Housekeeping

Tomorrow (May 1, 2010) Google will turn off FTP updating for Blogger.  The old FTP-based Blogger blogs can migrate to a new Google-hosted site where FTP won’t be necessary.  If a blog migrates, then all the posts in its archive will receive new URLs, all links to the old URLs will be redirected, all posts will carry their old page-rank to their new addresses, and Google will start indexing the new versions of the posts and stop indexing the old.  If a blog doesn’t migrate, it will die.  Its archive may remain online, but it cannot be updated with new posts.

My days of heavy blogging at Open Access News are behind me.  In July 2009, I curtailed my blogging to make room for my new work at the Berkman Center, and in January 2010 I cut back even further –essentially to zero– in favor of the Open Access Tracking Project, a more comprehensive and scalable alert service for the now very large and very fast-growing OA movement.  OATP was not designed to do what OAN once did.  But for several years now, the high volume of daily OA news has made it impossible to keep doing what OAN once did, even with an assistant.

Despite that, my plan was to keep Open Access News alive and contribute sporadically.  But now Google has forced my hand.

I’ve decided not to migrate OAN.  At first I worried about the risks to the large OAN archive:  more than 18,000 posts in more than 400 files.  I use the archive every day in my own research and I know that many of you use it too.  It’s still the best source for news and links about any OA development in the last eight years, and I didn’t want to take the chance that even part of it might not survive the migration or might disappear behind broken links.  Blogger has been very good about answering my anxious queries and I’m persuaded that the risks are low.  But the fact remains that migration is irreversible.  

(I especially want to thank Blogger’s Rick Klau.  He always had time for my questions even though the migration must have caused a huge spike in his workload.) 

In the end, a more decisive factor was that I’ve essentially stopped blogging at OAN and don’t have plans to resume.  The safest way to keep the archive intact for research is also the most realistic about my future:  freeze this blog as it is and start a new one later if I feel the need to do so.

If I do start a new blog later, it won’t be a daily news blog about new OA developments.  I’ve been there, and the future for that task is the crowdsourced approach of OATP.  But if a new blog wouldn’t carry on the job of OAN, then it needn’t be OAN.  It would be nice to have the old page-rank of OAN, but if I do start a new blog –by no means certain– I’ll start from scratch like everyone else.

I’ll still be able to update the OAN About page.  If I have any blog-related announcements too late to blog, look for them there.

I’ve often thanked the Open Society Institute, SPARC, and the Wellcome Trust for the financial support that made OAN possible.  But I’ll never be able to thank them adequately.  OAN was more than a mere job and more than a full-time job.  Without their support I would have watched from the sidelines.

Elsevier 2009 $2 billion profits could fund worldwide OA at $1,383 per article

Elsevier’s Annual Report, reports “robust financial performance in unprecedented global recession”, with operating profits up.

Elsevier per se and Lexis-Nexis each earned over $1 billion US IN PROFIT in 2009, for a profit rate of 35% (Elsevier) and 26% (Reed Elsevier). Together, this is MORE THAN $2 billion in profit from scholarly publishing in 2009.

If the total profit from Elsevier and Lexis-Nexis is added together and converted to U.S. dollars, the total is $2,075m. Divided by the estimated worldwide scholarly article output of 1.5 million articles per year (Björk et al, 2008), this comes out to $1,383 U.S.

In other words, the profits of this one company alone could fund a global, fully open access scholarly publishing system, at a rate of $1,383 U.S. per article.

A minority of open access journals charge article processing fees. Of those that do have such charges, some charge more than this amount; however, others charge less.

In other words, the world’s scholarly journal article output could be published as fully open access with the funding that currently goes to the profits of just one company in this field.

Calculations are available here. Note currency conversion from GBP April 27, 2010

References

Björk, B., Roosr, A., & Lauri, M. (2008). Global annual volume of scholarly peer reviewed journal articles and the share available via different open access options. Paper presented at the ELPUB2008. Open Scholarship: Authority, Community, and Sustainability in the Age of Web 2.0 – Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Electronic Publishing Held in Toronto, Canada 25-27 June 2008. Edited by: Leslie Chan and Susanna Mornati. Retrieved from http://elpub.scix.net/cgi-bin/works/Show?178_elpub2008

Reed Elsevier 2009 Annual Report

This post is part of the Transitioning to Open Access series.

Symptoms of Premature Gold OA — and their Cure

Gold” Open Access (OA) journals (especially high-quality, highly selective ones like PLOS Biology) were a useful proof of principle, but now there are far too many of them, and they are mostly not journals of high quality.

The reason is that new Gold OA journals are premature at this time. What is needed is more access to existing journals, not more journals. Everything already gets published somewhere in the existing journal quality hierarchy. The recent proliferation of lower-standard Gold OA journals arose out of the drive and rush to publish-or-perish, and pay-to-publish was an irresistible lure, both to authors and to publishers.

Meanwhile, authors have been sluggish about availing themselves of a cost-free way of providing OA for their published journal articles: “Green” OA self-archiving.

The simple and natural remedy for the sluggishness — as well as the premature, low-standard Gold OA — is now on the horizon: Green OA self-archiving mandates from authors’ institutions and funders. Once Green OA prevails globally, we will have the much-needed access to existing journals for all would-be users, not just those whose institutions can afford to subscribe. That will remove all pretensions that the motivation for paying-to-publish in a Gold OA journal is to provide OA (rather than just to get published), since Green OA can be provided by authors by publishing in established journals, with their known track records for quality, and without having to pay extra — while subscriptions continue to pay the costs of publishing.

If and when universal Green OA should eventually make subscriptions unsustainable — because institutions cancel their subscriptions — the established journals, with their known track records, can convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model, downsizing to the provision of peer review alone (since access-provision and archiving will be done by the global network of Green OA Institutional Repositories), with the costs of peer review alone covered out of a fraction of the institutional subscription cancellation savings.

What will prevent pay-to-publish from causing quality standards to plummet under these conditions? It will not be pay-to-publish! It will be no-fault pay-to-be-peer-reviewed, regardless of whether the outcome is accept, revise, or reject. Authors will pay for each round of refereeing. And journals will (as now) form a (known) quality hierarchy, based on their track-record for peer-review standards and hence selectivity.

I’m preparing a paper on this now, provisionally entitled “No-Fault Refereeing Fees: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed.”

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

Wiley STM: 3rd quarter profits up 18%

From John Wiley and Sons announces Third Quarter Fiscal Year 2010 Results:

“Global STMS revenue for the third quarter of fiscal year 2010 rose 13% to $228 million”

“Direct contribution to profit for the third quarter increased 18% to $89 million”

Comment: this is a 39% profit rate, at a time when library customers are hit hard by the effects of the Global Economic Crisis. Some of the profits are coming from outsourcing from high cost regions to low-cost regions. The U.S. is losing jobs in spite of all these profits.