Balász Bodó: ‘Digital commons are actually reproducing existing power inequalities’ – Open Knowledge Foundation blog

“OKFN: What does the process of chasing and taking down Z-Library mean for the concept of open knowledge?

Balász Bodó: When I read the news that these two Russian individuals have been detained, I thought, well, history has come to a full circle. I don’t know these people, how old they are, I assume they are in their thirties. But certainly, their parents or their grandparents may have been or could have easily been detained by the Soviet authorities for sharing books that they were not supposed to share. And now, 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people are again detained for sharing books – for a different reason, but it’s the same threat, ‘You’re gonna lose your freedom if you share knowledge’. …”

European academies hit out at high author charges for open access publishing | Science|Business

“Open access means more and more scientific research is free to read. But now there are complaints about ‘massive’ fees that must be paid upfront by authors and claims commercial publishers are making excessive profits….

ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, claims commercial publishers are making the large profits from open access publishing under what is known as the gold model, which allows journal papers to be free to read as soon as they are published.

Instead of journal subscriptions, publishers are paid article processing charges (APCs). These fees can sometimes be thousands of euros.

The financial burden is shifting away from the readers of papers and onto the authors. This is putting a strain on academics around the world, particularly those in less well-off countries, ALLEA says in a report published last month. These fees are often rolled into partner agreements with big publishers, but researchers not covered by these agreements must usually pay APCs.

ALLEA claims that publishers make around $2 billion per year from APCs….

Robert-Jan Smits, president of Eindhoven University of Technology and former European Commission director general for research, who is a leading advocate for open access, told Science|Business that a cap should be placed on APCs to “avoid an explosion of costs,” saying, “There is enough money in the system, it is just in the wrong place.” …”

India’s fumbled chance for sharing knowledge – EastMojo

In terms of open access to knowledge, India could have been the Vishwa Guru — the world’s teacher. As early as 2000 India was making moves to allow taxpayer-funded research to be freely available for anyone in the world to read, share and distribute. But India has squandered that advantage.

Fast forward to 2022, and much of India’s research is still locked up behind the paywalls of corporate academic publishers while the global science community increasingly questions why taxpayer-funded research should not be available for everyone to read.

The Indian government initiated a new science, technology and innovation policy in January 2020. The draft policy, released in December 2020, enshrined open science in chapter one. Its three key features were to set up an Indian Science and Technology Archive of Research (INDSTA), a dedicated portal to provide access to the findings of all publicly funded research; to place the full text of scientific papers immediately upon acceptance into a journal in a publicly available repository or INDSTA; and to make all data from publicly funded research available to everyone.

But the policy is not yet in place. The government is instead focusing on a ‘One Nation One Subscription’ project. This would see the government pay academic publishers an eye watering sum to allow Indian scientists to publish in corporate journals and for all Indians to read them. Apart from benefiting the publishers more than science and scientists, this looks crazy in view of the rapidly rising share of openly accessible research papers and the emerging revolution in preprint servers that publish drafts of research papers for free….”

ALLEA advocates for EU-wide secondary publication rights and better negotiation of ‘big deals’ – International Science Council

“In the light of an increase in spending on scholarly publishing, and new rules on copyright law in the European Union (EU), ALLEA recently released a statement that evaluates the negative consequences of so-called ‘Big Deals’ and provides recommendations for research institutes, libraries and policy-makers to work towards change.

‘Big deals’, or ‘read and publish agreements’, are concluded between scientific publishers, on one side, and research libraries, institutions and universities, on the other, in order to provide access for readers and authors of scientific journals.

An increase in the number of articles published under a Gold Open Access model – and thus free to read – has come at the expense of the authors of scholarly publications, who often face substantial article processing charges (APCs) to publish their work as Open Access….”

ALLEA STATEMENT ON OPEN ACCESS PUBLICATION UNDER “BIG DEALS” AND THE NEW COPYRIGHT RULES

“While the rising number of Gold OA publications facilitated by these deals is to be applauded, they do not deliver on the triple promise of OA. In particular, they have not led to a reduction in the exorbitant costs to the academic community incurred in the process of research publication. While the downstream costs of journal subscriptions are gradually falling, the upstream costs of publication, made up of the APCs, have risen sharply. Concomitantly, the imposition of APCs has created new, and sometimes insurmountable, barriers to publication for researchers that are not affiliated to a contracting institution. In addition, as already underlined in previous ALLEA Statements,6,7 the Gold OA model creates a disadvantage for those coming from less wealthy countries and institutions, under-funded researchers in the social sciences and humanities, and early career researchers, among others. For these academics, OA of published research comes at the expense of closure of first-tier publication fora. In addition, ALLEA is concerned that the conditions of the “Big Deals” fail to adequately reflect the rules on copyright law in the European Union (EU), and do not fairly value the creative and research endeavours of researchers and their institutions, as well as their investment and efforts over time to generate research results and publications to the benefit of the public….”

ALLEA Statement on Open Access Publication under “Big Deals” and the New Copyright Rules – Kluwer Copyright Blog

“ALLEA, therefore, welcomes recent studies showing that OA publication in scientific journals is on the rise.[2]  An important driver of this development are the so-called “Big Deals”; “read and publish agreements” that have been negotiated in recent years between (consortia of) research libraries, institutions, and universities on the one hand, and scientific publishers on the other. These agreements, also known as “transformative agreements”, have replaced the subscription deals that were previously agreed between research libraries and publishers, and which provided for large bundles of subscriptions to proprietary journals to be made available electronically to libraries and their affiliated researchers.[3]

The new generation of deals is “transformative” in that they additionally allow for OA publication under the “Gold” standard of (usually a finite number of) research articles by institution-affiliated researchers in return for payment of substantial “article processing charges” (APCs)3 that allow publishers to recoup their investment in OA publication.

As a recent study demonstrates, commercial publishers currently derive more than two billion USD annually from APCs.2 Despite gradually decreasing subscription revenues, the commercial publishers have managed to embrace the Gold OA model without compromising their total revenues and enormous profit margins. Evidently, Gold OA publishing has become a new, highly profitable business model in and of itself,2 in addition to the subscription model which has remained partially intact. Incorporating Gold OA publication into all-encompassing read and publish agreements has thus allowed the major commercial publishers to effectively consolidate and enhance their already dominant position in the field of scholarly publishing,[4] solidifying their role as the gatekeepers of publicly funded research.[5]

While the rising number of Gold OA publications facilitated by these deals is to be applauded, they do not deliver on the triple promise of OA. In particular, they have not led to a reduction in the exorbitant costs to the academic community incurred in the process of research publication. While the downstream costs of journal subscriptions are gradually falling, the upstream costs of publication, made up of the APCs, have risen sharply.

Concomitantly, the imposition of APCs has created new, and sometimes insurmountable, barriers to publication for researchers that are not affiliated to a contracting institution.[6] In addition, as already underlined in previous ALLEA Statements,6,[7] the Gold OA model creates a disadvantage for those coming from less wealthy countries and institutions, under-funded researchers in the social sciences and humanities, and early career researchers, among others. For these academics, OA of published research comes at the expense of closure of first-tier publication fora.

In addition, ALLEA is concerned that the conditions of the “Big Deals” that drive these developments do not adequately reflect the rules on copyright law in the European Union (EU) and fail to fairly value the creative and research endeavours of researchers and their institutions, as well as their investment and efforts over time to generate research results and publications to the benefit of the public….”

Open access publishing – noble intention, flawed reality – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  For two decades, the international scholarly publishing community has been embroiled in a divisive debate about the best model for funding the dissemination of scientific research. Some may assume that this debate has been thoroughly resolved in favour of the Open Access (OA) model of scientific publishing. Recent commentaries reveal a less settled reality. This narrative review aims to lay out the nature of these deep divisions among the sector’s stakeholders, reflects on their systemic drivers and considers the future prospects for actualising OA’s intended benefits and surmounting its risks and costs. In the process, we highlight some of inequities OA presents for junior or unfunded researchers, and academics from resource-poor environments, for whom an increasing body of evidence shows clear evidence of discrimination and injustice caused by Article Processing Charges. The authors are university-appointed researchers working the UK and South Africa, trained in disciplines ranging from medicine and epidemiology to social science and digital science. We have no vested interest in any particular model of scientific publication, and no conflicts of interest to declare. We believe the issues we identify are pertinent to almost all research disciplines.

 

Texas consortium of 44 colleges strikes deal with Elsevier

” “If you want open access to become the universal model of access to scholarship, then [this deal] … is going to feel like a real setback,” Rick Anderson, university librarian at Brigham Young University, said, referring to the set of principles and practices in which research articles are available online free, without barriers. “But if you’re OK with the subscription model in principle and just want to see it work better for all parties, then this deal provides what may be a very useful template.”…

Lower Costs, More (Though Not Open) Access

In the agreement, Elsevier said it will cap annual increases at 2 percent, which is lower than the industry standard—“startlingly low,” Anderson said. That near-term cost certainty will allow member institutions to budget responsibly, according to Charles Weaver, associate dean for sciences and professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, who served on the consortium’s negotiating team. Baylor is a consortium member.

The deal also includes a pilot project in which article copyrights revert to authors “after a period of time that will be collaboratively determined” by consortium members and Elsevier, according to the news release. In addition, authors affiliated with the consortium who publish open access will pay discounted author publication charges….

But some, including some consortium members, see some shortcomings.

“Our institution would have liked to see more increased focus on open-access publishing,” said Catherine Rudowsky, dean of university libraries at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, who served on the steering committee and whose institution is a coalition member. “We appreciated the reduced author publication charges, but at the end of the day, we are still paying Elsevier to read and to publish. We will not solve the world’s biggest problems by limiting access to research and by controlling information.” …”

Texas consortium of 44 colleges strikes deal with Elsevier

” “If you want open access to become the universal model of access to scholarship, then [this deal] … is going to feel like a real setback,” Rick Anderson, university librarian at Brigham Young University, said, referring to the set of principles and practices in which research articles are available online free, without barriers. “But if you’re OK with the subscription model in principle and just want to see it work better for all parties, then this deal provides what may be a very useful template.”…

Lower Costs, More (Though Not Open) Access

In the agreement, Elsevier said it will cap annual increases at 2 percent, which is lower than the industry standard—“startlingly low,” Anderson said. That near-term cost certainty will allow member institutions to budget responsibly, according to Charles Weaver, associate dean for sciences and professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, who served on the consortium’s negotiating team. Baylor is a consortium member.

The deal also includes a pilot project in which article copyrights revert to authors “after a period of time that will be collaboratively determined” by consortium members and Elsevier, according to the news release. In addition, authors affiliated with the consortium who publish open access will pay discounted author publication charges….

But some, including some consortium members, see some shortcomings.

“Our institution would have liked to see more increased focus on open-access publishing,” said Catherine Rudowsky, dean of university libraries at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, who served on the steering committee and whose institution is a coalition member. “We appreciated the reduced author publication charges, but at the end of the day, we are still paying Elsevier to read and to publish. We will not solve the world’s biggest problems by limiting access to research and by controlling information.” …”

Beyond the fetish of open – Open Future

“Openness in technical architectures does not lead automatically to beneficial, progressive social, political and economic structures. Open (access) resources, without dedicated custodians, are prone to degradation or exploitation. Inviting open markets to address some of these issues brings about the problems of commodification. Absent of resilient, mission-, and community-specific governance systems, open social, economic, political networks and communities remain vulnerable to external interference, exploitation, or simple degradation. If openness means the free circulation of ideas, the porousness of community boundaries, the lack of ossified power relations, the fluidity of social, economic, cultural, political norms, structures, flows and processes, then this openness will always be under the threat of being appropriated and abused.

While openness has traditionally been framed as a source of resilience, it has become increasingly clear that open systems, societies and resources can also be extremely vulnerable. So, instead of focusing on openness as a magical solution that works equally well in all possible contexts, we may want to ask ourselves: what do we hope to achieve with openness? What may be the alternatives to openness which would allow us to achieve the same goals in that one specific context? And most importantly, what protections do we need to take to protect open resources from abuse?”

NASA’s Plan to Make JWST Data Immediately Available Will Hurt Astronomy – Scientific American

“In August the White House announced that the results of all federally funded research should be freely accessible by the end of 2025. This will be a big change for scientists in many fields but ultimately a good move for the democratization of research.

Under this new guidance, many peer-reviewed papers would be free for the world to read immediately upon publication rather than stuck behind expensive paywalls, and the data that underlay these papers would be fully available and properly archived for anyone who wanted to analyze them. As an astronomer, I’m pleased that our profession has been ahead of the curve on this, and most of the White House’s recommendations are already standard in our field.

NASA, as a federal agency that funds and conducts research, is onboard with the idea of freely accessible data. But it has a plan that goes much further than the White House’s and that is highly problematic. The agency currently gives a proprietary period to some scientists who use particular facilities, such as a 12-month period for the powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), so that those scientists can gather and analyze data carefully without fear of their work being poached. NASA is looking to end this policy in its effort to make science more open-access.

Losing this exclusivity would be really bad for astronomy and planetary science. Without a proprietary period, an astronomer with a brilliant insight might spend years developing it, months crafting a successful proposal to execute it, and precious hours of highly competitive JWST time to actually perform the observations—only to have someone else scoop up the data from a public archive and publish the result. This is a reasonable concern—such scooping has happened before….”

 

The challenge of preprints for public health

“Preprints are “a form of a scholarly article which is not peer-reviewed yet but made available either as paper format or electronic copy” 1. After an early attempt by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in the early 1960s, this format really took hold in the early 1990s, first as an email server at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which later became a web service known as arXiv 1. In the following years, the number of both preprint servers and total preprints submitted to web services increased considerably, however, preprints are still a small fraction (6.4%) of the total output of scientific publication 1. Despite disagreements over whether this form of publication is actually beneficial or not, its advantages and problems present a high degree of convergence among advocates and detractors. On the one hand, preprint is beneficial because it is a quicker way to disseminate scientific content with open access to everyone; on the other hand, the lack of adequate vetting, especially for peer reviews, increases the risk of disseminating bad science and can lead to several problems 2. The dissent lies in considering to what extent possible risks overcome possible benefits (or vice versa)….”

Free research access for all to cost Australia an arm and a leg

“The proposal by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley for an open access model that enshrines a national debt to international publishers is fundamentally flawed.

The world-first deal with international publishers to provide Australian readers with free access to the publisher’s research catalogues is likely to come with a hefty bill that will hurt the federal government’s budget bottom line.

The national agreement with the international publishers is likely to be subject to hefty increases in the annual fee after the initial agreement term expires….

There are two parts to this issue.

The first issue is the increasing cost of publishing.

Open access publishing is, for some publishers, a license to print money. Large international publishers turn over billions annually.

The Article Processing Charges can be as much as $5,000 for an article in a high-profile journal. Large international publishers can publish more than one hundred journals and high-profile journals can publish more than 15,000 articles per year.

The second issue is the cost to access research publications that are behind paywalls. Dr Foley told InnovationAus that her office had estimated that “academic libraries are paying between $350-to-$400 million to publishers every year for research access”. …”

Killing eLife’s selectivity reputation hurts science | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Now, under different leadership, eLife is changing. Most importantly, eLife leaders are eschewing the traditional binary “accept versus reject” publication decision model in favour of an offer to publish every manuscript that can get past a cursory editorial screen (although there is significant uncertainty about how much initial gatekeeping editors will do). Manuscripts will be posted online alongside reviewer critiques and an editor’s summary of them. A set of standard buzzwords in bold typeface, such as “important”, “solid” and “inadequate”, that effectively amount to a grading system, will be included in the editor’s summary.

Noticeably absent from the list of standard buzzwords are descriptors that come anywhere close to conveying the sentiment “should be rejected”. Authors will decide whether and how they respond to reviewer comments – additional rounds of review can ensue, at the author’s discretion. In essence, eLife will offer to publish manuscripts with an “inadequate” grade, that editors and reviewers would have previously rejected.

It’s an experimental approach to scientific publishing that has some merits and some supporters. However, it is hard for me to see the changes at eLife as anything other than its demise….”

OA = Funders and Lobbyists | Oct 10, 2022

“Do OA and open science represent a set of aligned interests being pushed by the rich and powerful — politicians, funders, lobbyists, and larger commercial operators — to allow for techno-utopian political posturing while they double-dip on their already-plentiful societal advantages and increase the odds that their current advantages grow?

However you answer this very leading question, it’s increasingly clear that policies are not being implemented transparently and openly, but rather via a hidden web of relationships, deals, and coordination — from Plan S to OSTP.

More and more information is pointing to a gradual, purposeful, and internecine takeover of publishing, not to make it more author-centric, but to make it more funder-centric. The relationships among funders, governments, and oligarchs are often blurry, with lobbyists an indicator that some kind of alignment is in the works.

A recent paper in Science and Public Policy about inadequate transparency in the EU’s approach to creating its influential open science policy discusses the role of lobbyists in the paradigm shift from “science 2.0” to “open science” as policies were formulated in Brussels and elsewhere. This was a meaningful shift. Both phrases are vague, but the first is more commonly understood as connoting a digital future based on existing norms. The latter injects a new set of untested norms, with the authors worrying that: ‘. . . successful projects of openness tend to be exploited on the one hand by powerful commercial actors and, on the other hand, by non-serious or even criminal actors, sometimes working in a grey area.’

Given the trail of influence SPARC and ORFG have left in the US through the NLM and the OSTP — in addition to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) — and their efforts to obscure relationships, roles, and ties to the registered lobbying firm (New Venture Fund [NVF]) that is their fiscal sponsor, some statements in the paper hit familiar notes when it comes to lobbyists on this side of the Atlantic:…

Given the power dynamics — with subscription-based journals creating strong filters at the headwaters of various scientific communities, often leading to funded projects being unpublished or published in lesser journals than their funders imagined — it’s little wonder funders changed lanes, entering publishing in order to gain further influence, lower barriers, and put their interests at the headwaters. “Publishers being co-opted by funders” now seems to be the unspoken intent of OA and open science.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20221010111724/https://www.the-geyser.com/oa-and-its-lobbyists/