Now is the Time to Fund Open Infrastructures · Business of Knowing, summer 2021

“Recently, open infrastructures have gotten a lot of attention. This primarily comes down to two reasons: current events and economics.

Firstly, open infrastructures have proven to be essential for COVID-19 research. Open data portals and open source software power research efforts in data collection, analysis, and modeling efforts. Preprint servers and open discovery platforms have been at the heart of a rapid exchange of the knowledge benefitted in the process. The impact of openness on coronavirus research was widely recognized, prompting organisations such as the OECD to include open science in their key policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic [undefined]. 

The second reason that open infrastructures are in the spotlight is that they are seen as an antidote to the increased market concentration observed in the scholarly communication space. In recent years, large commercial companies such as RELX (Elsevier), SpringerNature, and Clarivate have formed through mergers and acquisitions. They bring together proprietary software spanning the whole research life-cycle. They are looking to control content, software, and research metrics, thus locking research organizations and funders into their software. In the process, they are using tried and tested methods from the giants of the tech world such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, including the surveillance capitalism that comes with it (see [undefined] [undefined] for more context).

Open infrastructures, on the other hand, are often scholar-led and run by non-profit organisations, making them mission-driven instead of profit-driven. Data and content created by and in the systems are published under an open license and made available following open standards. Ideally, they are based on open source software. This makes migration from one system to another much easier and avoids lock-in effects. Another important  distinction is that open infrastructures provide appropriate opportunities for community input and involvement in decision-making and governance processes. These qualities make open infrastructures hard to buy out. It is no coincidence that the draft for the forthcoming UNESCO Open Science declaration [undefined] calls for open science infrastructure to be not-for-profit and to be as open as possible….”

Thinking politically about scholarly infrastructure: Commit the publishers to 2.5% | Boston | College & Research Libraries News

Boston, A. (2021). Thinking politically about scholarly infrastructure: Commit the publishers to 2.5%. College & Research Libraries News, 82(6), 265. doi:https://doi.org/10.5860/crln.82.6.265

Abstract

Maybe it’s unsurprising that I think about scholarly communication in terms similar to U.S. politics. I originally drafted this article for the Library Publishing Coalition blog before the 2020 election and revised it for C&RL News during the weirdly long interregnum period before the actual inauguration. The 2016 Republican National Committee was the backdrop to my becoming a scholarly communication librarian in February of that year. That’s also when I joined Twitter, to better follow politics and librarianship, and maybe that’s to blame.

Contracting in the Age of Open Access Publications. A Systematic Analysis of Transformative Agreements | Ouvrir la Science

The “socioeconomics of scientific publication” Project, Committee for Open Science

Final report – 17 December 2020 Contract No. 206-150

Quentin Dufour (CNRS Postdoctoral fellow) David Pontille (CNRS senior researcher) Didier Torny (CNRS senior researcher)

Mines ParisTech, Center for the Sociology of Innovation • PSL University

Supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation

Summary

This study focuses on one of the contemporary innovations linked to the economy of academic publishing: the so-called transformative agreements, a relatively circumscribed object within the relations between library consortia and academic publishers, and temporally situated between 2015 and 2020. The stated objective of this type of agreement is to organise the transition from the traditional model of subscription to journals (often proposed by thematic groupings or collections) to that of open access by reallocating the budgets devoted to it.

Our sociological analysis work constitutes a first systematic study of this object, based on a review of 197 agreements. The corpus thus constituted includes agreements characterised by the co-presence of a subscription component and an open access publication component, even minimal (publication “tokens” offered, reduction on APCs, etc.). As a result, agreements that only concern centralised funding for open access publishing were excluded from the analysis, whether with publishers that only offer journals with payment by the author (PLOS, Frontiers, MDPI, etc.) or publishers whose catalogue includes open access journals. The oldest agreement in our corpus was signed in 2010, the most recent ones in 2020 – agreements starting only in 2021, even announced during the study, were not retained.

Several results emerge from our analysis. First of all, there is a great diversity of actors involved with 22 countries and 39 publishers, even if some consortia (Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Germany) and publishers (CUP, Elsevier, RSC, Springer) signed many more than others. Secondly, the duration of the agreements, ranging from one to six years, reveals a very unequal distribution, with more than half of the agreements (103) signed for 3 years, and a small proportion for 4 years or more (22 agreements). Finally, despite repeated calls for transparency, less than half of the agreements (96) have an accessible text at the time of this study, with no recent trend towards greater availability.

Of the 96 agreements available, 47 of which were signed in 2020, 62 have been analysed in depth. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis on this scale, on a type of material that was not only unpublished, but which was previously subject to confidentiality clauses. Based on a careful reading, the study describes in detail their properties, from the materiality of the document to the financial formulas, including their morphology and all the rights and duties of the parties. We therefore analysed the content of the agreements as a collection, looking for commonalities and variations through an explicit coding of their characteristics. The study also points out some uncertainties, in particular their “transitional” character, which remains strongly debated.

From a morphological point of view, the agreements show a great diversity in size (from 7 to 488 pages) and structure. Nevertheless, by definition, they both articulate two essential objects: on the one hand, the conditions for carrying out a reading of journal articles, in the form of a subscription, combining concerns of access and security; on the other hand, the modalities of open access publication, articulating the management of a new type of workflow with a whole series of possible options. These options include the scope of the journals considered (hybrid and/or open access), the licences available, the degree of obligation to publish, the eligible authors or the volume of publishable articles.

One of the most important results of this in-depth analysis is the discovery of an almost complete decoupling, within the agreements themselves, between the subscription object and the publication object. Of course, subscription is systematically configured in a closed world, subject to payment, which triggers series of identification of legitimate circulations of both information content and users. In particular, it insists on prohibitions on the reuse or even copying of academic articles. On the other hand, open access publishing is attached to a world governed by free access to content, which leads to concerns about workflow management and accessibility modalities. Moreover, the different elements that make up these contractual objects are not interconnected: on one side, the readers are all members of the subscribing institutions, on the other, only the corresponding authors are concerned; the lists of journals accessible to the reader and those reserved for open access publication are usually distinct; the workflows have totally different

Repurposing Subscription Dollars for Open Access Investments: OACIP Pilot Opportunities

“If you are like many libraries, consortia, and academic units, you are interested in supporting open access publishing. You may be looking for ways to repurpose your subscription publishing dollars, but struggling with the administrative burden of evaluating how and where to reinvest precious funds.

 

In December 2020, we launched the Open Access Community Investment Program (OACIP), a community-funded open access publishing project. OACIP’s goal is to help match libraries, consortia, and other prospective scholarly publishing funders with non-profit publishers and journal editorial boards that are seeking financial investments to sustain or transition to open access publishing of journals or books.

Do you want to get started in evaluating OA investment opportunities? The OACIP pilot phase has launched with crowd-sourced investment opportunities for two journals. We invite you to learn more about OACIP’s criteria-driven funding approach and determine if investing in these two journals is right for you. We are hosting a webinar about the OACIP pilot premised on engaging discussion with the editorial boards and publishers of the participating journals….”

Repurposing Subscription Dollars for Open Access Investments: OACIP Pilot Opportunities

“If you are like many libraries, consortia, and academic units, you are interested in supporting open access publishing. You may be looking for ways to repurpose your subscription publishing dollars, but struggling with the administrative burden of evaluating how and where to reinvest precious funds.

 

In December 2020, we launched the Open Access Community Investment Program (OACIP), a community-funded open access publishing project. OACIP’s goal is to help match libraries, consortia, and other prospective scholarly publishing funders with non-profit publishers and journal editorial boards that are seeking financial investments to sustain or transition to open access publishing of journals or books.

Do you want to get started in evaluating OA investment opportunities? The OACIP pilot phase has launched with crowd-sourced investment opportunities for two journals. We invite you to learn more about OACIP’s criteria-driven funding approach and determine if investing in these two journals is right for you. We are hosting a webinar about the OACIP pilot premised on engaging discussion with the editorial boards and publishers of the participating journals….”

Collaborative transition to open access publishing by scholarly societies | Molecular Biology of the Cell

Abstract:  For decades, universities, researchers, and libraries have sought a systemwide transition of scholarly publishing to open access (OA), but progress has been slow. There is now a potential for more rapid and impactful change, as new collaborative OA publishing models have taken shape. Cooperative publishing arrangements represent a viable path forward for society publishers to transition to OA as the default standard for disseminating research. The traditional article processing charge OA model has introduced sometimes unnavigable financial roadblocks, but cooperative arrangements premised on collective action principles can help to secure long-term stability and prevent the risk of free riding. Investment in cooperative arrangements does not require that cash-strapped libraries discover a new influx of money as their collection budgets continue to shrink, but rather that they purposefully redirect traditional subscription funds toward publishing support. These cooperative arrangements will require a two-way demonstration of trust: On one hand, libraries working together to provide assurances of sustained financial support, and on the other, societies’ willingness to experiment with discarding subscriptions. Organizations such as Society Publishers Coalition and Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access are committed to education about and further development of scalable and cooperative OA publishing models.

 

 

The UK Wiley read and publish agreement – nine months on | Jisc

“The transitional Wiley agreement is the most extensive UK open access agreement to date and is showing an encouraging appetite for open access publishing. We will be publishing further detail and supporting data on the Wiley read and publish agreement in the next week.

In the meantime, we wanted to share our thoughts and talk more about the decision to put in place controls on articles being published OA from mid-October and our plans for 2021.

The agreement has delivered what it set out to do; rapidly increasing the volume of OA from the UK, reducing expenditure and funding this transition using money previously spent on subscriptions. As of 31 August, 5,164 articles have been published or accepted as open access – an 82% increase on articles published OA in 2019 and a 91% increase over 2018….”

Library Publishing Pain Points – Funding | Library Publishing Coalition

“Operating a non-commercial, scholar-led open access publishing program through our library is intensely rewarding work. On a daily basis we connect with motivated and resourceful editors and scholars, who are deeply committed to open scholarship and to enriching the commons. Each new issue published on our platform feels like a small victory for our team, and we know what we’re doing is meaningful, not just to our small community, but also to all the invisible readers who come across our content and engage with it in some way. However, this work also comes with its own set of complex challenges and thorny issues.

Our program is provided at no cost to eligible Canadian open access scholarly journals and we wholly fund the staffing and infrastructure of the program through our library’s operating budget. Our institution has elected to do this, rather than charge service fees, as an effort to reduce one of the many barriers to publishing that small scholarly associations face. We’ve also chosen to take a strong stance against charging APCs or submission fees at the University of Alberta, and one condition of participating in our program is that our journals do not charge fees to authors. While we believe this model benefits both journals and their communities, this lack of externally generated revenue comes with predictable challenges around resource constraints….

Within our no-fee model, we simply cannot offer these services to the 70 journals that we publish and instead, we grudgingly off-load the problem to our editorial teams, who must immediately face this issue when they join our program. Finding revenue to fund some of the operational elements of their journal production, without resorting to subscriptions or APCs, is a constant pain point for all of us….”

Is ‘the money in the system’? | Martin Paul Eve | Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing

“One of the oft-repeated adages in the scholarly communications world is that ‘the money is in the system’, it’s just badly distributed. This is one of the core problems with APCs; they don’t distribute funds in a similar way to subscriptions, so even if we could afford it, we still have a problematic distribution.

What if this isn’t true, though, that the level of funding will remain the same? We have 300 or so institutions supporting the Open Library of Humanities. There are a few notable institutional exceptions to the list, but this is a pretty good ‘who’s who’ of ‘libraries who/that are supportive of OA’. For more, see my recent blog post over at OLH. But 300 libraries is not the thousands of institutions worldwide who subscribe to traditional serial publications. These institutions silently continue to do what they have always done: buy a slim proportion of what material they can afford for their constituent local communities….

It seems likely, though, that many institutions with low- to zero- research outputs will just absorb the money they otherwise spent on subscriptions [and not redirect it to the support of OA]. I’m not being judgemental about this. These are not usually wealthy universities, even when they might be not-for-profit. They need to pay their staff and get the best deal for their students. But it would mean, in a new environment, that you could see a substantial long tail of money disappear – or a massive re-allocation of this long tail solely onto large research universities.

Of course, perhaps there is enough slack in the system to take this. 30% profit margins are common in for-profit scholarly communications, so if 20% of the revenue dropped off, you’d still see a sustainable return, even if the big players really wouldn’t like this. But I now feel much more sceptical about the argument that the same amount of money is going to stay in the system, even as publication volume will continue to increase.”

Addendum to the cOAlition S Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S | Plan S

“cOAlition S endorse a number of strategies to encourage subscription publishers to transition to Open Access. These approaches are referred to as ’transformative arrangements’ and include transformative agreements, transformative model agreements and transformative journals[1].

The Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S indicates an ambition of developing a framework for ‘transformative journals’. Such ‘transformative journals’ are journals that (i) gradually increase the share of Open Access content, (ii) offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments), and (iii) have a clear commitment to a transition to full and immediate Open Access for all peer-reviewed scholarly articles within an agreed timeframe.

The requirements below constitute this framework.

[Here omitting 8 mandatory criteria for transformative journals and 3 suggested criteria.]

We are now seeking input from the community on this draft framework and encourage all interested stakeholders to respond. The consultation on this draft framework is open until 09.00 CET on Monday 6th January 2020. We plan to publish a final version of this framework by the end of March 2020.”

Addendum to the cOAlition S Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S | Plan S

“cOAlition S endorse a number of strategies to encourage subscription publishers to transition to Open Access. These approaches are referred to as ’transformative arrangements’ and include transformative agreements, transformative model agreements and transformative journals[1].

The Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S indicates an ambition of developing a framework for ‘transformative journals’. Such ‘transformative journals’ are journals that (i) gradually increase the share of Open Access content, (ii) offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments), and (iii) have a clear commitment to a transition to full and immediate Open Access for all peer-reviewed scholarly articles within an agreed timeframe.

The requirements below constitute this framework.

[Here omitting 8 mandatory criteria for transformative journals and 3 suggested criteria.]

We are now seeking input from the community on this draft framework and encourage all interested stakeholders to respond. The consultation on this draft framework is open until 09.00 CET on Monday 6th January 2020. We plan to publish a final version of this framework by the end of March 2020.”

The Plan – Towards a Scholarly Commons

“To do so, the project will undertake the following activities:

Write a Literature Review that situates this work within the current research on scholarly publishing.
Conduct Focus Groups that will provide insight into how libraries currently make decisions about investing in infrastructure.
Develop a Census of Infrastructure that will make visible the current set of platforms, systems, and applications that comprise the system of scholarly publishing
Create a Map of the Scholarly Publishing System that visualizes the results of the census
Write a set of Case Studies of Infrastructure Providers that provide insight into what is required for long-term sustainability for this infrastructure
Conduct a Survey of Investment in Infrastructure by colleges and universities that will document the current state of investment

Develop a Report that synthesizes the materials from our activities and provides recommendations on promising directions to sustain and grow investment in this infrastructure, and if warranted, how to sustain the specific work of this project….

The project begins in September 2018 and concludes in February 2020….”

The Plan – Towards a Scholarly Commons

“To do so, the project will undertake the following activities:

Write a Literature Review that situates this work within the current research on scholarly publishing.
Conduct Focus Groups that will provide insight into how libraries currently make decisions about investing in infrastructure.
Develop a Census of Infrastructure that will make visible the current set of platforms, systems, and applications that comprise the system of scholarly publishing
Create a Map of the Scholarly Publishing System that visualizes the results of the census
Write a set of Case Studies of Infrastructure Providers that provide insight into what is required for long-term sustainability for this infrastructure
Conduct a Survey of Investment in Infrastructure by colleges and universities that will document the current state of investment

Develop a Report that synthesizes the materials from our activities and provides recommendations on promising directions to sustain and grow investment in this infrastructure, and if warranted, how to sustain the specific work of this project….

The project begins in September 2018 and concludes in February 2020….”

No Big Deal: An Assessment of Academic Library Staffing, Structure, and Communication Strategies in Support of Open Access

“You are invited to participate in a research study identifying academic library trends with respect to staffing, organizational structure, and communication strategies related to sustainable academic journal pricing and open access initiatives.  Our research will attempt to answer the following question: In the aftermath of the recently publicized breakups between academic libraries and academic journal publishers over renewal of “big deal” journal contracts, are academic libraries consciously planning for, or already making the pivot, to supporting open access initiatives as an alternative to traditional scholarly publishing practices?  

The survey [https://kstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_23oiytTadbsQC57] will remain open until Wednesday September 25  and we welcome responses from academic libraries of any size or focus. …”

Guest Post: Plan S and Humanities Publishing – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Today’s post is by Jasmin Lange. Jasmin holds a PhD in book history and master’s degree in business management. Before joining Brill, she worked for Ernst Klett in Germany, Blackwell’s in the UK and for an international academic network based at the University of Edinburgh. After moving to Brill in 2011, she specialized in mergers & acquisitions, new business models, licensing, and open access. In January 2018, she was appointed Chief Publishing Officer and a member of Brill’s Executive Committee….”