At the recent annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers, issues related to copyright and open access took center stage, as did the recent deep-sixing of SOPA/PIPA, two bills the AAP supported. It was clear from the discussion that the publishers were still smarting from that loss. Librarians also weighed in at the meeting, on e-books and the need for more cooperation. Here’s a link to the story from The Chronicle online.
A boycott of Elsevier journals has been growing to show opposition to their support of the Research Works Act and their 36% profits (see Research Bought, Then Paid For – an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Elsevier boycott gains momentum, Elsevier responds to the boycott, and “Of goats and headaches”–The Economist on journal publishing for previous posts on these issues ).
There have also been prominent articles about the lack of public accessibility of academic research, such as “Locked in the Ivory Tower: Why JSTOR Imprisons Academic Research” which appeared in The Atlantic on Jan 20, 2012. This particular article points to JSTOR as an example of the “broken economics of academic publishing”. Nancy Sims from University of Minnesota wrote “Academic publishing is full of problems; lets get them right” which is a good response to the Atlantic article, correcting some of the specifics.
Since that time, we have seen faculty taking note of the cost of some e-journal packages and collections of titles, most notably the $2.9 million figure from Purdue when that institution came close to cancelling their Elsevier package in December. (“Purdue re-signs contract for online scholastic access” )
In order to keep Iowa faculty informed about the cost of journals from a variety of sources, we offer these figures for University of Iowa costs from FY 2011:
|Publisher||Cost||# of Titles|
|Cambridge UP||$ 43,940||
|Project Muse||$ 33,210||
|Oxford UP||$ 21,313||
Please note that the JSTOR figure is for back content (the so-called moving wall), not current issues.
The following chart offers another way to view the relative size shares of the pie different publishers receive from our acquisitions budget (the denominator for these percentages is total spending on e-journals). The data is slightly older than that used above.
The 2012 edition of Beall’s List of Predatory Open Access Publishers is now available at http://metadata.posterous.com/83235355 In addition, there is a watch-list of publishers which show some predatory characteristics.
eLife , an online only, open access journal in the life sciences scheduled to begin publication next year, will use a discussion-based peer review process that will allow reviewers to share their opinions with each other and to reach a consensus in their review. Editor Randy Schekman feels that this process will not only be more fair than standard peer review, but can also be done more quickly. As an incentive for this quick, consultative review process, reviewers, as well as editors and board members, will be paid for their time. The entire editorial process will be in the hands of working scientists.
In an article published on November 27 in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Schekman, who is the former editor of PNAS (the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science) and a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, says that he hopes eLife will compete with Cell, Nature, and Science. At least in the beginning, authors will not have to pay any publications fees. Three major science funders – the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust – are providing financial support for up to five years.
Dr. David Rosenthal, engineer and co-creater of LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) recently spoke on the topic of Open Access at the University of British Columbia.
He choseto look at five audiences where OA may have an effect: general public, researchers, libraries, publishers, and software developers. He discusses his thoughts on peer-review or in his opinion bad peer-reviewing and whether or not open access increases or decreases bad research publishing; the creation of the big deal journal bundling by publishers to fight off the cost decrease due to the transition to Web publishing and lack of library initiative to fight off the big deals; and how the increase of OA data versus OA articles might be more beneficial for researchers. Essentially, he believes a combination of reducing publication costs, finding new technology driven publishing models, less restrictions on intellectual property and publishing of better quality articles may be the issues that face the future of research and that OA may just be a way to work on those real issues.
The full transcript of this talk can be found on his blog: http://blog.dshr.org/2011/10/what-problems-does-open-access-solve.html.
According to Brandon Butler, Director of Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries, “the federal district court in central California has dismissed the complaint against UCLA over ripping and streaming DVDs to authenticated users over the Internet. The case was dismissed on both procedural grounds (state sovereign immunity, standing) and substantive ones (UCLA did not infringe copyright).” Experts are not saying this case makes sweeping changes to laws or regulations. However, in the context of pending litigation on copyright it may offer some hope for fair use applications for video presentations.
ARL Policy Notes. “A Copyright Victory: Video Vendor Case Dismissed!”
Scholarly Communications at Duke. “Streaming Video Case Dismissed”
Full-text of the decision
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, the director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association, recently wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education called Do ‘the Risky Thing’ in Digital Humanities. She recounts a story where she encouraged a graduate student to do the risky thing and pursue an innovative project rather than a traditional dissertation. Fitzpatrick added “Make sure that someone’s got your back, but do the risky thing.” She adds:
“That is not to push experimentation for experimentation’s sake, but it is to say that reining in a project a graduate student really wants to do to conform with a traditional structure is counterproductive, deflating both the student’s passion and the thing that makes her work distinctive.”
Fitzpatrick continues by identifying the support from an adviser as more critical. This support continues through helping graduates in their first jobs explain to senior faculty about their work.
“Too many young digital humanists find themselves cautioned away from the very work that got them hired by well-meaning senior colleagues, who now tell them that wacky digital projects are fine on the side, or once the work necessary for tenure is complete.
“In giving that advice, we run the risk of breaking the innovative spirit that we’ve hoped to bring to our departments. And where that spirit isn’t broken, untenured digital scholars run the risk of burnout from having to produce twice as much—traditional scholarship and digital projects—as their counterparts do.”
JSTOR is opening access to everyone for their pre-1923 journals in the United States (pre-1870 elsewhere), making them freely accessible to the public. These articles come from more than 200 journals and total close to half a million articles, about 6% of the total JSTOR collection. The content can be re-used for non-commercial purposes. When searching JSTOR, you can limit your search to “only content I can access” in the advanced search. The Early Journal Content will be marked with the word “free”, along with other content that is freely available. A short video tutorial on accessing the content is also available. The content will be released on a rolling basis over the next week.
“Our mission involves expanding access to scholarly content as broadly as possible, in ways that are sustainable and consistent with the interests of our publishers who own the rights to the content. We believe that making Early Journal Content freely available is another step in this process of providing access to knowledge to more people; that we are in a position both to continue preserving this content and making it available to the general public; and this is a set of content for which we are able to make this decision.”
Not all pre-1923 content will be made available by JSTOR.
“We do not believe that just because something is in the public domain, it can always be provided for free. There are costs associated with selection, digitization, access provision, preservation, and a wide variety of services that are necessary for content to reach those who need it. We have determined that we can sustain free access and meet our preservation obligations for this particular set of content for individuals as part of our overall activities undertaken in pursuit of our mission.”
We thank JSTOR for making the Early Journal Content freely accessible.
The Guardian has a short opinion piece on academic publishers, calling them “the most ruthless capitalists in the western world”. The author, George Monbiot, compares spending £1 for 24 hours of access to the Times with a per article cost ranging from $31.50 for an individual Elsevier article to $42 for a Wiley-Blackwell article. He notes that journals are now 65% of library budgets (we spend a similar percentage at The University of Iowa). Elsevier’s profit margin was 36% in 2010, the same as in 1998, demonstrating that this is not a new phenomenon. Elsevier, Springer and Wiley have bought smaller publishers, so they now account for 42% of journal articles, including many with the highest impact factors.
The author states:
“Academic papers are published in only one place, and they have to be read by researchers trying to keep up with their subject. Demand is inelastic and competition non-existent, because different journals can’t publish the same material. . . . Far from assisting the dissemination of research, the big publishers impede it, as their long turnaround times can delay the release of findings by a year or more.”
While this issue is bad for researchers at universities, it is even worse for independent researchers who would need to purchase each article separately.
“This is a tax on education, a stifling of the public mind. It appears to contravene the universal declaration of human rights, which says that ‘everyone has the right freely to … share in scientific advancement and its benefits’.”
Monobiot concludes with the suggestion that all publicly funded research be made openly accessible (as is current practice with NIH funded research) and that there would be a single global archive of academic literature and data funded by library budgets with money diverted from the private publishers.