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.



Open access is a case study for boosting research | The Financial Express

“On August 25, the US announced an open access policy to ensure free, immediate and equitable access to federally-funded research. Americans will now have free access to scholarly works, and by 2025, all federal agencies have to implement open access policies to ensure taxpayer-funded research is freely accessible to all citizens. India could follow this path, which may change the country’s higher education landscape and can be a vital tool for achieving SDG goals….

Thus, the price inelasticity of this monopolist market has been taken advantage of by selected commercial corporates (publishers) who do not produce or fund the research but use it as a raw material for commerce. Serial crisis also gave rise to shadow libraries like Library Genesis, Z-Library and Sci-Hub….

Since most research is funded by the government with taxpayers’ money—meaning the citizens indirectly fund it—the citizens therefore have the right to access the research output. OA can improve the verifiability and credibility of research output and taxpayers can also see the impact of the research they have funded….

Recently, India promised a ‘one nation, one subscription’ (ONOS) policy to get subscriptions for all citizens of major research work published globally, a step up from the existing subscription policy through the central library consortium e-ShodhSindhu. ONOS can be a prolific policy but whether it can address the issue of serial crisis is still a question….”

This Woman Has Done More for Science Than Anyone Else in History. No One’s Giving Her Credit. | by Loudt Darrow | Sep, 2022 | Medium

“The name of Alexandra Elbakyan probably means as much to you as a clipped toenail, but I reckon in a parallel universe, perhaps where Schrödinger’s cat escaped alive and became an affluent cardboard box interior designer or something, Alexandra’s name is synonymous with scientific prowess as much as the “E=mc²” you see printed on t-shirts and coffee mugs.

But not in here though.

Of all the timelines ours must be the darkest, for not only is Alexandra’s name less recognisable than Marilyn Manson without the clown makeup on, she is also being persecuted by the law and facing international multi-million-dollar fines for her revolutionary work….

Sci-Hub equalises the field. It gives science back to the scientists. It makes it accessible no matter which college sweater you wear.

And scientists are grateful for it — only in February of this year, more than 40 million papers were downloaded from India, China, and the US. Papers that are downloaded from Sci-Hub also get their citations doubled; that means more scientists get to read them and build their work upon them.

Sci-Hub may be the pirate bay of science. Not as sexy a contribution as the Special Theory of Relativity or the Laws of Motion. But is no doubt the work that will have the most impact on science as a whole.”

Removing author fees can help open access journals make research available to everyone

“Publishing a journal requires money, but that amounts to only 10 to 15 per cent of what publishers charge authors to make their work open access. Author fees are disproportionate with publishing costs, and correlate to the journal’s prestige, impact and profit model.

In this environment, author fees will continue to increase so long as someone can pay for it. It also means that open access publishing privileges a certain set of researchers….”

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….”

Who’ll pay for public access to federally funded research?

“The White House painted an incomplete economic picture of its new policy for free, immediate access to research produced with federal grants. Will publishers adapt their business models to comply, or will scholars be on the hook?…”

A Critical Examination of the OSTP Memo | By Every Means Necessary

by Dave Ghamandi, also available via

“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories . . .”

-Amilcar Cabral


Open access (OA) takes many forms. It can be the product of voluntary associations that are cooperative and mutually supportive. It can result from the “free market,” where Springer Nature charges an $11,000+ article processing charge (APC) to make a single article OA. It can also be produced through a regulatory-compliance-and-punishment system. The latter is what’s found in the new Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memo issued on August 25, 2022.[1] The OSTP’s stated aims in the memo give anti-imperialists much to be concerned about, especially as the biden administration previously justified increasing public access to federally-funded research as a way of battling China in a new Cold War. Those of us in the belly of the beast—the u.s. empire—have an obligation to develop, share, and act upon a critical analysis of the OSTP memo. This analysis is rooted in the historical and present-day evidence that the executive branch manages a corporately-controlled state and is not accustomed to giving gifts to the working class. I attempt to explain and predict in this essay.



News & Views: OSTP Memo – Modeling Market Impact – Delta Think

“This month we look at the possible effects of the new OSTP Public Access policy on the value of the scholarly publishing market. We also suggest some ways that publishers can meet the challenges ahead….

At this stage it is not possible to predict the specific approaches the various federal agencies will choose. The policy does not rule out publication in hybrid journals and the economic impact assessment discusses the notion of publication charges. Issues around licenses, manuscript types, and manuscript location, are left open as well as requirements around data.

The models below consider a general case: What might happen if “open” content in some form is good enough to replace subscriptions? And is there an upside if the newly open content were paid for in some way? …

The OSTP’s Economic Impact Statement (issued along with its new policy) puts this proportion at between 6.7% and 9.1% of global output. Our own analysis suggests a figure between 6.6% and 7.2%. …

Specific publishers will find their situation different to the broad market averages. One difference will be the share of their papers arising from US federally funded research. Delta Think has worked with publishers, predominantly US-based, where federally funded research accounts for 30-50% of their publications. A second difference is the size of the gap between the lower revenue generated per open access article, and the higher revenue generated per subscription access article. For many publishers, the difference is less than the market average. So as the balance of their publication output shifts towards OA, their subscription revenues won’t fall as quickly as market averages….

A few other important drivers are not immediately obvious from the charts:

The US’s share of global output is declining slowly: 1 percentage point or less per year, depending on the data sources used. Therefore, the effects of the OSTP policy reduce over time. (Which is why the charts head back towards the horizontal axis.)
Pricing policies are key. Understanding reduction in market value could help publishers to set price increases and help funders and buyers to understand likely cost implications. Publication fees can be optimized across a portfolio of journals and subscription prices raised further to offset softening revenues.
As the difference in revenues per article between OA and subscription narrows, then the effects become less profound. We have long noted that publication charges are likely to rise to achieve parity with subscriptions.
The models show revenue changes compounded over time. They don’t show annual revenue increases generated by increasing APC prices….”


The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How For-Profit Publishers Benefit from Article Processing Charges | Zenodo

Butler, Leigh-Ann, Matthias, Lisa, Simard, Marc-André, Mongeon, Philippe, & Haustein, Stefanie. (2022). The Oligopoly’s Shift to Open Access. How For-Profit Publishers Benefit from Article Processing Charges (Version v1). Zenodo. Abstract: This study aims to estimate the total amount of article processing charges (APCs) paid to publish open access (OA) in journals controlled by the large commercial publishers Elsevier, Sage, Springer-Nature, Taylor & Francis and Wiley, the so-called oligopoly of academic publishing. Since the early 2010s, these five academic publishers control more than half of peer-reviewed journal articles indexed in the Web of Science (WoS), expanding their market power through acquisitions and mergers. While traditionally their business model focused on charging subscriptions to read articles, they have now shifted to OA, charging authors fees for publishing. These APCs often amount to several thousand dollars, excluding many from publishing on economic grounds. This study computes an estimate of the total amounts of APCs paid to oligopoly publishers between 2015 and 2018, using publication data from WoS, OA status from Unpaywall and annual APC prices from open datasets and historical fees retrieved via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. We estimate that globally authors paid the oligopoly of academic publishers $1.06 billion in publication fees in the 4-year period analyzed. Of the 505,903 OA articles analyzed, 60.9% were published in gold OA journals, 8.6% in diamond (gold with APC=$0) and 30.5% in hybrid journals. Revenue from gold OA amounted to $612.5 million, while $448.3 million was obtained for publishing OA in hybrid journals, for which publishers already charge subscription fees. Among the five publishers, Springer-Nature made the largest revenue from OA ($589.7 million), followed by Elsevier ($221.4 million), Wiley ($114.3 million), Taylor & Francis ($76.8 million) and Sage ($31.6 million). With Elsevier and Wiley making the majority of APC revenue from hybrid fees and others focusing on gold, different OA strategies could be observed between publishers.

US plans to open up govt-funded science research papers • The Register

“Swartz rejected a plea bargain that called for a six-month sentence and tried to get a deal with no jail time but MIT reportedly wouldn’t sign off on it. In January 2013, he killed himself at the age of 26.

A month later, the OSTP under the Obama administration issued a memo [PDF] titled, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” It called for federal agencies and departments with over $100 million in annual research spending to develop a plan to promote greater access to publicly funded research.

But as Nelson points out in her memo, the old guidance endorsed a twelve-month post-publication embargo period that allowed academic publishers to maintain an exclusive, remunerative distribution window….

In 2019, the Trump administration contemplated an Executive Order to abolish the 12-month embargo window. But there was pushback from academic publishers and the science community, keen to keep the revenue generated during the embargo period. The Executive Order was never issued.

The economic analysis [PDF] published in conjunction with Nelson’s memo cites figures from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) that show “the average cost to publish a research article from all funding sources falls between $2,000 and $3,000 dollars.” …

“Comparatively, the ‘production’ cost of depositing a federally funded research article into a free public access repository can be, conservatively, as low as $15 and even lower under a federally owned and managed repository such as PubMed,” the analysis says.

So getting rid of the year-long paywall period should save taxpayers between $390 million and $789 million, it’s estimated.”

Economic Landscape of Federal Public Access Policy

“Summary: The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) submits this report to the Appropriations Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives pursuant to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022. 1 This report draws on current research and data available and information received through extensive engagement and consultation with diverse stakeholders, including publishers, federal agencies, and other organizations. Building on the status report on federal public access policies submitted by OSTP to Congress in November 2021, 2 this report elaborates on the potential economic impact of a change to federal agencies’ public access policies to remove the current 12-month embargo period on making federally funded research publications publicly accessible. OSTP estimates that the total cost of public access to the American taxpayer through investments in research accrues annually on average to between roughly $390 million on the low-end and $789 million on the high-end. This range of costs is relatively small in comparison to the billions of dollars invested each year in research by American taxpayers at less than half a percent, on average….”

A survey of researchers’ code sharing and code reuse practices, and assessment of interactive notebook prototypes [PeerJ]

Abstract:  This research aimed to understand the needs and habits of researchers in relation to code sharing and reuse; gather feedback on prototype code notebooks created by NeuroLibre; and help determine strategies that publishers could use to increase code sharing. We surveyed 188 researchers in computational biology. Respondents were asked about how often and why they look at code, which methods of accessing code they find useful and why, what aspects of code sharing are important to them, and how satisfied they are with their ability to complete these tasks. Respondents were asked to look at a prototype code notebook and give feedback on its features. Respondents were also asked how much time they spent preparing code and if they would be willing to increase this to use a code sharing tool, such as a notebook. As a reader of research articles the most common reason (70%) for looking at code was to gain a better understanding of the article. The most commonly encountered method for code sharing–linking articles to a code repository–was also the most useful method of accessing code from the reader’s perspective. As authors, the respondents were largely satisfied with their ability to carry out tasks related to code sharing. The most important of these tasks were ensuring that the code was running in the correct environment, and sharing code with good documentation. The average researcher, according to our results, is unwilling to incur additional costs (in time, effort or expenditure) that are currently needed to use code sharing tools alongside a publication. We infer this means we need different models for funding and producing interactive or executable research outputs if they are to reach a large number of researchers. For the purpose of increasing the amount of code shared by authors, PLOS Computational Biology is, as a result, focusing on policy rather than tools.


Say Hello to Anno : Hypothesis | 18 Aug 2022

“It’s been 11 years since we launched Hypothesis. It’s gone by so fast. During this time, we’ve accomplished many things: We defined a vision for open web annotation, we built an open source framework to implement it, we helped form and lead the working group that shipped the W3C standard, and we launched a service that’s now used by over a million people around the world who have made nearly 40 million annotations. In higher education, more than 1,200 colleges and universities use Hypothesis. And we’ve grown from a handful of people into a team of more than 35 passionate web builders. We’re not stopping here.

We’ve always had our sights set on the bigger idea: that this still-nascent effort can blossom into a true network of interoperable services — a rich ecosystem of collaboration, conversation and community over all knowledge. We believe that when incentives are aligned toward quality and away from monetizing attention, we can produce something of profound social importance. A utility layer for humanity. Since launch, the Hypothesis Project has been incorporated as a nonprofit. And while our nonprofit was an excellent home for our mission, it also limited us to grants and donations. Though we were beginning to provide services that we could charge for, we still needed capital to expand. Frustratingly, while our needs were growing, several of the key funding sources we’d relied on were no longer available to us as they shuttered programs or changed strategies. In 2019, we and others formed Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI), an “initiative to dramatically increase the amount of funding available to open scholarly infrastructure.” We recruited Kaitlin Thaney to that effort, and she has been doing a terrific job laying the foundation for this. But all this would take time we didn’t have.

In response, and to better position us to achieve our long-held mission, we’ve formed Anno, a public benefit corporation (aka “Annotation Unlimited, PBC”) that shares the Hypothesis mission as well as its team. We’ve done this so that we can take investment in a mission aligned way and scale the Hypothesis service to meet the opportunity in front of us. Anno is funded by a $14M seed round that includes a $2.5M investment from ITHAKA, the nonprofit provider of JSTOR, a digital library that serves more than 13,000 education institutions around the world, providing access to more than 12 million journal articles, books, images and primary sources in 75 disciplines. Also participating in the round are, Triage Ventures, Esther Dyson, Mark Pincus and others. ITHAKA’s president, Kevin Guthrie, has joined Anno’s board as an observer….”

Which Factors Drive Open Access Publishing? A Springer Nature Case Study

Open Access (OA) facilitates access to articles. But, authors or funders often must pay the publishing costs preventing authors who do not receive financial support from participating in OA publishing and citation advantage for OA articles. OA may exacerbate existing inequalities in the publication system rather than overcome them. To investigate this, we studied 522,664 articles published by Springer Nature. Employing statistical methods, we describe the relationship between authors affiliated with countries from different income levels, their choice of publishing (OA or closed access), and the citation impact of their papers. A machine learning classification method helped us to explore the association between OA-publishing and attributes of the author, especially eligibility for APC-waivers or discounts, journal, country, and paper. The results indicate that authors eligible for the APC-waivers publish more in gold-OA-journals than other authors. In contrast, authors eligible for an APC discount have the lowest ratio of OA publications, leading to the assumption that this discount insufficiently motivates authors to publish in a gold-OA-journal. The rank of journals is a significant driver for publishing in a gold-OA-journal, whereas the OA option is mostly avoided in hybrid journals. Seniority, experience with OA publications, and the scientific field are the most decisive factors in OA-publishing.