The dialectic of open

Presentation to the Canadian Communication Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, June 6, 2019.

Abstract

In contemporary Western society the word open is used as if the concept were essentially good. This is a logical fallacy; the only concept that is in essence good is the concept good itself. In this paper I will argue that this is a dangerous fallacy that opens the door to misdirection and co-optation of genuine advocates of the public good accidentally through misconception and deliberately by actors whose motives are far from open, that a critical dialectic approach is useful to unravel and counter such fallacies, and present a simple pedagogical technique that I have found to be effective to teach critical thinking to university students in this area. The province of Ontario under the Ford government describes itself as open for business. In this context, open means open for exploitation, and closure is protection for the environment and vulnerable people. This is one example of openwashing, taking advantage of the use of the term by large numbers of “open” advocates whose work is based on very different motives.

Open access, according to the Budapest Open Access Initiative, is a potential unprecedented public good, a collective global sharing of the scholarly knowledge of humankind. A sizable portion of the open access movement is adamant that open access requires nothing less than all of the world’s scholars making their work not only free of charge, but free for downstream manipulation and re-use for commercial purposes. This frees up knowledge for creative new approaches to more rapidly advance our knowledge; it is also a new area for capitalist expansion and can be seen as selling out scholarship. Is this necessary, sufficient, or even desirable to achieve the vision of global sharing of open access? Open education can be seen as the next phase in the democratization of education, a new field for capitalist expansion, a tool for authoritarian control and/or a tool for further control of the next generation proletariat or precariat. Open government can facilitate an expansion of democracy, to further engage citizens in decision-making, a means of enhancing and improving government services, and/or another means of transitioning public services to the private sector that is typical of the (perhaps post) neoliberal era. Proactive open government can mean more transparent, accountable government; it can also mean open access to the documents and data that those in power choose to share. This paper will analyze the rhetoric of key documents from the open movements, evidence presented to support these beliefs, and explore whether these belief systems reflect myth based on misconception and/or misdirection by actors with ulterior motives using a theoretical lens drawn from the political economics, particularly Hegelian dialectics in the tradition of the Frankfurt School and contemporary Marxist analysis.

Link to full presentation:

https://ruor.uottawa.ca/handle/10393/39300

What counts in research? Dysfunction in knowledge creation & moving beyond

One of the long-term challenges to transitioning scholarly communication to open access is reliance on bibliometrics. Many authors and organizations are working to address this challenge. The purpose of this post is to share some highlights of my work in progress, a book chapter (preprint) designed to explain the current state of bibliometrics in the context of a critique of global university rankings. Some reflections in brief that are new and relevant to advocates of open access and changes in evaluation of scholarly work follow.

  • Impact:it is not logical to equate impact with quality, and further, it is dangerous to do so. Most approaches to evaluation of scholarly work assume that impact is a good thing, an indicator of quality research. I argue that this reflects a major logical flaw, and a dangerous one at that. We should be asking whether it makes sense for an individual research study (as opposed to weight of evidence gained and confirmed over many studies) should have impact. If impact is good and more impact is better, then the since-refuted study that equated vaccination with autism must be an exceptionally high quality study, whether measured by traditional citations or the real-world impact of the return of diseases such as measles. I argue that this is not a fluke, but rather a reasonable expectation of reward systems that favour innovation, not caution.  Irreproducible research, in this sense, is not a fluke but rather a logical outcome of current evaluation of scholarly work.
  • New metrics (or altmetrics) serve many purposes and should be developed and used, but should be avoided in the context of evaluating the quality of scholarship to avoid bias and manipulation. It should obvious that metrics that go beyond traditional academic citations are likely to reflect and amplify existing social biases (e.g. gender, ethnicity), and non-academic metrics such as tweets are in addition subject to manipulation by interested parties including industry and special interest groups (e.g. big pharma, big oil, big tobacco).
  • New metrics are likely to change scholarship, but not necessarily in the ways anticipated by the open access movement. For example, replacement of the journal-level citation impact by article-level citations is already very well advanced, with Elsevier in a strong position to dominate this market. Scopus metrics data is already in use by university rankings and is being sold by Elsever to the university market.
  • It is possible to evaluate scholarly research without recourse to metrics. The University of Ottawa’s collective agreement with full-time faculty reflects a model that not only avoids the problems of metrics, but is an excellent model for change in scholarly communication as it is recognized that scholarly works may take many forms. For details, see the APUO Collective Agreement 2018 – 2021 section 23.3.1 – excerpt:

23.3.1. General Whenever this agreement calls for an assessment of a Faculty Member’s scholarly activities, the following provisions shall apply.

a) The Member may submit for assessment articles, books or contributions to books, the text of presentations at conferences, reports, portions of work in progress, and, in the case of literary or artistic creation, original works and forms of expression

b) Works may be submitted in final published form, as galley proofs, as preprints of material to be published, or as final or preliminary drafts. Material accepted for publication shall be considered as equivalent to actually published material…

h) It is understood that since methods of dissemination may vary among disciplines and individuals, dissemination shall not be limited to publication in refereed journals or any particular form or method.

There may be other models; if so, I would be interested in hearing about them, please add a comment to this post or send an e-mail.

The full book chapter preprint is available here:  https://ruor.uottawa.ca/handle/10393/39088

Excerpt

This chapter begins with a brief history of scholarly journals and the origins of bibliometrics and an overview of how metrics feed into university rankings. Journal impact factor (IF), a measure of average citations to articles in a particular journal, was the sole universal standard for assessing quality of journals and articles until quite recently. IF has been widely critiqued; even Clarivate Analytics, the publisher of the Journal Citation Reports / IF, cautions against use of IF for research assessment. In the past few years there have been several major calls for change in research assessment: the 2012 San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), the 2015 Leiden Manifesto (translated into 18 languages) and the 2017 Science Europe New vision for meaningful research assessment. Meanwhile, due to rapid change in the underlying technology, practice is changing far more rapidly than most of us realize. IF has already largely been replaced by item-level citation data from Elsevier’s Scopus in university rankings. Altmetrics illustrating a wide range of uses including but moving beyond citation data, such as downloads and social media use are prominently displayed on publishers’ websites. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of how these metrics work at present, to move beyond technical critique (reliability and validity of metrics) to introduce major flaws in the logic behind metrics-based assessment of research, and to call for even more radical thought and change towards a more qualitative approach to assessment. The collective agreement of the University of Ottawa is presented as one model for change.

 

Frontiers in 2019: 3% increase in average APC

by Hamid Pashaei and Heather Morrison

The data for 2019 shows that while most 2019 journals by Frontiers incurred no changes in article processing charge comparing to 2018, but the increase in APC of 23 journals (40% of Frontier journals) is significant, with APC increases of 18% – 31%.

Frontiers currently publishes 62 journals that shows 10% growth in the number of journals comparing to 56 journals in 2018. Of these, 23 journals (40%) have an increase of $774 in article processing charges but the other journals have no change in comparison to 2018 data. Therefore, the overall increase in Article processing journals for all Frontiers open access journals is 3 percent.

The raw data for Frontiers journals in 2019:

See also:

Frontiers: 40% journals have APC increases of 18 – 31% from 2017 to 2018

BioMed Central in 2019: Sharp increase in article processing charge

by Hamid Pashaei and Heather Morrison

Update May 1, 2019:

Based on an inquiry from Christopher Pym from Springer Nature (owner of BioMedCentral) on the Global Open Access List I (Heather) have re-calculated the observed BMC pricing changes from 2018 – 2019, in GBP rather than USD. BMC reports pricing in 3 currencies (a common practice for large publishers). We use GBP for historical purposes. In brief, this re-analysis confirms our original finding of a sharp increase in APCs. 66% of BMC journals for which we have APC data in GBP for both 2018 and 2019 have increased their APCs; 61% have increased their APCs at far beyond inflationary levels, causing the overall average (including journals that did not change APCs or lowered APCs) to increase by 15%, a rate far beyond inflationary levels. We thank Christopher Pym for his interest in our research.

We have APC data for both 2018 and 2019 for 260 BMC journals. The average APC for these journals was 1,416 GBP in 2018, 1,555 GBP in 2019, an average increase of 139 GBP or an average 9% increase. The pricing changes are more complex, however, as some BMC journals have maintained or lowered their prices. In USD (using XE currency converter May 1, 2019), the average APC for these journals rose from 1,852 USD to 2,034 USD, an increase of 181 USD (note rounding error of $1).

Of the 260 BMC journals for which we have 2018 and 2018 APCs:

  • 172 (66%) increased in price
  • 55 (21%) maintained the same price
  • 33 (13%) decreased in price

Of the journals that increased in price, the range of percentage increase was from under 1% to 55%. 158 journals (61% of all journals) had APC price increases clearly beyond inflationary levels, ranging from 7% – 55%.

Because of this challenge, I have re-downloaded the BMC APC list from https://www.biomedcentral.com/getpublished/article-processing-charges/biomedcentral-prices and checked GBP pricing for several journals, finding no difference from our data gathering date of April 4.

On the basis of this selective re-analysis of 260 BMC journals for which we have price data I conclude that the average APC price increase for BMC journals is 15%, (factoring in journals that did not change APC or lowered APC), a rate far above inflation, and that the majority of BMC journals (61%) increased their APCs. This confirms our original findings of a sharp APC increase for BMC in 2019. Please note that this re-analysis using the same basic dataset but slightly different methods. The re-analysis is limited to journals for which we have data in both 2018 and 2019, and is limited to GBP. When new journals and journals no longer published by BMC are factored in, this changes the averages; there can also be differences in findings based on which currency is selected for analysis.

A list of BMC APCs in GBP in 2018 and 2019 follows, in order by percentage change (highest price increase first).

Journal Title2019 APC  (GBP)2018 APC (GBP)2019-2018 change in GBP (amount)2019 – 2018 change in GBP (percentage)
Tropical Medicine and Health157070586555%
Molecular Cancer24901,4701,02041%
Acta Neuropathologica Communications157095062039%
Particle and Fibre Toxicology21701,37080037%
Molecular Autism 21701,37080037%
Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research22901,47082036%
Journal of Hematology & Oncology24901,65084034%
BMC Pulmonary Medicine19901,37062031%
Immunity & Ageing19901,37062031%
Journal of Translational Medicine19901,37062031%
World Journal of Emergency Surgery19901,37062031%
Cardiovascular Diabetology21701,54063029%
Journal of Nanobiotechnology18701,37050027%
Pediatric Rheumatology18701,37050027%
Cell Division19901,47052026%
Genome Medicine25701,90067026%
BMC Veterinary Research15701,16540526%
Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials17901,37042023%
Behavioral and Brain Functions17901,37042023%
Cardiovascular Ultrasound17901,37042023%
Cell Communication and Signaling17901,37042023%
Diagnostic Pathology17901,37042023%
Genes & Nutrition17901,37042023%
Molecular Cytogenetics17901,37042023%
Reproductive Health17901,37042023%
Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling17901,37042023%
Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control 17901,37042023%
International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology 17901,37042023%
Thyroid Research 17901,37042023%
Clinical Epigenetics20401,56547523%
Retrovirology19901,56542521%
Journal of Physiological Anthropology12701,00027021%
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation17901,43036020%
Nutrition & Metabolism17901,43036020%
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine16901,37032019%
BMC Geriatrics16901,37032019%
BMC Medical Research Methodology16901,37032019%
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders16901,37032019%
BMC Neurology16901,37032019%
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health16901,37032019%
Clinical Sarcoma Research16901,37032019%
Conflict and Health16901,37032019%
Fluids and Barriers of the CNS16901,37032019%
Globalization and Health16901,37032019%
Head & Face Medicine16901,37032019%
International Breastfeeding Journal16901,37032019%
International Journal of Health Geographics16901,37032019%
Microbial Cell Factories16901,37032019%
Neural Development16901,37032019%
Patient Safety in Surgery16901,37032019%
Radiation Oncology16901,37032019%
Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology16901,37032019%
Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy16901,37032019%
Virology Journal16901,37032019%
Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice 16901,37032019%
Journal of Ovarian Research 16901,37032019%
Breast Cancer Research 22901,86043019%
Genome Biology23801,95043018%
Cancer Cell International17901,47032018%
Journal of Inflammation17901,47032018%
Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery16901,39030018%
Stem Cell Research & Therapy16901,39030018%
BMC Research Notes99082516517%
Biological Procedures Online18701,56530516%
Biotechnology for Biofuels18701,56530516%
Human Genomics18701,56530516%
Microbiome18701,56530516%
International Journal for Equity in Health16901,42027016%
Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy16501,39026016%
Nutrition Journal17901,51028016%
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology16901,44524514%
Gut Pathogens17901,54025014%
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases17901,54025014%
BMC Cancer15901,37022014%
BMC Health Services Research15901,37022014%
BMC Public Health15901,37022014%
BMC Medicine21701,88029013%
AIDS Research and Therapy16901,47022013%
Biomarker Research16901,47022013%
Archives of Public Health15701,37020013%
Basic and Clinical Andrology15701,37020013%
BMC Anesthesiology15701,37020013%
BMC Biotechnology15701,37020013%
BMC Cardiovascular Disorders15701,37020013%
BMC Evolutionary Biology15701,37020013%
BMC Gastroenterology15701,37020013%
BMC International Health and Human Rights15701,37020013%
BMC Medical Genetics15701,37020013%
BMC Medical Imaging15701,37020013%
BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making15701,37020013%
BMC Microbiology15701,37020013%
BMC Palliative Care15701,37020013%
BMC Pediatrics15701,37020013%
BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology15701,37020013%
BMC Psychiatry15701,37020013%
BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation15701,37020013%
BMC Surgery15701,37020013%
BMC Systems Biology15701,37020013%
Cardio-Oncology15701,37020013%
Clinical Proteomics15701,37020013%
Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation15701,37020013%
Health and Quality of Life Outcomes15701,37020013%
Infectious Diseases of Poverty15701,37020013%
International Journal of Mental Health Systems15701,37020013%
Population Health Metrics15701,37020013%
Thrombosis Journal15701,37020013%
Epigenetics & Chromatin17901,56522513%
Harm Reduction Journal17901,56522513%
Journal of Neuroinflammation17901,56522513%
Biology of Sex Differences  17901,56522513%
Molecular Medicine17901,56522513%
Critical Care19901,75024012%
Experimental Hematology & Oncology16901,49519512%
Molecular Brain15701,39517511%
Implementation Science16901,51018011%
Respiratory Research17901,61517510%
Journal of Biological Engineering15701,4301409%
Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice15701,4301409%
Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer16901,5401509%
BMC Infectious Diseases14901,3701208%
Trials14901,3701208%
Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine13701,2651058%
Asthma Research and Practice14801,3701107%
BioData Mining14801,3701107%
BMC Biochemistry14801,3701107%
BMC Bioinformatics14801,3701107%
BMC Clinical Pathology14801,3701107%
BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders14801,3701107%
BMC Ecology14801,3701107%
BMC Hematology14801,3701107%
BMC Nephrology14801,3701107%
BMC Nursing14801,3701107%
BMC Ophthalmology14801,3701107%
BMC Oral Health14801,3701107%
BMC Physiology14801,3701107%
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth14801,3701107%
BMC Structural Biology14801,3701107%
BMC Urology14801,3701107%
Cancers of the Head & Neck14801,3701107%
Clinical and Molecular Allergy14801,3701107%
Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology14801,3701107%
Contraception and Reproductive Medicine14801,3701107%
Disaster and Military Medicine14801,3701107%
Fertility Research and Practice14801,3701107%
Journal of Clinical Movement Disorders14801,3701107%
Lipids in Health and Disease14801,3701107%
Maternal Health, Neonatology and Perinatology14801,3701107%
Movement Ecology14801,3701107%
Proteome Science14801,3701107%
Translational Medicine Communications14801,3701107%
Tropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines14801,3701107%
Women’s Midlife Health14801,3701107%
Addiction Science and Clinical Practice 14801,3701107%
Annals of General Psychiatry16901,5651257%
Cancer & Metabolism16901,5651257%
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine16901,5651257%
Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders16901,5651257%
Arthritis Research & Therapy18701,7501206%
Veterinary Research 11751,150252%
BMC Biophysics13901,370201%
BMC Genetics13901,370201%
Cerebellum & Ataxias13901,370201%
Fungal Biology and Biotechnology13901,370201%
Multiple Sclerosis and Demyelinating Disorders13901,370201%
pneumonia13901,370201%
Research Integrity and Peer Review13901,370201%
Sleep Science and Practice13901,370201%
Irish Veterinary Journal 13901,370201%
Cellular & Molecular Biology Letters13901,420-30-2%
World Journal of Surgical Oncology15701,650-80-5%
Research Involvement and Engagement14801,565-85-6%
Bioelectronic Medicine14801,565-85-6%
Big Data Analytics12901,370-80-6%
Hereditas12901,370-80-6%
Marine Biodiversity Records12901,370-80-6%
Porcine Health Management12901,370-80-6%
Source Code for Biology and Medicine12901,370-80-6%
Journal of Biomedical Semantics 12901,370-80-6%
Journal of Biological Research-Thessaloniki13901,510-120-9%
Pilot and Feasibility Studies13901,565-175-13%
Systematic Reviews13901,565-175-13%
Environmental Evidence12901,470-180-14%
BMC Dermatology11801,370-190-16%
BMC Emergency Medicine11801,370-190-16%
Journal of Congenital Cardiology11801,370-190-16%
Diagnostic and Prognostic Research 14801,745-265-18%
EvoDevo  16901,995-305-18%
Agriculture & Food Security12901,565-275-21%
Cilia12901,565-275-21%
Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome  14201,810-390-27%
Sustainable Earth690900-210-30%
Animal Biotelemetry11801,565-385-33%
European Journal of Medical Research 14801,995-515-35%
BMC Medical Ethics9901,370-380-38%
BMC Nutrition9901,370-380-38%
BMC Obesity9901,370-380-38%
Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine9901,370-380-38%
BMC Psychology8601,370-510-59%
Canine Genetics and Epidemiology8601,370-510-59%
Journal of Eating Disorders8601,370-510-59%
BMC Zoology7901,370-580-73%
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica15101,5100 
Advances in Simulation15651,5650 
Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology13701,3700 
Biological Research14301,4300 
Biology Direct13701,3700 
Biomaterials Research13701,3700 
BioPsychoSocial Medicine13701,3700 
BMC Biology17801,7800 
BMC Developmental Biology13701,3700 
BMC Endocrine Disorders13701,3700 
BMC Family Practice13701,3700 
BMC Genomics13701,3700 
BMC Immunology13701,3700 
BMC Medical Education13701,3700 
BMC Medical Genomics13701,3700 
BMC Molecular Biology13701,3700 
BMC Neuroscience13701,3700 
BMC Plant Biology13701,3700 
BMC Women’s Health13701,3700 
Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation13701,3700 
Cell & Bioscience13701,3700 
Chinese Medicine13701,3700 
Clinical and Translational Allergy14701,4700 
Emerging Themes in Epidemiology13701,3700 
Environmental Health14201,4200 
European Review of Aging and Physical Activity13701,3700 
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences13701,3700 
Frontiers in Zoology15101,5100 
Genetics Selection Evolution11751,1750 
Gynecologic Oncology Research and Practice13701,3700 
Health Research Policy and Systems15651,5650 
Human Resources for Health15651,5650 
Infectious Agents and Cancer13701,3700 
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity16501,6500 
Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance16001,6000 
Journal of Ecology and Environment13701,3700 
Journal of Foot and Ankle Research13701,3700 
Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition13701,3700 
Journal of Medical Case Reports8258250 
Journal of Pharmaceutical Health Care and Sciences14201,4200 
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition13701,3700 
Malaria Journal14301,4300 
Mobile DNA13701,3700 
Molecular Neurodegeneration16501,6500 
Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine13701,3700 
Parasites & Vectors13701,3700 
Perioperative Medicine15651,5650 
Plant Methods14301,4300 
Public Health Reviews13701,3700 
Revista Chilena de Historia Natural12401,2400 
Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine14851,4850 
Cancer Imaging 13701,3700 
Journal of Otolaryngology : Head and Neck Surgery13701,3700 
The Italian Journal of Pediatrics13701,3700 
Cancer Communications13701,3700 
BioMedical Engineering OnLine13751,3705 
Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research15701,5655 
Skeletal Muscle 15701,5655 
Algorithms for Molecular Biology13901,37020 

Our recent analysis of BioMed Central publishing company journals reveals a sharp increase both in number of open access journals and also article processing fees.

BMC currently publishes 330 open access journals that comparing to 2018 data shows an increase of 11% in number of journals. While 25 journals have no article processing fee for authors to publish their articles, there has been a 57% increase in average article processing charge comparing to the last year, as the average processing fee was $1402 in 2018 and now it is $2200.

Comparing to the last year, 264 journals have increased and 5 journals have decreased in APC (article processing charge). The average APC increase for journals is $917 and the average decrease is $124.

The raw data for BMC in 2019 is provided below:

Similar posts:

Ceased and transferred publications and archiving: best practices and room for improvement

Recent APC price changes for 4 publishers (BMC, Hindawi, PLOS, PeerJ)

 

Open access versus the commons, or steps towards developing commons to sustain open access

by Heather Morrison

Abstract

The concept of open access is complementary to, and in opposition to the commons. The similarities and overlap appear to be taken for granted; for example, many people assume that open access and Creative Commons just go together. The purpose of this post is to explore the essential opposition of the two concepts. The so-called “tragedy of the commons” is actually the tragedy of unmanaged open access. Understanding this opposition is helpful to analyze the potential of commons analysis to develop and sustain actual commons (cool pool resources) to support open access works. Ostrom’s design principles for common pool resources are listed with comments and examples of open access supports that illustrate the principles and a proposed modified list design to meet the needs of open access infrastructure is presented.

Details

The purpose of the Sustaining the Knowledge Commons research program (and blog) is to advance our knowledge of how to build and sustain a global knowledge commons. I define the knowledge commons as a collective sharing of the knowledge of humankind that is as open access as possible, in the sense of free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. My vision of the knowledge commons is one that is inclusive, that is, all who are qualified are welcome to contribute. The vision is simple. Understanding and articulating what is necessary to achieve the vision is not simple, and I argue that it will require developing new theoretical and empirical knowledge.

The purpose of this post is to focus on the relationship between two basic concepts, “open access” and “the commons”. There is an intuitive complementarity between the two concepts that might be best understood as an outcome of recent historical developments. The open sharing of Web 2.0 or social media, the open access movement, renewed interest in the concept of the commons, and the development and growth of Creative Commons, have all occurred in the past few decades. The nature and title of this research program Sustaining the Knowledge Commons reflects an ellipse of the two concepts. To advance our knowledge, sometimes it is necessary to question our basic assumptions. For this reason, acknowledging the complementarity of the two concepts, this post focuses on open access and the commons as oppositional in essence. I explain why this matters and how commons design principles might be used to develop and sustain open access organizations and infrastructure (as opposed to open access works).

As Ostrom (2015) points out in the second chapter of her ground-breaking Governing the Commons, the example of the “tragedy of the commons” as presented by Harding in an influential article – a pasture where any herdsman can graze – is not a commons, but rather a pasture that is open to all, an open access resource. A commons is not an open access resource, but rather a resource that is collaboratively managed by a group of people who benefit from the resource who develop, monitor and enforce rules for collective management of the resource. Ostrom presents empirical examples of successful and unsuccessful commons or common pool resources (CPRs) and articulates design principles for successful CPRs.

Ostrom’s research focuses on limited physical resources such as fisheries and water, and acknowledged that research on such CPRs is at a very early stage. The extent to which design principles based on physical CPRs can be employed to understand the potential for electronic commons, where there is no limit to the re-use of resource per se is not known. A few researchers have made an effort at this analysis. For example, Hess and Ostrom (2007) edited a book on understanding knowledge as a commons, one of the influences inspiring my own work and the title of this research program and blog.

Resources versus infrastructure

To understand why it matters that open access and the commons are oppositional concepts, consider the difference between open access works (articles, journals, books, data etc.) and the infrastructure that is needed to create and sustain open access resources. The only restriction to use of an open access resource is reader-side infrastructure (computer and internet) and ability to read and understand. However, the creation and ongoing support of open access works requires resources (hardware, software, internet connectivity, editors). This – the infrastructure to build and sustain open access works – is where Ostrom’s design principles for common pool resources is most likely to be fruitful. Examples of open access infrastructures that are, or could be, managed as common pool resources include: OA journals produced by independent scholars or groups of scholars (e.g. society or university-based); open source journal publishing (e.g. Open Journal Systems); university consortia sharing of infrastructure and /or support for open access (e.g. Scielo, Ontario’s Scholar’s Portal, Open Library of the Humanities).

Design principles for common pool resources

Table 3.1 of design principles is Ostrom’s (2015, p. 90) summary of her findings of characteristics of successful CPRs. Following are proposed minor modifications of the design principles for open access infrastructure, and examples of how these design principles might be useful for open access infrastructure (as opposed to open access works).

“Table 3.1. Design principles illustrated by long-enduring CPR institutions

  1. Clearly defined boundaries
    Individuals or households who have rights to withdraw resource units from the CPR must be clearly defined, as must the boundaries of the CPR itself.
  2. Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions Appropriation rules restricting time, place, technology, and/or quantity of resource units are related to local conditions and to provision rules requiring labor, material, and/or money.
  3. Collective-choice arrangements
    Most individuals affected by the operational rules can participate in modifying the operational rules.
  4. Monitoring
    Monitors, who actively audit CPR conditions and appropriator behavior, are accountable to the appropriators or are the appropriators.
  5. Graduated sanctions
    Appropriators who violate operational rules are likely to be assessed graduated sanctions (depending on the seriousness and context of the offense) by other appropriators, by officials accountable to these appropriators, or by both.
  6. Conflict-resolution mechanisms
    Appropriators and their officials have rapid access to low-cost local arenas to resolve conflicts among appropriators or between appropriators and officials.
  7. Minimal recognition of rights to organize
    The rights of appropriators to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external governmental authorities.

For CPRs that are parts of larger systems:

  1. Nested enterprises
    Appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises”.

Can Ostrom’s CPR design principles might be applied to OA resources? Examples, comments, and proposed modified design principles

Ostroms’ design principle “1: Clearly defined boundaries
Individuals or households who have rights to withdraw resource units from the CPR must be clearly defined, as must the boundaries of the CPR itself”.

Proposed modified design principle:

1: Clearly defined boundaries
Individuals or organizations who have rights to participate in and benefit from CPR must be clearly defined, as must the boundaries of the CPR itself.

Examples

Scielo (Scientific Electronic Library Online): Criteria, policies and procedures for admission and permanence of scientific journals in the SciELO <country> Collection https://wp.scielo.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Criterios_Rede_SciELO_jun_2018_EN.pdf

  • Anyone with internet access can read the Scielo journals. Journals that wish to be included must meet the criteria.

PubMedCentral: How to include a journal in PMC https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/pub/addjournal/

  • Anyone with internet access can read the journals included in PMC. To be included, journals must meet scope, technical and quality requirements.

Ostrom’s Design Principle 2: “Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions. Appropriation rules restricting time, place, technology, and/or quantity of resource units are related to local conditions and to provision rules requiring labor, material, and/or money”.

Proposed modified design principle:

2: “Congruence between participation and provision rules and local and/or disciplinary conditions. Appropriation rules restricting time, place, technology, and/or quantity of resource units are related to local and/or disciplinary conditions and to provision rules requiring labor, material, and/or money”.

Examples

Institutional repositories such as uO Recherche https://ruor.uottawa.ca/ are very well aligned with design principle 2. Policies are set by the university and reflect regional practice and law (e.g. copyright law). Staff are paid local wage rates in local currency. Decisions about software, hardware and support can reflect local preferences (e.g. for open source software or proprietary solutions, stand-alone or collaborative repositories) and budgets. In the case of my own university, the University of Ottawa, the institutional repository reflects the official French / English bilingualism of the university.

The HAL archives-ouvertes.fr https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/ is a collaborative repository reflecting the research community and language of France.

Ostrom’s Design Principle 3: “Collective-choice arrangements
Most individuals affected by the operational rules can participate in modifying the operational rule

This principle fits smaller CPRs; see design principle 8 on nested enterprises for global open access. For example, university-based researchers can participate in policy consultations for the local institutional repository; members of the editorial board of a journal can participate in setting policy (the principle is the same whether the journal is open access or not).

Ostrom’s Design Principles 4:, 5, and 6 are treated together as OASPA provides examples of all:

“4. Monitoring
Monitors, who actively audit CPR conditions and appropriator behavior, are accountable to the appropriators or are the appropriators”.

5. Graduated sanctions
Appropriators who violate operational rules are likely to be assessed graduated sanctions (depending on the seriousness and context of the offense) by other appropriators, by officials accountable to these appropriators, or by both.

6. Conflict-resolution mechanisms
Appropriators and their officials have rapid access to low-cost local arenas to resolve conflicts among appropriators or between appropriators and officials”.

Example: the Open Access Scholarly Publisher’s Association (OASPA) Membership Applications, Complaints and Investigations https://oaspa.org/membership/membership-applications/ displays characteristics of a CPR where members (appropriators) actively practice monitoring, graduated sanctions, and conflict-resolution mechanisms. Even after being accepted as members, OASPA members may be identified by other members as not meeting the criteria for acceptance (monitoring); these complaints trigger a conflict-resolution mechanisms that involves a series of graduated sanctions, investigation, possible requirement for the member to alter policies and/or practice and potential termination of membership.

Ostrom Design Principle “7. Minimal recognition of rights to organize
The rights of appropriators to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external governmental authorities”.

Proposed modified Design Principle “7. Minimal recognition of rights to organize
The rights of participants to devise their own organizations are not challenged by external authorities or bodies”.

Comment: this principle could be applied in the context of open access to the rights of researchers to develop their own institutions or organizations (e.g. based on common disciplinary requirements) and/or rights of local institutions to develop their own approach (as opposed to global open access policy).

Example

The Open Library of the Humanities https://www.openlibhums.org/ was developed by scholars in the humanities to support open access in the humanities. Design Principle 7 recognizes the right of scholars to organize in this fashion.

Ostroms’ Design Principle 8. “Nested enterprises
Appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises”.

Comment: this is the principle that most needs development for sustainable open access on a global scale. Every country, region, and discipline needs to contribute to create and sustain open access. This requires many organizations of different types and sizes, each with its own set of principles and approach to monitoring, sanctions, and conflict resolution. This needs to be coordinated (but not controlled) at a higher level for permanent open access to succeed.

Proposed modified design principles for a global knowledge commons

  1. Clearly defined boundaries
    Individuals or organizations who have rights to participate in and benefit from CPR must be clearly defined, as must the boundaries of the CPR itself.
  2. Congruence between participation and provision rules and local and/or disciplinary Appropriation rules restricting time, place, technology, and/or quantity of resource units are related to local and/or disciplinary conditions and to provision rules requiring labor, material, and/or money.
  3. Collective-choice arrangements
    Most individuals affected by the operational rules can participate in modifying the operational rules.
  4. Monitoring
    Monitors, who actively audit CPR conditions and appropriator behavior, are accountable to the appropriators or are the appropriators.
  5. Graduated sanctions
    Appropriators who violate operational rules are likely to be assessed graduated sanctions (depending on the seriousness and context of the offense) by other appropriators, by officials accountable to these appropriators, or by both.
  6. Conflict-resolution mechanisms
    Appropriators and their officials have rapid access to low-cost local arenas to resolve conflicts among appropriators or between appropriators and officials.
  7. Minimal recognition of rights to organize
    The rights of participants to devise their own organizations are not challenged by external authorities or bodies”.
  8. Nested enterprises
    Appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.

Acknowledgement

This post builds on conversations with prior SKC research collaborator Alexis Calvé-Genest.

References

Hess, C. & Ostrom, E., eds. (2007). Understanding knowledge as a commons: from theory to practice. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Ostrom, E. (2015). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Canto Classics). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781316423936

Why I oppose conflating OA and open licensing

In brief, my reasons for opposing conflation of open access and open licensing is that open licenses are not sufficient, necessary, or always desirable for open access.

Not sufficient: there are two reasons why open licenses are not sufficient. One is that there is nothing in CC licenses that obligates any copyright holder or downstream re-user to continue to make a work available at all, never mind free of charge. For example, an obvious beneficiary of works made available for commercial downstream re-use is Elsevier through their toll access search service Scopus. If we consider “free of charge” to be an essential element of open access (I do), CC licenses allowing downstream commercial use are not enough. The second reason is that scholars will always need to study and draw from works that are beyond the scope of research, and for this reason we need strong fair use / fair dealing provisions in copyright. For example, while PLOS is a model for open licensing with respect to articles published, as a scholar in the area of open access economics, I need to be able to quote language from the PLOS website in this area, and the PLOS website per se is All Rights Reserved; my work requires fair dealing rights. PLOS is not unusual in this; differential licensing is common for “CCBY by default” publishers.

Not necessary: works that are online, free to read and free of most technological restrictions on re-use are in effect sufficient for most of the intended purposes of open licensing. Consider what Google is able to do with internet-based works without having to restrict searching to works that are openly licensing. A work in HTML or XML with no technological protection measures (TPM) and no copyright statement (automatic All Rights Reserved copyright in any Berne country) can be used for text mining and portions of the work can be copied, with attribution, under fair dealing. In contrast, a work with an open license that is produced in a format that includes TPMs is less available for the purposes intended by open licensing than many works that are openly licensed. It is important to understand that TPMs are used not only to protect copyright, but also to protect the integrity of works, for example to look and feel of graphics as well as their position with respect to text.

Not necessarily desirable: open licensing, I argue, is not always desirable. For example, researchers who work with human subjects (very common in the social sciences) have a primary ethical duty to protect their subjects from harm. There is a wide range of sensitivity of information shared with researchers, ranging from quasi-public to extremely sensitive. Material such as stories and images shared with researchers for the purposes of advancing knowledge should not be made available on a blanket basis for re-use including commercial purposes. In developing policy attention should be paid to common commercial uses of this kind of material, particularly in the area of social media. Decisions about open licensing are in effect decisions about balancing the benefits of open licensing and our ethical duty to protect human subjects. I argue that our ethical duty to protect human subjects requires a conservative approach, in individual research projects, research support services, and policy-making.


This post is an excerpt of a recent open peer review, presented by way of explanation of why I am posting an open peer review in a journal with a default license of CC-BY under All Rights Reserved copyright. The remainder of the sections of this open review that are relevant to copyright are posted below.

An open peer review of “Few open access journals are Plan S compliant”: third and final round by Dr. Heather Morrison, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa School of Information Studies, and Principal Investigator, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons, a SSHRC Insight Project. Copyright Dr. Heather Morrison, All Rights Reserved (explanation below)…

Copyright Dr. Heather Morrison, All Rights Reserved: explanation The default license for MDPI’s Publications is CC-BY. From the perspective of many open access advocates, open licensing is an inherent part of open access. As discussed by the authors, this assumption forms part of the Plan S compliance criteria; compliance requires CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, or CC-0 licensing, with recognition that funded researchers cannot impose open licensing on third party copyright owners whose works are include in Plan S funded researchers’ works. I argue that conflating open access and open licensing is a major strategic error for the open access movement, and that it is important for open access advocates to understand that arguments opposing open licensing requirements can reflect a strong position in favour of open access. It is a mistake to think that because traditional subscription-based publishers oppose open licensing for business reasons that this is the only reason for this opposition. Oxford University Press is currently imposing differential fees for authors requiring CC-BY, according to my research team that is gathering information on APCs. I oppose CC-BY requirements, but not for the same reason as Oxford. (in the original, from here go to the top of this post).

I have posted similar arguments in the series Creative Commons and Open Access Critique on my original scholarly blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics. I plan to republish some of the content on this blog here and/or in other venues as there are some reports that people are having difficulty accessing the blog (hope this is temporary).

Open peer review

MDPI’s journal is experimenting with open peer review. Reviewers can choose to make their reviews openly accessible. This recent article that I reviewed has just been published. To read my reviews, click on “review reports” – I am Reviewer 1. If you prefer to skip the details of work that was needed and subsequently done, skip to round 3 for the final review.

Following is the citation and abstract of the article and a portion of my final review that focuses on the work per se, and an update based on subsequent conversation with Frantsvåg. I will publish the copyright statement separately.

Frantsvåg, J.E.; Strømme, T.E. Few Open Access Journals Are Compliant with Plan S.  Publications 20197, 26. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/7/2/26

Abstract

Much of the debate on Plan S seems to concentrate on how to make toll-access journals open access, taking for granted that existing open access journals are Plan S-compliant. We suspected this was not so and set out to explore this using Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) metadata. We conclude that a large majority of open access journals are not Plan S-compliant, and that it is small publishers in the humanities and social sciences (HSS) not charging article processing charges (APC) that will face the largest challenge with becoming compliant. Plan S needs to give special considerations to smaller publishers and/or non-APC based journals.

Excerpt of final round of review:

An open peer review of “Few open access journals are Plan S compliant”: third and final round by Dr. Heather Morrison, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa School of Information Studies, and Principal Investigator, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons, a SSHRC Insight Project. Ó Dr. Heather Morrison, All Rights Reserved (explanation below).

This article presents important research and merits publication; conclusions are basically sound and recommendations appear timely and sensible.

One major substantive point of potential confusion remains. This confusion is evident is PlanS implementation guidance per se which states: “cOAlition S acknowledges that some publishers have established mirror journals with one part being subscription based and the other part being Open Access. Such journals are not compliant with Plan S unless they are a part of a transformative agreement since they de facto lead to charging for both access and publishing in the same way as a hybrid journal does. Funding for publishing in such journals will only be supported under a transformative agreement”. From: https://www.coalition-s.org/implementation/

It is not clear what PlanS is referring to here. The most common arrangement that seems to fit what is described here in my experience is journals that publish both in print (generally on a subscriptions basis) and online (on a fully open access basis, required for inclusion in DOAJ). A journal that is partially open access and partially subscription-based in its online form is a hybrid journal, contrary to PlanS advice.

This confusion is reflected in this article (Table 1 row G and results lines 461-467). Since this reflects the original, this should not be a barrier to publication.

Conflict of interest: although I am an open access advocate and my research focuses on transforming the underlying economics of scholarly publishing in order to sustain open access, I strongly disagree with the PlanS policy approach. In my expert opinion, all open access policy should require exclusively open access archiving. This is the best means to ensure preservation and ongoing open access, particularly in the region for which funders have responsibility. Market-oriented policy is likely to continue or exacerbate a problematic market that for decades has been described as inelastic at best.

Update based on e-mail with Frantsvåg: it appears that what PlanS means by mirror journals is an emerging phenomenon. Elsevier’s Journal of Hydrology X is an example. Following is the explanation of how this works from the Elsevier website. This appears to be an evolution in the hybrid journal model (some content open access, some not). This is an improvement in terms of access as it addresses criticism of the hybrid model on the basis that it is difficult to identify the open access content.

Journal of Hydrology X is the open access mirror journal of Journal of Hydrology

Journal of Hydrology X offers authors with high-quality research who want to publish in a gold open access journal the opportunity to make their work immediately, permanently, and freely accessible.

Journal of Hydrology and Journal of Hydrology X have the same aims and scope. A unified editorial team manages rigorous peer-review for both titles using the same submission system. The author’s choice of journal is blinded to referees, ensuring the editorial process is identical. For more information please refer to our FAQs for authors.