Mellon Foundation grant to support investigation into hidden costs of open infrastructure

“We are excited to announce that Invest in Open Infrastructure, a fiscally sponsored project of Code for Science and Society, has been awarded a grant of $135,125 USD from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to explore the costs and current funding patterns of open infrastructure. The grant will enable us to hire our first Research Data Analyst, building our capacity to investigate the underlying costs associated with open infrastructure projects and the current funding landscape.

This work will build on our efforts from this past fall to analyze philanthropic funding data in the sector, a dataset that pulls publicly available funding data together to examine for funding concentrations, gaps, and other trends.

In addition, this role will also lead research and analysis on the costs associated with leading open infrastructure projects through a series of focused use cases….”

Mellon Foundation grant to support investigation into hidden costs of open infrastructure

“We are excited to announce that Invest in Open Infrastructure, a fiscally sponsored project of Code for Science and Society, has been awarded a grant of $135,125 USD from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to explore the costs and current funding patterns of open infrastructure. The grant will enable us to hire our first Research Data Analyst, building our capacity to investigate the underlying costs associated with open infrastructure projects and the current funding landscape.

This work will build on our efforts from this past fall to analyze philanthropic funding data in the sector, a dataset that pulls publicly available funding data together to examine for funding concentrations, gaps, and other trends.

In addition, this role will also lead research and analysis on the costs associated with leading open infrastructure projects through a series of focused use cases….”

An analysis of use statistics of electronic papers in a Korean scholarly information repository

Abstract:  Introduction. This study aimed to analyse the current use status of Korean scholarly papers accessible in the repository of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information in order to assess the economic validity of the maintenance and operation of the repository.

Method. This study used the modified historical cost method and performed regression analysis on the use of Korean scholarly papers by year and subject area.

Analysis. The development cost of the repository and the use volumes were analysed based on 1,154,549 Korean scholarly papers deposited in the Institute repository.

Results. Approximately 86% of the deposited papers were downloaded at least once and on average, a paper was downloaded over twenty-six times. Regression analysis showed that the ratio of use of currently deposited papers is likely to decrease by 7.6% annually, as new ones are added.

Conclusions. The need to manage currently deposited papers for at least thirteen years into the future and provide empirical proof that the repository has contributed to Korean researchers conducting research and development in the fields of science and technology. The benefit-cost ratio was above nineteen, confirming the economic validity of the repository.

A Billion Dollar Donation: The Cost, and Inefficiency of, Researchers’ Time Spent on Peer Review

Abstract:  Background

 The amount and value of researchers’ peer review work is critical for academia and publishing. However, it is rarely recognized, its magnitude is unknown, and alternative ways of organizing peer review labor are rarely considered. Methods In this paper, we provide an estimate of researchers’ time and the salary-based contribution to the peer-review system, using publicly available data. Results We found that the total time reviewers globally worked on peer reviews was over 100 million hours in 2019, equivalent to over 12 thousand years. The estimated monetary value of the time US-based reviewers spent on reviews was over 1.1 billion USD in 2019. For China-based reviewers, the estimate is over 600 million USD, and for UK-based, over 200 million USD. Conclusions While these results are only rough estimates, they highlight the enormous amount of work and time that researchers provide to the publication system, and the importance of considering alternative ways of structuring, and paying for, peer review. We foster this process by discussing some alternative models that aim to improve the return on investment of scholarly publishing.

Financial Overview – PLOS

“2019 Highlights (see figures below for a fuller picture)

As of December 31st, 2019, PLOS had net assets of $11.8 million, improved by $1.1 million compared to the previous year’s $10.7 million.
Of the 2019 year-end net assets, cash and unrestricted investments totaled $12.5 million compared to $11.5 million at year-end 2018.
For the year ending December 31st, 2019, PLOS generated total revenues of $31.6 million compared to total revenues of $31.7 million for the year ending December 31st, 2018. 
2019 total expenses of $30.5 million compared with $38 million in 2018.
2019 yielded a net operating surplus of $1.1m compared to a net operating deficit of $6.3m in 2018.
PLOS provided $1.7 million in annual Publication Fee Assistance. …”

The $450 question: Should journals pay peer reviewers? | Science | AAAS

“During the debate at the virtual Researcher to Reader conference, arguments for paying reviewers were presented by James Heathers, a former research scientist in computational behavioral science who is now chief scientific officer at a technology startup, Cipher Skin. Last year, Heathers drew attention after publishing a manifesto, “The 450 Movement,” which argued that $450 would be a reasonable fee for for-profit publishers to pay him per peer review. Heathers based that number, in part, on what business consultants in his field would command. Other reviewers might negotiate lower amounts, he added.

Joining Heathers on the propayment team was Brad Fenwick, senior vice president at Taylor & Francis, a for-profit publisher with some 2700 journals. The pair contended that paying reviewers could ameliorate some widely noted flaws of peer review, including long delays in receiving reviews that too often lack depth and substance.

An antipayment team, however, predicted dire consequences if $450 fees became the norm. Subscription costs would soar and unethical reviewing could proliferate, argued a team that included Alison Mudditt, CEO of PLOS, the nonprofit publisher of open-access articles, and Tim Vines, a publishing consultant and founder of DataSeer, a data-sharing tool.

Here are excerpts from the debate, which have been edited for clarity and brevity. Following the excerpts, you’ll find the results of surveys that gauged which side the audience found more persuasive….”

Open Educational Resources and Affordability: A Three-Part Webcast Series | Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)

“ACRL’s traveling RoadShow workshops are on hold until it’s safe to resume large in-person gatherings, but we’re working to bring you the same great content through virtual experiences. These “Off-RoadShows” have been designed to help academic library professionals tackle the greatest issues facing the profession today

The three-part OER and Affordability webcast series will help you understand the basics of open educational resources (OER) and how libraries can be involved in affordability initiatives at your institution….”

How open access to scholarly journals helps students and researchers – The Hindu

“Over the past decade, there has been a rising clamour for more accessibility of scholarly journals. Those available in print are subscription based making it challenging for other researchers to access, verify, reproduce, cite or utilise research papers, further resulting in restricting the community from engaging in multiple aspects of research.

With technological advancement, students and researchers no longer have to sift through piles of physical research papers and journals. While the print form of such resources is still relevant in this digital era, online infrastructure has made these resources more accessible. Considering the present crisis, many institutions are setting up repositories or open access platforms to make paywalled research papers accessible across the globe. The Open Access platforms have become a movement around the world….”

Publishing Philosophy Open Access Without a Particle Collider | Impact of Social Sciences

Open Access often appears to be a monolithic concept, covering all fields of research and publication. However, in practice its application is to a large extent determined by the needs and resources available to different academic communities. In this post, Bryan W. Roberts and David Teira discuss open access publishing in philosophy and how an emerging generation of open publications has developed to meet the needs of an academic discipline where funding for publication is scarce.

Grossmann, Brembs (2021) Current market rates for scholarly publishing services | F1000Research

Grossmann A and Brembs B. Current market rates for scholarly publishing services [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. F1000Research 2021, 10:20 (https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.27468.1)

Abstract: For decades, the supra-inflation increase of subscription prices for scholarly journals has concerned scholarly institutions. After years of fruitless efforts to solve this “serials crisis”, open access has been proposed as the latest potential solution. However, the prices for open access publishing are also high and are rising well beyond inflation. What has been missing from the public discussion so far is a quantitative approach to determine the actual costs of efficiently publishing a scholarly article using state-of-the-art technologies, such that informed decisions can be made as to appropriate price levels. Here we provide a granular, step-by-step calculation of the costs associated with publishing primary research articles, from submission, through peer-review, to publication, indexing and archiving. We find that these costs range from less than US$200 per article in modern, large-scale publishing platforms using post-publication peer-review, to about US$1,000 per article in prestigious journals with rejection rates exceeding 90%. The publication costs for a representative scholarly article today come to lie at around US$400. We discuss the additional non-publication items that make up the difference between publication costs and final price.

Partner with PeerJ to build a new ecosystem for society publishing

Earlier this year we wrote about a renewed focus on community at PeerJ. This post is the first in a series on new programs and innovations we’re launching at PeerJ as part of our community development. 

In this post we:

  • Consider the pressures on scholarly societies and their members in the current landscape
  • Describe new publishing opportunities at PeerJ for societies and member associations
  • Call for partners to help us build a new and productive ecosystem for society publishing

A recurring theme in our research in the Communities Team has been the future of scholarly societies. Whether it’s authors choosing to publish with us to meet OA requirements their society cannot fulfill; concerns from society board members about slowly but steadily falling membership and financial reserves (exacerbated by conferences cancelled this year and next due to COVID-19); or societies wanting to launch and manage an OA journal, but put off by the complexity, cost and ongoing investment to maintain and sustain a fledgling title: the current dynamics in STM publishing can make life difficult for societies, especially smaller membership organizations. Meanwhile, the focus of many publishers has been on alternative business models and transformative deals at the institutional/funder level. 

Here at PeerJ we believe that scholarly societies and the communities they support and develop are vital to a thriving academic and research ecosystem, so we are hoping to offer an opportunity to societies and a solution to many of their concerns. 

Society Publishing with PeerJx

We are currently seeking partners to co-develop a new ecosystem for societies that we believe can answer many of the concerns we have heard. Our first step towards this new ecosystem is to develop PeerJx. 

Inspired by the relationship between TED and TEDx events, PeerJx focuses on local research communities and membership organizations. PeerJx partner sites are built on PeerJ’s journal portfolio, platform and infrastructure, but partners have their own editorial responsibilities and community development opportunities. Partners and their members benefit from the platform, service and reputation of PeerJ – and our highly-regarded portfolio of indexed, peer-reviewed journals – with the opportunity to build their own publication pathway, increase their member numbers, and develop their community and opportunities for them to interact.

PeerJx is designed around choice and flexibility for our partners. We know one size won’t fit everyone, so partners can integrate their own branding, and choose the editorial model, community tools, website configuration and even business model to create a bespoke publishing outlet best suited to their organization and members. 

Choose your journals

Choose to partner with PeerJ and you can choose which PeerJ journals to build into your PeerJx publishing pathway. 

PeerJx removes the administrative effort and cost of launching a new journal, and allows your members to submit to the highly regarded and indexed journals in PeerJ’s portfolio. Our journals’ excellent reputation, broad audience and high-quality peer review standards means your members can submit to your PeerJx knowing their research will be highly visible, widely disseminated, indexed in all the important databases and responsibly archived. Your members can choose to submit to any of our seven journals.

Choose your editorial model

Choose to take control of your publishing pathway. Partners can choose to form their own Senior Editorial Team and Editorial Board, and choose whether they want to curate content including blogs, news and announcements into their PeerJx site alongside their community’s research articles. There are three initial PeerJx editorial models:

Choose to reduce publishing costs for your members

Members of partner organizations submitting to their society’s PeerJx will enjoy a discount on our standard Article Processing Charges, or can purchase of one of our PeerJ Membership packages.

Partners can also choose to take collective action to reduce the cost of publishing for their members. Partner societies have the option to choose from a sliding scale of annual contributions – based on the size of their membership – to reduce article processing charges for their members. 

We anticipate developing business models in tandem with prospective partners to ensure the publishing with PeerJ is as accessible as possible. Our aim is to eliminate cost as a barrier to partners from participating.

As the PeerJ Partner Publishing Program develops and grows we intend to build models and revenue streams that will result in reductions to the publishing costs for Partners’ Members and profit shares with Partner organizations.

Choose to partner with PeerJ

We want to build an accessible, equitable solution for societies and members organizations seeking their own publishing outlet – or an Open Access option to compliment their current publications – without the cost and administrative burden of launching and maintaining a new journal. The PeerJ Partner Publishing Program and the PeerJx concept are still in their nascency and we hope partners will choose to work with us to help develop the program and its core concepts to ensure they meet your requirements.

Want to find out more?

If you’d like to find out more, you can download the PeerJ Partner Publishing Program prospectus here. We’d love to have the opportunity to talk through in more detail what societies would want from such a partnership – we want to develop the core concepts with prospective partners so we build something they want and need. If you’d like to help us develop a new and flourishing ecosystem for open access society publishing please get in touch: nathaniel.gore@peerj.com 

Partner with PeerJ to build a new ecosystem for society publishing

Earlier this year we wrote about a renewed focus on community at PeerJ. This post is the first in a series on new programs and innovations we’re launching at PeerJ as part of our community development. 

In this post we:

  • Consider the pressures on scholarly societies and their members in the current landscape
  • Describe new publishing opportunities at PeerJ for societies and member associations
  • Call for partners to help us build a new and productive ecosystem for society publishing

A recurring theme in our research in the Communities Team has been the future of scholarly societies. Whether it’s authors choosing to publish with us to meet OA requirements their society cannot fulfill; concerns from society board members about slowly but steadily falling membership and financial reserves (exacerbated by conferences cancelled this year and next due to COVID-19); or societies wanting to launch and manage an OA journal, but put off by the complexity, cost and ongoing investment to maintain and sustain a fledgling title: the current dynamics in STM publishing can make life difficult for societies, especially smaller membership organizations. Meanwhile, the focus of many publishers has been on alternative business models and transformative deals at the institutional/funder level. 

Here at PeerJ we believe that scholarly societies and the communities they support and develop are vital to a thriving academic and research ecosystem, so we are hoping to offer an opportunity to societies and a solution to many of their concerns. 

Society Publishing with PeerJx

We are currently seeking partners to co-develop a new ecosystem for societies that we believe can answer many of the concerns we have heard. Our first step towards this new ecosystem is to develop PeerJx. 

Inspired by the relationship between TED and TEDx events, PeerJx focuses on local research communities and membership organizations. PeerJx partner sites are built on PeerJ’s journal portfolio, platform and infrastructure, but partners have their own editorial responsibilities and community development opportunities. Partners and their members benefit from the platform, service and reputation of PeerJ – and our highly-regarded portfolio of indexed, peer-reviewed journals – with the opportunity to build their own publication pathway, increase their member numbers, and develop their community and opportunities for them to interact.

PeerJx is designed around choice and flexibility for our partners. We know one size won’t fit everyone, so partners can integrate their own branding, and choose the editorial model, community tools, website configuration and even business model to create a bespoke publishing outlet best suited to their organization and members. 

Choose your journals

Choose to partner with PeerJ and you can choose which PeerJ journals to build into your PeerJx publishing pathway. 

PeerJx removes the administrative effort and cost of launching a new journal, and allows your members to submit to the highly regarded and indexed journals in PeerJ’s portfolio. Our journals’ excellent reputation, broad audience and high-quality peer review standards means your members can submit to your PeerJx knowing their research will be highly visible, widely disseminated, indexed in all the important databases and responsibly archived. Your members can choose to submit to any of our seven journals.

Choose your editorial model

Choose to take control of your publishing pathway. Partners can choose to form their own Senior Editorial Team and Editorial Board, and choose whether they want to curate content including blogs, news and announcements into their PeerJx site alongside their community’s research articles. There are three initial PeerJx editorial models:

Choose to reduce publishing costs for your members

Members of partner organizations submitting to their society’s PeerJx will enjoy a discount on our standard Article Processing Charges, or can purchase of one of our PeerJ Membership packages.

Partners can also choose to take collective action to reduce the cost of publishing for their members. Partner societies have the option to choose from a sliding scale of annual contributions – based on the size of their membership – to reduce article processing charges for their members. 

We anticipate developing business models in tandem with prospective partners to ensure the publishing with PeerJ is as accessible as possible. Our aim is to eliminate cost as a barrier to partners from participating.

As the PeerJ Partner Publishing Program develops and grows we intend to build models and revenue streams that will result in reductions to the publishing costs for Partners’ Members and profit shares with Partner organizations.

Choose to partner with PeerJ

We want to build an accessible, equitable solution for societies and members organizations seeking their own publishing outlet – or an Open Access option to compliment their current publications – without the cost and administrative burden of launching and maintaining a new journal. The PeerJ Partner Publishing Program and the PeerJx concept are still in their nascency and we hope partners will choose to work with us to help develop the program and its core concepts to ensure they meet your requirements.

Want to find out more?

If you’d like to find out more, you can download the PeerJ Partner Publishing Program prospectus here. We’d love to have the opportunity to talk through in more detail what societies would want from such a partnership – we want to develop the core concepts with prospective partners so we build something they want and need. If you’d like to help us develop a new and flourishing ecosystem for open access society publishing please get in touch: nathaniel.gore@peerj.com 

PLOS and Transparency (including Plan S Price & Service Transparency Framework) – The Official PLOS Blog

“As a non-profit, mission-driven organization PLOS abides by our commitment to transparency. We openly share information and context about our finances, including target revenue amounts in some of our emerging business models. The Plan S Price & Service Transparency Framework provided us — and other publishers — a clear, uniform structure to share information about the services we perform and a percentage breakdown of how these are covered by the prices we charge. Many of our mission-driven publishing activities go well beyond peer review and production services. We provide commentary on some of these services, including how the varied editorial setups of our journals contribute to different percentage price breakdowns per title. We encourage other publishers to be transparent and openly share their data via such frameworks. And, we remain confident in showcasing how our prices cover our reasonable costs for a high level of service, with some margin for reinvestment….”

Scholar-led Open Access Publishers Are Not “Author-Chutes” · punctum books

“Both Open Book Publishers (OBP) and punctum books recently shared publicly that their per-title cost for high-quality open access monographs hovers somewhere around the $6,000 mark. This number is markedly different from the findings of the the 2016 Ithaka report “The Costs of Publishing Monographs,” which found that open access monographs published by university presses cost between $30,000 and $50,000.

As both institutional libraries and funding bodies invested in a transition to a fully open access scholarly communications landscape are naturally seeking how best to spend their money in the public interest, it comes as no surprise that the disclosure of our numbers, and accompanying financial transparency, has elicited diverse responses from the scholarly publishing world….

Rather, we invite university publishers to transparently disclose their financial records, so that we can level the playing field and have a discussion on what is really important: how we can help the entire scholarly communications landscape to transition to a sustainably open and cost-efficient access model, with the freedom to read, write, edit, and publish, and where public knowledge is truly accessible to the public.”

Survey of Academic Library Use of Cost per Download Data for Journals Subscriptions

“This study looks at how academic libraries, especially research oriented institutions, develop and use cost per download data in collection decision-making.  The study is based on data from 52 institutions, predominantly from the USA but also from Canada, the UK , continental Europe and elsewhere. 

Data in the report is broken out by type of institution (i.e. research university, doctoral-level, etc.) and by overall student enrollment, tuition, for public and private institutions and for those located in the USA and all other countries.  Data is also presented separately for collections oriented towards healthcare and medicine, and for multidisciplinary collections.

The 54-page study helps its readers to answer questions such as: How precise an idea do libraries have about the cost per download of their subscribed journals?  How many libraries feel that they measure this cost well?  What tools, applications or programs do they use to obtain or develop this data?  What makes it easier or harder to obtain such data?  How much confidence do they have in the accuracy of the data often made available by journals publishers? Do some of these publishers produce more reliable data than others? If so , which ones? Does the library use benchmarking data from other libraries or consortia when developing or using their in-hour cost per download data?  Exactly what is the cost per download for the library’s most and least expensive journals subscription packages? Is the library making any special efforts to obtain or obtain better cost per download data as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing pressure on library budgets?

Just a few of the study’s many findings are that:

Approximately half of the institutions surveyed said that they had a very or extremely precise idea of the cost per download of journal articles from their university collections.
Public college libraries were much more likely than private college libraries to use benchmarking data from other institutions.

Cost per download was generally higher in the USA than abroad and private colleges and universities tended to pay considerably higher costs per download than their public sector counterparts.

The median cost per download for the highest cost “Big Deal” from the libraries sampled was $15.00.”