How to achieve short-term green open access and long-term radical reform of scholarly communication. The BitViews Project as a test case

Author : Manfredi La Manna

The Open Access movement has reached adulthood, but not maturity: fewer than one-third of newly-published peer-reviewed articles are available open access (OA) and progress widening OA has stalled.

Scores of uncoordinated initiatives try to achieve universal OA, but academic journal publishing is still dominated by a handful of powerful commercial publishers. Individual authors show little interest in OA and indeed have to be mandated (see the UK REF or Plan S) to release their research on OA.

The BitViews Project is a low-cost, no-risk, high-return initiative to turn all academic journals «green» through a combination of blockchain technology, provision of appropriate incentives to authors, and a new crowdfunding mechanism.

The project is predicated on the active participation of individual libraries taking direct action. The paper will provide an interim report on the progress of the project and an account of how libraries and their various associations (both in the global South and in the global North) have reacted to the project.

The concluding section of the paper sketches a possible direction for academic journal publishing in the near future. Huge savings and increased efficiency can flow to the academy from finally dissolving its current one-sided contract with publishers and from reclaiming control of the peer-review process.

Practical and incentive-based suggestions are proposed for the transition from publisher-owned to academy-owned peer review.