Guest Post – Transforming the Transformative Agreement – The Scholarly Kitchen

“At Cambridge University Press, we’ve been engaged in a major expansion of our TAs with US institutions. Agreements with 130 institutions came into effect this year with a diverse mix of organizations, including state university systems, liberal arts colleges, and major research universities. These agreements follow the “Read and Publish” model (R&P) we kicked off in the US with the University of California system; repurposing institutions’ existing subscription spend to open up access to important scholarly content and to extend the reach of their researchers’ work. The success this year in the US now gives us real scale — we have over 100 TAs covering 1000 institutes in 30 countries — and a critical mass of customer, author, and stakeholder feedback has given us a much better sense of what we will need to prioritize moving forward.

Yet even as we’ve actively sought to build momentum for change through R&P arrangements, we know that the evolution of TAs is essential to a long-term transition. While there are still many challenges we must solve for collectively, we are focusing our external engagement on four main areas.

Funder mandates should not be the only drivers of change….

Increased scale must come with better use of resources….

Equity and diversity must be supported in new ways….

Open is a means, not an end….”

OAreport: Put OA policies into practice in minutes, not months.

“We discover papers and data using open scholarly metadata, targeted text and data mining, and an institution’s internal data sources….

We transparently analyse those papers against all the terms of the institution’s current policy, or custom criteria, to provide detailed statistics and key insights….

We help libraries and funders unlock individual papers as they’re published by making outreach a one-click process, and help build evidence for systemic changes….”

Australian funder backflips on controversial preprint ban

“Australia’s major research funding body has backtracked on a rule that banned the mention of preprints in grant applications, under pressure from researchers who decried the ruling as “astonishing” and “outdated”.

The policy adjustment by the Australian Research Council (ARC) comes nearly four weeks after an anonymous researcher behind the ARC Tracker account on Twitter revealed that dozens of applications for early-career funding schemes had been rejected for citing preprints. More than 30 applications, worth Aus$22 million (US$16 million), were ruled ineligible.

Several rejected applicants, who can’t apply again because fellowship-application attempts are limited, told Nature last month that the decision had effectively ended their careers….”

Adjustments to the ARC’s position on preprints | Australian Research Council

“For future scheme rounds, the Australian Research Council (ARC) will allow the referencing and inclusion of preprints in any part of a National Competitive Grant Program (NCGP) grant application. This includes within the Research Outputs list as well as the body of an application.

This adjustment to ARC’s policy position reflects contemporary trends and the emerging significance of preprint acceptance and use across multiple research disciplines as a mechanism to expedite research and facilitate open research, as well as to provide greater equity across disciplines and career stages. …

The ARC appreciates the feedback it has received from the research sector on the issue of the inclusion of preprints within NCGP grant applications. We thank the esteemed academics, learned academies, research institutions and peak bodies that have assisted the ARC to ensure that the broadest range of disciplinary perspectives could be incorporated into this policy decision.”

81% of Horizon 2020 papers were published in open access journals | Science|Business

“European Commission boasts of high level of open access publishing in Horizon 2020. But researchers complain getting processing fees approved is long winded and could result in them losing out on intellectual property rights….

A large majority of Horizon 2020 researchers complied with the requirement to deposit open access publications in repositories. However, only 39% of Horizon 2020 deposited datasets are findable, with the remainder not including reliable metadata needed to track them down. Only 32% of deposited datasets can be quickly accessed via a link in the metadata….

Since then, the EU has also mandated that all papers coming from projects funded through Horizon Europe, its €95.5 billion research programme, should be published in open access journals.

 

The study estimates the average cost in Horizon 2020 of publishing an open access article was around €2,200. Processing charges for articles in subscription journals in which some of the articles are open access and some behind a paywall, had a higher average cost of €2,600. Trouble is looming, with charges for such hybrid journals no longer being eligible for funding under Horizon Europe….”

Researchers and publishers respond to new UK open-access policy – Physics World

“The largest funding body in the UK has announced a new open-access policy that will come into effect on 1 April 2022. UK Research and Inno­vation (UKRI) – the umbrella group for the UK’s seven research coun­cils – will from that date mandate that all published papers written by researchers containing work carried out using UKRI cash must be free to read immediately upon publication. Yet the announcement has been met with concern by some publishers and researchers….”

 

Concerns about new ARC “no preprint rule”

“The Australian Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics communities express grave concern about a recent change to Australian Research Council (ARC) rules to forbid reference to preprints anywhere in a grant application. We are particularly concerned about the impact on early career researchers whose ARC fellowship applications have recently been ruled ineligible because of a violation of this new rule. We are not aware of any consultation with our scientific communities about this change. We urge the ARC to rescind this rule, as it is unworkable and inconsistent with standard practice in our disciplines. Preprints are vital for the rapid dissemination of knowledge in physics, astronomy, chemistry, mathematics and statistics. This is particularly important in fields where there is a long lead-time between journal submission and publication. Citing preprints in publications, reports, or grant applications is an entrenched disciplinary norm in these fields. Experts and referees who encounter such citations know that preprints are not peer reviewed and are experienced in assigning them appropriate weight….”

‘Preprints’ are how cutting-edge science circulates. Banning them from grant applications penalises researchers for being up-to-date

“A sudden rule change by the Australian Research Council — to ban grant applications that cite preprint material — has deemed 32 early and mid-career researchers ineligible to receive critical funding….

The researchers were caught unaware by the rule, which many consider unworkable and unethical. It is out of step with the way science operates….

All these applications were in physics or astronomy. Ten of the disqualified applicants were from the University of Melbourne and Sydney alone — many at make-or-break career points.

In addition to the effect on the applicants themselves, this wasted significant time, effort and resources devoted by university grant administrators, academic mentors and expert reviewers.

Australia’s National Medical Health and Research Council (NHMRC) allows preprints to be used. So do all international funding agencies that we know of, such as the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the European Research Council (ERC)….

To have no mechanism to cite the most up-to-date available knowledge presents an ethical dilemma: how to properly credit the work of others, which either hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed or was never intended for peer review….

The Australian research community has united to express concern about the ARC’s rule. The Australian Institute of Physics, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, the Australian Mathematical Society, and Astronomical Society of Australia have coordinated an open letter, signed by many leading scientists, urging the ARC to rescind the preprint ban as a matter of urgency….”

Monitoring the open access policy of Horizon 2020 – Publications Office of the EU

The report examines, monitors and quantifies compliance with the open access requirements of Horizon 2020, for both publications and research data. With a steadily increase over the years and an average success rate of 83% open access to scientific publications, key findings indicate that the European Commission’s leadership in the Open Science policy has paid off. The study concludes with specific recommendations to improve the monitoring of compliance with the policy under Horizon Europe – which has a more stringent and comprehensive set of rights and obligations for Open Science. The data management plan and the datasets of the study are also available on data.europa.eu, the official portal for European data.

UKRI’s new open access policy will hinder open science | Times Higher Education (THE)

“The final published version – known as version of record, or VOR – is not some artificial construct of publishers. We know from our recent research with 1,400 researchers, as well as an analysis of article usage, that it is overwhelmingly the VOR that researchers want to read and cite – and it is also the VOR of their own research that, as authors, they want others to read and cite. They find the VOR easier to read, more reliable, and more authoritative and credible because of the reassurance provided by peer review and the stamp of credibility provided by proof of publication in a recognised journal.

Researchers also highlighted the value added to the VOR through the publication process, compared with earlier article versions (the submitted manuscript or the accepted manuscript), including copy-editing and typesetting. Critically, VORs include figures and links to relevant open data, open code and open protocols. This facilitates open science for the whole research system – which is the main goal of making research articles OA in the first place.

Green OA typically revolves around posting the accepted manuscript, but the cost of creating these is, in essence, borne by library subscriptions given that they are created as part of the process of being published in paywalled journals. This is a problem in itself: OA should be about removing paywalls, not becoming dependent on them. Attempts to make accepted manuscripts more widely available do not reflect researchers’ needs and could set back the transition to full (gold) OA and the realisation of the benefits of open science.

Second, as good as transformative agreements are, they have their limits. The industry-standard contract stipulates that a paper’s eligibility for gold OA depends on whether the corresponding author’s institution is part of the agreement. But the UKRI OA policy applies to all co-authors it funds in whole or in part. This is significant. We estimate that between 30 and 40 per cent of papers that have at least one UK author do not have a UK corresponding author and therefore wouldn’t be covered by existing transformative agreements. Those co-authors risk of being left without a viable funded OA publishing route….”

 

Reflections on the new UKRI open access policy | UKSG

by Samuel A. Moore, Scholarly Communication Specialist, Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge University Libraries & Niamh Tumelty, Head of Open Research Services, Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge University Libraries

At Cambridge University Libraries’ Office of Scholarly Communication, we have been supporting Cambridge researchers to comply with a variety of open access policies for many years. The policy landscape has evolved considerably in the past decade and affects increasing numbers of UK-based researchers, not only through the Research Excellence Framework but also through Plan S and charitable funder policies. Earlier this month, UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) – the UK’s principal government research funder – released its new policy on open access relating to publications arising from UKRI-funded research. In this editorial we explore and assess some of the policy’s implications. 

cOAlition S statement on Open Access for academic books | Plan S

Academic books – defined here to include monographs, book chapters, edited collections, critical editions, and other long-form works – are an important mode of publication for scholars, especially in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Several studies have pointed out the benefits of Open Access (OA) book publishing. In 2019, Science Europe published five principles for OA to academic books and recommendations for six types of research stakeholders.  Springer Nature has recently shown that OA books receive 2.4 times more citations and are downloaded 10 times more than non-OA books.

Principle 7 of Plan S acknowledged that the timeline to achieve Open Access for books requires a separate and due process. The Implementation Guidance specified that “by the end of 2021, a statement on Plan S principles would be issued as they apply to monographs and book chapters, together with related implementation guidance”.

Since the Plan S principles for research articles were published, many cOAlition S funders have developed their own OA policies around academic books. (For an overview of cOAlition S funders with an existing OA books policy, see Annex A).  On critical elements, like embargoes and licences, policies of cOAlition S organisations have already converged. Most cOAlition S funders have adopted or advise CC licences, and embargoes range between 0 and 12 months.

cOAlition S recognizes that academic book publishing is very different from journal publishing. Our commitment is to make progress towards full open access for academic books as soon as possible, in the understanding that standards and funding models may need more time to develop. Rather than to decree a uniform policy on OA books, we have therefore decided to formulate a set of recommendations regarding academic books – in line with Plan S principles – that all cOAlition S organisations will seek to adopt within their own remits and jurisdictions.

The Subscriptionization of Everything | Clarke & Esposito

“But all that to the side [current progress toward OA], would an individual researcher pay $15 a month for access to all of Elsevier’s scholarly content? Could such a model sit alongside, or bypass entirely, the institutional site license business that has reached a point of maturity? …

While UKRI may not have made up its mind yet about supporting Transformative Journals, the program continues to advance – though some of the reporting requirements for publishers are more onerous than publishers anticipated. David wrote a piece last month for The Scholarly Kitchen about the challenges that (especially smaller, independent) publishers are having with the requirements for compliance. As described in the post, cOAlition S requires journals qualifying for “Transformative” status to provide a set of data reports that can be expensive and time consuming to develop.  

 
The rationale for the data requirements is also puzzling. The stated purpose is that they will “help determine whether open-access content has broader reach than subscription content.” The data being collected, however, will not provide that help – as so often (and frustratingly) seems to be the case when it comes to open access studies, experimental design and adequate controls are not put in place. Good experimental design eliminates or controls for confounding factors. In this case there are a lot of differences between the articles being compared beyond just their OA status. (For example, in hybrid journals, OA often comes at a significant cost which only well-funded labs can afford, so perhaps the difference in performance between the articles can be attributed to the authors’ funding levels, rather than the articles’ OA status.) These confounders can be controlled for, and if cOAlition S wants to better understand the actual impacts it is having (including on market consolidation), then it should sponsor carefully designed studies, rather than requiring the expensive and time-consuming collection of data that will likely prove inconclusive.
 
Meanwhile, the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) continues to be a point of contention. As Shawn Khoo recently wrote, the RRS is not quite the “magic text” some believe it to be, and researchers need to take care not to sign conflicting contractual agreements, lest they put themselves in legal jeopardy.
 
Complicating the picture with regard to the RRS is the fact that publishers, understandably, do not view the scheme as a take-it-or-leave-it policy decision but rather (as we have discussed before in The Brief) an author request to be accepted or rejected on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, a publisher may accept a paper (for publication in a hybrid journal) with RRS language but only on condition of payment of an APC – which cannot be paid from cOAlition S funds but can be paid from other funding sources (in this sense, the RRS is a Plan S policy that has the result of shifting publication costs to other funding sources). In other cases, the publisher may decide to waive such an APC. In still other cases, the publisher may decide to suggest transferring the paper to a fully OA title. And of course the publisher might reject the paper entirely (and that rejection might or might not be based on inclusion of the RRS language – and if it is, the publisher might or might not state that in the rejection letter). In this regard, the RRS is similar to a (well-funded) author requesting an OA APC waiver for publication in a hybrid journal. Authors are free to ask for lots of things – waive all charges on my article, put my picture on the cover, promote my article to journalists so that I can impress my friends and family when it is covered on the evening news – but it is also within the rights of the publishing journal to decline those requests on a case-by-case basis….”

How the ARC can fix its fellowship red cards – Campus Morning Mail

“Last week our national funder, the Australian Research Council gave 32 fellowship applicants a red card for not sticking to a newly introduced rule. Here there was no yellow card, no time out, just the maximum penalty for an arguably minor transgression. The dismissal of their applications, totalling $22m, doesn’t send them off for the match or even a couple of games, it is for a whole year. Indeed given an average 15 per cent success rate and tight application limits, this could well be the end of the road for many a promising academic career.

Academia is renowned for passionate differences of opinion, so it is most unusual that a single procedural hiccough has united the whole sector. ARCgate has attracted scrutiny, both in the Senate and internationally. It is no coincidence that the red cards were all in the physical sciences, where this citing of preprints is not only common practice but failure to do so can be considered unethical.  Physicists have long known that referencing preprints gives others due credit and communicates cutting edge results quickly while under lengthy peer review. Most international bodies have followed suit, allowing, or even encouraging this. So too has the National Health & Medical Research Council, as COVID-19 taught us the importance of rapid communication.

It doesn’t help to dwell on how or why the rule was implemented, or its misalignment with modern publication culture. The important issue now is for the ARC to deal with this problem quickly….”