“When librarians prepare for a negotiation, they now routinely reach for the muscle. At least that’s how I read the news about the Swedish library consortium and its dealings with Elsevier. If you have been too preoccupied with the Royal Wedding to pay attention to news coming out of the world of STM publishing, you can get a good backgrounder here. Briefly, the Swedish consortium attempted to dictate terms to Elsevier, terms that Elsevier would not accept. The result is that Elsevier’s contract will be cancelled, meaning that there will be no authorized access to Elsevier content for the consortium users.
I have written previously about how the current landscape looks to publishers. In every negotiation, publishers are mindful that their ability to control access to their publications is compromised by unauthorized access from such sites as Sci-Hub and ResearchGate. How can Elsevier or any publisher shut off the Swedes or the Germans when Alexandra Elbakyan is waiting in the anteroom? Librarians have learned to reach for the muscle and now confidently demand terms that no publisher can or will accept. This raises the obvious question of whether librarians knowingly and actively seek the support of copyright pirates; or perhaps librarians simply are going about their business in their usual upbeat way, working diligently to make the world a better place, and the critical involvement of the shady characters is neither sought nor recognized. My own view has changed. I think the cynicism quotient in academic libraries, measured against other organizations and institutions, is very low. This is not, after all, Wall Street or, lord help us, the telecommunications business. But, like the populist governments that have now been installed in a number of Western democracies, the party of cynicism has taken control of some leading library organizations. Thus a nod to the likes of Luca Brasi no longer seems out of line. Having grown up in New Jersey, I have some qualms about what it means for anyone to form an alliance with unsavory characters. What do you do when they ask for a favor in return?
So it’s about time to consider what happens if the libraries win. By “win” I mean they refuse deals with publishers and turn their constituencies over to unauthorized sites. This will save them huge amounts of money, of course, money that they would surely like to put to other uses. Publishing is an ecosystem, however, and a significant change in one element can ripple across the entire field. If Sci-Hub becomes the default place to go for full-text content, what else will change?
“Will the revolution be open? This is an important question and the jury is out. In this webinar series we examine what it will take for the academic library community to develop the human, technical and financial resources that will be required to support an open future for global scholarship. The Elsevier purchase of Bepress was for many a wake-up call. It indicated that much of the infrastructure academic libraries rely on to manage and make content openly accessible was at risk of being monopolized by proprietary interests, just as scholarly journals have been. While the problem is clear — academic libraries need to control the infrastructure they depend on to make scholarly content open and discoverable and accessible. It seems clear that the level of support now provided is barely adequate at best, and that the academic library community faces a collective action problem that makes the necessary investments difficult. How to escape the current situation is not clear. In this webinar series the problem will be considered from both North American perspectives and those from outside of North America — in the hope of devising a way forward to create the infrastructure necessary to support a global open scholarly commons.
Join us on Thursday, May 17 at 12:00 ET for “The 2.5% Commitment: Investing in Open.” This webinar will focus on the David Lewis’ proposal for a 2.5% investment in open infrastructure and how it aims to make visible the investments academic libraries make in open infrastructure and content. It will also review actions that have taken place in the past nine months to advance these ideas. For background on the “Invest in Open Initiative” see the initiative website at: https://scholarlycommons.net and a recent College & Research Library News article describing the initiative at: https://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/16902.
Time May 17, 2018 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)”
“A small survey of global library staff reveals that respondents view open access as the future of academic and scientific publishing, and many are not satisfied with the current speed of the transition….
The majority of respondents thought that there would come a time when all future scholarly articles will be published open access, with two thirds believing this could happen over the next 10 years….”
“On June 1st, 2011, Peter Binfield, then publisher of PLOS ONE, made a bold and shocking prediction at the Society of Scholarly Publishing annual meeting: I believe we have entered the era of the OA mega journal,” adding, “Some basic modeling predicts that in 2016, almost 50% of the STM literature could be published in approximately 100 mega journals…Content will rapidly concentrate into a small number of very large titles. Filtering based solely on Journal name will disappear and will be replaced with new metrics. The content currently being published in the universe of 25,000 journals will presumably start to dry up. If you were not present for that pre-meeting workshop, you likely heard it repeated throughout the conference. The open access (OA) megajournal was taking over STM publishing and Binfield had data to prove it. PLOS ONE, which had received its first 2010 Impact Factor (4.351) the previous summer, was exploding with new submissions. In a few weeks, the journal would receive its second Impact Factor (4.411), a confirmation that its model was both wildly successful and dangerously competitive. PLOS had discovered the future of STM publishing and others had better get on board or get out of the way….”
Abstract: With the advent of the Internet and online publishing, the notion has arisen that access to the world’s research publications could be made available to one and all for free, presumably by shifting the costs to other places in the value chain and disintermediating publishers, a circumstance called Open Access (OA) publishing. While there are many hopes embedded in this view (lower costs, wider access, etc.), it appears more likely that Open Access will come about not through a revolution in the world of legacy publishing, but through upstart media built with the innate characteristics of the Internet in mind. An unanticipated outcome of this situation will be that the overall cost of research publications will rise, though the costs will be borne by different players, primarily authors and their proxies.
As an entity, whilst preprints have been around for some time, there have been a number of significant developments over the last few years. In this short talk, Graham will take you through a journey in time, touching upon the history, developments and what the future may hold in terms of preprints.
“Now a new study has found that nearly half of all academic articles that users want to read are already freely available. These studies may or may not have been published in an open-access journal, but there is a legally free version available for a reader to download.
To arrive at this conclusion, researcher Heather Piwowar and her colleagues used data from a web-browser extension they had developed called Unpaywall. When users of the extension land on an academic article, it trawls the web to find if there are free versions to download from places such as pre-print services or those uploaded on university websites.
In an analysis of 100,000 papers queried by Unpaywall, Piwowar and her colleagues found that as many as 47% searched for studies that had a free-to-read version available. The study is yet to be peer-reviewed, but Ludo Waltman of Leiden University told Nature that it is ‘careful and extensive.'”
“As we move remorselessly into a world where no individual or team can hope either to read or keep track of the published research in any defined field without machine learning or AI support, primary publishing becomes less important than getting into the dataflow and thus into the workflow of scholarship . It still helps to be published in Nature or Cell , but that could take place after visibility on figshare or F1000. Get the metadata right , ensure the visibility and reputation management can commence . So the first question about the post journal world is ‘ Who keeps score and how is worth measured ?’ And then we come to the next question . If the article is simply a waystage data report , and all the other materials of scholarly communication ( blogs , presentations etc) can be tracked , and the data from an experimental sequence can be as important for reproducibility as the article , and reports of successfully repeated experiments are as important in some instances as innovation, then the scheme of Notification and communication and cross-referencing must be open , community-owned and universally available , so how does it get established ?”
“There is no doubt that Sci-Hub, the infamous—and, according to a U.S. court, illegal—online repository of pirated research papers, is enormously popular. (SeeScience’s investigation last year ofwho is downloading papers from Sci-Hub.) But just how enormous is its repository? That is the question biodata scientist Daniel Himmelstein at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues recently set out to answer, after an assist from Sci-Hub.
Their findings, published in a preprint on the PeerJ journal site on 20 July, indicate that Sci-Hub can instantly provide access to more than two-thirds of all scholarly articles, an amount that Himmelstein says is “even higher” than he anticipated. For research papers protected by a paywall, the study found Sci-Hub’s reach is greater still, with instant access to 85% of all papers published in subscription journals. For some major publishers, such as Elsevier, more than 97% of their catalog of journal articles is being stored on Sci-Hub’s servers—meaning they can be accessed there for free.
Given that Sci-Hub has access to almost every paper a scientist would ever want to read, and can quickly obtain requested papers it doesn’t have, could the website truly topple traditional publishing? In a chat with ScienceInsider, Himmelstein concludes that the results of his study could mark “the beginning of the end” for paywalled research. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. …”