Open access for and against: Physics Today: Vol 73, No 2

“The 18 December letter to Trump organized by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and signed by 135 professional societies builds its case around upholding US leadership in science. While I accept that invoking patriotism is sometimes necessary when appealing to politicians, I find the practice unsavory. Science is an international enterprise.

Still, how strongly is a country’s scientific prestige tied to its homegrown journals? Weakly, in my view. None of the top physics journals is Japanese, yet Japan is a physics powerhouse. In 1994 Stuttgart-based Holtzbrinck Publishing Group bought a controlling stake in London-based Macmillan Publishers, owners of Nature, arguably the world’s foremost scientific journal. Nature and its swelling number of stablemates remain under German ownership. The UK’s standing in science has not fallen nor has Germany’s risen as a result….”

Mutinous librarians help drive change at Elsevier | Financial Times

“The company is facing a profound shift in the way it does business, as customers reject traditional charging structures. Open access publishing — the move to break down paywalls and make scientific research free to read — is upending the funding model for journals, at the behest of regulators and some big research funders, while online tools and the illicit Russian pirate-site Sci-Hub are taking readers. Even Donald Trump’s administration in December began consulting on an executive order to “liberate” publicly funded research, according to people briefed on the process….

But its willingness to experiment has increased markedly since Kumsal Bayazit, an Istanbul-born former management consultant, took over as chief executive last year. Admitting Elsevier’s transition to open access was too “slow”, she is now stepping up one of the big evolutions of the company’s history….”

Open Access in Heart Failure: Ready or Not, Here We Come – ScienceDirect

“While I applaud exploring broader open access and the principles of early, immediate, and wide dissemination of medical information, the pace of conversion must be taken into account, as there could be some adverse consequences.

These include:

1. This policy could be perceived as a restriction of academic freedom as stated in the recent International Committee of Medical Journal Editors recommendations (4). Are we ready for a policy that prevents investigators from publishing in journal x, because it was deemed not a qualified journal?
2. Decrease in the quality of review and subsequent quality of scientific publications. In the process of peer review, significant augmentation of the quality of the paper occurs through a multi-review process. This involves not only recommending additional analyses, study augmentation, and adjustments to the analytical plan, but also identifying major and minor errors and correcting these reports before appearing in public. Peer review provides one guard against scientific misrepresentation.
3. Increase in scientific misinformation, as it will be easier to promote reports in the open access forum without safeguards. Although some members of the scientific community believe that science is self-correcting, it can sometimes take years and can impose harm that could get into medical practice from erroneous conclusions that may affect patient care. Take the case of some recommendations against vaccines and statins.
4. Important financial strain to small nonprofit subspecialty societies. The conduct of publishing journals through professional societies allows modest dollars to come into the smaller societies and support other important activities that may not have full support, such as education, conferences, research grants, patient awareness, and advocacy. These important initiatives would have to be re-evaluated in societies and may affect patient care by reducing other venues and methods of information dissemination and policy advocacy. As Dr. Mann has called out in his previous communication (5), it is important that we have a serious dialog about open access immediately and thoroughly, as this train has left the gate; it is up to the broader scientific community to delve into the details of how we transition from our current system that has served the community well in the past, but will not be the ecosystem of the future.”

 

Trump’s administration may address the outrageous academic publishing market.

“In December, in the midst of the political wrangling associated with President Trump’s impeachment, a news report gave me hope. According to it, Trump’s administration was working on an executive order that would require publishers to grant immediate free access to all journal articles that result from federally funded research. Predictably, the publication industry rapidly issued a scathing critique of the idea, signed by 140 publishers and academic societies. Although the Trump administration is widely viewed to be anti-science, it would be a mistake to interpret the presence of academic societies on this letter as representing the interests of science writ large. Within two days of the industry letter, a coalition representing 210 academic and research libraries wrote an open letter to the White House supporting changing federal policy in exactly the way the executive order is rumored to do. Indeed, there have long been calls for opening access to research results. This is an area where U.S. lags behind Europe in policy and Latin America in development of open access journals and databases.

In an era when most presidential actions are viewed primarily through partisan lenses, it is worth taking a step back and considering why this rumored proposal elicited a polarized response, but one that did not fall along partisan lines. A lot of money is at stake. But so too are the essences of scientific communication and scientific self-governance….”

Trump pressed by Nobel laureates to make US-funded research available for free | News | Chemistry World

“Twenty-one Nobel laureates have written to the White House urging the president to push ahead with an executive order that would mandate free and immediate access to research papers funded by US taxes. The proposed policy would toss out current rules, in place since 2013, that requires taxpayer-funded research published in journals to be made freely available within a year….”

What to Expect in the Publishing World in 2020 – Against the Grain

“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….”

Open Access in Heart Failure: Ready or Not, Here We Come – ScienceDirect

“While I applaud exploring broader open access and the principles of early, immediate, and wide dissemination of medical information, the pace of conversion must be taken into account, as there could be some adverse consequences.

These include:

1.

This policy could be perceived as a restriction of academic freedom as stated in the recent International Committee of Medical Journal Editors recommendations (4). Are we ready for a policy that prevents investigators from publishing in journal x, because it was deemed not a qualified journal?

2.

Decrease in the quality of review and subsequent quality of scientific publications. In the process of peer review, significant augmentation of the quality of the paper occurs through a multi-review process. This involves not only recommending additional analyses, study augmentation, and adjustments to the analytical plan, but also identifying major and minor errors and correcting these reports before appearing in public. Peer review provides one guard against scientific misrepresentation.

3.

Increase in scientific misinformation, as it will be easier to promote reports in the open access forum without safeguards. Although some members of the scientific community believe that science is self-correcting, it can sometimes take years and can impose harm that could get into medical practice from erroneous conclusions that may affect patient care. Take the case of some recommendations against vaccines and statins.

4.

Important financial strain to small nonprofit subspecialty societies. The conduct of publishing journals through professional societies allows modest dollars to come into the smaller societies and support other important activities that may not have full support, such as education, conferences, research grants, patient awareness, and advocacy. These important initiatives would have to be re-evaluated in societies and may affect patient care by reducing other venues and methods of information dissemination and policy advocacy. As Dr. Mann has called out in his previous communication (5), it is important that we have a serious dialog about open access immediately and thoroughly, as this train has left the gate; it is up to the broader scientific community to delve into the details of how we transition from our current system that has served the community well in the past, but will not be the ecosystem of the future….”

 

ARL Responds to US Office of Science and Technology Policy Request for Information on American Research Environment – Association of Research Libraries

“ARL endorses the recommendations in the 2018 National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) consensus report Open Science by Design: Realizing a Vision for 21st Century Research. The report, grounded in FAIR principles, promotes essential actions for research ecosystem stakeholders to improve openness and transparency in research processes, and share and reuse research products, in order to accelerate scientific discovery and innovation.

In particular, research funders and research institutions are in the best position to develop policies and procedures to identify the data, code, specimens, and other research products that ensure long-term public availability, and they are best positioned to provide the resources necessary for the long-term preservation and stewardship of those research products.1 Successful implementation of policies to identify research outputs for reuse and long-term preservation will require integration and alignment between the scientific community (e.g., managers of domain repositories and scholarly societies) and the stewardship community. ARL is committed to partnering with and convening the relevant stakeholders to work towards this alignment….

ARL recommends that federal agencies provide maintenance funding and require maintenance plans for community-governed tools and services that enable rapid dissemination, interlinking research through registries of persistent identifiers, data sharing, and collaboration to advance scientific progress. New modes of research publication enable researchers to publish executable code and data alongside articles, share preprints with associated data and code, enable post-publication peer review through overlay journals, and facilitate collaboration and team science.

Scientific tools and infrastructure such as outlined above, including tools like Jupyter Notebooks, ReproZip, and Code Ocean, accelerate the progress of science and facilitate replicability. Openness enables both interoperability and preservation for future research and the scholarly record. A recent paper on the arXiv.org preprint server, “Publishing Computational Research—A Review of Infrastructures for Reproducible and Transparent Scholarly Communication,” provides an excellent review of the issues from major stakeholder perspectives….”

Nobelists urge Trump to require free access to taxpayer-funded publications | Berkeley News

“Led by UC Berkeley’s Randy Schekman, 21 Nobel laureates from the United States have sent an open letter to President Donald Trump urging him to follow through on a rumored plan to make all federally funded research studies free for the public to read immediately upon publication.

Currently, most journals require a subscription to read their published articles, or make them publicly accessible after a certain period of time. In 2013, President Barack Obama required that all research funded by the U.S. government be made freely available online within 12 months of publication, specifically the peer-reviewed and accepted versions that authors receive prior to journal publication.

The rumor of a presidential executive order lifting this 12-month embargo and requiring immediate publication of author-accepted manuscripts originated in December, though it’s unclear who started the rumor. Several for-profit scientific publishing houses quickly expressed strong opposition, warning of dire consequences for U.S. discovery and innovation….”

Offline: Scientific publishing—trust and tribulations – The Lancet

“Signatories [to the AAP letter to Donald Trump] wrote about their role “fostering the American leadership in science that drives our economy and global competitiveness”. They suggested that an open access mandate “would significantly harm the system of peer-reviewed scholarly communication that fuels America’s leadership in research and innovation”. They urged the president to oppose this proposal. Many who signed the letter were indeed US-based organisations (such as the American Medical Association and American College of Physicians). But others would probably consider their missions to go beyond “fostering…American leadership in science”. They would almost certainly claim they had a global remit, not one narrowly confined to advancing “American competitiveness”. The letter was signed, for example, by the New England Journal of Medicine, Wiley, Wolters Kluwer, and The Lancet’s publisher, Elsevier. At last week’s Academic Publishing in Europe annual meeting, held in Berlin, Professor Günter Ziegler (President of the Free University of Berlin) mocked the catastrophist language used by publishers in this letter. “There is no such thing as American science or American publishing”, he said. Science is a truly global enterprise. His reprimand showed how far apart the values of science and science publishing have drifted in recent years….

Publishers are understandably nervous. Coalition S, a consortium of research funders that includes the Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and WHO, has called for the research they pay for to “be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo”. Their policy will be implemented in 2021. Publishers have held decisive power in shaping the dissemination of science for over 300 years. That power is now being challenged. It is an uncomfortable reset. But from the funder’s perspective it is entirely reasonable they have a voice in the way the science they support is reported. The result of this accelerating shift in power has been an escalating conflict between traditional scientific publishers and funding bodies. Yet, despite the anomaly of that ill-judged letter to President Trump, there were signs in Berlin that both sides were seeking an accommodation….

Scientific publishers as we know them today remain a threatened species. They will have to do more to prove their added value to science and society. Unless they do so, they may not deserve to survive.”