Case Study Findings Show Transitioning Scientific Journals to Gold Open Access is Feasible and Sustainable

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-11-20
URL: http://openscience.com/case-study-findings-show-transitioning-large-scale-scientific-journals-to-gold-open-access-is-feasible-and-sustainable/

The successful conversion of RSC Advances published by the Royal Society of Chemistry into Gold Open Access since October 2016 indicates the maturity of the Open Access model, its acceptance by the scientific community and the continued growth of the journal after the transition to Open Access.


Excerpt

In their recent research report published on March 2017, Emma Wilson and Jamie Humphrey describe the effects that the transition of RSC Advances, a major journal in the field of chemistry, to Gold Open Access has had on the journal performance in terms of article submissions, topics covered and author countries. Launched in 2011, RSC Advances has been conceived of as a subscription-based mega-journal targeting a broad scientific audience, such as early-career and emerging-market researchers, which represents the decision of the Royal Society of Chemistry to expand its existing portfolio of journals.

On the strength of its article submission numbers that rapidly grew to circa 13,000 from over 90 countries, such as China (48%), India (14%), USA and Canada (4%), South Korea (4%) and Iran (4%), in 2016, RSC Advances has decided to switch to Open Access. This decision has been triggered by the rapid expansion of the Gold Open Access market that in terms of articles published has been estimated to grow by approximately 30% between 2003 and 2011. Currently, Gold Open Access accounts for between 10.2% and 16.6% articles published in the scientific, technical and medical (STM) segment. This sector is dominated by a handful of mega-journals, such as PLoS ONE launched in 2006, of which over 15 exist in the STM market.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Hybrid Open Access Mega-Journals Gain in Traction as Scholarly Societies and Journal Publishers Partner

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-11-16
URL: http://openscience.com/hybrid-open-access-mega-journals-gain-in-international-traction-as-scientific-societies-and-open-access-publishers-partner/

While developed world universities and libraries weigh the pros and cons of Open Access plus subscription models, developing countries embrace Open Access mega journal-style repositories with open post-publication peer review procedures in partnership with established publishing platforms.


Excerpt

As the international Open Access community mulls the possibility of turning data sets into revenue streams by dint of the latter’s ability to be analyzed, circulated and packaged in abstract form, scholars hailing from the American academia grapple with the economics of scientific journal publishing by seeking to explore how the supply and demand can be re-equilibrated in this industry. Currently, the demand for the scientific journal subscriptions appears to continue to outstrip they supply, which ensures the high subscription fees, such as those of Springer, for journal bundles that their publishers vend, given their effective oligopoly hold on this market and the exclusive access to highly-reputed journals they provide.

However, this situation resists a facile conclusion that Open Access journals can significantly change the equilibrium prices in this market, as quality journals incur significant publication costs and do not differ significantly in their reviewing, editing and submission practices from subscription-based journals, as far as unpaid labor input is concerned. In other words, Open Access journals will have to have article processing charges (APCs) compensate for the lost revenue streams that toll-based journals derive from subscription fees. In turn, this leads to a relatively minor impact that the advent of Open Access has had on the market-wide equilibrium prices that end up being charged for article publication and access either directly or indirectly.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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The Revenues of the Open Access Article Publication Market Lag Behind its Output, Despite Growth

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-11-12
URL: http://openscience.com/the-revenue-performance-of-the-open-access-article-publication-market-lags-behind-its-output-despite-growth/

Latest reports show that the Open Access journal-level publication market has ample room for development, as Open Access journals’ revenues are yet to match the rates of their articles published, as the global Open Access market begins to mature and demonstrates superior publication-level visibility performance.


Excerpt

As recent projections peg the value of the global Open Access market to reach over half a billion USD in 2018, should its growth dynamics be maintained, empirical data, nevertheless, indicate that, whereas Open Access articles have constituted 20% of all those published in the year 2016, the contribution of Open Access publications to journal industry revenues has ranged between 4% and 9% in the same period. At the same time, since these figures only refer to Gold Open Access publications, it can be surmised that Green and hybrid Open Access journals are likely to demonstrate higher revenue performance levels than their Gold Open Access counterparts. Even though these findings can be interpreted as indicating the slow pace of the global Open Access market maturation, given that the Budapest Open Access Initiative has been inaugurated in 2002, its continued growth, such as that of 21% between 2015 and 2016, also demonstrates the vitality of this publication market’s sector.

While arguments against Open Access as a publication model continue to cite the importance of journal impact factors for scientific authors, as far as their decisions about publication venues are concerned, the system-wide cost-cutting impact of either opting for or converting into Open Access on the level of individual journals can hardly be disputed. In some cases, traditional scientific journals continue to charge authors anachronistic page fees, such as 110 USD per page, long after the digital access to the toll-protected publications has become widespread. In comparison, article processing charges (APCs) that some Open Access journals levy represent a lumpsum payment that can be likely lower than total per-page charges of conventional journals which scientific authors may not necessarily have sufficient fund to pay, especially since, unlike Open Access APCs, academic institutions do not have a cost-cutting-related rationale to subsidize these.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Recent Findings Indicate Multiple Models for Flipping Scientific Journals into Various Open Access Forms Exist

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-11-08
URL: http://openscience.com/recent-findings-indicate-that-multiple-models-for-flipping-scientific-journals-into-various-forms-of-open-access-exist/

Though converting scholarly journals into Open Access continues to involve financial uncertainty, a Harvard-funded report shows that thousands of journals have flipped into Open Access in recent years through a variety of approaches.


Excerpt

In their study first published on September 19, 2016, Mikael Laakso, David Solomon and Bo-Christer Björk have conducted a multi-method inquiry based on expert interviews, empirical data and secondary sources into various strategies for the conversion of scientific journals into Open Access. Their main conclusion is that toward making a transition to Open Access no single optimal path exists, as subscription-based journals need to decide which of multiple solutions will work for their situation as sustainable Open Access platforms. Laakso, Solomon and Björk’s research has been done with the support of the Harvard Library’s Office for Scholarly Communication that has sought to explore the economic and other implications of transitioning to Open Access models for universities.

Whereas in 2011 circa 2,400 scholarly journals have been flipped into Open Access after zero-cost digital journal distribution has become technically feasible, the funding models behind these transitions to Open Access have, however, remained under-researched. For this reason, Laakso et al.’s 2016 research report, the full version of which is hosted at Harvard’s publication repository, fills an important gap in scholarly literature, as it indicates that in recent decades those journals that have switched to Open Access and have decided not to charge subscription fees have enjoyed the support of national or regional Open Access portal, such as Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), while broadly utilizing open source software, such as Open Journal Systems(OJS).

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Wikipedia Referencing Significantly Augments the Diffusion of Open Access Articles as Recent Findings Show

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-11-04
URL: http://openscience.com/wikipedia-referencing-significantly-augments-the-diffusion-of-open-access-articles-as-recent-findings-show/

As a Chinese university questions the validity of traditional impact factor metrics, Teplitsky, Lu and Duede’s 2017 study argues that Wikipedia is more likely to promote the visibility of Open Access articles, than that of paywall-protected ones, regardless of the journal impact factor.


Excerpt

Though the emergence of Open Access journals has put into question the importance of impact factors that journals have, as the influence of freely accessible scientific articles may also be measured by alternative, article-level metrics, efforts to give credence to alternative impact metrics remain relatively marginal. At the same time, a recent announcement of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, that it will be giving articles published on social media platforms and newspapers the same importance as is granted to peer-reviewed scientific publications has caused a stir both in China and around the world, as it can portent a change in funding, evaluation and promotion priorities at academic institutions.

While this tentative policy shift takes into account differences between various social media platforms, requires that the articles be original and established quantitative criteria for digital platform visibility, the discussion it has sparked also highlights the need for out-of-the-box thinking about the validity of traditional peer review procedures and journal-level impact factors that Open Access journals have been readier to experiment with than their paywall-based counterparts. Even though the full implications and eventual effect of this move remain unclear, it also shows that strengthening or the existence of links between layman-oriented digital platforms, such as Wikipedia, and scientific communities is insufficiently addressed by traditional impact metrics.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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LaTeX, Open Source Software, Facilitates the Adoption of Open Access by Authors, Repositories and Journals

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-11-01
URL: http://openscience.com/latex-open-source-software-facilitates-the-adoption-of-open-access-by-authors-repositories-and-journals/

LaTeX, a software environment for type-setting scientific texts, supplies digital infrastructure not only for researchers, such as in the fields of mathematics or astronomy, but also for Open Access repositories and journals, while minimizing their costs.


Excerpt

Open Astronomy is an Open Access journal recently launched by De Gruyter Open on the basis of the journal Baltic Astronomy initially founded in 1992. As Philip Judge, a senior astronomy scientist from the High Altitude Observatory of the University Corporation and National Center for Atmospheric Research, a non-profit consortium of North American universities and colleges sponsored by the National Science Foundation of the United States, has agreed to serve as an Editor-in-Chief for Open Astronomy in early 2017, his primary motivation has been to promote the openness of scientific research. At the same time, since the journal does not demand article processing charges, it needs to minimize its publication costs, which is achieved, among other means, by the extensive deployment of LaTeX.

As an open source document preparation system, LaTeX can be downloaded free of charge, even though copyright restrictions can apply to the modifications of this software, which has, however, ensured the backwards compatibility of documents composed in LaTeX. Since this is a markup language for the compilation of complex scientific texts, such as those including notation symbols, mathematical formulas and foreign language characters, LaTeX effectively outsources typesetting to scholarly authors. This has also made LaTeX into a de facto standard format for scientific documents in multiple fields of sciences and humanities, such as mathematics, physics and linguistics, as it allows the production of high-quality PDF-format documents regardless of their complexity.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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German Editors-In-Chief and Editorial Board Members Resign from Subscription-Based Elsevier-Owned Journals

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-10-18
URL: http://openscience.com/german-editors-in-chief-and-editorial-board-members-resign-from-subscription-based-elsevier-owned-journals/

First eight German researchers and scientists have announced their resignation from editorial duties at Elsevier-supported journals on the background of the ongoing efforts of Germany-based universities and research institutes to switch to Open Access.


Excerpt

As the negotiations over subscription contracts between Elsevier, a large journal publisher, and Germany-based scientific and academic institutions continue to bear no fruits, a growing number of leading German editors and editorial board members at paywall-based journals associated with this publisher announce resignations from their positions. Multiple other German scientists and researchers are reportedly ready to follow suit, in their effort to create a momentum for the switch-over to Open Access as the default option for scientific article publication. Germany-wide associations, such as the Project DEAL, are willing to support the transition to the Open Access model by offering Elsevier and other large publishers lump-sum payments that will cover the article processing charges of German scientific authors in exchange for access to their journal and article collections.

However, Elsevier keeps rejecting this deal, since its profit performance is closely related to the subscription payments from universities and institutions around the world. Allowing for Open Access provisions for German academic and scientific organizations in circumvention of traditional subscription contracts could create an international precedent with possible negative effects for Elsevier’s revenues. Thus, German scientists, such as Kurt Mehlhorn from Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik, Saarbrücken, who has resigned from Computational Geometry: Theory and Applications, may have little choice but to launch rival Open Access journals, to maintain their involvement in their research fields.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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De Gruyter Celebrates Open Access Week by Showcasing a Selection of Open Access Articles from its Hybrid Journals

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-10-27
URL: http://openscience.com/de-gruyter-celebrates-open-access-week-by-showcasing-a-selection-of-open-access-articles-from-its-hybrid-journals/

While providing links to articles in Open Access from its subscription-based journals in sciences and humanities, De Gruyter’s featured Conversations blog post suggests that Open Access publications continue to be marginal to output and revenues, despite their growth.


Excerpt

In its webpage dedicated to Open Access Week 2017, De Gruyter pays homage to this international event taking place from October 23 to 29 by offering links to a selection of Open Access articles from its journals in exact, social and human sciences. This page also links to a post from its Conversations blog in which Hugh Burrows, Ron Weir, and Jürgen Stohner, the editors of the journal Pure and Applied Chemistry, explain their rationale for adopting a hybrid model for their journal that protects with a paywall the article it publishes in the current and previous years, while making technical reports and archived articles available in Open Access. The editors elaborate on this year’s mission of Open Access Week that the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has initiated from 2008 which in 2017 concentrates on the benefits that Open Access can bring to scientific publishers and scholarly associations, such as national chemical societies, in terms of their core mission. […]

While Joachim Jähne and Steffi Rudloff, the editors of the Open Access Innovative Surgical Sciences journal launched in 2016 by De Gruyter jointly with the German Society of Surgery advocate for the implementation of article-level metrics to measure journal impact based on scientific community-generated data, Stavros Skopeteas, an editor of the journal Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft founded by the German Linguistics Society in 1982, has indicated that the decision of this journal to switch to Gold Open Access in 2017 has been hotly debated by this association, due to the radical change it introduces to the business model and publication practices.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Richard Thaler, Nobel Prize-Related Economics Award Winner, has also Advocated in Favor of Open Data Access

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-10-15
URL: http://openscience.com/richard-thaler-nobel-prize-related-economics-award-winner-has-also-advocated-in-favor-of-open-data-access/

While upon his 2017 prize nomination, Richard H. Thaler has received recognition for his contributions to behavioral economics, he has also argued that open data initiatives can bring public and private benefits alike.


Excerpt

On October 9, 2017, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business has announced that Richard H. Thaler, its Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics, has received the vaunted 2017 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. This award has celebrated Thaler’s work in behavioral economics that takes account of the non-rationality of economic agents, due to human biases. While his economic behavior scenarios have served as the foundation for his book-scale publications, such as Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness (2008; co-authored with Cass R. Sunstein) and Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics (2015), in his smaller-scale publications Thaler has also advocated that Open Access to governmental, organizational and user data can be of significant utility for individual and collective decision-makers, precisely because more often than not economic agents act counterintuitively.

In other words, the ability of public policies to arrive at optimal decisions and realize cost efficiencies is likely to critically depend on the availability in Open Access of behavioral data based on which incentives can be devised and fine-tuned. Thus, in his article that has appeared in The New York Times on March 12, 2011, Thaler has called on governments to allow for Open Access to the data that their various agencies collect so that private companies and individual consumers would be able to tap into that information to deliver optimized services, such as real-time traffic tracking solutions, and make smarter decisions, e.g., based on service provider price registries, respectively. These uses of open data can also contribute to higher levels of consumer market competition and product safety transparency with public and private benefits in the form of improved resource allocation efficiency and reduced damage and mortality rates due to accidents.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Despite Growth, Scientific Networking Sites Are Likely to Complement, Not Replace Open Access Repositories

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-10-12
URL: http://openscience.com/despite-their-initial-proliferation-scientific-networking-sites-are-likely-to-complement-not-replace-open-access-repositories/

Even though social media performance becomes increasingly important for scientists, questions about the implications that the business models of scholarly networking sites have persist, while leaving institutional repositories and Open Access publishers with a significant role to play in knowledge sharing.


Excerpt

As scholars become increasingly concerned with the visibility and view counts that their scientific articles generate, social networking platforms have been slated to become the primary venues for the dissemination and sharing of scientific knowledge. However, as Jessica Leigh Brown implies, as these scholarly social networking sites, such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu, have sought to achieve both economic sustainability and reputation within different scientific communities, Open Access institutional repositories run by universities and institutes are likely to continue to be important for ensuring content availability in the long term.

In other words, either as open source projects, e.g., Zotero, or startup initiatives, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Mendeley, these scholarly networks depend on either non-profit, donation-based or private funding, which can either limit their scope or involve the privatization of digital commons with possible non-positive responses in the scientific communities. For instance, ResearchGate has had to demonstrate swift reaction to copyright infringement allegations from large journal publishers, Academia.edu has not met with an enthusiastic response from scholars to its attempts to introduce paid-for services and Mendeley, upon its purchase by Elsevier in 2013, has raised concerns that its content sharing practices might deviate from the principles of Open Access.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Springer Nature’s Report Demonstrates the Viability of Open Access Transitions for both Journals and Countries

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-10-24
URL: http://openscience.com/springer-natures-report-demonstrates-the-viability-of-open-access-transitions-for-both-journals-and-countries/

As its recent data demonstrate, in some European states between 70% and 90% of Springer’s newly published articles are in Open Access, which indicates that the journal- and country-level adoption of Open Access becomes increasingly mainstream, even though it depends on author fee funding availability.


Excerpt

In its press release published in October 23, 2017, Springer Nature has announced that its authors hailing from Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden publish 73%, 77%, 84% and 90% respectively of their articles in Gold Open Access. Though this has been made possible by article processing charges funding from governmental foundations and scientific institutions in these countries, only circa 27% of all articles published by Springer Nature are in Gold Open Access, which demonstrates the growth potential for Open Access internationally. While Open Access is widely credited with the promotion of research results discovery, it appears that it can be made available as an option for authors not only through the expansion of the operation models of existing toll-based journals to various Open Access formats, such as Gold or Green Open Access, in the direction of hybrid publishing models, but also through the flipping or conversion of existing well-known journals into Open Access. […]

This is echoed in the intention of the European Commission to promote Open Access for research results generated through the assistance of Horizon 2020 grants, such as via pre-print repositories, especially in view of the strides that private foundations, such as Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, have been making in this direction. More recently, in November 2016, the Wellcome Trust has launched Wellcome Open Research that enables researchers it funds to take advantage of its streamlined publication process involving rapid submission procedures, post-publication open peer review and scientific database indexing.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Open Access is the New Black: Case Study Data on Journal Transitions from Subscription Models to Open Access

Author: Beata Socha
Published Online: 2017-10-22
URL: http://openscience.com/open-access-is-the-new-black-case-study-data-on-journal-transitions-from-subscription-models-to-open-access/

Serial crisis, growing resistance to subscription models as well as increasingly widespread and binding Open Access (OA) mandates have incentivized numerous publishers to consider converting paywall-based journals to OA.


Excerpt

Flipping a journal into Open Access (OA) naturally involves numerous challenges but it is a path increasingly travelled by publishers. In 2014 De Gruyter converted a portfolio of 14 journals from the subscription model to OA. In 2017, three years on, rather compelling observations can be made as to how to make the transition smooth and successful. This post is based on the webinar that De Gruyter has organized for the Open Access Week, for which it is possible to register at this link to find out more. The ever-increasing prices of subscriptions have led to the so-called serials crisis, which resulted in many libraries being forced to cancel some of their journal subscriptions, as they could no longer afford them. […]

The discontent among librarians, researchers and journal editors has led to the birth of Open Access as an alternative model to subscriptions. According to various estimates, Open Access is growing at an annual rate of approximately 12-17%. Most subscription journals already offer a hybrid option, with article processing charges (APCs) usually set at $2,000-$3,000 USD. Between 2014 and 2015, the share of purely OA journals in the publishing sector of science, technology and medicine (STM) journals increased from 10% to almost 13%. In the same period, the share of hybrid journals increased from 67% to 68.5%, while the percentage of subscription only journals fell, from 23% to 18.5%.

By Beata Socha


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

Featured Image Credits: Aquatic Conditions, May 5, 2008 | © Courtesy of  Thomas Hawk.

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ResearchGate is at the Epicenter of Legal Controversy, as Large Publishers Sue it over Copyright Infringements

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-10-09
URL: http://openscience.com/researchgate-is-at-the-epicenter-of-legal-controversy-as-large-publishers-sue-it-over-copyright-infringements/

While global publishing companies, e.g., Elsevier, Wiley and Brill, take ResearchGate to court over scientific article sharing, transition to Open Access can unshackle communication between scholars from legal constraints, due to its licensing conditions.


Excerpt

As a blog post by Robert Harrington published on October 6, 2017, announces, the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, an umbrella organization uniting ACS Pubications, Brill, Elsevier, Wiley and Wolters Kluwer, has recently filed a lawsuit against Berlin-based ResearchGate on the grounds that the practices of this website serving the purpose of networking and collaboration among scholars, such as the distribution of scientific articles, violate copyright. At present, according to figures Harrington cites, ResearchGate is the most consulted website in the scientific community. As a startup company with multimillion venture capitalist funding, ResearchGate hosts articles that are both copyright-protected and materials and publications the sharing of which does not infringe on intellectual property rights of large publishers.

While efforts have been made to arrive at a resolution between ResearchGate and the Coalition for Responsible Sharing that would not involve litigation, these have apparently failed. According to the existing ResearchGate’s guidelines, article removal requests need to be made on a case-by-case basis, such as via take-down notices. This represents a piecemeal solution to the risk the unrestricted article sharing poses to the core business model of the publishers the coalition represents, which is based on subscription paywalls and copyright restrictions that non-Open Access publications require for their dissemination in the scientific community. Effectively, the moment scientists file the final versions of their articles with subscription-based journals of large publishers, these become commodities bought and sold on the global knowledge marketplace.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Recent Pre-Print Findings Cast Doubt and Spark Discussion on the Citation Performance of Open Access Journals

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-10-06
URL: http://openscience.com/recent-pre-print-findings-cast-doubt-and-spark-discussion-on-the-citation-performance-of-open-access-journals/

While Green and hybrid Open Access articles have been tentatively found to out-perform paywall-protected articles based on their citation statistics, Gold Open Access articles show lower citation levels than subscription access articles, which could be due to revenue performance differences between respective publishers.


Excerpt

In the United States, since the early 2000s print publications have been witnessing steeply declining advertising revenues, such as from more than 60 billion USD in 2000 to less than inflation-adjusted 20 bullion USD in 2012, after the absolute majority of which have begun to offer Internet-based Open Access to their contents, as the diagram cited by Alexander Gerber in 2013 shows. Given that newspapers have been projected by PricewaterhouseCoopers to deal with further decreases in their overall revenue performance toward the year 2020, apparently despite partial paywalls that some newspapers have introduced, the nature of the interrelationship between Open Access and performance in the publishing industry more generally continues to receive research and industry attention.

Thus, in his Scholarly Kitchen blog post, on October 4, 2017, David Crotty has offered a review of a pre-print, yet to be peer-reviewed article by Heather Piwowar et al. published on August 2, 2017 by PeerJ Preprints, an innovative Open Access repository service that accepts articles for publication without article processing charges or publishing membership fees that PeerJ journals charge upon a streamlined review by its editorial stuff. In the blog post, Crotty has highlighted that free access is not tantamount to Open Access, as defined within the guidelines of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, while drawing attention of its readers to the methodological flaws of the research results presented by Piwowar et al., such as imprecise Open Access categorizations and research population definitions.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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Open Access May Remedy Traditional Journal Publishing’s Dysfunctional Aspects via Transparency

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-10-02
URL: http://openscience.com/open-access-can-contribute-to-remedying-the-dysfunctional-aspects-of-journal-publishing-if-it-adds-to-transparency/

As both criticisms of academic journal publication practices and recent empirical results suggest, transparency that Open Access (OA) tends to promote is likely to be associated with journal quality, since latest journal citation reports have shown that a significant share of highest-ranking scientific journals in medicine are published in OA.


Excerpt

In his extensive critique of the journal publication industry made available online in 2013, Mathias Binswager argues against the homogenization of higher education and scientific research that has been taking place in recent decades around the world, such as in Germany and Europe more generally, as quantitative measures of university excellence have become widely regarded as primary indicators on which institutional and governmental decision making has become based. This particularly applies to the journal publication procedures, since scholars and researchers receive appointments, funds and promotions primarily based on their publishing in high-ranking scientific journals, while a regular output of academic output has become widely expected in the academia.

However, given that the majority of top-ranking journals are subscription-based and most journals apply either single- or double-blind peer-review procedures to submitted manuscripts, arguably in order to increase the quality of the articles that they publish, this status quo has led to a large degree of non-transparency about the manner in which scientific journals operate. In Binswager’s view, this situation leads to deleterious effects on science, while impairing the validity of quantitative indicators of academic excellence, such as journal impact factors and article citation counts, since, provided the de facto gate-keeping functions of non-transparent peer-review procedures, scientific authors resort to tactics that are specifically targeted at increasing their chances of being published in selective journals the rejection rate of which can reach 95%. These tactics can include the strategic citation of possible reviewers, flatteringly positive assessments of approaches linked to scholars likely to act as reviewers, limited readiness to deviate from accepted theories and the reduction in the novelty of article manuscripts.

By Pablo Markin


The full-length original  blog article and additional resources can be found at OpenScience blog.

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A Companion Blog for Open Economics, a Peer-Reviewed Open Access Journal.