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

In the process of gathering APC data this spring, I noticed some good and some problematic practices with respect to journals that have ceased or transferred publisher.

There is no reason to be concerned about OA journals that do not last forever. Some scholarly journals publish continuously for an extended period of time, decades or even centuries. Others publish for a while and then stop. This is normal. A journal that is published largely due to the work of one or two editors may cease to publish when the editor(s) retire. Research fields evolve; not every specialized journal is needed as a publication venue in perpetuity. Journals transfer from one publisher to another for a variety of reasons. Now that there are over 11,000 fully open access journals (as listed in DOAJ), and some open access journals and publishers have been publishing for years or even decades, it is not surprising that some open access journals have ceased to publish new material.

The purpose of this post is to highlight some good practices when journals cease, some situations to avoid, and room for improvement in current practice. In brief, my advice is that when you cease to publish a journal, it is a good practice to continue to list the journal on your website, continue to provide access to content (archived on your website or another such as CLOCKSS, a LOCKKS network, or other archiving services such as national libraries that may be available to you), and link the reader interested in the journal to where the content can be found.

This is an area where even the best practices to date leave some room for improvement. CLOCKSS archiving is a great example of state-of-the-art but CLOCKSS’ statements and practice indicate some common misunderstandings about copyright and Creative Commons licenses. In brief, author copyright and CC licenses and journal-level CC licensing are not compatible. Third parties such as CLOCKSS should not add CC licenses as these are waivers of copyright. CC licenses may be useful tools for archives, however archiving requires archives; the licenses on their own are not sufficient for this purpose.

I have presented some solutions and suggestions to move forward below, and peer review and further suggestions are welcome.

Details and examples

Dove Medical Press is a model of good practice in this respect. For example, if you click on the title link for Dove’s Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults a pop-up springs up with the following information:

“Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults ceased publishing in January 2017. All new submissions can be made to Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics. All articles that have been published in Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults will continue to be available on the Dove Press site, and will be securely archived with CLOCKSS”.

Because the content is still available via Dove’s website, the journal is not included on the CLOCKSS’ list of triggered content. This is because CLOCKKS releases archived content when it is no longer available from the publisher’s own website.

CLOCKSS Creative Commons licensing statement and practice critique

One critique for CLOCKSS: – from the home page:  “CLOCKSS is for the entire world’s benefit. Content no longer available from any publisher (“triggered content”) is available for free. CLOCKSS uniquely assigns this abandoned and orphaned content a Creative Commons license to ensure it remains available forever”.

This reflects some common misperceptions with respect to Creative Commons licenses. As stated on the Creative Commons “share your work” website:  [your emphasis added] “Use Creative Commons tools to help share your work. Our free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give you permission to share and use your creative work— on conditions of your choice“.

The CLOCKSS statement  “CLOCKSS uniquely assigns this abandoned and orphaned content a Creative Commons license to ensure it remains available forever” is problematic for two reasons.

1. This does not actually reflect CLOCKSS’ practice. The Creative Commons statements associated with triggered content indicate publisher rather than CLOCKSS’ CC licenses. For example, the license statement for the Journal of Pharmacy Teaching on the CLOCKSS website states: “The JournalPharmacyTeaching content is copyright Taylor and Francis and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License”.

2. This would be even more problematic if it did reflect CLOCKSS’ practice. This is because CLOCKSS is not an author or publisher of the scholarly journals and articles included in CLOCKSS. Creative Commons provides a means for copyright owners to indicate willingness to share their work. When a third party such as CLOCKSS uses CC licenses, they are explicitly or implicitly claiming copyright it order to waive their rights under copyright. This reflects an expansion rather than limitation of copyright that may lead to the opposite of what is intended. For example, if one third party is a copyright owner that wishes to claim copyright in order to grant broad-based downstream rights, another third party could use the copyright claim to support their right to claim copyright in order to lock down others’ works. A third party that is a copyright owner providing free access today could use this copyright claim in future as a rationale for toll access. This could come into play if in future toll access seems more desirable from a business perspective.

The CLOCKSS practice of publisher-level copyright (see 1. above) is problematic because Creative Commons first release of CC licenses was in December 2002. Scholarly journal publishing predates 2002 (the first scholarly journals were published in 1665), and not every journal uses CC licenses even today. Retroactive journal-level CC licensing would require re-licensing of every article that was published prior to the journal’s first use of CC licensing.

For example, the copyright statements of volume 1 dated 1990 on the PDFs of the CLOCKSS-triggered Journal of Pharmacy Teaching read: “Journal of Pharmacy Teaching, Vol. l(1)1990 (C) 1990 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved”. This suggests that all authors in this journal at this point in time assigned full copyright to The Haworth Press, although actual practice was probably more complex. For example, if any authors were working for the U.S. federal government at the time, their work would have been public domain by U.S. government policy. Any portions of third party works included would likely have had separate copyright. Even assuming the simplest scenario, all authors had and transferred all rights under copyright to Haworth Press, the authors would retain moral rights, hence it would be necessary to contact all of the authors to obtain their permission to re-license the works under Creative Commons licenses.

The idea of journal-level CC licensing is at odds with the idea of author copyright. This confusion is common. For example, the website of the Open Access Scholarly Publisher’s Association Licensing FAQ states: “one of the criteria for membership is that a publisher must use a liberal license that encourages the reuse and distribution of content” and later “Instead of transferring rights exclusively to publishers (the approach usually followed in subscription publishing), authors grant a non-exclusive license to the publisher to distribute the work, and all users and readers are granted rights to reuse the work”. If copyright and CC licenses really do belong to the authors, then journal-level Creative Commons license statements are incorrect.

Even more room for improvement

The above, while leaving some room for improvement, appears to reflect best practices at the present time. Other approaches leave even more room for improvement. For example, in 2016 Sage acquired open access publisher Libertas Academica. The titles that Sage has continued can now be found on the Sage website. The Libertas Academica titles that Sage no longer publishes can be found as trigged content on the CLOCKSS website. However, the original Libertas Academica website no longer exists and there is no indication of where to find these titles from the Sage website.

Titles that were formerly published by BioMedCentral are simply no longer listed on the BMC list of journals. For example, if you would like to know where to find Gigascience, formerly published by BMC, you can find information at the site of the current publisher, Oxford. A note on the SpringerLink page indicates that BMC maintains an archive of content on its website. However, if you look for Gigascience on the BMC journal list, it simply is not listed. It would be an improvement to follow the practice of Dove and include the title, link to the archived content, and provide a link to the current publisher.

Solutions? Some suggestions

If journals and publishers were encouraged to return copyright to the authors when a journal is no longer published, or a book is no longer being actively marketed (in addition to using their existing rights to archive and make works freely available), then authors, if they chose to do so, could release new versions of their works. For example, a work currently available in PDF could be re-released in XML to facilitate text and data-mining, or perhaps updated versions, and authors could, if desired, release new versions with more liberal licenses than journal-level licenses that must of necessity fit the lowest common denominator (the author least willing or able to share).

Education, among the existing open access community, and beyond is needed. First, we need to understand the perhaps unavoidable micro level nature of at least some elements of copyright under conditions of re-use of material. For example, if a CC-BY licensed image by one photographer or artist is included in a scholarly article written by a different person that is also CC-BY licensed, the moral rights, including attribution, are different for the copyright holder of the image and that of the author of the article. In academia, attribution and moral rights are essential to our careers.

The intersection of plagiarism and copyright is different in academia. If one musical composer copies another’s work, copyright law is likely the go-to remedy. If a student presents someone else’s work as their own, academic procedures for dealing with plagiarism will apply, regardless of the copyright status of the work. For example, the musician using a public domain work need not worry about copyright but the student using a public domain work without attribution is guilty of plagiarism and likely to face serious consequences. Evolving norms for other types of creators (amateur or professional photographers, video game developers) may not work for academia.

For CLOCKSS, a statement that all triggered content is made freely available to the public, and that additional rights may be available for some works, with advice to look at the work in question to understand re-use rights, would be an improvement.

Your comments and suggestions?

This is an area where even today’s best practices are wanting, and the solutions / suggestions listed above are intended as an invitation to open a conversation on potential emerging practices that may take some time to fully figure out. Peer review and suggestions are welcome, via the comments section or e-mail. If you are using e-mail, please let me know if I may transfer the content to this post and if so whether you would like to be attributed or not.

This post is cross-posted to my Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics scholarly blog and forms part of the Creative Commons and Open Access Critique series. Comments and suggestions are welcome on either blog.

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2018). Ceased and transferred publications and archiving: Best practices and room for improvement. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/07/05/ceased-and-transferred-publications-and-archiving-best-practices-and-room-for-improvement/

 

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

Following is a summary of recent APC changes for 4 publishers, prepared on request but posted in case this might be of interest to anyone else. In brief, each publisher appears to be following a different pricing strategy ranging from flat pricing over many years with one rare exception, to a tenfold increase from 2016 – 2017.

BioMedCentral: mixed picture

• 269 journals with numeric data 2017 and 2018 (April 4 sampling date both years)
• 20 with price increases of 2% – 83% (30 – 620 GBP)
• 5 with price decreases of 1% – 15% (15 – 205 GBP)
• Of interest: 25 journals with no publication fee (appears to be society / university sponsorship)
• Of concern: 44 journals with “title not found”: some will reflect earlier title drop

Hindawi April 2016 – November 2017: mixed picture, price increases a bit concerning

• 281 journals with numeric data for 2016 and 2017 (including 0 = free for now*)
• 99 journals have price increases ranging from 14 – 108% (100% = price has doubled), increases of 250 – 650 USD
• 115 journals have no change in pricing
• 45 journals have price decreases of 6 – 25%, 50 – 100 USD
• Of interest: 230 Predecessor journals (ISRN series): good practice
• Of concern: 186 title not found (not limited to 2017), excluding predecessor

*Rotating free journals: 5 of the 281 journals were free in 2016; 1 is still free, the other 4 have APCs of 1250 – 1750 USD. 17 journals that had an APC in 2016 were free in 2017. Paul Peters sent an e-mail explaining this strategy a few years ago.

PLOS ONE: flat pricing with one exception
From 2014 – 2018, there has been only one price change for PLOS journals: PLOS ONE was $1,350 USD in 2014 and is $1,495 USD today. The sample date was December 2017, a visual scan confirms the same prices are in effect as of April 13, 2018.

PeerJ: tenfold price increase from 2016 – 2017 (99 USD – 1,095 USD); new journal PeerJ Computer Science is 895 USD.

See also yesterday’s post Frontiers: 40% of journals have price increases from 18 – 31%.

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2018). Recent APC price changes for 4 publishers (BMC, Hindawi, PLOS, PeerJ). Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/04/13/recent-apc-price-changes-for-4-publishers-bmc-hindawi-plos-peerj/

 

Comparison of BioMed Central APCs from 2010-2016

Method

We compared 2016 BioMed Central (BMC) Article Processing Charges (APCs) in US dollars (USD) with APC data from 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2015. A total of 165 matching journal titles were compared.

2010/2016

All but one title has increased its APCs since 2010. Molecular Autism was the only title that decreased. Its APCs were $2200 in 2010 and are now $2145, with a decrease of -3%. 18% was the mode of the percentage of increase since 2010, with 55/165 titles increasing their APCs by 18%, all of these APCs were $1825 and are now $2145. The highest percentage of change (77%) was for the journal, Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, which was charging $1365 in 2010 and is now charging $2410 in 2016. The average price in 2010 was about $1750 while the average price in 2016 is $2197. The chart below shows a comparison of a sample of BMC journal titles with APCs from 2010 and 2016.

Biomed Central APCs 2010 and 2016

2013/2016

Most APCs have increased since 2013 as well. 163/165 increased and two have decreased. The mode of percentage of change from 2013 to 2016 was 4%, 80/165 titles increased by 4%. Another prevalent percentage was 21%. 42 titles increased by 21%, 40/42 of these titles were priced at $1780 in 2013 and increased to $2145 in 2016. Finally, two titles, Molecular Autism and Neural Development, have decreased in price since 2013, both were priced at $2355, but have since reduced in price by $210. The highest percentage of change, 36%, was the Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, which was $1580 in 2013 and is now $2145. The average price in 2013 was $1984, compared to $2197 in 2016.

2014/2016

Interestingly, many APCs increased between 2013 and 2014, but decreased in 2015. APCs of 94 journal titles have decreased since 2014, and two have stayed the same. -3% was the mode of percentage of change for 76 titles, all but one of these was priced at $2215 in 2014, and they are now $2145 in 2016. The highest percentage of change, 17%, was the Health Research Policy and Systems, which was $1960 in 2010 and $2300 in 2016. The lowest percentage of decrease was a tie between Molecular Autism and Neural Development at -16%, both were $2545 in 2014 and are now $2145. The average charges were $2168 in 2014, which is slightly lower than the $2197 average in 2016.

2015/2016

Most, 111/165 (67%), titles’ APCs have stayed the same since 2015. Molecular Autism and Neural Development are the only two titles that have decreased their APCs, from $2450 to $2145. The average APC price has increased from $2149 to $2197. The highest percentage of increase was a tie between 21 journals at 11%, all of these titles were charging $1940 in 2015 and are now charging $2145.

US Inflation Rates Compared to BMC APCs

When comparing the percentage change of BMC APCs from 2010 to 2016, it is clear that most prices have increased at a higher rate than the US rate of inflation. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, lists the average Consumer Price Index (CPI) or US inflation rates for each year from 2010 to 2015 as: 2010: 1.6%, 2011: 3.2%, 2012: 2.1%, 2013: 1.5%, 2014: 1.6%, 2015: 0.1% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). When compounded, the US inflation rate from 2010 to 2016 comes to 8.7%. However, when comparing BMC’s APCs, most titles (148/165) have increased by 18% or more since 2010.

In 2010, $1825 was the most prevalent APC amount listed by BMC. According to the CPI Inflation Calculator provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that price in 2016 would be $1,984.48. However, BMC lists all APCs that were formerly $1825, for example BMC Anesthesiology, in 2010 as $2145 in 2016. The chart below compares the price of BMC Anesthesiology using the US inflation rate against the BMC APC. As you can see, in 2014 the APC, like many APCs, increased (from $2060 in 2013 to $2215 in 2014), but decreased to $2145 in 2015 and has remained at this price as of April 13, 2016.

Our comparison of inflation rates to APCs harkens back to the Report on the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Serials Project by Ann Okerson (1989). The objective of Okerson’s study was to test the hypothesis that subscription prices had risen at a faster rate than inflation in publishing costs, which was found to be true (1989). In our case, a majority of APCs have stayed the same since 2015, but most APCs have increased at a higher rate than the rate of inflation when comparing 2010 to 2016 charges. These mixed results suggest that BMC’s APCs could be increasing over time at a faster rate than the rate of inflation, however it is too soon to say what the future will hold. We will continue to monitor BMC’s APCs in order to gain insight into future pricing trends.

Screenshot (75)

References

BioMed Central. (2016). Fees and funding. Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://bmcanesthesiol.biomedcentral.com/submission-guidelines/fees-and-funding

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). Consumer Price Index – All Urban Consumers. Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). CPI Inflation Calculator. Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

Okerson, A. (1989). Report on the ARL Serials Project. The Serials Librarian, 17(3-4), 111-119. doi:10.1300/j123v17n03_15

Cite as:   Wheatley, S. (2016). Comparison of BioMed Central APCs from 2010-2016. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/04/13/comparison-of-biomed-central-apcs-from-2010-2016/

BioMed Central Article Processing Charges

BioMed Central and Directory of Open Access Journals (2016)

If you look at the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) you will see that some journals have Article Processing Charges (APCs) listed. So why are we still gathering APC data? Two reasons: one is to check the accuracy and completeness of the DOAJ APC data, and the other is that we gather more detail on the model than what is captured in DOAJ.  BioMed Central (BMC) offers one good illustration – while DOAJ includes a single figure1 for APC amount, BMC provides pricing in 3 currencies on its website.

306 titles are listed on BMC’s website (2016, February 22)2, and 289 BMC titles are listed in DOAJ.  When comparing the two lists of journal titles we found that 274 matched.

  • Of the 274 matching titles, only 38 (14%) provided an APC in DOAJ
  • Of the 38, the number of titles with an accurate APC was 15 out of 38 (40%)
  • 23 of the 38 APCs (60%) did not match
  • Two of the 38 (5%) had a higher APC in DOAJ
  • 21 of 38 (55%) had a lower APC in DOAJ

In summary, only 15 of the 289 (5%) BMC journals have accurate APCs listed in DOAJ.

Table 1. Comparison of the 38 APCs from BMC’s website and DOAJ

BMC DOAJ 2016 Comparison

BioMed Central Article Processing Charges Between 2015 and 2016

The chart below compares APCs listed on BMC’s website from May 15, 2015 with February 22, 2016.  Most (65%) APCs have stayed the same, however 34% have increased.

Screenshot (27)

Note: This is our first post on BMC this year.  We are doing more longitudinal work and will report back soon.

I would like to thank Jihane Salhab for allowing me to build on her work.

Footnotes

1. BMC’s APC currency in DOAJ is usually GBP (Pound Sterling).
2. As of March 30, 2016, BMC no longer has the table of APCs available on its website that was used for this price comparison.

Cite as:

Wheatley, S. (2016, March 23). BioMed Central Article Processing Charges. Retrieved December 13, 2019, from Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir les savoirs communs website: https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2016/03/23/biomed-central-article-processing-charges/