The ‘restricting choice of publication’ threat | Danny Kingsley | Unlocking Research

“When you work in the open access space, language matters. It is very easy to distract the academic community from the actual discussion at hand and we are seeing an example of this right now. The emerging narrative seems to be that open access policies, and specifically the UK Scholarly Communication Licence (UKSCL), are going to threaten academics’ ability to choose where they publish. The UK-SCL Policy Summary is explicitly “an open access policy mechanism which ensures researchers can retain re-use rights in their own work, they retain copyright and they retain the freedom to publish in the journal of their choice (assigning copyright to the publisher if necessary)”. Let’s keep that in mind when considering the following examples of the ‘restricting choice of publication’ argument that have crossed my path recently….”

» Institutional memberships for open-access publishers considered harmful The Occasional Pamphlet

“Some open-access publishers offer institutional memberships, whereby a fixed annual fee, often based on the size of faculty or expected number of submitted articles, covers all or a percentage of article-processing fees for the institution for the year.

The issue of OA publisher memberships is interesting and fraught. Harvard University is not currently a member of any of the major OA publishers—BioMed Central, Hindawi, or Public Library of Science. (Actually, Harvard Medical School is a PLoS member.) I’m not involved in Harvard’s decisions about institutional memberships, although I am not a fan of memberships in general, as you will see. I’ll explain my own view of the difficulty with memberships in terms of the market design for publisher services, and then talk about what alternatives there are….”

Green, Gold, Platinum or Puce: How the misuse of OA terminology is colouring the debate | Book Shaped Object

“Given broad acceptance that the UK should move towards wider access to research, the debate has naturally moved on to the question of implementation. The details matter, including the words we use. The problem is that the terminology is being systematically misused. And that misuse is poisoning debate….”

Open Access Debate

“I created Open Access Debate after witnessing teams whose schools couldn’t afford briefs and expensive database subscriptions lose to those who had access to these materials. The large, well-coached teams reap enormous benefits from the expertise of their coaching staff in addition to research guidance. Hopefully this resource can be used by debaters all across the country to bridge the gap between large and small, funded and unfunded, and coached and uncoached….”

The evidence fails to justify publishers’ demand for longer embargo periods on publicly-funded research.

“Due to disciplinary differences in the “half-life” or relative demand of a scholarly article, some publishers are looking to enact longer embargo periods before an article can be made openly available on archives and repositories, in order to protect against profit losses. Peter Suber finds there is insubstantial evidence to suggest embargo length affects profit margin. Furthermore, the premise that public policies should maximize publisher revenue before maximizing public access to publicly-funded research is unfounded and should equally be rejected. …”

The setback danger of offsetting – Stockholm University Press Blog

“A large number of offsetting deals, without compensating measures, will ensure that authors become ensnared even more than today by traditional journals and publishers. We know that this means more costly OA – as the lowest APCs are with the new, all-OA publishers. This ”black hole” gravitational effect towards traditional publishers could also mean the end of the all-OA publishers, and – over time – the re-enforcing of an increasingly oligopolistic market, with fewer and fewer sellers and ever decreasing price competition.

Suggestions for compensatory measures

To combat this unwanted side effect of a development we are working for, we need to think through compensatory measures. I do not have all the answers, but I could think of some things we could do – others may come up with more ideas (I hope): …[lists of 7 ideas]….”

Sad Ending; Jeffrey Beall’s Blog was shut down

“Today, it has come to our attention that Jeffrey Beall’s blog ( was shut down for an unknown reasons. It could be due to the legal action of the US government which adopted through a decision of a court or simply someone might have hacked it. Whatever it is, his attempt and movement, in general, have been questioned by leading scholars around the world and his personal views and opinion are not favored anymore. In lieu of this, people, universities and institutes  would prefer to rely on consolidated lists released by organizations such as DOAJ, SCOPUS, Thomson Reuters, pubmed and other leading indexing services….”

The US Election, a Need for Curation, and the Power of Story | The Scholarly Kitchen

“For the last decade and a half, we [academic publishers] have been trying to counter an argument that all publishers are greedy corporations, reaping massive profits, and bent on stopping cancer patients from reading about their conditions. Or one that publishers steal the hard work of researchers and then sell that work back to them at exorbitant prices. Neither of these arguments is particularly true, but both resonate emotionally. That’s hard to counter with wonky charts showing declines in cost-per-use or cost-per-citation or an in-depth explanation of the peer review process. Rooting for a self-declared Luke Skywalker over someone they’re accusing of being Darth Vader is much easier to get behind than understanding the subtleties of a complex service industry. Our industry is under an increasing burden of regulation from governments, funding agencies and universities. We can live with these regulations as long as they are rational and fair, but to achieve that, we must learn to tell our story in an effective manner. Effectiveness means clarity and simplification, it means finding ways to get our point across in a direct and easy to remember manner. I won’t go so far as to suggest prevarication, but what we need most is a narrative about just what it is we do and why it is important….”

Elsevier defends its value after Open Access disputes | The Bookseller

Not even the opening paragraph is OA. [Note that the paywall is from The Bookseller, not Elsevier.]

Update (May 3, 2016): The article is now OA. Excerpt: 

“Elsevier has sought to set aside public criticism of its Open Access (OA) and pricing policies and to restate its value for the academy, emphasising how, as a profit-generating company, it has the means to invest in innovation to serve researchers’ fast-changing needs.

The publisher’s record of success is clear: 2015 results from parent company RELX Group show Elsevier with operating profits of £760m on revenue of £2,070m, with underlying revenue growth of 2% and underlying profit up 3%. The prediction for 2016 is of further profit growth.  But public perceptions of Elsevier have been dogged by accusations of profiteering through excessive charges and reluctance to make its material available through OA, most notably from the online academic protest group The Cost of Knowledge ( which has racked up 16,000 signatories to its Elsevier boycott over five years.

Other widely aired disputes—a year-long deadlock with Dutch universities over institutional subscriptions; the departure of the entire editorial board of journal Lingua in 2015 in a row over OA—have added fuel to the fire for Elsevier’s critics. But director of access and policy Alicia Wise, vice-president of global corporate relations Tom Reller and policy director Gemma Hersh say criticism from a vocal minority is unrepresentative of the publisher’s regular contact with millions of researchers. The trio say that detractors obscure a key fact: that Elsevier is seeking to negotiate the new landscapes of OA and content-sharing in such a way that its economic sustainability, and therefore ability to maintain quality, is not compromised….”


A few thoughts on Sci-Hub

“I was just quoted in the NYTimes saying that “Unlawful [open] access gives open access a bad name.” 

I’m already taking heat from friends and allies for saying it. But I also said more on the same subject that was not quoted. I’ll clarify a bit here by providing some of what the NYT omitted. But I’m well aware that some friends and allies who disagree with the short formulation will also disagree with the long version. 

In my unquoted elaboration, I said that Sci-Hub leaves the false impression that OA requires copyright infringement, or that OA must be unlawful….”

Resignations threat over Taylor & Francis ‘censorship’ | News | Times Higher Education

“A journal’s editorial board has been left on the brink of resignation after an eight-month standoff with its publisher Taylor & Francis over the publication of a debate on academic publishing and the profits made by major [academic publishing] firms. The debate, in the journal Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation, was due to appear last September, but was delayed by Taylor & Francis and published only at the end of last month. Its “proposition” paper, “Publisher, be damned! from price gouging to the open road”, by four academics from the University of Leicester’s School of Management, criticises the large profits made by commercial publishers on the back of academics’ labours, and the failure of the Finch report on open access to address them….