Equity, Inclusiveness, and Zero Embargo Public Access

Robert Harington considers whether open and public access models, as they have emerged so far, are delivering us to a more inequitable publishing future as we rush towards openness.

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The New OSTP Memo: A Roundup of Reactions and an Interview Preview

Karin Wulf and Rick Anderson provide a roundup of responses to the new OSTP public access memo — and a preview of their interview with OSTP leadership.

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New Project. DIAMAS, building capacity for OA diamond publishing

The institutional OA diamond publishing sector can be challenged by fragmentation; its visibility can be limited, its service of varying quality, and its sustainability is not always secure. A new European […]

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Revisiting — Compliance: The Coming Storm

A look back at a 2015 post about approaches to improve funder policy compliance. Many of the same problems exist now as did then — are the same collaborative solutions likely to happen?

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Guest Post — Missing Revenue in the Global Flip: Getting the Open Access Math Right

A flip to open access requires a holistic view of a journal’s incoming revenue. Are there important contributions to revenue that disappear with open access, and how can those funds be replaced?

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SSP’s Early Career Development Podcast Episode 11: Industry Primer– Marketing in the Scholarly Publishing Landscape

This episode of SSP’s Early Career Development Podcast serves as a primer on the marketing role within scholarly publishing- what marketing professionals do, how they amplify the customer voice through products and services, and the various contexts and conversations this work can happen within.

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Genome-wide DNA methylation in an animal model and human studies of schizophrenia: a protocol for a meta-analysis

Introduction and objective

Neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia are heterogeneous in that they occur because of the interaction of factors. These factors include but are not limited to genetic, epigenetic, neurobiological and environmental factors. Methylation of DNA, like other erpigenetic modifications, is risk factors for neuropsychiatric disorders. Candidate gene approach projects have produced contradictory results to find candidate gene methylation. The current genome-wide studies have limitations.


Search strategy

An exhaustive search strategy was designed to recover studies on genome-wide DNA methylation in schizophrenia patients or schizophrenia rat models. The Medline (PubMed), SCOPUS and Web of Science, databases were searched, giving 4077 references in total.


Screening and annotation

Studies will undergo two phases of screening, title and abstract screening and article screening, for inclusion by two reviewers. A third reviewer will resolve any disagreements in the article screening phase. Data will be collected using the Systematic Review Facility (http://syrf.org.uk/) tool. All included studies will undergo study quality and risk of bias assessment.


Data management and reporting

Data will be extracted and used to calculate effect sizes. For the purpose of this meta-analysis, a random effects model will be used to combine effect sizes. Heterogeneity will be assessed, and the sources identified. A risk-of-bias assessment will be carried out to assess the quality of the studies. An assessment of publication bias will also be carried out.


Ethics and dissemination

No ethical approval is required as there are no participants in the study. We will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses reporting guidelines and disseminate the findings through publication and conference presentation


PROSPERO registration number

CRD42021283159.

Guest Post — The Monograph and the Mission: University of Michigan Pledges $1.2 Million to Fund Open Access Book Publishing

The University of Michigan Press discusses its burgeoning open access monograph program.

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INCONECSS 2022 Symposium: Artificial Intelligence, Open Access and Data Dominate the Discussions

by Anastasia Kazakova

The third INCONECSS – International Conference on Economics and Business Information – took place online from 17 to 19 May 2022. The panels and presentations focused on artificial intelligence, Open Access and (research) data. INCONECSS also addressed collaboration in designing services for economics research and education and how these may have been influenced by the corona crisis.

Unleash the future and decentralise research!

Prof. Dr Isabell Welpe, Chair of Business Administration – Strategy and Organisation at the Technical University of Munich, gave the keynote address “The next chapter for research information: decentralised, digital and disrupted”. With this, she wanted to inspire the participants to “unleash the future” and decentralise research. The first topic of her presentation was about German universities. Isabell Welpe took us on a journey through three stations:

  1. What happens at universities?
  2. What does the work of students, researchers and teachers and the organisation at universities look like?
  3. How can universities and libraries be made future-proof?

In her lecture, she pointed out that hierarchically organised teaching is currently often unable to cope with the rapid social changes and new developments in the world of work. Isabell Welpe therefore suggested opening up teaching and organising it “bottom up”. This means relying on the decentralised self-organisation of students, offering (digital) spaces for exchange and tailoring teaching to their needs. Through these changes, students can learn while actively participating in research, which simultaneously promotes their creativity and agility. This is a cornerstone for disruptive innovation; that is, innovation that breaks and radically changes existing structures.

Prof. Dr Isabell Welpe, Chair of Business Administration – Strategy and Organisation at the Technical University of Munich, drawing: Karin Schliehe

Libraries could support and even drive the upcoming changes. In any case, they should prepare themselves for enormous changes due to the advancing digitisation of science. Isabell Welpe observed the trend towards “digital first” in teaching – triggered by the coronavirus situation. In the long term, this trend will influence the role of libraries as places of learning, but will also determine interactions with libraries as sources of information. Isabell Welpe therefore encouraged libraries to become a market-place in order to promote exchange, creativity and adaptability. The transformation towards this is both a task and an opportunity to make academic libraries future-proof.

In her keynote speech, Isabell Welpe also focused on the topic of decentralisation. One of the potentials of decentralisation is that scientists exchange data directly and share research data and results with each other, without, for example, publishers in between. Keywords were: Web 3.0, Crypto Sci-Hub and Decentralisation of Science.

In the Q&A session, Isabell Welpe addressed the image of libraries: Libraries could be places where people would go and do things, where they would exchange and would be creative; they could be places where innovation took place. She sees libraries as a Web 3.0 ecosystem with different services and encouraged them to be more responsive to what users need. Her credo: “Let the users own a part of the library!”

How can libraries support researchers?

Following on from the keynote, many presentations at INCONECSS dealt with how libraries can succeed even better in supporting researchers. On the first day, Markus Herklotz and Lars Oberländer from the University of Mannheim presented their ideas on this topic with a Poster (PDF, partly in German). The focus was on the interactive virtual assistant (iVA), which enables data collaboration by imparting legal knowledge. Developed by the BERD@BW and BERD@NFDI initiatives, the iVA helps researchers to understand the basic data protection regulations in each case and thereby helps them to evaluate their legal options for data use. The selfdirected assistant is an open-source learning module and can be extended.

Paola Corti from SPARC Europe introduced the ENOEL toolkit with her poster (PDF). It is a collection of templates for slides, brochures and Twitter posts to help communicate the benefits of Open Education to different user groups. The aim is to raise awareness of the importance of Open Education. It is openly designed, available in 16 language versions and can be adapted to the needs of the organisation.

On the last day of INCONECSS, Franziska Klatt from the Economics and Management Library of the TU Berlin reported in her presentation (PDF) on another toolkit that supports researchers in applying the Systematic Literature Review (SLRM) method. Originating from the medical field, the method was adapted to the economic context. SLRM helps researchers to reduce bias and redundancy in their work by following a formalised and transparent process that is reproducible. The toolkit provides a collection of information on the stages of this process, as well as SLR sources, tutorial videos and sample articles. Through the use of the toolkit and the information on the associated website, the media competence of the young researchers could be improved. An online course is also planned.

Field reports: How has the pandemic changed the library world?

The coronavirus is not yet letting go of the world, which also applies to the world of the INCONECSS community: In the poster session, Scott Richard St. Louis from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis presented his experiences of onboarding in a hybrid work environment. He addressed individual aspects of remote onboarding, such as getting to know new colleagues or the lack of a physical space for meetings.

The poster (PDF) is worth a look, as it contains a number of suggestions for new employees and management, e.g.:

  • “Be direct, and even vulnerable”,
  • “Be approachable” or
  • “What was once implicit or informal needs to become explicit or conscious”.

Arjun Sanyal from the Central University of Himachal Pradesh (CUHP) reported in his presentation (PDF) on a project of his library team. They observed that the long absence from campus triggered a kind of indifference towards everyday academic life and an “informational anxiety” among students. The latter manifests itself in a reluctance to use information resources for studying, out of a fear of searching for them. To counteract this, the librarians used three types of measures: Mind-map sessions, an experimental makerspace and supportive motivational events. In the mind-map session, for example, the team collected ideas for improving library services together with the students. The effort had paid off, they said, because after a while they noticed that the campus and the libraries in particular were once again popular. In addition, Makerspace and motivational events helped students to rediscover the joy of learning, reports Arjun Sanyal.

Artificial Intelligence in Libraries

One of the central topics of the conference was without doubt the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the library context. On the second day of INCONECSS, the panel participants from the fields of research, AI, libraries and thesaurus/ontology looked at aspects of the benefits of AI for libraries from different perspectives. They discussed the support of researchers through AI and the benefits for library services, but also the added value and the risks that arise through AI.

Discussion, drawing: Karin Schliehe

The panellists agreed that new doors would open up through the use of AI in libraries, such as new levels of knowledge organisation or new services and products. In this context, it was interesting to hear Osma Suominen from the National Library of Finland say that AI is not a game changer at the moment: it has the potential, but is still too immature. In the closing statements, the speakers took up this idea again: They were optimistic about the future of AI, yet a sceptical approach to this technology is appropriate. It is still a tool. According to the panellists, AI will not replace librarians or libraries, nor will it replace research processes. The latter require too much creativity for that. And in the case of libraries, a change in business concepts is conceivable, but not the replacement of the institution of the library itself.

It was interesting to observe that the topics that shaped the panel discussion kept popping up in the other presentations at the conference: Data, for example, in the form of training or evaluation data, was omnipresent. The discussants emphasised that the quality of the data is very important for AI, as it determines the quality of the results. Finding good and usable data is still complex and often related to licences, copyrights and other legal restrictions. The chatbot team from the ZBW also reported on the challenges surrounding the quality of training data in the poster session (PDF).

The question of trust in algorithms was also a major concern for the participants. On the one hand, it was about bias, which is difficult and requires great care to remove from AI systems. Again, data was the main issue: if the data was biased, it was almost impossible to remove the bias from the system. Sometimes it even leads to the systems not going live at all. On the other hand, it was about the trust in the results that an AI system delivers. Because AI systems are often non-transparent, it is difficult for users and information specialists to trust the search results provided by the AI system for a literature search. These are two of the key findings from the presentation (PDF) by Solveig Sandal Johnsen from AU Library, The Royal Library and Julie Kiersgaard Lyngsfeldt from Copenhagen University Library, The Royal Library. The team from Denmark investigated two AI systems designed to assist with literature searches. The aim was to investigate the extent to which different AI-based search programmes supported researchers and students in academic literature search. During the project, information specialists tested the functionality of the systems using the same search tasks. Among other results, they concluded that the systems could be useful in the exploratory phase of the search, but they functioned differently from traditional systems (such as classic library catalogues or search portals like EconBiz) and, according to the presenters, challenged the skills of information specialists.

This year, the conference took place exclusively online. As the participants came from different time zones, it was possible to attend the lectures asynchronously and after the conference. A selection of recorded lectures and presentations (videos) is available on the TIB AV portal.

Links to INCONECSS 2022:

  • Programme INCONECSS
  • Interactive Virtual Assistant (iVA) – Enabling Data Collaboration by Conveying Legal Knowledge: Abstract and poster (PDF)
  • ENOEL toolkit: Open Education Benefits: Abstract and poster (PDF)
  • Systematic Literature Review – Enhancing methodology competencies of young researchers: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • Onboarding in a Hybrid Work Environment: Questions from a Library Administrator, Answers from a New Hire: Abstract and Poster (PDF)
  • Rethinking university librarianship in the post-pandemic scenario: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • „Potential of AI for Libraries: A new level for knowledge organization?“: Abstract Panel Discussion
  • The EconDesk Chatbot: Work in Progress Report on the Development of a Digital Assistant for Information Provision: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • AI-powered software for literature searching: What is the potential in the context of the University Library?: Abstract and slides (PDF)

This might also interest you:

About the Author:

Anastasia Kazakova is a research associate in the department Information Provision & Access and part of the EconBiz team at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Her focus is on user research, usability and user experience design, and research-based innovation. She can also be found on LinkedIn, ResearchGate and XING.
Potrait: Photographer: Carola Grübner, ZBW©

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Revisiting: Will the Future of Scholarly Communication Be Pluralistic and Democratic, or Monocultural and Authoritarian?

Rick Anderson revisits a 2020 post: One way or another, the #scholcomm community is going to choose either a diversity of publishing models or a monoculture, because it can’t have both. How will this choice be made, and by whom?

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Open Access: Is It Fostering Epistemic Injustice?

by Nicki Lisa Cole and Thomas Klebel

One of the key aims of Open Science is to foster equity with transparent, participatory and collaborative processes and by providing access to research materials and outputs. Yet, the academic context in which Open Science operates is unequal. For example, core-periphery dynamics are present, with researchers from the global north dominating authorship and collaborative research networks. Sexism is present, with women experiencing underrepresentation within academia (see also) and especially within senior career positions (PDF); and racism manifests within academia, with white people being over-represented among higher education faculty. Inequality is the water in which we swim, therefore we cannot be naive about the promises of Open Science.

In light of this reality, the ON-MERRIT project set out to investigate whether Open Science policies actually worsen existing inequalities by creating cumulative advantage for already privileged actors. We investigated this question within the contexts of academia, industry and policy. We found that, indeed, some manifestations of Open Science are fostering cumulative advantage and disadvantage in a variety of ways, including epistemic injustice.

Miranda Fricker defines epistemic injustice in two ways. She explains that testimonial injustice “occurs when prejudice causes a hearer to give a deflated level of credibility to a speaker’s word,” while hermeneutical injustice “occurs at a prior stage, when a gap in collective interpretive resources puts someone at an unfair disadvantage when it comes to making sense of their social experiences”. Here, we take a look at ways in which Open Access (OA) publishing, as it currently operates, is fostering both kinds of epistemic injustice.

APCs and the stratification of OA publishing

Research shows that article processing charges (APCs) lead to unequal opportunities for researchers to participate in Open Access publishing. The likelihood of US researchers publishing OA, especially when APCs are involved, is higher for male researchers from prestigious institutions, having received federal grant funding. Similarly, APCs are associated with lower geographic diversity of authors within journals, suggesting that they act as a barrier for researchers from the Global South, in particular. In our own research, specifically investigating the role of institutional resources, we found that authors from well-resourced institutions both publish and cite more Open Access literature, and in particular, publish in journals with higher APCs than authors from less-resourced institutions. Disparities in policies that promote and fund OA publication is likely a significant driver of these trends.

While these policies are obviously helpful to those who benefit from them, they are reproducing existing structural inequalities within academia, by fuelling cumulative advantages of already privileged actors, and further side-lining the voices of those with fewer resources. This form of testimonial injustice is historically rooted and widespread within academia, with research from the Global South often deemed less relevant and less credible (see also). With the rise of APC-based Open Access, actors with fewer resources face additional barriers to contributing to the most recognised outlets hosting scientific knowledge, since journal prestige and APC amounts have been found to be moderately correlated. Given that scientific research is expected to aid in tackling urgent societal challenges, it is alarming that current trends in scholarly communications are exacerbating the marginalisation of research and knowledge from the Global South and from less-resourced scholars more generally.

Access Isn’t Enough

One of the arguments in support of Open Access is that it fosters greater scientific use by societal actors. This is a commonly cited refrain in the literature, but we found that OA has virtually no impact in this way. Rather, we heard from policy-makers that they rely on existing personal relationships with researchers and other experts when they seek expert advice. Moreover, we heard from researchers that it is far more important that scientific outputs be cognitively accessible, or understandable, when disseminating research to lay audiences.

Communicating scientific results to lay audiences requires time, resources, and a particular skill set, and failing to account for this reality limits the pool of actors able to do it (to those already well-resourced and ‘at the table’) and inhibits the potential for science to impact policy-making and to be useful to impacted communities. In this way, Open Access absent understandability creates hermeneutical injustice among any population that would benefit from understanding research and how it impacts their lives, but especially among those who are marginalised, who may have participated in research or been the subjects of study, and to whom the outcomes of research could provide a direct benefit. People cannot advocate for their rights and for their communities if they are not provided with the tools to understand social, environmental and economic problems and possible solutions. In this way, the concept of Open Access must go beyond removing a paywall to readership and provide understandability, aligning with the “right to research”, as articulated by Arjun Appadurai.

What We Can Do About It

In response to these and other equity issues within Open Science, the ON-MERRIT team worked with a diverse stakeholder community from across the EU and beyond to co-create actionable recommendations aimed at funders, leaders of research institutions, and researchers. We produced and published 30 consensus-based recommendations, and here we spotlight a few that can respond to epistemic injustice and that may be actionable by libraries.

  • Supporting alternative, more inclusive publishing models without author-facing charges and the use of sustainable, shared and Open Source publishing infrastructure could help to ameliorate the inequitable stratification of Open Access publishing.
  • Supporting researchers to create more open and understandable outputs, including in local languages when appropriate, could help to ameliorate the hermeneutical injustice that results from the inaccessibility of academic language. In conjunction, supporting partnerships with other societal actors in the translation and dissemination of understandable research findings could also help to achieve this.
  • We believe that librarians could be especially helpful by supporting (open and sustainable) infrastructure that enables the findability and understandability of research by lay audiences.

Visit our project website to learn more about ON-MERRIT and our results, and click here to read our full recommendations briefing.

This might also be interesting for you:

About the Authors:

Nicki Lisa Cole, PhD is a Senior Researcher at Know-Center and a member of the Open and Reproducible Research Group. She is a sociologist with a research focus on issues of equity in the transition to Open and Responsible Research and Innovation. She was a contributor across multiple work packages within ON-MERRIT. You can find her on ORCID, ResearchGate and LinkedIn.
Portrait: Nicki Lisa Cole: Copyright private, Photographer: Thomas Klebel

Thomas Klebel, MA is a member of the Open and Reproducible Research Group and a Researcher at Know-Center. He is a sociologist with a research focus on scholarly communication and reproducible research. He was project manager of ON-MERRIT, as well as investigating Open Access publishing, and opinions and policies on promotion, review and tenure. You can find him on Twitter, ORCID and LinkedIn.
Portrait: Thomas Klebel: Copyright private, Photographer: Stefan Reichmann©

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New project for SPARC Europe to reform rights retention and open licensing policies in Europe

SPARC Europe has been selected to deliver the first project sponsored under the Knowledge Rights 21 (KR21) programme. KR21 seeks to strengthen access to knowledge in particular through libraries and archives. […]

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Revisiting — Return of the Big Brands: How Legacy Publishers Will Coopt Open Access

Revisiting a 2015 post that predicted the dominance of the cascade model of journal portfolio publishing and the increased dominance of the larger existing publishers in an open access market.

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