Criticizing Paywall Publishing, or Integrating Open Access into Feminist Movement

Authors : Meggie Mapes, Teri Terigele

Dominant scholarly publishing models, reliant on expensive paywalls, remain preferential throughout higher education’s landscape. This essay engages paywall publishing from a feminist communicative perspective by asking, how can publishing extend or prohibit feminist movements? Or, as Nancy Fraser (2013) asks, “which modes of feminist theorizing should be incorporated into the new political imaginaries now being invented by new generations” (2)? With these questions in mind, we integrate feminist epistemologies into publishing practices to argue that open access is integral to the feminist movement.

The argument unfolds in three parts: first, we conduct a feminist criticism of paywall publishing by arguing that status quo practices constitute a dominant public based on onto-epistemological foundations of exclusion that systematically subordinate potentially liberatory knowledge Second, we consider open access as a feminist re-tooling that creates new political imaginaries.

In this section, we place open access in conversation with bell hooks’s conception of literacy and Fraser’s counterpublic theory. We conclude by considering how to live feminist lives with these criticisms and re-toolings in mind.

URL : Criticizing Paywall Publishing, or Integrating Open Access into Feminist Movement


Open(ing) Access: Top Health Publication Availability to Researchers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Authors : John L. Kilgallon, Saumya Khanna, Tanujit Dey, Timothy R. Smith, Kavitha Ranganathan


Improving access to information for health professionals and researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is under-prioritized. This study examines publication policies that affect authors and readers from LMICs.


We used the SHERPA RoMEO database and publicly available publishing protocols to evaluate open access (OA) policies, article processing charges (APCs), subscription costs, and availability of health literature relevant to authors and readers in LMICs.

Categorical variables were summarized using frequencies with percentages. Continuous variables were reported with median and interquartile range (IQR).

Hypothesis testing procedures were performed using Wilcoxon rank sum tests, Wilcoxon rank sum exact tests, and Kruskal-Wallis test.


A total of 55 journals were included; 6 (11%) were Gold OA (access to readers and large charge for authors), 2 (3.6%) were subscription (charge for readers and small/no charge for authors), 4 (7.3%) were delayed OA (reader access with no charge after embargo), and 43 (78%) were hybrid (author’s choice).

There was no significant difference between median APC for life sciences, medical, and surgical journals ($4,850 [$3,500–$8,900] vs. $4,592 [$3,500–$5,000] vs. $3,550 [$3,200–$3,860]; p = 0.054). The median US individual subscription costs (USD/Year) were significantly different for life sciences, medical, and surgical journals ($259 [$209–$282] vs. $365 [$212–$744] vs. $455 [$365–$573]; p = 0.038), and similar for international readers.

A total of seventeen journals (42%) had a subscription price that was higher for international readers than for US readers.


Most journals offer hybrid access services. Authors may be forced to choose between high cost with greater reach through OA and low cost with less reach publishing under the subscription model under current policies.

International readers face higher costs. Such hindrances may be mitigated by a greater awareness and liberal utilization of OA policies.

URL : Open(ing) Access: Top Health Publication Availability to Researchers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries


How are academic libraries in Spanish-speaking Latin America responding to new models of scholarly communication and predatory publishing?

Author : Jairo Buitrago Ciro

The topic of predatory publishing and ways to combat it is garnering considerable attention in many parts of the developed world, where academic librarians are emerging as leaders in this regard. However, less is known about how this phenomenon is playing out in developing regions, including Spanish-speaking Latin America.

This study presents the results of a survey of 104 academic librarians in this region, along with follow-up interviews with seven respondents. The findings reveal that scholarly publishing literacy in general, and predatory publishing in particular, currently has low visibility in this part of the world, although there is growing recognition of and increasing concern about the issue.

Although there is some debate about whether scholarly publishing literacy should be the sole responsibility of the library, many participants agree that the library has a role to play. Moreover, while most of the librarians who participated perceive that they have a solid knowledge of open access, they are less confident in their understanding of predatory practices and are seeking to increase their skills and knowledge in this regard to better support researchers at their institutions.

To address this shortcoming, academic librarians in the region have expressed an interest in receiving training and in participating in international collaborations with other libraries that have already developed resources or programming in this area.

URL : How are academic libraries in Spanish-speaking Latin America responding to new models of scholarly communication and predatory publishing?


Fast, Furious and Dubious? MDPI and the Depth of Peer Review Reports

Authors : Abdelghani Maddi, Chérifa Boukacem-Zeghmouri

Peer review is a central component of scholarly communication as it brings trust and quality control for scientific knowledge. One of its goals is to improve the quality of manuscripts and prevent the publication of work resulting from dubious or misconduct practices.

In a context marked by a massification of scientific production, the reign of Publish or Perish rule and the acceleration of research, journals are leaving less and less time to reviewers to produce their reports. It is therefore is crucial to study whether these regulations have an impact on the length of reviewer reports.

Here, we address the example of MDPI, a Swiss Open Access publisher, depicted as a Grey Publisher and well known for its short deadlines, by analyzing the depth of its reviewer reports and its counterparts. For this, we used Publons data with 61,197 distinct publications reviewed by 86,628 reviewers.

Our results show that, despite the short deadlines, when they accept to review a manuscript, reviewers assume their responsibility and do their job in the same way regardless of the publisher, and write on average the same number of words.

Our results suggest that, even if MDPI’s editorial practices may be questionable, as long as peer review is assured by researchers themselves, publications are evaluated similarly.

URL : Fast, Furious and Dubious? MDPI and the Depth of Peer Review Reports


CORE: A Global Aggregation Service for Open Access Papers

Authors : Petr Knoth, Drahomira Herrmannova, Matteo Cancellieri, Lucas Anastasiou, Nancy Pontika, Samuel Pearce, Bikash Gyawali, David Pride

This paper introduces CORE, a widely used scholarly service, which provides access to the world’s largest collection of open access research publications, acquired from a global network of repositories and journals.

CORE was created with the goal of enabling text and data mining of scientific literature and thus supporting scientific discovery, but it is now used in a wide range of use cases within higher education, industry, not-for-profit organisations, as well as by the general public.

Through the provided services, CORE powers innovative use cases, such as plagiarism detection, in market-leading third-party organisations. CORE has played a pivotal role in the global move towards universal open access by making scientific knowledge more easily and freely discoverable.

In this paper, we describe CORE’s continuously growing dataset and the motivation behind its creation, present the challenges associated with systematically gathering research papers from thousands of data providers worldwide at scale, and introduce the novel solutions that were developed to overcome these challenges.

The paper then provides an in-depth discussion of the services and tools built on top of the aggregated data and finally examines several use cases that have leveraged the CORE dataset and services.

URL : CORE: A Global Aggregation Service for Open Access Papers


The Platformisation of Scholarly Information and How to Fight It

Author : Lai Ma

The commercial control of academic publishing and research infrastructure by a few oligopolistic companies has crippled the development of open access movement and interfered with the ethical principles of information access and privacy.

In recent years, vertical integration of publishers and other service providers throughout the research cycle has led to platformisation, characterized by datafication and commodification similar to practices on social media platforms. Scholarly publications are treated as user-generated contents for data tracking and surveillance, resulting in profitable data products and services for research assessment, benchmarking and reporting.

Meanwhile, the bibliodiversity and equal open access are denied by the dominant gold open access model and the privacy of researchers is being compromised by spyware embedded in research infrastructure.

This article proposes four actions to fight the platformisation of scholarly information after a brief overview of the market of academic journals and research assessments and their implications for bibliodiversity, information access, and privacy: (1) Educate researchers about commercial publishers and APCs; (2) Allocate library budget to support scholar-led and library publishing; (3) Engage in the development of public research infrastructures and copyright reform; and (4) Advocate for research assessment reforms.

URL : The Platformisation of Scholarly Information and How to Fight It


The rise of preprints in earth sciences

Authors : Olivier Pourret, Daniel Enrique Ibarra

The rate of science information’s spread has accelerated in recent years. In this context, it appears that many scientific disciplines are beginning to recognize the value and possibility of sharing open access (OA) online manuscripts in their preprint form.

Preprints are academic papers that are published but have not yet been evaluated by peers. They have existed in research at least since the 1960s and the creation of ArXiv in physics and mathematics. Since then, preprint platforms—which can be publisher- or community-driven, profit or not for profit, and based on proprietary or free and open source software—have gained popularity in many fields (for example, bioRxiv for the biological sciences).

Today, there are many platforms that are either disciplinary-specific or cross-domain, with exponential development over the past ten years. Preprints as a whole still make up a very small portion of scholarly publishing, but a large group of early adopters are testing out these value-adding tools across a much wider range of disciplines than in the past.

In this opinion article, we provide perspective on the three main options available for earth scientists, namely EarthArXiv, ESSOAr/ESS Open Archive and EGUsphere.