Council agrees on a negotiating mandate on the Data Governance Act

“Both the EP and Council texts contain amendments concerning the role of Open Access Common resources. In response to the initial DGA consultation, we submitted feedback to the Commission where we highlighted the fundamental role played by these resources in the overall data ecosystem. To safeguard this key function, it is important that Open Access Commons resources are not negatively affected by the DGA.

The Parliament’s text contains an addition in recital 37a stipulating that the provisions established by the DGA are without prejudice to the ability of non-profit organizations to make data and content available to the public under open licenses. This amendment would clearly signal that Open Access Common resources fall outside the scope of the DGA. As such, it would recognize their key role in today’s digital ecosystem.

The Council text includes a new definition of data intermediaries stipulating that only for-profit services fall into this category. If included in the final compromise, this addition would ensure that existing Open Access Resources, like Wikipedia or Europeana – which are generally recognized as not-for-profit – are not subject to the requirements that the DGA will impose on intermediaries.

Taken together, these two modifications would ensure that Open Access Commons resources are not subject to additional requirements that could endanger their modus operandi. To safeguard their position in the DGA and increase legal clarity, both Council’s and Parliament’s contributions therefore need to be included in the final text….”

The AAS goes for Gold | Published by The Open Journal of Astrophysics

“Yesterday there was a big announcement from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) , namely that all its journals will switch to Open Access from 1st January 2022. This transition will affect the Astronomical Journal (AJ), the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ), Astrophysical Journal Letters (ApJL), and the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (ApJS). Previously authors were able to opt for Open Access but from next year it will apply to all papers.

The positive aspect to this change is that it makes articles published by the AAS freely available to the public and other scientists without requiring the payment of a subscription.

On the other hand, these journals will require authors to pay a hefty sum, equivalent to an Article Processing Charge (APC), that increases with the length and complexity of a paper. AAS journals have in the past levied “page charges” from authors for standard (non-OA) publications. In the new regime these are merged into a unified scheme….

What’s on offer is therefore a form of Gold Open Access that switches the cost of publication from subscribers to authors. In my view this level of APC is excessive, which is why I call this Fool’s Gold Open Access. Although the AAS is a not-for-profit organization, its journals are published by the Institute of Physics Publishing which is a definitely-for-profit organization….”

WUR gives away CRISPR intellectual property licenses for free in fight against hunger – Reader Mode

“The ultimate aim of plant breeding has always been to make plants resistant to drought and diseases. That could help eliminate hunger around the world. This is no longer a distant thought, thanks to a technology called CRISPR-Cas. Today Wageningen University & Research (WUR) announces it will provide potential partners with free licenses to work on its patented CRISPR technology. The license must be applied to gene-editing of plants for non-profit applications….”

WUR gives away CRISPR intellectual property licenses for free in fight against hunger – Reader Mode

“The ultimate aim of plant breeding has always been to make plants resistant to drought and diseases. That could help eliminate hunger around the world. This is no longer a distant thought, thanks to a technology called CRISPR-Cas. Today Wageningen University & Research (WUR) announces it will provide potential partners with free licenses to work on its patented CRISPR technology. The license must be applied to gene-editing of plants for non-profit applications….”

FOASAS: Fair Open Access in South Asian Studies

“Profiteering and restricted access have led to a crisis in academic publishing. The Fair Open Access movement is best promoted by mobilizing individual disciplines. With this manifesto, we, an open group of scholars of classical and modern South Asian Studies, declare our support for Fair Open Access publishing….

The following publishers and journals meet many or all FOA criteria (see §7 of the FOASAS Manifesto). …”

 

The Lens: Open for Outcomes – SPARC

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fault lines in how we as a society solve important problems. It has shown the urgent need for affordable, open and cooperative action informed by evidence — and inspired by imagination. Science alone doesn’t solve problems; at its best, it answers questions.  Useful solutions require finding, incentivizing, and coordinating many more actors in the innovation system to work together. 

To help facilitate this kind of environment, the Australian-based nonprofit social enterprise, Cambia, created and runs an online open platform called The Lens. It currently hosts 120 million global patent documents linked to a vast searchable database of over 220 million scholarly works and their metadata, compiled and normalized from numerous collaborators and sources, includes Microsoft Academic, PubMed, ORCID, Crossref, CORE, UnPaywall and many others….

Supported by grants from philanthropic organizations (including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Wellcome Trust, Sloan Foundation, Lemelson Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation), the initiative is now positioning itself to displace and supersede proprietary and closed systems from commercial competitors that fragment what could be a community of enterprise and public sector, working to advance outcomes, says Jefferson….”

Now is the Time to Fund Open Infrastructures · Business of Knowing, summer 2021

“Recently, open infrastructures have gotten a lot of attention. This primarily comes down to two reasons: current events and economics.

Firstly, open infrastructures have proven to be essential for COVID-19 research. Open data portals and open source software power research efforts in data collection, analysis, and modeling efforts. Preprint servers and open discovery platforms have been at the heart of a rapid exchange of the knowledge benefitted in the process. The impact of openness on coronavirus research was widely recognized, prompting organisations such as the OECD to include open science in their key policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic [undefined]. 

The second reason that open infrastructures are in the spotlight is that they are seen as an antidote to the increased market concentration observed in the scholarly communication space. In recent years, large commercial companies such as RELX (Elsevier), SpringerNature, and Clarivate have formed through mergers and acquisitions. They bring together proprietary software spanning the whole research life-cycle. They are looking to control content, software, and research metrics, thus locking research organizations and funders into their software. In the process, they are using tried and tested methods from the giants of the tech world such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, including the surveillance capitalism that comes with it (see [undefined] [undefined] for more context).

Open infrastructures, on the other hand, are often scholar-led and run by non-profit organisations, making them mission-driven instead of profit-driven. Data and content created by and in the systems are published under an open license and made available following open standards. Ideally, they are based on open source software. This makes migration from one system to another much easier and avoids lock-in effects. Another important  distinction is that open infrastructures provide appropriate opportunities for community input and involvement in decision-making and governance processes. These qualities make open infrastructures hard to buy out. It is no coincidence that the draft for the forthcoming UNESCO Open Science declaration [undefined] calls for open science infrastructure to be not-for-profit and to be as open as possible….”

Guest Post – One Publisher to Rule Them All? Consolidation Trends in the Scholarly Communications and Research Sectors – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The story of mergers and acquisitions in scholarly communications is one dominated in the last 10 to 15 years by a series of eye-catching vertical acquisitions by publishers, content aggregators, and database providers which have expanded their services. These mergers have blurred traditional roles and reflect a strategy of traditional players moving to become broader providers of analytics and workflow.

The successful integration of early stage companies and managed transition by established commercial entities is one of the major reasons scholarly communications has not seen the level of disruption anticipated and desired by many who seek to change the status quo….

Access to bigger archives will become a key determinant in preserving subscription pricing models as the volume of new publications available via open access increases. As such, we can expect this to drive further mergers and monetization of valuable backlists….

Publishing open access now offers a less plausible ‘Exit’ strategy for researchers wishing to express dissatisfaction with the market status quo. It is harder to move away from larger, commercial publishers when they are also the largest open access publishers….

Overall, the industry remains very much in a growth phase with high potential for further acquisitions and mergers, played out against a backdrop of Plan S and COVID-19 with an ongoing battle for researchers’ loyalty. There is a widespread belief that eventually researchers’ desire for robust, fast, rigorous publishing with rapid dissemination and access for all will become more important than prestige of the publishing vehicle. When and if this happens, it remains to be seen whether this race will be won by organic growth, mergers, acquisitions or large scale disruption from outside the industry.”

 

ALPSP Copyright Committee Responds to UKRI Open Access Policy

“The ALPSP Copyright Committee is concerned that the announcement of the UKRI’s new open access policy will have a negative impact on progress made to date.  Limiting the opportunity for funded articles to publish in hybrid journals does not benefit learned society authors as it restricts their choice on where to publish.  Whilst many ALPSP members are investigating whether a transformative/transitional agreement may be a viable option, many learned societies have found that the complexities involved in setting up and maintaining these agreements can be extremely  difficult, particularly for smaller societies who may only publish a few journals.  This may inadvertently put these smaller publishers at a distinct disadvantage and result in their journals no longer being selected by UKRI funded authors.

Additionally, making hybrid journals fully gold open access may not be possible in the near future if there is insufficient gold open access content to include in these journals.  This could well lead to major economic difficulties for many learned and professional societies.  Finally, requiring the publication of Accepted Manuscripts with no embargo and under a CC BY licence fails to recognise the significant investment learned societies will have made in getting to that version, including in terms of peer review and related value added publishing services.  As an unintended consequence, this would dilute the Version of Record and slow the speed of transition towards open access, as publishers and societies would continue to recover their investment through subscriptions.  Ultimately, without significant additional funding being added to the ecosystem in the short term to cover this, we are very concerned about the impact of this new policy on the UK publishing industry generally and on learned societies in particular….”

scholar-led Open Access: Manifesto for fair publishing in German-speaking countries

Scholar-led.network points out problematic issues in the current publishing system and wants to initiate a debate on the role of scholar-led Open Access

In its scholar-led.network manifesto, the focus group scholar-led.network, which was established within the framework of the open-access.network project, criticises the current scholarly publishing system in the German-speaking world and, at the same time, provides fields of action for the development of a fair, planned and bibliodiverse publishing culture.

The authors of the text identify a journal crisis in the course of the Open Access transformation. This is reflected, among other things, in the monopoly position of major publishers who demand high publication fees from authors – so-called APCs (Article Processing Charges) and BPCs (Book Processing Charges). According to the Manifesto, this leads to new inequalities and exclusions. In order to make the Open Access transformation fairer and more diverse, scholar-led publishing models that do not charge such fees can be strengthened (Diamond Open Access). However, the current situation of scholar-led projects is deficient, partly due to a lack of funding.

Based on its critique, the focus group formulates concrete fields of action in which scholars, research institutions, libraries, research funding institutions, professional societies and other parts of the scholarly community must jointly get involved in to strengthen a diverse, independent and fair publication ecosystem. The fields of action are:

Networking, collaboration and strategic frameworks.
Sustainable funding structures for Diamond Open Access
Promotion of bibliodiversity in academia

You can access the scholar-led.network manifesto via this link: https://graphite.page/scholar-led-manifest/

MIT and Harvard Have Sold Higher Education’s Future

“Last week Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sold their edX platform to a for-profit company for $800 million. Founded by the two institutions nearly a decade ago, edX was higher education’s answer to the venture-backed start-ups jostling for an online-course windfall. With the sale to one of those firms, Maryland-based 2U, Harvard and MIT have surrendered. Their decision to fold is a major, and potentially fateful, act of betrayal.

Alan Garber, Harvard’s provost, adopted the language of edX’s profit-maximizing rivals in conceding defeat. “Taking full advantage of [online learning’s] potential,” he told The Harvard Gazette, “will require capital investments at greater scale than is readily attainable for a nonprofit entity like edX.” The decision to sell comes as investor interest in higher education has swelled during the pandemic. Coursera, the Silicon Valley online-course provider, went public in March, and Instructure — the maker of the popular learning-management software Canvas — filed for an IPO last week. The Covid Zoom boom has brought the inevitable wave of start-ups hoping to cash in on the virtual college classroom. So it’s no surprise that the market value of 2U, after the edX announcement, surged past $3 billion.

Before the sale, edX was academe’s public option — a mission-aligned satellite of the brick-and-mortar campus. Now all the major players in the sector are profiteers, legally obligated to maximize shareholder return….

By the turn of the millennium, most societies had handed over their journals to be published by the big commercial players, in exchange for a share of profit. Now most scholarship is published by an oligopolist quintet of information conglomerates that, in turn, charge their college customers usurious fees.

That industry is among the most profitable in the world, in part because academics write and review for free. As the historian Aileen Fyfe has shown, there was nothing inevitable about the joint custody — nonprofit colleges and for-profit publishers — we’ve ended up with. We owe our current predicament, in part, to the decisions of learned societies who chose short-term cash over their scholar-members’ long-term interests. Harvard and MIT have just made the same disastrous miscalculation….

2U’s mission is fundamentally misaligned with the university tradition. 2U, Coursera, and their venture-funded competitors are built to squeeze profit from our students, using our faculty and course offerings. Harvard and MIT had no right, in the meaningful sense, to sell us off. None of us — not faculty members, not students — signed up for edX to increase Silicon Valley’s wallet share. We will look back on this careless abrogation of stewardship as the tragic squandering that it is.”

Open Access in Indonesia

Abstract:  Despite the absence of funding pressures that explicitly mandate a shift toopen access (OA), Indonesia is a leader in OA publishing. Indonesia subscribes to a non-pro?t model of OA, which differs from that promoted by Plan S. The penetration of bibliometric systems of academic performance assessment is pushing Indonesian scholars away from a local non-pro?t model of OA to a model based on high publication charges. This article consider swhether Plan S promotes or undermines the ability of Indonesian scholars to develop systems of OA adapted to local resource constraints and research needs.

Harvard and MIT to Sell edX for $800 million | Harvard Magazine

“HARVARD, MIT, AND EDX ANNOUNCED TODAY that edX, the two institutions’ 2012 joint venture into online education, would be sold to leading educational technology company 2U for $800 million. 2U, a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ, with revenues expected to approach $1 billion in 2021, is an online program manager. The company provides digital platforms and marketing and logistical support that allows colleges and universities to offer online instruction but does not itself provide degrees. 

As part of the agreement, which is subject to approval by Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey ’92, 2U will own and plans to operate edX as a public benefit entity, which means that in addition to creating value for shareholders, edX will also provide a specific public benefit—in this case, online courses, some of which can be audited for free. Currently, edX offers more than 3,000 online programs. “With the acquisition,” according to a University statement, “2U’s network will expand to include more than 230 partners, including over 185 nonprofit colleges and universities and 19 of the top 20 ranked universities globally.”

 

 

Harvard University provost Alan M. Garber said in an interview that the most important aspect of the match with 2U is that the company will continue edX’s mission. “They have committed to continuing to provide free audit tracks—in other words, free courses—in a wide range of subjects. And there are other provisions of the agreement,” said Garber, “that give us a great deal of comfort” that they will continue to make “great courses available at low or no cost to learners throughout the world.” …”

Three Charts That Help Explain the 2U / edX Acquisition – PhilOnEdTech

“I won’t describe the announcement here but instead list preliminary media coverage and then share three charts that I think help explain why 2U would acquire the edX assets for $800 million. I’ll add some additional analysis on what this deal means for online education in a second post….”

 

2U, Inc. and edX Agree to Industry-Redefining Combination in Higher Education.

“2U will acquire substantially all of the assets of edX—a leading nonprofit online learning platform and marketplace—for $800M in cash. Together, 2U and edX will reach over 50 million learners globally, serve more than 230 partners, and offer over 3,500 digital programs on the world’s most comprehensive free-to-degree online education marketplace. The combined scale, reach, capabilities, marketing efficiency, and relationships of 2U and edX will unlock unprecedented opportunity for learners, universities, and employers worldwide….”