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February 28, 2007

University Presses on Open Access

The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) has issued a statement on the open access, which focuses on the potential harm that could be done to their operations by the open access model. The paper points to the potential for open access to hurt circulation revenues, and emphasizes that university presses are not wealthy institutions. The paper also talks about the many experiments university presses are undertaking with open access or alternative pricing models — and goes one further. While the open access debate has focused on scholarly journals, the presses suggest that models that work for journals may well also work for monographs. And so, the paper says, it’s not surprising that university presses support a range of projects — such as The New Georgia Encyclopedia, Columbia International Affairs Online and Rotunda — that place materials online and are either open access or use nontraditional pricing models.

But while the press report expresses enthusiasm for such models, it then outlines what it sees as severe economic consequences of imposing the “more radical approaches” to open access, which “abandon the market as a viable basis for the recovery of costs in scholarly publishing.”

Among the concerns:

* If publishers lose revenue from selling copies of journals, their support will need to come either from authors or other sources, such as foundations and libraries. The AAUP paper warns that scholars at institutions unable to make such contributions “may experience greater difficulty in publishing.”
* Requirements that journal contents be made available online and free will “undermine existing well regarded services,” such as Project Muse, that sell access to packages of journals to academic institutions.
* If university presses lose significant portions of the $500 million they generate in sales (90 percent of their operating costs), those funds will need to be replaced or the presses will have to cut back on what they do.
* If, as some have threatened to do, some commercial publishers back out of scholarly publishing in the wake of any open access regulations, would university presses be expected to pick up these projects and, if so, who would pay for them?

The paper points proudly to examples of university press publications that are available freely online and suggests a broadening of the open access concept. “Open access need not be limited to journals,” the presses state. And while applying the model to monographs would create another set of issues for university presses (the paper notes that only 17-20 percent of publishing costs for monographs are on manufacturing), there might also be models that mix print and online, open access and fees, the paper suggests. It adds that it would be “unwise not to explore the implications of open access for all fields of knowledge lest an unfortunate new ‘digital divide’ should arise between fields and between different types of publishing.”

Underlying the specific issues raised, the paper says that university presses could function in open access in the “gift economy” model (in which they aren’t expected to generate revenue streams that would disappear), but that policy makers need to recognize the extent to which this represents a shift from the current model, which even if it includes subsidies, is a market economy.

The paper closes by saying that presses are willing to explore “new publishing models, mindful that it is important to protect what is most valuable about the existing system.”

The AAUP statement was drafted by a group led by Sandy Thatcher, director of the Penn State University Press.

Inside Higher Education 2/28/07.

Addendum from K. Newman: For a look at the opposing side, read also the comments by Peter Suber, director of the Public Knowledge Open Access Project.

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:41 AM

February 27, 2007

ARL on Wiley's Acquisition of Blackwell

The Association of Research Libraries has published an Issue Brief on Wiley's recent acquisition of Blackwell, noting the growing dysfunction in the scholarly journals market that emanates from the decreasing number of large commercial publishers. Dysfunctions include rising prices, onerous contract terms, barriers to sustainability of smaller publishers, and higher barriers of entry for new publishers and titles.

Posted by P. Kaufman at 9:30 AM

February 20, 2007

Scientific Scholarly Societies Voice Opposition to the Federal Research Public Access Act

The 75 non-profit scholarly society publishers that were signatories to the Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science Coalition have voiced their opposition to measures that would mandate open access to research literature within a specific time frame (as proposed by the 2006 Federal Research Public Access Act).

Basically they're saying that the long-standing system for sharing research results through scholarly publications has been working just fine, so why change it? They fear that changes to the current paradigm will wreck financial ruin on their publishing concerns. Furthermore they say, as signatories to the Washington DC Principles, they are already making millions of articles available for free (albeit with embargoes that generally are 12 months, but sometimes as long as 24).

Read the press release and review a list of the signatories of the The Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science.

Posted by Katie Newman at 6:10 PM

February 16, 2007

The Brussels Declaration

Back in 2003 a group of scientists and scholars held a conference and issued The Berlin Declaration on open access to knowledge in the sciences and humanities. In short it proposed that research information should be published free of charge on the Internet and that all models for doing that should be investigated and sustained.

Earlier this week a group of publishers and learned societies published their own Brussels Declaration. Here is the declaration:

Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing by the international scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishing community as represented by the individual publishing houses and publishing trade associations, who have indicated their assent on the website link (it was too long a list for this blog).

Many declarations have been made about the need for particular business models in the STM information community. STM publishers have largely remained silent on these matters as the majority are agnostic about business models: what works, works.

However, despite very significant investment and a massive rise in access to scientific information, our community continues to be beset by propositions and manifestos on the practice of scholarly publishing. Unfortunately the measures proposed have largely not been investigated or tested in any evidence-based manner that would pass rigorous peer review. In the light of this, and based on over ten years experience in the economics of online publishing and our longstanding collaboration with researchers and librarians, we have decided to publish a declaration of principles which we believe to be self-evident.

1. The mission of publishers is to maximise the dissemination of knowledge through economically self-sustaining business models. We are committed to change and innovation that will make science more effective. We support academic freedom: authors should be free to choose where they publish in a healthy, undistorted free market

2. Publishers organise, manage and financially support the peer review processes of STM journals. The imprimatur that peer-reviewed journals give to accepted articles (registration, certification, dissemination and editorial improvement) is irreplaceable and fundamental to scholarship

3. Publishers launch, sustain, promote and develop journals for the benefit of the scholarly community

4. Current publisher licensing models are delivering massive rises in scholarly access to research outputs. Publishers have invested heavily to meet the challenges of digitisation and the annual 3% volume growth of the international scholarly literature, yet less than 1% of total R&D is spent on journals

5. Copyright protects the investment of both authors and publishers. Respect for copyright encourages the flow of information and rewards creators and entrepreneurs

6. Publishers support the creation of rights-protected archives that preserve scholarship in perpetuity

7. Raw research data should be made freely available to all researchers. Publishers encourage the public posting of the raw data outputs of research. Sets or sub-sets of data that are submitted with a paper to a journal should wherever possible be made freely accessible to other scholars

8. Publishing in all media has associated costs. Electronic publishing has costs not found in print publishing. The costs to deliver both are higher than print or electronic only.Publishing costs are the same whether funded by supply-side or demand-side models. If readers or their agents (libraries) don't fund publishing, then someone else (e.g. funding bodies, government) must

9. Open deposit of accepted manuscripts risks destabilising subscription revenues and undermining peer review. Articles have economic value for a considerable time after publication which embargo periods must reflect. At 12 months, on average, electronic articles still have 40-50% of their lifetime downloads to come. Free availability of significant proportions of a journal’s content may result in its cancellation and therefore destroy the peer review system upon which researchers and society depend

10. “One size fits all” solutions will not work. Download profiles of individual journals vary significantly across subject areas, and from journal to journal

Charkin Blog (Richard Chakin, Macmillan) 2/14/07

Posted by P. Kaufman at 7:25 AM

February 15, 2007

Contrary to the Trend: Three Journals Merge into One New Title

Contrary to the trend in journal publishing, which is to proliferate new journals and to splinter old titles, the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS), Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and the European Federation for Animal Science (EAAP) have merged their three journals, Animal Science (Blackwell); Animal Research (EDPSciences); Reproduction, Nutrition, Development (Elsevier), into one new journal. The new journal, Animal, will be published by Cambridge.

For those institutions that have had all three titles, this represents a substantial savings. From the 2005-2006 Librarian's Handbook (EBSCO), the prices for print + oline for the three titles was $570, $589, $770, respectively. The price for the new title in 2007 (P+O) is $895.

The full announcement may be found on the Cambridge Journals website. Thanks to Greg Youngen for the heads up about this!

Posted by Katie Newman at 9:23 AM

February 12, 2007

University Teachers: Know Your Copy Rights!

The American Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has recently produced a 6-page pamphlet about the rights teachers and teaching assistants have to share with their classes the intellectual property produced by others. Know Your Copy Rights: What You Can Do provides tips and guidelines for when articles, video, music, images, and other intellectual property can be shared with students under the banner of "fair use".

Among the topics covered in the brochure are: fair use, the advantages of linking to instead of copying works, and special provisions for displaying or performing works in classes. It also includes a handy one-page chart that highlights 24 situations when various categories of works can be used.

The pamphlet is free to download.

Posted by Katie Newman at 6:03 PM

February 6, 2007

American Society for Cell Biology Position on Public Access to Scientific Literature

The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), a nonprofit scientific society of over 11,000 members at leading research institutions, state colleges, undergraduate teaching institutions, and biotechnology companies, has come out with a strongly worded statement in favor of providing free access to scienitfic literature as quickly as feasible. Since 2001 their journal, the Molecular Biology of the Cell, has provided free access to all it's content 2 months after publication, and yet, as they point out, the organization and publication have remained financially profitable.

From their statement:

Thus, they conclude:

For these reasons, the ASCB supports efforts to require that the results of federally funded biomedical research be made freely available to the public, no more than six months after they are published.

Posted by Katie Newman at 3:33 PM

February 5, 2007

Update on Open Access Mandates

Stevan Harnad has created a summary of the universities, university departments, and funding agencies that are requiring their authors to make their research available in an open access mode. See his blog entry, "Pit-Bulls vs. Petitions: A Historic Time for Open Access" on the blog Open Access Archivangelism.
You'll notice that Europe is ahead of the U.S. in this activity, though the U.S. will catch up if several important U.S. funder mandates are passed.

University / Departments mandating Open Access:

AUSTRALIA inst-mandate Queensland U. Technol
AUSTRALIA inst-mandate U. Tasmania
EUROPE inst-mandate Eur Org Nuc Res (CERN)
INDIA inst-mandate Nat Inst Tech Rourkela
INDIA inst-mandate Bharathidasan U
PORTUGAL inst-mandate U. Minho
SWITZERLAND inst-mandate U. Zurich
AUSTRALIA dept-mandate U. Tasmania Sch Comp
FRANCE dept-mandate Lab Psych Neurosci Cog
UNITED KINGDOM dept-mandate U Southampton Dept ECS
UNITED KINGDOM dept-mandate Brunel U Sch Info Sys Comp Maths

Funding agencies that are requiring their authors to make their publications available to all:

AUSTRALIA funder-mandate Australian Res Cncl (ARC)
AUSTRALIA funder-mandate National Health and Medical Res Cncl (NHMRC)
UNITED KINGDOM funder-mandate Arthritis Res Foundation
UNITED KINGDOM funder-mandate Biotech Bio Sci Res Cncl (BBSRC)
UNITED KINGDOM funder-mandate Chief Sci Off (Scottish Exec Health)
UNITED KINGDOM funder-mandate Economic and Social Res Cncl (ESRC)
UNITED KINGDOM funder-mandate Medical Res Cncl (MRC)
UNITED KINGDOM funder-mandate National Environmental Res Cncl (NERC)
UNITED KINGDOM funder-mandate Particle Phys & Astron Res Cncl (PPARC)
UNITED KINGDOM funder-mandate Wellcome Trust

In addition, there are several proposals that will mandate Open Access that are working their way through the agencies:

CANADA proposed funder-mandate Can Insts Health Res (CIHR)
EUROPE proposed funder-mandate European Res Advisory Board (EURAB)
EUROPE proposed funder-mandate European Res Cncl (ERC)
EUROPE proposed funder-mandate European Commission
UNITED STATES proposed funder-mandate Fed Res Pub Access Act (FRPAA)
UNITED STATES proposed funder-mandate Nat Insts Health (NIH)

Posted by Katie Newman at 10:23 AM

February 2, 2007

Renegade Editors Seek to Topple Top Topology Journal by starting up a cheaper rival

The renegade editorial board of the journal Topology, which resigned en masse last summer, has started up a rival -- and cheaper -- journal to challenge the venerable title, which is put out by the publishing giant Elsevier. The board revolted largely over Elsevier's pricing policies, which have drawn complaints from mathematicians and led some researchers to boycott Topology, said members of the board. After finishing out 2006 as editors, they formally stepped down and a few weeks later announced that they would create the Journal of Topology, to be published by the London Mathematical Society.

For institutions the annual price of the new quarterly journal will be $570, compared with Topology's $1,665 for six issues per year. In terms of subject area, the challenger is similar to the original, said Ulrike Tillmann, managing editor of the new journal and a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford. "We are looking for very high-quality papers."

As of mid-January, she said, the Elsevier Web site continued to list Ms. Tillmann and the other former editors as members of the editorial board of Topology. Elsevier has since removed the page describing Topology's editorial board and does not list any current editors. In its guide for authors, though, it still suggests sending manuscripts to the now-resigned editors. In an e-mail message, Robert E. Ross, publisher of pure-mathematics journals for Elsevier, said the company planned to make an announcement about Topology, and "it would be premature to comment in detail at this point."

Don Davis, a professor of mathematics at Lehigh University, who conducts an online discussion group for nearly 800 topologists worldwide, said Topology's future looks bleak. "I'm anticipating the Elsevier journal will cease to exist," he said.

Chronicle of Higher Education 2/2/07

Posted by P. Kaufman at 8:45 AM