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.

Open to closed: how releasing government data into the public domain can result in loss of free public access

Boettcher & Dames (2018) raise some important issues regarding public domain government data. In brief, the U.S. federal government releases data into the public domain by default. This raises 2 potential types of issues:
  • privacy and security of individuals’ data
  • potential for enclosure / privatization of free public services if the government’s data is released as open data but the government does not maintain a free human readable version
From:
Boettcher, J. C., & Dames, K. M. (2018). Government Data as Intellectual Property: Is Public Domain the same as Open Access? Online Searcher42(4), 42–48.

https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/handle/10822/1051174

Abstract
Public domain and open data policies and how they are made. Current status of open data policies in the Federal government are changing with new laws. What is HR4174/S4047 and what does it say and mean? What are trends in government data policies regarding access to that statistical data? This article will give the reader an understanding of federal policies and laws regarding data.

Science, let’s talk: your friend, all other knowledges

The purpose of the Sustaining the Knowledge Commons research program is to help in the process of transitioning to a stable global knowledge commons, through which everyone can access all of our collective knowledge free-of-charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions and to which all who are qualified are welcome to contribute. One common problem that I see in the open access movement and in the scientific community (OA or not) is a tendency to conflate knowledge and science. I argue that this is a serious problem not only for other forms of knowledge, but a potential immanent existential threat to science itself. At a recent talk I presented a brief explanation of the argument. Following is the abstract and a link to the full presentation.

Presentation by Heather Morrison Feb. 26, University of Ottawa, as part of the CC- UNESCO Science as a Human Right Series.

Abstract

Article 27.1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”. The central argument of this presentation is that in order to achieve the goal of scientific advancement and its benefits it is necessary to understand science as one of the interdependent forms of the knowledge of humankind. To understand human rights, we need to understand the current and historical struggles through which the needs for human rights were identified and fought for. The conceptual development and implementation of human rights comes from philosophy, law, and politics, not scientific method. Science itself cannot function without logic, and is best not practiced without ethics; both logic and ethics, essential to scientific practice, are philosophy. Science needs philosophy.

Climate change is presented as evidence of why global policy based on scientific evidence is essential to the future, perhaps the very survival of the human species, and why global policy based on scientific evidence depends on more than science alone. If science alone were enough, the scientific consensus on climate change should have compelled effective action a long time ago. Science alone is not enough; political change requires political action. In the area of policy, belief in progress through science is just that, a matter of belief that competes with other belief systems. To help people change, to achieve political change, we need to understand not just what we know (the science), we need to understand how people think (social sciences and humanities) and how to effectively communicate with people (arts). If we in the developed world were to learn from our First Nations peoples about long-term planning, the ideas that we do not inherent the world from our ancestors but rather borrow it from our children, to plan for the seventh generation, we would have the knowledge to understand why we need policy in this area that is informed by the science. In conclusion, as a holistic scholar who is indigenous to, and cares above, the planet earth, on behalf of all the other forms of knowledges, I extend this invitation to science: let’s talk.

Link to download the full presentation: https://ruor.uottawa.ca/handle/10393/38890

Acknowledging a downside to APC: opening up scholars and scholarship to exploitation

Brainard (2019) in an April 3, 2019 article in Science, reports that a U.S. judge has ruled that a “deceptive” publisher [OMICS] should pay $50 million in damages. This is a timely opportunity to acknowledge a downside of the APC business model, that is, opening up scholarship to further commercial exploitation, including exploitation by publishers that do not or may not meet reasonable standards for academic quality and ethics in publishing, and to make recommendations to limit this potential for exploitation.

Abstract

The SKC team often focuses on the article processing charges (APC) business model for OA journal publishing, in order to observe and analyze trends. However, this focus is not an endorsement of either OA publishing (as opposed to OA archiving), or the APC business model that is used by a minority of fully OA journals. This post acknowledges a major downside to the APC model. APC “opens up” scholars and scholarly works for further commercial exploitation by traditional and new publishers that offers a wide range of quality in academic terms, ranging from excellent to mediocre and including a few with unethical practices that are not compatible with advancing our collective knowledge.This judge’s ruling provides an opportune moment to acknowledge this flaw in the APC business model, and to discuss potential remedies. I argue that it is essential for scholarly publishing to be scholar-led so that advancing scholarship is the primary priority. One model that I recommend as one to build on and expand is the SSHRC Aid to Scholarly Journals program. This program provides modest funding to scholarly journals that are under the direction of qualified Canadian academics. This funding is awarded through a competitive process that in effect serves as a journal-level academic peer review process. OA initiatives where key decisions are made by the research community (directly or through librarian representatives) are more likely to ensure high quality and ethical services than policies favouring and/or providing support for OA publishing with no clear vetting process of publication venues.

Details

There are downsides to any model for support of scholarly publishing. One important downside to the APC model is that it further “opens” scholars and scholarly works to exploitation for commercial purposes, including exploitation by publishers that do not meet academic standards for a variety of reasons ranging from lack to experience to deliberate deception. I do not personally evaluate or judge the quality of academic publishing. However, as Brainard (2019) reports, a U.S. judge has literally made a judgement in the case of OMICS.

Context

To understand how scholarly publishing has become vulnerable to this kind of exploitation, it is helpful to unravel the conflation of OA and OA publishing, and of OA publishing and the APC business model.

Open access (OA) is about access to the world’s scholarly knowledge. OA is not the same as OA publishing. There are 2 major approaches to OA; one is OA archiving, which is compatible with diverse publishing models. To get a sense of what has already been achieved through OA archiving, I recommend playing around with 2 major services. One is the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE). BASE cross-searches over 6,000 archives around the world that collectively contain more than 140 million documents, 60% of which are OA. The other is the Internet Archive, which provides access to billions of webpages, videos, audio recordings, and over 20 million texts. If a classic text is out of copyright, it is probably available through the Internet Archive.

The majority of fully OA journals (73% of journals in DOAJ as of today) do not charge article processing charges (APCs). How do they manage? Small journals can often get by with in-kind support such as journal hosting, modest university, funder, and/or scholarly society subsidies, and/or collaborative library-based support (e.g. Knowledge Unlatched, Open Humanities Press).

As of today, OMICs is still active. There is reason to think that there are substantial numbers of APC based OA journals by publishers of unknown and potentially problematic academic quality. As I reported based on the 2018 survey of OA journals at ELPUB 2018, ” 5 of the largest publishers are no longer listed in DOAJ (Canadian Center of Science and Education, Internet Scientific Publications, LLC, Macrothink Institute, SCIENCEDOMAINInternational, and Scientific Research Publishing; Bentham Open is listed in DOAJ in 2017, but not 2018). (Morrison, 2018). There are a variety of reasons why publishers might not be included in DOAJ. Publishers may not have completed the re-application process. This would be understandable as (in my opinion) the questionnaire is onerous and specific questions do not entirely make sense. However, not meeting the DOAJ criteria does raise questions about the quality of the publisher, particularly if DOAJ itself is used as a means of assessing quality. Journals and publishers disappearing from DOAJ raise the question of the advisability of relying on DOAJ inclusion as a criteria for quality. In an author selects a journal in DOAJ today, assuming this assures quality publication, the journal might disappear from DOAJ later, possibly when the author is up for tenure and promotion and reviewers are taking quality of publication venues into account in making recommendations.

Scams and poor quality publishing is not strictly an OA problem. There are scam conferences that are not at all OA, and traditional publishers of journals and monographs have a wide range of quality. However, it is a downside of a particular model for OA, and I recommend that the OA movement acknowledge this and help find remedies. As noted above, my remedy is scholarly leadership of OA initiatives, that is key decisions made by scholars whose primary work is in the university or research sectors, as the best way to make sure that quality of academic work is the top priority.

References

Brainard, J. (2019). U.S. judge rules deceptive publisher should pay $50 million in damages. Science April 3, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2019 from https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/us-judge-rules-deceptive-publisher-should-pay-501-million-damages

Morrison, H. (2018). Global OA APCs 2010 – 2017: major trends. Elpub 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2019 from https://elpub.episciences.org/4604/pdf