STM & PROFESSIONAL PUBLISHING
The most notable news of the month was the surprise announcement by the Chinese government that all scientific data generated in China will need to be be submitted to government-sanctioned data centers before appearing in publications
. This new directive raises as many questions as it answers (Are these forthcoming data centers data repositories or preprint servers or a little of both? Will they be open access? Will researchers be able to cite them and link to them from journal articles?). Much will depend on the details of this forthcoming policy, which do not appear to have yet been fully developed.
Springer Nature warns investors ahead of its IPO of the potential impact of future regulatory changes on its revenues
. Despite publishing 550 open access journals and (according to the filing) having a 30% market share in open access publications (presumably as measured by revenue as opposed to by articles or by journals, but this is not clear), Springer Nature’s revenue remains substantially at risk from “any change in law or policy which reduces or eliminates our exclusive right to the content we publish” (a.k.a. “OA mandates”). This is because despite being a global powerhouse in OA publishing, OA fees account for only 10% of the company’s research revenues.
Source: Financial Times
Louise Penn has an outstanding review of the history and state of play for the many varieties of OA
appearing in the most recent issue of the journal Serials Review
. This piece will be useful for introducing the complexity of the situation to the many non-publishers who sit on management boards and provides a European perspective, which is helpful especially to those in North America who may not be as closely tracking developments in Europe.
Source: Serials Review
The European University Association (EUA) has released a report on its first Big Deal survey
(PDF). This report (well worth reading in its entirety) presents findings from a survey of European academic consortia. Data were gathered between July 2016 and June 2017 and reporting is both aggregated and anonymized, a limitation of the report. A further limitation is that this only pertains to consortia—so Big Deals with individual institutions are excluded. Nonetheless, there is much that sparked our interest in this report. Particularly notable is that 11% of Big Deals covered by the survey include article processing charges (APCs). The truly eye-popping data point, however, is that 63% of respondents plan to include APCs in the future (with a further 26% studying the possibility of doing so).
Source: European University Association
As noted in the above story, the “publish-and-read” model (combining both subscriptions and APCs) appears to be catching fire among European consortia. An excellent piece in The Scientist provides an overview of the model and its progenitor
, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). The first such agreement was inked between VSNU and Springer Nature. Subsequent agreements have been reached between VSNU and Wiley, Sage, the American Chemical Society, and Oxford University Press. Some publishers, including the Royal Society of Chemistry (as reported in last month’s newsletter), have been unable to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with VSNU. Wider adoption of the publish-and-read model is a topic we are following closely as it has implications for nearly all of our clients.
Source: The Scientist
Not everyone is sanguine about the publish-and-read model, however. The always-insightful Richard Poynder notes
that some of the negotiations between state agencies and publishers are resulting in many of the same problems that plagued arrangements for subscription publications. The article is important for people in policy positions and for publishers seeking to navigate what are increasingly complex consortia negotiations.
Source: Open and Shut
Hilda Bastian provides an insightful analysis of the claim that there are a huge number of OA journals that do not charge an APC
. The truth is more complicated. While there may be thousands of OA titles that do not charge fees, the number applicable to a given researcher is a tiny fraction of that. And even the applicable titles publish very few papers. This is before even getting into impact and influence measures. The so-called “platinum” model of OA has a long way to go before it is offers a viable alternative for most researchers.
Source: Absolutely Maybe
We note with interest the launch of Life Science Alliance
, a new joint-venture from EMBO Press, Rockefeller University Press, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. The new open access journal allows transfers from nine journals from the three respective presses. The journal is preprint-friendly with the option of seamless co-submission to and from bioRxiv (as one would expect given the involvement of CSHLP). We are advocates of (well-formulated) joint-ventures that help societies build scale in publishing and this is an interesting flavor of just such a strategy.
A new paper by John Rigsby, Deborah Cox, and Keith Julian
in the journal Scientometrics
(Springer Nature) explores the value of peer review and how the peer review process improves papers. The authors argue that peer review should be thought of less as “a decision” and more as a process for improving papers. This view certainly comports with our own experience. The authors examine whether there is a measurable citation impact associated with peer review. We are not sure they have succeeded, but we nonetheless recommend the paper or the overview in the LSE Impact Blog
. This is an important topic we would like to see more work on.
Source: Scientometrics;LSE Impact Blog
Representatives of the European Union are readying to vote on changes to EU copyright law
. The three most relevant changes for STM publishers include a change to text and data (TDM) mining regulations that would treat non-commercial TDM as an essential right (like reading) that goes along with legal access to content; a provision designed to allow news publishers to collect revenues from search engine companies for providing snippets in search results (which could theoretically be applied to research content); and a much-welcome provision that shifts the onus on technology companies to ensure that content uploaded to their platforms is copyright compliant.
Springer Nature, Cambridge University Press, and Thieme reach agreement to collaborate with ResearchGate
. The new agreement does not move the onus to ResearchGate to screen content for copyright compliance. Instead ResearchGate will "promptly remove copyright-infringing content when alerted by publishers" and in return "publishers will get better visibility into the usage of new content on the platform."
Source: Springer Nature
Our friend and colleague Roger Schonfeld has an excellent piece in the Scholarly Kitchen
concerning the resurgence of Clarivate. The occasion of the piece is the acquisition of Kopernio. The piece includes an analysis of how the tools business is developing and insights into Clarivate’s strategy. At its core, that strategy seeks to lessen the distance between discovery and access. “You cannot serve as a starting point for discovery, as Web of Science proposes to do, if you cannot provide seamless access to content resources.”
Source: Scholarly Kitchen
The news was not good from the university press world this past month. First, Dartmouth announced the closing of the University Press of New England (UPNE)
. UPNE has historically been funded by a consortium of universities. While at one point there were 10 schools supporting the press, the supporting members had dwindled to just Dartmouth and Brandeis University. Second, the State of Kentucky's new budget has effectively eliminated all state funding
for the University Press of Kentucky (previously valued at just under $700,000). The state funds are used to pay the salaries of 17 press employees.
Source: Valley News; Chronicle of Higher Education
Is the U.S. at risk of a brain drain? After decades of immigration to the U.S. by major intellectual figures from around the world, the current state of politics is making for some redirections. See what is happening in Canada
Source:Inside Higher Ed
Does the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) further entrench and benefit the largest of tech companies (and especially Google and Facebook)? That is exactly what Sam Schechner and Nick Kostov argue
in the Wall Street Journal
. Google and Facebook are “leveraging their vast scale and sophistication as they seek consent from the hundreds of millions of European users who visit their services each day. They are applying a relatively strict interpretation of the new law, competitors say—setting an industry standard that is hard for smaller firms to meet.”
Source: Wall Street Journal
Virginia Heffernan penned an at once amusing and dark story
about the hacking of her Twitter account. What is unusual is that this was an “academic hack:” the hacker played on her thirst for recognition by pretending to be Larry Summers.
NYU Business School professor Scott Galloway makes an impassioned case
for why “The Four”—Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google—should be broken up on antitrust grounds. We have been following this topic closely because we we can’t imagine running our personal or professional lives without these companies and because it puts talk of the “monopolies” of scholarly publishing into a bigger and more meaningful context.
As both science fiction junkies and frequent riders of the Acela, we welcome the news from MIT that researchers there have developed a prototype headset
that allows one to communicate without speaking. It works by tapping into subvocalization, the body’s process just prior to uttering speech. This technology is being touted as a potentially new form of computer interface. Make it so. (Hat tip to John Ellis).
Reuters reports that
“China’s rising investment in research and expansion of its higher education system mean that it is fast closing the gap with the United States in intellectual property and the struggle to be the No.1 global technology power, according to patent experts.” We have to assume that this investment will be spilling over into scholarly publishing, with the potential to direct the shape of the industry even further.
John Hubbard, Librarian at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, humorously describes
the particular challenges inherent in rolling out new technology in the context of the academic library. “Certain people will only transition when they absolutely have to, so the only way to get everyone acclimated with current technology is by removing the choice to use outdated products.”
Has physics stalled? “Very plausibly, the main reason why we haven’t made progress is that we’re not doing the right thing. We’re looking in the wrong places.” A thought-provoking interview with physicist Sabine Hossenfelder
FROM OUR OWN PENS
Joe penned a piece in the last month in the Scholarly Kitchen
about why professional societies rarely sell their assets (in particular, their journals) to commercial publishers. We have seen such a deal collapse first hand when a notable society’s board realized it would lose control of a brand closely associated with the society.
Source: Scholarly Kitchen
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss. —Ralph Waldo Emerson