“SPARC created the Automatic Textbook Billing Contract Library as a resource for advocates and institutions to understand the legal agreements behind automatic textbook billing. Known by brand names like “Inclusive Access” and “First Day,” these programs charge the cost of digital course materials directly to each student’s tuition and fee bill, often without confirming their consent. While vendors say this model provides access, many students think it limits their options. Colleges and universities have a responsibility to prioritize the needs of students—not vendors—and that starts with reading the fine print….”
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.
“Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), was the 2021 recipient of the Miles Conrad Award from NISO (National Information Standards Organization), and she delivered the annual Miles Conrad lecture at this year’s NISO Plus conference (see image, below). Joseph, who has led SPARC since 2005, was commended by NISO executive director Todd Carpenter for her long-term leadership in the OA movement and “crucial role” in transforming the information industry. Her lecture, titled “In Pursuit of Open Knowledge,” was delivered live via Zoom on Feb. 24, and NISO has made the recording available here. We spoke shortly after the conclusion of the conference, and this is an edited and abridged version of our conversation….”
“The SPARC Libraries & OER Forum (LibOER) is a vibrant community of practice for academic library professionals and allied stakeholders interested in open education. Established in 2013, this network connects more than 1,600 subscribers primarily in the U.S. and Canada through a public email discussion list and a monthly community call. The goals of this forum are:
Enable library professionals and community members to share ideas, resources and best practices pertaining to open education.
Support coordination on librarian-focused events and educational programming about open education.
Disseminate important updates about policy, research, projects and other news from the broader open education movement….”
OASPA is pleased to announce the publication of an in-depth report and associated recommendations arising from a study of open access journals across the world that are free for readers and authors, usually referred to as “OA diamond journals”.
Funded by Science Europe and commissioned by cOAlition S in order to gain a better understanding of the OA diamond landscape, the publication of the study is the culmination of work undertaken from June 2020 to February 2021 by a consortium of 10 organisations (including OASPA) led by OPERAS. The study uncovers a vast archipelago of up to 29,000 journals, most of which (60%) are in the humanities and social sciences, serving the needs of multiple scientific communities across the world.
“In close partnership with the Research Data Access and Preservation Association, SPARC has launched an update to our Federal Data Sharing Policy Resource. This update distills the latest changes in US federal agencies’ data sharing policy requirements to make them more easily and quickly understandable.
This integrated policy resource can be used by researchers, librarians, policy makers, and other stakeholders to explore and compare agency plans for sharing articles and data. This analysis provides a tool for tracking practical information that can be used by active or prospective grant awardees to understand when, how, and where they need to make their research results accessible….”
“SPARC is pleased to announce Dr. Erin McKiernan has joined SPARC as its new Community Manager for the Open Funders Research Group (ORFG). In her new role, Erin will work with existing and prospective ORFG members to enumerate and develop the tools and resources needed to launch, oversee, and expand open policies.
The ORFG is a partnership of leading philanthropic organizations committed to the open sharing of research outputs. It engages a range of stakeholders to create policies that promote greater dissemination, transparency, replicability and reuse of research. As the ORFG’s inaugural Community Manager, Erin will engage with the group’s members and other philanthropies interested in exploring open policies to expand upon the ORFG’s innovative “community of practice” approach to advancing open principles….”
“Aishah Abdullah joined SPARC as Open Education Coordinator on March 8. She will assist SPARC’s Open Education team on policy, advocacy, community organizing, and professional development initiatives. Her full-time role also includes coordinating parts of SPARC’s ongoing community programming and contributing to impactful work across the Open Education portfolio. …”
“Introducing Unsettling Knowledge Inequities, a new podcast series exploring issues related to the politics of knowledge production, exchange and circulation and the structural, global power dynamics that shape it.
The Unsettling Knowledge Inequities podcast is presented by the Knowledge Equity Lab and SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)….”
“This is a community resource for tracking, comparing, and understanding current U.S. federal funder research data sharing policies. Originally completed by SPARC & Johns Hopkins University Libraries in 2016, the content of this resource was updated by RDAP and SPARC in 2021….”