A Growing Number of International Open Access Initiatives Are Launched by Scientific Associations

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-11-26
URL: http://openscience.com/a-growing-number-of-international-open-access-initiatives-are-launched-by-scientific-associations-and-organizations/

As the august American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) founded in 1848 and publishing Science and other scientific journals, has announced on November 21, 2017, its Science Partner Journals initiative for Open Access publications, it has joined the larger trend of academic institutions making transitions to Open Access publishing.


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Seeking to enter into collaborative relations with international scientific societies, institutions and foundations, the AAAS seeks to position its Science Partner Journals digital program in the high-quality sector of Open Access publishing, while banking on its reputation, visibility and expertise, in order to increase the accessibility of scientific findings to research organizations around the world. To pull off this initiative that intends to publish its articles under a generic Creative Commons license (CC BY), the AAAS has partnered with Hindawi as a publishing services provider, which indicates that this association did not have sufficient internal resources to go this project alone.

Since organizations joining this program will be editorially responsible for the content they publish, such as in respect to peer review and author relations services, it follows that the Science Partner Journal will be able to accommodate both the launch of new journals and the conversion of existing publication into Open Access. In this respect, a study by Reinhold Haux et al., published in 2016, indicates that Open Access is increasingly perceived by the international scientific community as an adequate format for disseminating research results, which has led to multiple cases flipping established journals, e.g., Methods of Information in Medicine, into one of existing Open Access models. These Open Access transformations are spurred by both government-supported mandates and available funding for transitioning subscription-based journals into Open Access, despite the concerns that may raise.

By Pablo Markin


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

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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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