The sustainability argument or… How academic journals economic models never really last – The political economy of academic publications

“For most publishers – including self-publishing learned societies – subscription has only been profitable for a short time and is not anymore. It is not sustainable, since it now implies the disappearance of their autonomy or at least dependence on increasingly powerful players, likely to act unilaterally on their revenues. And even for the largest publishers, the threat of non-renewal of Big Deals is growing stronger from 2010 onwards, whether through the sudden drop in financial resources (Greece) or through the choice to no longer pay for a service that does not meet the needs of libraries (United States) or open access demands (Germany, Sweden). It is in this context that Elsevier has started to brand itslef as a data company, while new publishers are trying to make a new model last, based on Article Processing Charges….

From the point of view of these new big players, APCs are so sustainable that they create journals almost every week. For example, in 2021 MDPI launched 84 new journals and only acquired two existing titles….”

 

The Open Language Archives Community: a 20-year update | Emerald Insight

Abstract:  Purpose

This paper reports on the first 20 years of the Open Language Archives Community (OLAC), comprehensive infrastructure for indexing and discovering language resources.

Design/methodology/approach

We begin with the original vision, assess progress relative to the original requirements, and identify ongoing challenges.

Findings

Based on the overview of OLAC history and recent developments and on the analysis of the situation in the language archives area as a whole, the authors propose an agenda for a more sustainable future for open language archiving.

Originality/value

This paper examines the progress of OLAC and discusses improvements in such areas as participation, access, and sustainability.

A brief history of open access at Harvard · Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication

“This is the first of two related posts. The second will describe our current thinking about open access. (Watch for it around Open Access Week, 2020.) We’re looking forward and want to start by showing where we’ve come from. 

For now, this brief history focuses mostly on Harvard’s thinking about subscription journal prices and Harvard’s open access (OA) policies. There are many other OA initiatives at Harvard we might add later, for example on courseware, data, digitization, open-source software, and publishing, as well as our partnerships with larger, multi-institutional initiatives. …”

Two decades of Open Access Campaigns | Septentrio Conference Series

Abstract:  At the start of this century, the Open Access movement gained momentum, largely fuelled by the Budapest (2002), Berlin (2003), and Bethesda (2003) declarations. The past two decades further witnessed several advocacy campaigns that challenged excessive profiteering through scientific publication, and advocated for revolutionising the scholarly publication system. Several attempts have been made to raise a voice for researchers’ rights that have been swallowed by the commercial publishing model. This study aims to give an overview of some major campaigns and organisations advocating for open access and analyses their efforts through the lens of their objectives, outcomes, opportunities, challenges and achievements. The assessment reveals some missing pieces that require careful consideration especially for current and future advocacy campaigns, as they are key building blocks of the Open Science movement. Such a mapping and understanding is crucial for sketching effective strategies needed to accelerate the progress towards achieving genuine and universal open access.

 

Morrison et. al. (2022) Change and growth in open access journal publishing and charging trends 2011–2021 | Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology

Morrison, H., Borges, L., Zhao, X., Kakou, T. L., & Shanbhoug, A. N. (2022). Change and growth in open access journal publishing and charging trends 2011–2021. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 1– 13. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24717

 

This study examines trends in open access article processing charges (APCs) from 2011 to 2021, building on a 2011 study by Solomon and Björk. Two methods are employed, a modified replica and a status update of the 2011 journals. Data are drawn from multiple sources and datasets are available as open data. Most journals do not charge APCs; this has not changed. The global average per-journal APC increased slightly, from 906 to 958 USD, while the per-article average increased from 904 to 1,626 USD, indicating that authors choose to publish in more expensive journals. Publisher size, type, impact metrics and subject affect charging tendencies, average APC, and pricing trends. Half the journals from the 2011 sample are no longer listed in DOAJ in 2021, due to ceased publication or publisher de-listing. Conclusions include a caution about the potential of the APC model to increase costs beyond inflation. The university sector may be the most promising approach to economically sustainable no-fee OA journals. Universities publish many OA journals, nearly half of OA articles, tend not to charge APCs and when APCs are charged, the prices are very low on average.

 

OA Weeks past, but not forgotten – The Official PLOS Blog

“Open Access (OA) Week is a time that’s dear to our hearts at PLOS. PLOS is a proud co-founder of OA Week. Back in 2008, PLOS alumna Donna Okubo, helped to organize an OA Day, together with representatives from SPARC and Students for Free Culture. Based on the success of that event, the group decided to expand OA Day to a full week the following year. OA Week is also an unofficial birthday of sorts, coinciding as it does with the first issues of our first journals: PLOS Biology in October 2003, and PLOS Medicine in October 2004 (plus PLOS NTDs in October 2007, and PLOS Global Public Health in October 2021).

The Open movement has grown and changed a lot over the past 14 years. Through it all PLOS has remained at the forefront of Open, exemplifying the themes of each celebration—almost like they were tailor-made, just for us. Let’s take a look back at highlights from those past celebrations, and a look ahead at where we think the Open movement is headed next….”

The past, present and future of publishing: Observations to celebrate ALPSP’s 50th year – Smart – 2022 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Sally Morris: Facilitated by online access, the rise of freely available preprint databases, and (partly as a publisher response to these) author-side funded free-to-read journals, has been a massive shift. According to one researcher I quizzed recently, he values both—preprints in order to get hold of the latest findings, and the published journal (whether or not free-to-read) for the fact that the article has been peer-reviewed. He does, however, resent the high author charges for publication in some of the top journals.

Josh Nicholson: Let me caveat this by saying that I have only really ever interacted with research when it was already online. I think scholarly publishing didn’t actually change so much when transitioning from print to online. I often compare Einstein’s 1916 paper predicting gravitational waves to the 2016 paper from CERN detecting gravitational waves to make this point. Despite 100?years in between publications and the transition from print to online, they look remarkably the same….

Niamh O’Connor: There are a quite a few worth noting! Enabled by the move online, we saw emergence of the Open Access (OA) movement. The initial aim of this was to ‘open’ the literature and allow everyone to access research outputs—at the time primarily articles. With the move to OA came a change in business models where instead of paying for a product (‘the journal’), payment was made for a publishing service—so aligned with the move to ‘servitization’ seen in the wider economy. Building on this, the megajournal (PLOS ONE being the first) fundamentally changed perception and practice around publication criteria. Both in terms of focus on work being ‘correct’ in the initial iteration, now on methodological and ethical rigor, and in terms of removing scope boundaries and allowing research in all fields of research to be published in a single journal. This is particularly important for interdisciplinary research.

And now we are seeing a transition to an Open Science ecosystem, explicitly acknowledging the interdependence of contributions to research and discovery. The 2021 UNESCO recommendation on Open Science ‘outlines a common definition, shared values, principles and standards for open science at the international level and proposes a set of actions conducive to a fair and equitable operationalization of open science for all’. Open Science allows and encourages us to rethink how we share and consume research to make that move from the constraints of the physical format and take advantage of the opportunities provided by a digital world—and there is a long way to go yet! …”

The past, present and future of publishing: Observations to celebrate ALPSP’s 50th year – Smart – 2022 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Sally Morris: Facilitated by online access, the rise of freely available preprint databases, and (partly as a publisher response to these) author-side funded free-to-read journals, has been a massive shift. According to one researcher I quizzed recently, he values both—preprints in order to get hold of the latest findings, and the published journal (whether or not free-to-read) for the fact that the article has been peer-reviewed. He does, however, resent the high author charges for publication in some of the top journals.

Josh Nicholson: Let me caveat this by saying that I have only really ever interacted with research when it was already online. I think scholarly publishing didn’t actually change so much when transitioning from print to online. I often compare Einstein’s 1916 paper predicting gravitational waves to the 2016 paper from CERN detecting gravitational waves to make this point. Despite 100?years in between publications and the transition from print to online, they look remarkably the same….

Niamh O’Connor: There are a quite a few worth noting! Enabled by the move online, we saw emergence of the Open Access (OA) movement. The initial aim of this was to ‘open’ the literature and allow everyone to access research outputs—at the time primarily articles. With the move to OA came a change in business models where instead of paying for a product (‘the journal’), payment was made for a publishing service—so aligned with the move to ‘servitization’ seen in the wider economy. Building on this, the megajournal (PLOS ONE being the first) fundamentally changed perception and practice around publication criteria. Both in terms of focus on work being ‘correct’ in the initial iteration, now on methodological and ethical rigor, and in terms of removing scope boundaries and allowing research in all fields of research to be published in a single journal. This is particularly important for interdisciplinary research.

And now we are seeing a transition to an Open Science ecosystem, explicitly acknowledging the interdependence of contributions to research and discovery. The 2021 UNESCO recommendation on Open Science ‘outlines a common definition, shared values, principles and standards for open science at the international level and proposes a set of actions conducive to a fair and equitable operationalization of open science for all’. Open Science allows and encourages us to rethink how we share and consume research to make that move from the constraints of the physical format and take advantage of the opportunities provided by a digital world—and there is a long way to go yet! …”

ORCID at 10: 10 years of ORCID in the PID infrastructure

“Join us as we celebrate ORCID at 10!

To fulfill the promise of a robust, inclusive web of scholarly communications, two things are critical: a unique, persistent-identifier (PID) system for digital items, such as published works, and another such system for the people creating those works. With that twin PID foundation in place, discoverability and credit attribution would improve dramatically, opening new channels for collaboration and for tracking and assessing the impact of research across the globe. This has been the vision of ORCID from the beginning! In this webinar, we’ll reflect on ORCID’s first decade: how iD was created, how our use cases have evolved over time, and the challenges we faced (and overcame!) We’ll also share some of our biggest surprises and lessons learned as PID infrastructure has evolved to continue generating trust in research. Finally, we’ll look ahead at what the future may hold for ORCID, PID infrastructure, and the entire research ecosystem. …”

The origins of Education Policy Analysis Archives in an era of early open access publishing | Education Policy Analysis Archives

Abstract:  In conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the open access scholarly journal, Education Policy Analysis Archives, Founder and Editor Emeritus Gene V Glass presents a brief history of the journal, including its online predecessors and offshoots, within the context of computer and information technology developments and the early open access movement in scholarly publishing.

A History of Scientific Journals: Publishing at the Royal Society 1665-2015 | UCL Press

Aileen Fyfe, Noah Moxham, Julie McDougall-Waters, and Camilla Mørk Røstvik (2022) A History of Scientific Journals: Publishing at the Royal Society 1665-2015. UCL Press. https://www.uclpress.co.uk/collections/ro_homepage_products/products/187262

 

Modern scientific research has changed so much since Isaac Newton’s day: it is more professional, collaborative and international, with more complicated equipment and a more diverse community of researchers. Yet the use of scientific journals to report, share and store results is a thread that runs through the history of science from Newton’s day to ours. Scientific journals are now central to academic research and careers. Their editorial and peer-review processes act as a check on new claims and findings, and researchers build their careers on the list of journal articles they have published. The journal that reported Newton’s optical experiments still exists. First published in 1665, and now fully digital, the Philosophical Transactions has carried papers by Charles Darwin, Dorothy Hodgkin and Stephen Hawking. It is now one of eleven journals published by the Royal Society of London.

Unrivalled insights from the Royal Society’s comprehensive archives have enabled the authors to investigate more than 350 years of scientific journal publishing. The editorial management, business practices and financial difficulties of the Philosophical Transactions and its sibling Proceedings reveal the meaning and purpose of journals in a changing scientific community. At a time when we are surrounded by calls to reform the academic publishing system, it has never been more urgent that we understand its history.

 

Walled Culture: How Big Content Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Keep Creators Poor (book)

by Glyn Moody

Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa get sued for alleged plagiarism and the majority of creators see pennies for their work, while the revenues of the record labels are exploding. Libraries struggle to give access to ebooks and get sued by an increasingly more powerful book industry, while publicly funded research papers get locked up.

Walled Culture is the first book providing a compact, non-technical history of digital copyright and its problems over the last 30 years, and the social, economic and technological implications.

This book recounts the origins and unfolding of that historic clash of irreconcilable ideas by diving into how:

Big Content have lobbied lawmakers in the US, the EU, and elsewhere to pass harsh laws in an attempt to forbid people from accessing and sharing content;
As a result, the immense power of the Internet is being throttled, and the knowledge and culture that could flow freely to everyone is being walled up for a select few; and,
We are losing so much just to prop up outdated and inefficient business models, and what could be done to unleash the Internet’s full potential and fairly remunerate creators by breaking down those walls.

In looking into these events, Walled Culture tries to answer the following key questions:

What are the problems with copyright in the digital age?
Why does copyright harm creators and block global access to knowledge?
How does copyright threaten basic freedoms and undermine the Internet?
How can we promote creativity and help artists and make a living in the digital age?
What should we do to solve all these problems?

 

Imagining networked scholarly communication: self-archiving, academic labour, and the early Internet

Abstract:  This essay explores the emergence of self-archiving practices in the 1990s as a form of academic labour that is intimately tied to the popularization of the Internet. It argues that self-archiving is part of a sociotechnical imaginary of networked scholarly communication that has helped to shape understandings of digital scholarship and dissemination over the past three decades. Focusing on influential texts written by open access archivangelist Stevan Harnad in 1990 and 1994, the essay analyzes the language and discursive strategies used to promote selfarchiving as form of collective scholarly exchange. Through these writings, Harnad helped to articulate scholars to the Internet as a medium of publication, with impacts still seen today in policy discussions around open access and the public good that shape relations of knowledge production under contemporary forms of capitalism. 

 

Scientific Openness and Integrity: Two Decades of Interactive Open Access Publishing and Open Peer Review

“For more than 20 years, the scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) has been a pioneer in open access publishing and public peer review with interactive discussion. All articles published in it are accessible free of charge via the internet. By recording and opening up the peer review process, the interactive open access journals lead to an internet of knowledge or epistemic web that does not only reflect what we know but also how we know it, i.e., how well it has been validated.

The achievements of ACP and further interactive open access sister journals of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) will be celebrated, reflected, and further developed at a special meeting of the ACP editorial board and the EGU publications committee on 19 September 2022 at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry (MPIC) in Mainz. The meeting is supported by the open access publisher Copernicus, which operates the journal on behalf of EGU in a not-for-profit manner.

Ensure free speech, critical discussion, and transparency in scientific communication and quality assurance

Since the journal launch in 2001, ACP has grown to become one of the major international journals in atmospheric science, now handling around a thousand submissions per year. ACP’s success was not assured when it launched. Open peer review, in which the reviewer comments, author replies, and additional public comments from the scientific community are published immediately, was radical in 2001. “Our guiding principle was to achieve highest levels of scientific integrity through free speech and transparency in scientific exchange and quality assurance”, says Max Planck Director Ulrich Pöschl, who had initiated ACP.

The interactive open access publishing concept was developed more than 20 years ago by researchers connected through the MPI for Chemistry. “It has been a lot of joy and work to initiate, design, and establish interactive open-access publishing with an equally pleasant and strong team of friends and colleagues, including Paul Crutzen and Arne Richter, who are unfortunately not with us anymore but deserve special thanks for the swift initial gain of momentum”, says Uli Pöschl, who led ACP until recently, chaired the EGU publications committee for many years, and continues to promote open access also through the global initiative OA2020 and related activities.”