Taking steps to address inequities in open-access publishing through an early career publication honor

Abstract:  Access to resources—whether human, financial, or social—is a key indicator of research output and, in turn, academic career progression. However, resources are not equally distributed among scientists and disparities often stem from external factors. This reality is particularly impactful for early career researchers (ECRs) who have limited control over the resources available to them to advance their careers. The resources needed to fund open-access (OA) publishing are a well-known source of academic inequity (Ross-Hellauer 2022). Despite this, wide support for OA publishing exists across the scientific community, largely because OA articles increase access to the scientific literature by removing costly paywalls (Piwowar et al. 2018). Benefits of OA publishing also exist for individual researchers; OA studies are read and cited more, so much so that an “open access citation advantage” has been described (McCabe and Snyder 2014). Depending on the methods and journals studied, this advantage ranges from an 8 to 40% increase in citation rate (Piwowar et al. 2018). The OA publishing model is set to expand further, with influential groups seeking to mandate OA publishing (e.g., Plan S; Else 2021) including recent guidance from the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy (The White House 2022). However, OA publishing remains expensive, often prohibitively so, and OA fees deter ECRs broadly (Sarabipour et al. 2019), and particularly those from the Global South (Kwon 2022; Santidrián Tomillo et al. 2022).

 

Open access articles deliver real value to the veterinary community—and to our authors in: American Journal of Veterinary Research Volume 83 Issue 10 (2022)

” The Directory of Open Access Journals (https://doaj.org) lists 7.8 million articles and over 17,000 peer-reviewed, open access journals, 115 of which cover veterinary medicine. One of my first initiatives as Editor-in-Chief was to propose converting our research journal, the American Journal of Veterinary Research (AJVR), to full open access, meaning that our member and nonmember individual and library subscribers no longer need to pay to access our cutting-edge research content. We also converted AJVR from a monthly printed publication to an online-only journal, hosted on our completely revamped journals platform, http://avmajournals.avma.org. We established publishing fees at $1,600 for nonmember authors and $1,200 for AVMA member corresponding or first authors. The publishing fees are among the least in the veterinary literature and the delta between the two fees is the cost of membership, providing member benefit to repeat authors.

In tandem, we completely revamped the journal’s editorial board and began marketing intensely for manuscript submissions. And it is working! To date, we have published 158 articles in AJVR this year, up 68 from the same period in 2021. The change to open access has been extraordinarily well received by researchers, faculty, students, and practitioners everywhere.

The JAVMA also offers opportunities for open access publication. It remains a subscription-based journal (members receive it monthly as an AVMA member benefit) but is defined as “hybrid”; that is, for specific articles, authors can pay the publishing fee, retain copyright, and enjoy worldwide dissemination of their findings.

Our strategic editorial development plan includes increasing the number of high-quality randomized control trials (RCTs; ie, a paper describing a study that randomly assigns patients into an experimental or control group). Good RCTs bring evidence to our clinical decision-making, are very popular, and receive high downloads and citations. We will of course provide tailored and intensive social media campaigns, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and interviews on our Veterinary Vertex Podcast.

Through the end of 2022, we are offering authors of newly submitted RCTs for either AJVR or JAVMA a 50% discount on article publication fees: $600 for members and $800 for nonmembers….”

Why making academic research free is complicated – Vox

“Freeing research largely paid for by taxpayer money can seem like a no-brainer, but over time, the potential downsides of open science efforts like the Plan S mandate have become more apparent. While pay-to-publish but free-to-read platforms bring more research to the public, they can add barriers for researchers and worsen some existing inequalities in academia. Scientific publishing will remain a for-profit industry and a highly lucrative one for publishers. Shifting the fees onto authors doesn’t change this.

Many of the newly founded open-access journals drop the fees entirely, but even if they’re not trying to make a profit, they still need to cover their operating costs. They fall back on ad revenue, individual donations or philanthropic grants, corporate sponsorship, and even crowdfunding.

But open-access platforms often lack the prestige of well-known top journals like Nature. Scientists early in their careers — as well as those at less wealthy universities in low-income countries — often rely on precarious, short-term grant funding to carry out their research. Their career depends on putting out an impressive publication record, which is already an uphill battle….”

 

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia joins cOAlition S | Plan S

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is the first Australian organisation to join cOAlition S and the country’s first funding agency to introduce the requirement that scholarly publications arising from the research it funds must be made freely available and accessible.

A fair pricing model for open access – Research Professional News

“The average research grant in South Africa, excluding strategic and infrastructure investments, is approximately 146,000 rand (€8,500). In 2021, the average charge for publishing an open-access research paper was nearly €1,600. High-impact journals charge far more: €9,500 at Nature, for example.

Here, in a nutshell, is the inequity of the financial model of open-access publishing. As currently constituted, publishing charges are stifling research capability and progress, as well as the career progression of researchers in low- and middle-income countries, and preventing a full transition to open research.

We need to move towards a globally agreed payment system for academic publishing services that is fair, equitable, transparent, and does not require the author to pay. In this article, we sketch the outline of such an alternative payment system….

It is unclear why APCs and transformative agreements are not priced as a function of what local markets can bear. The consequence, however, is stark: for the most part, researchers and institutions based in lower- and middle-income countries simply cannot afford either of these pay-per-article models. While some of these countries have negotiated cost-neutral transformative agreements, it is not clear whether these are equitable in terms of local purchasing power.

In much of the world, the money is not there to pay APCs geared to the richest nations—especially as APCs have consistently risen faster than inflation. Countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development spend an average of 2.2 per cent of gross domestic product on R&D. For the United States, the figure is 3.5 per cent. In Latin America and the Caribbean, in contrast, the average is 0.7 per cent, while South Africa’s figure of 0.75 per cent is well above the continent’s average of just 0.4 per cent.

Admittedly, some researchers may apply for publishing fees to be waived, but there is no globally agreed way for publishers to handle waivers, and researchers working in middle-income countries tend not to be eligible for such support. Moreover, waivers are often perceived as patronising and neocolonial. They are an in-or-out mechanism unilaterally controlled by the publisher, denying any agency to recipients.

Asking for a waiver imposes significant effort on authors. Waivers are also a financial risk to publishers who are understandably reluctant to award them. A submission to a 2020 consultation by the UK foreign ministry calculated that 57 per cent of hybrid journals from major publishers, which offer both subscriptions and open access, and 70 per cent of open-access journals published by small independent or university presses, did not offer fee waivers or discounts. The most visible global initiative delivering waivers, Research4Life, reports that, while effective, usage of its resources remains limited and has declined.

The system for meeting the costs of academic publishing is globally inequitable. This was underscored by the landmark United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) Recommendation on Open Science of November 2021, which insisted that scholarly communication adopt “the principles of open, transparent and equitable access”. The recent memorandum from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, setting out a plan for open access to federally funded research from 2026, adds ‘equitable’ as a third condition to the more familiar requirements for ‘free’ and ‘immediate’ access. Equitable open access has therefore assumed a particular urgency….”

Tracking Open Access Usage – ChronosHub

“Open Access usage is a complex topic. In this webinar, we’ll look at what metrics can be collected, and whether we should look at the data globally, or at an institutional level, possibly to evaluate affiliated institutions’ APC payments or open access agreements.

 

We will discuss the topic both from a publisher and a library perspective, with panelists sharing their experiences and opinion on the feasibility of conducting a usage-based analysis of open access articles to determine their value to institutions and libraries….”

Open Science Observatory – OpenAIRE Blog

“The Open Science Observatory (https://osobservatory.openaire.eu) is an OpenAIRE platform showcasing a collection of indicators and visualisations that help policy makers and research administrators better understand the Open Science landscape in Europe, across and within countries.  

The broader context: As the number of Open Science mandates have been increasing across countries and scientific fields, so has the need to track Open Science practices and uptake in a timely and granular manner. The Open Science Observatory assists the monitoring, and consequently the enhancing, of open science policy uptake across different dimensions of interest, revealing weak spots and hidden potential. Its release comes in a timely fashion, in order to support UNESCO’s global initiative for Open Science and the European Open Science Cloud (the current development and enhancement is co-funded by the EOSC Future H2020 project and will appear in the EOSC Portal).  …

How does it work: Based on the OpenAIRE Research Graph, following open science principles and an evidence-based approach, the Open Science Observatory provides simple metrics and more advanced composite indicators which cover various aspects of open science uptake such us

different openness metrics
FAIR principles
Plan S compatibility & transformative agreements
APCs

as well as measures related to the outcomes of Open Access research output as they relate to

network & collaborations
usage statistics and citations
Sustainable Development Goals

across and within European countries. ”

A Fair Pricing Model for Open Access

“A pay-per-article publishing model raises issues of regional and global equity. In Europe, the implied price per article in transformative agreements varies from one country to another, based on no rationale other than historical subscription spending. Globally, APCs for individual open-access articles are identical for customers from Norway to India, irrespective of their income levels.

This is a peculiar and possibly unique global pricing model. The local prices of products and services with a global reach—think of medication, soft drinks or cinema tickets—typically vary with local purchasing power. They cost what the market can bear. Even old-fashioned subscriptions take local purchasing power into account, leading to differentiated prices for the same service.

It is unclear why APCs and transformative agreements are not priced as a function of what local markets can bear. The consequence, however, is stark: for the most part, researchers and institutions based in lower- and middle-income countries simply cannot afford either of these pay-per-article models. While some of these countries have negotiated cost-neutral transformative agreements, it is not clear whether these are equitable in terms of local purchasing power.

In much of the world, the money is not there to pay APCs geared to the richest nations—especially as APCs have consistently risen faster than inflation. Countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development spend an average of 2.2 per cent of gross domestic product on R&D. For the United States, the figure is 3.5 per cent. In Latin America and the Caribbean, in contrast, the average is 0.7 per cent, while South Africa’s figure of 0.75 per cent is well above the continent’s average of just 0.4 per cent….”

“Open Access Publishing Biases OER” by Chelsee Dickson and Christina Holm

Knowing that the peer review process can introduce issues of bias, what then of other aspects of the publishing cycle? For example, what of the subvention funding provided by some institutions to support their faculty in pursuing dissemination of research in Open Access (OA) journals? This Open Educational Resource (OER) will present an overview of the OA landscape and provide learners with tools to develop their own inquiries into the inequities present within the OA publishing industry. All assignments include suggested grading rubrics and build upon one another in a cumulative manner.

Global equity in OA publishing workshops – OA2020

“Authors, globally, publish a large proportion of their research articles in scholarly journals that charge fees for open access. With fee-based open access publishing growing rapidly, there is increasing concern around equity.

It is important to identify the financial barriers that authors encounter and hear the challenges they face, particularly in resource-limited contexts, in order to develop actionable plans and practical mechanisms that ensure no author is limited in their opportunity to publish their accepted articles open access in the journals of their choice. For example:

How can discounts and waiver programs be adjusted to enable more equitable access to open access publishing for authors, as a short-term strategy?
What actions could foster open access publishing fees that are differentiated globally?
What can funders, ministries and research administrators do to understand just how much money they are directing, collectively, to scholarly publishing? How can the global community assess the distribution of such funds and their impact, particularly for researchers in different resource contexts?

 

This workshop will be an opportunity for those who fund and produce research, including scientists and scholars, research administrators, libraries and library consortia, university leadership, science councils and grant funders, and ministries of research and education, to better understand the current tensions in the scholarly communication landscape and explore immediate and long-term actions they each can take to ensure open access publishing is delivered in accordance with these principles:…”

Who’ll pay for public access to federally funded research?

“The White House painted an incomplete economic picture of its new policy for free, immediate access to research produced with federal grants. Will publishers adapt their business models to comply, or will scholars be on the hook?…”

A Critical Examination of the OSTP Memo | By Every Means Necessary

by Dave Ghamandi, also available via https://doi.org/10.17613/ejk2-ys30

“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories . . .”

-Amilcar Cabral

INTRODUCTION

Open access (OA) takes many forms. It can be the product of voluntary associations that are cooperative and mutually supportive. It can result from the “free market,” where Springer Nature charges an $11,000+ article processing charge (APC) to make a single article OA. It can also be produced through a regulatory-compliance-and-punishment system. The latter is what’s found in the new Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memo issued on August 25, 2022.[1] The OSTP’s stated aims in the memo give anti-imperialists much to be concerned about, especially as the biden administration previously justified increasing public access to federally-funded research as a way of battling China in a new Cold War. Those of us in the belly of the beast—the u.s. empire—have an obligation to develop, share, and act upon a critical analysis of the OSTP memo. This analysis is rooted in the historical and present-day evidence that the executive branch manages a corporately-controlled state and is not accustomed to giving gifts to the working class. I attempt to explain and predict in this essay.

[…]

 

Open Access Publishing Fund (OAPF) at Rowan University: A look back at the last five years (2017–2022) | Rele | College & Research Libraries News

Rowan University has seen rapid expansion in terms of enrollments, undergraduate and graduate programs, and research activity over the last decade and has grown from a state college into Rowan University. It is a unique academic institution in that it is one of only three in the United States with both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. Its acquisition of the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine and establishment of the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University were significant factors in the university’s research-intensive Carnegie classification R3 in 2017 and R2 classification in 2018 respectively.