Open or Ajar? Openness within the Neoliberal Academy

Authors : Kevin Sanders, Simon Bowie

The terms ‘open’ and ‘openness’ are widely used across the current higher education environment particularly in the areas of repository services and scholarly communications.

Open-access licensing and open-source licensing are two prevalent manifestations of open culture within higher education research environments. As theoretical ideals, open-licensing models aim at openness and academic freedom.

But operating as they do within the context of global neoliberalism, to what extent are these models constructed by, sustained by, and co-opted by neoliberalism?

In this paper, we interrogate the use of open-licensing within scholarly communications and within the larger societal context of neoliberalism. Through synthesis of various sources, we will examine how open access licensing models have been constrained by neoliberal or otherwise corporate agendas, how open access and open scholarship have been reframed within discourses of compliance, how open-source software models and software are co-opted by politico-economic forces, and how the language of ‘openness’ is widely misused in higher education and repository services circles to drive agendas that run counter to actually increasing openness.

We will finish by suggesting ways to resist this trend and use open-licensing models to resist neoliberal agendas in open scholarship.

URL : Open or Ajar? Openness within the Neoliberal Academy

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The role of learned societies in national scholarly publishing

Authors : Elina Late, Laura Korkeamäki, Janne Pölönen, Sami Syrjämäki

This study examines the role of learned societies as publishers in Finland based on bibliographic information from two Finnish databases. We studied the share of learned societies’ peer‐reviewed publication channels (serials with ISSNs and book publishers with distinct ISBN roots) and outputs (journal articles, conference articles, book articles, and monographs) in Finland.

We also studied the share of learned societies’ open access (OA) publications. In 2018, there were 402 peer‐reviewed publication channels in Finland. In 2011–2017, the number of peer‐reviewed publications from scholars working in Finnish universities and published in Finland was 17,724.

Learned societies publish around 70% of these channels and publications, mostly in the fields of humanities and social sciences. Learned societies in Finland focus on journal publishing, whereas university presses and commercial publishers focus on book publishing. In 2016–2017, 38.4% of the learned societies’ outputs were OA.

This study concludes that Finnish learned societies play an integral part in national scholarly publishing. They play an especially important role in journal publishing, as commercial publishers produce only 2.6% of Finnish journals and book series, and only 1.4% of the journal articles from scholars working in Finnish universities.


Open and Shut: Open Access in Hybrid Educational Technology Journals 2010 – 2017

Authors: Eamon Costello, Tom Farrelly, Tony Murphy

Little is known about open access publishing in educational technology journals that employ a hybrid model which charges authors only if they wish to publish via gold open access.

In this study we sought to address this gap in the scholarly understanding of open access publishing in hybrid journals that publish research into the intersection of education and technology.

We analysed three categories of article access types: gold, green, and limited access, and collected data on their prevalence in the seven-year period from 2010-2017 across 29 journals.

Data was gathered from Scopus, Unpaywall, Sherpa RoMEO, and via manual searches of the journal websites, resulting in a dataset comprising the metadata of 8,479 articles.

Our findings highlight that most research remains locked behind paywalls, that open access publishing through legal means is a minority activity for the scholars involved, and that the complexity and costs of legal open access publishing in these journals may be inhibiting the accessibility of research to readers.

URL : Open and Shut: Open Access in Hybrid Educational Technology Journals 2010 – 2017


Transformation: the future of society publishing

Authors : Tasha Mellins-Cohen, Gaynor Redvers-Mutton

The release in September 2018 of Plan S has led many small and society publishers to examine their business models, and in particular ways to transform their journals from hybrids into pure open access (OA) titles.

This paper explores one means by which a society publisher might transform, focused specifically on the institutional set-price publish and read (P&R) package being developed by the Microbiology Society based on assessments of: the geographic diversity of our author and subscriber bases; trends in article numbers, article costs and revenues; the administrative complexity of the options; and the reputational and financial risks to the Society associated with the package.

We outline the process we followed to calculate the financial and publishing implications of P&R at different price points, and share our view that these kinds of packages are a stop on the way to new models of OA that do not rely on article processing charges (APCs).

Our hope is that in sharing our experience, we will contribute to a collective best practice about how to transform society publishing.

URL : Transformation: the future of society publishing


Scholarly journal publishing in transition: from restricted to open access

Author : Bo-Christer Björk

While the business models used in most segments of the media industry have been profoundly changed by the Internet surprisingly little has been changed in the publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals.

Electronic delivery has become the norm, but the same publishers as before are dominating the market, selling content to subscribers. This article asks the question why Open Access (OA) to the output of mainly publicly funded research hasn’t yet become the mainstream business model.

OA implies a reversal of business logic from readers paying for content to authors paying fro dissemination via universa free access. The current situation is analyzed using Porter’s five forces model.

The analysis demonstrates a lack of competitive pressure in this industry, leading to so high profit levels of the leading publishers that they have yet to feel a strong need to change the way they operate.


Thought Experiment on the Impact of Plan S on non-Plan S countries and Japan

Author : Miho Funamori

In September 2018, a consortium of eleven European research funding agencies known as cOAlition S announced “Plan S,” which requires full and immediate Open Access to all research publications stemming from projects funded by the agencies.

The goal of making research output openly available to all has been generally welcomed; however, the strict requirements of Plan S, which take effect on January 1, 2020, have drawn criticisms from various stakeholders. Researchers from affected countries considered it a violation of their academic freedom, as they will be forced to publish only in conforming journals.

Publishers, especially those publishing high profile journals, claim that it will be impossible to sustain their business if forced to convert to Open Access journals and to rely solely on article processing charges. Institutions operating their own Open Access platforms or Open Access repositories view the requirements as well-intended but difficult to meet.

Despite the turmoil, little has been heard from non-Plan S countries, especially from non-English speaking countries outside Europe. There have been scarcely any comments or analyses relating to the impact of Plan S on these non-Plan S countries.

This paper aims to fill the gap with a thought experiment on the impact of Plan S requirements on various stakeholders in these non-Plan S countries. The analysis concludes that non-Plan S countries are indirectly affected by Plan S by being forced to adapt to the world standard that Plan S sets forth.

As many non-Plan S countries lack support for this transition from their respective funding agencies, they will be seriously disadvantaged to adapt to the new standards. The article processing charge for publishing in Open Access journals and the strict requirements for Open Access platforms could suppress research output from non-Plan S countries and reduce their research competitiveness.

Local publishers, whose financial position in many cases is already precarious, may be forced to shut down or merge with larger commercial publishers. As scholarly communication is globally interconnected, the author argues the need to consider the impact of Plan S on non-Plan S countries and explore alternative ways for realizing full and immediate OA by learning from local practices.

This analysis uses Japan as an exemplar of non-Plan S countries. Its distinctiveness is specified where applicable.


Adoption of the open access business model in scientific journal publishing – A cross-disciplinary study

Authors : Bo-Christer Björk, Timo Korkeamäki

Scientific journal publishers have over the past twenty-five years rapidly converted to predominantly electronic dissemination, but the reader-pays business model continues to dominate the market.

Open Access (OA) publishing, where the articles are freely readable on the net, has slowly increased its market share to near 20%, but has failed to fulfill the visions of rapid proliferation predicted by many early proponents.

The growth of OA has also been very uneven across fields of science. We report market shares of open access in eighteen Scopus-indexed disciplines ranging from 27% (agriculture) to 7% (business).

The differences become far more pronounced for journals published in the four countries, which dominate commercial scholarly publishing (US, UK, Germany and the Netherlands). We present contrasting developments within six academic disciplines.

Availability of funding to pay publication charges, pressure from research funding agencies, and the diversity of discipline-specific research communication cultures arise as potential explanations for the observed differences.