Some Open Access Journals Spark Controversy Due to Internal Problems but Also for Lack of Model Sustainability

As recent news on the HAU and Springer Machine Intelligence journal show, Open Access needs to be paired with sustainable publishing models to serve scholarly communities and deliver on its promise of unrestricted access to knowledge.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


While interface barriers can contribute to the difficulties of scholars with accessing scientific articles and data, as proponents of technological solutions to that suggest, Open Access provides an alternative to subscription-based access only to the extent that it can be based on sustainable economic models that can support the operation of Open Access journals. Otherwise, accessing pre-prints or post-prints of accepted academic articles from repository servers can lead to the implosion of the business models that conventional, subscription-based or Open Access journals have.

This is illustrated by the economic implosion of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory launched in 2011 without a business model that could ensure its long-term viability, as it sought to outsource its costs to external institutions, such as universities and libraries, in order to provide free access to its content. As the journal has been transitioned to a hybrid model involving both subscriptions and conditionally subsidized or free access, such as for scholars from the global South, controversy has erupted both due to the departure from Open Access principles and alleged editorial mismanagement.

Media coverage suggests that this flip into closed access that the journal HAU has accomplished was not due to the article processing charges (APCs) that its previous model involved but stemmed from growing operational expenses and resource misallocation. Yet financial misconduct and lacking accountability, inherently unrelated to the previous model of the journal, have also been likely to be the decisive factors behind the reorganization of this journal. However, the relative freedom that the Open Access model gives to journal management to set APC levels could also been part of the reason for which the apparently poor governance at the HAU journal has precipitated the switch to the hybrid, subscription-based model, which amounts to a freemium approach to journal publishing, in partnership with the University of Chicago Press. […]

At the same time, though scholarly communities increasingly vaunt Open Access as a revolutionary alternative to subscription-based models, as the calls for boycotting the subscription-based Nature Machine Intelligence journals show, the adoption of Open Access-based models in itself does not guarantee journal governance free of conflicts of interest and significant overall cost reductions, as operation expenses need to be sustainably covered, if Open Access journals are to continue to exist in the long term.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Bulgaria-0743 – Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, May 6, 2012 | © Courtesy of Dennis Jarvis/Flickr.

This post is based on an article that originally appeared in OpenScience, 23/06/2018, https://openscience.com/some-open-access-journals-spark-controversy-due-to-internal-problems-but-also-for-lack-of-model-sustainability/.

Though Journal Subscription Deal Cancellations Increase in Number, Open Access Solutions Remain Marginal

For many universities unbundling their journal subscription deals can yield significant cost reductions, which, however, can solidify the market shares of large publishers and slow the growth of the Open Access sector, especially as concerns Gold Open Access journals.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


As university libraries scrutinize their yearly journal subscription deals, the unbundling of these agreements for the purpose of reducing the number of titles subscribed can provide significant subscription discounts for expenses that can exceed 1 million USD on a yearly basis for some institutions. While in North America circa 24 libraries have either unbundled or cancelled their subscription deals with large publishers, it remains to be seen whether academic and research institutions internationally will be following this lead, even though Sweden and France provide recent cancellation examples. Considering the overall size of the global academic publishing market, in 2016 and 2017 additional subscription deal cancellations continue to be in single digits in Canada and the United State, while totaling 5 and 7 institutions for the respective periods.

Moreover, as countries and institutions leverage their ability to use interlibrary loans for accessing paywall-protected publications, this may promote the subscription deal unbundling momentum, as library budgets become exhausted. In other words, university libraries show the signs of demand elasticity as they are increasingly not willing or able to pay any price for accessing subscription-based publications. At the same time, platforms for searching for or sharing academic articles, such as ResearchGate, may not necessarily amount to a shock to the publishing market, as not all publishers are likely to allow unbundling their subscription deals, international academic institutions are likely to be exposed to the risk of fluctuating currency valuations and hardball negotiations tactics do not always succeed. […]

While this growth dynamics in the Open Access sector has set the stage for recent subscription contract disputes or stand-offs, such as in Germany, it remains to be seen whether various countries will accomplish their planned transitions to Open Access as a default scientific publication option, especially as closed-access articles have accounted for over 75% of Scopus’ catalogue in 2016. While national, regional and global alliances, such as OA2020, are calling to the effectuate a transition to 100% of Open Access, library budget constraints may stymie these efforts and increase the share of unbundled subscription deals.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Openaire-COAR Conference 2014, Athens, Greece, May 21, 2014 | © Courtesy of cziwkga/Flickr.

This post is based on an article that originally appeared in OpenScience, 20/05/2018, http://openscience.com/though-journal-subscription-deal-cancellations-increase-in-number-open-access-solutions-remain-marginal/.

Post-Neo-Classical Perspectives on Economic Development: Emerging Global Cities and Varieties of Capitalism Theorization

This topical issue of Open Economics invites submissions that explore both qualitatively and quantitatively how various cities have developed into global hubs of economic activity both historically and contemporaneously. The theoretical and methodological focus of this issue is the application of comparative methods for the purpose of analyzing economic systems in terms that go beyond neo-classical assumptions of economic theory found in conventional macro and micro economics. This also connects to the scholarly discourse on the varieties of capitalism or modernity as a perspective expected to be instructive for considering the preconditions for and effects of the rise of global financial and economic centers, such as London, New York and Hong Kong historically and Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai more recently.

A Call for Papers by Pablo Markin.


Capitalism can be approached as an abstract system that has a structuring influence on economic, social and cultural forms in the modern period, as it creates complex relations and interdependencies between different geographical sites and regions (Athanassakis, 2008, p. 10). In this respect, the reconsideration of capitalism in relation to cities that epitomize it can help examine the geographic dimension of capitalism as a process of economic development that has historically been unevenly distributed (Davis, & Turpin, 2015, p. 9).

In other words, it can be argued that capitalism is a multi-dimensional phenomenon that introduces a historical rupture in economic, social, and cultural structures (Kiss, 2011, pp. xvii-xix). Capitalism represents a system of spatial relations self-referentially governing the functioning of economic, social and cultural activities (Flusser, 1992, pp. 9-10). Thus, it is possible to trace in spatial configurations the manner in which relations between the economic, social and cultural spheres have been formed (Hüppe, 2013, p. 9).

This approach follows Kracauer’s conception that the operation of capitalism can be diagnosed on the basis of various aspects of urban life, such as luxury in global cities (Kracauer, 1995, p. 285). From this perspective, capitalism belongs as much to the theory of ideas as much as it does to the history of modernity (Rohbeck, 2005, p. 187). Thus, it is possible to concur with Weber’s (1922) position that capitalism is both an economic and a social and cultural phenomenon that can take multiple historically and spatially specific forms, such as imperial capitalism (Whimster, 2015, p. 2). Therefore, this special issue of Open Economics will comparatively explore the role that modern capitalism has played in the transformation of spatial relations (Wallerstein, 1976, p. 273).

Accordingly, the development of capitalism can have alternative explanations, such as in relation to cities that have played key roles in its emergence in its modern form at different historical periods, as Sombart (1922) would argue (Grundmann, & Stehr, 2001, p. 257). While London epitomizes the transition to the imperial, industrial or colonial capitalism with the global expansion of the economic relations of the British empire, Paris, as a historical capital of fashion, consumption and culture, represents an alternative type of capitalist relations that demand a reconsideration of modernity (Benjamin, 1982, p. 479). In this respect, the rise of Asian mega-cities, such as Shanghai, can be treated as indicators of the ascendancy of the non-Western varieties of capitalism that demand theoretical and empirical investigation (Marcuse & Van, 2008).

Therefore, this topical issue of Open Economics will explore post-neo-classical perspectives on economic development in relation to emerging global cities, such as in Asia, and varieties of capitalism theorization. Thus, this special issue seeks to clarify the role that contemporary and historical world cities, such as Shanghai, London and Paris, have played in the emergence of different configurations of capitalism revolving around particular urban centers.


Bibliography

Athanassakis, I. (2008). Die Aktie als Bild: Zur Kulturgeschichte von Wertpapieren. Vienna: Springer-Verlag Vienna.

Benjamin, W. (1982). Gesammelte Schriften: V: Das Passagen-Werk. Scholem, G. G., Adorno, T. W., Tiedemann, R., & Schweppenhäuser, H. (Eds.). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Davis, H. M., & Turpin, E. (2015). Art & Death: Lives Between the Fifth Assessment & the Sixth Extinction. In Davis, H. M., & Turpin, E. (Eds.). Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among aesthetics, politics, environments and epistemologies, pp. 3-30. London: Open Humanities Press.

Flusser, V. (1992). Bodenlos: Eine philosophische Autobiographie. Bensheim: Bollmann.

Grundmann, R., & Stehr, N. (2001). Why is Werner Sombart not part of the core of classical sociology? From fame to (near) oblivion. Journal of Classical Sociology, 1(2), 257-287.

Hüppe, E. (2013). Urbanisierte Musik: Eine Studie über gesellschaftliche Determinanten musikalischer Raumproduktion und Raumaneignung. Münster: Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität.

Kiss, E. (2011). As (i)materialidades do consumo : um estudo sobre as estratégias discursivas da marca Apple na sociedade de consumo. São Paulo: Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing.

Kracauer, S. (1995). The mass ornament: Weimar essays. Levin, T. Y. (Trans.). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Marcuse, P., & Van, K. R. (2008). Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Rohbeck, J. (2005). Rehabilitating the Philosophy of History. In Koslowski, P. (Ed.). The Discovery of Historicity in German Idealism and Historism (pp. 187-211). Berlin, Heidelberg and New York: Springer.

Sombart, W. (1922). Luxus und Kapitalismus. München: Duncker & Humblot.

Wallerstein, I. (1976). From Feudalism to Capitalism: Transition or Transitions?. Social Forces, 55(2), 273-283.

Weber, M. (1922). Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr and P. Siebeck.

Whimster, S. (2015). The Weberian analysis of Chinese capitalism in the light of contemporary developments. Max Weber oggi: Ripensando politica e capitalismo conference proceedings, May 14-15, 2015. Florence, Italy: Università degli studi di Firenze.


Featured Image Credits: Shanghai, China, October 12, 2013 © Courtesy of maduarte/Flickr.

Open Access Can Help Scientific Societies Build Their Asset Portfolios, While Preserving Content Accessibility

While the social role of scientific societies continues being discussed, arrangements with publishers that outsource journal management may need Open Access to ensure continued service to scholarly communities, if journal titles change ownership.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


As a recent blog article by Joseph Esposito, published on April 26, 2018, suggests, as scientific societies outsource the technical journal management functions, such as production, sales and marketing, to commercial publishers, the publishing market dynamics might push these societies toward the transfer of these journals’ ownership to publishers, to maximize financial returns. While the ownership of intellectual property by publishers is more common for books than journals, publishers are in a position to exploit the economies of scale that the publication infrastructures and services they own offer, scientific societies can be expected to lack this advantage. […]

As it prepares for an initial public offering at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Springer Nature is a significant case in point. Though the publisher has significant capitalization needs and debt obligations, through its merger activity, such as the acquisition of Macmillan Science and Education in 2015, in recent years this Berlin-based company has emerged as one of the world’s largest English-language scientific publishers also in the domain of Open Access. Similarly, Relx that owns Elsevier, a major international scientific publisher, and Informa that holds ownership of Taylor & Francis, another big scholarly publisher, are listed on the financial market.

In the absence of Open Access arrangements, publishers, such as Springer Nature owning over 3,000 scientific journals, may be loath to provide free access to their otherwise licenced intellectual property, such as journal articles, as part of ensuring the viability of their extant business models, e.g., journal subscriptions. Yet the Open Access journal publishing sector, in which Springer holds a 30% share and earns about 10% of its revenues, maintains high growth rates, despite the article processing charges it involves. The presence of scientific societies in the Open Access sector is likely slated to increase too.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Resource Center Support Services, Okinawa, Japan, November 27, 2014 © Courtesy of OIST/Flickr.

This post is based on an article that originally appeared in OpenScience, 28/04/2018, http://openscience.com/open-access-can-help-scientific-societies-build-their-asset-portfolios-while-preserving-content-accessibility/.

The Deferral of Attacks: SP/A Theory as a Model of Terrorist Choice when Losses Are Inevitable

Authors: Peter J. Phillips, Gabriela Pohl
Published Online: 2017-02-07

Abstract
When a terrorist group’s aspirations far exceed the outcomes that can be expected to result from any of the available attack methods, an outcome below the terrorist group’s aspiration level is inevitable. A primary prediction of SP/A theory when applied to the study of terrorist behaviour is that when losses are inevitable the terrorist group will be risk averse and inclined to defer further action until expected outcomes improve, new attack method innovations are developed or the memory of the event that shaped aspirations has faded sufficiently that the aspiration level can be ‘reset’. This complements existing predictions of loss aversion and risk seeking behaviour over the domain of avoidable losses and provides a starting point for developing explanations for patterns of behaviour that are observed in the terrorism context, including pauses in violence, even during brutality contests, and time-lags between terrorist attacks.

Keywords: SP/A TheoryTerrorist BehaviourRiskUncertaintyInevitable LossesAspirationBrutalityViolenceContestsAttacksAvoidable Losses

Over 50% of Newly Published Paywall-Protected Research Fails to Be Consulted, which Makes Open Access Increasingly Attractive

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-28
URL: http://openscience.com/over-50-of-newly-published-paywall-protected-research-fails-to-be-consulted-which-makes-open-access-increasingly-attractive/

As Australia seeks to increase the efficiency of the investment it makes into scientific research, Open Access promises to maximize its benefits.


Excerpt

Given that subscription-based publication models not only tend to lock up access to articles and books behind paywalls, but also transfer copyright and intellectual property to large publishers as content distributors, governments are beginning to expect a larger return on their financial investment into academic research by switching to Open Access. While publishing at prestigious journals is critical for research careers and university rankings, a growing awareness exists that a significant share of fees paid for journal subscriptions goes to waste. Some studies argue that approximately 21% of all scientific articles published between 1900 and 2015 have never been cited. Moreover, in the year they are published, close to 80% of journal papers are not cited at all, whereas this statistic drops to approximately 10% fifteen years after article publication, according to findings based on papers indexed by the Web of Science in recent decades.

However, other studies indicate that almost 50% of academic articles ever published are not read by anyone beyond their authors, journal editors and peer-review participants. Moreover, some researchers suggest that up to 90% of academic papers are never cited at all. In other words, according to these findings, journal subscriptions may be making measurable contributions to the advancement of science, such as in the form of citations by other scholars, in about 5% of cases. Although the journal publishing market estimated to generate revenues to the tune of 10 billion USD has been growing at the annual rate of between 3% and 4%, the primary beneficiaries of this apparent growth in scientific productivity are likely to be large traditional publishers, such as Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell and Springer Nature, demonstrating stellar financial performance, such as profit margins upwards of 30%, in recent decades.

By Pablo Markin


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

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The Mega-Journal Market Grows, as Traditional Journals Lose Ground and Emerging Areas Launch Open Access Titles

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-23
URL: http://openscience.com/the-mega-journal-market-grows-as-traditional-journals-lose-ground-and-emerging-areas-launch-open-access-titles/

As University College London mulls publishing its own mega-journal, it is expected to join the bustling marketplace of Open Access journals. This can be due to the community-building effects of Open Access journals that become increasingly prized, whereas traditional journals see their hold on scholarly communities weaken. While support infrastructure in the Open Access sector continues to develop, cutting-edge research fields call to life specialized Open Access outlets.


Excerpt

The Open Access market in the United Kingdom (UK) marks a milestone as august University College London (UCL), originally founded in 1826, has announced its planned launch of an Open Access mega-journal, to compete with PLOS One and Scientific Reports. This effort also seeks to emulate the success of Collabra, a mega-journal operated by the University of California Press. Rather than being scholarly periodicals narrowly conceived, mega-journals act as broad platforms for publishing scientific output. Though their peer-review practices may be questioned, Open Access journals increasingly gain a positive word of mouth in the academic community, due to their streamlined publication procedures, experimental peer review models and unrestricted accessibility.

As large foundations throw their weight behind Open Access publishing platforms, the role of mega-journals as anchors for diverse scientific communities is also increasingly recognized, especially given the frequently interdisciplinary nature of cutting-edge research. This, however, takes place on the background of the growing saturation and competition in the mega-journal market, as new market entrants drive the article output of incumbent Open Access mega-scale publication venues, such as PLOS One, downward. Nevertheless, Open Access journals in highly specialized sub-fields of research, such as npj Digital Medicine jointly launched by the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Springer Nature, continue to make their entry into the scholarly publishing market, as large publishers continue to add Open Access titles to their journal portfolios to make them stand out globally.

By Pablo Markin


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

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University and Independent Publishers Increasingly Integrate Open Access into their Books Programs and Business Models

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-19
URL: http://openscience.com/university-and-independent-publishers-increasingly-integrate-open-access-into-their-books-programs-and-business-models/

As scholarly publications in Open Access meet with grassroots interest and demonstrate significant visibility statistics, beyond the Directory of Open Access Books, initiatives in this publishing sector maintain model distinctiveness, encourage alternative impact metrics and remain marginal to publishing house output.


Excerpt

As De Gruyter celebrates the expansion of its Open Access book roster to over 1,000 scholarly publications in English, German and other languages in both PDF and ePub formats across its various imprints, e.g., De Gruyter, De Gruyter Open, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, De Gruyter Mouton, and transcript Verlag, this indicates the maturation of this format, especially since its model relies on book processing fees and institutional partnerships, such as that with the Institute of Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte) this publishing house has. However, despite the high quality, academic relevance and growing presence of Open Access offerings in the book publishing sector, it remains balkanized.

More specifically, the diversity of Open Access book initiatives both within and across publishers, their underlying business models and end-user file formats and license terms may pose barriers to the discoverability of their content. Thus, on January 19, 2018, the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) indicates that De Gruyter offers 397 publications in Open Access under its 5 imprints, 5 Creative Commons license types, in English (244), German (166), French (31), Arabic (3) and Chinese (3) languages and across its back-list and more recent catalogues. In contrast, De Gruyter’s website indicates a much more extensive presence of Open Access books across different subject areas, such as 297 in Social Sciences.

By Pablo Markin


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

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The Difference between Open Access and Paywall-Based Publishing Models Sharpens, as Preprints Gain in Legitimacy

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-15
URL: http://openscience.com/the-difference-between-open-access-and-paywall-based-publishing-models-sharpens-as-preprints-gain-in-legitimacy/

Even though costs associated with Open Access publishing have been found to grow, as preprints gain in increasing recognition in funding, grant and fellowship applications, Open Access publishers, such as Hindawi, may be poised to benefit from the associated disruptive change in the publishing industry.


Excerpt

As illegal file sharing begins to affect the subscription-based journal publishing market, it can both hasten a wide-ranging adoption of Open Access by both publishers and researchers and give impetus to renewed efforts to shore up the paywall-based models against challengers. More specifically, as the interview with Daniel Himmelstein indicates, given that up to 97% of back-list catalogues of some journal publishers can be accessible other than through subscription-based channels, Open Access primarily based on the author-pays model can be one of the remaining avenues to economic sustainability for publishing houses.

On the one hand, the systemic change in the publishing market that this involves may be saluted by Open Access publishers, such as Hindawi that terminated its membership in the International Association of STM Publishers. On the other hand, large publishers may seek to stem this transition to Open Access by seeking to conclude journal subscription agreements that minimize the scope for Open Access for libraries and scholars that they include, as for instance Elsevier has sought to do in its negotiations with German universities. In other words, in the short term the growing adoption of Open Access, however, is also likely to entail rapidly growing costs, largely covered by non-profit foundations, for publishing in this model, such as steep increase from 1.6 million GBP in 2014/2016 to 7.3 million GBP in 2015/2016 in the United Kingdom, as the compliance with Open Access criteria of articles published with the support of Charity Open Access Fund has been found to reach 91% in the latter period.

By Pablo Markin


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

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The Fragility and Presence of Government Funding for Open Access Initiatives Redefines the Role Global Publishers Play

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-11
URL: http://openscience.com/the-fragility-and-presence-of-government-funding-for-open-access-initiatives-redefines-the-role-global-publishers-play/

In retrospect, the year 2017 demonstrates the staying power of Open Access, despite possible budget cuts, such as in the United States. Likewise, international foundations, Open Access publishing platforms, and European academic institutions have been fueling the transition to Open Access models internationally in 2017, which creates incentives for publishes to redefine their role in the journal publishing market.


Excerpt

Despite apprehensions to the opposite, in the United States Open Access funding has remained largely untouched in 2017. As important as the free dissemination of scientific knowledge and information may be, without sustainable economic models backing their operations, Open Access initiatives can fold on short notice, if their governmental funding runs out. In many countries, the status quo of Open Access can be more fragile than what meets the eye suggests, since, as is the case in the United States, Open Access mandates may exist in weak form only or lack legal footing that can make them not uniformly binding or unsustainable in the long run.

The implications of this for Open Access journals or platforms is that, if their models do not involve charging fees from either scientific authors or those who access their content, they can be expected to become acquisition targets, such as the purchase of Digital Commons and Bepress by Elsevier in 2017. Developments such as this redefine the role of journal publishers in the Open Access market, as rather than operators of competing, subscription-based models, they become providers of Open Access solutions and negotiating parties in the course of transitions to Open Access, such as Elsevier in Germany.

By Pablo Markin


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

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Preprint Repositories Gain in Institutional Legitimacy and Recognition, Reduce the Attractiveness of Subscription Journals

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-07
URL: http://openscience.com/preprint-repositories-gain-in-institutional-legitimacy-and-recognition-reduce-the-attractiveness-of-subscription-journals/

As Indonesian INA-Rxiv, a country-level preprint repository for papers across different scientific disciplines, is launched, scholars at German research universities and institutions rely on article preprint access during their transition from paywall-based publication models to Open Access.


Excerpt

Whereas in the West individual subscription-based journals, such as the Journal of Biomedical Optics founded in 1996 and Neurophotonics published since 2014, continue to switch from subscription-based publishing to Open Access, while relying on hybrid business models during the transition, in emerging economies, e.g., Indonesia, Open Access preprint servers provide the infrastructure for macro-level, national-scale departures from toll-based publishing models, in favor of the unrestricted access to recent scientific findings across all academic disciplines. The latter is showcased by Indonesia-based INA-Rxiv launched as recently as in August, 2017, reaching over 1,500 preprints in its archive in early 2018 and helping to increase the international visibility of locally produced scientific and scholarly findings, such as through its indexing by Google Scholar.

Though this local Open Access initiative has relied for its launch on external non-profit support, e.g., a partnership with the Open Science Framework of the United States-based Center for Open Science, it is not inconceivable that as this preprint repository grows its article archive and increases its acceptance in local scholarly communities, the Indonesian government may chose to provide financial resources to this article repository, in order to help local academic institutions to negotiate favorable journal subscription contracts with global publishers, such as Elsevier. As much can be inferred from the latest updates from the standoff between German academic institutions, such as universities and libraries, and Elsevier that is forced to extend their unrestricted access to its contents, as journal subscription negotiations aimed at halving subscription fees and prioritizing publishing in Open Access as the preferred option continue into their second year.

By Pablo Markin


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

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As Universities and Libraries Defer Journal Subscription Deals, Micro- and Macro-Level Implications of Open Access Emerge

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2018-01-03
URL: http://openscience.com/as-universities-and-libraries-defer-journal-subscription-deals-micro-and-macro-level-implications-of-open-access-emerge/

German and South Korean academic and research institutions seek to leverage the potential of Open Access to reduce costs by concerted bargaining with large publishers, such as Elsevier, as they let journal subscription negotiations protract or extend over deadlines.


Excerpt

As German and South Korean university, research center and library consortia have concluded the year 2017 without a journal subscription deal with Elsevier, a large-scale transition to Open Access as a default publishing model is on the cards in Germany and South Korea. Though commentators, namely Alex Holcombe and Björn Brems advocating for Open Access in their respective fields, in their recent blog piece at The Times Higher Education, a hybrid-model subscription-based media outlet itself, are quick to indicate that the academic journal publishing market is price-inelastic, as researchers primarily respond to journal-level impact factor information in their publication venue decisions, this line of argument reinforces the status quo, when large publishers with valuable portfolios of established journals across scientific fields can exact ever rising subscription fees from academic and research institutions.

However, the micro-economic arguments that the switch to Open Access based on article processing charges (APCs) can, on the one hand, unleash the race to the bottom between Open Access journals on the basis of the publication fees they charge and, on the other hand, fall short of its expected effect on the publishing market, due to the close link between researcher utility, such as promotion, and journal prestige that impact factor metrics measure does not necessarily hold. In a growing number of cases and fields either national or international funding can be drawn upon to cover APCs, which relieves the purported pressure on Open Access journals to compete on price. As the Open Access market matures and alternative, article-level impact metrics gain in currency, researchers can be expected to equally advance their careers when they publish in Open Access journals, especially if mandated to do so by their supporting institutions that foot the bill for their labor costs, research expenses or publication fees.

By Pablo Markin


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

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Universities Switch to Open Access Textbooks, to Boost Student Retention Rates, as Educational Resources Prices Skyrocket

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-12-20
URL: http://openscience.com/universities-switch-to-open-access-textbooks-to-boost-student-retention-rates-as-educational-resources-prices-skyrocket/

Following suite of its international counterparts, the Australian National University has published its first batch of six Open Access course books, in a strategy switch aimed at increasing student engagement. In recent years, Open Access textbooks are increasingly championed by global organizations and publishers, as demand from financially burdened students and universities surges.


Excerpt

In its effort to relieve the textbook price pressures on its students a fifth of which have been found to drop out from their academic studies, the Australian National University (ANU) has discovered that its Open Access textbooks have been downloaded more than 27,000 times in 2017, enabled teaching methodology experimentation, significantly increased student satisfaction rates, and contributed to students’ progress and performance. In doing this, the ANU has joined a growing international trend, as Open Access textbooks have been found to be associated with improved academic grades, higher student retention rates and greater course completion rates. Especially undergraduate students stand to benefit from Open Access books, which in 2015 have been found to be used by 31% of students across 15 courses based on a sample of 16,000 undergraduate survey participants at 10 academic institutions in the United States.

In other words, Open Access textbooks have been demonstrated to be as good as or of superior quality as compared to commercial textbooks. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that Open Access pedagogical resources can significantly reduce course failure rates. At the same time, the long-term financial viability of Open Access textbook projects remains in question, as they require third-party or governmental support, to ensure their continued adequacy to student needs and course curricula. Nevertheless, as the cost of living rises, the adoption of Open Access textbooks by universities can significantly alleviate the economic burdens that students shoulder and because of which they can terminate their academic studies.

By Pablo Markin


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

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As Journal Subscription Fees Exhaust Library Budgets, Universities Mandate Open Access Preprint Repository Publishing

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-12-16
URL: http://openscience.com/as-journal-subscription-fees-exhaust-library-budgets-universities-mandate-open-access-preprint-repository-publishing/

Given that at some universities, such as the University of California San Francisco, journal subscriptions consume approximately 85% of collections budgets, switching to Open Access peer-reviewed pre-print repositories becomes an enticing alternative to toll-based scientific journals.


Excerpt

The financial data of the University of California San Francisco for the year 2017 tally up its annual spending on collective and specialist journal subscriptions at 60 million USD, which leaves only 15% of budgets which its branch and online libraries have to share for other content acquisitions. These figures showcase the situation of university and research libraries around the world that are confronted with the global scientific publishing industry in which private companies have the market share of 65% and approximately 85% of content is protected by paywalls. Moreover, in recent years the subscription fees to the highest-ranking scientific journals have grown at steeper yearly rates than the journal publishing market average of 6%.

This condition of the journal publishing market, which is financially unsustainable even for the richest academic and research institutions in the West, also precludes access to most recent scientific findings to those who cannot afford to shoulder ever increasing subscription fees. For this reason, universities increasingly call for a switch to Open Access preprint repositories as default-choice publishing venues for the output of their researchers and faculty. In other words, Western academic leaders, such as Prof. Keith Yamamoto, acting as a vice chancellor for the science policy and strategy of the University of California San Francisco, mandate a blanket adoption of preprint repositories, e.g., New Zealand’s Tuwhera, as valid alternatives to tall-protected journals, given that these repositories are expected to be furnished with editorial boards and peer-review procedures the costs of which are slated to be covered by internal and external, non-profit funding.

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 Journals Could Facilitate Transitions to Gold Open Access Models in the Publishing Industry

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-12-12
URL: http://openscience.com/hybrid-open-access-journals-could-facilitate-transitions-to-gold-open-access-models-in-the-publishing-industry/

As recent literature reviews and findings from the United Kingdom higher education institutions suggest, for universities the costs of publishing in hybrid Open Access journals is significantly higher than in Gold Open Access ones, due to optional article processing charges (APCs) for Open Access publishing and subscription fees they involve, even though APC-based Open Access journals have been found to demonstrate higher impact factors and submission performance than Open Access journals without APCs.


Excerpt

In his analysis of the Open Access market published online on February 19, 2017, Bo-Christer Björk suggests that the Open Access market is affected not only by the rivalry among its biggest players, such as Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer Nature and Taylor & Frances, by also by the relatively limited bargaining power of scientific authors, academic editors and manuscript reviewers, the continued selectivity of journal indexing services, and the threat of substitution that institutional repositories, such as arXiv.org, post to journals. Furthermore, as Open Access journal publishers continue to increase competition in this market, university libraries and consortia gradually augment their bargaining power over the terms of journal subscription contracts, especially as switching to Open Access becomes increasingly feasible for researchers and authors, as Open Access mandates proliferate and funding for APCs becomes widely accessible, such as through the Austrian Science Fund and Wellcome Trust. […]

Therefore, for the publishing market, hybrid or Green Open Access journals can represent transitional models, such as in combination with third party-financed cost offsetting arrangements, toward Gold Open Access the models for the implementation of which continue to be in flux.

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.