The Conquest of ProQuest and Knowledge Unlatched: How recent mergers are bad for research and the public

“We wish we could say that these types of corporate consolidations were unusual for the information services industry, but we can’t. Clarivate-ProQuest and Wiley-KU follow in a long line of library vendors that have merged or consolidated, particularly in recent years. Librarians and researchers have watched dozens of academic journal publishers dwindle to a small, powerful publishing oligopoly that controls the research market. We’ve also seen our library services management products—including catalogs, digital lending services, and collection development management tools—get consumed, piece-by-piece, by ProQuest, the same library platform monopolist that Clarivate purchased in a $5.3 billion deal. Library workers are well aware of the shrinking options that librarians have under the growing control of just a few companies….

This means that companies like RELX and Clarivate aren’t traditional library services providers and information publishers—they’re data analytics companies. In the research space, these analytics companies are particularly insidious….”

The New Clarivate Science: A Second-Order Consequence of Open Access – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Open access (OA) is in the process of transforming STEM publishing, even if today the progress towards open access is unevenly distributed by geography. STEM publishing is shifting rapidly beyond a content licensing business. Beyond the Gold OA businesses that many are developing, several major publishers are seeing the opportunity to develop a services business of one sort or another.  

A number of major firms, not all of them primary publishers, are working to develop user workflow and research management and analytics services. These categories of platform services are far simpler to offer in an open environment than was previously the case. Some such services are offered to individual scholars, labs, or departments. Others are provided through the library, the university research office, or the information division. These university-wide channels suggest the opportunity for enterprise sales. …

On its own, Clarivate’s Science business has had an extraordinarily strong brand with Journal Impact Factor and Web of Science, but it has not had enterprise level reach within most universities, not least because of its comparative weakness in the humanities. 

 

ProQuest brings two major businesses, one that provides enterprise software principally, but not exclusively, to academic libraries, which operates under the Ex Libris brand, and one that provides principally humanities and social sciences (HSS) and primary source content to academic libraries, operating as ProQuest. It also has a set of businesses focused on public and K12 libraries, which are less relevant to the acquisition. ProQuest faces stronger competition in the academic content business (especially through EBSCO) than in the enterprise software business, where it has established an extremely robust foundation through its Alma library systems platform, overseen by a best in class technology product organization….

Observers have noted that, post-acquisition, Clarivate still does not have a primary publishing business, nor does it directly provide STEM content. But in an environment increasingly characterized by open access and syndication, especially for STEM, this will matter far less. Indeed, it might even come to be a financial benefit not to be saddled with a STEM publishing division….

For the past decade, Elsevier has been amassing a tools and analytics business that competes directly with major elements of Clarivate’s portfolio, building Scopus and associated impact metrics, acquiring and developing Pure and Mendeley, and more recently acquiring Aries, to take a few key examples. With its enlarged portfolio, Clarivate is positioned to compete effectively with Elsevier — minus the STEM primary publishing….”

Opposing the Merger Between Clarivate PLC and ProQuest LLC

“The proposed merger between Clarivate and ProQuest is likely to produce adverse competitive effects described in the Horizontal Merger Guidelines and result in foreseeable harm to consumers related to product quality, price, choice, and privacy. The merger would significantly decrease competition across key markets, resulting in a research enterprise increasingly dominated by a very small number of firms with extraordinary market power, relative to both their competitors and customers. Blocking this merger is a necessary step in pulling the research enterprise back from the brink of a future in which it is controlled by platform monopolies.”

?Clarivate?Acquires?Bioinfogate, Reinforcing Position as Premier Provider of End-to-End Research Intelligence Solutions for Life Sciences – Clarivate

“?Clarivate Plc?(NYSE:CLVT), a global leader in providing trusted information and insights to accelerate the pace of innovation, today announced that it has acquired Bioinfogate, a leading provider of analytics solutions in the life sciences and producer of the OFF-X™?portal.?Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The?Bioinfogate?OFF-X™?portal is a cutting-edge safety intelligence solution aimed at empowering pharmaceutical organizations to identify toxicology and safety signals, mitigate safety liabilities and de-risk early-stage assets. It is one of the largest?translational safety and toxicity?portals, featuring over 1,200,000 safety alerts corresponding to over 23,000 drugs and biologics and more than 15,000 targets of pharmacological interest….”

Journal impact factor gets a sibling that adjusts for scientific field | Science | AAAS

“The new Journal Citation Indicator (JCI) accounts for the substantially different rates of publication and citation in different fields, Clarivate says. But the move is drawing little praise from the critics, who say the new metric remains vulnerable to misunderstanding and misuse….”

Take action to stop the lock up of research and learning

“We, IOI, ask the community to join us as we coordinate an effort to:

Audit Clarivate and ProQuests’ data resale and surveillance practices and policies.
Organize a community consultation on data governance for institutional customers of Clarivate and ProQuest services.
Review Clarivate and ProQuest’s pricing, terms of use, lock-in policies, & contract details.
Call for institutions to commit to anti-surveillance practices, first by signing below, and then by working together to improve terms of use to support this aim….”

Journal Citation Indicator. Just Another Tool in Clarivate’s Metrics Toolbox? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The JCI has several benefits when compared against the standard Journal Impact Factor (JIF): It is based on a journal’s citation performance across three full years of citation data rather than a single year’s snapshot of a journal’s performance across the previous two years. Clarivate also promises to provide the JCI score to all journals in its Core Collection, even those journals that do not currently receive a JIF score.

The JCI also avoids the numerator-denominator problem of the JIF, where ALL citations to a journal are counted in the numerator, but only “citable items” (Articles and Review) are counted in the denominator. The JCI only focuses on Articles and Reviews.

Finally, like a good indicator, the JCI is easy to interpret. Average performance is set to 1.0, so a journal that receives a JCI score of 2.5 performed two-and-a-half times better than average, while a journal with a score of 0.5 performed only half as well.

To me, JCI’s biggest weakness is Clarivate’s bold claim that it achieved normalization across disciplines….”

Open search tools need sustainable funding – Research Professional News

“The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an explosion of knowledge, with more than 200,000 papers published to date. At one point last year, scientific output on the topic was doubling every 20 days. This huge growth poses big challenges for researchers, many of whom have pivoted to coronavirus research without experience or preparation.

Mainstream academic search engines are not built for such a situation. Tools such as Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science provide long, unstructured lists of results with little context.

These work well if you know what you are looking for. But for anyone diving into an unknown field, it can take weeks, even months, to identify the most important topics, publication venues and authors. This is far too long in a public health emergency.

The result has been delays, duplicated work, and problems with identifying reliable findings. This lack of tools to provide a quick overview of research results and evaluate them correctly has created a crisis in discoverability itself. …

Building on these, meta-aggregators such as Base, Core and OpenAIRE have begun to rival and in some cases outperform the proprietary search engines. …”

Clarivate to Acquire ProQuest – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Yesterday’s news that Clarivate will acquire ProQuest, valued at $5.3 billion, is the largest transaction in recent memory in the scholarly information sector. Both companies are intermediaries — they each work extensively with publishers and libraries — and each has extensive interests in discovery, a lynchpin service in the research ecosystem. Will this transaction result in dramatically strengthened products and improved services for researchers, as its proponents foresee? Or will it result in information enclosure, lock-in, service deterioration, and price increases, as detractors forewarn? One thing is for certain: In Clarivate CEO Jerre Stead’s proclamation that “enterprise software is the fastest growing library market,” we can see the monetization of Lorcan Dempsey’s wry observation that “workflow is the new content.” …”

Clarivate Collaboration with Open Access Monitor Germany to Provide Web of Science Data Across DACH region

” Clarivate Plc (NYSE:CCC), a global leader in providing trusted information and insights to accelerate the pace of innovation, is supporting the Open Access Monitor (OA Monitor), Germany with the provision of Web of Science™ publication, grant and funding data to increase the impact of scientific scholarship and to enable more equitable participation in research. Clarivate™ will provide weekly customised data from the Web of Science covering the publication literature for the DACH region (which includes Germany, Switzerland and Austria).   

Supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and managed by Forschungszentrum Jülich, the OA Monitor provides evaluations of both the volume and financing of publications at federal, state and institutional level in the DACH region. The ability to connect the corresponding author data from the Web of Science with the publication fee information sourced by OA Monitor will have particularly broad implications for the German academic library community. The data will also help policy makers gauge the status of the transformation to Open Access (OA).  …”

Who Is Competing to Own Researcher Identity? – The Scholarly Kitchen

“To date, ResearchGate appears to be winning the battle to build a sector-wide identity instance for researchers, regardless of university or publisher, with Academia.edu as its primary competition. Though many have predicted the demise of these academic social networks, their continued growth cannot be dismissed. 

ResearchGate reports having 15 million members worldwide. Some portion of these “members” are presumably inactive, or active only in limited ways. Even so, there is reason to believe that ResearchGate represents a substantial share of the global scientific community. While it is difficult to know exactly what its members are doing on the platform — anything from reading articles to engaging with collaborators to searching for jobs — the amount of traffic they generate is enormous. According to data from SimilarWeb, in a recent three month period, ResearchGate’s traffic was nearly equal to that of ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, and Nature.com combined. Or, to provide another comparative, ResearchGate’s usage was almost equivalent to that of a basket of major Elsevier properties, including ScienceDirect and all its other major STM properties, including Mendeley, bepress, SSRN, and Pure. 

There is power to this scale. ResearchGate has been able to associate much of the scientific literature with its authors, enabling a variety of analytics that it is able to turn into services and in some cases to monetize. Even though ResearchGate is one of the largest sources of leakage and is therefore being sued by an array of the major publishing houses, the power of ResearchGate’s data has been sufficient to enable it to develop a partnership with  Springer Nature, at least on a pilot basis, in which Springer Nature content is freely distributed on ResearchGate. …”

‘Up to half’ of European papers to be open access under Plan S | Times Higher Education (THE)

European countries signed up to Plan S can expect to have about half their total research output published in open access format, according to new analysis that offers a snapshot of the scheme’s potential global impact.

The Plan S Footprint: Implications for the Scholarly Publishing Landscape, published by research data analysts Clarivate, examines the extent to which existing publications comply with the guidelines for Plan S, under which participating funders will require all the research that they had supported to be made freely available at the point of publication from next January….

While the papers funded by Plan S backers account for only about 6.4 per cent of total annual academic output, researchers found their impact to be much wider, with compliant papers racking up more citations on average, across all fields.

In molecular biology and genetics, for example, 2017 papers authored by one or more researchers supported by Plan S signatories received an average of 7.7 citations, compared with the total subject average of 4.7….

The paper estimates that about 90,000 papers funded by Plan S supporters which are currently published in hybrid or subscription journals would need to be “rehoused” if the titles did not flip to full open access.

“The relocation of content to open access titles would represent a 29 per cent overall movement in the volume of well-cited papers in the existing compliant venues,” the researchers add, which “could be disruptive in some subjects, and suitable compliant venues are not always available”. …”