More Unexpected Consequences: How the Plan S Transformative Journal Route Favors Larger Incumbent Publishers – The Scholarly Kitchen

“But once you read the Transformative Journal reporting requirements, you will realize that this route is likely impossible for journals other than those from larger and wealthier publishers. Once again, a well-intentioned policy has created further inequities in scholarly communication….

Transformative Journals (TJs) are one route offered by cOAlition S “to encourage publishers to transition to immediate Open Access.” Through this route, a subscription/hybrid journal can remain compliant and eligible for Plan S authors by committing to a transition to becoming fully-OA and meeting a set of OA growth requirements each year until 2024, when support for TJs ends and they are expected to fully convert over to OA. Let’s ignore for now the OA growth requirements for TJs – DeltaThink’s recent analysis covers this well and shows how unrealistic the numbers are and how few journals are likely to progress adequately given the timelines involved…

Instead, I want to focus on the reporting requirements for TJs. Tallying up the number of OA articles published each year is easy to accomplish. The transparent pricing reporting requirements remain vague and meaningless enough that they shouldn’t prove too onerous for even smaller publishers to put together. Where things get difficult, if not impossible, is in the requirement for an annual public report to cOAlition S, a report that must include data on downloads, citations, and Altmetric scores for all papers published, and that must be sub-divided into OA papers versus non-OA papers.

For those working at larger publishing houses, this likely sounds trivial. You’d just assign your team of in-house bibliometric analysts to pull citation data from your expensive Web of Science, Scopus, or Dimensions subscription. Download information can be obtained from the usage tracking service you pay for, or perhaps it’s included from the full-service publishing platform that your organization owns or that you employ each year at significant cost. Altmetric numbers can come from your access to the paid service of the same name. Your employee bibliometricians will, of course, spend the necessary time parsing out the OA articles from everything else.

Hopefully the theme running through that last paragraph was fairly obvious – none of this is free, much of it is very expensive, and in-house bibliometric expertise is rare among smaller publishers….”

We moeten af van telzucht in de wetenschap – ScienceGuide

From Google’s English:  “On July 19, ScienceGuide published an open letter from 171 academics who are concerned about the new Recognition and Valuation of scientists. In fact, the signatories warn that the new ‘Recognize and Appreciate’ leads to more arbitrariness and loss of quality. This will jeopardize the international top position of Dutch science, argue the writers, which will adversely affect young academics in particular.  …

It is noticeable that these young scientists, whom the letter speaks of, do not seem to be involved in drafting the message. It is also striking that signatories to the open letter themselves are mainly at the top of the academic career ladder; 142 of the 171 signatories are even professors. As Young Science in Transition, PhD candidates Network Netherlands, PostDocNL, a large number of members of De Jonge Akademies and many other young researchers, we do not agree with the message they are proclaiming. In fact, we worry about these kinds of noises when it comes to our current and future careers. Young academics are eagerly waiting for a new system of Recognition and Appreciation. …”

Nieuwe Erkennen en waarderen schaadt Nederlandse wetenschap – ScienceGuide

From Google’s English:  “A group of 171 scientists, including 142 professors, warns in this open letter that the new Recognition and Valuation will harm Dutch science. The medical, exact and life sciences in particular are in danger of losing their international top position as a result of the new Recognition and Appreciation, because it is no longer clear how scientists are judged.

An article was recently published in Nature about the new policy of Utrecht University whereby the impact factors of scientific journals are no longer included in the evaluation of scientists. Measurable performance figures have been abandoned in favor of an ‘open science’ system and elevating the team above the individual.  

Here 171 academics warn that this new ‘Recognition and appreciation’ will lead to more arbitrariness and less quality and that this policy will have major consequences for the international recognition and appreciation of Dutch scientists. This will have negative consequences in particular for young researchers, who will no longer be able to compete internationally.  …”

Why the new Recognition & Rewards actually boosts excellent science

“During the last few weeks, several opinion pieces have appeared questioning the new Recognition and Rewards (R&R) and Open Science in Dutch academia. On July 13, the TU/e Cursor published interviews with professors who question the usefulness of a new vision on R&R (1). A day later, on July 14, the chairman of the board of NWO compared science to top sport, with an emphasis on sacrifice and top performance (2), a line of thinking that fits the traditional way of R&R in academia. On July 19, an opinion piece was published by 171 university (head) teachers and professors (3), this time in ScienceGuide questioning again the new vision of R&R. These articles, all published within a week, show that as the new R&R gains traction within universities, established scholars are questioning its usefulness and effectiveness. Like others before us (4), we would like to respond. …”

National Library’s plan to digitise and preserve books draws wide support from New Zealand civil society organisations – Tohatoha

“Claims that the National Library’s recently announced plan to send 600,000 books overseas to be digitised is equivalent to ‘internet piracy’ are unfounded, says a group of New Zealand civil society organisations supportive of the initiative.

In a statement from the Department of Internal Affairs last week, Te Puna M?tauranga o Aotearoa National Library announced it had reached an historic agreement where all books left at the end of the Overseas Published Collections (OPC) review process will be donated to the Internet Archive so they can digitise and preserve them.

Several New Zealand associations and organisations, including Internet New Zealand, Museums Aotearoa, the New Zealand Open Source Society and Tohatoha Aotearoa Commons, are backing the National Library’s plan, saying that the initiative will help ensure future access for New Zealanders to a greater range of publications.

Mandy Henk, CEO of Tohatoha and a librarian herself, said that claims that the Internet Archive’s digitisation service is illegal – made this week by several New Zealand publishing organisations – are not true….”

Citation Advantage? | Clarke & Esposito

“You might think that after 20 years of research and more than 130 studies on the subject, we’d have a clear picture of the effect that open access publishing has on an article’s citation performance. Unfortunately, decades of poor studies and a mystifying unwillingness to perform experimental controls for confounding factors continues to muddy the waters around the alleged open access citation advantage (OACA).

In a new paper published in PLOS ONE, authors from the University of Minnesota Libraries attempted to perform a meta-analysis of the 134 studies they could locate on the subject. But to be valid, a meta-analysis must look at comparable experiments, and because the OACA studies were so heterogenous, this proved impossible. Definitions of “open access,” fields of study, time periods studied, etc. were all over the place, negating any possible conclusions that could be drawn….”

Academic research should benefit society and not shareholders | Jisc


“Shareholder value maximisation has been severely criticised in recent years, with a growing number of prominent business leaders recognising that companies have obligations to society as well as their shareholders.

This moral responsibility is also emerging in scholarly communications. Most academic research is still published behind paywalls, but researchers and funders are increasingly looking to make data and research outputs freely and openly available for the benefit of society.

The lion’s share of academic research is publicly funded, yet revenues derived from that research are distributed disproportionately, serving shareholders rather than researchers. Academic publishers and their shareholders have benefitted from an increasing proportion of library budgets. In the past, publishers routinely sought annual increases of journal subscription fees in addition to significant revenue from open access article processing charges. This is particularly hard for the smaller institutions that want to publish open access.”

Shooting Spitballs at Tanks: Some Thoughts on the Limits of Open Access

Abstract:  The gold model of open access, in which an author/sponsoring institution must pay an Article Processing Charge (“APC”) is merely another instance of the neoliberalization of the university. However, this can be combatted by an expansion of the role of the library in the university, as well as wider agitation beyond it.

MIT and Harvard Have Sold Higher Education’s Future

“Last week Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sold their edX platform to a for-profit company for $800 million. Founded by the two institutions nearly a decade ago, edX was higher education’s answer to the venture-backed start-ups jostling for an online-course windfall. With the sale to one of those firms, Maryland-based 2U, Harvard and MIT have surrendered. Their decision to fold is a major, and potentially fateful, act of betrayal.

Alan Garber, Harvard’s provost, adopted the language of edX’s profit-maximizing rivals in conceding defeat. “Taking full advantage of [online learning’s] potential,” he told The Harvard Gazette, “will require capital investments at greater scale than is readily attainable for a nonprofit entity like edX.” The decision to sell comes as investor interest in higher education has swelled during the pandemic. Coursera, the Silicon Valley online-course provider, went public in March, and Instructure — the maker of the popular learning-management software Canvas — filed for an IPO last week. The Covid Zoom boom has brought the inevitable wave of start-ups hoping to cash in on the virtual college classroom. So it’s no surprise that the market value of 2U, after the edX announcement, surged past $3 billion.

Before the sale, edX was academe’s public option — a mission-aligned satellite of the brick-and-mortar campus. Now all the major players in the sector are profiteers, legally obligated to maximize shareholder return….

By the turn of the millennium, most societies had handed over their journals to be published by the big commercial players, in exchange for a share of profit. Now most scholarship is published by an oligopolist quintet of information conglomerates that, in turn, charge their college customers usurious fees.

That industry is among the most profitable in the world, in part because academics write and review for free. As the historian Aileen Fyfe has shown, there was nothing inevitable about the joint custody — nonprofit colleges and for-profit publishers — we’ve ended up with. We owe our current predicament, in part, to the decisions of learned societies who chose short-term cash over their scholar-members’ long-term interests. Harvard and MIT have just made the same disastrous miscalculation….

2U’s mission is fundamentally misaligned with the university tradition. 2U, Coursera, and their venture-funded competitors are built to squeeze profit from our students, using our faculty and course offerings. Harvard and MIT had no right, in the meaningful sense, to sell us off. None of us — not faculty members, not students — signed up for edX to increase Silicon Valley’s wallet share. We will look back on this careless abrogation of stewardship as the tragic squandering that it is.”

Signs of divisiveness, discrimination and stigmatization caused by Jeffrey Beall’s “predatory” open access publishing blacklists and philosophy – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  Jeffrey Beall, a US librarian, coined the term “predatory publishing” specifically to describe a movement or phenomenon of open access (OA) journals and publishers that he and others believed displayed exploitative and unscholarly principles. Using a blog to transmit those ideas, and profiling specific cases using blacklists, one of the most polemic aspects of Beall’s blog was its tendency to attract and incite academic radicalism. Beall targeted both publishers and standalone journals, but how he precisely determined that an OA journal or a publisher was predatory was in many cases an ambiguity. Beall’s deficient and highly subjective criteria, as well as those blacklists’ incapacity to clearly distinguish low quality OA publishers from predatory ones, may have negatively impacted the operations of several Beall-blacklisted OA journals and publishers. Freedom of speech that embraces prejudice, via Beall’s blog, and the establishment of “predatory” blacklists, are enhanced discriminatory ideologies that continue to be carried downstream from Beall to and by other like-minded individuals and groups who proliferate academic divisiveness and may also be formalizing and institutionalizing a culture of discriminative philosophies by cloning Beall’s blacklists and encouraging their continued use.

Editorial: Can Journals, as Trusted Intermediaries, Cut Through the Signal-to-Noise Problem in Medical Publishing?

“Although open-access publication has its upsides, for purposes of this essay, I am going to lump publishing in open-access journals in with posting to preprint servers as potentially problematic. My reason for doing so is that both make it harder for clinicians to separate helpful research from distracting, unhelpful, and in the case of preprint servers, unvetted material. In previous editorials, I’ve highlighted some redeeming qualities of open-access publication [17, 18]; I also note that open access is a publication option here at CORR®. But from where I sit today, it’s becoming clear to me that the distortion of publication incentives that are inherent to fully open-access journals does not serve readers (or their patients) very well….”

Commentary: The publication pandemic

“The rise of OA and the megajournals has turned out to be a lucrative model for publishing houses.1,2 But is it good for the scientific community as a whole? Opinions on this differ from field to field, with the more translational fields, like biology and medicine, taking a more enthusiastic stance and more fundamental fields, like mathematics and physics, a more skeptical one. (See the commentary by Jason Wright in Physics Today, February 2020, page 10, and reference 3.)

There is also a noticeable generational difference of opinion. Some younger scientists view the trend toward OA scientific journals more favorably than their older colleagues do. …”

Open access publication: Academic colonialism or knowledge philanthropy? – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  Open access (OA) publication of scholarly articles in journals has come to be celebrated as opening up new knowledge base to researchers, making knowledge a ‘public-good’. What seems to have gone amiss is a deep-seeded exclusion and discrimination that OA furthers by being blind to authors’ location. I argue that OA entrenches prevailing ‘academic colonialism’, without any reflection on transforming existing academic hierarchies. The paper brings forth the idea of academiccolonialism leading to a hierarchization of scholarships, wherein the authors belonging to the so-called Global South stand at a disadvantage.


Open access publication: Academic colonialism or knowledge philanthropy? – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  Open access (OA) publication of scholarly articles in journals has come to be celebrated as opening up new knowledge base to researchers, making knowledge a ‘public-good’. What seems to have gone amiss is a deep-seeded exclusion and discrimination that OA furthers by being blind to authors’ location. I argue that OA entrenches prevailing ‘academic colonialism’, without any reflection on transforming existing academic hierarchies. The paper brings forth the idea of academiccolonialism leading to a hierarchization of scholarships, wherein the authors belonging to the so-called Global South stand at a disadvantage.


AAP Vows to Protect Copyright from All Challengers

“Challenges to copyright protection are also happening at the state level, Pallante warned, where library lobbyists and “tech-funded” special interest groups are working to “divert copyright protection away from Congress to state assemblies,” an apparent reference to Maryland’s passage of a law late last week that would force publishers to make any digital content they license to consumers available as “an electronic literary product” to public libraries in the state “on reasonable terms.” The AAP opposed the law, and in her remarks, Pallante argued that these state efforts “are clearly preempted by the express language of the federal Copyright Act,” while also spinning a “false narrative.”

Pallante said libraries are an important part of the publishing ecosystem, but added that, “authors, publishers, and bookstores also have policy equities, which is why Congress enacted a singular cohesive federal copyright system that has address the ownership and sale of books since 1790.” She also hit back against what she said are lobbyists pushing states to fund open educational resources “through ugly misinformation campaigns aimed at publishers” and designed to replace publishers’ materials.

In a final point about copyright, Pallante said that the lawsuit the association filed a year ago against the Internet Archive for copying 1.3 million scans of books is still in discovery, but said the IA’s activities “are well outside the boundaries of both the law and copyright commerce, and ultimately pose an existential threat to the copyright framework on which authors and publishers rely.”…”