Equity, Inclusiveness, and Zero Embargo Public Access – The Scholarly Kitchen

“As an independent society publisher in a field where funding is limited, and article processing charges (APCs) are not viable, how do we see our open future? The American Mathematical Society (AMS) publishes some 25 journals, 80 books per year, and an essential discovery gateway for mathematicians – MathSciNet®. We do our own production, operate our own digital platform, provide in-house customer service, and — amazingly – even have our own print shop and warehouse for our books and journals — print still being a vital part of mathematical culture. Publishing accounts for 70% of operational revenues. Our membership sits at around 30,000 mathematicians around the world, and we provide programs and services to mathematicians around the world, not just members – indeed we give away much in service of our mission to support mathematics. Importantly, it is worth noting that around 18% of articles published in AMS journals are from authors supported by federal funding. If we add authors supported by a range of other funders around the world, the number is around 40%.

It is quite clear that open or public access is a good thing – how could it not be? The big question for scholarly societies, which has been raised again and again, is how may we provide openness in an equitable, inclusive and sustainable way? …

I am not going to argue that openness in itself leads to inequity. Indeed, it makes sense that if an author may publish their work without financial burden, and that readers can read articles, and engage with data without financial burden, the world will be a better place. Unfortunately, in our politically motivated rush to open, there are fissures in the publishing landscape that have the potential to drive inequity….

The AMS already offers zero embargo Green OA, and Diamond, along with subsidized Gold options. Some of our journals are just freely available. All our journal content is freely available after five years. And yet, this balanced portfolio still allows for revenues that support the mathematical community through the host of programs offered to mathematicians from students and early career researchers onwards.

As we look to funding agencies to interpret the “Nelson Memorandum”, perhaps it is this spirit of balance in the name of equity and inclusiveness that can inform our discussions.”

Subscribe to Open (S2O): An Interview Post in Two Parts (Part 1) – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The AMS is not bucking the open access trend — indeed, we are launching a major new electronic-only, Diamond Open Access journal – Communications of the AMS (CAMS) – a research journal that sits at the interface of theoretical and applied mathematics. The journal is donor funded and will be endowed to ensure the journal succeeds in perpetuity.

However, we are looking for other ways to avoid reliance on article processing charges (APCs) for revenue. One of the most intriguing options is Subscribe to Open (S2O) – or at least it seems that way. But then again, there are pros and cons to a model that is philosophically appealing, but may not be sustainable in the long term….

For an independent academic society, I can see many advantages in S2O. I see the pros of a collective approach to openness that in principle is sustainable. Yet, I do see risks. Right now, there is an ethical force that sits beyond the boundary of logical institutional expenditure. Ongoing financial support requires university administration to accept the idea that their school should subscribe so that others may not need to. Will this approach work globally? Is this how an institution’s Provost or VP of Research sees sensible institutional spend going forward? On the one hand, usage may grow, but it is hard to see how there could be subscription, or financial growth with such a model – perhaps this is the point – but a publisher has to consider these issues….

Rather than letting all this keep me awake at night, I thought I would turn to a few experts with a few burning questions, asking them to help me navigate my way through this complexity.

As you read the thoughtful responses below, I am interested to know what you think. My take-away is that there is a symmetry and determination to S2O that appears to defy the logic of unsustainability. It is also clear that we need to know more over a period of time to see if S2O will work or not. The question I pose on Creative Commons Licensing appears to be an afterthought for many, and indeed the answers below solidify my sense that there is no clear link between S2O and the use of Creative Commons licensing, or if there is, it needs to transparently be the authors’ decision

Voices included here are: Curtis Brundy (Associate University Librarian, Iowa State University), Larry Howell (Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Academic Vice President, Brigham Young University), Judith Russell (Dean of University Libraries, University of Florida), Rick Anderson (University Librarian at Brigham Young University and Scholarly Kitchen Chef), Tom Ward (Professor of Mathematics and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education), Newcastle University), Richard Gallagher (President and Editor-in-Chief, Annual Reviews), Michael Levine-Clark (Dean of the University of Denver Libraries)….”

Transformative Agreements, Funders and the Publishing Ecosystem: a Lack of Focus on Equity – The Scholarly Kitchen

“As I watch how the open publishing landscape is evolving, I worry that we are approaching a new status quo and need to step back for a moment, and consider the impact on the ecosystem of funders, institutions, societies, publishers and academics (in their roles as both authors and readers).

I worry that in seeking openness, we are serving a blow to equity. It is a reality that in a time of a COVID-19 pandemic, institutions are suffering financially. Indeed, all participants of the research ecosystem are suffering. In this post I argue that funders, be they national or private, should consider directly funding their field through funding societies and institutions, with a focus on equitable distribution of funds across scholarly communities. Such an approach would temper the impact of the new status quo — the inexorable rise of the transformative agreement, which systematically disadvantages scholars at less wealthy institutions….”

The Global Pandemic and Scholarly Societies – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The AMS recently joined a collective of societies large and small, called the Society Publishers’ Coalition. This has already been a huge success, with societies of all stripes sharing what is on their mind and exploring collective action on areas of agreement. Most societies in this group are worried about what will transpire over the next few years. Those partnered with corporate publishers are hearing little other than positive generalizations about what the future for their revenues may look like, and would really like to see a clearer set of predictions and more transparency. Several society publishers have embarked on ambitious transformative open access (OA) agreements, and yet there is discussion in the winds questioning how sustainable large deals may be when the ability of larger institutions to support other institutions through such deals may not continue. Perhaps a silver lining here is that for societies with reasonably priced essential content, this may be where institutions focus their spend. What does this mean for OA models? Will the pandemic push us towards green OA? Will article processing charges (APCs) become harder to sustain? At the AMS, our approach is to look to Diamond OA for a new broad-based math journal, Communications of the AMS, launching in 2021 and funded by an AMS donor, but we realize that this is not an option open to all society publishers….”

American Meteorological Society

“Notice: Normally, all AMS journal articles are freely available one year after publication date. As part of AMS’s response to COVID-19, currently all AMS journal articles are freely available, effective 25 March through 30 September 2020. We hope this may be helpful to researchers and students and others in our communities who may have challenges with their usual access methods, as well as helpful to the librarians who serve them.”