Open Access & Open Science: failure is not an option for any party | LERU

“LERU welcomes the presently developed draft Council Conclusions on “high-quality, transparent, open, trustworthy and equitable scholarly publishing”, to be adopted at the Competitiveness Council meeting of 23 May 2023[1]. They take Open Access to the next stage of implementation across Europe and thus represent a key move in embedding Open Science into the European research landscape. Many LERU papers, on Open Access, Open Data and Open Science have advocated the same causes.

For LERU, it is important that the upcoming Council Conclusions recognize that the increasing costs for scholarly publishing associated with certain business models may cause inequalities in communities and actually prove to be unsustainable for research funders and universities. Many people are now aware of the increase in publishing prices and the spread of transformative agreements, a result of which is a consolidation of the oligopoly in the publishing system.

The essential problem occurs when there are no reductions in price but increases, and where the resulting coverage is low. The threat is what will happen if everything is flipped to Open Access with high APC charges, both individual and under an agreement….”

Brussels plan for rival OA platform ‘naive’ | Times Higher Education (THE)

“As anger mounts over cost of open access deals, moves to finance diamond journals and expand state-run digital platforms have divided opinion…

Calls to transform the European Union’s research repository into a “collective, non-profit, large-scale publishing service for the public good” that could rival commercial publishers have been described as “naive” and a distraction to the open-access mission by experts….

Amid growing unease over the high cost of several national open-access deals, including Springer Nature’s new three-year agreement with UK universities, the European Council was set to agree a motion that says “immediate and unrestricted open access” without author fees should become the “norm” in scholarly publishing.

The European Commission, which runs the €105 billion (£90 billion) Horizon Europe research funding scheme, should introduce funding policies to support open-access publishers that do not charge author fees, it adds. That might mean Horizon funding being tied to publication in so-called “diamond” journals, which are both free to read and publish in thanks to subsidies from universities, governments or other funders.

The memo, first presented by the Swedish presidency of the EU in February, also suggests a massive scaling-up of the EU’s open-access platform Open Research Europe (ORE), a site launched in 2021 that has fewer than 500 publications so far.

That proposal received a mixed response from the League of European Research Universities (LERU), which noted the scale of the proposed project was “massive” and a “single pan-European system is not likely to work successfully”.

Instead, the umbrella body suggested that what “Europe may really need is the development of an open, inter-connected, publicly owned infrastructure”, and urged the creation of funding calls to support university engagement with this kind of system….”

Plan S does the wrong things to the wrong people | Times Higher Education (THE)

“However, publishing in a hybrid journal that doesn’t commit to that transition will still be banned – regardless of how appropriate a publication venue it might be – unless the paper is also made immediately available in an online repository. UKRI is inviting views on the hybrid ban, and its policy will come into force a year later than Plan S, but it is committed to insisting on immediate open access.

While I understand the concept that open science has more impact, I’m not sure that the reality quite matches the theory. I am yet to meet a researcher who says that access to articles is a big problem for them given the possibility of interlibrary loans.

So who benefits from Plan S’ massive change? The general public? Researchers in other countries with less access? Possibly. The trouble is that Plan S leaves academics like me trapped in the middle, between the funders and the journals – many of which say they will struggle to be compliant with Plan S. If the hybrid ban is adopted, we will be unable to publish research council-funded work in high-quality journals in subjects such as chemistry unless we pay the costs personally or institutionally….”

The Declaration to Improve Biomedical & Health Research

“3) That all publicly funded research is registered and published in designated Research Repositories The majority of research is funded by public and charitable funds. Yet, huge amounts of research is never published at all, which aside from being an indefensible waste of public money, is a major source of publication bias 3 . Meanwhile, basic research documentation which is essential to ensure appropriate research conduct, such as protocols, are only sometimes available, either on voluntary databases or upon agreement of study authors. The World Health Organization (WHO) has long urged registration of trials in affiliated ‘primary registries’, such as 17 and the EU Clinical Trials Register 18 which can all be searched simultaneously a dedicated WHO website 19 . Mandatory registration of trials has improved transparency , although compliance with publication requirements is poor 20 , possibly hampered by problems with the basic functionality of some major registries 21 22 . Even where trials have been registered, usually only very limited information is shared, rather than the full protocols requir ed to really understand study plans. Most researchers don’t work in trials. Some principled scientists do register their work but while this remains voluntary such researc hers are likely to remain a minority . A ll publically funded research, not just trials, comprehensive documentation including protocols , statistical analysis plans, statistical analysis code and raw or appropriately de-identified summary data should be available on a single WHO affiliated repository, designated for that purpose by each state or groups of states . Depositing documentation need not become onerous for researchers and could actually replace much of the overly bureaucratic reporting currently required for funders and ethics committees. Different solutions may exist in different countries. For example, England’s Health Research Authority could develop such a registry 23 , by building on the its existing public databases 24 . Or, through additional national funding and international support existing platforms which promote transparency and accessibility 25 26 27 could be designated for this purpose through collaboration with national research bodies.”

Journal brand and research culture | Steven Hill

Research culture is one of the hot topics in research policy. There is general agreement that things are not right in the culture of research, and that this is ultimately to the detriment of research (see, for example, the recent findings from a survey of researchers carried out by Wellcome). This is a global question, and covers a broad territory, from questions of research misconduct and reproducibility to the relations between researchers and equality, diversity and inclusion. When you consider these issues, two things emerge: the huge complexity of the research ecosystem, and the related problem of collective action that this complexity creates.