Should open access lead to closed research? The trends towards paying to perform research

Abstract:  Open  Access  (OA)  emerged  as  an  important  transition  in  scholarly  publishing  worldwide during the past two decades. So far, this transition is increasingly based on article processing charges (APC), which create a new paywall on the researchers’ side. Publishing is part of the research  process  and  thereby  necessary  to  perform  research.  This  study  analyses  the  global trends towards paying to perform research by combing observed trends in publishing from 2015 to 2020 with an APC price list. APC expenses have sharply increased among six countries with different  OA  policies:  the  USA,  China,  the  UK,  France,  the  Netherlands,  and  Norway.  The estimated global revenues from APC among major publishers now exceed 2 billion US dollars annually. Mergers and takeovers show that the industry is moving towards APC-based OA as the more profitable business  model.  Research publishing will be closed  to  those who cannot make an institution or project money payment. Our results lead to a discussion of whether APC is the best way to promote OA.

The future of research revealed | Elsevier.com | April 20, 2022

“The research ecosystem has been undergoing rapid and profound change, accelerated by COVID-19. This transformation is being fueled by many factors, including advances in technology, funding challenges and opportunities, political uncertainty, and new pressures on women in research. At Elsevier, we have been working with the global research community to better understand these changes and what the world of research might look like in the future. The results were published today in Elsevier’s new Research Futures Report 2.0. The report is free to read and download….”

Aligning the Research Library to Organizational Strategy – Ithaka S+R

“Open access has matured significantly in recent years. The UK and EU countries have committed largely to a “gold” version of open access, driven largely by transformative agreements with the major incumbent publishing houses.[14] The US policy environment has been far more mixed, with a great deal of “green” open access incentivized by major scientific funders, although some individual universities pursued transformative agreements. Both Canadian and US libraries have benefitted from the expansion of free and open access in strengthening their position at the negotiating table with major publishers.[15]

Progress on open access has radically expanded public access to the research literature. It has also brought with it a number of second-order effects. Some of them are connected to the serious problems in research integrity and the growing crisis of trust in science.[16] Others can be seen in the impacts on the scholarly publishing marketplace and the platforms that support discovery and access.[17]

While open access has made scientific materials more widely available, it has not directly addressed the challenges in translating scholarship for public consumption. Looking ahead, it is likely that scholarly communication will experience further changes as a result of computers increasingly supplanting human readership. The form of the scientific output may decreasingly look like the traditional journal article as over time standardized data, methods, protocols, and other scientific artifacts become vital for computational consumption….”

Publishing of COVID-19 preprints in peer-reviewed journals, preprinting trends, public discussion and quality issues | SpringerLink

Abstract:  COVID-19-related (vs. non-related) articles appear to be more expeditiously processed and published in peer-reviewed journals. We aimed to evaluate: (i) whether COVID-19-related preprints were favored for publication, (ii) preprinting trends and public discussion of the preprints, and (iii) the relationship between the publication topic (COVID-19-related or not) and quality issues. Manuscripts deposited at bioRxiv and medRxiv between January 1 and September 27 2020 were assessed for the probability of publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and those published were evaluated for submission-to-acceptance time. The extent of public discussion was assessed based on Altmetric and Disqus data. The Retraction Watch Database and PubMed were used to explore the retraction of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 articles and preprints. With adjustment for the preprinting server and number of deposited versions, COVID-19-related preprints were more likely to be published within 120 days since the deposition of the first version (OR?=?1.96, 95% CI: 1.80–2.14) as well as over the entire observed period (OR?=?1.39, 95% CI: 1.31–1.48). Submission-to-acceptance was by 35.85 days (95% CI: 32.25–39.45) shorter for COVID-19 articles. Public discussion of preprints was modest and COVID-19 articles were overrepresented in the pool of retracted articles in 2020. Current data suggest a preference for publication of COVID-19-related preprints over the observed period.

 

A Decade of MOOCs: A Review of Stats and Trends for Large-Scale Online Courses in 2021 | EdSurge News

“In 2021, two of the biggest MOOC providers had an “exit” event. Coursera went public, while edX was acquired by the public company 2U for $800 million and lost its non-profit status.

Ten years ago, more than 300,000 learners were taking the three free Stanford courses that kicked off the modern MOOC movement. I was one of those learners and launched Class Central as a side-project to keep track of these MOOCs.

Now, a decade later, MOOCs have reached 220 million learners, excluding China where we don’t have as reliable data, . In 2021, providers launched over 3,100 courses and 500 microcredentials….”

The black crow of science and its impact: analyzing Sci-Hub use with Google Trends | Emerald Insight

Abstract:  Purpose

In 2016, Bohannon published an article analyzing the download rate of the top ten countries using the illegal Sci-Hub website. Four years later, this study approaches the search behavior of these ten countries as they query about Sci-Hub in Google’s search engine, the world’s most widely used search engine. The authors also tracked the possible consequences of using Sci-Hub, such as plagiarism.

Design/methodology/approach

The search terms “Sci-Hub”, “Plagiarism” and “Plagiarism Checker” were explored with Google Trends. The queries were performed globally and individually for the ten target countries, all categories and web searches. The time range was limited between 1/1/2016 (after the date of publication of Bohannon’s work) and 29/03/2020. Data were extracted from Google Trends and the findings were mapped.

Findings

Searching for the word Sci-Hub on Google has increased nearly eightfold worldwide in the last four years, with China, Ethiopia and Tunisia having the most searches. Sci-Hub’s search trends increased for most of the T10C, with Brazil and Iran having the highest and lowest average searches, respectively.

Originality/value

Access to the research literature is required to the progress of research, but it should not be obtained illegally. Given the increasing incidence of these problems in countries at any level of development, it is important to pay attention to ethics education in research and establish ethics committees. A comprehensive review of the research process is required to reduce the urge to circumvent copyright laws and includes training and educating research stakeholders in copyright literacy. To address these goals, national and international seriousness and enthusiasm are essential.

Surveillance Publishing

Abstract:  This essay develops the idea of surveillance publishing, with special attention to the example of Elsevier. A scholarly publisher can be defined as a surveillance publisher if it derives a substantial proportion of its revenue from prediction products, fueled by data extracted from researcher behavior. The essay begins by tracing the Google search engine’s roots in bibliometrics, alongside a history of the citation analysis company that became, in 2016, Clarivate. The point is to show the co-evolution of scholarly communication and the surveillance advertising economy. The essay then refines the idea of surveillance publishing by engaging with the work of Shoshana Zuboff, Jathan Sadowski, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, and Aziz Huq. The recent history of Elsevier is traced to describe the company’s research-lifecycle data-harvesting strategy, with the aim to develop and sell prediction products to universities and other customers. The essay concludes by considering some of the potential costs of surveillance publishing, as other big commercial publishers increasingly enter the predictive-analytics mark. It is likely, I argue, that windfall subscription-and-APC profits in Elsevier’s “legacy” publishing business have financed its decade-long acquisition binge in analytics, with the implication that university customers are budgetary victims twice over. The products’ purpose, I stress, is to streamline the top-down assessment and evaluation practices that have taken hold in recent decades, in tandem with the view that the university’s main purpose is to grow regional and national economies. A final pair of concerns is that publishers’ prediction projects may camouflage and perpetuate existing biases in the system—and that scholars may internalize an analytics mindset, one already encouraged by citation counts and impact factors.

Changes in Users Trends Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic on WHO’s Online Learning Platform

Abstract:  OpenWHO provides open access, online, free and real time learning responses to health emergencies. Before the pandemic, courses on 18 diseases were provided. The increase to 38 courses in response to COVID-19 have led to a massive increase in the number of new learners. As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic affected learners’ trends. This paper presents initial findings of changes perceived in the use and user groups’ attendance to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) health emergency learning platform OpenWHO. Enrolment statistics were based on data collected in December 2019 and March 2021. A descriptive analysis was conducted to explore changes in the usage pattern of the platform. Several user characteristics shifted between before and during the pandemic. More women, younger and older learners joined the learning during the pandemic. Public health education leaned toward a more equitable reach including previously underrepresented groups.

 

STM Global Brief 2021 – Economics & Market Size

“At STM, we promote the contribution that publishers make to innovation, openness and the sharing of knowledge and embrace change to support the growth and sustainability of the research ecosystem. As a common good, we provide data and analysis for all involved in the global activity of research. For the past 15 years, we have produced the STM report which has explored the trends, issues and challenges facing scholarly publishing. This latest iteration sees the adoption of a new format for the report, with a wealth of industry-leading data and insights presented across an annual selection of ‘supplements’ – each providing compelling snapshots on specific aspects and characteristics of the industry. The next issue will cover Open Access and Open Research, which remain a key area of focus for STM and its members as a means to advance knowledge worldwide. This first supplement in the new series – ‘STM Global Brief 2021 – Economics and Market Size’ shines a light on the scale and shape of scholarly publishing and provides updated figures covering 2018 onwards. We would like to thank all the contributors for their input, advice and insights….”

2021 STM Report highlights rapid transformation to Open Access

“STM (the Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers) has today published the latest edition of ‘The STM Report’, the organization’s comprehensive overview of the scientific and scholarly publishing market. The revised report, which adopts a new supplement format to be issued in regular thematic updates, reveals significant publisher-driven growth in Open Access (OA) and continued dynamism in the scholarly communication ecosystem….

The latest report shows that recent strong growth in OA publishing is projected to continue. Around a third of all global research articles are now published OA with some countries, such as the UK on track for 90% of their researchers’ output to be published OA within a year due to business model and operational innovations. The new report reveals emerging trends across journal publishing and article growth, the market dominance of formats and disciplines, whilst also exploring the variances across the different markets of the global economy. It details that China remains the world’s most prolific producer of publishable research output, but that, India, Russian Federation, Spain, Italy, Brazil and Australia all have shown strong growth since 2018….”

News & Views: Open Access Market Sizing Update 2021 – Delta Think

“Each year, Delta Think’s OA Market Sizing analyzes the value of the open access journals market. This is the revenue generated by providers or the costs incurred by buyers of content. Our analysis this year shows that the open access market has had an exceptional year of growth in 2020. The effects of COVID-19 and exchange rate changes have compounded OA’s underlying strong growth. Based on current trends, we estimate it to have been worth around $975m in 2020 and on track to grow to over $1.1bn in 2021….

We estimate that the OA market grew to around $975m in 2020.

The 25% increase over 2019 is significantly larger than the growth in the underlying scholarly journals market, which is typically low to mid-single digit. It is larger than expected for the OA market.
Growth in OA will remain above that of the underlying scholarly journals market. The open access market is on target to be over $1.1bn in 2021.
Around 36% of all scholarly articles were published as paid-for open access in 2020, accounting for just under 9% of the total journal publishing market value.
We anticipate a 2020-2023 CAGR of 14% in OA output and 17.6% in OA market value….

Trends

The effects of COVID-19 have driven exceptionally high growth in scholarly output across all access models. OA output in hybrid journals has been boosted more than other OA output.
Historically, there appears to be more OA output that we have previously thought and it is growing at a faster rate.
Exchange rate fluctuations have compounded the exceptional growth in publishing activity, increasing reported revenues further above long-term trends.
We are still in the middle of the exceptional effects of COVID-19. It will likely be another 18-24 months before we gain sufficient distance to observe any changes to underlying trends.
The long-term growth curves show signs of flattening out to a steady state of just over 15% in both volume and value of OA. This represents a slight uplift in long-term growth rates compared with previous years’ data, due to increased adoption of OA and rising prices.
Hybrid revenues realized per article published are higher than those published in fully OA journals, and the gap appears to be widening….”

IRUS-US: Institutional Repository Usage Statistics Service

“LYRASIS is partnering with Jisc to form and administer a new IRUS-US community of users. Institutions participating in IRUS-US install the IRUS tracker, allowing Jisc to collects raw download data for all item types and processes those raw data into COUNTER-conformant statistics. Those statistics are aggregated in open access statistical reports, allowing institutions to: share usage information with individual researchers; share usage information with administration; compare usage information with peer institutions; and use usage information to identify national trends.

IRUS-US functions as a small piece of code that is added to IR, enabling a ‘tracker protocol’ that allows Jisc to collect the raw data. Current compatible IR softwares include Dspace, Eprints, Fedora, Figshare, Haplo, Pure portal, Worktribe, Equella and Esploro. Any institution using a software not listed above should contact LYRASIS and indicate their interest, and we will do our best to encourage the software creators to add IRUS tracker functionality into their software capabilities.”

IRUS-US: Institutional Repository Usage Statistics Service

“LYRASIS is partnering with Jisc to form and administer a new IRUS-US community of users. Institutions participating in IRUS-US install the IRUS tracker, allowing Jisc to collects raw download data for all item types and processes those raw data into COUNTER-conformant statistics. Those statistics are aggregated in open access statistical reports, allowing institutions to: share usage information with individual researchers; share usage information with administration; compare usage information with peer institutions; and use usage information to identify national trends.

IRUS-US functions as a small piece of code that is added to IR, enabling a ‘tracker protocol’ that allows Jisc to collect the raw data. Current compatible IR softwares include Dspace, Eprints, Fedora, Figshare, Haplo, Pure portal, Worktribe, Equella and Esploro. Any institution using a software not listed above should contact LYRASIS and indicate their interest, and we will do our best to encourage the software creators to add IRUS tracker functionality into their software capabilities.”