Guest post: The Fully OA agreement – an essential component of a diverse open access world – OASPA

“Much of the recent effort to transition scholarly publishing to open access1 (OA) has focused on ‘Transformative Agreements’2 that incentivize change among subscription or mixed-model publishers3. Supporting such publishers to transition to OA is important to transform the system of scholarly publishing. However, it is equally important to support existing fully OA publishers – who already deliver open content by default in ways that comply with Plan S and fulfill its original principles and spirit – and to recognize the centrality of their role in normalizing OA and bringing it to the mainstream. 

As fully OA publishers, we welcome the pivotal role institutions and libraries are playing in supporting open access, and we look forward to co-creating the systems and publishing agreements that will enable them to support their authors in publishing OA. …

Most fully OA publishers have published open access since their founding. While we have costs associated with developing new OA models, we do not have costs or issues related to transitioning from subscription publishing to a new publishing model. Moreover, we are confident in the efficiencies that our full focus on OA allows, and in the transparency of our finances. While Article Processing Charges (APCs) still dominate the OA business model, we have been instrumental in developing and experimenting with a myriad of other potential ways to support OA, including institutional agreements and membership-style models. We have also pioneered many of the important innovations in scholarly publishing that have developed alongside OA, such as article-level metrics, preprint facilitation, open data facilitation, peer review innovations, rapid publication, and waiver programs. We have also helped focus attention on the methodological and ethical rigor of research. In short, fully OA publishers are an instrumental and essential component of the scholarly publishing landscape. We add diversity and author choice and publish OA to serve our research communities without being compelled by a changing scholarly publishing landscape.

In this light, we encourage and propose a greater focus on “Fully OA” publishing agreements (sometimes referred to as “Pure Publish” agreements). While much time and energy is by necessity devoted to Transformative Agreements and transforming subscription models, we propose a balanced approach whereby institutions also partner with fully OA publishers to fulfill their open research strategies and serve the needs of their research and teaching communities. We are certain that libraries do not want authors to be forced (or simply habituated) into NOT choosing a fully OA publisher simply because institutional agreements exist only with transitioning subscription or mixed-model publishers. …”

Halt the h-index – Leiden Madtrics

“Sometimes, bringing home a message requires a more visual approach. That’s why recently, we teamed up with a graphic designer to create an infographic on the h-index – or rather, on the reasons why not to use the h-index.

In our experience with stakeholders in research evaluation, debates about the usefulness of the h-index keep popping up. This happens even in contexts that are more welcoming towards responsible research assessment. Of course, the h-index is well-known, as are its downsides. Still, the various issues around it do not yet seem to be common knowledge. At the same time, current developments in research evaluation propose more holistic approaches. Examples include the evaluative inquiry developed at our own centre as well as approaches to evaluate academic institutions in context. Scrutinizing the creation of indicators itself, better contextualization has been called for, demanding to derive them out “in the wild” and not in isolation.
Moving towards more comprehensive research assessment approaches that consider research in all its variants is supported by the larger community of research evaluators as well, making a compelling case to move away from single-indicator thinking.
Still, there is opposition to reconsidering the use of metrics. When first introducing the infographic on Twitter, this evoked responses questioning misuse of the h-index in practice, disparaging more qualitative assessments, or simply shrugging off responsibility for taking action due to a perceived lack of alternatives. This shows there is indeed a need for taking another look at the h-index….”

Discomfort with Gold OA · Commonplace

“In this essay, I’m going to make the case that open access agreements that rely upon a pay-to-publish model are good for the groups who sign them but bad for the overall system.  To do that, I’ll start with a quick refresher on public goods and then use that framework to discuss the state of open access and the variations in different colors as they relate to public goods.undefined  After laying out a model of open access as a public good, I’ll argue that what we are actually building is not a system rooted in public goods but one that has merely shifted the entry barriers from readers to authors.  I’ll conclude by offering some hope for the future, again rooted in the social science of public goods….”

Open access ‘excludes’ developing world scientists – SciDev.Net

“Pay-to-publish models adopted by science journals ‘exacerbate the exclusion of researchers from the global South’.

Open access publishing is excluding many developing world scientists as complex fee waiver systems fall short, say leading researchers….”

Opening Access, Closing the Knowledge Gap? Analysing GC No. 25 on the Right to Science and Its Implications for the Global Science System in the Digital Age eBook (2021) / 0044-2348 | Nomos eLibrary

Abstract:  The Corona pandemic as never before shows the advantages of Open Science and Open Access (OA), understood as the unrestricted access to research data, software and publications over the internet. It might accelerate the long-predicted “access revolution” in the academic publishing system towards a system in which scientific publications are freely available for readers over the internet. This paradigm shift, for which the “flipping” of this journal is but one of many examples, is underway, with major research funding organisations at the national and international levels massively supporting it. The call for OA has now also been taken up by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which in its recent General Comment (GC) No. 25 explicitly asks states to promote OA. Following the line of argument of the OA movement, the Committee finds that OA is beneficial to democracy, scientific progress and furthermore a tool to bridge the “knowledge gap”. The aim of this paper is to critically examine the GC and its implications for the global science system in the digital age. It argues that the great merit of the GC lies in highlighting that “benefitting” from science includes access to science as such and not only to its material outcomes. This underscores the independent meaning of the right to science which so far was primarily seen as an enabler for other social rights. However, when it comes to OA, the GC has problematic flaws. It simply assumes that OA is beneficial to the right to science, overlooking that the OA model which is likely to become the global standard risks to benefit the already privileged, namely researchers and publishers of wealthy institutions in the Global North, further sidelining those at the margins. Rather than narrowing existing gaps, it risks to further deepen them. In order to remain meaningful in the face of the fundamental criticism it faces, human rights law needs to address systemic issues and inequalities in the science system and beyond.

 

Why some researchers oppose unrestricted sharing of coronavirus genome data

“Global-south scientists say that an open-access movement led by wealthy nations deprives them of credit and undermines their efforts….

But a growing faction of scientists, mostly from wealthy nations, argues that sequences should be shared on databases with no gatekeeping at all. They say this would allow huge analyses combining hundreds of thousands of genomes from different databases to flow seamlessly, and therefore deliver results more rapidly.

The debate has caught the attention of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) — which runs its own genome repository, called GenBank — and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has considered encouraging grantees to share on sites without such strong protections, Nature has learnt.

But many researchers — particularly those in resource-limited countries — are pushing back. They tell Nature that they see potential for exploitation in this no-strings-attached approach — and that GISAID’s gatekeeping is one of its biggest attractions because it ensures that users who analyse sequences from GISAID acknowledge those who deposited them. The database also requests that users seek to collaborate with the depositors….

Fears of inequitable data use are amplified by the fact that only 0.3% of COVID-19 vaccines have gone to low-income countries. “Imagine Africans working so hard to contribute to a database that’s used to make or update vaccines, and then we don’t get access to the vaccines,” says Christian Happi, a microbiologist at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Ede, Nigeria. “It’s very demoralizing.” …”

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

Why hybrid journals do not lead to full and immediate Open Access | Plan S

“In this brief note, we formulate 6 arguments that articulate why cOAlition S Organisations will not financially support the hybrid model of publishing. We define a hybrid Open Access journal as a subscription journal in which some of the original research papers are Open Access while others are only accessible via payment or subscription. …

Argument 1: Hybrid has not facilitated a transition to Open Access (OA)…

Argument 2: The research community pays twice (double dipping)…

Argument 3: Hybrid journals are more expensive than fully OA journals…

Argument 4: Hybrid journals provide a poor quality of service…

Argument 5: Hybrid journals crowd out new, full OA publishing models…

Argument 6: Reader access: a hybrid journal is a “random OA” journal…

The arguments developed here provide the rationale for why cOAlition S Organisations have decided not to financially support hybrid journals unless these journals adopt a transformative arrangement that will lead them towards full and immediate OA by December 2024. In the meantime, these arrangements must ensure that OA publication fees are properly offset against subscription fees, so as to avoid any double-dipping. Publishers will only “bite the bullet” and start exploring new OA publishing models when they realize that the hybrid model is no longer a viable option.”

Journal Open Access and Plan S: Solving Problems or Shifting Burdens? – Kamerlin – – Development and Change – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  This academic thought piece provides an overview of the history of, and current trends in, publishing practices in the scientific fields known to the authors (chemical sciences, social sciences and humanities), as well as a discussion of how open access mandates such as Plan S from cOAlition S will affect these practices. It begins by summarizing the evolution of scientific publishing, in particular how it was shaped by the learned societies, and highlights how important quality assurance and scientific management mechanisms are being challenged by the recent introduction of ever more stringent open access mandates. The authors then discuss the various reactions of the researcher community to the introduction of Plan S, and elucidate a number of concerns: that it will push researchers towards a pay?to?publish system which will inevitably create new divisions between those who can afford to get their research published and those who cannot; that it will disrupt collaboration between researchers on the different sides of cOAlition S funding; and that it will have an impact on academic freedom of research and publishing. The authors analyse the dissemination of, and responses to, an open letter distributed and signed in reaction to the introduction of Plan S, before concluding with some thoughts on the potential for evolution of open access in scientific publishing.

 

 

 

Decolonizing Open Access in Development Research Journal Open Access and Plan S: Solving Problems or Shifting Burdens?

This academic thought piece provides an overview of the history of, and current trends in, publishing practices in the scientific fields known to the authors (chemical sciences, social sciences and humanities), as well as a discussion of how open access mandates such as Plan S from cOAlition S will affect these practices. It begins by summarizing the evolution of scientific publishing, in particular how it was shaped by the learned societies, and highlights how important quality assurance and scientific management mechanisms are being challenged by the recent introduction of ever more stringent open access mandates. The authors then discuss the various reactions of the researcher community to the introduction of Plan S, and elucidate a number of concerns: that it will push researchers towards a pay-to-publish system which will inevitably create new divisions between those who can afford to get their research published and those who cannot; that it will disrupt collaboration between researchers on the different sides of cOAlition S funding; and that it will have an impact on academic freedom of research and publishing. The authors analyse the dissemination of, and responses to, an open letter distributed and signed in reaction to the introduction of Plan S, before concluding with some thoughts on the potential for evolution of open access in scientific publishing.

Is MDPI a predatory publisher? – Paolo Crosetto

“So, is MDPI predatory or not? I think it has elements of both. I would name their methods aggressive rent extracting, rather than predatory. And I also think that their current methods & growth rate are likely to make them shift towards more predatory over time.

MDPI publishes good papers in good journals, but it also employs some strategies that are proper to predatory publishers. I think that the success of MDPI in recent years is due to the creative combination of these two apparently contradicting strategy. One — the good journals with high quality — creates a rent that the other — spamming hundreds of colleagues to solicit papers, an astonishing increase in Special Issues, publishing papers as fast as possible — exploits.This strategy makes a lot of sense for MDPI, who shows strong growth rates and is en route to become the largest open access publisher in the world. But I don’t think it is a sustainable strategy. It suffers from basic collective action problems, that might deal a lot of damage to MDPI first, and, most importantly, to scientific publishing in general….

A predatory publisher is a journal that would publish anything — usually in return for money. MDPI rejection rates make this argument hard to sustain. Yet, MDPI is using some of the same techniques of predatory journals….”

Is MDPI a predatory publisher? – Paolo Crosetto

“So, is MDPI predatory or not? I think it has elements of both. I would name their methods aggressive rent extracting, rather than predatory. And I also think that their current methods & growth rate are likely to make them shift towards more predatory over time.

MDPI publishes good papers in good journals, but it also employs some strategies that are proper to predatory publishers. I think that the success of MDPI in recent years is due to the creative combination of these two apparently contradicting strategy. One — the good journals with high quality — creates a rent that the other — spamming hundreds of colleagues to solicit papers, an astonishing increase in Special Issues, publishing papers as fast as possible — exploits.This strategy makes a lot of sense for MDPI, who shows strong growth rates and is en route to become the largest open access publisher in the world. But I don’t think it is a sustainable strategy. It suffers from basic collective action problems, that might deal a lot of damage to MDPI first, and, most importantly, to scientific publishing in general….

A predatory publisher is a journal that would publish anything — usually in return for money. MDPI rejection rates make this argument hard to sustain. Yet, MDPI is using some of the same techniques of predatory journals….”

Now Is Not The Time For Publishers to Go After Online Libraries: Hachette Book Group, Inc. v. Internet Archive – The Temple 10-Q

“Nothing better promotes the progress of science and the arts than access to knowledge, especially during a global pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted how our society has changed in the past few decades and how much it needs to change in the decades to come. As schools and workplaces, law firms included, went partially or completely remote, connectivity and access to online resources became more important than ever. It is in this environment that several publishers chose to bring litigation against Internet Archive (IA) in Hachette Book Group, Inc. v. Internet Archive. 

Open Library is a non-profit digital library founded by IA that offers online access to more than 1.3 million books that it has digitized into a PDF format. Operating under the Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) model, Open Library lends out only as many books as it has physical hardcopies of. Essentially, the basis of CDL is that a book must be owned to be loaned.  …”

Continuing the open access transition in 2021 and beyond | Advancing Discovery | Springer Nature

“However, for those of us committed to accelerating the transition to immediate gold OA, 2021 has come with a new challenge – the introduction by cOAlition S of its Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) and its  determination that zero-embargo green OA be used as an alternative to gold OA.  As we have made clear from the outset in our Plan S submission and contributions to blogs and letters, seeking to assert a prior CC BY licence on the accepted manuscript (AM) version of an article risks undermining the transition to immediate open access to the version of record, a goal we had thought cOAlition S shared with us.  This RRS/zero-embargo green OA approach forces publishers into defending subscription income since this is the only income available to pay for their per article costs. Further, this RRS/zero-embargo green OA approach has introduced significant confusion for authors with the priority it gives zero embargo green OA even if a journal provides a compliant immediate OA option for the version of record….”

Joint Position Statement on “Data Repository Selection – Criteria That Matter” | Zenodo

Abstract:  Over the past three years, “Data Repository Selection-Criteria That Matter” – “a set of criteria for the identification and selection of those data repositories that accept research data submissions” – were developed by a group of publishers facilitated by the FAIRsharing initiative. Throughout this time, a large number of organizations and individuals have formulated responses and expressed concern about the criteria and the process through which the criteria were developed. Collectively, our organizations consider that the “Data Repository: Selection Criteria that Matter” recommendations – as currently conceived – will act as an impediment to achieving these aims. As such, we are issuing this Joint Position Statement to highlight the community’s concerns and request that the authors of these criteria respond with specific actions.