"People are denied access to research hidden behind paywalls every day. This problem is invisible, but it slows innovation, kills curiosity and harms patients. This is an indictment of the current system. Open Access has given us the solution to this problem by allowing everyone to read and re-use research. … By using the button you’ll help show the impact of this problem, drive awareness of the issue, and help change the system. Furthermore, the Open Access Button has several ways of helping you get access to the research you need right now."
While the development of open access (OA) publishing and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been labeled a disruption to publishing and the academic community, a new study out today in SAGE Open finds that OA has a more tempered impact on scholarship while the impact of MOOCs on teaching is more severe.
The revolution will be complicated: entwined agendasStand up and be counted: the #PDFtribute protestBy any means necessary: JSTOR Liberator and Papester:Recuperate & reconcile: Dan Cohen’s “The Other Academy Awards”A Global Library: proposal for OARReR – Open Access Repository, Requestor, & Resolver
Andrew Spong's insight:
Click on the title link to read the full text of this thoughtful post on tjm.org
A long piece, but this is a step up from the usual drivel as The Literary Platform has sensibly included comments from a number of people who are *actually doing* innovative things in publishing rather than talking about what it *might be like* to do innovative things in publishing.
Click on the title link above to read the full article.
First, universities could alter their intellectual property policies to assert that faculty scholarship is, in fact, work made for hire. The legal argument here is simple and persuasive, that faculty work is created by regular employees within the scope of their employment. Courts have recognized this argument for years, but universities have rightly been unwilling to press the case, for fear of doing harm to relations with their faculty members. But as the scholarly publication system increasingly fails to adapt to the radical new conditions created in the digital environment, it is possible to imagine a policy change like this undertaken with the cooperation of the faculty authors themselves.
Second, universities would need to undertake to affect this revolution would be to require that all assessments be based on article-level metrics applied to openly available works. This change sounds very radical, but some institutions are already moving towards it. At the University of Liege, in Belgium, it is already the case that faculty assessment is done only for articles that are in the university’s open access repository; this was the way Liege decided to put teeth into their open access mandate. But universities could require open access and article-level evaluation measures while still supporting a variety of publication models.
And that is the final point to be made about this make-believe revolution. If universities carried it out, it would free up more money than it would cost. Once academic publication in commercial journals was halted, library collection budgets could be redirected. Instead of a long transition period during which costs would be expected to rise because both subscription models and open access based on article processing charges would have to be supported, which is what the Finch Report predicted in the U.K., this suggestion would allow for wholesale cancellation of commercial publications. The money saved would then be available to build up the infrastructure for repositories and to support APCs for gold open access publication.
Authors would have a choice – they could publish in an OA journal or they could publish directly to the institution’s repository. Peer review could be preserved in a distributed model; OA journals would continue to support traditional peer review, while some of the money saved from commercial subscriptions could be redirected to a more independent, discipline-specific system of peer-review. This would provide an important role for scholarly societies, and subventions provided to support such society-run peer-review would help protect those organizations from any negative consequences of this radical re-visioning of the publication system. Societies and non-profit presses, of course, could also find support through the publication of gold OA journals and even monographs. University funds from library collection budgets would be more distributed than they are now, able to be used more efficiently to support activities genuinely central to the academic mission, and they would, I believe, be more than adequate to the task.
Informa plc, the multinational that owns the Taylor & Francis and Routledge imprints, became a Jersey company in 2009, formally domiciled in Zug, the canton with the lowest tax rates in Switzerland.
Of course, there may have been compelling commercial reasons for the company to spend, according to its accounts, £4.3 million on the move, largely on relocating its senior executives, but its shareholders certainly benefited from a reduction in the company's tax bill.
So how much do academic publishers make from their journals? It is a crucial issue that appears not to have been explored by the Finch working group on open access.
No doubt the several publishers in the group were pleased with the unambiguous statement buried in its 140-page report: "Publishers - whether commercial or not-for-profit - should be able to generate revenues to meet the costs of those services they provide that are valued by researchers and their readers."
Few would disagree that commercial publishers should be able to cover their costs and reap some profit from their investment. The figures in their accounts, however, give pause for thought. We found companies enjoying profit margins as high as 53 per cent on academic publishing. That compares with 6.9 per cent for electricity utilities, 5.2 per cent for food suppliers and 2.5 per cent for newspapers.
More than half of Informa's total annual operating profit was derived from academic publishing - £85.8 million in 2010.
Looking further into the figures, it appears that academic publishing produced a net operating profit margin for the company of more than 27 per cent, compared with less than 5 per cent derived from its "events" division.
Comparison with other publishers' public accounts suggests that journals themselves provide a gross profit margin of around 70 per cent.
The world’s second-biggest publisher of scientific research journals is being groomed for a sale that is likely to value it among Europe’s largest private equity transactions since the credit crisis.
I have learned that EQT, a Swedish investment firm, and the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore (GIC) are in the process of hiring investment banks to solicit offers for Springer Science and Business Media.
Based in Germany, Springer’s journals are distributed widely throughout Europe and have a prominent presence in the UK.
People close to the situation say that the company, which made about £250m of profit in 2011, is likely to be valued at £2.5bn or more when a sale process begins next year.
EQT and GIC are expected to pursue a so-called dual-track process through which they will explore both an outright sale as well as a stock market listing for Springer, which would be likely to take place in Frankfurt.
The decision to exit their investment will be noted by rival British publishers such as Reed Elsevier and Informa, although it is unlikely that either company will bid for Springer.
Informa pulled out of a deal to buy Springer in December 2009 amid pressure from shareholders unhappy about the stewardship of the company.
The market for scientific, technical and medical publishing has historically been lucrative, although the main players have been wrestling with changing dynamics in the market because of moves to liberalise access to much of its content.
The environment for large debt-led buyouts of companies has been subdued since the credit crisis began in 2008 because of the comparative dearth of credit.
The Piccadilly branch of the UK bookseller Waterstones spoofed E. L. James and Fifty Shades of Grey, creating an eye-catching display of titles from Persephone Books–the sleek covers all decorated with the same “One Shade of Grey.”
We’ve embedded a photograph of the display above, it reads: “Oh the bliss of Persephone Books! Beautiful editions of titles by neglected female writers.” Persephone Books is a UK publisher that releases both fiction and nonfiction. You can explore their catalog at this link.
Here’s more from the publisher: “Waterstones in Piccadilly has become our new favourite shop ever – totally without telling us they have done this fantastic display – very many thanks to cathyreadsbooks for taking the photograph. For weeks we have resisted making comments about really good grey books as opposed to really not good – ‘One Shade of Grey’ is a far wittier way of doing it.”
[AS: My wife is a keen reader and collector of vintage Virago and Persephone titles, and whilst they may look stunning from the front, they're just horrendous to look at side-on.
Aside from the wide variance in pantone in the dust jackets themselves (nothing to do with tanning, all purchased new), the alignment of the text on the spines is... just hideous.
Like a row of crooked teeth staring back at your.
Persephone's lamentable lack of quality control is an insult to their readership, particularly bearing in mind the premium price tag they carry.]
'Scholarly publishing is broken[...] and I don’t want to be complicit in this brokenness anymore, just because it serves some of my purposes, some of the time.
My article will be about three years old when it finally appears. Older, actually, because it’s based on a survey that took some time to complete. It will be historical by the time it appears. It’s going to be out of the page proofs stage by September of this year, then sit in a digital drawer for two more years before it gets printed. As the bemused editor wrote to me, the brave new world of academic editing of commercially-published journals “both requires that we publish scholarship and that we don’t publish scholarship.”
This current publishing system is broken. It pits our desires for reputation and stature against a true public good, and removes the whole thing from academic hands to place it into commercial ones who have been quite canny at exploiting our desires for status and our lack of desire for detail work in marketing, bean counting, and publication.'
Whilst the five largest trade publishers in the U.S. published just 7.6% of all ebook titles between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, their title offering garnered roughly 50% of ebook sales volume during that period.
ebook publishing is eroding the market share of the largest trade publishers, which stood at 65.1% less than a decade ago.
Andrew Spong's insight:
2013 data will reveal a modest reversal of this trend, I'd imagine (i.e. more supply, reduced volume of total sales). However, the overarching trend seems clear.
Activists pushing for free, open access to academic papers will eventually defeat publishers who seek to lock scholarly findings behind paywalls, the founder of the world wide web said today.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who revolutionised the way we access information on the internet through the creation of the world wide web over 20 years ago, has been a vocal proponent for making data freely available while also protecting people’s privacy.
Higher education institutions and individuals pay millions every year to academic journals to subscribe to academic journals but open access activists, including the recently deceased Aaron Swartz, have been pushing for free access to scholarly findings.
“I think that the open access activists will win out,” said Sir Tim, speaking at the launch of the $40 million CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services Flagship on Tuesday.
“A lot of publishers realise that’s the way that is going. The unfortunate death of Aaron Swartz brought… that whole battle to many people’s attention,” he said, adding that an open access model gives the most benefit to the most people.
“There is a fairness argument, for people in Africa, people who are not at large universities, there are people who just don’t have access to the papers,” he said, adding that access to the data that informs academic papers is also important.
“A lot of the data is publicly funded already so it should be available and a lot of the publishers are moving to open access models.”
The world of ed-tech is ramping up another notch, and getting a lot more open in the process: educational publishing giant Elsevieris in advanced talks to buy Mendeley, a London/New York-based provider of a platform for academics to share research and collaborate with each other via a social network. TechCrunch understands from sources close to the companies that the deal is underway and should close this quarter, possibly by the end of February — all things being equal — and will be in the region of $100 million.
The news comes at a pretty busy time for Mendeley: it has also closed a recent round of funding — value undisclosed but thought to be under $10 million — with investors including Access Industries, Passion Capital, Tom Glocer(Ex-CEO Thomson Reuters), and UK-based Andurance Ventures.
Prior to today, the company had only publicly disclosed a raise of $2 million from Passion’s Stefan Glaenzer, Alex Zubillaga and Ambient Sound Investments.
Elsevier was contacted for comment and a spokesperson had this to say: “Elsevier often looks at acquiring companies that could improve our customer offering and add value. Some we end up acquiring, most we do not. In all cases, as I’m sure you understand it’s never good to address speculative questions, regardless if they’re on target or not, and we’ll take the same approach here.”
Mendeley, meanwhile, did not confirm nor deny the news: “We don’t comment on rumors,” Mendeley’s CEO and co-founder Victor Henning told TechCrunch.
TechCrunch also understands that there had been others approaching Mendeley, including Thompson Reuters and Nature Publishing, a division of Macmillan, owned by Holtzbrinck Publishing Group — “effectively, the other big players in the world that Mendeley is disrupting,” said TC’s source.
Since being founded in 2008, Mendeley has gone from strength to strength on its guiding principle of open source and free access to research data — a timely message given recent, tragic events.
Its database covers over 340 million documents, posted by more than 2.1 million members and nearly 206,000 research groups. Riding the boom in tablets, smartphones and light software in the form of apps, Mendeley has also made a move into educational apps based on that content base. As of August 2012, there were 240 research apps generating 100 million API calls per month (with amore recent reference showing 260 apps).
Mendeley was originally pitched to investors as a kind of “Last.fm for research” — an approach that would have appealed to Glaenzer, an early backer of the music service — for how it would not only serve as a database of research, but also use algorithms to search and extract data relevant for different users.
Mendeley doesn’t make money on apps built on its platform. Instead it generates revenue from its data dashboard product. In August, the company said this revenue was in the region of “tens of thousands of dollars” per month with “plenty of runway” for the next couple of years. Early customers include the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Nevada, Reno, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council Japan.
But while Mendeley has often been mentioned as the disruptor to companies like Elsevier, it’s also been a partner: in 2011, when Elsevier shuttered its 2collab collaboration platform, Mendeley was the company endorsed by Elsevier for those who wanted to transfer and continuing work on their 2collab libraries.
Indeed, Elsevier has been trying to keep up, but with an approach that has been decidedly more proprietary, and arguably less successful. Its own Scopus platform — which includes actual content — is behind a paywall and as of August, its SciVerse applications platform has generated 100 apps, less than half the number of apps as Mendeley’s. It’s a credit to Elsevier that it’s now taking a different route, one that is looking to a more open future for educational data.
Andrew Spong's insight:
Any question on Elsevier's part as to whether the existing Mendeley user community may look favourably upon their possible acquisition have been robustly answered by the immediate creation of the #menDelete hashtag, with high-profile voices in the science conversation on the social web such as Jonathan Eisen @phylogenomics expressing their unease:
An infographic titled "The Digital Publishing Explosion" gives a little history about the major milestones (if you couldn't guess, many of them involve Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) in digital publishing history and highlights some key trends about today's digital publishing landscape, including that digital readers are actually reading more books than print readers. Print readers read on average 15 books a year while the average e-book reader reads 24 books a year, according to the infographic.
3D Issue predicts 760 million tablets to be in use around the world by 2016.
As ebooks become more popular and more readers have devices on which to read ebook files, other branches of publishing outside the trade are adapting.
Scholarly publisher BioMed Central will publish its latest journals in EPUB format, a more modern and flexible format than what the publisher previously had used: PDF. The company is among the first academic publisher to make such a switch.
“This is actually a pretty big development in scholarly publishing circles. Virtually all scholarly publishing is in PDF, which effectively makes them hard or even impossible to view on mobile platforms,” said digital media consultant Joseph Esposito.
The first EPUB files from the publisher are now available for the Journal of Neuroinflammation. The publisher announced the move on its blog today and cited the “rapid growth” of ebooks and e-reading and the availability of e-reading devices that can handle EPUB as its reasons. Quality of the product the company outputs may also be a consideration.
“Beyond screen reading, the PDF format really has limited opportunities for doing interesting programmatic explorations of the texts,” said Matthew Bernius, former co-director of the Open Publishing Lab at the Rochester Institute of Technology and current Ph.D. student at Cornell University studying the future of journalism in the U.S.
BioMed Central, in addition to being forward thinking on content format, is an open access publisher, which means that, once published, it makes its content widely and freely available on the Web. Open access publishing is not the norm for scholarly publishers but is gaining traction. Recently, Amherst College Press announced that it intends to become the first fully open access college press.
Drinking coffee in Italy is a quite different experience from drinking coffee in many UK coffee shops. In Italy, first you go into a bar — ”bar” in Italian doesn’t really have a direct translation into English, as it’s not the same thing as British pub, although they do have large and impressive counters — the bar itself. The person behind the bar is called a barista, which is Italian for “barman”. The barman is normally casually dressed. Assuming you want a coffee rather than food, you ask for a coffee in Italian which is, of course, the local language. The barman will turn around, fiddle with the coffee machine for a moment or two, give you a coffee and then take the 1 euro or so that is the normal charge. Most people drink this at the bar, without sitting down.
In the UK, you enter the coffee shop experience; the shops are often quite large, and involve sofas. The shop assistant is not a shop assistant but a “barista” which is not English. Baristas are, of course, trained and have the stars on their name badge to show it. You will ask for what you want, which you will describe also not in English, such as a “skinny, grande latte” which is Italian for, well, actually very little. The barista will fiddle with their machines for several minutes — thump, thump, thump to clean the old grounds, tsch, tsch, tsch to create the new, clunk, clunk clunk — pssssss, ahhhh. The coffee will then be served, often with a sprinkle of chocolate patterned with a pleasing corporate logo. You will give them the 3 pounds which is the normal charge. They will stamp your loyalty card.
The coffee will fail notably to taste any better than in Italy.
The reason for all of this fuss is called market segmentation: in the UK, coffee is a luxury experience; in Italy, it is a drink. You need all of this additional fuss to validate the price that you are paying; otherwise, you would feel like you were being ripped off. The irony, of course, is that the fuss does cost to provide, so then the price goes up even more. In the UK, I rarely drink coffee, which is a pity as a coffee (or espresso as we like to call it here) is quite nice in the morning.
My experience with academic authoring and publishing is rather like this. The process is surrounded by an enormous amount of mystique and hard work which adds relatively little to the process, but whose purpose is to convince the author that it is all really important, and well worth the cost (either 1000 pounds or copyright assignment which ever is the case), and time.
So, which parts of the publishing process do not actually make the coffee taste any better?
WordPress powers one of every 6 websites on the Internet, nearly 60 million in all, with 100,000 more popping up each day. Those run through its cloud-hosted service, which lets anybody create a free website online, attract 330 million visitors who view 3.4 billion pages every month.
Given the ubiquity of WordPress, why isn’t founder Matt Mullenweg, now 28, a billionaire?
Since its founding in 2005 Automattic has chosen scale over scratch, giving away much for free. Only 1% of WordPress.com devotees pay. Not among them: users of WordPress.org (the open-source version), who run servers and implement the software themselves. A small percentage has only recently been coaxed into paying for additional features like file backups. Automattic implemented an ad-sharing service–on a limited basis–just last year.
The company is profitable, he adds, having doubled sales every year since 2005. Yet Automattic projects just $45 million in sales for 2012, a small whorl of its enormous footprint.
[AS: STweM is proud to be powered by WordPress.com. I chose it as my CMS in 2008 because it was the best option available, not because I was aware of, or understood, the founder's principles.
Four years later, it is much more than just a CMS, and a leading a social business case study, and a force for social good.]
I get paid nothing directly for the most difficult, time-consuming writing I do: peer-reviewed academic articles. In fact a journal that owned the copyright to one of my articles made me pay $400 for permission to reprint my own writing in a book of my essays.
When I became an academic, those inconsistencies made a sort of sense: Academic journals, especially in the social sciences, were published by struggling, nonprofit university presses that could ill afford to pay for content, refereeing, or editing. It was expected that, in the vast consortium that our university system constitutes, our own university would pay our salary, and we would donate our writing and critical-reading skills to the system in return.
The system involved a huge exchange of gifted labor that produced little in the way of profit for publishers and a lot in the way of professional solidarity and interdependence for the participants. The fact that academic journals did not compensate the way commercial magazines and newspapers did only made academic publishing seem less vulgar and more valuable.
But in recent years the academic journals have largely been taken over by for-profit publishing behemoths such as Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley-Blackwell. And quite a profit they make, too: In 2010 Elsevier reported profits of 36 percent on revenues of $3.2-billion. Last year its chief executive, Erik Engstrom, earned $4.6-million.
One reason those companies make good profits for their shareholders and pay such high salaries to their leaders is that they are in a position to charge high prices. The open-access debate has focused mainly on the exorbitant fees for-profit publishers charge libraries for bundles of journal subscriptions, but I am struck by what they charge ordinary citizens to read my individual articles.
If you wanted to know whether that spot on your lung in the X-ray required an operation, whether the deed to the house you were purchasing had been recorded properly, or whether the chimney on your house was in danger of collapsing, you would be willing to pay a hefty fee to specialists who had spent many years acquiring the relevant expertise. Taylor & Francis, however, thinks I should be paid nothing for my expert judgment and for four hours of my time.
So why not try this: If academic work is to be commodified and turned into a source of profit for shareholders and for the 1 percent of the publishing world, then we should give up our archaic notions of unpaid craft labor and insist on professional compensation for our expertise, just as doctors, lawyers, and accountants do.
This does not mean we would never referee articles free. Just as the lawyer who is my neighbor bills corporate clients a hefty fee but represents prisoners in Guantánamo pro bono, so academics could referee without charge for nonprofit presses but insist on professional rates of compensation from for-profit publishers that expect us to donate our labor while paying mansion salaries to their chief executives and top managers.
We could also insist that these publishers pay a modest fee to acquire our intellectual content if they publish our articles. To prevent chaos, our professional associations could recommend standard fees for refereeing articles and for compensating authors of articles.
Corporate publishers will complain that this suggestion, if adopted, would undermine the profitability of their industry. I will leave this question to the accountants. But I do know that if a factory said it could not be profitable without paying less than minimum wage, decent people would respond that it is indecent to pay people below minimum wage for honest work.
If a for-profit business cannot prosper without demanding huge amounts of free labor, then surely the business model needs reinventing. And if enough professors refuse to referee without compensation, the reinvention will begin.
There’s no gentle introduction to this, so I’ll get right to my point:
Librarians, this is a call to action.
SUNY Potsdam will not be subscribing to an American Chemical Society online journal package for 2013. We will instead be using a combination of the Royal Society of Chemistry content, ACS single title subscriptions, the ACS backfile, and ScienceDirect from Elsevier** to meet our chemical information needs. We’re doing this because the ACS pricing model is unsustainable for our institution and we were unable to find common ground with the sales team from the ACS. Instead, we explored other options and exercised them. You could do the same if you find yourself in a position similar to ours as ACS standardizes their pricing, and maybe together we can make enough choices to make our voices heard in meaningful ways.
So here’s how we got here...
[AS: Click on the title link above to read Jenica's full post on her blog in which she provides a model of outstanding leadership for the academic librarian community.]
Amazon is trying to lighten the load for college students heading back to campuses this Fall. The company announced today that they are launching a textbook rental service for co-eds to get books on a per semester basis.
Textbook costs have always been a significant portion of a student’s yearly fees, forcing kids and parents to spend upwards of $600 a year at collegiate bookstores just for class required materials.
With Amazon’s new service, students simply search for their required reading books on the site and pay the fee (Amazon says its service can save students as much as 70 percent off the retail price). At the end of the semester, students must return the book — Amazon will even foot the cost of return shipping.
Students will have to pay for the original shipping costs though. Luckily, Amazon offers its’ Prime membership to students so expedited and free shipping become options. Or students can order more than $25 to waive shipping fees — something that won’t be too difficult with usual courseloads.
Last year, Amazon began offering rental digital books on Kindles, but this new service opens up access to students who are required to bring hardcover books to class or who like the feeling of old-fashioned paper and pen studying.
The company allows textbooks to be rented for 130 days, the usual duration of a college semester, but students can renew books for an extra 15 days for an additional fee. The terms and condition are somewhat strict on the condition books are returned in, including no excessive highlighting and writing and no stains or missing pages.