Free the Science: One Scholarly Society’s bold vision for open access and why it matters now more than ever

The Electrochemical Society, a small nonprofit scholarly society founded in 1902, has an important message for all of us who are concerned about access to science.   Mary Yess, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Content Officer and Publisher, could not be clearer about the increased urgency of ECS’ path:  “We have got to move towards an open science environment. It has never been more important – especially in light of the recently announced ‘gag orders’ on several US government agencies– to actively promote the principles of open science.”    What they committed to in 2013 as an important open access initiative has become, against the current political backdrop, truly a quest to “free the science.”

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OA beyond APCs: a conference report

This is the Conference Report from the Symposium on Open Access : Envisioning a World Beyond APCs/BPCs that was held at the University of Kansas last fall. The symposium generated international attention and some great conversations. This report was written by Robert Kieft, Ada Emmett, Josh Bolick, and Rebecca Kennison.

On November 17-18, 2016, the University of Kansas Libraries (KU), Open Access Network (OAN), Allen Press, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and Association of Research Libraries (ARL) sponsored an international symposium, Envisioning a World Beyond APCs/BPCs, at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, USA. The symposium brought together a group of 18 panelists and 9 respondents and offered a first session livestreamed for a worldwide audience. The remainder of the meeting was structured as an “unconference” focused on key ideas raised by participants’ statements and the ensuing discussion during the opening event. The symposium asked the participants to consider current models available for achieving an expansive, inclusive, and balanced global open publishing ecosystem, one that does not depend on the payment of article- or book- processing charges (APCs or BPCs) for publication.

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Crisis, What Crisis? Why OA Might Work for Historians

Last month I was invited to participate in a panel on Open Access at the annual American Historical Association meeting in Denver. One of my colleagues led their presentation with the astute comment that the way most historians react to OA is with apathy. After all, the economics of traditional monograph publishing work pretty well in history and the book is still the coin of the realm in this field. If OA is a solution to an economic crisis, then history should be the last place we need it, right?

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Its the Internet, stupid!

This quote is from a 1996 letter written by then-Register of Copyright Marybeth Peters to  Senator Orrin Hatch of the Senate Judiciary Committee about why the Copyright Office belongs in the Library of Congress:

Put simply, copyright differs from industrial property in fundamental respects. Most other countries, like the United States, have recognized this difference, handling copyright issues in their ministries of culture or education, and patent and trademark issues in their ministries of commerce or trade. While copyright, like industrial property, has important commercial value, it also has a unique influence on culture, education, and the dissemination of knowledge. It is this influence that logically connects copyright to the Library of Congress in contributing to the development of our nation’s culture.

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Tracking the Magnificent Seven: Who do scholars want to read their Open Access books? And how do we know if they do?

This post is co-written by Michael Elliott (Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Emory University), Christopher Long (Dean, College of Arts and Letters, Michigan State University), Mark Saunders (Director, University of Virginia Press), and Charles Watkinson (Director, University of Michigan Press).

As part of an initiative to explore the potential benefits of open access modes for disseminating academic monographs, we have found ourselves returning to basic questions about how we want to measure and understand what it is we do when we send a monograph out into the world. Every book is created from our basic scholarly impulse to enrich some aspect of the complex world we share. Yet when we seek to tell the story of its impact, we too often rely on narrow, dull, and/or inadequate measures — citation counts; print runs; downloads.

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The fox guarding the henhouse? Or, why we don’t need another citation-based journal quality index

Nature announced on December 8 that Elsevier has launched a new journal quality index, called CiteScore, which will be based on Elsevier’s Scopus citation database and will compete with the longstanding and influential Journal Impact Factor (IF).

Conflict of Interest

One can hardly fault Elsevier for producing this metric, which is well positioned to compete with the Impact Factor.  But for researchers and librarians, there are serious concerns about CiteScore. Having a for-profit entity that is also a journal publisher in charge of a journal publication metric creates a conflict of interest, and is inherently problematic.   The eigenfactor team Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin West have done some early analysis of how Elsevier journals tend to rank via CiteScore versus the Impact Factor, and conclude that “Elsevier journals are getting just over a 25% boost relative to what we would expect given their Impact Factor scores.”  Looking at journals other than Nature journals – which take quite a hit under the CiteScore because of what Phil Davis refers to as Citescore’s “overt biases against journals that publish a lot of front-matter” — Elsevier journals still get a boost (15%) in comparison with Impact Factor.

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