Bienvenue à C.A.S.A.D.: Centre d’Accès aux Savoirs d’Afrique et de sa Diaspora

Notre Tanoh Laurent Kakou a créé un blog pour son propre projet de recherche en libre accès, C.A.S.A.D.: Centre d’Accès aux Savoirs d’Afrique et de sa Diaspora.

Quelques articles seront familiers aux lecteurs de Soutenir les savoirs communs, le travail de l’équipe; d’autres sont nouveau recherche fait par Tanoh. La vidéo Qu’est-ce que la revue Afroscopie?, un entretien avec Benoit Awazi, est éclairante pour quiconque s’intéresse à la recherche en Afrique francophone.

Merci et félicitations à notre Tanoh Laurent Kakou, candidat au doctorat en communication (et diplômé d’ÉSIS), qui a réussi son examen de synthèse cet été! Meilleurs voeux à Tanoh et sa recherche.

English

Welcome to C.A.S.A.D.: Centre d’Accès aux Savoirs d’Afrique et de sa Diaspora

Our Tanoh Laurent Kakou has created a blog for his own research project in open access, C.A.S.A.D.: Centre d’Accès aux Savoirs d’Afrique et de sa Diaspora.

Some articles will be familiar to readers of Sustaining the knowledge commons, as the work of the team; others are new research projects by Tanoh. The video Qu’est-ce que la revue Afroscopie?, an interview with Benoit Awazi, is enlightening for anyone who is interested in research in francophone Africa.

Thank you and congratulations to our Tanoh Laurent Kakou, a doctoral candidate in communication (and graduate of ÉSIS) on passing his comprehensive exam this summer! Best wishes to Tanoh and his research.

Français

BioMedCentral 2020

BioMedCentral (BMC) 2019 – 2020

by Anqi Shi & Heather Morrison

Key points

  • 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

Abstract

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.

Details and documentation: download the PDF: BMC_2019_2020_as_hm

Data: BMC_2019_2020

Cite as: Shi, A. & Morrison, H. (2020). BioMedCentral 2020. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2020/06/08/biomedcentral-2020/

Frontiers 2020: a third of journals increase prices by 45 times the inflation rate

Updates June 4:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Journal title 2020 APC 2019 APC 2020 – 2019 price change (numeric) 2020 – 2019 price change (percent)
Frontiers in Earth Science 2,950 1,900 1,050 55%
Frontiers in Veterinary Science 2,950 1,900 1,050 55%
Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Energy Research 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Environmental Science 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Nutrition 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Physics 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Surgery 2,490 1,900 590 31%
Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence 1,150 950 200 21%
Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Chemistry 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Marine Science 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Materials 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Oncology 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Pediatrics 2,950 2,490 460 18%
Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 2,950 2,490 460 18%

The full spreadsheet can be found here:

Frontiers_OA_main_2020

References

Morrison, H. (2018). Frontiers: 40% journals have APC increases of 18 – 31% from 2017 to 2018. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2018/04/12/frontiers-40-journals-have-apc-increases-of-18-31-from-2017-to-2018/

Pashaei, H., & Morrison, H. (2019). Frontiers in 2019: 3% increase in average APC. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/04/30/frontiers-in-2019-3-increase-in-average-apc/

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2020). Frontiers 2020: a third of journals increase prices by 45 times the inflation rate. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs : https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2020/06/03/frontiers-2020-a-third-of-journals-increase-prices-by-45-times-the-inflation-rate/

Coronavirus: an idea to identify articles that aren’t OA yet, but could be

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.
Just some ideas…
Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2020). Coronavirus: an idea to identify articles that aren’t OA yet, but could be. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2020/03/31/coronavirus-an-idea-to-identify-articles-that-arent-oa-yet-but-could-be/

COVID-19 open access and open research: good progress and what is missing

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.

Key resources

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 the COVID-19 Resource Site available 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.”

Discussion

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
  • Comprehensive, company-wide COVID-19 response: RELX (Elsevier +)
  • Help for educational institutions facing the challenge of suddenly moving online: Wiley
  • Rapid publication: informa (Taylor & Francis +), RELX (Elsevier +)
  • PubMedCentral deposit, facilitating search by researchers and best long-term solution: Wiley, RELX (Elsevier +), Emerald (also available on WHO website)
  • Including wider impact on society: Emerald

Gaps

  • No hospital for countries most in need (another hospital in Austria is welcome, but there are many other countries with greater needs).
  • Resources beyond those most directly and obviously related to COVID-19.
  • Language: the only language mentioned besides English is RELX / Elsever, and only Mandarin is mentioned.

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2020). COVID-19, open access and open research: good progress and wha is missing. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2020/03/30/covid-19-open-access-and-open-research-good-progress-and-what-is-missing/

See also:

Additional publisher resources:

American Association of Publishers (AAP) What publishers are doing to help during the coronavirus. (thanks to the Open Access Tracking Project)

Related SKC / IJPE posts:

Morrison, H. (2020). COVID-19, open access and open research: good progress and what is missing. Sustaining the knowledge commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2020/03/30/covid-19-open-access-and-open-research-good-progress-and-what-is-missing/

Morrison, H. (2007). Needed: open access, open science. The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics https://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com/2007/07/needed-open-access-open-science.html

Reflections on COVID-19 and OA: materials now, advocacy later

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).


Needed: Open Access, Open Science

Jim Till’s post on Open Access Science and Science Policy on Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure, nicely sums up one of the most important reasons why we need open access.

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.

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2007). Needed: open access, open science. The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics https://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com/2007/07/needed-open-access-open-science.html
(If citing Jim Till, please cite Till / Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure.

Why accelerate discovery? reasons why we need open access now

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.

Cite as:  Morrison, H. (2012). Why accelerate discovery? Reasons why we need open access now. The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics https://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-accelerate-discovery-reasons-why-we.html

Peer review of Pubfair framework

Peer review of Pubfair framework:

Ross-Hellauer, T.; Fecher, B.; Shearer, K.; Rodrigues, E. (2019). Pubfair: a framework for sustainable, distributed, open science publishing. White paper, version 1: Sept. 3, 2019. Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR).m Retrieved September 23, 2019 from https://www.coar-repositories.org/news-media/inviting-community-input-pubfair/

by: Dr. Heather Morrison, sustainingknowledgecommons.org

Highlights

“Science” is only one type of knowledge. There are nine faculties at the University of Ottawa; only one is named “science”, and this is typical at a large university. I strongly recommend replacing “science”, “scientists” and “open science” with more inclusive terminology such as “open scholarship” or “open knowledge”, “scholar” or “researcher” in the title and throughout the document. The Pubfair framework is an excellent beginning for a needed profound transformation in how scholars work together and disseminate research. This is the kind of approach most likely to achieve significant savings based on current spend on scholarly publishing, and these savings will be needed to support innovation in scholarly production and dissemination. My recommendation is to proceed with an iterative approach and an initial focus on helping scholarly communities with unmet needs for new forms of review and publishing, such as scholars who create and share datasets or tools using artificial intelligence, digital humanists, and scholarly bloggers. The specific needs for community input whether through review or collaboration in the planning process will vary by discipline and type of product. The work of defining needs and identifying potential solutions should be led by the scholarly community in consultation with repository managers. This is a reversal of the proposed leadership / consultation approach in the framework document. Finally, while I recommend an immediate start to this approach, my advice is to see this as a long-term radical transformation that will likely take decades to complete.

Details

Scholarship includes, but is not limited to, science. I suggest changing the title and wording throughout the document to more inclusive terminology such as “open scholarship” or “open knowledge”. To illustrate why this matters: the University of Ottawa (uO) is an indirect membership of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) through our membership in the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL).  uO has 9 faculties: Arts, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Telfer School of Management. If this framework for “open science publishing services” is to become a reality, is it intended to serve only one of our 9 faculties? This seems unlikely. This conflation of “science” with “knowledge” or “scholarship” is not unique to this group but reflects a broader trend in the open movements. The problem is much larger than mere semantics, it reflects a tendency in our society to devalue types of knowledge other than science. I argue that this is a danger to our collective knowledge of all types, including science. For example, would it be wise to practice science without ethics or logic? Ethics and logic are branches of philosophy. Readers of this review will probably agree that governments should base policy on scientific evidence. However, politics per se is not science, and achieving and maintaining a goal of basing policy on scientific evidence requires understanding of history, political science, society, and communications. I discussed this in a recent conference presentation called knowledge as a human right (Morrison, 2019a).

The Pubfair conceptual model of building a framework to transform scholarly publishing building on a distributed network of repositories is a timely initiative and worthy of support. This is the kind of approach most likely to facilitate transformative transition in terms of both technology and economics. Houghton et al. (2009) conducted the most comprehensive study of the potential for transformation for a single country (the UK), comparing potential costs of 3 models: gold open access publishing, green open access archiving, and a third more transformative approach involving a new publishing system building peer review on top of archives. The transformative approach was calculated as having the potential to substantially reduce costs and was seen as the most cost-effective approach. However, at the time the UK did not think the country was ready for this transformation and opted for a focus on gold and maintenance of a pre-existing green system.

Much has changed in the past 10 years. The number of open access repositories listed in the vetted OpenDOAR list has grown from 1,419 on June 20, 2009 to 4,150 on June 30, 2019. OpenDOAR lists repositories on 5 continents. The largest metasearch service for repositories and open access journals is the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE). From 2009 to 2019 (June 30 each year) BASE grew from 1,730 content providers and just over 25 million documents searched to 7,211 content providers and just under 150 million items searched. (Morrison, 2019b).

Scholarly works and their dissemination appear to be undergoing a period of rapid transformation in a way that has not been addressed by traditional approaches to evaluating scholarship, the traditional publishing business, or even the open access movement. In the digital humanities, scholars are creating collections of electronic works and developing innovative means of searching, processing, and displaying material. Scholars in a wide range of disciplines from art to engineering are using artificial intelligence to create new knowledge and practical tools. The disciplines themselves are undergoing change with new forms of scholarship often overlapping what used to be separate disciplines. A few researchers, like me, are publishing open research using blogs and likely other formats and sharing open data; more would likely follow suit if they could be confident that they would receive appropriate recognition for doing so when it comes time for tenure and promotion.

Given this context, for practical reasons I recommend an iterative approach, beginning with scholars who are interested in exploring alternatives and motivated to do so because current approaches do not meet their needs. There may be common themes across disciplines and types of research, but it will also be important to recognize differences based on the type of work and the nature of the communities that would need to configure or re-configure to accomplish this work.

Four examples:

  • Peer review of open datasets might focus on quality and completeness of data and documentation, and/or adherence to relevant standards, reference to related work, and/or importance of the dataset. Qualified peer reviewers need some expertise in quantitative data and the relevant domain; comments from those who might benefit from results would be helpful as well. The ideal outcome might involve collaboration in the process of developing datasets rather than peer review after publication, to avoid duplication or fully benefit from triangulation from different approaches to the same underlying problem.
  • Peer review of a digital humanities dataset and portal for users might focus on the quality of metadata, quality and comprehensiveness of content, usability and accessibility of the users’ portal, preservation planning, interoperability with relevant databases, or how licensing for re-use has been addressed. Here, different aspects of review involve different types of expertise, from content subject knowledge to user experience to electronic preservation. The benefits of collaboration in the planning process appear obvious.
  • Peer review of tools developed through AI to support the work of health professionals and/or to help patients monitor their own conditions may require triangulation using other methods to ensure accuracy of results, user experience analysis of the tools and/or periodic evaluation of the ongoing accuracy of AI assuming ongoing machine learning.
  • Peer review of scholarly and research blogs such as Retraction Watch, my scholarly blog The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, and my research blog org might focus on the accuracy, originality, and/or importance of the contributions. In this case, review by subject experts is essential, and technical advice, which may be provided by different reviewers, is useful. Individual authors or groups of authors may or may not see collaboration in the planning process as useful. As a researcher-blogger, I can see situations where different types of blogs and authors would benefit from different types of review.

These examples are just a few of many possible new types of scholarship made possible by the digital environment. The optimal form of review and publishing such new types of works is, at present, unknown. This is another reason to seek an iterative approach and look for leadership within the communities of scholars pursuing these approaches. To understand what kind of review is most helpful for the community, it is necessary to understand in depth the nature of the research and/or creative works that are being developed.

Finally, this transition is a major cultural shift in how academics might work in future. It will take time to figure out the questions that will arise in the process, and more time to develop solutions. In summary, while I see this as a long-term transition, an approach along the lines of Pubfair is the right direction and steps should be taken to move in this direction as soon as possible.

Thank you for providing the opportunity to comment and best wishes for Pubfair.

About me

I write as a researcher focused on the transition of scholarly communication from the demand (subscriptions / purchase) to the supply side to support a global open access knowledge commons. My research project, funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council from 2014 – 2021, is called Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. My comments will be posted in the uO institutional repository and cross-posted to my open research blog, sustainingknowledgecommons.org.

References

Houghton, J.; Rasmussen, B.; Sheehan, P.; Oppenheim, C.; Morris, A.; Creaser, C.; Greenwood, H.; Summers, M. & Gourlay, A. (2009). Economics implications of alternative scholarly publishing models: Exploring the costs and benefit. A report to the Joint Information Systems Committee. UK. Retrieved July 11, 2019 from:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/45dd/cb9ebb9c8505a4ac86718734dda3311f91d8.pdf

Morrison, H. (2019a). Knowledge as a human right. Presentation Jan. 30, 2019, University of Ottawa, cc-UNESCO Science as a human right series. http://hdl.handle.net/10393/38890

Morrison, H. (2019b). The Dramatic Growth of Open Access. June 30, 2019 full dataset. https://hdl.handle.net/10864/10660

September 24, 2019.

Cross-posted: cite as:

Morrison, H. (2019). Peer review of Pubfair framework. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons. https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/09/24/peer-review-of-pubfair-framework/

 

 

Open Peer Review: a Model & an Invitation (2019 update)

This is a 2019 update of a post originally published in 2005 on The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics; the original is republished here. This version reflects experience with open peer review (mine and that of others), further reflection, and research conducted since 2005.

These are some ideas for open peer review that can be used today in experiments that may be helpful to shape future systemic approaches. The overall goal is to facilitate open research by opening up preprints, increase transparency in the peer review process, and to allow peer reviewers to take credit for their work. Interested authors and/or reviewers can experiment with this approach today. For example, an author can post a preprint in a repository, seek volunteer reviewers through a listserv or other social media service for a relevant scholarly community and/or ask a colleague to serve as an editor to coordinate the review process and/or serve as a contact for blind reviews.

Examples and links:

Gibney (2016) wrote an article for Nature on peer review overlay journals built on arXiv that includes links to the journals.

A copy of my peer review of a recent article can be found in the University of Ottawa Institutional Repository here: https://ruor.uottawa.ca/handle/10393/39053 In this way my peer review constitutes a scholarly work with a stable URL that I include in my online CV.

See the Open Access Tracking Project tag oa.open_peer_review for 32 items as of July 15, some posted in the past week.

This model would be compatible with, but does not depend on, peer review overlay journals, featuring an overlay of peer review on articles submitted to and archived in institutional and/or subject repositories, the method recommended in 2009 for the UK for transition to open access in the medium to long term by Houghton et al. (2009) as the most transformative and most cost-effective approach.

The idea of open peer review is not new. While this post will not include a full review of related literature, as one example, Stevan Harnad talks about one approach to open peer review as early as 1996, in Implementing Peer Review on the Net: Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals.

The goals of this model are:

transparent peer review: unlike blind peer review, readers can see the peer review process in action. Rather than accepting an assessment of certification based on a closed system, readers can judge the peer review process per se, for themselves. This model could accomodate a combination of open and blind peer review – that is, a peer reviewer could publish a signed peer review, or provide comments confidentially, depending on the preferences of authors or the discretion of editors. As an example of the latter, when reviewing opinion pieces in an emotionally heated area, some blind review might be seen as preferable to open peer review.

increased scholarly literacy: it is assumed that a transparent peer review process will facilitate science literacy teaching, as more people will be able to see the peer review process in action

better peer review: exposing the peer review process per se will allow for thoughtful reflection on peer review per se, and facilitate research. This will allow for the development of better and more efficient peer review.

peer-reviewer credit: peer review is an important task, which a great many academics undertake on a voluntary basis. A portfolio of signed peer reviews can be added to the author’s c.v. The best peer-reviewers, those who are thorough, considerate, and respond quickly, can be recognised for their work.

facilitate and recognise author controlled peer review: There are advantages and disadvantages to author-controlled peer review, where the author takes responsibility to seek out peer reviewers. While this is not presently recognised as peer review, it is widely practiced. In the author’s view, an article which has been peer reviewed and edited accordingly prior to submission for publication, is likely to be a better article. Authors who seek out comments from colleagues, and peer reviewers who are sought out by authors, are both demonstrating an openness to collaboration and willingness to listen to critique – both important elements in conducting scholarly research. Author controlled peer review could be used to supplement editor-coordinated peer review (a pre-peer-reviewed article might need only one outside peer reviewer, for example, while an unreviewed work might need two or three).

In some cases, author controlled peer review could be an alternative to editor-coordinated peer review. It would be desirable to develop a set of criteria outlining the optimum for peer review (peer reviewer meets certain criteria, is not a former student, teacher, co-researcher or co-author, at least one peer reviewer from a different cultural background – more important in social than hard sciences – and so forth). Authors should explain whether and how they have met these criteria; this could be accomplished by an automated list, where the relevant criteria are checked off. Some of this could be be automated, as well – for example, a database of the author’s works will reveal former co-authors, and automated comparison of the c.v.’s of author and peer reviewer will reveal common affiliations.

Comments on this blogpost or via e-mail are welcome.

Last updated July 15, 2019.

References

Gibney, E. (2016). Open journals that piggyback on arXiv gather momentum. Nature 530: 7558. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from https://www.nature.com/news/open-journals-that-piggyback-on-arxiv-gather-momentum-1.19102

J. Houghton, B. Rasmussen, P. Sheehan, C. Oppenheim, A. Morris, C. Creaser, H. Greenwood, M. Summers, and A. Gourlay, 2009. “Economics implications of alternative scholarly publishing models: Exploring the costs and benefit” (27 January). Retrieved July 11, 2019 from:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/45dd/cb9ebb9c8505a4ac86718734dda3311f91d8.pdf

See also
Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) Editorial 1978 on Open Peer Commentary Thanks to Stevan Harnad.

Open Peer Review: A Model & An Invitation

In preparation for some current work in open peer review, this is a re-publication of my August 15, 2005 post on The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics (IJPE), drawing from and building on Harnad’s 1996 work in this area. IJPE is live but some readers (including myself while at my office) are reporting that they are not able to connect. Other links have not been tested.

Open Peer Review: A Model & An Invitation

This is one model for an open peer review system. The idea is to automate a great deal of the coordination of peer review, make much of it transparent, and allow peer-reviewers to take credit for their work. This model could fit well with either an institutional repository / peer review overlay approach, or a traditional journal approach for either OA or non-OA journals, or any combination thereof. Readers are welcome to comment, peer-review, and/or experiment with software approaches based on this model [reference to a copyright approach no longer used deleted].

The idea of open peer review is not new. While this post will not include a full review of related literature, as one example, Stevan Harnad talks about one approach to open peer review as early as 1996, in Implementing Peer Review on the Net: Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals.

The goals of this model are:

transparent peer review: unlike blind peer review, readers can see the peer review process in action. Rather than accepting an assessment of certification based on a closed system, readers can judge the peer review process per se, for themselves. This model could accomodate a combination of open and blind peer review – that is, a peer reviewer could publish a signed peer review, or provide comments confidentially, depending on the preferences of authors or the discretion of editors. As an example of the latter, when reviewing opinion pieces in an emotionally heated area, some blind review might be seen as preferable to open peer review.
increased science literacy: it is assumed that a transparent peer review process will facilitate science literacy teaching, as more people will be able to see the peer review process in action
better peer review: exposing the peer review process per se will allow for thoughtful reflection on peer review per se, and facilitate research. This will allow for the development of better and more efficient peer review.
peer-reviewer credit: peer review is an important task, which a great many academics undertake on a voluntary basis. A portfolio of signed peer reviews can be added to the author’s c.v. The best peer-reviewers, those who are thorough, considerate, and respond quickly, can be recognised for their work.
automate coordination of peer review: it should be possible to establish databases of peer reviewers, most likely distributed databases with central harvesting of key metadata (similar to institutional repositories & OAI), interoperable with other relevant software programs such as publishing software and calendaring systems, to automate much of the coordination of peer review.
peer review improvements through automation: the efficiencies of automation may make it possible to enhance peer review in ways that are not feasible with a system relying largely on one-on-one contact between editor and peer review. For example, there are many good reasons why it might be desirable to seek out an international peer review panel. An automated system would make it possible to easily identify experts in far-away countries, that the editor is unlikely to know personally. It is also possible to think about peer reviewers checking bits of an article, rather than the whole thing. That is, one paragraph of an article may refer to a completely separate area of expertise from the speciality of the author and main peer reviewers; there could be opportunities to ask a specialist to check just the one paragraph, rather than the whole article.
facilitate and recognise author controlled peer review: There are advantages and disadvantages to author-controlled peer review, where the author takes responsibility to seek out peer reviewers. While this is not presently recognised as peer review, it is widely practiced. In the author’s view, an article which has been peer reviewed and edited accordingly prior to submission for publication, is likely to be a better article. Authors who seek out comments from colleagues, and peer reviewers who are sought out by authors, are both demonstrating an openness to collaboration and willingness to listen to critique – both important elements in conducting scholarly research. Author controlled peer review could be used to supplement editor-coordinated peer review (a pre-peer-reviewed article might need only one outside peer reviewer, for example, while an unreviewed work might need two or three).

In some cases, author controlled peer review could be an alternative to editor-coordinated peer review. It would be desirable to develop a set of criteria outlining the optimum for peer review (peer reviewer meets certain criteria, is not a former student, teacher, co-researcher or co-author, at least one peer reviewer from a different cultural background – more important in social than hard sciences – and so forth). Authors should explain whether and how they have met these criteria; this could be accomplished by an automated list, where the relevant criteria are checked off. Some of this could be be automated, as well – for example, a database of the author’s works will reveal former co-authors, and automated comparison of the c.v.’s of author and peer reviewer will reveal common affiliations.

The model

Peer Reviewer Profiles
An academic who is willing to participate in peer review process creates a profile, which could be stored in the institutional repository. Elements of the profile could include:

  • author name
  • affiliation
  • title / position
  • areas of expertise (ideal might be using a standard list)
  • qualifying notes to each area of expertise – e.g., research specialist, practitioner expert
  • links to author’s own works
  • links to samples of work – open, signed peer reviews
  • comments from authors and/or editors
  • comments from recognised experts on the peer-reviewer’s expertise / ability to peer review in a particular area
  • author’s availability – time and number of peer-review requests the author is willing to accept at any given time.
    The time element could potentially be integrated with calendaring systems, e.g. no or fewer requests at particular times
  • author preferences for peer review – e.g. open access and/or fully green journals preferred, professional researchers only, researchers from developing countries welcome, students welcome (in limited numbers, perhaps?)
  • mutuality – in areas of controversy, authors might elect to publish critical reviews from peers with different perspectives, on the condition that their peer mutually publishes the author’s own peer review. This could provide readers with a good service, in alerting them to the existence of alternate viewpoints.

At the Institutional Repository

  • hosting or linking to author profiles and peer review
  • flexibility to accomodate clusters of versions. For example, lead readers first to the final peer-reviewed version, when available, but also make it easy for readers to find the original draft and peer reviewers’ comments.

Publishing software

  • links to author profiles
  • links to peer reviews
  • means of matching available peer reviewers with authors, editors, journals, or other certifying bodies

Comments or peer reviews can be posted as comments or sent to my contact e-mail found here. Any comments or reviews may be incorporated in future versions of this model. Please indicate if you are willing to allow your comments or review to be posted on this blog.

Comments

Peter Suber, August 18, 2005:

Note: Peter wants me to make clear that he does *not* believe that OA depends on peer-review reform, that OA has to wait for peer-review reform, or that OA is valuable primarily for its contribution to peer-review reform. OA is compatible with every kind of peer review and we should pursue it regardless of our position on peer review. (I completely agree, by the way!)

“Just for the record, I believe that peer-review definitely needs improvement and that many promising reforms have exciting synergies with OA. One of my pet ideas (which I wrote about more in the early days than recently) is retroactive peer review. Put the preprint in an OA repository as soon as it’s ready, then apply for review from a journal or free-floating editorial board. If approved, with or without revision, the approved version is also put in the repository with a citation and metadata showing its approved status. So far, this is just an overlay journal. What’s most exciting is the prospect of multiple editorial boards reviewing the same work, say, from different methodological or disciplinary perspectives, with the possibility of each giving (or withholding) its approval, creating something like a market in endorsements and tools that can search and sort by endorsement.”

E-LIS already has many of the components needed
by: Heather Morrison

E-LIS, the open archive for Library and Information Science, already has many of the components that would be needed for an open peer review system. One can already add comments to articles already in the archive – a reviewer could indicate if a comment is intended as a peer review, and link to a Peer Reviewer Profile. All that is needed is some editorial oversight, and communication with the author, and we’re almost there!

An illustration
An illustration of open peer review in action can be found in my Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Revised Update. This illustrates how an update to a peer-reviewed article can be improved, based on helpful constructive criticism on invitation from a friend.

Head and Neck Medicine
Head and Neck Medicine, a new Open Access Journal from BioMedCentral, is planning to follow an open peer review approach. Thanks to Open Access News, Aug. 30.

See also
Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) Editorial 1978 on Open Peer Commentary Thanks to Stevan Harnad.

Last updated September 26, 2005. Minor modifications July 5, 2019.

Cite as:

Morrison, H. (2019). Open Peer Review: A Model & An Invitation. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/07/15/open-peer-review-a-model-an-invitation/