The Finch Report reaches the grand age of seven this year, and with the advent of Plan S, Insights wanted to commemorate the progress and the frustration with open access (OA) and open science with a special collection.
We have gone through the catalogue of previously published articles to give an interesting overview of what has been happening at the coalface since the Finch report. Post Finch, Sykes suggested that ‘there is nothing inevitable about the triumph of open access’. The bigger picture that emerges from the articles is certainly that a great deal of effort and compromise have brought us to a place much closer to the end-game than we were back in 2012. However, as the various articles show, there is a great diversity of thought on how to get to where we think we ought to be. There is a value in healthy debate, particularly when there is the benefit that OA can bring. In the days leading up to the Plan S announcement, articles in Insights signalled a more urgent tone (Earney, 2018; Lundén, Smith and Wideberg, 2018) as things were not moving fast enough in navigating the bumpy golden road towards OA (Otegem, Wennström and Hormia-Poutanen, 2018). This is something that cOAlition-S explicitly targeted. Finally, Johnson (2019) brings the special collection to a close with a round-up of the immediate aftermath post Plan S. Like you, we await the next chapter….”
“So for me the headline advice expected in a report to the minister from Adam Tickell is that the current ‘preference for Gold OA is expensive – and there is a need for clarity as to whether the UK should maintain this approach….’
The fact that Gold OA comes at a cost is a clear disincentive for many researchers despite being a REF requirement – especially where a grant may not cover publication costs or where interesting work is being carried out without a grant. The research councils currently provide block funding for APCs, but this is unlikely to be a permanent feature – we might see a short extension, but only if the Gold OA policy direction continues.
If it does, and if we assume that current price trends and publishing patterns continue – and that OA take-up in the UK were to reach 100% by 2025 – total expenditure would rise to £362m in 2020, and £818m in 2028 – over three times the 2016 figure in real terms. We understand there’ll be some economic modelling published alongside Tickell’s advice, which looks at these figures across a variety of scenarios….”
“Dislike of gold open access is also partly responsible for researchers’ opposition to Plan S. Lynn Kamerlin, professor of structural biology atUppsala University, is one of the instigators of the open letter against it. While she pledges strong support for open access, she is happy with the current rate of progress and sees the recent “explosion” in the use of preprint servers as illustrative of the range of routes towards it. She fears that the details of Plan S’ “embargo requirements and repository technical requirements…are so draconian that paid-for gold becomes the easiest way to fulfil them”. This will convert the “nudges” towards gold in existing funder mandates (which she supports) into a “shove”, which will be “a disaster for the research community” because it will disadvantage those unable to pay article processing charges and “seriously jeopardise the much more rigorous quality control standards provided by high-quality society journals compared to the high-volume for-profit business model, which has an inbuilt conflict of interest”.
Nor is Kamerlin alone in expressing a concern that the allegedly lower standards of peer review practised by fully open access journals have compromised quality. But, for Suber, debating quality rather misses the point. “Yes, there is some low-quality open access work, but there’s also low-quality subscription journal work, and people who step back [to see the bigger picture] always acknowledge that,” he says. “Quality and access are completely independent of each other. Open access isn’t a kind of peer review, it’s a kind of dissemination.”
However, he agrees with Kamerlin that the “green” form of open access, whereby academics post work that is in subscription journals on their institutional repositories or elsewhere…is another good option….”
“To date, much of the public debate [about Plan S] has focussed on the implications for scientists. Yet the impact on Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) scholars looks likely to be more profound.
The implications for HSS journals and learned societies are of particular concern, and there are real fears that the rules that will be applied to journals (including compulsory CC BY) will be extended to books too – a move that is felt would be entirely inappropriate. cOAlition S has yet to issue guidance on this but has said that it plans to do so. To add to the concern, earlier this year it was announced that to be eligible for the 2027 REF long-form scholarly works and monographs will have to be published OA. Monographs are key vehicles for HSS scholars to communicate their research.
What is particularly frustrating for UK-based HSS scholars is that Plan S looks set to rip up the settlement that was reached in the wake of the 2012 Finch Report. Wounds that had begun to heal will be re-opened.
As Peter Mandler, Professor of Modern Cultural History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, puts it in the interview below, “[I]t’s as if we haven’t had the five years of post-Finch arguments! We’re just going to have to have them all over again.”
For a sense of the challenge Plan S poses for HSS scholars please read on….”
“Folks, we have to have the vision to look beyond what is happening right now in our departments. Gold OA does, for sure, mean a small amount of short-term pain. It also means a massive long-term win for us all.”
“After a month of intense conversations and negotiations, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) will bring the ‘Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act’ up for mark-up on Wednesday, July 29th. The language that will be considered is an amended version of FASTR, officially known as the ‘Johnson-Carper Substitute Amendment,’ which was officially filed by the HSGAC leadership late on Friday afternoon, per committee rules. There are two major changes from the original bill language to be particularly aware of. Specifically, the amendment Replaces the six month embargo period with ‘no later than 12 months, but preferably sooner’ as anticipated; and Provides a mechanism for stakeholders to petition federal agencies to ‘adjust’ the embargo period if the12 months does not serve ‘the public, industries, and the scientific community.’ We understand that these modifications were made in order accomplish a number of things: Satisfy the requirement of a number of Members of HSGAC that the language more closely track that of the OSTP Directive; Meet the preference of the major U.S. higher education associations for a maximum 12 month embargo; Ensure that, for the first time, a number of scientific societies will drop their opposition for the bill; and Ensure that any petition process an agency may enable is focused on serving the interests of the public and the scientific community …”
“Impact is multi-dimensional, the routes by which impact occur are different across disciplines and sectors, and impact changes over time. Jane Tinkler argues that if institutions like HEFCE specify a narrow set of impact metrics, more harm than good would come to universities forced to limit their understanding of how research is making a difference. But qualitative and quantitative indicators continue to be an incredible source of learning for how impact works in each of our disciplines, locations or sectors.”
“Open access for monographs and book chapters is a relatively new area of publishing, and there are many ways of approaching it. With this in mind, a recent publication from the Wellcome Trust aims to provide some guidance for publishers to consider when developing policies and processes for open access books. The Wellcome Trust recognises that implementation around publishing monographs and book chapters open access is in flux, and invites publishers to email Cecy Marden at firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions for further guidance that would be useful to include in this document. ‘Open Access Monographs and Book Chapters: A practical guide for publishers’ is available to download as a pdf from the Wellcome Trust website.”
“The purpose of this post is to shed some light on a specific issue in the transition to open access that particularly affects small and low-cost publishers and to suggest one strategy to address this issue. In the words of one Resource Requirements interviewee: ‘So the other set of members that we used to have about forty library members , but when we went to open access online, we lost the whole bunch of libraries. Yeah, so basically we sent everybody ,you know, a letter saying we are going to open access online, the annual membership is only $30, we hope you will continue to support us even though there are no longer print journals, and then a whole flu of cancellations came in from a whole bunch of libraries, which we had kind of thought might happen but given how cheap we are, I have to say I was really disappointed when it indeed did happen especially from whole bunch of [deleted] libraries [for which our journal is extremely relevant]. I was going, seriously $30?’ Comments: for a university library, a society membership fee, when not required for journal subscriptions, may be difficult to justify from an accounting perspective. $30 is a small cost; however, for a university the administrative work of tracking such memberships and cutting a check every year likely exceeds the $30 cost. With 40 library members at a cost of $30, the total revenue for this journal from this source was $1,200. A university or university library could sponsor this amount at less than the cost of many an article processing charge. The university and library where the faculty member is located have a support program for open access journals; clearly the will, and some funding, is there. One of the challenges is transitioning subscription dollars to support for open access, as I address in my 2013 First Monday article. Following is one suggestion for libraries, or for faculty to suggest to their libraries: why not engage your faculty who are independent or society publishers to gain support for cancellations or tough negotiations and lower prices for the big deals of large, highly profitable commercial publishers that I argue are critical to redirect funding to our own publishing activities? Here is one scenario that may help to explain the potential …”
[From Google’s English] “UKB , the consortium of thirteen university libraries and the National Library, the objectives of The Hague Declaration endorsed by signing the joint declaration. All signatories state that there are no copyright restrictions are scientific results and research data. Everyone should be able to freely analyze facts and data.Licensing and copyright rules may not raise barriers before. The knowledge economy has an interest in global open access or open science. According to the statement must be contained in the European copyright rules that authors the right to (re) use of data and texts not lose by signing a contract with a publisher …”
” Demand for a service to help institutions capture their research outputs remains unabated, and any drive to help automate it will need to break challenging new ground. Jisc Publications Router is now set for a new phase of development as it seeks to do just that. It aims to become a permanent service in 2016, expanding at an accelerated pace the range of content it can deliver … It’s difficult for institutions to identify accepted research articles by their academics, according to a recent report to Jisc, as they seek to make progress in implementing the open access policy for the next REF. Jisc Publications Router is a system that gathers information about journal articles from content providers such as publishers. By looking at the affiliations of the co-authors, it then sends a notification to the relevant institution(s). This could be at or near the point of acceptance, for example, or final publication. It could consist of metadata only, or it could include full-text files as well, depending on what the content provider can send. The institutions can then capture this information onto their systems, including their open repositories. In some cases, the metadata will include details of an embargo period the repository should respect before it makes the full text freely available. The initial Router project, funded by Jisc and operated by EDINA (University of Edinburgh) aimed to demonstrate a prototype system. That has been a success: the system has delivered real articles to real institutions in ways that they have used and found helpful, saving them time and effort …”
“To advance the University of Iowa’s longstanding commitments to open inquiry, the free exchange of ideas, and public access to scholarly works, the staff of the University of Iowa Libraries have adopted an open access policy that will make their publications freely available and ensure their long-term preservation and findability. This policy complements the Libraries’ support of open access to freely accessible scholarship, advances the diverse roles staff play as producers and preservers of scholarly and professional literature, and reflects the values of the University of Iowa Libraries’ mission statement. All University of Iowa Libraries staff members grant the University of Iowa the right to archive and make publicly accessible the full texts of their professional publications. These include traditional productions such as journal articles and book chapters and extends to documents in other formats, such as conference presentation slides and audio and video recordings of public talks. This agreement provides the University of Iowa the non-exclusive, worldwide, irrevocable, royalty-free license to preserve and redistribute the work. Staff members will submit electronic versions of their works to the University of Iowa’s institutional repository, Iowa Research Online (IRO), within thirty days of each work’s publication, presentation, or transmission, respecting publishers’ requests for embargoes. Ideally the submitted version will be the publisher’s final version or the author’s final accepted manuscript. On a case-by-case basis, including cases in which a publisher refuses to accommodate the terms of this policy, staff members may opt-out of this agreement by sending a message to the Chair of the Scholarly Publishing Team (see membership at https://sharepoint.uiowa.edu/sites/libraries/sc/scc/default.aspx). The Scholarly Publishing Team will be responsible for interpreting the policy, resolving related problems, and revising it as necessary. The Scholarly Publishing Team will review this policy one year after its adoption and report its findings to the University Librarian.”
“The reproducibility problem in science is a familiar issue, not only within the scientific community, but with the general public as well. Recent developments in social psychology (such as fraudulent research by D. Stapel) and cell biology (the Amgen Inc. and Bayer AG reports on how rarely they could reproduce published results) have become widely known. Nearly every field is affected, from clinical trials and neuroimaging, to economics and computer science. Obvious solutions include more research on statistical and behavioral fixes for irreproducibility, activism for policy changes, and demanding more pre-registration and data sharing from grantees. Two Perspectives in this issue (pp. 1420and 1422) describe how journals and academic institutions can foster a culture of reproducibility. Transparency is central to improving reproducibility, but it is expensive and time-consuming. What can be done to alleviate those obstacles? Most scientists aspire to greater transparency, but if being transparent taps into scarce grant money and requires extra work, it is unlikely that scientists will be able to live up to their own cherished values. Thus, one of the most effective ways to promote high-quality science is to create free open-source tools that give scientists easier and cheaper ways to incorporate transparency into their daily workflow: from open lab notebooks, to software that tracks every version of a data set, to dynamic document generation. Moreover, scientists who use open-source software are not locked into proprietary software platforms with unclear monetization plans. If philanthropy or government funds new tools that the open-source community can iterate and improve on, the per-dollar return on investment can far exceed the costs. Infrastructural tools are now available, or in development, that should help to catalyze a change in scientific transparency. One example is the Open Science Framework (OSF), a free and open-source software platform for managing scientific workflow (supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in partnership with the Center for Open Science). Among its many features, this platform can enable scientists to easily track the history of all versions of every document or data set and the exact contributions made by each team member. All project materials can be given persistent identifiers, and the tracking of provenance allows any subsequent research project to give proper credit to the original. Projects using this platform include the Shared Access Research Ecosystem project of the Association of Research Libraries and its partners …”
“What are the real costs of running a journal, then? In the digital age, print editions of journals are at best a quaint reminder of the past and at worst a waste of space; every journal worth it’s salt is available online. Online publishing is quick and cheap: the only costs are hosting (minimal), typesetting, and marketing (which can largely be carried out on the basis of word-of-mouth networks that already exist within academic disciplines). A perfect case study is provided by the eLanguage programme, a digital publishing platform for academic journals in my own field, linguistics. Hosting here is funded by a learned society, the Linguistic Society of America, leaving journals to meet the costs of typesetting, which in many cases can be carried out on a voluntary basis (just like the more arduous task of peer review).
Faced with this type of business model, the arguments against OA evaporate. The funds provided by the Research Councils for the purposes of paying APCs can, and should, be re-purposed to directly fund the operation of a new generation of free-to-view, free-to-publish academic journals. All that is standing in the way of this position is an attachment on the part of policy-makers to the role of traditional publishing companies – an attachment which can, and should, be questioned. And it’s hard to imagine a position more consistent with OA than that of the Pirate Party, with its focus on “the sharing of knowledge, ideas and culture” (as stated in the manifesto) and its commitment to the provision of infrastructure for this. Academic OA and the Pirate Party are a match made in heaven; it’s an arena in which much has already been achieved, but in which a truly optimal system is yet to emerge. I personally would love to see the Party in the driving seat of this kind of change.”