- 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
In brief: MDPI has increased prices, in many cases quite substantially (some prices have more than tripled). Even more price increases are anticipated in July 2019, which will have the effect of doubling the average APC and tripling the most common APC. Unlike other publishers’ practices, there are no price decreases.
Comment and recommendation: open access advocates, along with policy makers and research funders, and keen to support a transition to open access. In my opinion, the enthusiasm of payers to support APC journals is causing an unhealthy and unsustainable distortion in the market. My advice: stick with green OA policy. Require deposit of funded works in an open access repository. This is a better means to ensure ongoing preservation and open access, and exerts market pressure in a way that is more suited to the development of an economically sustainable open access system.
Details, data, and links to very raw data follow. Comments and math-checking are most welcome.
February 2018 to February 2019.
MDPI lists 203 journals as of February 13, 2019. Of these, since this time last year, 74 or 36% have either started charging APCs, or have increased their APCs by 7% – 227% or 100 CHF – 1,250 CHF. For example, the APC of Cells rose from 550 to 1,800 CHF, a 227% increase, that is, the price more than tripled. As of today, according to XE Currency Converter, the CHF is worth .99 of USD, or very close to par. 17 journals are new. MDPI had no price decreases in 2019.
February to July 2019
MDPI lists price changes coming in July 2019 on their website (kudos for transparency). 160 of MDPI’s journals (79% of their journals) will have a price change in July 2019, either introducing an APC for the first time or increasing in price by 9% – 243% or 100 – 850 CHF. The net effect is a doubling or tripling of central tendencies. The average APC doubles from 546 CHF to 1,077 CHF. The median or mid-point and mode or most common APC triples from 350 CHF to 1,000 CHF. These figures exclude “free” journals, which are currently the mode or most common price.
|MDPI Central Tendencies 2019 in CHF|
|Feb 2019||July 2019|
|Excludes “free” journals with no APC (yet).|
MDPI journal price changes Feb. 2018 – Feb. 2019
|Journal||2018 APC||2019 APC||2019 – 2018 in CHF||2019 / 2018 %|
|Journal of Clinical Medicine||650||1800||1150||177%|
|Journal of Marine Science and Engineering||350||550||200||57%|
|Journal of Functional Biomaterials||550||850||300||55%|
|International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health||1600||1800||200||13%|
|Colloids and Interfaces||0||1000||1000||Price introduced in 2018|
|Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease||0||1000||1000||Price introduced in 2018|
|International Journal of Neonatal Screening||0||500||500||Price introduced in 2018|
|Batteries||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Beverages||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Fermentation||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Geriatrics||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Journal of Fungi||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Journal of Imaging||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Journal of Intelligence||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Magnetochemistry||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Medical Sciences||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Non-Coding RNA||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Safety||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease||0||350||350||Price introduced in 2018|
|Administrative Sciences||350||350||0||No change|
|Applied System Innovation||0||0||0||No change|
|Big Data and Cognitive Computing||0||0||0||No change|
|Condensed Matter||0||0||0||No change|
|Dentistry Journal||350||350||0||No change|
|Fractal and Fractional||0||0||0||No change|
|International Journal of Financial Studies||350||350||0||No change|
|International Journal of Molecular Sciences||1800||1800||0||No change|
|International Journal of Turbomachinery, Propulsion and Power||300||300||0||No change|
|ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information||1000||1000||0||No change|
|Journal of Developmental Biology||350||350||0||No change|
|Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology||0||0||0||No change|
|Journal of Low Power Electronics and Applications||350||350||0||No change|
|Journal of Manufacturing and Materials Processing||0||0||0||No change|
|Journal of Personalized Medicine||550||550||0||No change|
|Journal of Risk and Financial Management||350||350||0||No change|
|Machine Learning and Knowledge Extraction||0||0||0||No change|
|Mathematical and Computational Applications||300||300||0||No change|
|Multimodal Technologies and Interaction||0||0||0||No change|
|Quantum Beam Science||0||0||0||No change|
|Remote Sensing||1800||1800||0||No change|
|Urban Science||0||0||0||No change|
|Aerospace (Basel)||550||550||0||No change|
|C Ð Journal of Carbon Research (now C)||0||0||0||No change|
|Children (Basel)||550||550||0||No change|
|Computation (Basel)||350||350||0||No change|
|Informatics (Basel)||350||350||0||No change|
|Inorganics (Basel)||550||550||0||No change|
|Journal of Composite Sciences||0||0||0||No change|
|Journal of Sensor and Actuator Networks||350||350||0||No change|
|Methods and Protocol||0||0||0||No change|
|Social Sciences||350||350||0||No change|
|Technologies (Basel)||350||350||0||No change|
|Veterinary Sciences||350||350||0||No change|
|Clocks & Sleep||0||New 2018|
|Gastrointestinal Disorders||0||New 2018|
|Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity||650||New 2018|
|Quantum Reports||0||New 2018|
|Smart Cities||1000||New 2018|
|World Electric Vehicle Journal||300||New 2018|
MDPI journals with price increases or first APC introduced in July 2019
|Journal||Feb 2019 APC||July 2019 APC||July 2019 – 2019 (actually July 2018)||July 2019 – 2018 %|
|Mathematical and Computational Applications||300||1000||700||233%|
|International Journal of Financial Studies||350||1000||650||186%|
|Journal of Developmental Biology||350||1000||650||186%|
|Journal of Fungi||350||1000||650||186%|
|Journal of Imaging||350||1000||650||186%|
|Journal of Intelligence||350||1000||650||186%|
|Journal of Low Power Electronics and Applications||350||1000||650||186%|
|Journal of Risk and Financial Management||350||1000||650||186%|
|Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease||350||1000||650||186%|
|International Journal of Turbomachinery, Propulsion and Power||300||550||250||83%|
|Journal of Personalized Medicine||550||1000||450||82%|
|Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity||650||800||150||23%|
|Medicina||0||1500||1,500||Price introduced July 2019|
|Acoustics||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|AgriEngineering||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Applied System Innovation||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Arts||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Big Data and Cognitive Computing||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Biomimetics||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Ceramics||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Challenges||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|ChemEngineering||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Clocks & Sleep||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Condensed Matter||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Cryptography||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Data||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Designs||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Drones||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Economies||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Fire||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Fishes||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Fluids||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Forecasting||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Fractal and Fractional||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Gastrointestinal Disorders||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Gels||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Genealogy||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Heritage||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Horticulturae||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Infrastructures||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Instruments||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Inventions||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Journal of Manufacturing and Materials Processing||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Languages||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Logistics||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Machine Learning and Knowledge Extraction||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Multimodal Technologies and Interaction||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Neuroglia||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Particles||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Philosophies||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Physics||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Plasma||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Publications||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Quantum Beam Science||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Quantum Reports||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Quaternary||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Recycling||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Reports||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Sci||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Stats||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Surfaces||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Urban Science||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Vibration||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
|Vision||0||1000||1,000||Price introduced July 2019|
The raw data: caution – these spreadsheets are sub-sets of working files that are provided with no documentation. Data literacy and familiarity with the APC longitudinal project are necessary for interpretation.
From December 2017 to December 2018, APC prices for all PLOS journals were increased by $100 USD, resulting in percentage increases from 3% – 7%. All price increase percentages are higher than the U.S. Department of Labour Statistic’s 2.2% Consumer Price Index increase from November 2017 – December 2018. The majority of percentage price increases (4/8) are higher than the average increase in a U.S. faculty member’s salary according to the American Association of University Professors of 3% (from April 2018). The most surprising increase from my perspective is the 7% increase to the APC of PLOS ONE (twice the increase of faculty salaries, thrice the US CIP increase), because as PLOS’ pioneering megajournal, PLOS ONE’s practice is peer review limited to assessing whether the science is sound. Peer review is done by volunteers and coordinated by PLOS using a highly automated approach; it is difficult to understand how PLOS’ contribution to PLOS ONE articles justifies an APC of approximately $1,600 USD.
|Journal title||2018 APC publisher website USD||2017 APC publisher website USD||2018 price increase in USD||2018 price increase percentage|
|PLOS Computational Biology||2,350||2250||100||4%|
|PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases||2,350||2250||100||4%|
Highlights: in 2017, we found that Elsevier was publishing a large number of fully open access journals with no article processing charges due to society or university sponsorships. In 2018, 88 of these titles have been transferred back to the society or university. There has been a drop in the number of fully OA journals published by Elsevier, from 416 to 328 journals. The majority of Elsevier’s fully OA journals are still non-charging. The average APC for Elsevier fully OA journals in 2018 is $1,470 USD, up 6% from 2017.
Raw data – 2 excel spreadsheets (caution – this is preliminary data that is designed for quantitative analysis and does not have detailed documentation). Click to download.
This is a subset of the 2018 version of the main spreadsheet for the open access article processing charges project. The columns for the 2018 – 2017 comparison on the main Data tab are D, 2018 APC publisher website original currency, and N for 2017. Pricing is from the Elsevier APC price list; “no publication charge” is our standardized term, on the Elsevier PDF this is “Fee waived for author”. If you are interested in the journals that have transferred back to a society or university, go to the next spreadsheet:
In 2017 we noted that there are many Elsevier journals that are “fee waived for author” due to sponsorships and decided to begin tracking these sponsorships and an interesting model of partnership, e.g. statements on the Elsevier webpage that made it clear that Elsevier was publishing on behalf of a society or university that retained copyright. Column I, the notes field for 2018, is where you will find details on journals transferred back to the publisher. This information is gathered from the Elsevier website – journal title list, not the APC price list.
In April 2017, Elsevier was publishing 416 fully open access journals. As of April 2018, this number had decreased to 328 journals, a decrease of 88 journals or 20% of the total. Data is from the Elsevier APC price list (conversion necessary for data manipulation).
Most fully OA journals published by Elsevier do not charge publication fees (61% of the total) due to sponsorship by societies or universities. This percentage is about the same as the previous year (57% non-charging). A survey conducted in 2017 found that almost all non-charging journals were published by Elsevier on behalf of a society or university, with copyright ownership retained by the society or university.
A survey of the Elsevier website for OA journals identified as non-charging in 2017 was conducted over the summer. These journals are still listed on the Elsevier website if not the APC price list and information is provided about the current status of the journals. This is a good practice. A total of 88 journals were found to have been transferred back to the society in 2017 or 2018, or scheduled to be returned to the society or university publisher.
For example, a notes about the The Revista Mexicana de Bioversidad indicated that the journal:
|Transferred back to the society as of 2018|
Copyright © 2018 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
The average APC for Elsevier’s charging, fully OA journals in 2018 was $1,470 USD, up from $1,384 USD in 2017, an increase of 6%.
Thanks to René Duplain for data gathering.
A few years ago the Directory of Open Access Journals underwent a major weeding process. Many journals and entire publishers were removed from the directory. Does this mean that they are low quality? Based on this year’s collection of data from the Asian Network for Scientific Information (ANSInet), my advice is not to be too quick to judge. According to the ANSI website, this publisher is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. Both organizations list ANSInet as a member. Looking at the list of ANSInet journals, I noticed that at least one is not that active; DOAJ will de-list journals that are not active regardless of the quality of publishing. As an aside, I wish DOAJ would stop doing this; there are good journals that publish less frequently and deserve to be listed. For example, there is a tradition of journal publishing associated with conferences, and some conferences are held every other year.