Journals Transitioning to Open Access May Have Limited Sustainability Absent Revenue Streams

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-08-06
URL: http://openscience.com/journals-transitioning-to-open-access-may-have-limited-sustainability-absent-revenue-streams/

Reliance on foundation or contingency funding does not substitute for viable revenue models that journals switching to Open Access may need to maintain quality.


Excerpt

As the editors of the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics have announced the termination of their contracts to Springer, the publisher behind the journal, in June 2017, it has been a move coordinated with the journal’s editorial board, to establish a rival Open Access journal Algebraic Combinatorics. The declared impetus for this transition to Open Access has been the importance of fairly priced Open Access options for the scientific community, in accordance with which the prospective journal plans to refrain from high Article Processing Charges (APCs) and profit-driven practices of the fee-based journal publisher, especially given that academic journals rely significantly on the volunteer labor of the scientific community.

This transition to Open Access has been inspired by the successful flipping of several linguistics journals from subscription-based to Open Access models, as part of the LingOA project. A similar initiative has been launched in the field of mathematics, e.g., Mathematics in Open Access (MathOA), that seeks to facilitate the transition of mathematics-related journals to Open Access. This is illustrated by the recent developments at the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics the editorial staff of which has opted for Open Access as Springer has proved not as forthcoming as concerns the integration of Open Access into its business models as the editorial staff of the journal had expected, such as according to the principles of the Fair Open Access Alliance.

By Pablo Markin


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

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Alternative Measures of Scholarly Impact are Increasingly Adopted by Funders and Publishers

Author:
Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-07-29
URL: http://openscience.com/alternative-measures-of-scholarly-impact-are-increasingly-adopted-by-funders-and-publishers/


While journal impact factor metrics have been and continue to be used to assess the quality of publications that scholars publish, it appears that the primarily digital format in which most scholarly articles are published and the attendant article-level data that can be retrieved via the Internet can make it possible to devise article-level impact measures. A relatively recent example of this is the Relative Citation Ratio (RCR) that is calculated by Public Library of Science (PLoS) for the National Institute of Health, the United States, in the domain of medical research. The supporters of this article-level metric argue that they can increase the visibility of high-quality publications regardless of the impact factor ranking that the journals in which they appear have, as the chart below illustrates. Consequently, this can also assist emerging scientific journals, such as in developing countries, to improve their reputation, even when they operate with limited financial support.

Journal impact factor vs citation counts, June 22, 2017 | © Courtesy of Erwin Irawan.

Journal impact factor vs citation counts, June 22, 2017 | © Courtesy of Erwin Irawan.

Readily available computing power allows the application of the RCR based on the ratio between the target article citation rate and that of subsequent articles that cite it, which arguably permits controlling for the citation rates specific to particular scientific fields, while enabling cross-field comparability of this metric. A recent Open Access (OA) article that had inquired into the performance of the RCR as an alternative metric vis-à-vis expert opinions has not found significant differences between these, which indicates that journal-level metrics can serve as fine-grained and relatively adequate measures of the academic quality that published articles have as compared to journal-level metrics that may fail to capture the possibly variable quality of the articles that scholarly journals publish. Though the algorithms behind the RCR are considered to be more complex than more traditional impact metrics, both these procedures and underlying data are made freely accessible to the general public. While the developers and investigators of the RCR are careful to qualify the discriminating power of this metric for the assessment of article-level impact, it is an important step in the direction of deploying multiple alternative influence measures in the field of science.

By Pablo Markin


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

Berlin Universities Accelerate the Transition to Open Access by Cancelling Toll-Access Contracts with Elsevier

Author:
Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-07-20
URL: http://openscience.com/berlin-universities-accelerate-the-transition-to-open-access-by-cancelling-toll-access-contracts-with-elsevier/


In Germany, an increasing number of universities have announced in June-July, 2017, that they do not plan to renew their journal subscription contracts with Elsevier, one of large international publishers. While negotiations between Elsevier and German univerisities acting via the Project DEAL that represents an alliance of German research and educational institutions are still ongoing, this publisher faces a mounting push-back from German universities that have been announcing their contract cancellations. The Humboldt University, Free University and Technical University of Berlin, as well as other German institutions, have recently announced that they will no longer renew their contracts with Elsevier starting 2018, as they indicate that, since the production of scientific publications is publicly financed, Open Access models are more sustainable than yearly subscriptions that have been constantly rising by at least 5% year-on-year in recent decades. […]

In this respect, the coordinated response of German academic institutions to the oligopolistic pricing practices of large journal publishers is likely to lead either to contract price reductions or the entrenchment of Open Access as an institutionally preferred option.

By Pablo Markin


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

Academic Libraries as Emergent Players in the Scholarly Journal Publishing Industry

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-07-19
URL: http://openscience.com/academic-libraries-as-emergent-players-in-the-scholarly-journal-publishing-industry/


In recent years, academic libraries have become important advocates of Open Access (OA), as OA journals are being launched, institutional repositories are being introduced and open educational resources are being hosted. These developments amount to library publishing as an emergent trend in OA publishing, as digital technologies increasingly allow academic institutions to expand their role from academic information dissemination and purchasing to the management of scholarly communication formats.

As scientific foundations and granting agencies around the world have been planning a gradual transition to either Green OA or Gold OA as default options for scientific publications, libraries seek to join the fray of OA academic publishing, since they can complement their publication repository platform with peer-review procedures, which can make them into competitors to OA and subscription-based journal publishers, as Faye Chardwell and Shan Sutton suggest. Likewise, at some North American and European universities OA policies are being passed that encourage the establishment of OA repositories on an opt-in basis for pre-publication journal manuscripts.

By Pablo Markin


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

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The Impact of Market Forces on Open Access Journal Publishers

Author:
Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-05-05

As the largest open access publisher by the number of articles published, according to the Digital Archive of Open Access Journals, PLOS can serve as a case in point for this phenomenon. In September 2015, PLOS has announced that it will be raising the APC for its flagship PLOS ONE journal from 1,395 USD to 1,495 USD, as the first APC increase for this journal since 2009. While this can be conceived of as a minor business model change for an open access publisher that sports 7 OA journals and 5 channels for scientific sub-fields, such as Muscular Dystrophy, that have streamlined peer-review procedures, are partly foundation-supported and have no author-facing charges, a closer analysis indicates otherwise. At present, the APCs for PLOS’s OA journals range from 1,495 USD (PLOS ONE) to 2,900 USD (PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine). The financial reports of PLOS for 2015, however, reveal that its approximate gross per-article revenues have amounted to 1,438 USD. In other words, given that the 2015 yearly gross publication fee revenues of PLOS have amounted to 44,604,000 USD, circa 31,000 journals have been published by PLOS in 2015, and that the average APC for PLOS ONE has been 1,420 USD for 2015, since the APC raise went into effect in October 2015, if all of these journals have been published in the PLOS ONE mega-journal, its gross APC revenues would have been 44,020,000 USD in 2015. Thus, in the year 2015 the absolute majority of PLOS’s revenues to the rate of up to 98% have been likely derived from APCs for PLOS ONE.

By Pablo Markin


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