Global Trends in Open Access: Themes from Africa, Asia and Latin America – The Scholarly Kitchen %

“The opportunity for researchers to share their findings and draw on the research findings of others is vital for researchers, policymakers and wider society. But all too often, the way that this process works is decided by relatively small numbers of countries and people –- often those based in the global North, in “elite” institutions or in large, commercial publishers.

Important voices can be missed and, as a result, important learning about what people have found already works around the world is not reflected in academia, policy decisions, and practice. 

In a recent Scholarly Kitchen webinar, I was delighted to be joined by great speakers from three continents, who are all experts in open access with different perspectives. This post summarizes some of the key themes discussed by Arianna Becerril García, who is based in Mexico, Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou, who is based in Cameroon, and Vrushali Dandawate, who is in India….”

Contracter à l’heure de la publication en accès ouvert. Une analyse systématique des accords transformants – HAL-SHS – Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société

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

The Royal Society sets 75% threshold to ‘flip’ its research journals to Open Access over the next five years | Royal Society

“In an exciting new chapter for its scientific publishing, the Royal Society sets out how it will transition its primary research journals to open access and make more of its world-leading research available to all.

Following a review by its Council, the Royal Society has committed to ‘flipping’ the journals Biology Letters, Interface, Proceedings A, and Proceedings B to a fully open access model when 75% of articles are being published open access.

This transition will be driven chiefly by the expansion of Read & Publish agreements with major research institutions, enabling their scientific research output to be published open access in the Society’s journals.

The process is already well underway, the Society launched Royal Society Read & Publish in January 2021 and has pioneered new agreements – including a shared funding arrangement announced this year with the University of California….”

CERN concludes “Read and Publish” agreement with publisher Wiley | CERN

“Following the signature of several Read and Publish agreements with various publishers (IOP, Springer, Elsevier and IEEE), the CERN Scientific Information Service (SIS) has just concluded a fifth agreement, this time with publisher Wiley, thanks to the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries and  SwissUniversities, which negotiated the contract on behalf of the Swiss Consortium members and customers.  

This new Read and Publish agreement, announced on 30 April, enables CERN-affiliated authors to publish their research articles in Wiley’s hybrid journals with article publication charges (APCs) paid centrally. In addition, CERN readers are granted access to content from all the Wiley journals that would otherwise be behind paywalls….”

Fee-free Open Access publishing in leading biological science journals now available to researchers in developing and transition economy countries

“From Albania to Zimbabwe, researchers in 30 developing and transition economy countries can benefit from immediate and fee-free Open Access publishing in The Company of Biologists’ subscription journals following a Read & Publish agreement with Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL).

This landmark agreement runs until 31 December 2023 and institutional members of EIFL-partner library consortia in eligible countries can participate free of charge.

Researchers in eligible countries will be able to publish an uncapped number of Open Access research articles in Development, Journal of Cell Science and Journal of Experimental Biology without paying an article processing charge (APC). They will also benefit from free and unlimited access to the journals and their archives dating back to 1853….”

Discomfort with Gold OA · Commonplace

“In this essay, I’m going to make the case that open access agreements that rely upon a pay-to-publish model are good for the groups who sign them but bad for the overall system.  To do that, I’ll start with a quick refresher on public goods and then use that framework to discuss the state of open access and the variations in different colors as they relate to public goods.undefined  After laying out a model of open access as a public good, I’ll argue that what we are actually building is not a system rooted in public goods but one that has merely shifted the entry barriers from readers to authors.  I’ll conclude by offering some hope for the future, again rooted in the social science of public goods….”

The New Abnormal: Periodicals Price Survey 2021 | Library Journal

“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….”

Springer Nature leads drive for Open Access across Europe with latest Transformative Agreement with Spain | Corporate Affairs Homepage | Springer Nature

“Since 2014, when Springer Nature pioneered its first transformative agreement (TA), the publisher has been leading the way enabling country level flips to open access (OA). Its latest national TA with Spain takes Springer Nature’s number of national TA’s to 14, 13 of which are in Europe. Through its TAs Springer Nature supports researchers from over 2,100 institutions, double that of any other publisher, in publishing OA.

This latest TA for Springer Nature, agreed with the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (Crue Universidades Españolas) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), is a clear example of the publisher’s continued commitment to driving OA and enabling sustainable open science practices globally. 

The agreement will enable the 58 affiliated Universities of Crue & CSIC,  responsible for over 90% of scientific research production in Spain, to publish OA in Springer Nature’s portfolio of over 2,300 titles including the Adis titles. With their work freely and universally available from the point of publication, this agreement will further enable the world’s students, scholars and scientists to read, share, use and reuse Spanish-funded research on a global scale.  Affiliated researchers from Crue & CSIC institutions will also have full access to all Springer and Adis subscription journal content. The agreement is expected to see over 2200 articles a year from researchers in Spain published OA, and will run for four years up to 31 December 2024….”

Open access publishing is the ethical choice | Wonkhe

“I had a stroke half a decade ago and found I couldn’t access the medical literature on my extremely rare vascular condition.

I’m a capable reader, but I couldn’t get past the paywalls – which seemed absurd, given most research is publicly funded. While I had, already, long been an open access advocate by that point, this strengthened my resolve.

The public is often underestimated. Keeping research locked behind paywalls under the assumption that most people won’t be interested in, or capable of, reading academic research is patronising….

While this moral quandary should not be passed to young researchers, there may be benefits to them in taking a firm stance. Early career researchers are less likely to have grants to pay for article processing charges to make their work open access compared to their senior colleagues. Early career researchers are also the ones who are inadvertently paying the extortionate subscription fees to publishers. According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the amount of money UK universities fork out each year to access paywalled content from Elsevier – the largest academic publisher in the world – could pay 1,028 academic researchers a salary of £45,000 per year.

We know for-profit publishers, such as Elsevier, hold all the cards with respect to those prestigious titles. What we need are systematic “read and publish” deals that allow people to publish where they want without having to find funding for open access….

The current outlook for prospective researchers to secure an academic position at a university is compromised because so much money is spent propping up for-profit, commercial publishers. Rather than focusing on career damage to those who can’t publish with an Elsevier title, we should focus on the opportunity cost in hundreds of lost careers in academia….”

”Vi vill få ner kostnaderna för publiceringar” | Tidningen Curie

From Google’s English:  “One hundred percent open publishing, lower costs and a transparent pricing model. It is SUHF’s goal for the agreements between Swedish universities and scientific publishers that will replace the current ones that expire in 2024. A newly appointed inquiry will develop the strategy to get there….

We are afraid that the publishers want to permanently have the agreements we have today that we do not consider to be beneficial for the higher education institutions in the long term. If we get caught up in this, we are left to pay both to read and to publish articles and there will be hybrids, where some articles are open and others are not. We want a change in how publications are financed, says Wilhelm Widmark, who is chief librarian at Stockholm University Library and is part of the investigation group….”