“This Research4Life Landscape and Situation Analysis, therefore, provides extremely pertinent and valuable insights into the shifting dynamics and external influences at play, from Global Megatrends down to Trends in Scholarly Communication, which will serve as an invaluable scene-setting contextualisation for the whole Research4Life Reviews project. Given the extremely interesting and useful reflections provided here, the Research4Life Executive Council is happy to share its insights and conclusions with other stakeholders in the wider research communication ecosystem and indeed the broader world.”
“Open access: Transitions and transformations
The past few years have brought major developments in the OA landscape—from major big deal cancellations to new agreements between libraries and publishers. Following the University of California system’s Elsevier cancellation in early 2019,16 the University of North Carolina announced in late 2019 that their license renewal negotiations with Elsevier will continue into 2020.17 Resources for institutions considering this route include SPARC’s “Big Deal Knowledge Base and Big Deal Cancellation Tracking,”18 University of California’s “Negotiating with Scholarly Journal Publishers Toolkit,”19 “Guidelines for Evaluating Transformative Open Access Agreements,”20 and “Guide to Transitioning Journals to Open Access Publishing.”21
Many new transformative agreements were announced between publishers and libraries or library consortia over the past year.22 A transformative agreement can be defined as a contract seeking “to shift the contracted payment from a library or group of libraries to a publisher away from subscription-based reading and towards open access publishing.”23 There are various flavors, including offsetting agreements, read-and-publish agreements, and publish-and-read agreements. Since 2018, many read-and-publish agreements have been signed between publishers and institutions.
After hundreds of responses from publishers, academic libraries, and researchers, cOALition S made some changes to its Plan S, which “aims for full and immediate Open Access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications from research funded by public and private grants.”24 Noteworthy differences: plan implementation is delayed to 2021, no cap on the cost of OA publication, tweaked rules around hybrid titles and transformative agreements, ignore the prestige of journals when making funding decisions, and more restrictive open licenses will be allowed when approved by the funder.25
Further transitions are happening at the society publishing level. The group Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access (TSPOA) formed at the October 2018 Choosing Pathways to OA Working forum. They “aim to provide relevant resources/experience working in collaboration with society publishing partners to help them develop an open access publishing model that is appropriate, effective and sustainable.”26 …”
“MicroPublishing in this context means the publication of short , single experiment, peer reviewed OA articles , with DOIs and metadata to make them citable and discoverable. Typically this might be supplementary or ancillary material that might have been once grouped into a major research program report , delaying it and making it too dense or bulky . Or it might be work on reagents that has genuine scientific interest but, as an incidental finding , only clutters the main report . And MicroPublishing might be a first chance for a post grad or even a student doing lab support work to get their name onto a collaborative publication for the first time . And in all of this work of adding small pieces to the jigsaw and making sure they did not get lost or overlooked – curation is clearly at the heart of these efforts – I heard nothing described in terms of workflows or process that would not have been identical in a commercial environment . And that is important . There is a great deal of bogus hype around “ publishing expertise” . If you are clever enough to be a Professor of Genomics , then mastering publishing does not seem to be a huge intellectual challenge .And the digitally networked world has democratised all processes like publishing . We can all be publishers now – and we all are! …
And we should be attentive not just because of the competitive element . I have a 30 year record of saying that the competitor to the information provider in a digital network is the user doing it for himself , and I am not altering that view now . But we really need to pay attention because this is where and how innovation takes place . This is where and how needs are discovered . If granularity , discoverability and speed to market are the critical issues here., then those are the issues that we must attend to , instead of packing articles with greater amounts of supplemental material , holding articles in peer review until they are “complete” or using citations to game journal impact factors . Above all , we have to remember that scholarly communication is communication by and for scholars . They will , and are , re-inventing it all the time . Rather than propagandising the virtues of “ traditional publishing “ commercial publishers should be forming relationships that help change take place cost-effectively and at scale .”
“This page summarises the findings of a landscape and situation analysis of trends in the research and scholarly communication landscape in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs).
The landscape analysis considers three levels of analysis:
• Firstly, it seeks to identify global megatrends relevant to research and international development.
• Then, it narrows the focus to key trends in research in and for LMICs.
• Finally it identifies the key trends in scholarly communication….”
“PLOS ONE and Scientific Reports have been very successful journals. Any publisher would be thankful to have them in their portfolio. Nonetheless, their unstable performance should also serve as a warning. In the year of their steepest decline, each journal shrunk by about 7,000 articles, which can translate to a loss of more than $10m year-on-year. That will reflect poorly on the balance sheet of any publisher.
The takeaways for publishers are simple:
Do not get carried away; the revenue of megajournals can be inconsistent, so avoid overselling their success to investors and avoid reckless investments
Invest heavily in marketing; if the journal is shedding 10% of citability every year, marketing should try plug this hole as well as possible
Build around their success; launch affiliated, higher impact journals that will absorb some of the eventual content loss
Do not put all your eggs in one basket; pursue a less risky, broad portfolio approach rather than a smaller, focused megajournal approach….”
“We are fortunate in our campus’s commitment to open access publishing. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the only institution offering such funding in the state. The University of Wisconsin-Madison closed its fund in 2014 after spending its initial $50,000 seed money. For comparison of levels of open access initiatives at other universities, we reviewed 15 UWM peeruniversities and found that only three offer such funds: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Temple University, and University of Illinois at Chicago. From our survey of their fund coordinators, we learned that only one fund (allocated annually at $20,000) was supported entirely from the library’s budget; and the two other funds included a partial contribution (one at $15,000) from the library’s budget along with money ($50,000-60,000 total per year) collected from schools, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. In writing this report (April 2020) we checked back on the status of OA funds at the three peer institutions and discovered that two were not currently active, either exhausted or being evaluated until the next fiscal year. After our survey of peer institutions in 2018, we added the UWM UOAP to two directories: Open Access Funds in Action hosted by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)1 and Open Access Directory hosted by the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College2 ….”
“We can see that median spending on journals (“serials”) continues to increase in real terms (regardless of the inflation index used), while overall library spend are now declining. This suggests that budgets, too, are in real terms decline….
Although spending on serials is growing faster than inflation, the data suggest that this headline masks a complex story.
Serials spending as stated (the pink line) is the fastest growing of the indicators and appears to be outpacing growth in scholarly output and GERD3.
However, when adjusted for inflation (the bottom two blue lines), serials spending is the slowest growing of our measures.
The inflation measures average around 2% – 3% per year, compared to headline price increases exceeding 5% experienced by many libraries.
The numbers of articles in the indexed literature (in orange) roughly tracks inflation-adjusted GERD (in yellow), as we explored last month. Both are growing at 2-3 times the rate of spending on serials.
The unit of purchase for subscriptions is typically the journal (whether bundled or not); the number of indexed journals (not shown) is growing at a similar rate to CPI-adjusted serials spend.
Since 2013, real-terms growth in serials spending has slowed – the HEPI-adjusted amount is flat-lining – while publishing output has continued largely unchecked….
Serials spending is growing, and is taking an increasing share of library budgets (from around 25% share in 1998 to just under 40% share in 2019 in our data). In this sense, there is a “serials crisis.” Trends such as falling costs per download and rising usage add further tension….
Over the last twenty years, university budgets have almost doubled in real terms, while the proportion spent on libraries has almost halved….”
“The conversation in the industry has noticeably moved from ‘whether’ to ‘how’, eliciting a rich mix of excitement and trepidation. The fundamental basis of publishing is still largely in place: content dissemination underpinned by the proven principles of copyright, licensing and payment. But the potential for the internet to utterly transform how content is distributed, and all of the ramifications of this change, is still at an early stage of being realised.
Our ability to disseminate research outputs as open research, instead of putting them behind paywalls, has become tangible. There are, however, a bunch of other trends and pressures that are stimulating speculation about how scholarly communication will evolve in the next few years, and so complicating our decisions about how to deliver the open research transformation….
[One challenge:] When we (or pretty much any sizeable publisher) looks at a map of where our readers and authors are, there is only partial overlap….
The second major challenge I want to highlight is the need to avoid creating new barriers to authorship….”