Abstract: Abstract : 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. The analysis also shows widely varying degrees of openness, ranging from simple information on the ESAC directory through the provision of an open format to the allocation of a DOI and a reuse licence (CC-BY), including details of monetary amounts. 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 objectives and material organisations, etc. The articulation between the two contractual objects is solely a matter of a financial distribution formula which, in addition to particular combinations between one an
“Pay-to-publish models adopted by science journals ‘exacerbate the exclusion of researchers from the global South’.
Open access publishing is excluding many developing world scientists as complex fee waiver systems fall short, say leading researchers….”
“A large number of public and academic libraries are also looking at moderate to severe budget contractions due to unplanned COVID-related expenses, declines in tuition dollars, and/or local and state funding cuts. Many institutions are seeing or planning for permanent cuts between 9 and 13 percent to their base budget, a key difference from temporary cuts made after the Great Recession. Public libraries may fare better than academics: in an LJ survey of 223 public libraries across the United States, 84 percent reported an increase in FY21 total operating budgets for a rise of 2.9 percent. (See “The Price of a Pandemic.”) This was more modest than last year’s 3.5 percent increase, but represents continued, if uneven, gains….
Transformative agreements will make more content openly available, but they won’t pump any more money into library budgets or promise to make scholarly communications more sustainable. In the absence of national or statewide plans for funding OA (California being the notable exception), it’s difficult to see most “publish” universities in the United States agreeing to shoulder the costs of transformative agreements to make content open for all to read, particularly when faced with permanent budget cuts….
For the first time in a decade, libraries can anticipate subscription price increases of less than 6 percent: 3-4 percent is predicted for 2022. If a local serial portfolio skews toward large publishers, then the increase will be toward the 4 percent level. But with most institutions preparing for further collection cuts, even such a modest increase is not sustainable. Supported by faculty and emboldened by seeing the goals of Plan S and OA2020 start to come to fruition, libraries will be likely more prepared than ever to walk away from the table. Publishers will need to sharpen their pencils….
Although there were increases in the metrics for Impact Factor and Eigenfactor, the increases were not comparable to the increase in price. The average price ($6,637) for the most expensive journals was 18 times higher than the least expensive ($338), while the Impact Factor slightly more than doubled. The price increases for the more moderately priced titles were also lower than the more expensive titles, which showed close to a 4 percent increase. This analysis continues to show that higher priced titles do have higher Impact Factors and Eigenfactors, but the increase in the metrics is small when compared with the huge increase in costs….”
“For the sake of analysis, we compared what might happen if ALL authors chose one Plan S compliance route over another. In practice there will be a mix, and so the reality is likely to land somewhere between our two extremes. …
Compliance via fully OA journals
Plan S could lead to a slight lift in market value of just under 0.25% in the long term. Plan S articles add incremental revenues by boosting volumes in fully OA journals. Meanwhile with a mild drop in volumes from subscription journals, publishers are able to maintain their prices.
The UK’s UKRI is currently considering its position on OA. If the UKRI were to adopt Plan S principles, then it will make little difference to the market if the fully OA compliance route was followed.
Compliance via repositories
Plan S could lead to a slight fall in market value of just under 0.6% in the long term. This is driven by lost hybrid OA revenue, as authors opt for subscription journals instead.
If the UKRI were to adopt Plan S principles, then the long-term fall in market value would be just under 0.8%. This is another third or so compared with Plan S on its own. The UK’s current policies have driven significant hybrid uptake. If the value of these APCs is lost, it will have a noticeable effect….”
Compliance via fully OA journals
Plan S could lead to a fall in market value of around 2.8%. Subscription journals generate more revenues per article than their OA counterparts. Therefore, a reduction in subscription prices for a given volume of articles will be greater than the gains made from APCs. This adjustment will happen once. Then, as OA output is growing faster than the market as a whole, it will start to drive a very mild increase in market value.
If the UKRI were to adopt Plan S principles, then the long-term fall in market value would be just under 3.4%, or around 20% more than Plan S alone. The same dynamics apply as for Plan S alone….
“arXiv is free to read and submit research, so why are we asking for donations?
arXiv is not free to operate, and, as a nonprofit, we depend on the generosity of foundations, members, donors, volunteers, and individuals like you to survive and thrive. If arXiv matters to you and you have the means to contribute, we humbly ask you to join arXiv’s global community of supporters with a donation during arXiv’s Giving Week, May 2 – 8, 2021.
Less than one percent of the five million visitors to arXiv this month will donate. If everyone contributed just $1 each, we would be able to meet our annual operating budget and save for future financial stability.
Would you like to know more about our operations and how arXiv’s funds are spent? Check out our annual report for more information….”
“The rapid migration of scientific online journals around the turn of the century seemed to usher in changes: In 1995, Forbes predicted that Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific publisher, would be the “first victim of the Internet”. After 25 years, the tech-scientific arm of the RELX group, a multinational conglomerate that the publisher has become, has annual sales of more than £ 2.6 billion with profit margins of between 30% and 40%. …
Who in their right mind would spend dozens more times to have their item in nature?
The answer? Almost every. Not because scientists are not very eager to deal with their budgets, but on the contrary: Articles in renowned magazines are the engine that guarantees reputation, jobs and research resources in the academic world. Like those who pay for a Louis Vuitton bag, the writers care less about the product than about the brand.
The result is a prestigious economy that allows big magazines to demand what they want, and also gets freelance work from academics who want to bond with their brands as reviewers or editors. There is no room for renewal in this market: even competitors offering better services at lower cost would take decades to build a reputation for a nature or a science.
As a result, researchers from countries like Brazil are forced to choose between two ethically questionable alternatives: have their work blocked by paywalls for the benefit of others, or waste the country’s scarce research resources with excessive open access fees….
Ironically, Brazil has also launched Scielo, perhaps the world’s most successful large-scale Open Access initiative, which uses publicly funded infrastructure to ensure that most national journals do not charge access or publication fees. However, a large segment of Brazilian researchers cannot afford to use it as they have to lower their college degrees by not using large magazines….”
“Today, extending their existing partnership, and cementing the future of the platform, the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) has merged with Birkbeck.
The merger allows OLH to maintain its charitable status, while ensuring its ongoing financial sustainability and reducing redundant administrative overhead….”
“Open access enables anyone to read and make use of research products at no cost and with limited copyright restrictions. This makes access to research results more equitable and allows us as authors and researchers to reach a wider audience.
We adopted the first commitment to making our research publications as openly available as possible more than ten years ago in 2010. Much has changed since then! We have rebranded our institutional repository as HARVEST and opened it up for all USask researchers to self-archive their own publications OA for free; we have become more aware of the importance of making more products of our research (such as protocols and research data) openly available as well; and we now more clearly acknowledge our professional role in advocating for a more sustainable publishing system. These are several of the revisions that we approved in our new Open Access Commitment. There is also an acknowledgement that not all research products are appropriate to be shared openly for cultural, privacy, or ethical reasons.
USask librarians and archivists are not alone in adopting such statements. The Open Scholarship Policy Observatory at the University of Victoria tracks Canadian University Open Access Statements. Currently there are 14 university-level statements and 12 department or college-level statements, most of which are from libraries like ours!
To learn more about open access, please visit our guide.”
“As societies grapple with questions around how to approach OA publishing, one of the best ways to identify viable options is to look to other societies with successful OA titles. A great example is the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The society launched its first fully open access journal, the Journal of Global Oncology (JGO), in 2015. The journal, which focuses on cancer research and care in low- and middle-income countries, has grown significantly over the last four years and is now a thriving publication for global oncology research….”
by Monica Berger, CUNY New York City College of Technology
Abstract: Open access was intended to be the great equalizer but its promise has not come to fruition in many lower-income countries of the Global South. Under-resourcing is only one of the many reasons why these scholars and publishers are marginalized. In order to examine inequality in our global scholarly communications system, we can compare a negative and a positive outgrowth of this imbalance. Predatory publishing represents a a weak imitation of traditional, commercial journal publishing. In contrast, Latin America’s community-based, quality scholarly infrastructure is anti-colonial. It can be argued that Latin America’s publishing infrastructure represents one solution to predatory publishing. As the future of open access is debated, it is critical that we look to Latin America as we support new models that reject legacy commercial journal publishing and support bibliodiversity.
Jeffrey Beall infamously called Brazil’s SciELO a “publishing favela” or slum. Yet Latin America represents an important exception to the problem of underdevelopment of scholarly communications in the Global South. In order to begin to better understand the marginalization of the Global South and Latin America’s success, we need to unpack the history of open access, its overemphasis on the reader as opposed to the author, and how notions of development influenced its discourse. This focus on the reader is neo-Colonialist, positioning scholars from the Global South as “downloaders” and not “uploaders,” whose scholarship is peripheral.
Lacking alternative publishing options, predatory publishing, or amateurish, low quality publishing, exploited this gap. In its pathetic imitation of international, corporate publishing, predatory publishing is neo-Colonial and a form of “faux” open access where subaltern authors, editors, and publishers poorly imitate Global North corporate publishing. Predatory publishing is a sad simulacra with real world damage. Since predatory publishing is overwhelming based in the Global South and many of its authors based in the Global South, it tarnishes the reputation of all scholarship from less developed countries. In contrast, predatory authorship and publishing are rare in Latin America.
Latin America is an exemplar of sustainable and humane open access. Heather Morrison deemed Latin American as a “long-time peerless leader in open access.” The advent of Plan S, a rapid flip to open access, is accelerating the co-option of open access by large, commercial publishers predicating a variety of negative outcomes. In contrast, the Latin American concept of bibliodiversity represents an important alternative model. No one size fits all and a local vision governs. Bibliodiversity interrogates the presumption that all scholarship must be English-language. It also values indigenous and local knowledge as well as lay readers. Redalyc and SciELO include measures for research collaboration. Various regional scholarly organizations cooperate, sharing expertise, providing training in editorial and technical best practices. This cooperation has expanded to a global scale. The Confederation of Open Access Repositories and SPARC are partnering with LA Referencia and others, expanding Latin America’s vision globally, generating a meaningful alternative model for open access.
Slides with talk transcript and sources as presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries conference, ACRL 2021: Ascending into an Open Future, held virtually, April 16, 2021.