The Rise of Open Access Journals in Radiation Oncology: Influence on Resident Research, 2015 to 2019 – Advances in Radiation Oncology

Abstract:  Purpose

While a rising share of scientific research articles are being published in open access (OA) journals, their impact on resident research in radiation oncology is unknown. Thus, we sought to determine the number, content, and costs of first-author, PubMed-searchable articles radiation oncology residents in the United States (US) published in OA journals in recent years.

 

Methods and Materials

We built a database of first-author, PubMed-searchable articles published by US radiation oncology residents who graduated between 2015 and 2019. We then classified each journal in which these articles appeared as either OA or non-OA and obtained the current article-processing charge (APC) for each publication that appeared in an OA journal.

 

Results

The residents in this study published 2637 first-author, PubMed-searchable articles, 555 of which (21.0%) appeared in 138 OA journals. The number of publications in OA journals per resident increased from 0.47 for the class of 2015 to 0.79 for the class of 2019. Publications in OA journals garnered fewer citations than those in non-OA journals (8.9 vs 14.9, P < .01). Furthermore, 90.6% of OA journals levy an APC for original research reports (median, $1896), which is positively correlated with their 2019 impact factor (r = 0.63, P < .01). Aggregate APCs totaled $900,319.21 and appeared to increase over the study period.

 

Conclusions

The number of first-author, PubMed-searchable articles published by graduating US radiation oncology residents in OA journals rose significantly between 2015 and 2019. To maximize the benefits of OA publishing in the future, US radiation oncology residents will need to ensure that they use vetted OA journals to publish their research findings and avoid predatory journals.

Texas consortium of 44 colleges strikes deal with Elsevier

” “If you want open access to become the universal model of access to scholarship, then [this deal] … is going to feel like a real setback,” Rick Anderson, university librarian at Brigham Young University, said, referring to the set of principles and practices in which research articles are available online free, without barriers. “But if you’re OK with the subscription model in principle and just want to see it work better for all parties, then this deal provides what may be a very useful template.”…

Lower Costs, More (Though Not Open) Access

In the agreement, Elsevier said it will cap annual increases at 2 percent, which is lower than the industry standard—“startlingly low,” Anderson said. That near-term cost certainty will allow member institutions to budget responsibly, according to Charles Weaver, associate dean for sciences and professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, who served on the consortium’s negotiating team. Baylor is a consortium member.

The deal also includes a pilot project in which article copyrights revert to authors “after a period of time that will be collaboratively determined” by consortium members and Elsevier, according to the news release. In addition, authors affiliated with the consortium who publish open access will pay discounted author publication charges….

But some, including some consortium members, see some shortcomings.

“Our institution would have liked to see more increased focus on open-access publishing,” said Catherine Rudowsky, dean of university libraries at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, who served on the steering committee and whose institution is a coalition member. “We appreciated the reduced author publication charges, but at the end of the day, we are still paying Elsevier to read and to publish. We will not solve the world’s biggest problems by limiting access to research and by controlling information.” …”

Texas consortium of 44 colleges strikes deal with Elsevier

” “If you want open access to become the universal model of access to scholarship, then [this deal] … is going to feel like a real setback,” Rick Anderson, university librarian at Brigham Young University, said, referring to the set of principles and practices in which research articles are available online free, without barriers. “But if you’re OK with the subscription model in principle and just want to see it work better for all parties, then this deal provides what may be a very useful template.”…

Lower Costs, More (Though Not Open) Access

In the agreement, Elsevier said it will cap annual increases at 2 percent, which is lower than the industry standard—“startlingly low,” Anderson said. That near-term cost certainty will allow member institutions to budget responsibly, according to Charles Weaver, associate dean for sciences and professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, who served on the consortium’s negotiating team. Baylor is a consortium member.

The deal also includes a pilot project in which article copyrights revert to authors “after a period of time that will be collaboratively determined” by consortium members and Elsevier, according to the news release. In addition, authors affiliated with the consortium who publish open access will pay discounted author publication charges….

But some, including some consortium members, see some shortcomings.

“Our institution would have liked to see more increased focus on open-access publishing,” said Catherine Rudowsky, dean of university libraries at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, who served on the steering committee and whose institution is a coalition member. “We appreciated the reduced author publication charges, but at the end of the day, we are still paying Elsevier to read and to publish. We will not solve the world’s biggest problems by limiting access to research and by controlling information.” …”

Library Coalition agreement with Elsevier results in lower costs, greater access – Odessa American

“All TLCUA members will receive a discount on journal subscriptions–some as high as 30%–while still maintaining significant amounts of access to journals and combined, will realize a savings of over $4.75M annually. Beyond initial cost savings, Elsevier agreed to a maximum annual increase of 2% over the course of the license agreement, with some years as low as 0%, which is significantly lower than industry standard.

TLCUA and Elsevier have agreed to partner on a pilot project to revert ownership of journal articles back to original authors—and not just those at TLCUA-member institutions. Currently, authors transfer copyright of their work in exchange for that work being published. This pilot will provide for rights to go back to authors after a period of time that will be collaboratively determined with Elsevier. A subset of Elsevier journals will be chosen to study the impact of the copyright reversion pilot for authors and its applicability more broadly to STEM (scientific, technical, engineering and medical) publishers, the release said….”

ARL Statement on Texas Library Coalition for United Action Agreement with Elsevier – Association of Research Libraries

“Today more than 40 public and private academic institutions in Texas—members of the Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA)—announced the conclusion of a successful negotiation with Elsevier. TLCUA member libraries secured cost savings on journal subscription access, along with a set of favorable license terms and a novel pilot experiment in restoration of author copyrights that stands to benefit all authors, not just those associated with TLCUA member institutions….”

Texas Universities Reach Historic Deal with Elsevier: TLCUA Saves Texas Universities Millions Collectively

Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA) is pleased to announce that it has concluded negotiations with Elsevier, and all TLCUA members have signed or are finalizing new agreements for subscription journal access. In 2019, 44 public and private university campuses across Texas joined together to form TLCUA to think creatively about access to faculty publications and the sustainability of journal subscriptions. TLCUA has negotiated with Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of scientific journals, including The Lancet and Cell and over 2,500 other journals covering topics in medicine, biology, psychology, engineering, business and more. The TLCUA effort aligns with other libraries across academia that have sought to evolve the relationship between libraries and publishers and find new ways to thrive together.

All TLCUA members will receive a discount on journal subscriptions—some as high as 30%—while still maintaining significant amounts of access to journals and combined, will realize a savings of over $4.75M annually. Beyond initial cost savings, Elsevier agreed to a maximum annual increase of 2% over the course of the license agreement, with some years as low as 0%, which is significantly lower than industry standard.

Ratios for Evaluating Full-Text Journal Article Access: A Quantitative Study: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  This article proposes a methodology for systematically assessing the cost of journal subscriptions. The authors of the paper (hereafter “the researchers”) established ratios comparing the list costs of journal articles as advertised by publishers against the cost per article of journal articles available in aggregated collections in library databases (hereafter “aggregating databases”). The researchers propose that the ratios can be used by libraries wishing to apply a standard methodology for assessing journal packages containing full-text articles. The study may be helpful for those librarians who seek to supplement qualitative information and other quantitative data, such as usage statistics, in order to demonstrate the library’s rationale for providing journal access either by purchasing articles directly from a publisher as needed or by continuing to subscribe to an aggregating database. The aggregating databases reviewed in this study included representative aggregating databases commonly associated with the following fields of study: Social Sciences, Humanities, and Health Sciences; however, the methodology described in this article could be applied to other disciplines as well. The results of the study indicated that the ratios for Mean Cost/Package Subscription Price (MC/PSP), Median Cost/Package Subscription Price (MED/PSP) could be used in evaluating journal collections. The researchers suggest that future studies should be conducted to assess resource sharing and the availability of open access resource versions of articles as possible contributing factors to the purchase decisions associated with scholarly journal articles.

 

The dark side of the textbook publishing market – University Library | University of Saskatchewan

“To accommodate students who may be struggling financially, instructors will often request that the library purchase a copy of their course-required commercial e-textbook to place on reserve. However, many textbook publishers or vendors will not sell electronic versions of their books to libraries (like VitalSource) since it is more profitable to sell directly to students. If e-textbooks are available for libraries to purchase, they are often unreasonably priced (see this crowd-sourced spreadsheet of examples) and come with restrictive licensing (e.g., limited simultaneous users, limited ability to download and print). For example, several of the academic publishers we work with and buy from regularly have started classifying their eBooks as either ‘eBooks for library sale’, or ‘eTextbooks, only available for individual student purchase’. Some of the publishers that we deal with who have these restrictions on textbooks include: …”

Why price transparency in research publishing is a positive step | Hindawi

“In 2019, Hindawi took part in the price transparency framework pilot run by Information Power on behalf of cOAlition S. Three years later and the coalition’s new Journal Comparison Service (JCS) is up and running. Hindawi is proud to be one of the publishers that has contributed data to this service. Taking part has helped us focus on the rigour of our own reporting system and has enabled us to give researchers greater choice when choosing a journal by giving more visibility to our services in our new and publicly available journal reports.

Only a few publishers took part in the pilot and the framework remains untested. It’s not yet clear how useful the JCS will be to the institutions who might want to access the service and use the data, or how the JCS will increase transparency about costs as well as pricing across the publishing industry more generally. In part, this is because it’s seen by some to provide an overly simplistic view of publishing. Compartmentalising publishing services into seven or eight different categories  (see page 20 of the JCS guidance for publishers) inevitably constrains the many different and often overlapping services that publishers provide. In addition, limiting the price breakdown of these services into the percentage that each contributes to a journal’s APC also means that the real costs aren’t visible. There are also pragmatic reasons that make it very difficult for some publishers to collect data consistently, especially for those with large portfolios that operate on multiple platforms or have journal-specific workflows. Finally, fully open-access publishers who don’t have an APC business model can’t take part, even if they want to be more transparent. However, we believe the upsides are large. Hindawi has more than 200 journals in our portfolio and the following outlines a few of the ways we, and we hope those who contribute to and access our journals, are benefiting. Our focus is on the ‘Information Power’ framework for the JCS and on the ‘Journal Quality’ information specifically (columns P-Z in the template spreadsheet). This information relates to data on the journal workflow, especially peer review (such as timings and the no of reviewers involved). We know that there is a long way to go to make all publishing services transparent, but we are learning from our participation in the JCS and will continue to explore ways to improve transparency….”

Temporary stop free of charge Open Access publishing Springer ’22 – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

“The 2022 maximum for free of charge open access publishing in Springer Nature journals is expected to be reached early November.

Since 2015, corresponding authors affiliated with Dutch Universities, University Medical Centres and the KNAW institutes can publish Open Access in many Springer Nature journals without costs. The number of free open access articles under this consortium deal is limited to 2,080 per year. In 2022, this maximum number is expected to be reached in the beginning of November….”

Access to chemical database Reaxys under threat in UK as fees spiral | Chemistry World

Concerns have been raised that institutional access to the Reaxys chemical and reactions database could end at universities across the UK in a row over rising costs. The dispute over subscription fees is being described as a potentially significant problem for chemists in the UK, and maybe worldwide.

Reaxys incorporates Beilstein – the largest organic chemistry database – and Gmelin – a sizeable repository of organometallic and inorganic compounds and databases, as well as other key chemistry resources. Launched in 2009 and licensed by commercial publishing giant Elsevier, Reaxys enables research chemists to search and find chemical compounds, reactions, properties and synthesis planning information. It also includes chemical patent literature.

The Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc), an organisation that assists UK universities with digital resources and negotiates on behalf of the UK higher education and research sector, is currently in talks with Elsevier to make institutional access to Reaxys more affordable.

[…]

 

The eBook crisis and how it affects academic staff | University of Salford

“The rising costs of textbooks, particularly eBooks, is creating a crisis of availability of core reading materials. This is impacting on academic colleagues’ ability to recommend textbooks and students facility to access core reading materials.

Publishers current supply models make it impossible for a library to provide textbooks on behalf of their students. Consequently, students are either forced to purchase expensive textbooks themselves or not have access to critical resources. This is all happening during a cost-of-living crisis when they are struggling to meet their basic needs to support their studies.

Therefore, the supply and pricing of textbooks, particularly eBooks, is one of the most difficult issues currently facing both libraries and universities. Further information on these issues is available in Jisc’s Briefing for academic staff on Cost, affordability and availability of core reading materials.

Publishers are increasingly constraining our ability to provide equitable textbook access. Their actions include:

imposing stringent access requirements when providing eTextbooks
declining to sell their eTextbooks to libraries
not offering some textbooks in electronic format
escalating eTextbook costs for libraries
withdrawing sale of textbooks previously available electronically…”

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….”

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….”