Tag Archives: Germany

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/.

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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The Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Open Access Transitions on Library Budgets in Britain and Germany

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-12-08
URL: http://openscience.com/the-short-term-and-long-term-effects-of-transitions-to-open-access-on-library-budgets-a-comparison-of-germany-and-britain/

As recent media reports indicate, a significant impact of Open Access transitions on university and library costs related to scientific journal subscriptions can primarily be expected in the long term, if no concerted measures by academic institutions are undertaken. By contrast, short-term subscription cost reductions are likely to demand contract renegotiations. In both cases, Open Access is an integral part of changing the model based on which the journal publishing market operates.


Excerpt

In a news brief from December 5, 2017, The Times Higher Education has recently recapitulated the key findings of a recent report on the transition to Open Access in the United Kingdom (UK) appearing on December 5, 2017. Based on spending data from a sample of 10 UK universities for the period between 2013 and 2016, this report indicates that journal subscription costs of these institutions have increased by 20% in this time span. In other words, this publication argues that in this period transitioning to Open Access not only has not lead to a significant reduction in university library subscription budgets, but was also accompanied by growing expenditures for both subscriptions that have reached 16.7 million GBP and article processing charges (APCs) which have amounted to 3.4 million GBP in 2016.

Yet, while report authors, such as Michael Jubb, express their concern about the rise in overall journal access- and publication-related costs, disentangling the short- and long-term perspectives on these data could be instructive. More specifically, it is difficult to expect Open Access have a significant effect on journal subscription costs in the studied period, since large publishers, such as Elsevier, have continued to be successful in renewing their journal access contracts with British universities, the growing popularity of Open Access notwithstanding. All things being equal, in the short-term without systemic changes the adoption of Open Access is likely to add to university costs, such as through APCs, especially if these academic institutions do not renegotiate their extant subscription agreements.

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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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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Amid Knowledge Access Concerns, the Switch of German Universities and Institutes to Open Access Can Bring Visibility

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-09-20
URL: http://openscience.com/amid-knowledge-access-concerns-the-switch-of-german-universities-and-institutes-to-open-access-can-bring-visibility/

Though concerted university-level transitions to Open Access can raise competitiveness concerns, such as in Germany, ranking systems and downloading statistics indicate that Open Access can raise the international visibility of academic institutions.


Excerpt

While the negotiations between German universities and Elsevier, as one of the largest publishers, over journal subscription charges appear to be stalled, according to David Matthews’ communication with Dr. Martin Köhler, a lawyer involved in these negotiations, for the Times Higher Education, interlibrary article loans, rather than illegal downloading, e.g., from Sci-Hub, can represent a viable alternative to prolongating the existing contracts between this publisher and German academic institutions. […]

Though severing subscription contracts with large journal publishers may raise concerns about the long-term competitiveness of German universities and institutes, as Elsevier has done, recent research results, as the 2017 presentation of Mikael Laakso from the University of Jyväskylä shows, on the impact of Open Access on academic organizations suggest that Open Access can significantly boost research discoverability. Furthermore, in 2016 Teplitskiy, Lu and Duede have found Open Access articles to be 47% more likely to be cited in Wikipedia than their subscription-protected counterparts. Consequently, German universities switching to Open Access can be expected to both remove barriers to the discoverability of their latest findings and increase their international visibility, especially since research reputation and citations can make up to 48% of university ranking scores, such as by the Times Higher Education. Furthermore, recent data suggest that Harvard University’s Open Access repository has been experiencing constantly growing yearly content downloading rates that have already reached more than 3,558,150 in 2017 alone.

By Pablo Markin


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

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The Economics of Flipping Back-List Book Titles into Open Access: Digitization at Cornell University and De Gruyter

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-09-10
URL: http://openscience.com/the-economics-of-flipping-back-list-book-titles-into-open-access-digitization-at-cornell-university-and-de-gruyter/

The digitization of out-of-print book titles incurs costs that Open Access projects tend to depend on external funding to cover, while hybrid models promise higher efficiency and larger scope.


Excerpt

As a press release by George Lowery has announced, the Cornell University Press (CUP), established in 1869, but actively operating since 1930, has received a second grant amounting to 100,000 USD from the United States’ National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supporting its Open Access (OA) book digitization initiative, Cornell Open, on April 4, 2017. According to this announcement, this grant is intended to be dispensed for the project of digitizing 57 back-list book titles in humanities and social sciences, such as literary criticism and political science, to make them openly accessible to the general public locally and internationally. This project is intended to bring the list of its Open Access digitized out-of-print titles to 77. […]

By contrast, on September 5, 2017, Eric Merkel-Sobota has released the news that De Gruyter’s digital book archive will be expanded from its current list of 10,000 digitized out-of-print books to 40,000 titles by 2020. More specifically, De Gruyter’s digital book archive is planned to encompass all of its out-of-print titles from 1749, when the foundational book-printing institution has set up its shop, to the present day. As in the case of the CUP’s digitization initiative, De Gruyter Book Archive will include titles of seminal significance for human and social sciences, e.g., Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures published by Mouton, currently De Gruyter Mouton, in 1957. By the end of 2017, De Gruyter’s digitization drive will add 3,000 to its online book archive. The primary difference of De Gruyter’s digitization initiative from that of the CUP is that it will serve hybrid, on-demand and subscription models of access to these back-list titles, whereas the CUP has chosen OA as its preferred format, which has made it imperative to rely on governmental and private funding to launch its initiative.

By Pablo Markin


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

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German Academic and Research Institutions Increasingly Make Open Access their Default Option

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-09-01
URL: http://openscience.com/german-academic-and-research-institutions-increasingly-make-open-access-their-default-option/

Over 140 German university and institute consortia members cancel their subscription contracts with Elsevier, while making publishing in Open Access a requirement for German researchers.


Excerpt

In Germany, universities and research institutions spearhead the transition to Open Access in the framework of the Projekt DEAL consortium tasked with negotiating the terms of subscription contracts with large journal publishers. By August 2017, in Germany 50 universities, 50 research organizations, 34 higher education institutions and 3 regional libraries do not have contracts with Elsevier for the coming year, while either interim journal access arrangements or no access to pay-wall protected journals are in place, as a recent article by Leonhard Dobusch states. Though among the large-scale scientific societies, the Max Planck Society and Fraunhofer Society are not directly involved in this initiative that has been gathering momentum in Germany, they provide indirect support to the demands of the Projekt DEAL via the Alliance of Scientific Organizations.

As a consequence of this, a transition to Open Access may take place since, as Christian Gutknecht’s blog post on a Swiss survey conducted by ETH Zürich in March 2017 indicates, up to 72% of scholars are likely to be willing to forgo consulting subscription-based journals, especially if their publishers apply access pricing approaches that may be deemed unacceptable. Around 91%-93% of researchers participating in this study have indicated that they do not object to the prospect of not serving on an editorial board or acting as a reviewer for journals belonging to publishers demanding unjustifiably high subscription fees. In other words, in Switzerland not only 90% of surveyed scholars express stable levels of support for Open Access, as compared to a 2011 survey by the SOAP project that have demonstrated that 89% of sampled scientific community members are in favour of Open Access, but also that high levels of readiness to apply negative sanctions, such as resigning from editorial boards, exist, which under auspicious circumstances can translate into a wide-spread adoption of Open Access in the journal publishing sector.

By Pablo Markin


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

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The Journal Publishing Market Between Supply- and Demand-Side Models: The Case of Open Access in Germany

Author: Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-08-25
URL: http://openscience.com/the-journal-publishing-market-between-supply-and-demand-side-models-the-case-of-open-access-in-germany/

Without significant support for Open Access journals, large-scale transitions to Open Access may be slow to come, as the German case indicates.


Excerpt

In their recent news item for the Science Magazine, Gretchen Vogel and Kai Kupferschmidt have expressed their expectation that a concerted negotiation front that German university libraries and research institutions present to large publishers, such as Elsevier, Wiley, and SpringerNature, may produce a nation-wide, disruptive switch to Open Access with possible momentous consequences globally. Contracts with these publishers may include provisions for both publishing in the journals they manage and accessing the collections they make available, which refers to the supply and demand sides of the academic articles market. This is part of the reason for which the possible transition to Open Access takes place at a slower pace than it can be expected, since different market forces are at play as far as producers and consumers of scientific knowledge in the form of articles are concerned.

While multiple reports on the per-article revenues of large publishers exist, such as that of Schimmer, Geschuhn and Vogler (2015) evocatively entitled “Disrupting the subscription journals’ business model for the necessary large-scale transformation to open access”, it is important to keep in mind that publishers are also likely to bear significant costs to sustain their business models and that dividing industry-wide revenues by article output for subscription-based journals produces estimates before the costs of not only producing new articles, but also ensuring their accessibility and delivering distribution solutions are taken into account. This creates the supply and demand sides to the publishing market in which publishers, their institutional clients, funding bodies and governments are involved. In the subscription model, universities and institutes effectively stimulate the supply of academic articles, while facilitating the transfer of copy rights and intellectual property to publishers that put results of scientific research behind paywalls. Especially German universities with stagnant budgets and rising costs are likely to be interested in capping their constantly growing subscription fees by opting out of subscription agreements and choosing Open Access as a default option.

By Pablo Markin


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

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