‘Open letter to the WHOSTP and Subcommittee on Open Science’

From an open letter to the OSTP:

We are active researchers in different fields who wish to make scholarship more equitable. We wholeheartedly applaud your recent memorandum ensuring free, immediate and equitable access to federally funded scholarship. Your leadership on this issue makes a brighter future possible, but there are significant risks if care is not taken in the implementation. Specifically, if the implementation of this policy reinforces the move towards expensive article processing charges (APCs) and “transformative agreements” (TAs) where institutions pay those charges directly, innovation will be hampered by restricting research dissemination to only individuals or institutions with large or dedicated publishing budgets. The risk is that this memorandum will improve equitable access at the cost of making participation in research less equitable, which could be devastating to research progress.

Over 600 scholars (and counting) have signed.

‘OA Agreement Intelligence’

The Copyright Clearance Center (which has, apparently, rebranded as CCC), announcing a new service for publishers on the hunt for read-and-publish lucre:

CCC, a leading provider of Open Access (OA) workflow solutions, has launched OA Agreement Intelligence, the only agreement modeling solution that enables publishers to prepare, build, and analyze their OA data so that they can create and communicate sustainable and transparent agreements with their partners. […] “Constructing data-driven publishing agreements at scale impacts all stakeholders in the OA environment,” said Frank Pepe, Director, Pricing & Strategic Analysis, IEEE. “OA Agreement Intelligence transforms the agreement modeling process by supporting better visibility and communications to facilitate collaboration with our partners.”m

Yikes—software to oil the read-and-publish gears.

Telling detail: The press release cites the OSTP guidance to pitch the service.

‘Keeping Publishing Infrastructure Independent’

Roger Schonfeld, in a Scholarly Kitchen post on the private-equity sale of publishing platform Silverchair:

Silverchair will not be owned by an investment-oriented private equity firm forever. Sooner or later, it will likely end up in the arms of another owner, perhaps eventually through a strategic acquisition. We can be philosophical about this and recognize that much else will change in the market also over that period of time, so there may be little sense in worrying about this too much right now. Still, in the long run, the independence of commercially owned community digital infrastructure is never fully guaranteed.

That’s why we need our infrastructure nonprofit and community-led—so it can’t be bepress-ed.

‘A New Matthew Effect’

Rachel Miles, writing on The Bibliomagician on the new crop of automated tools that spit out citation recommendations:

The Matthew Effect, in which advantage begets more advantage, is exacerbated by automated citation recommendation tools. These tools’ algorithms are based on current and past citation practices and function similarly to Google’s PageRank, retrieving the most “popular” results rather than the most relevant or accurate ones. In academia, scholarship from the Global North, in the English language, from high impact or top ranked journals, and scholarship with higher citation counts may be further benefited by these recommendation tools whereas publications in non-English languages, from the Global South, and in newer or emerging journals will be disproportionately disadvantaged. 

It’s a great point, about cumulative disadvantage. Miles cites a number of other drawbacks of the tools, black-box algorithms, lazy citing, and confirmation bias.

edX: The Company Formerly Known as 2U

Phil Hill, writing for EdSurge on hard times for the Online Program Management (OPM) industry:

Wiley posted an 8 percent drop in university partner enrollment for its OPM segment, Pearson lost its biggest OPM customer (Arizona State University) and reported falling enrollments (1 percent) and revenue (2 percent), Coursera saw a 4 percent drop in revenue and lowered full-year guidance, 2U dropped its full-year revenue guidance by 10 percent and began an across-the-board 20 percent set of layoffs, and FutureLearn reported that it may not survive another year without new investment.

Couldn’t happen to a better industry.

The piece also mentions that 2U has taken on the name of the once-nonprofit edX that it acquired last year in a major act of betrayal by Harvard and MIT:

The company will reorganize as one entity under the edX brand, and it will increase its focus on sustainability (and profitability) and decrease the focus on growth. This acceleration unfortunately means that 2U will lay off approximately 20 percent of its staff across all functions in the second half of 2022. The claim made to financial analysts is that revenue estimates for full-year 2022 would be down 10 percent, but EBITDA (a popular measure of profit) would be up 30 percent.

cOAlition S on Journal-Independent Peer Review

I missed this important statement from cOAlition S back in June:

Scientific publishing is evolving rapidly. A number of initiatives have moved away from the notion that peer-reviewed articles must be published in traditional Open Access journals or platforms. They provide peer review services that are entirely independent from such journals or platforms. These include Peer Community in (PCI), Sciety, Next Generation Repositories, Notify Project, PREreview, and Review Commons, to name a few. These initiatives give the author the freedom to decide how and when to disseminate their peer-reviewed article.

The explicit point is to help break the journal prestige economy:

In light of the accelerating development of these journal-independent peer-review services, cOAlition S would like to explicitly state that ‘peer reviewed publications’ – defined here as scholarly papers that have been subject to a journal-independent standard peer review process with an implicit or explicit validation– are considered by most cOAlition S organisations to be of equivalent merit and status as peer-reviewed publications that are published in a recognised journal or on a platform.

Jeff Pooley is professor of media & communication at Muhlenberg College and director of mediastudies.press, an open access scholarly publisher.

pooley@muhlenberg.edu | press@mediastudies.press

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