Covid-19 and Open Access in the Humanities: Impacts and Emerging Trends

Abstract:  Discussions of open-access publishing tend to center the scientific disciplines, and this trend has continued during the Covid-19 pandemic. But while the pandemic has certainly shed new light on the importance of openly accessible medical research, its effects—from economic impacts to attitudinal shifts—have been felt and speculated about across disciplines. This paper presents an investigation into present and future impacts of the pandemic on open-access publishing in the humanities, which have historically been slower to adopt open-access models than other disciplines. A survey distributed to scholarly publishing professionals, academic librarians, and others working in open-access humanities publishing sought to determine what changes these professionals had observed in their field since the start of the pandemic, as well as what impacts they projected for the long term. While the lasting effects of this still-evolving global health and economic crisis remain uncertain, the survey results indicate that open-access humanities professionals have already observed changes in areas including market demand, institutional interest, and funding, while many of them predict that the pandemic will have a long-term impact on the field. These findings contribute to an ongoing conversation about the place of the humanities in the openaccess publishing landscape and the need for sustainable institutional investment.

FAIR Principles for Research Software (FAIR4RS Principles) | RDA

“Research software is a fundamental and vital part of research worldwide, yet there remain significant challenges to software productivity, quality, reproducibility, and sustainability. Improving the practice of scholarship is a common goal of the open science, open source software and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) communities, but improving the sharing of research software has not yet been a strong focus of the latter.

To improve the FAIRness of research software, the FAIR for Research Software (FAIR4RS) Working Group has sought to understand how to apply the FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship to research software, bringing together existing and new community efforts. Many of the FAIR Guiding Principles can be directly applied to research software by treating software and data as similar digital research objects. However, specific characteristics of software — such as its executability, composite nature, and continuous evolution and versioning — make it necessary to revise and extend the principles.

This document presents the first version of the FAIR Principles for Research Software (FAIR4RS Principles). It is an outcome of the FAIR for Research Software Working Group (FAIR4RS WG).

The FAIR for Research Software Working Group is jointly convened as an RDA Working Group, FORCE11 Working Group, and Research Software Alliance (ReSA) Task Force.”

What’s Wrong with Paying for Peer Review? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“It’s also worth quantifying the additional direct costs — especially in a system that is already considered too expensive by many. In an APC world, the authors of the accepted articles cover the costs of reviewing all those other articles that get rejected. For an Open Access journal with a 25% acceptance rate and an average of 2.2 reviews per article, paying the reviewers for one article’s worth of review comes in an 2.2 * $450 = $990. The journal reviews 1/0.25 = 4 articles to find one that is publishable, and the authors of the publishable article pay the costs for reviewing the other three. So, the modest proposal of a $450 fee for each review balloons to an additional $3960 being added to the Article Processing Charge for an average journal. …”


Publishers Support Open Science and Sustainable Public Access

[The statement is undated.]

“We believe any policy aimed at promoting public access to publications and research data should: • Promote equity through author choice by ensuring that all researchers—regardless of funding, discipline, career stage, or institution—are allowed to publish in their journals of choice, including those that ensure their publishing is economically sustainable through appropriate embargoes for free public access, such as the one-year embargo in existing policy. • Provide sufficient funding to researchers to enable cutting-edge research and discovery and to support investments in sharing their results, ensuring the quality and integrity of scholarly communication. • Protect academic freedom by empowering authors to publish in the outlets they feel have greatest potential to reach target audiences and advance the impact of their research. • Protect intellectual property—which is critical to safeguarding the integrity of authors’ work and provides essential incentives for market investment and innovation—and avoid compulsory license mandates that undermine IP and ignore the needs and preferences of researchers and differences between disciplines. • Support innovation in scholarly communication by fostering a competitive marketplace and a diverse range of business models to meet the needs of a wide variety of researchers and institutions. • Leverage existing initiatives that reduce compliance burdens and the need for taxpayer funding, building on existing infrastructures and voluntary open science practices for data, preprints, and publications. • Include publishers as stakeholders to advance broader priorities for the research ecosystem—including promoting equity and diversity in research and addressing critical public health and scientific challenges—and build partnerships between publishers, scientific societies, funders, libraries, and the academic community to advance a collaborative open science agenda….”

Practical Guide to Sustainable Research Data – Science Europe

“This Practical Guide provides guidance to ensure the long-term preservation and accessibility of research data, and supports organisations to provide a framework in which researchers can share their output in a sustainable way.

It includes three complementary maturity matrices for funders, performers, and data infrastructures. These allow them to evaluate the current status of their policies and practices, and to identify next steps towards sustainable data sharing and seeking alignment with other organisations in doing so….”

Open search tools need sustainable funding – Research Professional News

“The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an explosion of knowledge, with more than 200,000 papers published to date. At one point last year, scientific output on the topic was doubling every 20 days. This huge growth poses big challenges for researchers, many of whom have pivoted to coronavirus research without experience or preparation.

Mainstream academic search engines are not built for such a situation. Tools such as Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science provide long, unstructured lists of results with little context.

These work well if you know what you are looking for. But for anyone diving into an unknown field, it can take weeks, even months, to identify the most important topics, publication venues and authors. This is far too long in a public health emergency.

The result has been delays, duplicated work, and problems with identifying reliable findings. This lack of tools to provide a quick overview of research results and evaluate them correctly has created a crisis in discoverability itself. …

Building on these, meta-aggregators such as Base, Core and OpenAIRE have begun to rival and in some cases outperform the proprietary search engines. …”

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

Open access ‘excludes’ developing world scientists – SciDev.Net

“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….”

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….”

Plan S Effects 2021 – Part 2, Market Value – Delta Think

“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….