University Rankings and Governance by Metrics and Algorithms | Zenodo

Abstract:  This paper looks closely at how data analytic providers leverage rankings as a part of their strategies to further extract rent and assets from the university beyond their traditional roles as publishers and citation data providers. Multinational publishers such as Elsevier, with over 2,500 journals in its portfolio, has transitioned to become a data analytic firm. Rankings expand their abilities to monetize further their existing journal holdings, as there is a strong association between publication in high-impact journals and improvement in rankings.  The global academic publishing industry has become highly oligopolistic, and a small handful of legacy multinational firms are now publishing the majority of the world’s research output (See Larivière et. al. 2015; Fyfe et. al. 2017; Posada & Chen, 2018). It is therefore crucial that their roles and enormous market power in influencing university rankings be more closely scrutinized. We suggest that due to a combination of a lack of transparency regarding, for example, Elsevier’s data services and products and their self-positioning as a key intermediary in the commercial rankings business, they have managed to evade the social responsibilities and scrutiny that come with occupying such a critical public function in university evaluation. As the quest for ever-higher rankings often works in conflict with universities’ public missions, it is critical to raise questions about the governance of such private digital platforms and the compatibility between their private interests and the maintenance of universities’ public values.

 

The Impact of the German ‘DEAL’ on Competition in the Academic Publishing Market by Justus Haucap, Nima Moshgbar, Wolfgang Benedikt Schmal :: SSRN

Abstract:  The German DEAL agreements between German universities and research institutions on the one side and Springer Nature and Wiley on the other side facilitate easy open access publishing for researchers located in Germany. We use a dataset of all publications in chemistry from 2016 to 2020 and apply a difference-in-differences approach to estimate the impact on eligible scientists’ choice of publication outlet. We find that even in the short period following the conclusion of these DEAL agreements, publication patterns in the field of chemistry have changed, as eligible researchers have increased their publications in Wiley and Springer Nature journals at the cost of other journals. From that two related competition concerns emerge: First, academic libraries may be, at least in the long run, left with fewer funds and incentives to subscribe to non-DEAL journals published by smaller publishers or to fund open access publications in these journals. Secondly, eligible authors may prefer to publish in journals included in the DEAL agreements, thereby giving DEAL journals a competitive advantage over non-DEAL journals in attracting good papers. Given the two-sided market nature of the academic journal market, these effects may both further spur the concentration process in this market.

 

Recent Findings Indicate that Country-Level Open Access Frameworks Are Likely to Increase Concentration in the Publishing Market | Open Research Community

By sampling data in the field of chemistry, the working paper by Haucap et al. (2021) suggests that the Project DEAL agreement between German universities and institutes and large international publishers, e.g., Springer Nature, is likely to contribute to their market power.

A Tale of Two Societies

“Conclusions

There are significant shifts in national patterns that can be associated with changes in funder policy and with the offerings of RSC and ACS
RSC took a significant lead in early open access provision for chemistry, particularly in the UK but has fallen back
National averages don’t tell the full picture. Specific institutions show very different and quite specific patterns. There are differential policy effects
Recent changes are strongly driven by read and publish agreements with substantial shifts in publisher choice corresponding to introduction of deals.
There is evidence of concentration of publishing in chemistry with two large publishers taking up an increasing percentage. Should we be concerned about diversity?”

Bill Gates, Vaccine Monster | The New Republic

“Battle-scarred veterans of the medicines-access and open-science movements hoped the immensity of the pandemic would override a global drug system based on proprietary science and market monopolies. By March, strange but welcome melodies could be heard from unexpected quarters. Anxious governments spoke of shared interests and global public goods; drug companies pledged “precompetitive” and “no-profit” approaches to development and pricing. The early days featured tantalizing glimpses of an open-science, cooperative pandemic response. In January and February 2020, a consortium led by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases collaborated to produce atomic-level maps of the key viral proteins in record time. “Work that would normally have taken months—or possibly even years—has been completed in weeks,” noted the editors of Nature. …

By then, however, the optimism and sense of possibility that defined the early days were long gone. Advocates for pooling and open science, who seemed ascendant and even unstoppable that winter, confronted the possibility they’d been outmatched and outmaneuvered by the most powerful man in global public health.

In April, Bill Gates launched a bold bid to manage the world’s scientific response to the pandemic. Gates’s Covid-19 ACT-Accelerator expressed a status quo vision for organizing the research, development, manufacture, and distribution of treatments and vaccines. Like other Gates-funded institutions in the public health arena, the Accelerator was a public-private partnership based on charity and industry enticements. Crucially, and in contrast to the C-TAP, the Accelerator enshrined Gates’s long-standing commitment to respecting exclusive intellectual property claims. Its implicit arguments—that intellectual property rights won’t present problems for meeting global demand or ensuring equitable access, and that they must be protected, even during a pandemic—carried the enormous weight of Gates’s reputation as a wise, beneficent, and prophetic leader. …

“Early on, there was space for Gates to have a major impact in favor of open models,” says Manuel Martin, a policy adviser to the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign. “But senior people in the Gates organization very clearly sent out the message: Pooling was unnecessary and counterproductive. They dampened early enthusiasm by saying that I.P. is not an access barrier in vaccines. That’s just demonstratively false.”…

“Things could have gone either way,” says Love, “but Gates wanted exclusive rights maintained. He acted fast to stop the push for sharing the knowledge needed to make the products—the know-how, the data, the cell lines, the tech transfer, the transparency that is critically important in a dozen ways. The pooling approach represented by C-TAP included all of that. Instead of backing those early discussions, he raced ahead and signaled support for business-as-usual on intellectual property by announcing the ACT-Accelerator in March.” …”

 

Bill Gates, Vaccine Monster | The New Republic

“Battle-scarred veterans of the medicines-access and open-science movements hoped the immensity of the pandemic would override a global drug system based on proprietary science and market monopolies. By March, strange but welcome melodies could be heard from unexpected quarters. Anxious governments spoke of shared interests and global public goods; drug companies pledged “precompetitive” and “no-profit” approaches to development and pricing. The early days featured tantalizing glimpses of an open-science, cooperative pandemic response. In January and February 2020, a consortium led by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases collaborated to produce atomic-level maps of the key viral proteins in record time. “Work that would normally have taken months—or possibly even years—has been completed in weeks,” noted the editors of Nature. …

By then, however, the optimism and sense of possibility that defined the early days were long gone. Advocates for pooling and open science, who seemed ascendant and even unstoppable that winter, confronted the possibility they’d been outmatched and outmaneuvered by the most powerful man in global public health.

In April, Bill Gates launched a bold bid to manage the world’s scientific response to the pandemic. Gates’s Covid-19 ACT-Accelerator expressed a status quo vision for organizing the research, development, manufacture, and distribution of treatments and vaccines. Like other Gates-funded institutions in the public health arena, the Accelerator was a public-private partnership based on charity and industry enticements. Crucially, and in contrast to the C-TAP, the Accelerator enshrined Gates’s long-standing commitment to respecting exclusive intellectual property claims. Its implicit arguments—that intellectual property rights won’t present problems for meeting global demand or ensuring equitable access, and that they must be protected, even during a pandemic—carried the enormous weight of Gates’s reputation as a wise, beneficent, and prophetic leader. …

“Early on, there was space for Gates to have a major impact in favor of open models,” says Manuel Martin, a policy adviser to the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign. “But senior people in the Gates organization very clearly sent out the message: Pooling was unnecessary and counterproductive. They dampened early enthusiasm by saying that I.P. is not an access barrier in vaccines. That’s just demonstratively false.”…

“Things could have gone either way,” says Love, “but Gates wanted exclusive rights maintained. He acted fast to stop the push for sharing the knowledge needed to make the products—the know-how, the data, the cell lines, the tech transfer, the transparency that is critically important in a dozen ways. The pooling approach represented by C-TAP included all of that. Instead of backing those early discussions, he raced ahead and signaled support for business-as-usual on intellectual property by announcing the ACT-Accelerator in March.” …”

 

There’s big problems with the market for academic ebooks | Wonkhe

For Rachel Bickley, market pressure alone cannot solve the problems in the market for academic ebooks.

In the time since a small group of academic librarians launched the #ebooksos campaign with an Open Letter asking for an investigation into the academic ebook publishing industry, we have faced some questioning of our actions.

In spite of the letter having attracted, at the time of writing, signatures from over 3800 librarians, lecturers, students, heads of services, university senior managers and two vice chancellors, indicating that the cost and availability of ebooks is a significant concern across the sector, there have still been suggestions that perhaps we could sit down and discuss the issues with the publishers instead.

However, these issues are not new. The pandemic has brought the lack of availability of ebooks for institutional access, and the astronomical prices and restrictive licences under which those which are available can be procured, into sharp focus, but librarians have been dealing with this situation for a long time. Dialogue with publishers has been attempted, but it went nowhere useful. The investigation route was not a knee-jerk reaction to being unable to obtain the resources that we need for our students; it was the only option that those of us who set up the campaign could see remaining.

[…]

Four Concerns About the new UC-Elsevier Deal

“I can only speak for myself, but here, in a nutshell, are some key things that make me hesitate to cheer this new deal:

Elsevier does what’s best for Elsevier. The serials crisis—the slow-motion catastrophe that has seen a few journal oligopolies commandeer library budgets, crowding out other investments—is not an accident or a natural disaster. It is the result of a deliberate business strategy, implemented by commercial firms whose sole duty is not to science but to their shareholders. By far the largest and most-boycotted (to little effect) of these firms is Elsevier. That Elsevier loves this deal is enough to make me worry. That concern only deepens when we see sharp independent observers like Roger Schonfeld argue persuasively that these deals will ensure Elsevier’s continuing dominance of scholarly publishing in the open access future.

It transforms access, but caters to IF mania. Open access activism has long been focused on how commercial academic publishers use copyright to lock up and monetize research. Open access aims to remove copyright as a barrier to access to knowledge, and on those terms, the UC-Elsevier deal is a success. But copyright is only half (maybe less) of the dysfunction in academic publishing. The deeper, more insidious problem is the journal prestige economy (aka impact factor mania)—the academy’s reliance on journal reputation and metrics like journal impact factor in evaluating the quality of scholarship and of scholars. A publisher who controls a high-prestige title has a captive workforce of authors who must struggle to publish in their outlet in order to advance professionally. Transforming the copyright aspect of this system without also upsetting the prestige economy (e.g., by reforming promotion and tenure) only shifts the unsustainable cost of IF mania from readers to authors (and author-supporting institutions, like the UC).

Far from unsettling the prestige economy, the UC deal seems to cater to it, offering authors reassurance that publishing fees will not be a barrier to their participation in this system. When libraries urge faculty to embrace open access, a common rejoinder is “Then the library should pay my APCs.” When I hear that suggestion, the ensuing conversation is typically about why that’s an unsustainable model, and why more radical change is needed to address the many harms of the old system. The UC’s response, at least in this deal, is, “Sure, here you go!” That may put the rest of us in a difficult position.

It undermines the only potential upside of charging authors to publish. Shifting costs to authors is generally a disaster for them, especially authors in less-wealthy countries and those without access to grant funds to offset publication costs. But advocates for this cost-shift have long argued that this pain is good because it will give authors a reason to publish in more efficient (read: cheaper) journals. Once they have “skin in the game,” the invisible hand will lead authors to choose cheaper journals, forcing publishing charges down as journals compete on price to attract authors. But that hasn’t happened so far, and there’s little reason to believe it will. In any event, deals like the UC-Elsevier deal undermine this potential upside of charging authors by subsidizing and, if necessary, completely covering the cost on their behalf. Insulating academics from the exploding costs of their choices is exactly the 

Dotawo 7: Comparative Northern East Sudanic Linguistics – Dotawo Journal

“Furthermore, it appears that the turn toward open access in the scholarly communications landscape is increasingly facilitating the agendas of an oligopoly of for-profit data analytics companies. Perhaps realizing that “they’ve found something that is even more profitable than selling back to us academics the content that we have produced,”5 they venture ever further up the research stream, with every intent to colonize and canalize its entire flow.6 This poses a severe threat to the independence and quality of scholarly inquiry.7

In the light of these troubling developments, the expansion from Dotawo as a “diamond” open access to a common access journal represents a strong reaffirmation of the call that the late Aaron Swartz succinctly formulated in his “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto”: …

Swartz’s is a call to action that transcends the limitations of the open access movement as construed by the BOAI Declaration by plainly affirming that knowledge is a common good. His call goes beyond open access, because it specifically targets materials that linger on a paper or silicon substrate in academic libraries and digital repositories without being accessible to “fair use.” The deposition of the references from Dotawo contributions in a public library is a first and limited attempt to offer a remedy, heeding the “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use” of the www?Association of Research Libraries, which approvingly cites the late Supreme Court Justice Brandeis that “the noblest of human productions — knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas — become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.”9 This approach also dovetails the interpretation of “folk law” recently propounded by Kenneth Goldsmith, the founder of public library www?Ubuweb….”

Amazon’s monopoly is squeezing your public library, too – The Washington Post

“Turns out, the tech giant [Amazon] has also become a publishing powerhouse — and it won’t sell downloadable versions of its more than 10,000 e-books or tens of thousands of audiobooks to libraries. That’s right, for a decade, the company that killed bookstores has been starving the reading institution that cares for kids, the needy and the curious. And that’s turned into a mission-critical problem during a pandemic that cut off physical access to libraries and left a lot of people unable to afford books on their own….

Amazon is the only big publisher that flat-out blocks library digital collections. …

In testimony to Congress, the American Library Association called digital sales bans like Amazon’s “the worst obstacle for libraries” moving into the 21st century….

“All books in all formats should be available through libraries. Authors want their books available through libraries,” Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, told me….”