The open access wars: How to free science from academic paywalls – Vox

“This is a story about more than subscription fees. It’s about how a private industry has come to dominate the institutions of science, and how librarians, academics, and even pirates are trying to regain control.

The University of California is not the only institution fighting back. “There are thousands of Davids in this story,” says University of California Davis librarian MacKenzie Smith, who, like so many other librarians around the world, has been pushing for more open access to science. “But only a few big Goliaths.”

Will the Davids prevail?…”

Questions raised over the true burden of the ‘big deal’

“Louisiana State University recently said that it could no longer afford its $2 million annualcomprehensive journal subscription deal with publisher Elsevier. By unbundling its “big deal” and subscribing to only the most essential journals, the institution’s administrators hope to save the library $1 million a year. LSU is far from the first institution to complain that publishers’ subscription costs are too high. The University of California system, Temple UniversityWest Virginia University, the University of Oklahoma and Florida State University all announced this year that they are dropping big deal contracts with various publishers, including Elsevier, Wiley and Springer Nature.

But one skeptic is challenging the conventional wisdom about high subscription rates and raising doubts about big deals not being good deals.

Kent Anderson, CEO of publishing and data analytics company RedLink, has argued that the subscription model is actually “pretty efficient” for institutions….”

The rise in open-access publishing has decreased the value of subscription deals as more content is available for free, said Roger Schonfeld, director of the libraries, scholarly communication and museums program at Ithaka S+R.

Schonfeld says the main reason the value of the big deal is in decline is because of something he calls “leakage,” the availability of journal content through channels not controlled by publishers.

Piracy site Sci-Hub is one service through which content is “leaking,” he said. But there are other sources of content leaks that are not illicit. Institutional repositories, for example, are an accepted part of the scholarly publishing ecosystem.

“The big deal as a bundled subscription model is definitely under threat,” said Schonfeld. “Most of all from the fact that the libraries are less interested in just subscriptions — they want read-and-publish or publish-and-read agreements that capture the full stack of publishing services.” …”

Same Question, Different World: Replicating an Open Access Research Impact Study | Arendt | College & Research Libraries

“To examine changes in the open access landscape over time, this study partially replicated Kristin Antelman’s 2004 study of open access citation advantage. Results indicated open access articles still have a citation advantage. For three of the four disciplines examined, the most common sites hosting freely available articles were independent sites, such as academic social networks or article-sharing sites. For the same three disciplines, more than 70 percent of the open access copies were publishers’ PDFs. The major difference from Antelman’s is the increase in the number of freely available articles that appear to be in violation of publisher policies….”

Researcher to Reader (R2R) Debate: Is Sci-Hub Good or Bad for Scholarly Communication? – The Scholarly Kitchen

One plenary session of the 2019 Researcher to Reader (R2R) Conference was a debate on the proposition “Resolved: Sci-Hub is doing more good than harm to scholarly communication.” Arguing in favor of the resolution was Daniel Himmelstein, a postdoctoral fellow in genomics at the University of Pennsylvania. Arguing against it was Justin Spence, partner and co-founder of PSI Ltd., and the IP Registry. 

At the beginning of the program, the audience was polled as to its agreement with the resolution. Of the 100 attendees who voted, 60 were opposed and 40 were in favor. Each debater then opened with a ten-minute statement, following which each offered a three-minute response. There was then a period of discussion with the audience, and then the poll was repeated. The second poll found that 55 were opposed to the resolution and 45 in favor. Though the overall verdict was anti-Sci-Hub, the shift in five votes meant that Daniel was accordingly declared the winner of the debate….”

Paris’s High Court has ordered French ISPs to block access to the pirate libraries LibGen and Sci-Hub

For more than a decade, publishing research articles have been a lucrative business for research institutes. As a result, some sites such as Sci-Hub and LibGen have gained popularity because of offering free access to scientific articles obtained through web scraping.

For instance, Sci-Hub has more than 25 million articles, readily accessible by researchers from all over the world. But Sci-Hub and LibGen have come under intense pressure from academic publishers who are not happy with the service.

The academic publishers believe Sci-Hub and LibGen are pirate libraries which are a threat to their multi-billion dollar industry. The publishers have unsuccessfully drafted ways to shut the services down through lawsuits.

But on March 31, there was a victorious breakthrough for the academic publishers after the French Judiciary ordered several of the largest French ISPs to block access to the pirate libraries; LibGen and Sci-Hub….”

Why Should Taxpayer-Funded Research Be Put Behind a Paywall? – Pacific Standard

Further, the “read and publish” model, used as a stopgap, has its critics. Roger Schonfeld, director of libraries, scholarly communication, and museums for Ithaka S+R, an educational-access consulting service, worries that problems arise with universities paying publishers one negotiated bundled fee that swallows article-processing charges. First, authors lose access to price transparency, and have no idea what the charge folded into the subscription cost was. Second, publishers could end up actually charging more than universities currently pay, which UC conceded was possible. And third, what open-access visionaries interpret as a temporary measure on the road to open access could easily become a permanent solution. Schonfeld writes, “To those European librarians who might say that their [‘read and publish’] deals are merely transitional, I would note that publishers are taking these models seriously as the future of their business.”…

Either way, the ultimate impact of UC’s split with Elsevier will depend on how other large university systems react. Early indications suggest that they are emboldened. Lorraine Haricombe, vice provost and director of libraries at the University of Texas–Austin, says that the UC move “came as a very, very pleasant surprise that has gotten the attention of our faculty on the Austin campus.” The UT system pays $50 million for a five-year contract with Elsevier. Reflecting on how the UC decision resonates at UT, Haricombe says, “we are all standing up a little bit straighter because of what they did.” “

Traditional scientific publishers have repeatedly undermined moves towards open access | Evidence & Reason

I recently read a profile of Alexandra Elbakyan and her pirate library, Sci-Hub. Sci-Hub provides free access to a huge number of scientific papers which would otherwise be locked away behind paywalls and only available if you paid a huge fee. The traditional scientific publishers are not happy with that, have sued her several times and continually try to take down her site. I think, given the current realities in science, that Sci-Hub is necessary until the publication process can be reformed.

I have a colleague with whom I talk about publication practices in science and that sort of thing and, while we generally agree, we do differ on our attitudes to traditional publishers. He has often said that he doesn’t want to drive them out of business and would like to work together with them to solve the problems. I have generally maintained that they are antiquated relics from the print age who serve no real purpose, add little to no value to the scientific enterprise and oppose necessary reforms in science. …

One of their more ridiculous complaints is that they need more time. Springer Nature suggested a phased transition approach would help. This is blatant stalling. They cannot seriously suggest that they have not had time to think about these issues and come up with a plan. They seemed similarly unprepared when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said all the research they funded had to published as open access in the beginning of 2017 and discussions around open access have been ongoing for many years!…”

Sci-Hub’s Business Model Scares Me

Debates and discussions about Sci-Hub’s effectiveness and utility leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. Outright defenses of it make me worryPromotion of it seems completely out of bounds. It’s a pirate site, yes, but there’s more to it, things that make it far more insidious than the Napster it’s often compared to. Yet, we continue to see Sci-Hub justified, rationalized, and normalized as if what it does is acceptable, even laudable….”

Sci-Hub’s Business Model Scares Me

Debates and discussions about Sci-Hub’s effectiveness and utility leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. Outright defenses of it make me worryPromotion of it seems completely out of bounds. It’s a pirate site, yes, but there’s more to it, things that make it far more insidious than the Napster it’s often compared to. Yet, we continue to see Sci-Hub justified, rationalized, and normalized as if what it does is acceptable, even laudable….”

Is the Value of the Big Deal in Decline? – The Scholarly Kitchen

Last week, the University of California system terminated its license with Elsevier. There has been a great deal of attention to California’s efforts to reach a Publish & Read (P&R) agreement. The what-could-have-been of this deal is interesting and important. But I wish to focus today on the what-no-longer-is of scholarly content licensing, focusing on the big deal model of subscription journals bundled together on a single publisher basis for three to five year deals. In the eyes of major libraries in Europe and the US, the value of the big deal has declined. As a result, we are moving into a new period, in which publisher pricing power has declined and the equilibrium price for content and related services is being reset. What is the principal culprit? I will maintain today that we must look in large part to what publishers call “leakage.”…

I have heard estimates that suggest publisher usage numbers could be at least 60-70% higher if “leakage” was included in addition to their on-platform usage statistics. This includes “green” options through a variety of repositories (including some that are operated by publishers themselves in addition to library and not-for-profit repositories), materials on scholarly collaboration networks, and through piracy. The share of leakage among entitled users at an institution with a license is probably lower than this estimate, but it is likely well in the double digits.

I am in no way arguing against green models. Indeed, publishers have largely become comfortable with green open access. I am simply observing that these percentages are beginning to add up….”