HELIOS Launches with Focus on Collective Action

On March 31, 2022, presidents and high-level presidential representatives from 65 colleges and universities participated in the first convening of the Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Scholarship (HELIOS). HELIOS emerges from the work of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Aligning Incentives for Open Science. Current members collectively represent 1.8 million students, faculty, and staff. The key outcome of the meeting was a clear commitment to collective action to advance open scholarship.

Sounding the Alarm: Scholarly Information and Global Information Companies in 2021 | Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Abstract:  Vendors and publishers collaborate and work to protect their bottom line — which is threatened by open access (OA) — by expanding into research lifecycle and data analytics, and by continuing to merge and acquire each other, reducing choice in the library market. The implementation of Seamless Access and other systems force library staff into the position of gatekeeper for systems and platforms that we have no control or input over. Vendors and publishers control the online content that librariescan access: they add and remove content at will, and classify titles according to their greatest possible sales margins, making valuable resources unavailable to libraries to license for campus-wide access. These vendor actions—which impact the research lifecycle as a whole, disrupt traditional publishing, and seek to monetize user data—are extremely concerning. Collective action is the only way to make significant inroads against these developments. We suggestsome proactive ways that we can initiate these collective actions and resist these industry-wide developments imposed by vendors and publishers.

bjoern.brembs.blog » Small changes, big effects

“EU regulators long-since recognize in principle that academic publishers are monopolies, i.e., they are not substitutable, justifying the single-source exception granted to academic institutions for their negotiations with academic publishers (another such negotiation round just recently concluded in the UK). Openly contradicting this justification for the single source exemption, the EU Commission nevertheless classifies academic publishing as a market and, moreover, demonstrates with Open Research Europe, that public, competitive tenders for publishing services are possible. This now offers the opportunity for the first decision: we propose that now is the time for regulators to no longer allow academic institutions to buy their publishing services from academic publishers that do not compete with one another in such tenders. The consequences would be far-reaching, but the most immediate ones would be that the (mostly secret and NDA-protected) negotiations between institutions and publishers, which allowed prices and profits to skyrocket in the last decades, would now be a thing of the past. Another consequence is that the obvious contradiction between academic publishing as a set of recognized monopolies in procurement regulation, but as a regular market in anti-trust regulation would be resolved. After this decision, academic publishing would be an actual market that could be regulated by authorities in pretty much the same way as any other market, preventing future lock-ins and monopolies. Yet another consequence would be that competitive pricing would reduce the costs for these institutions dramatically, by nearly 90% in the long term, amounting to about US$10 billion annually world-wide….”

Journalism is a public good. Let the public make it. – Columbia Journalism Review

“For decades, we have invested so much time, money, and hope in the idea that a small group of individuals who are experts in their field can solve the enormous, complex challenge of building and supporting an informed citizenry. But the longer I’ve worked in this industry—and the more I’ve grappled with the core questions of what and who makes journalism in the public interest—the more clearly I’ve seen the error of this thinking. This is not a problem that journalists can solve on our own. The best response to the current crisis in journalism is to get more people involved, at a level at which everyone is willing and able to participate. Not just as news consumers, but as distributors and—most importantly—producers of local information….

The solution to the current crisis in journalism isn’t simply to save jobs, but to willingly and intentionally democratize the means of journalistic production. New infrastructure that weaves together participatory media and public assets will democratize journalistic skills and could unlock a movement for collective action, a not-so-secret weapon against news deserts and misinformation hidden in plain sight. It relies on thousands of everyday people who are eager to participate, organizations with physical media-makerspaces, and communities taking collective action….

There is no number of news articles that will save us from the challenges ahead, but there are a million people willing to take on the role of “Observer,” “Courtwatcher,” “Community Correspondent,” “Info Hub Captain,” or “Documenter” for their neighborhood, block, or building. Let’s build new newsrooms as civic hubs—and integrate existing newsrooms into community spaces. Let’s train many more people to commit acts of journalism without going into debt for a costly degree. Let’s open up the field of journalism to include residents working alongside reporters on some of the biggest questions facing our communities. …”

Academic publishing – market or collectivization? | bjoern.brembs.blog

Last week’s podium on the commodification of open science entitled “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product?” was surprisingly unanimous on the need to radically modernize academic publishing and abolish the current publishing system relying mainly on corporate publishers with monopoly status. It appeared as if the present funders, librarians, scientists and other experts essentially only argued about how and when this replacement for corporate publishers should be brought abut, not if.

It was also unexpected that this was probably the first time I was not representing the most radical position on the panel. The proposals to remove usage rights from publicly funded research papers, or to ban for-profit publishers altogether, prompted the moderator, Jan-Martin Wiarda, to ask if these were calls for an expropriation of the publishers. Julia Reda was quick to point out that the goal was not to expropriate anybody, but that the accurate technical term for what she was proposing was “collectivization”.

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The Lens Collective Action Project levels the playing field with universal open access to patent and research knowledge.

“Today The Lens, an Australian-based non-profit and world leader in providing free and open innovation knowledge, announced the Collective Action Project (CAP), a multi-year initiative to equip individuals and institutions with the tools to contribute to shared solutions to these crises. Now, all scientists, investors, publishers, governments, businesses, and civil society can navigate open global research and patent information from over 134 million patent records linked with data from over 236 million research publications and 393 million biological sequences from patents….

What are the key barriers to progress? Jurassic business models.

The ability to discover, measure, map and analyze research and patent knowledge worldwide is big business, estimated at well over US$1.5 billion a year, much of it paid by universities and public institutions. But the real costs are vastly greater: much of the world is excluded from contributing and countless opportunities are lost.

 

“The big corporations that sell this knowledge use closed and siloed data that can’t be shared, making it difficult to build on each other’s work or make informed decisions – the very foundation of how we’ve come so far as a species,” said Mark Garlinghouse, Director of Business Development at The Lens….

The Collective Action Project is guided by the Lens Equitable Access Program (LEAP). The Program charts a pathway towards community-supported autonomous financing of The Lens, to keep it inclusive, growing, open and comprehensive.

Under LEAP, every person in the world can use the platform anonymously for free with powerful analytic tools, and access to all the data. Any registered user can benefit from personalized workspaces and customized features – at no cost for personal public-good users, or for a modest cost for commercial use. Furthermore any institution worldwide that needs or wants suites of powerful management and exploration tools in our Institutional Toolkit will have access based on low, fair, tiered pricing. All fees go towards keeping knowledge universally available as a community-supported public-good. “We announce here that we are offering at no cost these Institutional Toolkits to all public-good institutions across much of the Global South – almost 130 countries – including universities, libraries, government agencies, NGOs and civil society,” said Richard Jefferson….”

Genuine open access to academic books requires collective solutions | Impact of Social Sciences

UKRI, the UK’s national research funding agency, and cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders, recently reaffirmed their commitments to delivering open access to academic books. However, whilst an open trajectory has been clearly set, how this is to be achieved remains unclear. In this post Lucy Barnes argues that for academic books to be genuinely open, an emphasis should be placed on collective funding models that limit the prospect of new barriers to access being erected through the imposition of expensive book processing charges (BPCs).

Re-thinking Academic Publishing: The Promise of Platform Cooperativism · Business of Knowing, summer 2021

Sustainable, just, and equitable open access academic publishing may sometimes seem to be a utopia. There are just too many “buts” — “but the academic career depends on your scholarly output,” “but you have to publish in ‘high-ranking’ journals.” Yes, there is much to say about the injustices of the academic publishing system, and how we got there and the need for “high-level” action to change funding models and incentives. Yes, it may seem that there are just too many factors outside our control. But are they? Or could we imagine a future where scholars are the ones at the helm of the scholarly publishing ecosystem? In this contribution, we propose to do just that: imagine a different — fairer, more economically sustainable, and inclusive — approach to open access. However, to do that, we need to think not only outside the scope of existing business and publishing models but also the existing organisational models.

Collective Funding to Reclaim Scholarly Publishing · Business of Knowing, summer 2021

“The open access movement has dropped barriers to readers only to erect them for authors. The reason is the article processing charge (APC), which typically runs $3,000 to $5,000. The APC model, with its tolled access to authorship, is the subscription model seen through a camera obscura: author paywalls in place of reading paywalls.

Most scholars cannot afford the steep fees, a fact masked by the privileged segment who can: scientists in the rich industrialized world, and scholars in a handful of wealthy European countries and North American universities. The fees are often paid via so-called “read-and-publish” deals, which fold APCs into the subscription contracts that libraries negotiate with publishers.

The emerging APC regime is also re-anointing the commercial oligopolists—the same five firms that fleece universities through usurious subscription charges. Springer Nature, Elsevier, and their peers are, with every read-and-publish deal, transitioning their enormous profit margins from tolled to open—and capturing the lion’s share of library spending in the process. Librarians continue to fund the tolled system, while also—at the richer institutions—picking up the tab for their faculty’s author fees. The result is an incumbent-publisher spending lockdown, one that ratifies the APC regime….

Collective funding is an appealing idea, versions of which have been circulating since at least 2006, with important variations on the theme published since. The challenge is getting the model to work beyond a handful of successful, single-resource experiments (including the ArXiv preprint server, the Open Library of Humanities, and the SCOAP3 particle physics journals, among others). The two main hurdles are coordination and funder participation. The academic communication system involves thousands of funders and hundreds of publishers, which makes for a nightmarish coordination challenge. A related obstacle, one made much worse with lots of actors, is the free rider problem. Fee-free open access is a public good that benefits everyone, even non-payers; if enough libraries opt out, the collective funding scheme is likely to collapse….”

Business of Knowing: Bringing about [infra]structural change to Knowledge Communication – a summer 2021 series | Commonplace

This Commonplace series comprises essays in response to a call for submissions that itself was a response to channel community conversation prompted by the essay “Clarivate, ProQuest, and our Resistance to Commercializing Knowledge.”

List of Contributions:

Ahearn, Catherine, and Sarah Kearns. 2021. ‘The Business of Knowing: Bringing about [Infra]Structural Change to Knowledge Communication’. Commonplace, June. https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.ec94434e.

Ayers, Phoebe, and Samuel J. Klein. 2021. ‘The Invisible Citation Commons’. Commonplace 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.5af8c64c.

Brundy, Curtis, and Ginny Steel. 2021. ‘Subscribe to Progress: Advancing Equity Through Openness’. Commonplace, August. https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.20811f1e.

Chan, Joel. 2021. ‘Sustainable Authorship Models for a Discourse-Based Scholarly Communication Infrastructure’. Commonplace 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.8b4aad0c.

Cressman, Colleen. 2021. ‘Trust in Infrastructure’. Commonplace 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.ae158f91.

Kaufman, Peter B. 2021. ‘Video and Knowledge Communication’. Commonplace 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.22ccbe45.

Kearns, Sarah, and Catherine Ahearn. 2021. ‘It’s All of Our Business’. Commonplace 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.70cc6804.

Kraker, Peter. 2021. ‘Now Is the Time to Fund Open Infrastructures’. Commonplace, August. https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.a1d2856b.

Martin, Shawn J. 2021. ‘Historical Choices and Knowledge Production’. Commonplace, August. https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.5ebdd587.

Pooley, Jefferson. 2021. ‘Collective Funding to Reclaim Scholarly Publishing’. Commonplace, August. https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.250139da.

Rudmann, Dan, Kayshini Holbourne, and Elli Gerakopoulou. 2021. ‘Hire Everyone: Scholarly Publishing and Cooperative Sustainability’. Commonplace 1 (1). https://doi.org/10.21428/6ffd8432.72cb6467.

Collective Funding to Reclaim Scholarly Publishing | Commonplace

by Jefferson Pooley

The open access movement has dropped barriers to readers only to erect them for authors. The reason is the article processing charge (APC), which typically runs $3,000 to $5,000. The APC model, with its tolled access to authorship, is the subscription model seen through a camera obscura: author paywalls in place of reading paywalls.

Most scholars cannot afford the steep fees, a fact masked by the privileged segment who can: scientists in the rich industrialized world, and scholars in a handful of wealthy European countries and North American universities. The fees are often paid via so-called “read-and-publish” deals, which fold APCs into the subscription contracts that libraries negotiate with publishers.

The emerging APC regime is also re-anointing the commercial oligopolists—the same five firms that fleece universities through usurious subscription charges. Springer Nature, Elsevier, and their peers are, with every read-and-publish deal, transitioning their enormous profit margins from tolled to open—and capturing the lion’s share of library spending in the process. Librarians continue to fund the tolled system, while also—at the richer institutions—picking up the tab for their faculty’s author fees. The result is an incumbent-publisher spending lockdown, one that ratifies the APC regime.

Any alternative to the prevailing scholarly communication system must be built atop a different funding model, one that excludes neither readers nor authors. In broad strokes, that model will center on direct support for publishing, drawn from funds currently allotted to subscription and APC spending. The same funders who finance the tolled-and-APC system—libraries but also foundations and government agencies—will, on this approach, redirect budgets to underwrite a diverse, community-led publishing ecosystem. Call it the collective funding model, predicated on open access for both readers and authors.

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