Scholarship should be open, inclusive and slow | by Emily M. Bender | Sep, 2023 | Medium

“arXiv is a cancer that promotes the dissemination of junk “science” in a format that is indistinguishable from real publications. And promotes the hectic “can’t keep up” + “anything older than 6 months is irrelevant” CS culture….

As a result [of the controversy over the tweet above], I thought I should take some time to lay out my thoughts on peer review and access to scholarly publishing, in a format that has more room for nuance….

Scholarship should be open: The results of scientific and other scholarly work should be accessible to the broad public, and not locked up behind paywalls. This is important for both the goal of scholarship (often publicly funded) benefiting society and the goal of research communities becoming more diverse.

Scholarship should be inclusive: A diverse research community does better research because it benefits from more perspectives AND no one should be prevented from participating in the research they want to do because of racism, sexism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, etc. (We are a long way from achieving this goal.)

A third value I think is less widely held, but it is important to me and I hope many others:

Scholarship should be slow: We engage in science and other scholarship to learn about our world and to serve our communities. In the best cases, we develop and substantiate new ideas firmly rooted in what has gone before and our new ideas respond to and uplift human values….”

How Academic Publishers Exploit Authors & Readers

“In a digital age where access to information is increasingly recognized as a fundamental human right, a deeply concerning trend has emerged in academic publishing. There’s a rising misuse of publishing models that burden authors with charges for their work to be published and levy fees on readers for accessing the published content. This practice, known as “double-dipping,” has sparked a chorus of protest from a broad spectrum of stakeholders: academics, librarians, students, and, particularly, open-access advocates.

Historically, the conventional model for academic publishing functioned on a no-charge basis for authors, with publishers profiting through subscription fees paid by readers or institutions such as universities and libraries. In stark contrast, the prevailing trend in today’s publishing landscape requires authors to pay to publish their work, ostensibly under the pretense of making these works freely available to the public — a model referred to as “author pays” or “gold open access.”…”

The Corporate Capture of Open-Access Publishing

“As the heads of progressive university presses on two sides of the North Atlantic, we support open and equitable access to knowledge. If history is any guide, however, the new policies may unintentionally contribute to greater consolidation in academic publishing — and encourage commercial publishers to value quantity over quality and platforms over people. Unless the new open-access policies are accompanied by direct investment from funders, governments, and universities in nonprofit publishers and publishing infrastructure, they could pose a threat to smaller scholarly and scientific societies and university presses, and ultimately to trust in published knowledge….

Without meaning to, many putatively open-access policies could further privatize the results of academic research….

The open-access movement has its roots in the practice of self-archiving (also called “Green” open access), wherein scholars deposit prepublication versions of their work in university repositories or community-owned preprint servers that function (to the extent possible) outside the economic strictures of formal publishing. Publishers effectively co-opted the movement by promoting instead models in which authors or their institutions pay publishers for the privilege of openness (also called “Gold” open access). As a result, open-access policies that enforce openness at any cost, under any model, have paradoxically, and against the intentions of policymakers, furthered the commodification of knowledge….

With paid open access, the academy is being asked, in effect, to subsidize the commercial sector’s use of university-research outputs with no reciprocal financial contribution….

Questions about academic freedom, widening inequality, the impact on smaller publishers, and the applicability of science-based policy for the arts, social sciences, and humanities have long been overlooked in conversations about open access….

The answers, we propose, lie somewhere in that overlooked, undervalued middle ground of nonprofit or fair-profit university-press publishing, mission-aligned with the academy. Many of those presses have been leaders in findings ways to meet the goals of providing both equitable access to knowledge and equitable participation in the creation of new knowledge. These are the publishers that universities should protect, invest in, and make deals with. Perhaps an international network of university-based publishers, libraries, and other public-knowledge providers could work together, balancing paid-for and open research content in a way that is sustainable rather than extractive, and that still values the research itself. Such a network could face down the likes of….”

Researchers look at how online discussions treat ‘e-prints’ | Binghamton News

“In a study recently published in the Proceedings of the 15th Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Web Science Conference 2023, PhD student Satrio Yudhoatmojo and Associate Professor Jeremy Blackburn from Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science collaborated with Professor Emiliano De Cristofaro at University College London (now University of California – Riverside) to examine how these e-prints are used on the online forums Reddit and 4chan.

Through their work at the International Data-driven Research for Advanced Modeling and Analysis (iDRAMA) Lab, the researchers have delved into the darker corners of the internet and studied the extremist political and social views found there….”

Sarahanne Field Wants To Put the “Open” Back Into Open Science

“Open Science hasn’t quite kept its promise to transform research into a fully transparent and accessible enterprise. One of its most bizarre excesses is the immense publication fees that scientists incur if they want to get published. Metascientist Sarahanne M. Field talks about how it came to this, where Open Science failed and how it could be improved….”

Open peer review: pros and cons | SpringerLink

“Theoretically, the most objective review process would be the double-blind approach. However, currently, it is heavily undermined by the preprint publication, especially in disciplines such as mathematics or physics. It has been widely adopted by those researchers and demonstrated to improve the Altmetric scores and citations’ number [5]. Currently, preprint publication is increasingly adopted also in biology and medicine, especially after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the double-blind process enforces the journal office to a scrupulous and time-consuming job to guarantee the blindness, not always reaching the goal. Lastly, smart reviewers can trace the authors, particularly in the context of highly specialized research fields. At present, many relevant journals in the biomedical area have adopted the single-blind approach….

As suggested by Teixeira da Silva [1], the OPR has several pros as the totally transparent process improves accountability and could results into a potential increase in the quality of reviews. However, we must consider the cons as well. One is the potential bias that may arise when the authors know who the reviewers are. Potential reviewers could refuse to review or, when they accept, being disclosed to the authors, may provide a less critical or more lenient review, especially if a young reviewer evaluates a manuscript coming from a prominent well-known research group. This can result into a loss of critical feedbacks potentially improving a manuscript, reducing the identification of errors and limitations. Second, the OPR obliges to a high technical quality of the reviews, in a context where reviewers, more and more overflowed by review requests, are volunteering their time and efforts. This could increase the bottleneck problem in the number of reviewers available, which is now the main concerns of Editors….”

India has lost its way on open access

This article highlights the lucrative nature of the STM publishing industry, the inequities caused by paywalls, the need for greater adoption of open-access principles, and the complexities surrounding efforts to improve access to scientific research in India. While a global open access (OA) movement has gained traction, India still needs to catch up in embracing OA, despite early initiatives. Efforts to negotiate a common subscription through the One Nation One Subscription (ONOS) scheme with global STM publishers face challenges and may not align with the principles of OA. » The beginning of the end for academic publishers?

“On May 23, the Council of the EU adopted a set of conclusions on scholarly publishing that, if followed through, would spell the end for academic publishers and scholarly journals as we know them. On the same day, the adoption was followed by a joint statement of support by the largest and most influential research organizations in Europe. At the heart of the goals spelled out in the conclusions and the statement of support is the creation of a “publicly owned and not-for-profit” infrastructure for scholarly publications….


Obviously, right after the declaration came out, the corporate misinformation machine sprang into high gear. I won’t repeat the misleading, false or sometimes just comically desperate attempts at smearing an obviously well thought-through, sound and logical solution that has been decades in the making. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of reasons why the plans outlined by the Council have drawn such widespread support from all corners of the research community, while the only resistance comes from the monopolistic corporations. This declaration tackles the root of the replicability, affordability and functionality crises. It aims to treat the disease, not the symptoms and has the potential to develop into an effective vaccine against parasitic businesses striving to leech the public purse. Little wonder these businesses fear it so much.”

Paradox of Open: Responses – Open Future

“We received a number of responses to the Paradox of Open, which we published in the online anthology Paradox of Open: Responses. These include:

Misunderestimating Openness by James Boyle proposes three ideas for the open movement to thrive in the digital environment of today and tomorrow.
The Paradox of Growth – Unintended consequences of Open by Anna Mazgal suggests ways for the open movement to address the harms perpetrated in the platform ecosystem with “care protocols” online.
Openness and Digital Human Rights by Zuzanna Warso analyzes the complicated relationship between human rights and openness.
Beyond the Fetish of Open by Balázs Bodó questions openness as a goal per se, and invites to reflect on what are the objectives that openness can help to achieve.
Creative Communities by Jeni Tenisson highlights the need for the open movement to enable and nurture creative communities to thrive.
How Openness Becomes Exclusionary by Leonhard Dobusch describes the diversity deficits within the open movement.
Public Memory Challenges and the digital black hole by Carolina Botero takes stock of the digital public space’s role in preserving content, thus safeguarding public memory.
The Evolving Shape of “The Copyright Wars” by Derek Slater highlights how the “copyright war” should stay on the open movement’s radar as it has been evolving – and it is not over yet….”

Abolishing an “Industry”? | In the Dark

“A week or so ago I mentioned that the European Council had adopted a text that calls for the EU Commission and Member States to support policies towards a scholarly publishing model that is not-for-profit, open access and multi-format, with no costs for authors or readers.

The journal Nature has responded to the news with a piece entitled EU council’s ‘no pay’ publishing model draws mixed response and the lede:

Some academics have welcomed the proposed open access plans. But publishing industry representatives warn they are unrealistic and lack detail.

It’s not really accurate to describe the response as mixed as it is completely separated: the vested interests in the academic publishing industry are against it and everyone else is for it! It’s hardly surprising to see Nature (owned by academic publishing company Springer Nature). I found this in the text of the Nature piece:

The conclusions are concerning because they support a move that would abolish an industry
Caroline Sutton, the chief executive of the STM (a membership organization of academic publishers)

Indeed, though I would argue that what the proposals would abolish is not so much an industry as a racket…”

EU council’s ‘no pay’ publishing model draws mixed response

“The European Union’s council of ministers has called for the bloc to implement a ‘no pay’ academic-publishing model that bears no cost to readers or authors. The recommendations, part of a set of principles on scholarly publishing adopted by the council on 23 May, are not legally binding and have been welcomed by some members of the academic community. But representatives of publishers say that the suggestion is unrealistic and that the council has not outlined crucial details, including how such a model would be funded….

Organizations including the German Research Federation (DFG) have welcomed the principles. In a statement, the DFG said that it supported the “landmark recommendations”. “Under no circumstances should a situation arise in which the availability of funds determines participation in academic discourse,” it said.

Such statements show “strong political support” for open-access publishing, says Vinciane Gaillard, deputy director for research and innovation at the European University Association (EUA) in Brussels, which represents more than 850 institutions.


However, representatives of the publishing industry say that the implications of the council’s recommendations haven’t been fully considered….

The conclusions are concerning because they support a move that would abolish an industry, and propose building a new publishing system without clarification about how it would be paid for, says Caroline Sutton, the chief executive of the STM, a membership organization for the academic publishing industry headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands. One of the stated policy goals is cost reduction, yet “no proper economic analysis has been carried out”, she says. “It’s often presented as if this alternative is free.”

The STM is also concerned that the move would eliminate independent European publishing companies and usher in a state-defined system that could stymie academic freedom. It warns that the amount of public funds needed by member states or institutions to build repositories of academic research papers is hard to quantify….”

EU research ministers make fresh call for a full transition to free open access publishing | Science|Business

“EU ministers made a fresh call for open access to become the default mode for scientific publishing in a new set of Council conclusions today, prompting opposing reactions from the science community and journal publishers.

The Council conclusions call for a crack down on the unsustainable author fees that are currently propping up open science publishing, and undermining the ambition of making research results free to access. “We need to make sure that researchers can make their findings available and re-usable and that high-quality scientific articles are openly accessible to anyone that needs to read them,” said Mats Persson, Swedish minister for research, who currently holds the rotating council presidency chair.

The push for open access isn’t new and the EU has made a lot of headway with various initiatives and political statements. A big breakthrough came in 2018 in Plan S, under which a group of major research funding and performing organisations signed up to paywall-free science….”

Rethinking Transparency and Rigor from a Qualitative Open Science Perspective · Journal of Trial & Error

Abstract:  Discussions around transparency in open science focus primarily on sharing data, materials, and coding schemes, especially as these practices relate to reproducibility. This fairly quantitative perspective of transparency does not align with all scientific methodologies. Indeed, qualitative researchers also care deeply about how knowledge is produced, what factors influence the research process, and how to share this information. Explicating a researcher’s background and role allows researchers to consider their impact on the research process and interpretation of the data, thereby increasing both transparency and rigor. Researchers may engage in positionality and reflexivity in a variety of ways, and transparently sharing these steps allows readers to draw their own informed conclusions about the results and study as a whole. Imposing a limited, quantitatively-informed set of standards on all research can cause harm to researchers and the communities they work with if researchers are not careful in considering the impact of such standards. Our paper will argue the importance of avoiding strong defaults around transparency (e.g., always share data) and build upon previous work around qualitative open science. We explore how transparency in all aspects of our research can lend itself toward projecting and confirming the rigor of our work.

Open Access & Open Science: failure is not an option for any party | LERU

“LERU welcomes the presently developed draft Council Conclusions on “high-quality, transparent, open, trustworthy and equitable scholarly publishing”, to be adopted at the Competitiveness Council meeting of 23 May 2023[1]. They take Open Access to the next stage of implementation across Europe and thus represent a key move in embedding Open Science into the European research landscape. Many LERU papers, on Open Access, Open Data and Open Science have advocated the same causes.

For LERU, it is important that the upcoming Council Conclusions recognize that the increasing costs for scholarly publishing associated with certain business models may cause inequalities in communities and actually prove to be unsustainable for research funders and universities. Many people are now aware of the increase in publishing prices and the spread of transformative agreements, a result of which is a consolidation of the oligopoly in the publishing system.

The essential problem occurs when there are no reductions in price but increases, and where the resulting coverage is low. The threat is what will happen if everything is flipped to Open Access with high APC charges, both individual and under an agreement….”

Brussels plan for rival OA platform ‘naive’ | Times Higher Education (THE)

“As anger mounts over cost of open access deals, moves to finance diamond journals and expand state-run digital platforms have divided opinion…

Calls to transform the European Union’s research repository into a “collective, non-profit, large-scale publishing service for the public good” that could rival commercial publishers have been described as “naive” and a distraction to the open-access mission by experts….

Amid growing unease over the high cost of several national open-access deals, including Springer Nature’s new three-year agreement with UK universities, the European Council was set to agree a motion that says “immediate and unrestricted open access” without author fees should become the “norm” in scholarly publishing.

The European Commission, which runs the €105 billion (£90 billion) Horizon Europe research funding scheme, should introduce funding policies to support open-access publishers that do not charge author fees, it adds. That might mean Horizon funding being tied to publication in so-called “diamond” journals, which are both free to read and publish in thanks to subsidies from universities, governments or other funders.

The memo, first presented by the Swedish presidency of the EU in February, also suggests a massive scaling-up of the EU’s open-access platform Open Research Europe (ORE), a site launched in 2021 that has fewer than 500 publications so far.

That proposal received a mixed response from the League of European Research Universities (LERU), which noted the scale of the proposed project was “massive” and a “single pan-European system is not likely to work successfully”.

Instead, the umbrella body suggested that what “Europe may really need is the development of an open, inter-connected, publicly owned infrastructure”, and urged the creation of funding calls to support university engagement with this kind of system….”