Sunday, June 23, 2013
This makes no sense at all from a financial perspective. Why buy a company whose traditional high profits are based on an outmoded model that currently enjoys revenues at 4-5 times higher than what is necessary for normal profits in an emerging open access environment for scholarly publishing that is just beginning to open up to competition - including competition on price? Even if it made sense to buy the company, how could it possibly make sense to load the company with debt? If you're going to take risks like this, wouldn't it make sense to look for more rather than less guarantees?
On the surface this looks a lot like the sub-prime mortgage situation - go ahead and lend money even though this obviously makes no sense at all - and appears to involve some of the same companies. Am I missing something here?
Monday, June 17, 2013
Outsell Open Access Report: missing the main point or are governments really committed to throwing away taxpayer money?
Current gold open access (immediate free access on publishing) is responsible for 10-12% of the world's scholarly articles at about 2.2% of the total journal revenues, according to this report. The average open access article processing fee is reported at $950, less than a quarter of the $4,000 average for subscription journals. Taking these two calculations together, based on this report open access publishing is 4-5 times more cost-efficient than subscription publishing. However, this is just the commercial / professional sector. The Outsell report appears to be completely unaware of the substantial not-for-profit sector. For example, the report states that ""hybrid options support limited uptake markets, such as the social sciences and humanities, perhaps just until the market for a subject-specific “traditional” gold OA journal coalesces" p. 12 - presumably the authors are completely unaware of the well over 1,800 full open access journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals under Social Sciences.
Outsell predicts rising prices for open access article processing fees, when the reality is that scholars no longer need to rely on the commercial scholarly publishing sector at all. Publishing in the online environment just isn't that hard, or expensive. Priorities for public funding in higher education should be funding the research per se, addressing the growing problem of lack of full-time faculty, and keeping costs down for students - not protecting the profit margins of a bloated industry that has yet to note that the costs of things like computer storage in recent years have been going down, not up.
Outsell suggests that other countries will follow the UK's support for publisher profits approach. This is mad enough in the UK, where at least they have the excuse of protecting a positive balance in trade, but for every other country this is holding up innovation, increasing public costs, and shoring up a negative balance of trade.
Detailed quotes and comments
"Drilling down to the journal market specifically, Outsell estimated that journal subscription revenue (which excludes society membership revenues) amounted to $6.0 billion in 2011, which makes open access 2.2% of this market for the most recent year in which we have built such an estimate" p. 8
Comment: In 2008, Outsell reported STM journal revenue at $8 billion - for details and citations, see chapters 2 and 5 of my dissertation. The $2 billion revenue discrepancy is not explained. I cannot afford the Outsell toll access reports. "
A 2012 paper published in BMC Medicine, the latest in an ongoing study by academics Mikael Laakso and Bo-Christer Björk, calculated that in 2011 the number of articles available in full, immediate open access journals encompassed 9% and 11% of all articles indexed in Scopus and Web of Knowledge, respectively. Hybrid articles added just under 1% of all articles to that total in both cases, meaning that the combination of gold and hybrid open access accounted for 10% or 12% of indexed articles, depending on the database".
"Outsell sees three scenarios that could drive OA revenue as a higher proportion of total STM market revenue, stemming first and foremost from the ultimate behavior of funding bodies." p. 13 Scenario 1 — New European Mandates Encourage Gold OA Scenario 2 — New Mandates Stimulate Green OA Scenario 3 — Mandates Accelerate in Non-European Research Centers: Suggests only Scenario 1 is likely.
"We also anticipate that the average charge per article will slide upward with the launch of new, higher-value journals from strongly branded commercial and society publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley, and Nature", p. 15 "
Outsell estimates that the average APC (distorted somewhat by discounts and waivers, but excluding membership revenues) was about $660 in 2011; in 2015, this will increase to roughly $950 due in part to the increased number of well-branded journal publishers offering OA options at higher price points", p. 15
"also estimates that, based on Scenario 1, the revenue per subscription article will decrease by about $100, from $4,000 today to $3,900". p. 16
Librarians, Emerald current and potential editors, authors, and reviewers, perhaps it is time to ditch this "it's about the profit" publisher in favour of journals that prioritize sharing of our knowledge? If none of the current DOAJ titles fit your scholarly niche - why not start your own?
I heartily agree - that's what we did! :) says Isaac Gilman of the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication(inserted in original text for context)
Heather G. Morrison
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
Thanks to Richard Poynder for this additional background:
Librarians have been here before: http://www.infotoday.com/it/nov02/poynder.htm. The library organisation ASLIB sold all its journals to Emerald, and then the organisation appears to have sold itself to Emerald, if I am reading this correctly: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/about/news/story.htm?id=2257
Thursday, June 13, 2013
DOAJ proposed criteria and my comments in bold
We have tried to construct objective criteria that can facilitate compliance verification easily. In order to be listed in the DOAJ, a journal must meet the following criteria:
- Journal will be asked to provide basic information (title, ISSN, etc.), contact information, and information about journal policies
- Journal is registered with SHERPA/RoMEO
- Journal has an editorial board with clearly identifiable members (including affiliation information)
- Journal publishes a minimum of five articles per year (does not apply for new journals)
Another important point is that journals that have ceased to publish should still be made available. DOAJ should work towards noting that the journals are inactive, rather than eliminating them from DOAJ. Otherwise, authors who choose to publish in a journal in part because it is listed in DOAJ may find their work eliminated from DOAJ simply because the journal ceased to exist - a common occurrence even in the print / subscription world. Also, libraries use the DOAJ list to include open access works in library catalogues and serials lists, and dropping ceased journals is a loss of valuable content.
Finally, as may be obvious from the example above of the journal that refused to publish one year, a requirement of a minimum of 5 articles per year may drive journals to publish articles that they would otherwise decline. In other words, this will sometimes be an incentive to publish lower quality articles.
- Allows use and reuse at least at the following levels (as specified in the Open Access Spectrum, http://www.plos.org/about/open-access/howopenisit/ ):
- Full text, metadata, and citations of articles can be crawled and accessed with permission (Machine Readability Level 4)
- Provides free readership rights to all articles immediately upon publication (Reader Rights Level 1)
- Reuse is subject to certain restrictions; no remixing (Reuse Rights Level 3)
- Allow authors to retain copyright in their article with no restrictions (Copyrights Level 1)
- Author can post the final, peer-reviewed manuscript version (postprint) to any repository or website (Author Posting Rights Level 2)
Machine readability is another example of a good practice to encourage which should not be required for inclusion in DOAJ. There will be variations in the ease with which different journals can achieve machine readability. Even PLoS uses locked-down PDFs, for example. More research is needed to determine whether machine readability of journal articles is always desirable. For example, if pictures of people are included, does the researcher have rights to permit facial recognition software? With the PLoS locked-down PDFs, do we really want the PDFs unlocked to facilitate data mining - wouldn't it be much more useful to work towards having scholars share the data as open data, preferably linked to from the journal but housed elsewhere? Sometimes machine readability does make sense and is highly desirable - for example, I'd like to see the default for electronic works in general to be works that can be instanteously translated into the format of the reader's choice, whether PDF, html, daisy or braille. Here, what is needed is not refusal to include journals in DOAJ if they are not at this standard, but rather education and support to help journals develop this capacity.
Provides free readership rights to all articles immediately upon publication is very basic to the definition of open access; this makes sense. I suggest adding the word "global" to avoid confusion with regionally limited free access, to: "Provides free global readership rights to all articles immediately upon publication"
Reuse is subject to certain restrictions; no remixing. It is good to see that journals that prefer to include some restrictions can be included in the Directory of Open Access Journals, but this statement is confusing and counter-productive. For example, as stated any journal that does allow re-use should rejected, so good-bye to the likes of PLoS and BMC!
Allow authors to retain copyright in their article with no restrictions (Copyrights Level 1) Comment: it may be useful to encourage author rather than journal copyright retention, however this is not an essential part of open access and may not always be possible or desirable. For example, in the case of works-for-hire, some authors will not be able to claim copyright ownership. Another example came up at a recent conference, where scholars working with First Nations peoples are granting copyright in research articles to the First Nations peoples. A narrow requirement of author copyright retention would tend to prevent innovations in scholarly copyright at a period in time when I would argue that encouraging experimentation (articulating the commons) is optimal. Plus if a journal retains copyright but is clearly open access, the journal should be included in DOAJ.
Author can post the final, peer-reviewed manuscript version (postprint) to any repository or website (Author Posting Rights Level 2)
Comment: suggest add "at minimum" to encourage the common practice of allowing deposit of any version including the final version. Finally, thanks very much to DOAJ, PLoS and everyone else involved in this initiative and the Open Access Spectrum. While as this post likely makes clear I strongly disagree with many of the specifics, I do greatly appreciate all the work that the people involved in these initiatives have contributed towards open access. Update June 13: PLoS participating in the selection criteria team is a conflict of interest, because PLoS is one open access publisher and what they are attempting to do here is to control the definition of open access - if this is accepted, this will give them a competitive advantage over other open access publishers. Reader comments that meet the standard for commenting on IJPE are welcome, i.e. no anonymous comments and if you work for or are affiliated with a journal, publisher, or other initiative with an interest in these questions this affiliation must be stated in the comment.
Other posts on IJPE on related topics include the Creative Commons and Open Access critique series and through the open access definition label.
Monday, June 10, 2013
There are two major definitional problems with this proposal with respect to open access, and both are major and important problems:
1. A plan involving exclusive access to subscribers, even for a limited time frame, is NOT open access. There are many toll access publishers that provide free access to back issues of journals in much less then ten years. It would not be acceptable to have this kind of embargoed open access permitted in response to funding agency open access policies. Library associations in Canada and elsewhere have supported strong open access policies; we should not be implementing plans that involve open access definitions that our own community would not consider acceptable.
2. National access is NOT open access. The open access movement is global in scope. There are journals and open access archives in every continent. If we each restricted access to the people in the countries where the works were produced, we would all have a very great deal less. In Canada, it is mind-boggling that anyone would consider putting forth such a proposal. The proportion of the world's knowledge produced in Canada is small - if each country only gained access to its own cultural and scholarly output, we would not have much. One way to think of this: do we want to U.S. to follow this example? Would we like our free access to PubMed and PubMedCentral switched to U.S. national access?
Anyone who is confused about the meaning of open access should learn the basic definition before using the phrase. I recommend Peter Suber's short, highly readable and affordable book, "open access", and/or his free Open Access Overview, and the Budapest Open Access Initiative, for starters. I have developed and taught a course at SLAIS on open access; convened the CLA Task Force on Open Access; and drafted responses to the CIHR open access consultations for CLA and BCLA. Feel free to send questions about open access my way (no charge). There are many other librarians and academics with expertise in OA who would say the same thing.
One way to engage people like me in this process would be to follow an open meetings approach, as does the Digital Public Library of America. This would be a great way to implement the goals of the Open Government Partnership. There is no good reason for an initiative to digitize and make available Canada's heritage to be planned behind closed doors. Surely this is not a state secret? Opening up the process can help to avoid errors of this nature - and get Canadian engaged in and excited about the initiative.
Monday, June 03, 2013
Saturday, June 01, 2013
The transnational open access movement: paper to be presented at the Global Communication Association conference in November
The transnational open access movement
Open access is literature that is digital, online, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (Suber, 2013). The focus of the global open access movement is the scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed journal articles, monographs, and emerging forms of scholarly communication such as research data. The growth in resources that are freely available is remarkable, and the growth rate dramatic (Morrison, 2004 - ). The potential of the open access movement is a global knowledge commons of knowledge, a free pool of all of the knowledge of humankind available to everyone (assuming an internet connection) for free, from which all may draw and all can contribute.
This paper will analyze the global open access movement in the context of the transnational advocacy networks described by Keck and Sikkink (1998). Transnational advocacy networks involve distinct groups working across borders to achieve a common set of goals. Transnational advocacy networks often share a set of motivations, such as the achievement of shared instrumental goals, shared causal ideology, and/or shared principles or values.
The Budapest Open Access Initiative of 2002 defined open access and coalesced this global movement with a common definition and a vision of what open access can achieve which reads: The public good…is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.
After more than a decade, the open access movement has achieved considerable success: more than 8,000 fully open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, over 1,200 open access repositories containing millions of items, and over two hundred funding agencies and universities have open access mandate policies.
Areas of emerging division within the open access movement include sub-instrumental goals (e.g. specific definitions, open access journals versus open access archiving), fundamental ideology (e.g. neoliberal emphasis on scholarly publishing as industry versus state subsidy and scholar-led publishing) and fundamental principles and values (sharing the learning of the poor with the rich and the rich with the poor versus fueling capitalist innovation for private profit).
This paper explores the potential for the open access movement as a natural experiment in achieving an effective transnational advocacy network outside of the issues involving obvious harm to human rights identified by Keck and Sikkink as most likely to succeed. The shared basic goal of open access to scholarly works may open up the possibility of a high level global conversation on the impact of neoliberal ideology with scholarly communication as an example. The potential for various participants to overcome differences in sub-instrumental goals to achieve the greater (but less specific) common vision of open access will be explored.
Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002). Retrieved April 22, 2013 from http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/openaccess/read
Keck, M. E., & Sikkink, K. (1998). Activists beyond borders: Advocacy networks in international politics. Ithaca, N.Y.; London: Cornell University Press.
Morrison, H. (2004 - ). The dramatic growth of open access. The imaginary journal of poetic economics. Retrieved April 22, 2013 from http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.ca/2006/08/dramatic-growth-of-open-access-series.html Suber, P. (2013). Open access overview. Retrieved April 22, 2013 from http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm