Commercial Science Journals: A Luxury Market? – SBMT

“SBMT: Why are the “diamond/platinum” journals the least valued by editorial metrics and funding agencies?

Dr. TR Shankar Raman: I have no idea why this should be so. It feels like the academic community has just painted itself into a corner. There are lots of excellent diamond open access journals. The journals published by Indian Academy of Sciences  are a good example (although they have a weird co-publishing arrangement with Springer Nature, the journals and papers can be freely accessed via the Academy website and there are no charges for authors to publish either). Of course, the number of papers that a diamond open access journal may be able to publish may be lower and many are in niche areas of science rather than multi-disciplinary in scope and hence their reach may be lower than what big-budget commercial journals can achieve with their resources. But this only means that diamond open access journals should be supported more to achieve better reach, not shift to commercial publishers. All public and philanthropic funding for science has everything to gain by supporting and mandating publication in diamond open access journals….

SBMT: How to design a policy in defense of Southern science through the promotion of “diamond/platinum” journals?

Dr. TR Shankar Raman: As individuals, we can each take a stand, as I have tried to in my post—that I will not review for or publish in commercial journals, but will especially do so for diamond open access journals. Particularly, senior scientists and leaders in their fields must set an example by publishing, reviewing for, or accepting to be on the boards of diamond open access journals. But this will not go far unless we also collectively work to change overall policy. As a community, we must petition our academies, funders, and science administrators to change policies to give greater recognition to papers published in diamond open access journals. This can trigger a big change: especially if it begins to count towards jobs and promotions in academia. Impact factor should be trashed as outdated, harmful, and retrogressive. Recipients of public funds should be mandated to publish in diamond open access journals published by nonprofit scientific societies as this is the most cost-effective way to spend the available (limited) funds to achieve publication that is freely, openly, and widely accessible, while supporting and advancing science. Other initiatives such as Gold Open Access, self-archiving of submitted final versions, or pay-to-publish APC models are all half measures or discriminate and exclude large numbers of scientists around the world, who cannot pay the large fees involved. Policies should support membership fee support for scholars and new and tenured faculty to join learned academic societies that publish diamond open access journals so that the funds are kept within the community and to advance science rather than feed the profits of commercial companies….”

FOASAS: Fair Open Access in South Asian Studies

“Profiteering and restricted access have led to a crisis in academic publishing. The Fair Open Access movement is best promoted by mobilizing individual disciplines. With this manifesto, we, an open group of scholars of classical and modern South Asian Studies, declare our support for Fair Open Access publishing….

The following publishers and journals meet many or all FOA criteria (see §7 of the FOASAS Manifesto). …”

 

ASAPbio open letter to ARC – Google Docs

“The Australian Research Council (ARC) does not allow researchers to cite preprints in their grant applications and recently disqualified a number of applications for this reason.  

 
Preprints advance scientific discovery and are encouraged by many funders, including Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council. Citation of any source, regardless of its peer review status, is essential for proper attribution of ideas, and prohibiting the citation of preprints prevents applicants from discussing and building on the latest science. Further, listing preprints as evidence of productivity allows reviewers to develop an accurate picture of an applicant’s research outputs.

 
On August 31, we will send the list of signatories below to the ARC along with an offer to provide more information about preprints in the life sciences that can inform their review of their policy. We are also happy to support Australian researchers, librarians, editors, and other stakeholders in having conversations about preprints. Please get in touch with Jessica Polka (jessica.polka@asapbio.org) if you would like assistance in hosting an event for your community. You can also sign other open letters: one drafted by Australian researchers to encourage the ARC to reconsider its preprint policies, and a second encouraging the same as well as eligibility extension and policy simplification. …”

Let’s stop reviewing for publishers that profit from research | Joseph Paul Cohen Blog (July 2021) – AHRECS

“What’s the deal with how we review papers for venues (like conferences and journals) for free and then they go on to sell and restrict access to them? How about let’s only review for venues that freely distribute papers and stop reviewing for those that restrict access? We can also stop reviewing for those that charge high publishing charges, I believe over $100 per submission is unacceptable.

We have the power to put an end to closed access research. By only reviewing for venues that freely distribute papers, we will ensure they have the best publications and become the premier venues. It will then become in everyone’s best interest to publish in venues with freely accessible papers….”

 

Addressing the Alarming Systems of Surveillance Built By Library Vendors – SPARC

“On April 2nd, news broke that RELX subsidiary LexisNexis signed a multi-million dollar contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to reporting on the ICE contract by the Intercept, LexisNexis’ databases “offer an oceanic computerized view of a person’s existence” and will provide the agency with “the data it needs to locate people with little if any oversight.” 

While this contract may be new, it is just the latest development in an alarming trend that SPARC is following. Two major library vendors—RELX and Thomson Reuters—have been building sophisticated, global systems of surveillance that include online tracking technologies, massive aggregation of user data, and the sale of services based on this tracking, including to governments and law enforcement. 

Dollars from library subscriptions, directly or indirectly, now support these systems of surveillance. This should be deeply concerning to the library community and to the millions of faculty and students who use their products each day and further underscores the urgency of privacy protections as library services—and research and education more generally—are now delivered primarily online. …

As alarming as these surveillance technologies are in their own right, they may already be crossing into academic products. Surveillance researcher Wolfie Christl has reported ThreatMetrix tracking code is now embedded in the ScienceDirect website, raising serious questions about what patron information is being collected and toward what purposes….

The Library Freedom Project’s Vendor Privacy Scorecard highlights the many privacy concerns across a wide selection of library vendors….”

Why I Won’t Review or Write for Elsevier and Other Commercial Scientific Journals – The Wire Science

“To the argument that shunning such journals will compromise science, I can only point out to many journals of repute published by scientific societies and academies worldwide (such as the Indian Academy of Sciences) that make all their published papers free (diamond/platinum open access) and are able to run their journals with modest subscriptions and advertisements. There have also been initiatives like Amelica and Coalition-S. The alternatives are there for us to adopt as scientists and scholars if we wish.

I realise that, for early-career scientists, publishing in some of these journals is still important because of the undue importance still given to them by academic institutions in their scientific recruitment and recognition policies. I, too, have published in these journals and realise I am implicated in the perpetuation of this system. I will respect the views and needs of students and others I collaborate with on where they seek to publish in or review for. But as a token of protest, I declare that where it concerns my own work I will not submit a paper to these journals or review a paper for them, until such corporate predatory practices end. I do realise that my action is a mere token and not enough. There is more I myself need to do to make science universal, free, and accessible….”

Friday Big Deal (Not Very) Longread: Boycotting Elsevier Is Not Enough, by Shaun Khoo

“Khoo argues that boycotting Elsevier is also not really a useful tactic, other than perhaps for consciousness raising. What’s needed is investment in alternatives, and more importantly, culture change that makes it attractive for authors to choose those alternatives….”

The costly prestige ranking of scholarly journals | Ravnetrykk

Abstract:  The prestige ranking of scholarly journals is costly to science and to society. Researchers’ payoff in terms of career progress is determined largely from where they publish their findings, and less from the content of their scholarly work. This fact creates perverted incentives for the researchers. Valuable research time is spent in trying to satisfy reviewers and editors, rather than spending their time in the most productive direction. This in turn leads to unnecessary long time from research findings are made until they become public. This costly system is upheld by the scholarly community itself. Scholars supply the journals with time, serving as reviewers and editors without any paycheck asked, even though the bulk of scientific journals are published by big commercial enterprises enjoying super profit margins. The super profit results from expensive licensing deals with the scholarly institutions. The free labour offered, on top of the payment for the licensing deals, should be viewed as part of the payment to these publishers – a payment in kind. Why not use this as a negotiating chip towards the publishers? If a publisher asks more than acceptable for a licensing deal, rather than walk away with no deal, the scholarly institutions could pull out all the free labour offered by reviewers and editors.

 

No free view? No review!

“Many scientific articles are currently published in subscription journals and locked behind paywalls. This model impedes research and diverts public funding to parasitic publishers, while relying almost entirely on the unpaid work of researchers. We believe that science should evolve towards a different publishing model in which all scientific publications are freely available to readers as open access, without charging authors unfair prices.

For this reason, we will avoid serving as peer reviewers for venues that do not make publicly available the research that we review. Instead, we will give priority to open-access venues in how we allocate our reviewing time and organizational efforts….”

State Library Extends Boycott Indefinitely | KX NEWS

“As KX News reported in August, the North Dakota State Library joined the American Library Association in denouncing one publisher’s new lending policy.

Macmillan Publishers’ policy says libraries can only buy one copy of their e-books for the first eight weeks after it’s published, a rule that’s never been in place for actual books.

That went into effect, November 1st, making it so over 250,000 readers in North Dakota will have to share one copy.

Our state library responded by boycotting Macmillan e-books, originally through January.

As of February 1st, State Librarian Mary Soucie says the library has decided to continue the boycott, indefinitely….”

Do Publishers Suddenly Hate Libraries?

” In a memo to authors and agents last month, Macmillan CEO John Sargent all but blamed libraries for depressing book sales and author earnings. “Historically, we have been able to balance the great importance of libraries with the value of your work,” Sargent claimed. “The current e-lending system does not do that.”

I’m far from the first to observe this, but the claims in Sargent’s memo are questionable at best….

Do publishers and authors see the library’s relationship to them as more symbiotic, or parasitic?…”

There are dark hints that the hand of Amazon is at work in the current tensions over library e-book lending, including reports that Amazon reps have been showing publishers data to portray library e-book lending in a negative light….”

Macmillan To Restrict New E-Book Sales To Libraries : NPR

“Libraries across the U.S. are furious with one of the country’s big five publishing houses. As of Friday, Macmillan Publishers Ltd. is drastically restricting the sales of its e-books to libraries.

For the first eight weeks after an e-book goes on the market, a library system can buy only one copy. So if you are used to getting your books from a library and you are an e-book fan who has been eagerly awaiting Hillary Mantel’s next book, The Mirror and the Light, for example, you may have a long wait when it comes out in March 2020.

Under the old rules, a large library system like New York’s or Chicago’s might have ordered hundreds of e-book copies. Now each system — large or small — can buy only one when it goes on sale….”

Libraries to boycott publisher’s e-book policy | WSYX

“Several large library systems across the U.S. plan to suspend purchases beginning Friday of all electronic versions of Macmillan Publishers’ new releases, in a protest against the publishing house’s planned restrictions on library sales….

Macmillan’s library embargo, which also begins Friday, will restrict public libraries and consortium of all sizes to buying a single copy of each newly released e-book for the first eight weeks of publication….

“By limiting the number of copies our library can purchase, Macmillan is allowing only a certain segment of our society to access digital content in a timely manner — those who can pay for it themselves,” he said in a statement. “And that’s unacceptable in a democratic society.”

Last year, nearly 67,000 Columbus library patrons checked out nearly 2 million items from our digital collection. Digital content downloads continue to trend upward….”

Don’t Let Science Publisher Elsevier Hold Knowledge for Ransom

It’s Open Access Week and we’re joining SPARC and dozens of other organizations this week to discuss the importance of open access to scientific research publications. 

An academic publisher should widely disseminate the knowledge produced by scholars, not hold it for ransom. But ransoming scientific research back to the academic community is essentially the business model of the world’s largest publisher of scientific journals: Elsevier.

In February of this year, after drawn-out negotiations broke down, the University of California terminated its subscription with Elsevier. A central sticking point in these negotiations was around open access: specifically Elsevier’s refusal to provide universal open access to UC research, a problem exacerbated by skyrocketing subscription fees.

This has been an ongoing fight, not just in California. Many academics (and EFF) believe that scholarly research most effectively advances scientific progress when it is widely available to the public, and not subject to the paywalls erected by publishers. Scientific research is a driving force behind technological innovations, medical breakthroughs, and policy decisions, and the bulk of it in the U.S. is publicly funded. When libraries, universities, individuals, and even researchers themselves have to pay to access academic work, we all suffer.

Elsevier boasts profit margins in excess of 30%, much of it derived from taxpayer dollars. Academics effectively volunteer their time to publishers to write articles, conduct peer review, and sit on editorial boards, and then publishers demand ownership of the copyright and control over dissemination. Universities and other institutions fund these researchers, and a mega-publisher like Elsevier reaps the benefits while trapping all of that work behind a paywall.

In response to this outdated and deleterious system, two UCSF researchers have started a petition to boycott Elsevier, calling on all academics to refuse to publish in Elsevier journals, peer-review their articles, or sit on their editorial boards (as many already have). They’ve also written a piece calling for a wider re-imagining of the academic publishing system, that’s more in line with an open access model. A large and growing number of scholars have signed the petition already.

This is far from the first time someone has called for a boycott of Elsevier. Efforts go back to 2012 with a call to action from mathematician Timothy Gowers which led to the “The Cost of Knowledge” campaign. Since then, boycotts have extended across entire countries, across Asia, Europe, and

Opinion: Boycotting Elsevier Is Not Enough | The Scientist Magazine®

“Boycotting Elsevier is a good first step, but it needs follow-through to support open infrastructure and systemic reforms. Latin America’s academy-owned non-commercial platforms now publish hundreds of thousands of articles a year and have actively opposed the toxic pay-to-publish business model. We need to lobby our institutions and funders to support open science infrastructure and do something similar in the so-called developed world.

We also need to build open access into our career and incentive structures. We currently don’t employ, fund, or promote scientists who publish in open-access journals or use open science practices, so it is no surprise that the vast majority of scientific papers are not “born free.” Aside from Plan S, most funders’ open-access policies offer neither carrot nor stick. For example, the NIH Public Access Policy offers no rewards for compliance and only administrative consequences for non-compliance.

Scientists already have many of the tools needed to change science publishing. For example, I was frustrated by the lack of quality, fee-free, open-access journals in behavioural neuroscience, so I got some colleagues together and started one. There is a plethora of free open source software for running journals and typesetting articles, which leaves us with very minimal costs. Our main challenge is cultural—convincing scientists it doesn’t have to cost $3,000 to publish an article and to take a risk with a new and unproven outlet….”