“2019 was a watershed year for progress in the transition of research publishing to open access (OA). The shakeup caused by Plan S had some time to sink in, cancellations of big subscription deals ramped up, and as I noted last October, the conversation had shifted from “eventually things will move to OA,” to instead a sense of urgency, “we’re on the clock for a move to OA.” The value of open science (increased transparency, open data, open access to research results) has become increasingly obvious during the current global health crisis. Both the positives (rapid reporting and sharing of information) and the negatives (the glut of bad science being issued as preprints and promoted via mainstream media without proper curation) are now evident, with the good generally outweighing the bad. Despite the daily evidence of the importance of shifting to an open science environment for research, the economic fallout from the pandemic is going to make necessary progress difficult and slow….
Business models beyond the APC may have an even bigger struggle ahead. Because of the many shortcomings of the APC model, a variety of OA business models that can be applied in different contexts and that are appropriate for each community and research field are needed for long-term sustainability. Right now, most of the non-APC models in-play rely upon voluntary spend from someone. Will the cost paid for publication of a Diamond-OA journal out of a library make the cut when budgets are being slashed? Collective action strategies that rely upon libraries voluntarily paying for memberships or subscribe-to-open models are going to be similarly hard to justify, given that you receive all the same benefits of the model whether or not you choose to pay….
Open access relies on the concept that knowledge is a public good, but acknowledges that there are costs and efforts necessary to produce and maintain that public good. The global health crisis has the potential to bring stakeholders together in support of improving the way we communicate research results, but the accompanying economic downturn may create significant roadblocks to those efforts.”
“Thus, transformative Gold Open Access agreements do not necessarily produce win-win results for publishers and universities, since they likely demand capital investment, protracted inter-organizational negotiations, and expertise-related costs. This indicates the likely continued importance of Green and hybrid Open Access for the scholarly publishing market and a significant role for innovative business models in this sector.”
“One big change brought on by Covid-19 is that virtually all the scientific research being produced about it is free to read. Anyone can access the many preliminary findings that scholars are posting on “preprint servers.” Data are shared openly via a multitude of different channels. Scientific journals that normally keep their articles behind formidable paywalls have been making an exception for new research about the virus, as well as much (if not all) older work relevant to it.
This response to a global pandemic is heartening and may well speed that pandemic to its end. But after that, what happens with scientific communication? Will everything go back behind the journal paywalls?
Well, no. Open-access advocates in academia have been pushing for decades to make more of their work publicly available and paywall-free, and in recent years they’ve been joined by the government agencies and large foundations that fund much scientific research. Covid-19 has accelerated this shift. I’m pretty sure there’s no going back. …”
“Anna Obenauf had never posted her results to a preprint server, but she decided to make the jump in April. She was racing against another team to get findings on a rare skin cancer out quickly, so she uploaded her manuscript to bioRxiv — just like thousands of COVID-19 researchers have been doing during this pandemic. It was a turning point for Obenauf, a cancer biologist at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, who particularly liked the quick feedback she received (L. Leiendecker et al. Preprint at bioRxiv http://doi.org/dw3f; 2020). She says she will probably continue to post some of her team’s work on preprint servers in the future.
The COVID-19 crisis has underlined just how fast and open science publishing can be — when scientists want it that way. Researchers working on the pandemic are sharing preliminary results on preprint servers and institutional websites at unprecedented rates, embracing the kind of early, public sharing that physicists and mathematicians have practised for decades. Journals have whisked manuscripts through to formal publication in record time, aided by researchers who have rapidly peer-reviewed the studies. And dozens of publishers and journals, including Elsevier, Springer Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine, have made coronavirus research — new and old — free to read. They have pledged to continue doing so for the duration of the outbreak, and have encouraged or, in some instances, required researchers to post their manuscripts on preprint servers….”
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a short term uptick in open research practices, both in response to the virus and the need for remote access to research and teaching materials. Samuel Moore argues that the long term impact of Covid-19 and its related economic impact will likely increase the corporate control of academic publishing. Citing the need for increased scholar led forms publishing operating outside of market interests, he suggests now is the time to rethink how scholars and research organisations can constructively engage with the governance of scholarly communication.
“Scholarly publishers are wondering how the COVID-19 pandemic and the unfolding economic downturn will impact the scholarly journals market. Of course, this is an impossible question to answer definitively, but are there events in the past that we can use for guidance?
This month we look at the impact of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, bringing some longstanding historical analysis linking GDP and publishing revenues up to date. Our aim is to see what factors may act as a barometer of the economic impacts we might expect during this challenging time….
The key factors related to journal market growth look set to fall significantly, and the balance of business models across the marketplace has changed. It seems likely that a fall in the numbers of researchers and global economic activity will lead to a decline in the overall market size for journals publishing.
As is always the case, averages are not distributed equally throughout the market. Fully APC-based Open Access publishers are more at risk, because of their dependency on article volume and the close connection of their cash-flow to throughput. This reality may drive a shift towards non-APC based OA, such as subscription and membership models applied to OA….”
“Unfortunately, sanity, clarity, and insight about the future of academic publishing are hard to come by—the future is highly uncertain. If I had to say which way the momentum is shifting, it is toward open access and a more binary division between very large and small publishers, with fewer midsize publishers. That probably means there will be some additional industry consolidation and possible acquisitions. Journals affiliated with academic societies will be pressured to find sufficient subscription or other revenue to support their journals. Alternatively, author charges or some viable mix of subscription and page charge revenues will sustain them. Publishers will be increasingly pressured to serve the interests of authors as well as the interests of their funding agencies. The prospect of 38% annual profits is likely gone, and publishers will be pushed to further innovate in how they produce, distribute, and market scientific knowledge to maintain their relevance and market share. It would be interesting if scientific articles were treated like digital music. If a unifying force were capable of bringing the biggest publishing houses to the table to negotiate reasonable fees for libraries, authors, and the broader public, this could truly transform the world’s access to scientific knowledge….”
“Earlier this month, a rumor began to circulate that the US government was planning on passing an executive order that would mandate all papers from federally funded research be open access immediately upon publication—abolishing the 12-month paywall allowed under current rules.
In response, more than 135 scientific societies and academic publishers penned an open letter to President Donald Trump’s Administration strongly opposing such a policy, warning that the proposed changes would “jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results.” The letter has been widely criticized by academics and open-access advocates on social media….
Although the [Plan S] coalition has managed to gain some international members, the overall response to Plan S has been lukewarm outside of Europe. India’s government, for example, decided to forgo joining the coalition and develop its own national effort to advance open access, despite earlier indications that it would be joining the group. In Latin America, where Argentina has joined cOAlition S, academics have raised concerns about the initiative’s focus on pay-for-publishing models. One worry is that if funders or universities are required to cover fees for publishing open access in commercial journals, financial resources could be diverted from their current system, under which journals are free to publish in and free to read—and scientific publications are owned by academic institutions….”
“The vision for a predominantly open access (OA) publishing landscape has shifted from a possibility to a probability in the opinions of many. A 2017 Springer Nature survey of 200 professional staff working in research institutions around the world found that over 70% of respondents agreed scholarly content should be openly accessible and 91% of librarians agreed that “open access is the future of academic and scientific publishing.” …
As noted, there is growing consensus within academia that the majority of scholarly content will be available OA in the future — but how to reach that end is still a matter of debate. The announcement of Plan S in September 2018, an initiative by a consortium of national and international research funders to make research fully and immediately OA, sent shockwaves throughout academia. 2019 saw the release of the revised Plan S guidelines with some significant changes, including an extension of the Plan S deadline to January 2021, a clearer Green OA compliance pathway, and greater flexibility around non-derivative copyright licenses. What remains the same — and has been a matter of significant debate — is that Plan S will not acknowledge hybrid OA as a compliant publishing model.
In response to concerns raised by scholarly societies around the feasibility of transitioning to full and immediate OA publishing without compromising their operational funding, Wellcome and UKRI in partnership with ALPSP launched the “Society Publishers Accelerating Open Access and Plan S“ (SPA-OPS) project to identify viable OA publishing models and transition options for societies. The final SPA-OPS report was released in September of 2019, encompassing over 20 potential OA models and strategies as well as a “transformative agreement toolkit.” …”