Exploring the Hidden Impacts of Open Access Financing Mechanisms: AAAS Survey on Scholarly Publication Experiences & Perspectives

“While open access has tremendous benefits, the primary mechanism that has evolved to enable OA for publications – the article processing charge (APC) – has created concerning unintended consequences. APCs, which are fees paid to publish open access, have engendered a pay-to-play environment that is contributing to growing inequities in who can publish and where. In a recent survey, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) sought insight into researchers’ and institutions’ experiences with scientific publishing. We received complete responses from 422 researchers across the country and learned that: 

• Most Researchers Do Not Currently Budget for Publishing Costs & Many Have Not Yet Paid APCs: Nearly two-thirds of researchers (n=264, 62.9%) reported that they did not budget for publishing costs. Slightly over one-third had never paid an APC.

• Most Researchers Find It Difficult to Obtain Funds for APCs: Of the researchers who had paid APCs (n=170) most reported it being very difficult (n=33, 19.4%) or difficult (n=56, 32.9%) to obtain funds to pay APC’s. Researchers at institutions ranging from 3,000 to 9,999 students were three times as likely to find it difficult to very difficult as researchers at institutions larger than 10,000 students.

• Most Researchers Are Using Grant Funds to Pay APCs: Among the researchers who had paid APCs (n=173), most used grant funding to cover costs (n=120, 69.4%). Women were nearly three times as likely as men to have paid APCs using grant funds. Of 89 institutions represented by librarians and administrators who responded to the survey, only about one-third (n=32, 36.0%) had funds to support APC payments by students and/or faculty.

• APCs Create Significant Tradeoffs for Researchers: Over three-quarters of researchers (n=115, 77.7%) reported foregoing purchases of materials, equipment, or tools to pay APCs, and nearly three-fifths (n=86, 58.1%) reported not attending workshops or conferences relevant to their work. Compared with men, women were more than 2.5 times as likely not to attend workshops and conferences so that they could pay APCs….

Recommendations Ensuring that OA policies across federal research agencies do not embed adverse consequences of APCs and related financing models in our nation’s scientific enterprise is paramount to the integrity of and trust in the enterprise. AAAS recommends study, evidence development, and response to:

• Understand the direct and indirect costs associated with OA policies and increased APCs.

• Ensure that federal policies solve access barriers, not create them.

• Provide clarity and consistency in OA policy terminology.

• Ensure alignment between OA policies and federal data policies.”

Exploring the Hidden Impacts of Open Access Financing Mechanisms: AAAS Survey on Scholarly Publication Experiences & Perspectives

“While open access has tremendous benefits, the primary mechanism that has evolved to enable OA for publications – the article processing charge (APC) – has created concerning unintended consequences. APCs, which are fees paid to publish open access, have engendered a pay-to-play environment that is contributing to growing inequities in who can publish and where. In a recent survey, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) sought insight into researchers’ and institutions’ experiences with scientific publishing. We received complete responses from 422 researchers across the country and learned that:

• Most Researchers Do Not Currently Budget for Publishing Costs & Many Have Not Yet Paid APCs: Nearly two-thirds of researchers (n=264, 62.9%) reported that they did not budget for publishing costs. Slightly over one-third had never paid an APC.

• Most Researchers Find It Difficult to Obtain Funds for APCs: Of the researchers who had paid APCs (n=170) most reported it being very difficult (n=33, 19.4%) or difficult (n=56, 32.9%) to obtain funds to pay APC’s. Researchers at institutions ranging from 3,000 to 9,999 students were three times as likely to find it difficult to very difficult as researchers at institutions larger than 10,000 students.

• Most Researchers Are Using Grant Funds to Pay APCs: Among the researchers who had paid APCs (n=173), most used grant funding to cover costs (n=120, 69.4%). Women were nearly three times as likely as men to have paid APCs using grant funds. Of 89 institutions represented by librarians and administrators who responded to the survey, only about one-third (n=32, 36.0%) had funds to support APC payments by students and/or faculty.

• APCs Create Significant Tradeoffs for Researchers: Over three-quarters of researchers (n=115, 77.7%) reported foregoing purchases of materials, equipment, or tools to pay APCs, and nearly three-fifths (n=86, 58.1%) reported not attending workshops or conferences relevant to their work. Compared with men, women were more than 2.5 times as likely not to attend workshops and conferences so that they could pay APCs….”

AAAS Survey: Many Researchers Face Difficulties Paying Open Access Fees | American Association for the Advancement of Science

“The APC “is a model that freezes inequities into place,” said Sudip Parikh, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. Parikh announced the survey findings Oct. 25 at the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Forum – and offered recommendations to ensure that public access policies benefit readers and ensure equitable opportunities for researchers.

AAAS collected 422 responses from U.S. researchers between March and September 2022 to better understand how open access publishing trends and costs are affecting the scientific enterprise and received survey responses from librarians and administrators representing 89 institutions. According to the survey findings, 63 percent of researchers had paid an APC at some point in their career. Among those who had previously paid APCs and answered survey questions about experiences paying APCs, 52 percent of respondents reported that it was difficult or very difficult to obtain those funds, and 69 percent of respondent had used grant funds to cover APC costs.

The ability of researchers to obtain funding for APCs varied based on institution size, the survey found.  Researchers at institutions with a student body between 3,000 and 9,999 students were three times as likely to find it very difficult to obtain funds for APCs as their counterparts at larger institutions with more than 10,000 students, adjusting for gender, race, and length of time conducting research. The survey also found gender disparities in funding for APCs: women were three times as likely to use grant funds to pay for APCs than their male counterparts, adjusting for race, length of time conducting research, and institution size.

Paying APCs can result in tradeoffs for researchers seeking to advance their work and their careers. Researchers who had paid APCs reported they diverted funds they might have otherwise spent on equipment or professional development. More than three-quarters of researchers reported forgoing purchases of materials, equipment or tools, while more than half reported using funds they may have otherwise spent on workshops or conferences. Women were 2.5 times as likely as men to forgo a professional development opportunity in order to pay APCs. …”

US scientists wary of author publication fees | Times Higher Education (THE)

“But the AAAS, in outlining its survey results, warned of risks from that approach. “While open access has tremendous benefits,” the AAAS said, the expected reliance on APCs “has created concerning unintended consequences”.

Among its key findings, the AAAS survey showed that about two-thirds of researchers already had paid an APC. Of those who had paid APCs and answered a question about where the money came from, 70 per cent said they used grant money. Yet among those who had paid an APC, a slight majority described the experience as difficult or very difficult, with the problem more pronounced at smaller institutions, the AAAS said.

Also, large majorities of the researchers using APCs made sacrifices that included foregoing purchases of materials, equipment or tools, and not attending workshops or conferences relevant to their work, the AAAS said.

Women were more than twice as likely as men not to attend workshops and conferences to afford their APCs, it said. Among 89 institutions represented in the survey by librarians and administrators, only about a third said they had money to cover APC payments by students and other authors needing it. A full 15 per cent of those researchers said they paid APCs out of their own personal funds….

Dr Parikh warned that other publishers with for-profit models have set up families of journals so that they can lure scientists into paying the APC with the hope of getting published in their top-tier journal, but then keep the APC and publish the paper in one of their smaller journals.

That system also creates an “unholy alliance with the tenure-track process”, by fuelling the incentives for scientists to publish more papers, Dr Parikh said.”

Science’s no-fee public-access policy will take effect in 2023

“The publisher of the prestigious journal Science will soon allow the authors of its research papers to make public an almost-final version of their manuscript in a repository of their choice immediately on publication, without paying any fees.

This approach differs to that taken by the publishers of similarly high-impact journals Cell and Nature, which charge most authors fees called article processing charges (APCs) to make the final, published versions of their articles open access. (Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its publisher, Springer Nature.

Science announced its new approach in a 9 September editorial penned by senior executives at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC. Since then, Bill Moran, publisher of the Science journals at the AAAS, has told Nature that Science’s policy will come into effect from January 2023 and applies to all five subscription journals in the Science family. (The AAAS does already have a fully open-access title, Science Advances, in which authors pay publishing fees; the new policy will not extend to this journal.).

He also said that the terms under which authors will be able to share their manuscripts have yet to be finalized, because a custom reuse licence for non-commercial use is still being developed. Open-access scholars say that this leaves questions about how liberally researchers will be able to share their work.

Currently, most authors publishing in the Science family of journals are permitted to post their accepted manuscripts only in an institutional repository or on a personal website. They have to wait six months after publication before adding the paper to other repositories, such as the life-sciences database PubMed. There are exceptions to this rule, including for some authors supported by funders who have joined the European-led open-access initiative cOAlition S. …”

Science’s no-fee public-access policy will take effect in 2023

“The publisher of the prestigious journal Science will soon allow the authors of its research papers to make public an almost-final version of their manuscript in a repository of their choice immediately on publication, without paying any fees.

This approach differs to that taken by the publishers of similarly high-impact journals Cell and Nature, which charge most authors fees called article processing charges (APCs) to make the final, published versions of their articles open access. (Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its publisher, Springer Nature.

Science announced its new approach in a 9 September editorial penned by senior executives at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC. Since then, Bill Moran, publisher of the Science journals at the AAAS, has told Nature that Science’s policy will come into effect from January 2023 and applies to all five subscription journals in the Science family. (The AAAS does already have a fully open-access title, Science Advances, in which authors pay publishing fees; the new policy will not extend to this journal.).

He also said that the terms under which authors will be able to share their manuscripts have yet to be finalized, because a custom reuse licence for non-commercial use is still being developed. Open-access scholars say that this leaves questions about how liberally researchers will be able to share their work.

Currently, most authors publishing in the Science family of journals are permitted to post their accepted manuscripts only in an institutional repository or on a personal website. They have to wait six months after publication before adding the paper to other repositories, such as the life-sciences database PubMed. There are exceptions to this rule, including for some authors supported by funders who have joined the European-led open-access initiative cOAlition S. …”

AAAS Statement on OSTP Federally Funded Research Guidance | American Association for the Advancement of Science

“AAAS, the nonprofit publisher of the Science family of journals, supports the objectives of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and has a long history of advocating for equitable access to scientific research and data while ensuring a more inclusive publishing ecosystem for scientists. We have open access policies for five of our subscription-based journals and provide gold open access publication through Science Advances. Additionally, all research of immediate relevance to public health, or that reports the reference sequence of a genome, is freely available upon publication.

Most relevant, it is already our policy that authors who publish with one of our journals can make the accepted version of their manuscript publicly available in institutional repositories immediately upon publication, without delay. Importantly, we are currently exploring additional ways to allow immediate access to author accepted manuscripts. We believe these initiatives will achieve equitable access while ensuring the ability for all authors to have access to publishing opportunities without upfront costs. While many early reports are signaling that OSTP’s guidance to federal agencies will substantially impact scientific publishers, we believe it is too soon to tell if this guidance will impact our journals. Consistent with this policy, we look forward to continued collaboration with OSTP to ensure equitable access to scientific publishing for readers and authors.”

Survey on Scholarly Publication Experiences & Perspectives

“The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is committed to advancing the world’s best science, scientific integrity, and inclusion in all we do. Our support for open science, including open access and open data, is integral to these commitments. This survey asks for information about approaches to and experiences with scholarly publishing, so that AAAS can better understand how open access trends are affecting researchers and, in turn, the scientific enterprise.

Target Audience: This survey is intended for three audiences:

Scientists who conduct and publish research or did so for a significant portion of their careers, in academic settings or at organizations whose primary purpose is research (e.g., nonprofit research institutes and research divisions of government agencies);
Librarians in academic settings and libraries for organizations whose primary purpose is research; and
Provosts and vice presidents for research at universities and colleges….”

AAAS Plan S Compliance Policy: Staying Committed to Subscriptions – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Back in January, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced a pilot to allow authors funded by cOAlition S organizations that have adopted the Plan S Rights Retention Strategy to place a CC BY or a CC BY-ND license on their accepted manuscripts and to share them without embargo. 

Specifically, the AAAS License to Publish states that 

“AAAS licenses back the following rights to the Author in the version of the cOAlition S Funded Work that has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication, (the “Accepted Version”) but not the final, copyedited and proofed version published by AAAS (the “Final Published Version”): The right to self-archive and distribute the Accepted Version under either a CC BY 4.0 license or a CC BY-ND license, including on the Author’s personal website, in the Author’s company/institutional repository or archive, and in not for profit subject-based repositories such as PubMed Central, without embargo but only following publication of the Final Published Version.” …

The announcement of the pilot policy was widely reported on and was welcomed by cOAlition S in a special statement. Since that time, representatives of cOAlition S have repeatedly praised the AAAS policy in webinars and the like. This celebratory response has been a bit puzzling to me. Plan S aims to flip the publishing system to gold open access, with its various leaders often decrying the lack of progress in the two decades since the Budapest Open Access Initiative statement. Specifically, Plan S states that, “the subscription-based model of scientific publishing, including its so-called ‘hybrid’ variants, should therefore be terminated.” 

Yet in this case, cOAlition S is praising a publisher that is holding fast to the subscription-based model of closed publishing. And doing so even though this AAAS pilot policy is not a comprehensive route to compliance for Plan S since not all funders in the coalition have adopted the Rights Retention Strategy. Elsewhere I’ve observed that, over time, the implementation of Plan S has been marked by policies that “rehabilitate” journals into compliance. Is this another case of rehabilitation? …”

 

 

Science family journals’ move to new online platform will enhance user experience | EurekAlert! Science News

To make all content across the Science family of journals more integrated, discoverable, and visually compelling for the reader, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, will move its full suite of online content to Atypon’s online publishing platform, Literatum, in the summer of 2021.

cOAlition S welcomes AAAS decision to support the sharing of author accepted manuscripts | Plan S

“cOAlition S – an international consortium of research funding and performing organisations committed to making full and immediate Open Access a reality – welcomes the decision by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to update their publishing agreements.

As stated in today’s press release by AAAS, researchers working under a Plan S Open Access policy can make their Author Accepted Manuscripts (AAMs) freely available through an OA repository, at the time of publication and under a CC BY (or CC BY-ND) licence….”

Science family of journals announces change to open-access policy

In a step towards open access, the publisher of Science will start allowing some authors publishing in its high-profile subscription journals to share their accepted manuscripts openly online under liberal terms that mean anyone could reproduce or redistribute the work.

Science journals to offer select authors open-access publishing for free | Science | AAAS

AAAS, which publishes the Science family of journals, announced today it will offer its authors a free way to comply with a mandate issued by some funders that publications resulting from research they fund be immediately free to read. Under the new open-access policy, authors may deposit near-final, peer-reviewed versions of papers accepted by paywalled Science titles in publicly accessible online repositories.