The insanity (and probably illegality) of transformative agreements (including Plan S and Project Deal) – An Open Letter to Libraries and Coalition S | Gunther Eysenbach’s random research rants

“The reality is that libraries are used to negotiate with legacy publishers about subscriptions, and there has been no historic need to negotiate with OA publishers about anything, as they already do exactly what librarians or Plan S/Coalition S and other government entities want them to do – but open access publishers do need support, and need it more than those “poor” publishers like Springer-Nature who wants the transformative deals (all APCs covered) but is screaming and kicking having to abandon their hybrid journals which allows them to double-dip (getting paid for subscriptions AND article processing fees). Why are we spending public tax money to “help” commercial entities to switch to a different business model because they didn’t understand the sign of times 20 years ago? The situation is similar to a government wanting to switch from Internal Combustion Engine cars to electroc cars nationwide, and not subsidizing the costs for buying from Tesla, but only throwing money at GM and BMW to fund their costs to switch production.

In my 20 years of publishing fully open access journals, we have not once received a single dime (or $) of funding from libraries (other OA publishers, like Frontiers, MDPI, Plos, have more muscle and may have institutional agreements, but as niche publisher we simply do not have the market size and staff to negotiate with hundreds of universities/libraries)  – rather than being paid by libraries, it  is all our authors paying from their research grants. The only exception is our recent deal with the University of California (which frankly seems to be the only institution having the vision to support native OA publishers) – but it remains to be seen if other libraries/consortia replicate this model (our emails to Project Deal and other libraries who made transformative deals and are coveering the APC of large publishers, asking them to match the conditions they gave to Wiley and Springer have not been responded to at all). And to be clear, if you want to go with the “quality argument”, keep in mind that 4 out of the 8 leading health informatics journals are published by us.

If the general model changes in the future from APCs being paid by authors/research grants towards libraries picking up these costs, libraries/funders must ensure an “open-access first” policy, where APCs of native open-access publishers and their journals are equally paid or even paid first (i.e. transformative agreements should only be made for journals where no OA journal are in existence and where there is significant demand to publish in a former subscription/hybrid journal). And by the way, don’t use Web of Science or Scopus for these assessments (rather use DOAJ)….”

OA, renewals, and a 3% price drop for package A subscribers | Publishing blog | Royal Society

“As many green open access journals accept increasing numbers of paid OA articles, librarians have rightly pointed out that it’s not appropriate for publishers to charge for both subscriptions and APC’s; the so-called ‘double dipping’.

Here at the Royal Society we do not double dip. We account for changes through our transparent pricing mechanism. This means that as we publish more open access articles, we charge less for our subscriptions to ensure that the cost to our readers remains stable.

For 2020 an increase in open access articles means that the list price of Package A, which covers all our physical sciences and cross disciplinary articles, will drop by 3%….”

Open access dell’Università statale di Milano | Scienza in rete

The article presents the OA journal publishing platform owned and maintained by the University of Milan. All journals are no-fee OA journals and the majority of them deal with humanities.

In the extensive introduction, the key concepts related to OA (including Plan S, transformative agreements, self-archiving, etc.) are discussed.

Addendum to the cOAlition S Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S | Plan S

“cOAlition S endorse a number of strategies to encourage subscription publishers to transition to Open Access. These approaches are referred to as ’transformative arrangements’ and include transformative agreements, transformative model agreements and transformative journals[1].

The Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S indicates an ambition of developing a framework for ‘transformative journals’. Such ‘transformative journals’ are journals that (i) gradually increase the share of Open Access content, (ii) offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments), and (iii) have a clear commitment to a transition to full and immediate Open Access for all peer-reviewed scholarly articles within an agreed timeframe.

The requirements below constitute this framework.

[Here omitting 8 mandatory criteria for transformative journals and 3 suggested criteria.]

We are now seeking input from the community on this draft framework and encourage all interested stakeholders to respond. The consultation on this draft framework is open until 09.00 CET on Monday 6th January 2020. We plan to publish a final version of this framework by the end of March 2020.”

Addendum to the cOAlition S Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S | Plan S

“cOAlition S endorse a number of strategies to encourage subscription publishers to transition to Open Access. These approaches are referred to as ’transformative arrangements’ and include transformative agreements, transformative model agreements and transformative journals[1].

The Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S indicates an ambition of developing a framework for ‘transformative journals’. Such ‘transformative journals’ are journals that (i) gradually increase the share of Open Access content, (ii) offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments), and (iii) have a clear commitment to a transition to full and immediate Open Access for all peer-reviewed scholarly articles within an agreed timeframe.

The requirements below constitute this framework.

[Here omitting 8 mandatory criteria for transformative journals and 3 suggested criteria.]

We are now seeking input from the community on this draft framework and encourage all interested stakeholders to respond. The consultation on this draft framework is open until 09.00 CET on Monday 6th January 2020. We plan to publish a final version of this framework by the end of March 2020.”

Kumsal Bayazit, Elsevier CEO, shares her vision for building a better future in research

“You [librarians] are helping researchers and institutional leaders preserve and showcase their intellectual outputs. For example, you are establishing and populating Institutional Repositories to capture data-sets, theses, dissertations, conference presentations [note, doesn’t mention articles]. I learned that across more than 500 Digital Commons repositories, we estimate that 94% of the content and 91% of the downloads are for materials other than previously published, peer-reviewed journal articles that libraries have collected and shared openly to deliver on their institution’s mission….

You are promoting and enabling open access in its many forms, including by funding repositories and Article Publication Charges; and by creating your own journals and university presses….

First and foremost, I want to be very clear: Elsevier fully supports open access….

No one can dispute the beauty of the vision of freely-accessible, immediately-available research content, whether peer-reviewed published articles or other scholarly work. I am a UC Berkeley alumna, so these kinds of values were installed in me as a fresh new undergraduate. As Elsevier’s CEO, I am committed to working with you and the rest of the global research community towards a more fully open access future.

In fact, my professional background is in applying technology to content to help professionals make better decisions. For example, working in the part of RELX that serves legal professionals, I’ve seen the powerful benefits of analytical services that are built on top of freely available content, such as case law. This is why I’m excited by the potential to create value for researchers by applying text-mining and artificial intelligence technologies to the entire corpus of peer-reviewed content. I understand and appreciate the role that open access can play in delivering that vision.

 

The question is not whether open access is desirable or beneficial — the question is how we get there….

I am a pragmatist, and I commit to working pragmatically with libraries and other stakeholders to achieve shared open access goals. Part of this means acknowledging obstacles where they exist and discussing them openly and objectively so that we can find solutions to overcome them….”

OPEN SCHOLARSHIP position statement from the Biochemical Society and Portland Press

“Currently: ? We publish two fully-OA journals, and one of these is currently sustained by article publishing charges (APC) at an article-by-article level; in addition, we publish five hybrid journals where authors may opt to pay an APC to have their article published OA. ? For titles on the hybrid model we avoid ‘double dipping’ (charging twice for the same articles) through two routes: APCs are discounted for corresponding authors based at subscribing institutions; in addition, subscription prices are set, each year, based on the number of paywalled articles in the preceding years to account for OA content published in hybrid titles. ? There are a variety of mechanisms employed by different publishers to avoid double-dipping. We are supportive of efforts to standardize and agree common principles around transparent pricing of hybrid journals that demonstrate, objectively, the avoidance of double dipping….

Looking ahead: ? We are seeking to transition our hybrid journals to full-OA in a way that supports researchers and keeps the Society financially viable. ? We strongly believe that the ability to publish research should not be linked to individual researchers’ ability to pay; we are enthusiastic about all opportunities to remove author-facing invoices from OA publishing. To enable a transition away from paywalls, we seek to offer as much APC-free OA as possible that will be supported though continuing and new partnerships with institutions, consortia and funders….

University Librarian Elaine Westbrooks is on a mission to open Carolina’s research to all – The Well : The Well

“I hope our scholars realize that this is something that has to be done. This is the tipping point for us. The money is not there to support the status quo. I’ve heard from many faculty who agree that that we need to change this system that we have.

The current model is unsustainable for universities and is inconsistent with the values of a public university. We’re “of the public, for the public,” designed to serve the state and the citizens of the state. So, I feel as though we have no choice but to transform this system to critique what we’ve done. That critique is going to have some consequences, which I think are good….

We’re negotiating with Elsevier to find out what kind of license we can sign that will be affordable, sustainable, promotes open access and is transparent. Those are the four values that we have set. We’re at a tipping point where it’s just not possible to keep doing business as usual….”

Open Access Tipping Point (OATIP) Public Affirmation – Office of Scholarly Communication

“The following public affirmation was co-authored by library and faculty participants of the OATIP workshop.

On August 28-29 2019, library and faculty participants from 17 universities and consortia came together at the Open Access Tipping Point workshop in Washington DC to learn from one another, express our shared values, and pursue a more open and equitable scholarly communication ecosystem.

While our approaches and strategies may take different forms, we affirm the importance of using journal license negotiations to promote open access to our scholarship and to support sustainable business models, including the elimination of dual payments to publishers.

We will advocate broadly, and work with our stakeholders both locally and in existing consortia, to advance these common goals….”

Fact check: What you may have heard about the dispute between UC and Elsevier – Office of Scholarly Communication

“Elsevier claims that it “proposed a series of arrangements that would…achieve the objectives of the Academic Senate.”1

Not so, according to the leadership of the Academic Senate itself. …

The publisher states that it has “opened over 1,900 of its subscription journals to open access submissions.”12

Elsevier has not “opened” its subscription journals. Rather, it is asking authors, after the libraries have already paid Elsevier for subscriptions, to pay a second charge (generally thousands of dollars) if authors want their individual articles to be available open access. Under this model, Elsevier gets paid twice for publishing such articles….

Elsevier asserts that UC’s proposed model is, “in their own words … complex and risky,” using as evidence a mischaracterized quote from the UC Davis university librarian. A representative of the company wrote: “The plan is so intricate that one senior UC librarian called it ‘akin to modernizing the FAA’s air traffic control system – a million planes are in the air at any moment and changing anything can have serious consequences elsewhere.’”20

We have not characterized our offer as “complex and risky.” The quote Elsevier references describes the complexity of transforming the entire scholarly publishing industry, not UC’s proposal to Elsevier….

Elsevier confusingly states that the university’s “proposed plan would require UC researchers to pay to publish their own output.”27

UC’s proposal would actually reduce the burden on UC authors who wish to publish their work open access, by fully subsidizing authors without access to grant funds and asking those with sufficient grant funding to contribute toward only a portion of the open access fees….

The publisher claims that “when surveyed,” researchers had “extremely negative” reactions to the scenarios laid out in the 2016 research study referenced above.28

We are unaware of any survey that addresses the scenarios explored in the 2016 research study….

Elsevier claims that after Germany canceled its contract with the publisher, “83% of those surveyed complained of a ‘significant decline’ in their research productivity and that most wanted the contract renewed.”32

We are unaware of any such survey. When we inquired of German colleagues, they were also unaware of any published survey results correlating to these numbers….”