5 questions to explore the rhetoric about #OpenAccess

11 November 2014 0

Gold OA

“operate under a reversed business model to the traditional subscription-based publishing model. Instead of charging users a fee to read the content, they charge an open access fee at the beginning of the publication process and this enables all the content to be made freely available” [if the author can afford it]. Source: Springer Open.

If you have the chance to explore some of the major journal publishers, you will notice that most of them (if not all) have adopted the jargon of open science, using words like universal openness, sharing, open licences, etc. Here a few illustrative samples followed for some concerns:

Taylor & Taylor & Francis Open and Routledge Open:

They claim “Our standard article processing charges (APCs) for our subscription-based Open Select titles is £1,788 / €2,150 / $2,950, though this does vary”, with embargos that fluctuate between 12 and 18 months (pdf). The gold AO (APC) can be partially waived if the author belong to one of the low-income (Group A and Group B) territories.

Publishing Open Access with Elsevier (Guide)

The embargo period is journal-specific and ranges from 12- 24 months, the APC fees vary between $500 and $5,000 US depending on the journal. Here a list of their open access journals (also reference to the green OA are provided) as well as their distinct types of licenses.

Publish open access with Springer:

Publish open access with Springer involves an open access publication fee of US$ 3000/EUR 2200 (excl. VAT). This model is applicable also for STM’s books. Here some of the alternatives they suggest: Open Choice program (allows authors to publish open access in the majority of their subscription-based journals); SpringerOpen (open access journal portfolio and to publish open access books); Open Access Membership Program (worldwide support open access by covering some or all of the publication costs for their individual researchers).

In addition, the Thomson Reuters, for instance, provides the Open Access Journal Title List including free journal contents available from the Web of Science.

My comments and questions:

There’s no doubt that the future will be more open. Although the devil is in the details (the websites description still look somewhat wordy). Here a few questions that came after this exploration:

1. Why the APC fees described above can be up to 10x higher than the cases previously presented (see samples: PLoS ONE, PeerJ, Co-Action Publishing or F1000Research)?

2. As suggested by Suber (see note), humanities journals are more expensive than STM (the earliest have a higher rejection rate) and their embargos are longer. How to move toward an OA model that address that STEM and art and humanities, acknowledging that they have very different funding realities?

3. Shouldn’t exist major flexibility also in the definition of the embargo period?

4. What about allowing the authors to go for more flexible licences such as CC0?

5. If the gold OA is increasingly acknowledge as a sustainable way to promote openness, Shouldn‘t public entities claim for a more transparent accountability of publisher incomes to avoid double dip and faked peer review? (see: The UK Government Looks to Double Dip to Pay For its Open Access Policy).

On his book ‘To Save Everything, Click Here‘ Evgeny Morozov wrote that there is not much agreement about the value of openness it is never quite clear whether being open is a mean or an end. For instance, he adds, Google represents nothing less than the “utopia of openness”. It is “the greatest corporate champion of openness,” the leader of the “openness movement,” and “the incarnation of the Internet gospel of openness.”. However, the Belarusian claims […] “instead of celebrating what Google does for openness, it’s important to investigate what openness does for Google“.

I think in the case of Open Access for these publishers the same premise is perfectly applicable, explore moré in the The Cost of Knowledge.

Recommended reading: “List of Predatory Publishers 2014