Subscribe to Open (S2O): An Interview Post in Two Parts (Part 1) – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The AMS is not bucking the open access trend — indeed, we are launching a major new electronic-only, Diamond Open Access journal – Communications of the AMS (CAMS) – a research journal that sits at the interface of theoretical and applied mathematics. The journal is donor funded and will be endowed to ensure the journal succeeds in perpetuity.

However, we are looking for other ways to avoid reliance on article processing charges (APCs) for revenue. One of the most intriguing options is Subscribe to Open (S2O) – or at least it seems that way. But then again, there are pros and cons to a model that is philosophically appealing, but may not be sustainable in the long term….

For an independent academic society, I can see many advantages in S2O. I see the pros of a collective approach to openness that in principle is sustainable. Yet, I do see risks. Right now, there is an ethical force that sits beyond the boundary of logical institutional expenditure. Ongoing financial support requires university administration to accept the idea that their school should subscribe so that others may not need to. Will this approach work globally? Is this how an institution’s Provost or VP of Research sees sensible institutional spend going forward? On the one hand, usage may grow, but it is hard to see how there could be subscription, or financial growth with such a model – perhaps this is the point – but a publisher has to consider these issues….

Rather than letting all this keep me awake at night, I thought I would turn to a few experts with a few burning questions, asking them to help me navigate my way through this complexity.

As you read the thoughtful responses below, I am interested to know what you think. My take-away is that there is a symmetry and determination to S2O that appears to defy the logic of unsustainability. It is also clear that we need to know more over a period of time to see if S2O will work or not. The question I pose on Creative Commons Licensing appears to be an afterthought for many, and indeed the answers below solidify my sense that there is no clear link between S2O and the use of Creative Commons licensing, or if there is, it needs to transparently be the authors’ decision

Voices included here are: Curtis Brundy (Associate University Librarian, Iowa State University), Larry Howell (Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Academic Vice President, Brigham Young University), Judith Russell (Dean of University Libraries, University of Florida), Rick Anderson (University Librarian at Brigham Young University and Scholarly Kitchen Chef), Tom Ward (Professor of Mathematics and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education), Newcastle University), Richard Gallagher (President and Editor-in-Chief, Annual Reviews), Michael Levine-Clark (Dean of the University of Denver Libraries)….”

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….”

Dudley | The Changing Landscape of Open Access Publishing: Can Open Access Publishing Make the Scholarly World More Equitable and Productive? | Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication

Abstract:  Almost 50% of scholarly articles are now open access in some form. This greatly benefits scholars at most institutions and is especially helpful to independent scholars and those without access to libraries. It also furthers the long-standing idea of knowledge as a public good. The changing dynamics of open access (OA) threaten this positive development by solidifying the pay-to-publish OA model which further marginalizes peripheral scholars and incentivizes the development of  sub-standard and predatory journals. Causal loop diagrams (CLDs) are used to illustrate these interactions.

 

SocArXiv Papers | Dynamics of Cumulative Advantage and Threats to Equity in Open Science – A Scoping Review

Open Science holds the promise to make scientific endeavours more inclusive, participatory, understandable, accessible, and re-usable for large audiences. However, making processes open will not per se drive wide re-use or participation unless also accompanied by the capacity (in terms of knowledge, skills, financial resources, technological readiness and motivation) to do so. These capacities vary considerably across regions, institutions and demographics. Those advantaged by such factors will remain potentially privileged, putting Open Science’s agenda of inclusivity at risk of propagating conditions of “cumulative advantage”. With this paper, we systematically scope existing research addressing the question: “What evidence and discourse exists in the literature about the ways in which dynamics and structures of inequality could persist or be exacerbated in the transition to Open Science, across disciplines, regions and demographics?” Aiming to synthesise findings, identify gaps in the literature, and inform future research and policy, our results identify threats to equity associated with all aspects of Open Science, including Open Access, Open/FAIR Data, Open Methods, Open Evaluation, Citizen Science, as well as its interfaces with society, industry and policy. Key threats include: stratifications of publishing due to the exclusionary nature of the author-pays model of Open Access; potential widening of the digital divide due to the infrastructure-dependent, highly situated nature of open data practices; risks of diminishing qualitative methodologies as “reproducibility” becomes synonymous with quality; new risks of bias and exclusion in means of transparent evaluation; and crucial asymmetries in the Open Science relationships with industry and the public, which privileges the former and fails to fully include the latter.

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.

News – Call for proposals: Risks and Trust in pursuit of a well functioning Persistent Identifier infrastructure for research – News – Knowledge Exchange

“As part of its work on Open Science, the Knowledge Exchange (KE) are currently exploring the role of Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) within modern-day research. To better understand what is needed to build and exploit a well-functioning PID infrastructure for research, we wish to commission a consultant to undertake further investigation, analysis and recommendations, to identify best possible strategic and operational paths to achieve a well-functioning PID infrastructure for Knowledge Exchange (KE) member states and beyond.

We are inviting consultants to submit proposals to undertake work around ‘PIDs: Risk and Trust’. Detailed information around the background and scope of the PIDs: Risk and Trust work is provided below, along with suggested timelines for completion, selection criteria and contact details for key personal….”

Gelenkte Wissenschaft: Die DFG warnt vor Einfluss des Plattformkapitalismus (“Guiding” science: DFG warns against influence of platform capitalism) | Frankfurter Allgemeine

German Research Foundation warns against the growing influence of major publishers on research. Scientific freedom is under threat from two sides.

 

 

Die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft warnt vor dem wachsenden Einfluss der Großverlage auf die Forschung. Die Wissenschaftsfreiheit ist hier von zwei Seiten bedroht.

How the COVID pandemic is changing global science collaborations

“Another long-term trend that researchers are watching out for is the push for scientists to share their research data more openly. This was mandated by the biomedical funding charity, Wellcome, for research that it funded on COVID-19, although there have been instances of people circumventing the rules by making data available ‘upon request’.

In theory, the push for open data might lessen international collaboration if it is no longer necessary to establish personal relationships to access data. Sugimoto says this could happen, but also wonders whether open data might help to link researchers from across the world by making their work more visible. “It could actually, in some ways, enhance and increase international collaboration rather than diminish it,” she says….”

Language extinction triggers the loss of unique medicinal knowledge | PNAS

Abstract:  The United Nations proclamation of 2022–2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages aims to raise global awareness about their endangerment and importance for sustainable development. Indigenous languages contain the knowledge that communities have about their surrounding plants and the services they provide. The use of plants in medicine is a particularly relevant example of such ecosystem services. Here, we find that most medicinal knowledge is linguistically unique—i.e., known by a single language—and more strongly associated with threatened languages than with threatened plants. Each indigenous language is therefore a unique reservoir of medicinal knowledge—a Rosetta stone for unraveling and conserving nature’s contributions to people.

 

The Global Extinction of Languages Is Threatening a Vital Type of Human Knowledge

“As human languages are driven to extinction around the world, a verbal encyclopedia of medical knowledge is on the brink of being forgotten.

Among 12,495 medicinal uses for plants in indigenous communities, new research has found over 75 percent of those plants are each tied to just one local language. If these unique words trickle out of use, so too may the knowledge they contain….

Language extinction is a tragic phenomenon that’s been occurring worldwide, as languages spoken by precious few people are replaced by larger ones. Roughly one language ceases to be spoken every four months, and 3,054 languages are currently endangered around the world….

The vast majority of plant species in the study were found to have medical properties described in just one indigenous language, many of which are themselves endangered….

In North America, for instance, the authors found waning indigenous languages held 86 percent of all unique knowledge on plant medicine. In the northwest Amazon, on the other hand, 100 percent of medicinal plant knowledge is restricted to languages on the edge of extinction. …”

International disparities in open access practices in the Earth Sciences

Abstract:  Background: Open access (OA) implies free and unrestricted access to and re-use of research articles. Recently, OA publishing has seen a new wave of interest, debate, and practices surrounding that mode of publishing.

Objectives: To provide an overview of publication practices and to compare them among six countries across the world to stimulate further debate and to raise awareness about OA to facilitate decision-making on further development of OA practices in earth sciences.

Methods: The number of OA articles, their distribution among the six countries, and top ten journals publishing OA articles were identified using two databases, namely Scopus and the Web of Science, based mainly on the data for 2018.

Results: In 2018, only 24%–31% of the total number of articles indexed by either of the databases were OA articles. Six of the top ten earth sciences journals that publish OA articles were fully OA journals and four were hybrid journals. Fully OA journals were mostly published by emerging publishers and their article processing charges ranged from $1000 to $2200.

Conclusions: The rise in OA publishing has potential implications for researchers and tends to shift article-processing charges from organizations to individuals. Until the earth sciences community decides to move away from journal-based criteria to evaluate researchers, it is likely that such high costs will continue to maintain financial inequities within this research community, especially to the disadvantage of researchers from the least developed countries. However, earth scientists, by opting for legal self- archiving of their publications, could help to promote equitable and sustainable access to, and wider dissemination of, their work.

Joint Statement on transparency and data integrity International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA) and WHO

“ICMRA1 and WHO call on the pharmaceutical industry to provide wide access to clinical data for all new medicines and vaccines (whether full or conditional approval, under emergency use, or rejected). Clinical trial reports should be published without redaction of confidential information for reasons of overriding public health interest….

Regulators continue to spend considerable resources negotiating transparency with sponsors. Both positive and negative clinically relevant data should be made available, while only personal data and individual patient data should be redacted. In any case, aggregated data are unlikely to lead to re-identification of personal data and techniques of anonymisation can be used….

 

Providing systematic public access to data supporting approvals and rejections of medicines reviewed by regulators, is long overdue despite existing initiatives, such as those from the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how essential to public trust access to data is. ICMRA and WHO call on the pharmaceutical industry to commit, within short timelines, and without waiting for legal changes, to provide voluntary unrestricted access to trial results data for the benefit of public health.”

 

 

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.” …”

Frontiers | Open Science for private Interests? How the Logic of Open Science Contributes to the Commercialization of Research | Research Metrics and Analytics

Abstract:  Financial conflicts of interest, several cases of scientific fraud, and research limitations from strong intellectual property laws have all led to questioning the epistemic and social justice appropriateness of industry-funded research. At first sight, the ideal of Open Science, which promotes transparency, sharing, collaboration, and accountability, seems to target precisely the type of limitations uncovered in commercially-driven research. The Open Science movement, however, has primarily focused on publicly funded research, has actively encouraged liaisons with the private sector, and has also created new strategies for commercializing science. As a consequence, I argue that Open Science ends up contributing to the commercialization of science, instead of overcoming its limitations. I use the examples of research publications and citizen science to illustrate this point. Accordingly, the asymmetry between private and public science, present in the current plea to open science, ends up compromising the values of transparency, democracy, and accountability.

 

NFTs and AI Are Unsettling the Very Concept of History | WIRED

“But now the survival of archives as we know them is uncertain. Whether we know it or not, we all rely on a patchwork of chronically underfunded public and private institutions that hold the world’s histories and cultural heritages in trust for all of us and make them accessible….

It was only a matter of time before the market figured out a way to manufacture and sell digital scarcity, and the marketplace for cultural objects has moved well past the archival ecosystem. Artists, gamers, entertainers, athletes, and executives now sell NFTs, tokenized digital objects whose authenticity is said to be assured by the reverse traceability of blockchain transactions. The combination of Covid-19 isolation and cryptocurrency profits created a powerful incentive for digital-positive collectors to compete for these NFTs, and some creators are raking in Ethereum….

Nothing could be a greater cultural and ethical shock to archives than NFTs. Prevailing archival ethics generally dictate that all users are treated equally, and that archival materials aren’t exposed or sold only to high bidders. And once archives select materials for retention, they consider themselves in most cases ethically bound to do so permanently….

As poor a fit with archival DNA as tokenizing archive collections as NFTs may be, the possibility of leveraging digital scarcity by selling NFTs while retaining physical materials is a hefty temptation. The archival world is a world of inadequate budgets and financial constraint, filled with underpaid workers and massive, poorly resourced projects like digital preservation, and the challenging task of digitizing analog materials. Will archives be tempted by the potential upside of NFTs and tokenize digital representations of their crown jewels (or the rights to these assets)? This would worsen an already bad situation…

One working solution is for cultural and historical institutions like archives to run their own trusted registries of digital objects. But this is expensive, and it creates further incentives for archives to monetize their holdings and become less accessible to noncommercial users, like genealogists, the group that uses archives more than anyone else. …”