Contracting in the Age of Open Access Publications. A Systematic Analysis of Transformative Agreements | Ouvrir la Science

The “socioeconomics of scientific publication” Project, Committee for Open Science

Final report – 17 December 2020 Contract No. 206-150

Quentin Dufour (CNRS Postdoctoral fellow) David Pontille (CNRS senior researcher) Didier Torny (CNRS senior researcher)

Mines ParisTech, Center for the Sociology of Innovation • PSL University

Supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation

Summary

This study focuses on one of the contemporary innovations linked to the economy of academic publishing: the so-called transformative agreements, a relatively circumscribed object within the relations between library consortia and academic publishers, and temporally situated between 2015 and 2020. The stated objective of this type of agreement is to organise the transition from the traditional model of subscription to journals (often proposed by thematic groupings or collections) to that of open access by reallocating the budgets devoted to it.

Our sociological analysis work constitutes a first systematic study of this object, based on a review of 197 agreements. The corpus thus constituted includes agreements characterised by the co-presence of a subscription component and an open access publication component, even minimal (publication “tokens” offered, reduction on APCs, etc.). As a result, agreements that only concern centralised funding for open access publishing were excluded from the analysis, whether with publishers that only offer journals with payment by the author (PLOS, Frontiers, MDPI, etc.) or publishers whose catalogue includes open access journals. The oldest agreement in our corpus was signed in 2010, the most recent ones in 2020 – agreements starting only in 2021, even announced during the study, were not retained.

Several results emerge from our analysis. First of all, there is a great diversity of actors involved with 22 countries and 39 publishers, even if some consortia (Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Germany) and publishers (CUP, Elsevier, RSC, Springer) signed many more than others. Secondly, the duration of the agreements, ranging from one to six years, reveals a very unequal distribution, with more than half of the agreements (103) signed for 3 years, and a small proportion for 4 years or more (22 agreements). Finally, despite repeated calls for transparency, less than half of the agreements (96) have an accessible text at the time of this study, with no recent trend towards greater availability.

Of the 96 agreements available, 47 of which were signed in 2020, 62 have been analysed in depth. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis on this scale, on a type of material that was not only unpublished, but which was previously subject to confidentiality clauses. Based on a careful reading, the study describes in detail their properties, from the materiality of the document to the financial formulas, including their morphology and all the rights and duties of the parties. We therefore analysed the content of the agreements as a collection, looking for commonalities and variations through an explicit coding of their characteristics. The study also points out some uncertainties, in particular their “transitional” character, which remains strongly debated.

From a morphological point of view, the agreements show a great diversity in size (from 7 to 488 pages) and structure. Nevertheless, by definition, they both articulate two essential objects: on the one hand, the conditions for carrying out a reading of journal articles, in the form of a subscription, combining concerns of access and security; on the other hand, the modalities of open access publication, articulating the management of a new type of workflow with a whole series of possible options. These options include the scope of the journals considered (hybrid and/or open access), the licences available, the degree of obligation to publish, the eligible authors or the volume of publishable articles.

One of the most important results of this in-depth analysis is the discovery of an almost complete decoupling, within the agreements themselves, between the subscription object and the publication object. Of course, subscription is systematically configured in a closed world, subject to payment, which triggers series of identification of legitimate circulations of both information content and users. In particular, it insists on prohibitions on the reuse or even copying of academic articles. On the other hand, open access publishing is attached to a world governed by free access to content, which leads to concerns about workflow management and accessibility modalities. Moreover, the different elements that make up these contractual objects are not interconnected: on one side, the readers are all members of the subscribing institutions, on the other, only the corresponding authors are concerned; the lists of journals accessible to the reader and those reserved for open access publication are usually distinct; the workflows have totally different

Decolonizing Open Access in Development Research Journal Open Access and Plan S: Solving Problems or Shifting Burdens?

This academic thought piece provides an overview of the history of, and current trends in, publishing practices in the scientific fields known to the authors (chemical sciences, social sciences and humanities), as well as a discussion of how open access mandates such as Plan S from cOAlition S will affect these practices. It begins by summarizing the evolution of scientific publishing, in particular how it was shaped by the learned societies, and highlights how important quality assurance and scientific management mechanisms are being challenged by the recent introduction of ever more stringent open access mandates. The authors then discuss the various reactions of the researcher community to the introduction of Plan S, and elucidate a number of concerns: that it will push researchers towards a pay-to-publish system which will inevitably create new divisions between those who can afford to get their research published and those who cannot; that it will disrupt collaboration between researchers on the different sides of cOAlition S funding; and that it will have an impact on academic freedom of research and publishing. The authors analyse the dissemination of, and responses to, an open letter distributed and signed in reaction to the introduction of Plan S, before concluding with some thoughts on the potential for evolution of open access in scientific publishing.

The Louvre Has Digitized 482,000 Works — Wander The Museum Online, For Free : NPR

“One of the world’s most massive museums has announced an encompassing digitization of its vast collection.

“The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known,” said Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musée du Louvre, in a statement on Friday. “For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage.” 

Some of this is hyperbole. The entire collection is so huge, no one even knows how big it is. The Louvre’s official release estimates about 482,000 works have been digitized in its collections database, representing about three quarters of the entire archive. (The museum’s recently revamped homepage is designed for more casual visitors, especially those on cellphones, with translations in Spanish, English and Chinese.) …”

Louvre site des collections

“The database for the Louvre’s collections consists of entries for more than 480,000 works of art that are part of the national collections and registered in the inventories of the museum’s eight curatorial departments (Near Eastern Antiquities; Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Paintings; Medieval, Renaissance and Modern Sculpture; Prints and Drawings; Medieval, Renaissance and Modern Decorative Arts), those of the History of the Louvre department, or the inventories of the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, administratively attached to the Louvre since 2004.

The Collections database also includes so-called ‘MNR’ works (Musées Nationaux Récupération, or National Museums Recovery), recovered after WWII, retrieved by the Office des Biens et Intérêts Privés and pending return to the legitimate owners. A list of all MNR works conserved at the Musée du Louvre is available in a dedicated album and may also be consulted in the French Ministry of Culture’s Rose Valland database. 

Lastly, the Louvre Collections database includes information on works on long-term loan from other French or foreign institutions such as the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Petit Palais, the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, the British Museum and the archaeological museum of Heraklion. …”

Louvre museum makes its entire collection available online

“As part of a major revamp of its online presence, the world’s most-visited museum has created a new database of 482,000 items at collections.louvre.fr with more than three-quarters already labelled with information and pictures.

It comes after a year of pandemic-related shutdowns that has seen an explosion in visits to its main website, louvre.fr, which has also been given a major makeover….

The new database includes not only items on public display in the museum but also those in storage, including at its new state-of-the-art facility at Lievin in northern France….

Baromètre français de la Science Ouverte 2020

From Google’s English: “According to the 2020 edition of the Open Science Barometer (BSO), 56% of the 156,000 French scientific publications published in 2019 are available opened in December 2020. The rate observed in December 2019, relating to publications produced in 2018, was only 49%. The rate therefore increased by 7 points in one year. From one discipline to another, the proportion of open access varies greatly, from 75% for publications in Mathematics to 40% in Engineering Sciences. In addition, scientific publications published in 2018 or in previous years have an open rate increasing over time. In particular, those published in 2018 are now 54% open (+5 points compared to December 2019), and the increase, which concerns all disciplines, is greater in those less open….”

EDP Sciences – The National Open Access Agreement in France judged “a real success” as key targets are surpassed

“The partners involved in the “Accord national open access en France” (National Open Access Agreement in France) are pleased to announce that the agreement is exceeding their expectations when judged against key targets. The Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation (the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation – MESRI), the Couperin consortium, the Agence bibliographique de l’enseignement supérieur (Abes) and EDP Sciences are delighted with the results so far and agree that the excellent relationship between the partners has been a significant aspect of this success.

The Accord national was established in January 2017 and its success is being judged in the following areas:

Number of members and opt-in rate
Processes and support given to corresponding authors
Reporting and data
Volume of open access content…”

EDP Sciences – The National Open Access Agreement in France judged “a real success” as key targets are surpassed

“The partners involved in the “Accord national open access en France” (National Open Access Agreement in France) are pleased to announce that the agreement is exceeding their expectations when judged against key targets. The Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation (the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation – MESRI), the Couperin consortium, the Agence bibliographique de l’enseignement supérieur (Abes) and EDP Sciences are delighted with the results so far and agree that the excellent relationship between the partners has been a significant aspect of this success.

The Accord national was established in January 2017 and its success is being judged in the following areas:

Number of members and opt-in rate
Processes and support given to corresponding authors
Reporting and data
Volume of open access content…”

cOAlition S response to the STM statement: the Rights Retention Strategy restores long-standing academic freedoms | Plan S

The statement published earlier today (3rd February) by the STM Association and signed by a number of its members, continues to perpetuate a number of myths and errors relating to the Rights Retention Strategy.

French plan for improving science communication stirs up controversy | Science | AAAS

“France will launch an initiative to bring scientists and journalists closer together and boost public access to reliable information, according to a provision in a 10-year science plan that moved one step closer to parliamentary approval this week. “At a time when French society is crossed by currents of irrationality and doubts about progress and knowledge, the Government has chosen to resolutely reverse the trend,” the science ministry stated in the draft bill preamble. Although many applaud the idea of reducing misinformation through deeper ties between science and the media, some observers are worried about the potential vulnerability of the initiative to political or corporate influence, and its threat to journalistic independence….

On paper, the French initiative would seem to emulate science media centers (SMCs) in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and elsewhere….”