Paywalls block scientific progress. Research should be open to everyone | Jason Schmitt | Education | The Guardian

“Academic and scientific research needs to be accessible to all. The world’s most pressing problems like clean water or food security deserve to have as many people as possible solving their complexities. Yet our current academic research system has no interest in harnessing our collective intelligence. Scientific progress is currently thwarted by one thing: paywalls.

Paywalls, which restrict access to content without a paid subscription, represent a common practice used by academic publishers to block access to scientific research for those who have not paid. This keeps £19.6bn flowing from higher education and science into for-profit publisher bank accounts. My recent documentary, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, uncovered that the largest academic publisher, Elsevier, regularly has a profit margin between 35-40%, which is greater than Google’s. With financial capacity comes power, lobbyists, and the ability to manipulate markets for strategic advantages – things that underfunded universities and libraries in poorer countries do not have….”

The Federal Courts Are Running An Online Scam – POLITICO Magazine

“Every day, dozens of hungry reporters lurk inside something called PACER, the online records system for America’s federal courts. These days, they’re mostly looking for the latest scraps of intel on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian inference into the 2016 presidential election. And everyone, from lawyers to researchers to activists, uses the system to find similar criminal cases, track the latest arrests of terrorism suspects or argue for sentencing reform.

But I’m here to tell you that PACER—Public Access to Court Electronic Records—is a judicially approved scam. The very name is misleading: Limiting the public’s access by charging hefty fees, it has been a scam since it was launched and, barring significant structural changes, will be a scam forever….

The U.S. federal court system rakes in about $145 million annually to grant access to records that, by all rights, belong to the public….”

The judiciary’s PACER paywall to access public court records makes millions.

“[On this podcast] the hosts will discuss PACER, the federal judiciary’s electronic records system, which has been raking in millions in fees to give people access to public court records. They’ll be joined by Deepak Gupta, an attorney who is leading the class-action lawsuit against PACER that alleges the system grossly overcharges.”

Thousands of scientists run up against Elsevier’s paywall

“Researchers at German institutions that have let their Elsevier subscriptions lapse while negotiating a new deal are hitting the paywall for the publisher’s most recent articles around 10,000 times a day, according to Elsevier — which publishes more than 400,000 papers each year.

But at least some German libraries involved in negotiating access to Elsevier say they are making huge savings without a subscription, while still providing any articles their academics request.

A major stumbling block to getting deals signed is institutions’ desire to combine the price they pay for subscriptions to pay-walled journals with the cost that libraries and researchers pay to make articles open-access….”

Academic Paywalls Harm National Security – Defense One

“If Harvard University cannot afford access, then it is certainly too pricy for defense consultants, businesses (especially small ones), and think tanks. A previous employer of mine, a consultancy that supports senior national security leaders, gave up its academic journal subscriptions in the wake of price hikes. Some military research centers simply make do with minimal access. The high cost of academic articles has even dissuaded defense companies, from time to time, from turning concepts into reality.

But perhaps you doubt that scholarly journals offer extensive benefits to national security. To illustrate these benefits, I will focus on three: informing policy, skill and capability building, and technological insight….”

We’re still failing to deliver open access and solve the serials crisis: to succeed we need a digital transformation of scholarly communication using internet-era principles. | Zenodo

“A year ago, I concluded that we had failed in our quest to make scholarship open access (OA): the race had been won by pirates like SciHub (Green, 2017). Twelve months on, how do things look?

Key points:

  • We’re still failing to deliver open access (OA): around a fifth of new articles will be born free in 2018, roughly the same as in 2017.
  • Librarians, funders and negotiators are getting tougher with publishers but offsetting, ‘Publish and Read’, deals based on APCs won’t deliver OA for all or solve the serials crisis.
  • The authors of Budapest, Bethesda and Berlin OA declarations foresaw three changes with the coming of the internet. Flipping to a barrier to publish (APCs) from a barrier to read (subscriptions) wasn’t one of them.
  • By itself, OA won’t reduce costs to solve the serials crisis: a digital transformation of scholarly communications based on internet-era principles is needed. 
  • Following the internet-era principle of ‘fail-fast’, what if papers are first posted as preprints and only if they succeed in gaining attention will editors invite submission to their journalIn clinging onto traditional journals to advance the careers of the few (authors), OA is delayed for the many (readers): rebuilding the reputation economy to accept preprints could be the catalyst to deliver OA, solve the serials crisis and drive out predatory journals

Author’s Note In keeping with the proposition in this paper, and following the advice of Pippa Smart, Editor of Learned Publishing who saw an early draft, I’m releasing it first as a preprint to test if it ‘fails fast’ or not. I will do my best to promote it so that it gains an audience and I invite readers to comment, propose improvements and point out where I’ve gone wrong. I also invite journal editors to consider whether it has ‘succeeded’ and if in their opinion it has I look forward to being asked to submit it for peer review and formal publication in due course.

RA21: Resource Access in the 21st Century

[Less about OA than convenient access to non-OA sources.]

 

“Resource Access for the 21st Century (RA21) is a joint STM – NISO initiative aimed at optimizing protocols across key stakeholder groups, with a goal of facilitating a seamless user experience for consumers of scientific communication. In addition, this comprehensive initiative is working to solve long-standing, complex, and broadly distributed challenges in the areas of network security and user privacy. Community conversations and consensus building to engage all stakeholders is currently underway in order to explore potential alternatives to IP-authentication, and to build momentum toward testing alternatives among researcher, customer, vendor, and publisher partners.”

RA21: Resource Access for the 21st Century – Improving Access to Scholarly Resources, from Anywhere, on Any Device

[Less about OA than convenient access to non-OA sources.]

“Publishers, libraries, and consumers have all come to the understanding that authorizing access to content based on IP address no longer works in today’s distributed world. The RA21 project hopes to resolve some of the  fundamental issues that create barriers to moving to federated identity in place of IP address authentication by looking at some of the products and services available in the identity discovery space today, and determining best practice for future implementations going forward.”

Scaling up paywalled academic article sharing by legal means

“It was a Sunday afternoon at the summer house in the Finnish countryside. Sitting by the lake to keep cool in blazing heat I was lazily browsing Twitter. That’s when I bumped into this widely shared tweet by Holly Witteman: “If you read a paper, 100% goes to the publisher. If you just email us to ask for our papers, we are allowed to send them to you for free, and will be genuinely delighted to do so.” Those who are not familiar with how the publishing industry works might wonder why could such an archaic means for sharing knowledge be in anyone’s interest. Research papers have been in digital format for a while and the internet, which was originally invented by Tim Berners Lee precisely for sharing articles between researchers, has been there for 20 years. Surely there are more effective ways for sharing than email….

At Iris.ai we’re working to change that by launching R4R. By facilitating requesting and sharing of papers via email, the initiative aims to make the process of sharing as speedy and frictionless as possible, targeting particularly those resources that are not yet accessible via open repositories. Technically R4R is a simple tool designed for unlocking access to scholarly articles when the existing open access services fall short….”

 

Impact of Social Sciences – A variety of strategies and funding approaches are required to accelerate the transition to open access. But in all, authors are key

“More than two decades of work towards liberating scholarly publishing from paywalled constraints has left many within the scholarly community exploring ways to accelerate the transition to open access. Not all institutions or author communities will agree upon which strategies or funding approaches to undertake, and nor do they need to. But whichever strategy is pursued, having university faculty lead the charge represents the most effective way forward. Rachael G. Samberg, Richard A. Schneider, Ivy Anderson and Jeff MacKie-Mason share the University of California’s range of open access policy and advocacy materials, and highlight some potential next steps that may be of use to faculty and author communities.”

Research: Sci-Hub provides access to nearly all scholarly literature | eLife | Daniel Scott Himmelstein et al.

“Abstract: The website Sci-Hub enables users to download PDF versions of scholarly articles, including many articles that are paywalled at their journal’s site. Sci-Hub has grown rapidly since its creation in 2011, but the extent of its coverage was unclear. Here we report that, as of March 2017, Sci-Hub’s database contains 68.9% of the 81.6 million scholarly articles registered with Crossref and 85.1% of articles published in toll access journals. We find that coverage varies by discipline and publisher, and that Sci-Hub preferentially covers popular, paywalled content. For toll access articles, we find that Sci-Hub provides greater coverage than the University of Pennsylvania, a major research university in the United States. Green open access to toll access articles via licit services, on the other hand, remains quite limited. Our interactive browser at https://greenelab.github.io/scihub allows users to explore these findings in more detail. For the first time, nearly all scholarly literature is available gratis to anyone with an Internet connection, suggesting the toll access business model may become unsustainable.”