“Developments in the publishing system increasingly suggest that the access revolution is much less revolutionary than expected. Reports gradually bring to light the extent to which publishers started to use the data tracking tools developed by “pioneers” such as Google and Facebook (see e.g. this informative briefing paper under the umbrella of the DFG, the German Research Foundation). This development could not only be the final blow for the Open Access movement’s potential to more radically and structurally change the way knowledge is being disseminated in the digital age – namely with a less prominent role played by commercial publishers. It furthermore means a systematic threat to the autonomy of the science system and academic freedom in the digital age….”
In 2008 Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences voted unanimously to adopt a ground-breaking open access policy. Since then, over 70 other institutions, including other Harvard faculties, Stanford and MIT, have adopted similar policies based on the Harvard model. In Europe such institutional policies have, so far, been slow to get off the ground.
We are beginning to see that situation change. In 2021 the University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) adopted an Open Access policy that came into force on 1st January 2022.
Here, UiT members Camilla Brekke (Prorector for Research and Development), Johanne Raade (Library Director), Tanja Larssen (Open Science Advisor) and Per Pippin Aspaas (Head of Library Research and Publishing Support), tell us about the process of creating and implementing their policy….”
“Recently, the “German Science and Humanities Council” (Wissenschaftsrat) has issued their “Recommendations on the Transformation of Academic Publishing: Towards Open Access“. On page 33 they write that increasing the competition between publishers is an explicit goal of current transformative agreements:
publishers become publication service providers and enter into competition with other providers
This emphasis on competition refers back to the simple fact that as content (rather than service) providers, legacy publishers currently enjoy monopolies on their content, as, e.g., the European Commission has long recognized: In at least two market analyses, one dating as far back as 2003 and one from 2015, the EC acknowledges the lack of a genuine market due to the lack of substitutability…
Without such prestige, the faculty argue, they cannot work, risk their careers and funding. Arguments that these ancient vehicles are unreliable, unaffordable and dysfunctional are brushed away by emphasizing that their academic freedom allows them to drive whatever vehicle they want to their field work. Moreover, they argue, the price of around one million is “very attractive” because of the prestige the money buys them.
With this analogy, it becomes clear why and how tenders protect the public interest against any individual interests. In this analogy, it is likely also clear that academic freedom does not and should not trump all other considerations. In this respect, I would consider the analogy very fitting and have always argued for such a balance of public and researcher interests: academic freedom does not automatically exempt academics from procurement rules.
Therefore, ten experts advocate a ban on all negotiations with publishers and, instead, advocate policies that ensure that all publication services for public academic institutions must be awarded by tender, analogous the the example set by Open Research Europe and analogous to how all other, non-digital infrastructure contracts are awarded.”
by Stephen Curry
Since its announcement on 4th September the European Commission’s plan to make a radical shift towards open access (OA) has caused quite a stir. Backed by eleven* national funding agencies, the plan aims to make the research that they support free to read as soon as it is published. This is a major challenge to the status quo, since the funders are effectively placing subscription journals off limits for their researchers, even if the journals allow green OA (publication of the author-accepted manuscript) after an embargo period; Plan S also specifically excludes hybrid open access except in cases where journals have an agreed schedule for flipping to OA. The plan has been welcomed as “admirably strong” by OA advocate Peter Suber, though he has also offered cautionary notes on some aspects. Others have been less enthusiastic. A central charge, from some publishers and some academics is that Plan S is an infringement of academic freedom to choose how and where your work is published and is therefore unethical.
I disagree. The claim that Plan S is unethical derives from an understanding of academic freedom that appears to me to rest on foundations that, if not shaky, are at least highly questionable.
“In the fragmented scientific and policy environment, a global understanding of the meaning, opportunities and challenges of open science is needed for its fair and equitable operationalization at the individual, institutional, national, regional and international levels.
The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science provides an international framework for open science policy and practice that recognizes disciplinary and regional differences in open science perspectives. It takes into account academic freedom, gender-transformative approaches and the specific challenges of scientists and other open science actors in different countries and in particular in developing countries, and contributes to reducing the digital, technological and knowledge divides existing between and within countries….”
Abstract: Few scholars are aware of the meaning of open access (OA), especially in the field of the social sciences and humanities, where the rates of OA-publication are remarkably low. The chapter gives an overview of the situation in Italy in order to outline the relation between OA and academic freedom. Also from the viewpoint of academic freedom, it emerges that public funding, university networks and awareness-raising among scholars enhance OA more than does imposition by law.
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.
“As is so often the case with transformative deals, this one is complex; it’s also somewhat controversial, and the scholarly communication discussion space has been buzzing with questions. The good news is that the UC-Elsevier MOU is publicly available and it answers quite a few of them — while also fully illustrating the complexity of the deal.
Here I’d like to focus on six questions that I’ve had about the new UC-Elsevier deal, and share the answers I was able to find….”
Abstract: Discussion of the ways in which open access (OA) and academic freedom interact is fraught for a number of reasons, not least of which is the unwillingness of some participants in the discussion to acknowledge that OA might have any implications for academic freedom at all. Thus, any treatment of such implications must begin with foundational questions. Most basic among them are: first, what do we mean by ‘open access’; second, what do we mean by ‘academic freedom’? The answers to these questions are not as obvious as one might expect (or hope), but when they are answered it becomes much easier to address a third, also very important, question: in what ways might OA and academic freedom interact? With every new OA mandate imposed by a government agency, institution of higher education, or funding organization, careful analysis of this issue becomes more urgent. This article attempts to sort out some of these issues, controversies and confusions.
Abstract: This opinion piece interrogates the position that open access policies infringe academic freedom. Through an analysis of the objections to open access policies (specifically Plan S) that draw on academic freedom as their primary concern, the article illustrates the shortcomings of foregrounding a negative conception of academic freedom that primarily seeks to protect the fortunate few in stable academic employment within wealthy countries. Although Plan S contains many regressive and undesirable elements, the article makes a case for supporting its proposal for zero?embargo repository?based open access as the basis for a more positive form of academic freedom for scholars around the globe. Ultimately, open access publishing only makes sense within a project that seeks to nurture this positive conception of academic freedom by transforming higher education towards something more socially just and inclusive of knowledge producers and consumers worldwide.
[Undated] “Plan S has little to no regard for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The creators of Plan S have used the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) research ecosystem as their main model and have presented a “one size fits all” approach with a focus on journals – which are key for STEM – and have practically ignored monographs – which are of greater importance in HSS. A single, unified approach to delivering open access across the full spectrum of academic publishing is unfeasible.
A plan driven by payments from direct grants is incompatible with disciplines and sub-fields where there is no direct grant funding. Funding for the humanities, unlike funding for much of STEM, is not usually centralized, and often comes from educational institutions directly, rather than well-endowed foundations. Furthermore, unlike STEM, many disciplines also have a more national focus, and available funding is therefore even more difficult to identify and secure.
It is not possible for the vast majority of HSS (Humanities and Social Science) journals to simply ‘flip’ to APC-based open access. Many serve relatively small research communities and combine low publication volumes with high rejection rates. They will not be able to provide the same level of service to their communities on the basis of a small number of capped APCs….”
“Funding agencies behind the radical open-access (OA) initiative Plan S have announced a policy that could make it possible for researchers to bypass journals’ restrictions on open publishing. The change could allow scientists affected by Plan S to publish in any journal they want — even in subscription titles, such as Science, that haven’t yet agreed to comply with the scheme.
Plan S, which kicks in from 2021, aims to make scientific and scholarly works free to read and reproduce as soon as they are published. Research funders that have signed up to it include the World Health Organization, Wellcome in London, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, and 17 national funders, mostly in Europe. The European Commission also says it will follow the plan.
Under the initiative, scientists funded by Plan S agencies must publish their work OA. If a journal doesn’t allow that, researchers can instead post an accepted version of their article — an author accepted manuscript, or AAM — in an online repository as soon as their paper appears. This kind of author-initiated sharing is sometimes called green open access. Under Plan S, it comes with a key condition that has so far been anathema to many subscription journals: the AAM must be shared under a liberal ‘CC-BY’ publishing licence that would allow others to republish and translate the work….”
“HHMI works to discover and share scientific knowledge. We believe that science is a public good. Should new research be shared freely, widely, and quickly? We asked our scientists what they think….
Finding 1 – Most surveyed scientists see significant challenges with scientific publishing today and generally favor open access over subscription….
Finding 2 – The scientists are divided on whether they oppose or favor a policy requiring them to publish open access, which would restrict their publication choices….
Finding 3 – When considering a policy requiring them to publish open access, the scientists’ top concern was that trainees will find it more difficult to obtain tenure-track academic positions if they cannot publish in prestigious journals that are currently subscription-based….
Finding 4 – The majority of Group Leaders at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus who took the survey report posting or reading preprints, with a lower proportion of HHMI Investigators and trainees doing so. Scientists are split on whether they oppose or favor a requirement to publish preprints….”
“There has been some anxiety among researchers and publishers, as is the case with any change. The open access principle seems to be widely supported, but there is fear that the introduction of strict rules will limit researchers and restrict the choice of journals where they can publish. Young researchers pointed out that they need to be able to publish in a top journal to accelerate their career and this may become more difficult with additional rules. This is indeed a potential problem, but if all funding agencies adopt the Plan S principles, all important journals will need to adapt and offer full open access for a reasonable cost. That is at least what is hoped by the consortium and by the researchers worldwide who support this initiative.
EHA has been supporting many of these principles for more than 20 years. In the past, EHA and the Ferrara Storti Foundation published Haematologica, an open access journal with low publication fees, which is completely in line with the spirit behind Plan S. Since 2017, EHA is publishing HemaSphere, its own open access journal. There was universal agreement among the EHA board members that this new journal had to be open access and offer low publication fees. Authors publishing their work in HemaSphere retain the copyright of their work, removing the restrictions they would otherwise later face when wishing to use their own work for education, research, or sharing. EHA invests in its journal by offering open access publication against low fees, not only for its members, but also for the entire international hematology community….”
“On January 31st, the Editorial and Advisory Boards of the European Law Journal resigned en masse from their positions in protest after the publisher, Wiley, decided that it was not willing to ‘give away’ control and authority over editorial appointments and decisions to the academics on the journal’s Boards. We recount our small act of resistance here because we think there may be lessons for the wider academic community. We are not looking to portray ourselves as martyrs for academic freedom or principled radicals looking to overhaul the entire system of academic publishing. Indeed, the most significant aspect of our rupture with Wiley lies in the modesty of the demands they were unwilling to meet. …”