and to suggest one strategy to address this issue. In the words of one Resource Requirements interviewee: ‘So the other set of members that we used to have about forty library members , but when we went to open access online, we lost the whole bunch of libraries. Yeah, so basically we sent everybody ,you know, a letter saying we are going to open access online, the annual membership is only $30, we hope you will continue to support us even though there are no longer print journals, and then a whole flu of cancellations came in from a whole bunch of libraries, which we had kind of thought might happen but given how cheap we are, I have to say I was really disappointed when it indeed did happen especially from whole bunch of [deleted] libraries [for which our journal is extremely relevant]. I was going, seriously $30?’ Comments: for a university library, a society membership fee, when not required for journal subscriptions, may be difficult to justify from an accounting perspective. $30 is a small cost; however, for a university the administrative work of tracking such memberships and cutting a check every year likely exceeds the $30 cost. With 40 library members at a cost of $30, the total revenue for this journal from this source was $1,200. A university or university library could sponsor this amount at less than the cost of many an article processing charge. The university and library where the faculty member is located have a support program for open access journals; clearly the will, and some funding, is there. One of the challenges is transitioning subscription dollars to support for open access, as I address in my 2013 First Monday article. Following is one suggestion for libraries, or for faculty to suggest to their libraries: why not engage your faculty who are independent or society publishers to gain support for cancellations or tough negotiations and lower prices for the big deals of large, highly profitable commercial publishers that I argue are critical to redirect funding to our own publishing activities? Here is one scenario that may help to explain the potential …”