Assessing the Effect of Article Processing Charges on the Geographic Diversity of Authors Using Elsevier’s ‘Mirror Journal’ System

Journals publishing open access (OA) articles often require that authors pay article processing charges (APC). Researchers in the Global South often cite APCs as a major financial obstacle to OA publishing, especially in widely-recognized or prestigious outlets. Consequently, it has been hypothesized that authors from the Global South will be underrepresented in journals charging APCs. We tested this hypothesis using >37,000 articles from Elsevier’s ‘Mirror journal’ system, in which a hybrid ‘Parent’ journal and its Gold-OA ‘Mirror’ share editorial boards and standards for acceptance. Most articles were non-OA; 45% of articles had lead authors based in either the United States of America (USA) or China. After correcting for the effect of this dominance and differences in sample size, we found that OA articles published in Parent and Mirror journals had lead authors with similar Geographic Diversity. However, Author Geographic Diversity of OA articles was significantly lower than that of non-OA articles. Most OA articles were written by authors in high-income countries, and there were no articles in Mirror journals by authors in low-income countries. Our results for Elsevier’s Mirror-Parent system are consistent with the hypothesis that APCs are a barrier to OA publication for scientists from the Global South.

Changes in Access to ClinicalKey | Dana Medical Library

“The University Libraries are disappointed to announce that ClinicalKey, a large collection of biomedical books and journals, will no longer be available to the UVM community, starting on Friday, October 22nd. Unfortunately, negotiations with Elsevier, the publisher behind these resources, came to an unfruitful conclusion. Our budget cannot bear the quadrupled price increase Elsevier proposed…”

Elsevier’s Scopus expands to include SSRN preprints

“Elsevier, a global leader in research publishing and information analytics, today announces that preprints from SSRN, its world-leading early stage research and preprint platform, are now available through Scopus, Elsevier’s abstract and citation database. This follows preprints from arXiv, ChemRxiv, bioRxiv and medRxiv being indexed in Scopus earlier this year.

This development comes in reaction to feedback and requests from the researcher community, as demand for and use of preprints has jumped in recent years. At present, over 1 million Author Profiles in Scopus have 900,000 preprints indexed to them dating back to 2017. By the end of this year, approximately 170,000 SSRN preprints, from 2017 onwards will be included in Scopus….”

Elsevier Negotiation at Oxford

“UK universities have a five year ‘big deal’ with Elsevier which runs to the end of December 2021. This deal gives Oxford staff and students access to more than 1,800 journals. Throughout this year, we are working in partnership with Jisc and with other UK universities to reach an agreement for the next five-year ScienceDirect (Elsevier) deal, commencing in January 2022.

This is an important negotiation since it seeks to combine subscription costs and open access publishing costs in line with Plan S funder requirements and the Jisc requirements for transitional open access agreements. UK universities spend more than £50m annually with Elsevier, yet it is the last major publisher to strike a transformative deal which combines access and publishing spend whilst constraining costs.

The Bodleian Libraries are working with the Open Access Steering Group and Research and Innovation Committee. It is important that decisions are made based on evidence, and data about usage and publishing levels in Elsevier journals will help to inform our approach. Additionally, we will take a consultative approach in partnership with academic divisions. This page will be regularly updated as negotiations proceed throughout this year, including details of any information events that are planned.”

How might we reduce our dependency on legacy publishers such as Elsevier? | Unlocking Research: Open Research at Cambridge

To coincide with our first townhall event on the Elsevier negotiations, Professor Stephen Eglen offers his perspective on the University’s future relationship with the publishing industry. Prof. Eglen is Professor of Computational Neuroscience in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge.

I’m often asked why I single out Elsevier when discussing spurious publishing practices*. The simple reason is that they are the single largest publisher that most institutions deal with. Other legacy publishers adopt similar practices, outlined below, that I disagree with. However, given that Elsevier tends to take about 40% of our journal subscription costs, it is worth focusing on. Even finding out these costs required an extensive set of FOI requests over several years, revealing a large disparity in costs between UK Universities. However, I do not blame Elsevier for the current situation – they are a successful business with shareholders to satisfy. Their consistent high operating margins (~ 30%) indicate that they are very capable. However, this comes at a price, e.g. their current median gender pay gap in 2020/21 was 36%, compared to 11.1% at the University of Cambridge, and 7.3% at Springer Nature.

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How might we reduce our dependency on legacy publishers such as Elsevier? | Unlocking Research: Open Research at Cambridge

To coincide with our first townhall event on the Elsevier negotiations, Professor Stephen Eglen offers his perspective on the University’s future relationship with the publishing industry. Prof. Eglen is Professor of Computational Neuroscience in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge.

I’m often asked why I single out Elsevier when discussing spurious publishing practices*. The simple reason is that they are the single largest publisher that most institutions deal with. Other legacy publishers adopt similar practices, outlined below, that I disagree with. However, given that Elsevier tends to take about 40% of our journal subscription costs, it is worth focusing on. Even finding out these costs required an extensive set of FOI requests over several years, revealing a large disparity in costs between UK Universities. However, I do not blame Elsevier for the current situation – they are a successful business with shareholders to satisfy. Their consistent high operating margins (~ 30%) indicate that they are very capable. However, this comes at a price, e.g. their current median gender pay gap in 2020/21 was 36%, compared to 11.1% at the University of Cambridge, and 7.3% at Springer Nature.

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Michael Williams on the Elsevier negotiations: What’s our ‘Plan B’? | Unlocking Research

“As negotiations continue between Elsevier and the UK university sector, institutions need to position themselves to ensure that we have a realistic alternative access solution if the decision is to not sign an agreement. But what would happen in the event of a non-renewal scenario? This post explores how we at Cambridge University Libraries are preparing for Plan B and the alternative access solutions we will be providing….

At Cambridge we are doing our best to engage our research communities with the Elsevier negotiation so that any decisions around the deal and potential implementation of Plan B will only take place following communication and engagement with research-active members of the University. If we need to implement a Plan B, it should not come as a surprise; it will be planned and communicated in advance….”

Interview with Editor-in-Chief: Professor Qinglong Peng – News – New Techno-Humanities – Journal – Elsevier

“Open access publishing has attracted huge momentum in recent years. Researchers in humanities now have more opportunities to publish as open access, not to mention for colleagues from science and medicine areas. Quite often authors will have to pay a big sum in order to publish open access and I know this may actually pose serious challenges to some of our authors as fundings in humanities studies are still not such common. I am very happy to see that Shanghai Jiao Tong University will fully sponsor the publication of this journal and thus authors do not need to pay for publication. I trust this sponsorship will provide more opportunities for researchers from those under-represented regions and disciplines. Meanwhile, open access will surely improve the visibility of our contributor’s works, expanding naturally their influence in the long run….”

Elsevier lobbying UKRI last minute over funder’s OA policy – Research Professional News

“Head of research libraries consortium “concerned” over move “undermining” consultations on open access

The publishing company Elsevier has made an eleventh-hour push to see its agenda better reflected in the forthcoming strategy on open access, to be published by the UK’s research funding agency, UK Research and Innovation….”

Dr. Jessica Gardner on the ongoing negotiation between Cambridge and Elsevier | Unlocking Research

This post by Dr Jessica Gardner, Cambridge University Librarian, introduces the context for the ongoing negotiation between Cambridge University and the publisher Elsevier. It is the first in a series of posts on the negotiation from members of the Cambridge community.

Elsevier’s OA Win — and Florida’s Fail – by Kent Anderson – The Geyser — Hot Takes & Deep Thinking on the Info Economy

“Two quick notes about predictable consequences this Monday morning. The first involves Elsevier’s well-known-by-now success in the OA market, emphasized in their earnings call on June 30, 2021, and captured in a transcript released late last week. In it, Elsevier executives claim they are growing faster in OA articles and revenues than the overall market, suggesting they are stealing share from others. What’s also striking is that the battle has become — in Elsevier’s mind, and probably in actual fact — between Elsevier and “other major providers.” That is, the era of a diverse publishing ecosystem continues to wind down as the consolidation so many predicted decades ago — including yours truly — has now become the norm.

The irony of all this is that OA — which has always been willing to move the goalposts and has held out a litany of diverse goals, not all of which made sense or have ever been measured — once included the goal of gutting the large commercial publishers like Elsevier. Instead, the middle of the market has been gutted — just as in nearly every other media space since the introduction of broadband. Entirely predictable, often predicted, entirely avoidable, but here we are — a few major providers dominating the scholarly and scientific publishing landscape, with Elsevier taking pole position….”

 

The future relationship between university and publisher | Samuel Moore

As rumours circulate about the forthcoming UKRI open access policy announcement, fierce lobbying is underway by publishers worried that the policy may undermine their business models. Elsevier has even taken the step of directly emailing their UK-based academic editors to criticise the rumoured policy and encourage academics to relay the publisher’s views to UKRI. While these disagreements may not seem particularly new to anyone familiar with the open access movement, it also feels like things are coming to a head between academic publishers and the university sector. Ultimately, as I’ll argue here, universities need to take a view on what their future relationship with publishing should be.

In some respects, the debate over open access has always been about the antagonism between universities and publishers. Although access to research is an important and defining feature of these debates, the spectre of publishing profit margins and extractive business models loomed large from the beginning. There is no getting around the fact that publishers rely on labour and content they get for free. Instead, the editorial work of publishing is remunerated by universities as part of academic salaries, which of course does not fall evenly on individual academics (many of whom precarious, overworked and/or not employed by a university). Nevertheless, the university sector funds much of what the publishing industry relies upon for its operations and expects something in return.

To the extent that it has been marketised, the publishing industry is viewed as standing outside the university and not controlled by it. This is despite the fact that academics (for the most part) maintain editorial control of the publications they edit and peer review. Having talked to numerous editors of commercial journals, there is a very real sense that their publishers are service providers rather than part of the scholarly community. They might not provide the level of service that many editors expect, but they are service providers all the same. As scholarly communication has been ceded entirely to this market of service providers, universities have lost economic and material control of the publications they rely on (which also impacts on editorial control in various ways). This is all the more apparent given the dual functions the industry serves of both knowledge dissemination and researcher evaluation. Universities have outsourced both of these crucial functions to a separate, external industry.

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‘Strong’ first half for RELX despite Exhibitions losses | The Bookseller

“Elsevier, RELX’s STM division, saw revenue dip 1% year on year to £1,276m, but that represented a 5% rise in constant currencies, with underlying growth (excluding acquisitions and sell-offs) calculated at 4%. Profit was flat with 2020’s first-half at £476m, up 4% in constant currencies and with underlying growth also up 4%.

Elsevier’s performance was driven by “continued good growth in electronic revenue”, which now stands at 88% of divisional revenue. Print revenue, which now represents a little over 5% of total sales, “stabilised following the unusually steep declines seen in the same period last year.” For its full-year outlook, RELX predicted the division would see underlying revenue growth “slightly above historical trends”, with adjusted operating profit growing slightly ahead of revenue.”