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?

‘Introducing the Open Book Collective’

The good people at COPIM have officially announced the Open Book Collective:

The collective will bring together OA publishers, OA publishing service providers, libraries, and other research institutions to create a new, mutually supportive ecosystem for the thriving of OA book publishing. At the heart of the work of the Open Book Collective (OBC) will be a new platform. This platform will make it far quicker and easier for libraries and others to financially support different OA publishers and service providers via membership offerings.

The in-progress platform, when it’s unveiled this summer, will be the best example of what I’ve called mission-aligned funding exchange—where funders provide direct support to OA publishers, bypassing the author-excluding APC/BPC. One especially exciting facet of the design is that the Collective will support publication bundles, including the ScholarLed publishers (of which mediastudies.press is a member).

Annual Reviews Goes All-In with Subscribe to Open

Annual Reviews, in a press release:

Today, the leading nonprofit publisher Annual Reviews announced that over the next 18 months they will make their entire portfolio of 51 academic journals freely available to everyone under a new model called Subscribe to Open. These highly cited journals cover topics across the sciences, including astronomy, environmental science, genomics, marine science, public health, and sociology

Annual Reviews, together with Berghahn, ran the first round of S2O pilots last year. They apparently went well.

‘When Consolidation Provides Benefits as well as Market Power’

I missed this odd bit of Panglossian praise for corporate consolidation, published in the Scholary Kitchen last fall:

One very good reason to favor consolidation is when it provides scale and financial stability to a specialized or niche provider. Such a specialized provider may find it a struggle, if not impossible, to sustain itself over time without such scale. […] Users also benefit when a consolidation serves to streamline and integrate workflows. This is such an obvious benefit to end-users that it is often surprising how long it takes for some consolidations to deliver on workflow benefits. […] Paradoxically, consolidation may serve to increase competition, not weaken it. This happens when a particular market segment already has a dominant player, but consolidation among other, smaller organizations in the same segment can put pressure on the leading incumbent. In the research publishing area any consolidation that does not include Elsevier potentially makes it possible to compete more effectively with Elsevier.

Wowzer. Both Roger Schonfeld and Joseph Esposito are better than this, whatever cavaets and qualifications they offer. They dismissively refer to “frequent, at times reflexive, customer opposition to acquisitions in these sectors, motivated by concerns about pricing.” That’s Newspeakish as a characterization: Yes, lots of folks that care about scholarly communication, librarians very much included, worry about monopoly pricing power. But we’re also worried about a host of other factors, including the monetization of scholars’ data, blocked access to reading (subscriptions) or authorship (APCs), and the fundamental misalignment of values between publicly traded for-profits and the pursuit of knowledge.

A benefit of consolidation is that …. it will help another conglomerate bloat up to rival the hyper-consolidated Elsevier?? That’s a depressing surrender of agency and possibility. Et tu, Roger?

Surveillance Publishing

From my just-published Elephant in the Lab piece:

Siphoning taxpayer, tuition, and endowment dollars to access our own behavior is a financial and moral indignity. That we are paying the sellers a second time, after budget-draining subscription and APC outlays, is a scandal. Elsevier made $1.4 billion in profit last year, on $3.6 billion in revenue—a profit margin of 38%. That lucrative business is built on scholars’ unpaid labor, as subsidized by our university-employers. The typeset product of that labor, in a longstanding complaint, is sold back to us at extortionate prices. Now Elsevier is skimming the behavioral cream, and selling that too. If anything, profits from the first business have financed the build-up of the second.

There are surveillance publishers in our midst, and it’s going to get worse unless we start crying foul.

‘The arXiv of the future will not look like the arXiv’

Alberto Pepe, Matteo Cantiello, and Josh Nicholson, in their arXiv paper calling on arXiv to overhaul itself:

Disclaimer: This article has originally been written and posted on Authorea, a collaborative online platform for technical and data-driven documents. Authorea is being developed to respond to some of the concerns with current methodology raised in this very piece, and as such is suggested as a possible future alternative to existing preprint servers.

The paper doesn’t mention that Authorea is owned by Atypon, which itself is a subsidiary of publishing oligopolist Wiley. All three authors are affiliated with the Wiley-owned platform.

Which begs the question: will the arXiv of the future be nonprofit?

Update: The paper was originally published in 2017, before Authorea was acquired by Wiley. A webpage version was posted to arXiv’s experimental html5 renderer with a 2022 time stamp, which confused me and many others across Twitter about its pub date.

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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