Alternative Publishing Models Category


Open Access journal PeerJ publishes first articles

For a very different approach to scholarly publishing, take a look at the inaugural articles in PeerJ:


Cornell gets major grant to support arXiv

Cornell University Library has announced a major grant from the Simons Foundation to support the costs of operating arXiv. The grant will provide up to $300,000 per year to match contributions from institutions which have supported arXiv since 2010.  From the announcement:

arXiv, the free repository that has revolutionized the way scientists share information, is adopting a new governance and business model that will allow it to grow and succeed in the future….As an open-access service, [arXiv] allows scientists to share “preprint” research before publication and boasts hundreds of thousands of contributors. In 2011 alone, arXiv saw close to 50 million downloads from all over the world and received more than 76,000 new submissions.

Iowa–through the University Libraries–has committed to providing annual support for arXiv since a call for support went out from Cornell. It is an especially important resource for researchers in physics, mathematics, and computer science, among others. It has been hosted at Cornell since 2001, when its founder, Paul Ginsparg, joined the faculty. See also the article by Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle.



High Energy Physics Journals Move toward Open Access

Through an international effort known as SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consrotium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) a number of key journals in high energy/particle physics are moving towards open access. Journals in this group include Physical Review C and D, Physics Letters B, Nuclear Physics B, and several others. CERN, which is overseeing the process, announced on July 17th that the tendering process was complete. The University of Iowa Libraries has supported SCOAP3 since its earliest days.


Predatory Publishers, or “Scaring the Children”

In a recent blog post Kevin Smith of Duke takes up the issue of open access publishers who have been labeled “predatory” for various reasons. Quoting from the post:

In an online age, criteria that are well-established in libraries for avoiding these predatory toll-access journals now must be shared more widely because researchers may unwittingly spend research funds on equally low-quality OA journals. But to call this an open access problem is to blind ourselves to its full scope and is, I fear, often motivated more by the desire to bring OA itself into disrepute, to “scare the children,” as I like to call it, than it is by a desire to protect the entire system of scholarly communications. …The problem we should be addressing is predatory publications, OA and subscription-based, and publishing ethics across the board….

…So I repeat, we should make our decisions about quality on the basis of neutral criteria that can be applied to any business model and not allow the legitimate concern over predatory practices to become a weapon used against only a single publishing option.


Modern Language Association issues new guidelines for evaluating digital work

Articles in Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education describe the MLA’s new guidelines and quote from their contents.

“Institutions and departments should develop written guidelines so that faculty members who create, study, and teach with digital objects; engage in collaborative work; or use technology for pedagogy can be adequately and fairly evaluated and rewarded,” says the MLA guidance. “The written guidelines should provide clear directions for appointment, reappointment, merit increases, tenure, and promotion and should take into consideration the growing number of resources for evaluating digital scholarship and the creation of born-digital objects. Institutions should also take care to grant appropriate credit to faculty members for technology projects in teaching, research, and service.”

“Digital media are transforming literary scholarship, teaching, and service, as well as providing new venues for research, communication, and the creation of networked academic communities,” the updated guidelines say. “Academic work in digital media must be evaluated in the light of these rapidly changing technological, institutional, and professional contexts, and departments should recognize that many traditional notions of scholarship, teaching, and service are being redefined.”


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

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).


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,, Mendeley).


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 for the text of the letter and list of signers. For an account of the hearing, see and for an overview of FRPAA, which extends and modifies the current NIH mandate, see



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:
Inside Higher Ed


FRPAA reintroduced.

From today’s Chronicle of Higher Education.

“A bill introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives would require federal agencies with external research budgets of $100-million or more to provide electronic access to articles based on research they help pay for. The bill, the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2012, was introduced by Mike Doyle, a Democrat of Pennsylvania. ”

According to other reports a companion bill is being introduced in the Senate. These bills counter the Research Works Act, which would forbid such requirements, and would reduce the maximum embargo from NIH’s 12 months to 6, as well as regulating all federal agencies with research budgets over $100 million.

For additional information, see Michael Kelley’s post “Open Access Advocates Cheer New Bill Seen as Slayer of Research Works Act