Publishers Category

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British government announces plans to make publicly funded research reports open access

The British government announced on Wednesday that it would take steps to require open access publication of research based on government funding. The govenment spokesman, as reported by Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education, did not specify how the published research would be made available.  Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, will be advising the government on standards and other matters. The article reports a response by a spokesman from Springer Verlag.

“Throwing its weight behind open access, the British government has declared it wants to make all research paid for with public money freely available online. If it succeeds, the move is likely to have significant consequences for publishers, and will boost the international momentum of the open-access movement. But the government won’t share details about how it will make the plan a reality.”

In reaction the Guardian in a May 9 article observes that a primary mode of financing open access publishing, with article fees paid by the author or author’s institution, is discriminatory and favors those with “deep pockets.” The article points out:

“A major problem with the APC model is that it effectively shifts the costs of academic publishing from the reader to the author and therefore discriminates against those without access to the funds needed to meet these costs. Among those excluded are academics in, for example, the humanities and the social sciences whose research funding typically does not include publication charges, and independent researchers whose only means of paying the APC is from their own pockets. Academics in developing countries in particular face discrimination under APC because of their often very limited access to research funds.”

 

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Harvard Faculty Advisory Council: “Major Periodical Subscriptions Cannot Be Sustained.”

In a statement dated April 17th, Harvard’s Faculty Advisory Council, in a memo to all faculty, stated:

We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. Many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive. This situation is exacerbated by efforts of certain publishers (called “providers”) to acquire, bundle, and increase the pricing on journals.

For the full statement, see http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k77982&tabgroupid=icb.tabgroup143448

The memo goes on to point out that Harvard’s costs for these publishers now approaches $3.75 million. Iowa’s costs for the three largest publishers (presumably the same group, though precisely which are included in the Harvard figure is not clear) is expected to be around $3.2 million in FY2012. While the figure quoted is said to be around 10% of Harvard’s total acquisitions budget, $3.2 million is over 20% of Iowa’s total.

The memo concludes with a strong statement and list of suggested actions, worth quoting at length. Note that DASH is equivalent to our own Iowa Research Online, though unlike Harvard, Iowa does not have an open-access policy (aka “mandate”).

It is untenable for contracts with at least two major providers to continue on the basis identical with past agreements. Costs are now prohibitive. Moreover, some providers bundle many journals as one subscription, with major, high-use journals bundled in with journals consulted far less frequently. Since the Library now must change its subscriptions and since faculty and graduate students are chief users, please consider the following options open to faculty and students (F) and the Library (L), state other options you think viable….

1. Make sure that all of your own papers are accessible by submitting them to DASH in accordance with the faculty-initiated open-access policies (F).

2. Consider submitting articles to open-access journals, or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access (F).

3. If on the editorial board of a journal involved, determine if it can be published as open access material, or independently from publishers that practice pricing described above. If not, consider resigning (F).

4. Contact professional organizations to raise these issues (F).

5. Encourage professional associations to take control of scholarly literature in their field or shift the management of their e-journals to library-friendly organizations (F).

6. Encourage colleagues to consider and to discuss these or other options (F).

7. Sign contracts that unbundle subscriptions and concentrate on higher-use journals (L).

8. Move journals to a sustainable pay per use system, (L).

9. Insist on subscription contracts in which the terms can be made public (L).

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Interview with High Wire Press on digital publishing

The second in a series of interviews by Adeline Koh on scholarly publishing and the digital environment appears in yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Education.  See “The Printing Press of the Digital Environment: A Conversation with Stanford’s Highwire Press.”

From the interview: 

We like to see scholars and authors being bold and experimentative, not just waiting for terms to be given to them. While it’s true that certain structures of academia, such as tenure criteria, may tend to operate conservatively, on the other hand change happens eventually, and we see many signs of impending change, even disruption — for example with online education, education-related startups, altmetrics, and academic social networks (e.g. ResearchGate, Academia.edu, Mendeley).

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Nobel prize winners express support for FRPAA

At a recent Congressional hearing on open access and FRPAA (the Federal Research Public Access Act) Representative Lofgren read into the record a letter signed by 52 Nobel Prize winners in support of the bill. See http://www.arl.org/sparc/bm~doc/2012-nobelists-lofgren.pdf for the text of the letter and list of signers. For an account of the hearing, see http://www.arl.org/sparc/media/fpraa-takes-center-stage-at-congressional-hearing.shtml and for an overview of FRPAA, which extends and modifies the current NIH mandate, see http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/hoap/Notes_on_the_Federal_Research_Public_Access_Act

 

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Controversy in the UK over government open access mandates

As in the US, some publishers are upset about British plans to require open access publication of government funded research results. See the story in Inside Higher Ed

Tensions between publishers and British funding bodies over open access to research papers have flared up again after the Publishers Association accused Research Councils UK of riding roughshod over publishers’ concerns in a new draft policy on open access.

The policy, which RCUK hopes to adopt by the summer, stipulates that the final version of papers produced with funding from any of the science research councils must be made freely available online within six months of publication.”

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/03/22/british-publishers-object-open-access-proposals#ixzz1py2NPu2B
Inside Higher Ed

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Research Works Act (RWA) withdrawn.

“The science-publishing giant Elsevier pulled its support on Monday from the controversial Research Works Act, hours before the bill’s co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives declared the legislation dead.” Elsevier has indicated that it still opposes government mandates, but had withdrawn support for the bill before the House. The publisher also offered some concessions to mathematicians who had led the boycott against Elsevier.

See the story in the Chronicle of Higher Education and additional coverage by Inside Higher Education .

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Iowa Provost Barry Butler signs open statement supporting accessible scholarship and opposing RWA

University of Iowa Provost Barry Butler and ten other University Provosts from Big Ten institutions have issued a public statement opposing the Research Works Act and supporting taxpayer access to federally funded research results, such as that mandated by NIH.

“Because of our strong belief in open sharing of information, we were disturbed to see that recently introduced legislation (The Research Works Act, H.R. 3699) called for a rollback of the progress being made toward opening communication channels for sharing publicly funded research findings with the American people. Were this bill to pass, it would reverse a 2008 administrative mandate by the National Institutes of Health that grantees deposit the results of their funded research in a publicly accessible archive, and prohibit other agencies from issuing similar mandates going forward. We believe that this legislation would significantly undermine access to the new ideas that result from government-funded research, access that we encourage to the public at-large, to a worldwide network of leading scholars, and to future generations of scholars who are today’s undergraduate and graduate students. In our view, ratification of the proposed legislation would represent a step backward in the ongoing enlightenment of society through research and education”

The Provosts’ call for a “local agenda” on their respective campuses is especially encouraging for those long engaged with these issues:

“In addition to our concern about the impact external entities have in shaping the research and communication agenda of our universities, we are cognizant that senior campus administrators and faculty leaders could be working more effectively to ensure that their own campus policies are aligned with professed campus norms. Some examples of how we might do more to influence campus behaviors include:

  • Encouraging faculty members to retain enough rights in their published intellectual property that they can share it with colleagues and students, deposit it in open access repositories, and repurpose it for future research.
  • Ensuring that promotion and tenure review are flexible enough to recognize and reward new modes of communicating research outcomes.
  • Ensuring that our own university presses and scholarly societies are creating models of scholarly publishing that unequivocally serve the research and educational goals of our universities, and/or the social goals of our communities.
  • Encouraging libraries and faculty to work together to assess the value of purchased or licensed content, and the appropriate terms governing its use.”

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/02/23/essay-open-access-scholarship#ixzz1nDbenvbl
Inside Higher Ed

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Local costs for journals

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
Elsevier  $       1,641,530

2095

Wiley/Blackwell  $           868,031

1304

Springer  $           607,540

400

Sage  $           243,647

608

JSTOR  $             97,602

2319

Cambridge UP  $             43,940

145

Project Muse  $             33,210

500

Oxford UP  $             21,313

250

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.

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Coercive Citations

Just when you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to scholarly publishing, a brief in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education online notes a new way some publishers have found to puff-up a journal’s impact.  It reports findings from a recently published survey in Science which indicate that some journal editors “… often ask prospective authors to add superfluous citations of the journal to articles, and authors feel they can’t refuse.”  Here is a link to the article, which includes a summary of the paper in Science.

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Elsevier responds to the boycott

As the number of signers of the Elsevier boycott passed 2,400 (see yesterday’s blog post–the total this morning is over 2,600), an Elsevier spokesman responded, as reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Over the past 10 years, our prices have been in the lowest quartile in the publishing industry,” said Alicia Wise, Elsevier’s director of universal access. “Last year our prices were lower than our competitors’. I’m not sure why we are the focus of this boycott, but I’m very concerned about one dissatisfied scientist, and I’m concerned about 2,000.”

Boycotters dispute the claim:

Protesters disagree, and say Elsevier is emblematic of an abusive publishing industry. “The government pays me and other scientists to produce work, and we give it away to private entities,” says Brett S. Abrahams, an assistant professor of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “

Web site for the boycott is here: http://thecostofknowledge.com/