Another possibility for funding Open Access: the baby boomers leave a bequest in their will that is sufficient to give open access to the archives of their favourite academic journal.
The Readability pages may be very elegant, but unfortunately they don’t explain exactly how the system works until you press the ‘sign up’ button. Many people won’t make it that far. When you do click it, you find out that $5.00 is the minimum ‘pool’ amount that you can disburse to your content providers each month. But that can go higher. Maybe $50, if you’re doing a lot of reading for a profitable business. Then Readability tracks what you read, and sends a proportionate micro-share of your monthly fund to the content provider of each article you read on your device — while keeping 30% itself for transfer fees, admin, rights-tracking, servers, and software development. Readability might even be able to make some money selling aggregated anonymous reader data to publishers, although I haven’t dug into their privacy terms to find out. But, on the whole, such a system seems fair. If it takes off, and Instapaper also adopts it, then it could create a viable content payment ecosystem.
I’d love to see it add a slider on which you could decide how much you want to pay the content publisher, and how much should be paid directly to the author of the article. I think that’s something I’d even like to see ethical newspaper and magazine publishers flagging on the article itself — “for every dollar we get for this article in voluntary microfees, 35 cents is diverted directly to the author”. However, given the senile newspaper industry’s attitude to its creatives, and to ethics in general, that may be unlikely. More likely is that they sue companies such as Readability/Instapaper out of existence, once they start making money from ad-stripping. Then the newspapers will launch their own ‘meta payment’ service for the bundling and delivery of reader-selected ad-stripped content.
Open Access Africa 2010 conference — full video coverage now online, for free.
A comprehensive new 2010 bibliography, Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography.
“…has over 1,100 references, provides in-depth coverage of published journal articles, books, and other works about the open access movement. Many references have links to freely available copies of included works.”
Is open access publishing poised to rival pay-walled services? The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics breaks out the statistics for a long article…
“The ‘dare to compare’ section below asks the evocative question of whether the open access sector is, or soon will be, ready for serious comparison with the subscription sector.”
“Search is Dead, Long Live Search!” (Sept 2009 — takes about 19 minutes to get past the introductions and into the meat of the discussion)
“Freenomics – is Free sustainable?” (March 2009)
Also of interest may be the 2008 full-text PDF “On the usage of e-journals in French universities” and this recent report (in French).
Income Models for Open Access: An Overview of Current Practice (PDF link), a new report by SPARC Consulting Group for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition in the USA. Very clear and comprehensive, it looks set to become a standard reference point on the topic.
The Global Information Society Watch 2009 Report has been released. It’s a substantial book-length “annual report” on the state of open access to information around the world, complete with chapters about individual nations.
Due for publication in January 2010, the book The Ecology of Academic Journals by Bozena Mierzejewska…
“The book is written against the backdrop of the complete transformation of scholarly communication. It considers the multifaceted nature of academic journals in a systematic investigation of the journal’s eco-system — a metaphor indicating the importance of relationships between all involved stakeholders, their environments and their functioning as a unit. This book develops a framework which can be used for identifying journal’s market position and developing future directions. It draws on authors practical experience as publisher and editor of academic journals combined with an in-depth knowledge of academic research. It is aimed at journal editors, managers and publishers.”
Communicating knowledge: how and why researchers publish and disseminate their findings (Sept 2009) is a new free online report published by the UK’s Research Information Network (RIN).
Full-text papers and Powerpoints from ELPUB 2009 : 13th International Conference on Electronic Publishing are now freely available online.
Lots of titles that sound interesting, including: ‘Overlay Publications: a functional overview of the concept'; ‘Targeted knowledge: interaction and rich user experience towards a scholarly communication that “lets”‘; ‘Incorporating Semantics and Metadata as Part of the Article Authoring Process'; and ‘Electronic publishing and bibliometrics’.
“discussed in Moed’s keynote speech was assessment in the area of the humanities where there is a lack of reference indexes such as Scopus or Web of Science, due to the different types of research, outcomes and habits between the humanities and science communities. Moed explored five different options for the creation of a comprehensive database for the humanities and social sciences, including combining a number of existing European special SSH bibliographies, creating a new database from publishers’ archives, stimulating further enhancement of Web of Science and Scopus, exploring the potentialities and limitations of Google Scholar and Google Book Search, and creating a citation index from institutional repositories. Much work must be done in these fields, but the availability of full-text seems to be a key issue.” (My emphasis)
The first part of this presentation also has an interesting graph, showing how the RAE in the UK severely skews the output of academic papers…
A new U.S. National Academies report, Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age. The page for the report looks as though it’s behind a paywall, but scroll a little further down the page to find links to full-text page images. The report was commissioned in 2006, and the Chronicle of Higher Education has a short journalistic summary.
I’m thinking we need new long-term personal financial instruments that fund/ensure that the family/institution/archivists are sent the keys to a universal “digital vault” after someone’s death, the vault containing a structured and tagged backup archive of that person’s vital academic data, papers, blogs, book files, bibliographies, etc.
“Does e-Journal Investment Lead To Greater Academic Productivity?” is a question asked in an article in the July-August 2009 edition of Library and Information Update (p.45)…
This U.K. magazine is not freely available online, but some of the points are usefully summarised over at the OUL Library blog, including, among others…
* Oct-Nov is the busiest season for downloads (a surprise)
* Access in increasingly via third parties (e.g. Google Scholar)
* Historians are the biggest users of Google as access route (?!)
This seems to be an important bit of research. The U.S. Chronicle of Higher Education reports on new NHA research which finds that…
“It costs more than three times as much to publish an article in a humanities or social-science journal as it does to publish one in a science, technical, or medical, or STM, journal [ reports ] an in-depth study of eight flagship journals in the humanities and social sciences.” [...] “It cost an average of $9,994 in 2007 to publish an article in one of the eight journals analyzed” [...] first-copy costs — “collecting, reviewing, editing, and developing content” — added up to about 47 per cent of the total outlay among the eight journals studied
The National Humanities Alliance report The Future of Scholarly Journals Publishing Among Social Science and Humanities Associations (not yet online) was written during 2007-2009, and examined U.S. data from 2005 to 2007. The Chronicle journalist highlights three possible reasons for the difference…
* articles are significantly longer than in the sciences
* acceptance rates are far lower than in the sciences, at a pitiful 11%
* such journals include a wider variety of content than in the sciences…
“peer-reviewed research made up about 62 percent of what the eight journals published in 2007. The remaining 38 percent consisted of “other scholarly content,” including book reviews.” [...] Such material does not come cheap, though; it must still be commissioned, edited, and put into production. It cost an [annual] average of $313,612 per journal in 2007, the study found.
All of this suggests to me that the author-pays model of open access ejournal publishing may not be sustainable for the humanities, unless subsidised with huge amounts of unpaid labour. I would presume that the 11% acceptance rate is due largely to issues of quality rather than space, and so it would be self-defeating for the humanities to fling open the floodgates just because the Web is infinitely expandable. It could lead to yet more unread articles, damage to the ‘brand’ of the flagship journals concerned, and a further lowering of status for the humanities in the eyes of university admins and the public alike. It might also have a ‘knock-on’ effect downstream, leaving fewer articles for the lesser journals to pick up and polish.
On the “articles are longer” argument, I’m not sure that a simple word-count is a valid measure. Science articles are full of complex tables, formulae, diagrams, and it must take quite some time for a reviewer to mull these over. Similarly, I’m thinking that the acceptance rate may be so low because only the “top eight” most prestigious journals were surveyed — lesser journals may well have a higher acceptance rate?
Joseph Gelfer criticises aspects of the paper “But what have you done for me lately? Commercial Publishing, Scholarly Communication, and Open-Access” (2009) by John P. Conley and Myrna Wooders, with special focus on the value that paid editors can bring in terms of polishing manuscripts.
In the second half of the post, Gelper also points out that…
“the volunteer labor on which many OA journals … are based hides the true cost of doing business. One would expect an economist to make more of this analysis, but the fact that $0 is spent on editing an OA journal does not result in zero cost. Costs come in many shapes and forms: that hour of volunteer copyediting from our editorially skilled and willing academic comes at the cost of their employer, or family, or an hour of leisure activity. … when such [OA] mandates rely on unpaid labor, they also have the potential to erase the skills of academics and publishing professionals who may otherwise reasonably demand an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work … the glossing over of economic realities does no service to OA’s moral high-ground”
The other hidden long-term cost factor here is training. Professionals may have invested years of their life in training courses and self-learning, whereas volunteer OA editors are seemingly expected to “just know how to do it”. Not only are volunteer editors not paid (even in terms of workload allowances), they’re not paid to train for their role either.
The Occasional Pamphlet (a law blog at Harvard) has a long and detailed posting on the issues around the public self-archiving of academic articles, after publication in an academic journal.
Amazing. Apparently the Treasury grabs 17.5% of the cost of all online academic journals, via charging VAT (a UK sales tax) on sales to university libraries.
Yet another new report for your holiday deckchair reading. Open Access: What are the economic benefits? A comparison of the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Denmark is by John Houghton of the Australian Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, and is published by the Danish Knowledge Exchange….
“Open access or ‘author-pays’ publishing for journal articles (i.e. ‘Gold OA’) might bring net system savings of around [...] EUR 480 million in the UK (at 2007 prices and levels of publishing activity) [...] a repositories and overlay-services model may well produce similar cost savings to open access publishing.”