‘Wiley and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Sign Open Access Agreement’

From the Wiley press release:

This agreement, which marks Wiley’s first in Latin America, positions UNAM as the leader and pioneer in the development of open access research, allowing its researchers to publish most if not all of its articles open access across Wiley’s portfolio of hybrid journals.

It’s a strangely spare announcement, with ambitious language (“most if not all,” hybrid journals only?). Without more details, the “deal” looks like a PR stunt: Latin America—home to the nonprofit, fee-free alternative—joins the read-and-publish club.

‘Partnership with Max Planck Society marks Springer Nature’s largest open access book deal’

From Springer Nature’s press release announcing an OA book deal with Max Planck:

The initial three-year agreement, live as of 1st January 2022, will enable authors from all 86 Max Planck Institutes to receive a discount on the standard Book Publishing Charge (BPC) to publish their book OA. MPDL will contribute central funding toward the coverage of the discounted BPC, lowering the costs for authors even further. The discount and funding will be available across all of the publisher’s book imprints, under a CC BY licence, ensuring their work is freely accessible and discoverable to all communities across science, technology, medicine, the humanities and social sciences. They will be available to readers around the world via Springer Nature’s content platform SpringerLink. 

Deals like this one are an extension in spirit of the journal-based read-and-publish model—even if there’s no straightforward “read” component. Springer Nature charges $15,000 to publish an OA book, via a Book Processing Charge (BPC). Max Planck researchers won’t see that charge, as the German institutes will cover the difference after the deal’s discount. The problem is that deals like this prop up the BPC system, which excludes the vast majority of the world’s scholars. Researchers lucky enough to work in wealthy European countries and a handful of rich North American universities, meanwhile, accrue all the OA benefits.

Book Analytics Dashboard

From the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative (COKI) announcement:

The Book Analytics Dashboard Project (2022-2025) is focused on creating a sustainable OA Book focused analytics service. […] In addition to scaling workflows, infrastructure and customer support, the Demonstration Project is developing a long-term plan for housing, maintenance and funding of the analytics service as a sustainable community infrastructure.

It’s a mess right now—a labor-intensive harvesting of (in Lucy Barnes’ phrase) “apples, oranges, grapes, kiwi fruit and pears.”

Godspeed to the COKI people.

‘The Gig Economy Comes for Scholarly Work’

Kate Eichhorn, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education [paywalled]:

In early March, Chegg launched a marketing campaign to convince educators to sell their teaching materials to the company’s recently launched Uversity platform. Chegg describes Uversity as a “collaborative learning library,” though many educators may disagree with that characterization. […] The message went on to break down Chegg’s assessed valuation of different types of curricular materials, with a caveat that the listed price reflects the company’s current 50-percent bonus — a limited-time offer. Apparently, if I rushed to take advantage of this promotion, I could cash in to the tune of $375 per practice exam (limit 4), $375 per study guide (limit 4), $120 for lecture notes (limit 15), $75 per practice quiz (limit 5), $120 per case study (limit 5), and $120 for lab notes (limit 10).

Chegg, the cheating-as-a-service (CAAS) platform, is preying on underpaid academics:

That there’s a market for Chegg’s predatory practices at all reflects the grim reality of higher education in the 2020s. As stories about the New Faculty Majority reveal, a critical mass of faculty members don’t make enough money to support themselves and their families. As a result, side gigging is already a norm in higher education.

‘What’s Your Tier? Introducing Library Partnership (LP) Certification for Journal Publishers’

Rachel Caldwell and Robin N. Sinn, writing in Commonplace in November, propose a journal-publisher scorecard. In their vision,

a publisher’s actions are quantified based on points earned for practices that align with the values of libraries and many institutions of higher education. The more points a publisher earns, the higher their overall score. LP certification is similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) architectural certification. Where LEED certification assesses a building project’s practices in “credit categories” such as water efficiency or indoor environmental air quality, LP certification assesses a publisher’s practices in four categories: Access, Rights, Community, and Discoverability. The overall score a publisher earns places them in one of four tiers.

The idea is to help librarians make informed choices about where to invest limited OA dollars, through what is, in effect, a point-based rating system. Library-by-library vetting is utterly impractical, especially when multiple values (like licensing and fee-free OA) are at stake.

It’s an exciting idea, one that could streamline and justify libraries’ mission-aligned investing. Caldwell and Sinn include a pilot run-through of their scoring with five publishers. Elsevier, with 12 points, is easily bested by UC eScholarship and the Society for Neuroscience—40 and 44 points, respectively.

Library Partnership

Their proposed scheme (dubbed Library Paternship) could easily fold into mission-aligned funding exchanges like LYRASIS’s OACIP. Even a badging system would make sense.

More on this project soon.

Scopus + arXiv

From Arxiv’s blog last week:

New among the membership benefits that all institutions receive, is access to a personalized digital dashboard, containing an overview of the articles their researchers have posted on the platform. […] To provide this information, arXiv is partnering with Scopus to optimize that publication data and increase institution’s visibility of their researcher contributions.

Yikes: arXiv in bed with Elsevier. As arXiv later clarified, Scopus is using arXiv’s open APIs, so there’s no private data capture. As Open Book Publishers’ Rupert Gatti wrote on Twitter:

The additional info is helpful – suggesting that Scopus is using the open api as anybody else can. But what does it mean that Scopus was ‘selected’ to provide submission data? Could another entity (eg @OpenAlex_org) provide an alternative for you? any Scopus exclusivity clause?

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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