Tag Archives: peer review

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.


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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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.


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

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

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


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

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

By Pablo Markin

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

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Do Repositories Supported by Non-Profit Initiatives Represent the Future of Scientific Publishing?

Pablo Markin
Published Online: 2017-07-25
URL: http://openscience.com/do-repositories-supported-by-non-profit-initiatives-represent-the-future-of-scientific-publishing/

[T]he number of publications published in the pre-print format has been growing exponentially in recent years, as scientific disciplines, such as biology, and their subfields are increasingly recognizing the necessity of OA for furthering the sharing of recent research results, while minimizing the time gap between empirical research and manuscript availability. Thus, in 2017 the monthly number of pre-prints has reached over 1,400 articles from as little as between 400 and 200 in 2014. This pre-print growth has been fueled by the relaxation of peer review procedures, similar to arXiv. In fact, a parallel initiative in biology is dubbed bioRxiv that not only replicates arXiv’s approach to OA, but also has attracted extensive institutional backing in the form of both preprint publication pledges and financial support from non-profit organizations, such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Though pre-print repositories’ review practices diverse from the strict peer review standards of scientific journals, their rapid and decentralized nature may be well fitting the pace of development in established and emergent research fields that are likely to benefit from OA to their findings.

By Pablo Markin

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