Update July 15: a 10-minute YouTube video overview of this work by Dr. Rahman & I can be viewed here.
The context of this paper is an analysis of three emerging models for developing a global knowledge commons. The concept of a ‘global knowledge commons’ builds on the vision of the original Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002) for the potential of combining academic tradition and the internet to remove various access barriers to the scholarly literature, thus laying the foundation for an unprecedented public good, uniting humanity in a common quest for knowledge. The global knowledge commons is a universal sharing of the knowledge of humankind, free for all to access (recognizing reasons for limiting sharing in some circumstances such as to protect individual privacy), and free for everyone qualified to contribute to. The three models are Plan S / cOAlition S, an EU-led initiative to transition all of scholarly publishing to an open access model on a short timeline; the Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS), a recent initiative that builds on Ostrom’s study of the commons; and PubMedCentral (PMC) International, building on the preservation and access to the medical research literature provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Health to support other national repositories of funded research and exchange of materials between regions. The research will involve analysis of official policy and background briefing documents on the three initiatives and relevant historical projects, such as the Research Council U.K.’s block grants for article processing charges, the EU-led OA2020 initiative, Europe PMC and the short-lived PMC-Canada. Theoretical analysis will draw on Ostrom’s work on the commons, theories of development, under-development, epistemic / knowledge inequity and the concepts of Chan and colleagues (2011) on the importance of moving beyond north-to-south access to knowledge (charity model) to include south-to-south and south-to-north (equity model). This model analysis contributes to build a comparative view of transcontinental efforts for a global knowledge commons building with shared values of open access, sharing and collaboration, in contrast to the growing trend of commodification of scholarly knowledge evident in both traditional subscriptions / purchase-based scholarly publishing and in commercial open access publishing. We anticipate that our findings will indicate that a digital world of inclusiveness and reciprocity is possible, but cannot be taken for granted, and policy support is crucial. Global communication and information policy have much to contribute towards the development of a sustainable global knowledge commons.
307 SpringerOpen titles for which we have data on journals that were fully open at some point from 2010 to the present were studied, with a primary focus on pricing and status changes from 2019 – 2020 and a secondary focus on longitudinal status changes. Of the 307 titles, 226 are active, fully open access and are still published by SpringerOpen, 40 have ceased publication, 19 were transferred to another publisher, and 18 journals that were formerly open access are now hybrid. 6 of these journals transitioned from free to hybrid in the past year. An additional 2 journals were not found. An additional 2 journals were not found. Of the 226 active journals published by SpringerOpen, 51% charge APCs. The average APC is 1,233 EUR, an increase of 3% over the 2019 average. 46.5% of the 101 journals for which we have 2019 and 2020 data did not change in price; 13.9% decreased in price; and 39.6% increased in price. The extent of change in price was substantial, ranging from a 50% price drop to a 94% price increase.
Open access commercial publishing pioneer BMC is now wholly owned by a private company with a portfolio including lines of business that derive revenue from journal subscriptions, book sales, and textbook sales and rentals
Two former BMC fully OA journals, listed in DOAJ from 2014 – 2018 as having CC-BY licenses, are now hybrid and listed on the Springer website and have disappeared from the BMC website
67% of BMC journals with APCs in 2019 and 2020 increased in price and 11% decreased in price.
Journals with price increases had a higher average APC in 2019, i.e. more expensive journals appear to be more likely to increase in price
Founded in 2000, BioMedCentral (BMC) was one of the first commercial (OA) publishers and a pioneer of the article processing charges (APC) business model. BMC was acquired by Springer in 2008. In 2015, Springer was acquired by the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group in 2015 and became part of SpringerNature. In other words, BMC began as an OA publisher and is now one of the imprints or business lines of a company whose other lines of business include sales of journal subscriptions and scholarly books and textbook sales and rentals. Of the 328 journals actively published by BMC in 2020, 91% charge APCs. The average APC was 2,271 USD, an increase of 3% over 2019. An overall small increase in average APC masks substantial changes at the individual journal level. As first noted by Wheatley (2016), BMC price changes from one year to the next are a mix of increases, decreases, and retention of the same price. In 2020, 67% of the 287 journals for which we have pricing in USD for both 2019 and 2020 increased in price; 11% decreased in price, and 22% did not change price. It appears that it is the more expensive journals that are more likely to increase in price. The average 2019 price of the journals that increased in 2020 was 2,307 USD, 18% higher than the 2019 average of 1,948 USD for journals that decreased in price. 173 journals increased in price by 4% or more, well above the inflation rate. 39 journals increased in price by 10% or more; 13 journals increased in price by 20% or more. Also in 2020, there are 11 new journals, 11 journals ceased publication, 5 titles were transferred to other publishers, 2 journals changed from no publication fee to having an APC, and 3 journals dropped their APCs. Two journals formerly published fully OA by BMC are no longer listed on the BMC website, but are now listed as hybrid on the Springer website. This is a small portion of the total but is worth noting as the opposite direction of the transformative (from subscriptions to OA) officially embraced by SpringerNature.
Frontier’s comment regarding their pricing transparency below is helpful. It is important for those who support gold OA publishing to understand the cost implications of their demands and expectations. Frontiers states: “As Frontiers’ sole source of income, APCs allow us to subsidize new journals and communities with less research funding, to reinvest in our publishing platform, and to offer a fee support program. More than a third of all articles published in 2017/18 received full or partial waivers as a result of this approach, which we fully intend to continue to offer in the years ahead.” An average APC of $2,170 USD could support hosting a whole journal in North America and could be enough to fund a year or partial year of a highly paid researchers’ salary, in less affluent countries. If granting agencies were to directly subsidize local publishing in both more and less affluent countries, this would probably cost less and do more (by supporting local development) than expecting publishers like Frontiers to subsidize APCs.
It has come to my attention that this post happens to coincide with negotiations on a national agreement between Frontiers and Germany in the context of PlanS / cOAlition S. Details about the agreement can be found:
A third of the journals published by Frontiers in 2019 and 2020 (20 / 61 journals) have increased in price by 18% or more (up to 55%). This is quite a contrast with the .4% Swiss inflation rate for 2019 according to Worlddata.info ; 18% is 45 times the inflation rate. This is an even more marked contrast with the current and anticipated economic impact of COVID; according to Le News, “A team of economic experts working for the Swiss government forecasts a 6.7% fall in GDP”. (Frontiers’ headquarters is in Switzerland).
This is similar to our 2019 finding that 40% of Frontier’s journals had increased in price by 18% or more (Pashaei & Morrison, 2019) and our 2018 finding that 40% of Frontier journals had increased in price by 18% – 31% (Morrison, 2018).
The price increases are on top of already high prices. For example, Frontiers in Earth Science increased from 1,900 USD to 2,950 USD, a 55% price increase. Frontiers in Oncology increased from 2,490 to 2,950 USD, an 18% price increase.
This illustrates an inelastic market. Payers of these fees are largely government research funders, either directly or indirectly through university libraries or researchers’ own funds. The payers are experiencing a major downturn and significant challenges such as lab closures, working from home in lockdown conditions, and additional costs to accommodate public health measures, while Frontiers clearly expects ever-increasing revenue and profit.
Following is a list of Frontier journals with price increases. All pricing is in USD.
Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), initiated in 1999 by Tsinghua University and Tsinghua Tongfang Co., Ltd., is both the largest institutional repository in China and a near-monopoly provider of for-pay academic databases with a higher profit margin than Elsevier or Wiley, among other services. With promotion and support from the government, CNKI keeps developing its track towards open access . CNKI offers free access to millions of documents ranging from dissertations and academic articles to popular and party journals. The COAA, Chinese Open Access Aggregator, launched in 2019, makes available more than 10,000 open access journals, although foreign scholars may find it difficult to benefit from this due to the language. CNKI has played an important role in making works on COVID-19 freely available, as well as in expanding access to subscribers at home during lock-down.
CNKI stands for Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, it was initiated by Tsinghua University and Tsinghua Tongfang Co., Ltd. and was founded in June 1999. According to Tongfang ’s annual report, the company officially opened the world ’s largest Chinese knowledge portal ‘CNKI (cnki.net) database’ in 2004, informally known as ‘Zhiwang’. CNKI is currently China’s largest integrator of academic electronic resources, including more than 95% of officially published Chinese academic resources.
At the end of 2017, CNKI had more than 20,000 institutional users, more than 20 million individual registered users, full-text downloads amounted to 2 billion pages per year and more than 150,000 online users. The market share of CNKI in Chinese undergraduate colleges is 100%. 
As most students know, the best way to access databases outside school is VPN. However, in some inconvenient situations like during the COVID-19 lockdown time in China, you cannot use VPN in some places. Some major Chinese database vendors provided recent limited-time free services. According to the Central China Normal University Library announcement, during the COVID-19 epidemic period (the service period is tentatively from February 1 to March 3, 2020), CNKI provides 4 free services including CNKI database literature acquisition, research learning, and collaborative scientific research services (CNKI OKMS platform). (English translation by the author) At the same time, the school’s students are offered a new online entrance to access CNKI database.
For Chinese readers, CNKI developed a special database online platform to release and promote the latest COVID-19 related study results. You can notice the platform name in red font on the homepage. The platform includes 2,256 journals in total, including 23 non-Chinese journals.
At the same time, CNKI announced that there is free access given by the CNKI OKMS platform, helping uninterrupted research team communication during the special times. The “OKMS Huizhi” is an Office Software for Collaborative Research.
Ms. Dai also stresses that the “OKMS Huizhi” platform was launched in May 2019, and it is now free because of the COVID-19 epidemic situation so that everyone can research from home. Before June 1, the “OKMS Huizhi” platform will be open for free. (English translation by the author) 
Besides the limited free access due to the COVID-19 pandemic period, CNKI started to open a variety of continuous services, for example, full-text open access to some Chinese published literature.
The target of this service is the whole country of China, which started in November 2015. The types of documents served include academic journals, conference papers, doctoral dissertations, master’s theses, and newspapers.
The free service scope of 2020 is all documents published by CNKI in 2011 and before, including 40.89 million articles published in 11,402 journals from 1911 to 2011, accounting for about 59.8% of all documents. These include academic journals; culture, art, and other popular journals; party construction, political newspapers, and other party and government journals; higher education, vocational education, and other educational journals; economic information journals. From 2000-2011 CNKI published 188,000 doctoral dissertations, 1.51 million ancillary papers, 4.17 million conference papers, accounting for 45.6%, 38.1%, and 67.4% respectively, as well as, 18.15 million articles from more than 400 newspapers from 2001 to 2019, totaling 64,908 million articles. (English translation by the author) 
For Chinese authors, there is a free service that started in September 2019, aiming at the authors who have Chinese publications collected in CNKI database. On this online free author service platform, authors can download own published documents for free, manage academic achievements, obtain academic evaluation reports, track academic frontier developments, and achieve online journal submission. For English readers, CNKI keeps updating its oversea website. At the time this blog post is written, the open-access (OA) online-first publishing of COVID-19 platform is officially online to serve [http://new.oversea.cnki.net/index/] which includes 2,288 China journals and 25 foreign journals.
What is more, CNKI Open Access Aggregator (COAA) is introduced to foreign scholars. CNKI Open Access Aggregator, COAA in short, was launched in 2019 and currently has more than 10,000 open access journals covering all fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and humanities.
According to the COAA platform introduction on their webpage, it will continue to expand the coverage of open resources from now on, increase open access books, papers, conference papers, etc., to provide users with a large number of open access resources. The journal covers 100 countries and regions on five continents, covering 100 disciplines and covering 70 languages. (English translation by the author)  Unfortunately, the homepage and all the instructions are in Chinese. The language barrier could be a difficulty for non-Chinese scholars.
Besides all the effort CNKI has made to develop open-access (OA), there are many challenges it is facing. One survey of Chinese readers conducted by Wen revealed the fact that 94.5 percent of the respondents were ignorant of the existence of OA journals. As we mentioned before, the market share of CNKI in Chinese undergraduate colleges is 100% which keeps CNKI the Chinese world of academic publishing in a monopolistic stranglehold. According to Wang Yiwei’s article on July 24, 2019, CNKI has posted an average annual profit margin of nearly 60%in the past decade which almost doubled the figure of Wiley .
At the end of 2018, the Taiyuan University of Technology, a university located in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China, put a notice regarding the suspension of access to “CNKI” in 2019 on their school website and the next day the school library published that the budget for the usage contract with CNKI was 588,000 yuan (about $85,500). 
The cancellation due to high fees happens around the world. For example, SUNY (State University of New York System) subscribed to approximately 250 titles in Elsevier instead of the whole database in 2020 and this approach will save SUNY institutions $7 million annually. 
CNKI, which has been developed with the strong support of the government, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and other departments, could assume more social responsibilities through open-access (OA) instead of taking advantage of its leading enterprises to gain more economic benefits. As the quick development of online services is being promoted by the national government during the COVID-19 pandemic period, it is believed that open-access (OA) is to become the future of academic library exchanges in China.
 Zhong, Jing, and Shuyong Jiang. 2016. “Institutional Repositories in Chinese Open Access Development: Status, Progress, and Challenges.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 42 (6): 739–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2016.06.015.
 Wen (2008) citation: as cited in Hu (2012).Hu, Dehau. 2012. “The Availability of Open Access Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences in China.” Journal of Information Science 38 (1): 64–75. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551511428919.
During the lockdown of the entire country, China is bravely fighting against COVID-19. Many database vendors, publishers, and Internet companies announced to offer free access to academic resources to help students and researchers get the resources they need from home. Most of the publishers offered free access to everyone for a limited time and to decide whether to extend the period or not depend on the COVID-19 situation while some publishers announced open access from the announcement date indefinitely. At the same time, they are using technology to provide a convenient communication platform for researchers and provide an effective channel for up-to-date publication of results and new ideas of COVID-19 for the public.
Here we use the open-access platform ‘Sciencepaper Online’ [http://www.paper.edu.cn/] as a case study. The review and release period of papers online related to COVID-19 has been significantly reduced to 3 working days and all documents have been open for free in full text indefinitely from the start of February. Meanwhile, it works with other publishers and opens a separate area for Novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP), providing preprinted copies of relevant research results for free submission, publishing, browsing, downloading.
The outbreak of pandemic caused by COVID-19 has already affected people’s daily life worldwide. On January 27th, 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Education decided to delay the start of the spring semester in 2020. Due to the lockdown, all the universities and schools in China have closed. However, all the classes and teaching still need to continue at home. Classes from primary schools to Universities are all changed to online teaching. Limited resources and communication channels put great pressure on students, teachers, and researchers. According to the guidance and organization of the Ministry of education, lots of databases, publishers, and internet firms were offering free access to their website or launching a mobile application to giving academic resources for a limited time. However, open access has been going on in China for a long time. As a leading provider of open access in China, Sciencepaper Online is playing an important academic intermediary in this incident.
According to the Sciencepaper online website, Sciencepaper Online is an academic institutional repository established in 2003 initiated by the Ministry of Education and hosted by the Science and Technology Development Center of the Ministry of Education. This platform is dedicated to providing scientific researchers with rapid paper publication and free access services. It is the first online academic open-access (OA) journals platform in China and the leading international peer-reviewed platform for online preprinted papers. (English translation by the author)
Since its publication in August 2006, Sciencepaper Online opened its Weibo account to give more up-to-date information about the platform for more people in 2011. Weibo is a popular social media platform in China similar to Twitter. According to the ASKCI Consulting company report, Weibo has more than 330 million users by the end of 2018. In 2016, Sciencepaper Online launched a mobile application to help scholars have more flexible access to open access resources the platform offers. On March 27th, 2019, Sciencepaper Online formally signed ‘Expression of Interest in the Large-scale Implementation of Open Access to Scholarly Journals’ The signing of OA 2020 initiative is not only an affirmation of the open-access concept but also a mark that China Sciencepaper Online will contribute to the open-access of global academic scholarly journals.
According to the Sciencepaper online webpage—introduction, the four main purposes of Sciencepaper Online are elaborating Academic Views, Exchanging Innovative Ideas, Protecting Intellectual Properties, and Fast Sharing Science Papers. After several years of development, it became a one-stop scientific research service platform with papers, journals, scholars, and communities as the four core sections, and rapid positioning of resources through disciplines, institutions, full-text search, and other methods. The submitted papers are reviewed and released on the site after 7 business days (start from the date of the last submission) if the paper is within the scope of Sciencepaper Online’s subject categories, in-line with the national laws/regulations and meeting our formatting requirements. No Service Fee Is Charged for releasing on this site. Today the website hosts 39 specialized fields according to the Classification and code of disciplines. According to standards press of China, Classification and code of disciplines specify the principles, basis, and coding methods of subject classification. The classification objects of this standard are disciplines, which are different from professions and industries. It also specifies that this standard cannot replace various viewpoints in literature, information, book classification, and academics. (English translation by the author) [http://openstd.samr.gov.cn/bzgk/gb/newGbInfo?hcno=4C13F521FD6ECB6E5EC026FCD779986E]
In the view of the difficulty in publishing papers in general, the communication among scholars of different languages is narrow, Sciencepaper Online creates a fast, convenient communication platform to promote the latest study results and communication between scholars without delay. After the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, the Sciencepaper Online platform promises to significantly shorten the review and publication time from 7 business days to 3 days for papers related to the COVID-19 epidemic for basic medicine, clinical medicine, biology, pharmacy, Chinese medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine, preventive medicine, hygiene, and other disciplines. Sciencepaper Online releases relevant research and shares the research results as quickly as possible. Together with other publishers, a special website releases to the public providing relevant study results about COVID-19 [http://cajn.cnki.net/gzbd/brief/Default.aspx]. The site offers three versions which are simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and English. Considered some people may have no access to computers during the self-quarantine time, it launched the mobile application simultaneously. Meanwhile, as the first preprinted scientific paper and open access website in China, the platform has over 100,000 preprinted papers and a total of 1.2 million-plus scientific papers in the library. All documents are open for free in full text indefinitely from the start of February 2020.
It is a good strategy to open full-text access during the urgent worldwide pandemic time. However, open access (OA) as a long-time movement needs more detailed consideration. Although the site has both the Chinese and the English versions, the English version contains around 5,900 English papers (5,992 papers) which are quite small compared to the 1.2 million-plus scientific papers in the Chinese version. Another challenge is that much of China’s scientific output is still locked behind paywalls.
” The Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) funds about 70% of Chinese research articles published in international journals, but China has to buy these back with full and high prices,”
Zhang said at the Open Access 2020 conference (Harnack House, Berlin, 3–4 December 2018). It would take a lot of effort to deal with the copyright issues both nationally and internationally.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, more and more scientific research workers joined the epidemic prevention and control actions, with a rigorous academic attitude to study prevention and control strategies and measures, hoping to use the “Sciencepapers Online” platform for fast and free publication. Making the latest research results publicly available and sharing them with relevant people who are concerned about the epidemic nationwide and even worldwide. Through the efforts of each of us and each department, we will accelerate the study of effective methods to contain the epidemic, improve the knowledge level of virus awareness, reduce panic among the people and contribute meager to epidemic prevention and control.
As posted to the Global Open Access List, scholcomm and the radical open access list, following is a suggestion for how to identify articles on coronavirus that are not yet open access. The majority of these articles will be in journals that allow author self-archiving, and some may be published by authors covered by open access policies. Communication with authors and/or journals may be helpful to improve the percentage of open access.
A PubMed search for “coronavirus” limited to the past 10 years then limited again to free full-text yields results of 55% free full-text. With no date limit, it’s 46%.
This search will get at research on COVID and the next most relevant research, all the other coronaviruses (mers, sars, common cold), and will be helpful for researchers and medical practitioners anywhere.
China’s early release of the COVID genetic code and even traditional publishers scrambling to make COVID resources free is demonstrating that people get at least some of the points of open access and open research.
It would be interesting to compare publisher responses today with earlier epidemics. If I recall correctly, there is a significant change from responding to pressure to proactively making resources free without OA pressure.
This is progress. It’s not 100% OA but a lot more researchers and practitioners have free access to a lot more of our knowledge than was the case with the 2003 Sars epidemic.
Further pressure might be helpful. Identification and analysis of the 45% PubMed results that are coronavirus but not free full-text would identify suitable targets for gentle pressure. Some such articles may have been written by authors covered by an OA policy. Such a results list would likely yield journal lists and individual articles, many of which could be deposited in repositories thanks to the efforts of green OA advocates.
Librarians and others working from home can send e-mails to authors and it should be possible to add items to repositories remotely. Publishers who are green not gold should ideally work with PMC and can also send e-mails to authors reminding them of the green policy.
Although research on coronavirus is urgent, university researchers who are also teachers are likely swamped due to a sudden shift to online teaching this semester. For this group, it might make sense to time communication after the semester ends.
Update April 1: added: NISO’s meta-collection of COVID-19 responses by the information community. In future updates will be moved to the bottom of the post in order to focus on resources.
Update March 31: to avoid confusion, I’ve added a list of the key resources for policy-makers, the general public, researchers and practitioners at the top of this post. The original post is now named “details for open access and scholarly communication specialists” and is intended to help specialists contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and to use COVID-19 as an ad hoc case study to understand why open access to scholarship matters, assess and further progress on OA. I’ve also added Emerald, an example of best practice in providing free access to a broader range of information such as social sciences and supply chain management.
Details for open access and scholarly communication specialists
Major publishers are making research and data directly related to COVID-19 freely available. This is good news, and may reflect progress towards open access over the past two decades, because the arguments for free sharing of information in the context of pandemic are so compelling, as I touched on in this post.
A few examples, current best practices and gaps, will follow, but first, a few notes to explain why we need to move beyond open sharing of directly related resources to include all resources.
Scientists working on COVID: while the greatest need is research and data directly on COVID per se, some pieces of the puzzle of solving any scientific problem can come from any branch of scientific inquiry. For example, basic research on how the respiratory system works, viruses and their transmission, may provide clues that will help COVID scientists. Some of this knowledge may be locked up in the print collections of libraries that are closed to limit spread of the virus.
Practitioners dealing with the more severe cases are often dealing with patients who have other health issues. Clinical research on the other issues and relevant co-morbidity studies (e.g. when people with the other illness have other types of pneumonia) might save some lives.
Educational institutions and governments that want to speed up training of health professionals to cope with the pandemic need the full range of knowledge relating to the health professions, in addition to COVID-specific resources. This includes all of the basic sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), much of the social sciences, as well as arts and humanities for a well-rounded education (e.g. foster creativity through arts, cultural understanding for clinical care through humanities).
The pandemic per se raises a great many major secondary challenges, particularly the social challenges of helping entire populations cope with lock-down and the short and medium-term economic challenges. To address these challenges, we need all of our knowledge about communications, information, psychology, culture and history, along with classical and political economics. Part of the immediate solution to help people cope with lockdown is culture and arts. Like the COVID resources, many arts organizations and individual artists are making their works freely available. This is welcome and useful, but raises questions about economic support for artists and the arts so that this can continue; these are economic questions as well as challenges for the arts. We need open access to all of our knowledge to move forward with these secondary challenges. Right now is an excellent time to do this, because some of these secondary challenges are critical to dealing with the pandemic and limiting short and medium-term damage, and because so many researchers everywhere are working from home and would be able to benefit from this access.
Libraries are an essential service and have been providing online services for many resources. In the short term, one way to contribute even further: It should be possible to have people work at scanning stations to digitize material not yet online while maintaining social distancing. Correction: safety is a priority. Staff should not be asked to take this on if travel to work presents a risk of infection, for example. This might have to wait until the pandemic is over.
Examples of major publisher COVID-19 related initiatives for comparative purposes follow. Note that I use parent company names first as part of an ongoing effort to help people understand the nature of these organizations, whether publicly traded corporations or privately held businesses, often with multiple divisions of which scholarly publishing forms just one part.
NISO: COVID-19: Response from the Information Community. NISO is developing and growing a meta-collection of responses that include all of the following, and much more. This site is recommended for those looking for resources. The following analysis is limited to a few select examples of good practices.
RELX (Elsevier +): COVID responses across all company divisions, featured prominently on home page; Novel Coronavirus Center “;with the latest medical and scientific information on COVID-19. The center has been set up since the start of the outbreak and is in English and Mandarin. Elsevier has provided full access to this content for PubMed Central”; COVID-19 clinical toolkit; free institutional access to ClinicalKey student platform until the end of June; rapid publication (preprints and data) of COVID-19 related works; data visualization of the impact of the virus on the aviation industry; LexisNexis free, comprehensive COVID-19 related legal news coverage; turned exhibition space in Austria into a functional hospital.
SpringerNature: “As a leading research publisher, Springer Nature is committed to supporting the global response to emerging outbreaks by enabling fast and direct access to the latest available research, evidence, and data.”
informa (Taylor & Francis +): no mention of COVID on parent company home page; Taylor & Francis COVID-19 resource center: microsite that provides “links and references to all relevant COVID-19 research articles, book chapters and information that can be freely accessed on Taylor & Francis Online and Taylor & Francis ebooks in support of the global efforts in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and further research into COVID-19″; prioritizing rapid publication of COVID-19 research.
Wiley offers free access to resources until the end of the Spring 2020 term to help with online education; ” making all current and future research content and data on theCOVID-19 Resource Siteavailable to PubMed Central”.
Emerald: free access not only to resources directly related to COVID-19, but also other coronaviruses such as SARS, also “explores the wider impact on society and includes research on healthcare, education, homeworking, SCM and tourism.”
Some best practices beyond making directly relevant resources free from different companies that others could follow:
Meta-collection of a discipline-specific list of resources: NISO’s COVID-19 response from the information community
Reflections on COVID-19 and open access, March 23, 2020:
The need to address common problems affecting all or much of humanity is one of the compelling reasons for open access. Given major issues of concern today, particularly climate change (and the short-term need to focus on the current pandemic), this makes OA, along with open data and other innovations in scholarly communication, urgent.
The immediate need is to open up access to scholarly material and data that is directly relevant to the epidemic, as well as to freely share cultural materials that will help people cope with social isolation. Many of my colleagues are already doing this. Thank you!
In my opinion, the best time to have a broader advocacy-oriented conversation for the public at large will be in a few months (except in countries like China and South Korea that are ahead in addressing the pandemic). This is because the immediate focus for most of us needs to be slowing the pandemic (flattening the curve) to avoid overwhelming health systems as much as possible, address shortages of medical equipment and supplies, and to allow time for research on treatments and development of vaccines. People in my country are undergoing unprecedented massive social change in a short period of time. Collectively, we need time to grasp that this really is serious, learn about the illness, how to prevent and deal with it, and adjust to the need for social distancing and isolation.
For the benefit of colleagues in the OA movement, following are copies of 2 posts that I wrote on this subject on The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics (in 2007, and 2012), with some links (that I haven’t checked).
The most rapid advances in science come with open sharing of information, and collaboration. That is how the world’s scientists accomplished the mapping of a human genome in a matter of years. If traditional publishing practices had been followed instead of open sharing, it seems likely that mapping the human genome would have taken decades, if not centuries.
Our world shares some issues on a global basis; some of these are, or will become, urgent. One example is global warming; surely this needs the kind of open sharing and focus on the problem that went into the human genome project.
Another example is bird flu. The more our neighbours know about viruses, the better equipped they are for early identification and dealing with an epidemic, the lesser the chances that the epidemic will arrive at our shores.
We will save money with an open scholarly communications system, as preventing people from reading has significant costs. However, even if it did cost more, the question would not be how could we afford OA, but rather how could we not.
One of the benefits of open access is accelerating discovery. This benefit is most evident with libre open access (allowing for re-use and machine assistance via text and data mining), and particularly in evidence with little or no delay from time of discovery to time of sharing of work.
There are always many reasons for accelerating discovery – here are just a few examples of why we need full, immediate, libre, OA, and why we need it NOW:
Multiple drug resistance: we have developed a range of drugs that has worked for us in the past few decades to combat bacteria, tuberculosis, and other diseases. Now we are seeing increasing levels of resistance to antibiotics and others drugs, including anti-malarial drugs. Maintaining the health gains of the past few decades will take more than continuing with current solutions; we need more research, and the faster we can do this, the better the odds of staving off the next epidemic.
Another example of why we need to accelerate discovery, and we need to move to accelerated discovery fast, is the need to find solutions to climate change and cleaner, more efficient energy. We literally cannot afford to wait.
So as much as some of us might wish to give current scholarly publishers time to adjust to a full libre open access environment, this is a luxury that we cannot afford.
These examples of acceleration will likely provide new business opportunities, too. If this happens, it is a welcome, albeit secondary, benefit.
Original e-mail (Heather Morrison to SCHOLCOMM, Jan. 7, 2020):
** January 15 suggested deadline **
This is a reminder that open peer review is being sought for the Sustaining the Knowledge Common’s project OA main 2019 dataset and its documentation. For those who may not have time for a thorough peer review, a set of 6 questions is provided and responses to any of the questions would be welcome. This is an opportunity to participate in an experimental approach to two innovations in scholarly communication: a particular approach to open peer review, and peer review of a dataset and its documentation. The latter is considered important to encourage and reward researchers for data sharing.
Although full open peer review is the default, if anyone would like to remain anonymous this should be reasonably easy to accommodate by having a friend or colleague forward your comments with an indication of their anonymity.
January 15 is the deadline but if anyone interested would like to participate and needs more time, just let me know. Thank you to those who have already provided comments.
Dr. Heather Morrison
Associate Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa
Professeur Agrégé, École des Sciences de l’Information, Université d’Ottawa
Principal Investigator, Sustaining the Knowledge Commons, a SSHRC Insight Project
Heather.Morrison at uottawa.ca https://uniweb.uottawa.ca/?lang=en#/members/706
[On research sabbatical July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020]
Heather Staines, first response, Jan. 8, 2020:
I took a look at your open peer review survey. Very interesting!
I interviewed the authors of three MIT Press books (coming 2020) who used open peer review on our open source platform, PubPub. If this would ever be helpful for you in pursuing future surveys or experiences, please do let me know.
MIT Knowledge Futures Group
Heather Morrison response, Jan. 8, 2020:
Thank you, your blog post is very interesting.
I see tremendous potential for online collaborative writing and annotations. For example, last year I had students write crowdsourced online essays in class; students were asked to find one interesting recent article on privacy, prepare notes, and write a collaborative “current issues in privacy” in class. I have participated in online annotation peer review in the past.
However, I have some concerns about the annotation and collaborative writing approaches to peer review. My reasons, in case this is of interest:
An annotation approach, in my experience, invites and encourages wordsmithing and focus on minor issues and makes it difficult to contribute at a deeper level (e.g. issues of substance, critique of fundamental underlying ideas).
Depending on the project, individual, and group, the optimal approach might be collaborative writing or individual voice. In the area of open access and scholarly communication, I have a unique perspective and consider this my most important contribution. This gets lost in collaborative writing. For this reason, I write as an individual (or co-author as supervisor with students) in this area.
Although in the past I have participated in the online annotation approach to open peer review, I have been disappointed because my comments (well-thought-out comments by an expert in the field) have been ignored, not only dismissed but not even acknowledged in the final version. This is a waste of my time, and I argue that it is not appropriate to present a final version under such circumstances as having passed a peer review process. Also, in recent years I have noticed a tendency to require reviewers to agree to open licensing conditions that I have object to; this for me is sufficient reason not to participate. [A brief explanation of several key lines of argument on this topic can be found here].
This is not for everyone, and I would not want to do this with every review, but occasional publication of such reviews opens up possibilities for study of the peer review process and allows me to appropriately claim my careful work in this area.
In the process of transforming scholarly communication I see fundamental questions about why we approach things the way we do, and how we might do things better, that I would like to see opened up for discussion. My blogpost / open invitation approach is deliberate; I consider development of platforms / checklist approaches as premature. This is developing technical solutions when, to me, we should be figuring out what the problems are.
This discussion should be part of the open peer review process. I am thinking of posting this response to my blog. May I post your e-mail as well?
Dr. Heather Morrison
Heather Staines, second response, Jan. 8, 2020:
Thank you for the quick and thoughtful response. Given some of your perspectives, you may also be interested in this companion piece, also from Peer Review Week, Making Peer Review More Transparent https://thecommons.pubpub.org/pub/kzujjdx8
I agree with you that there are challenges around an annotation-based approach. Prior to my role here at KFG, I was Head of Partnerships at Hypothesis (so I’m all about the annotation!). I continue to watch the evolution of annotation in the peer review space. Have you seen the Transparent Review in Preprints project: https://www.cshl.edu/transparent-review-in-preprints/?
I’m fine with your posting my previous (and current) emails, along with your responses. I hope we might cross paths sometime to discuss it further.
[square brackets indicates minor changes from original e-mails]