Tag Archives: Publishing

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/.

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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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 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.


Excerpt

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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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.


Excerpt

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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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.


Excerpt

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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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.


Excerpt

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

Author:
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.

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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