Er is wel degelijk een open access citatievoordeel -maar misschien gaat het daar niet om

Reactie op het ScienceGuide artikel ‘Publicaties in open access worden minder geciteerd, maar hebben meer impact’

Bianca Kramer & Jeroen Bosman

[This post in Dutch is a reaction to a Dutch language article in the online magazine ScienceGuide. In it we point at methodological issues in that article where it concerns calculating citation advantage ratios of open access publications.]

Een recent artikel in ScienceGuide ‘Publicaties in open access worden minder geciteerd, maar hebben meer impact’ ‘stelt dat open access (OA) artikelen vaker gedownload, gedeeld en bediscussieerd worden dan artikelen die niet open access beschikbaar zijn (vooral door lezers buiten de academische wereld), maar minder vaak worden geciteerd.

Het artikel rapporteert over onderzoek dat door Springer Nature is uitgevoerd met medewerking van de VSNU en de Nederlandse universiteitsbibliotheken. De stelling dat open access publicaties minder geciteerd worden is echter gebaseerd op een eigen analyse door ScienceGuide van de database Dimensions. Op deze analyse valt ons inziens het een en ander af te dingen, wat we hier met een korte check hopen te laten zien.  

ScienceGuide stelt dat ‘een OA-artikel in 2020 gemiddeld 17 keer geciteerd werd, terwijl verwijzingen naar betaalde artikelen gemiddeld 20 keer voorkwamen’. Als gemiddeld aantal citaties per artikel in één jaar zouden dergelijke hoge aantallen sowieso vraagtekens moeten oproepen.  Voor zover wij kunnen nagaan, is in de analyse van ScienceGuide het aantal citaties in 2020 naar alle OA publicaties in Dimensions gedeeld door het aantal OA publicaties uit 2020: 51,462,310 / 3,092,745 = 16,6 en idem voor gesloten publicaties: 61.099.078 / 3,007,612 = 20,3 (data van 6 maart 2021). Daarbij is niet gefilterd op artikelen, terwijl in de tekst wel wordt gesproken over artikelen. Waar we hier echter op in willen gaan is dat de berekening zoals die is uitgevoerd niet zinvol is en een onjuiste suggestie wekt.

Als de intentie is geweest om na te gaan hoe vaak in 2020 gemiddeld verwezen werd naar een een OA artikel versus een gesloten artikel, zou het aantal citaties in 2020 gedeeld moeten worden door het totaal aantal artikelen in de database (voor zowel OA en gesloten artikelen). Die grove berekening, eveneens uitgevoerd in Dimensions, wijst op een citatievoordeel voor OA artikelen (49,664,551 / 28,393,702 = 1,7 citaties per artikel) vergeleken met gesloten artikelen (56,164,426 / 67,479,719 = 0,8 citaties per artikel).

Het is ook mogelijk om te kijken naar het totaal aantal citaties per artikel (dus niet alleen citaties uit 2020). Als we dat doen voor artikelen uit de jaren 2012-2020 (zie data en berekeningen), zien we opnieuw een citatievoordeel voor OA artikelen, dat toeneemt naarmate artikelen langer geleden gepubliceerd zijn (en dus langer de tijd hebben gehad om geciteerd te worden). Als we de artikelen uitsplitsen naar type OA, blijkt het citatievoordeel het sterkst voor green OA (artikelen gedeeld in een repository) en hybrid OA (OA artikelen in abonnementstijdschriften, die ook gesloten artikelen bevatten). Green OA betekent hier ‘green only’: artikelen die niet ook gold of hybrid of bronze open access zijn.

Omdat gemiddelde aantallen citaties per artikel sterk beïnvloed kunnen worden door een klein aantal artikelen dat extreem vaak geciteerd wordt, hebben we ook gekeken naar de mediaan van het aantal citaties per artikel, een parameter die ook getoond wordt in Dimensions. Hieruit blijkt voor artikelen uit de meest recente jaren geen algemeen citatievoordeel voor OA artikelen versus gesloten artikelen, maar nog steeds wel voor green OA. 

Ten slotte hebben we gekeken naar het percentage artikelen dat (volgens de informatie in Dimensions) ten minste één keer geciteerd is. Het stuk in ScienceGuide noemt de lage citatiegraad van artikelen, naar we aannemen die uit 2020. Dat is niet verwonderlijk omdat artikelen uit dat jaar nog nauwelijks de kans hebben gehad om geciteerd te worden. Sommige artikelen uit 2020 zijn pas net verschenen. Zoals te verwachten is het percentage geciteerde artikelen hoger naarmate artikelen ouder zijn. We zien hier dat, in vergelijking met gesloten artikelen, OA artikelen die ouder zijn 2 jaar wat vaker minimaal één keer geciteerd zijn. Dit geldt in sterke mate voor green OA artikelen, waar het effect voor alle jaren zichtbaar is. Al deze berekeningen en data in deze post zijn overigens beschikbaar.

In tegenstelling tot de berekening die ScienceGuide heeft toegepast, lijken al deze data te wijzen op een (licht) citatievoordeel voor OA artikelen, wat in lijn is met een aantal eerdere onderzoeken, waaronder de grootschalige studies van Archambault et al. (2016) en van Piwowar et al. (2018) en de overzichtsstudie van Lewis (2018). Tevens is er een nuttige lijst van SPARC Europe met tientallen studies waarin is gekeken naar het vermeende citatievoordeel. 

Ook in de studie van Springer Nature die door ScienceGuide besproken wordt, is behalve naar downloads en altmetrics data, gekeken naar citaties. Voor 350K publicaties (artikelen, conference proceedings en boekhoofdstukken) uit 2017 die gerelateerd zijn aan de Sustainable Development Goals werd in Dimensions geen direct citatievoordeel gevonden voor OA versus gesloten publicaties, maar wanneer een regressiemodel werd toegepast met correcties voor ‘meerdere variabelen op het niveau van de publicatie, auteur en tijdschrift’ leek er alsnog een citatievoordeel te zijn voor hybrid OA (zie de figuur hieronder, overgenomen uit het Springer Nature rapport, p. 15). In de studie van Springer Nature is overigens in het geheel niet gekeken naar green OA. 

Het is goed te bedenken dat de door ons uitgevoerde analyses afhankelijk zijn van de compleetheid van publicatie- en citatiedata in Dimensions. Elke database met citatiegegevens heeft zijn eigen beperkingen, maar een vergelijkbare analyse in Lens (een vrij beschikbare bibliografische database) geeft hetzelfde beeld (zie data en grafieken). En uiteraard impliceren statistische verbanden niet automatisch causale verbanden. De populaties waarnaar gekeken wordt kunnen onderling verschillen op andere aspecten dan alleen open access status, wat een effect kan hebben op de gevonden patronen. Het kan om die reden bijvoorbeeld ook interessant zijn om te kijken naar verschillen tussen vakgebieden (zie data en grafieken). Een analyse hiervan voert hier echter te ver.

De gevonden opvallend hogere waarden voor artikelen die via green OA zijn gedeeld komt overeen met wat werd gevonden in de studies van Piwowar et al. en Archambault et al. Hogere waarden voor green en ook hybrid OA, vooral ten opzichte van artikelen in full gold open access tijdschriften kunnen mogelijk worden verklaard uit het feit dat green en hybrid open access vooral van toepassing is op traditionele tijdschriften, met gemiddeld een grotere bekendheid en op dit moment nog vaak sterkere reputatie dan veel van de nieuwere full gold open access tijdschriften. Specifiek voor green OA komen daar mogelijk nog 2 effecten bij: het effect van de glossy tijdschriften waarin open access publiceren tot voor kort niet mogelijk was (zoals Nature, Science en Cell), en waar green OA dus de enige mogelijkheid was, en het effect dat veel tijdschriften in Life Sciences artikelen green OA beschikbaar maken via PubMed Central en dat veel auteurs in Physical Sciences artikelen delen in arXiv. 

De stelling in het ScienceGuide artikel dat OA artikelen minder geciteerd worden dan gesloten artikelen, blijkt in onze analyse niet door de gebruikte data ondersteund te worden. Er zijn wel degelijk sterke aanwijzingen dat open access artikelen vaker geciteerd worden. Los hiervan zijn we geen voorstander van het tegen elkaar afzetten van citaties en ‘externe impact’ als doelen, zeker waar dit laatste wordt afgemeten aan een eendimensionale maat als een geaggregeerde Altmetric score. Het doet geen recht aan de vele manieren waarop impact bereikt kan worden en doet tevens geen recht aan aan de vele beweegredenen om open access te publiceren.

Deze post heeft een CC BY 4.0 license.

Green OA: publishers and journals allowing zero embargo and CC-BY

Jeroen Bosman and Bianca Kramer, Utrecht University, July 2020
Accompanying spreadsheet: https://tinyurl.com/green-OA-policies

Introduction

We witness increased interest in the role of green open access and how it can contribute to the goals of open science. This interest focuses on immediacy (reducing or eliminating embargoes) and usage rights (through open licenses), as these can contribute to wider and faster dissemination, reuse and collaboration in science and scholarship. 

On July 15 2020, cOAlition S announced their Rights Retention Strategy, providing authors with the right to share the accepted manuscript (AAM) of their research articles with an open license and without embargo, as one of the ways to comply with Plan S requirements. This raises the question to what extent immediate and open licensed self archiving of scholarly publications is currently already possible and practiced. Here we provide the results of some analyses carried out earlier this year, intended to at least partially answer that question. We limit this brief study to journal articles and only looked at CC-BY licenses (not CC0, CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-ND, which can also meet Plan S requirements).

Basically, there are two possible approaches to inventorize journals that currently allow immediate green archiving under a CC-BY license:

  • policy-based – by checking journal- or publisher policies, either directly or through Sherpa Romeo or Share Your Paper from Open Access Button.
  • empirically – by checking evidence for green archiving with 0 embargo and CC-BY license (with potential cross-check against policies to check for validity).

Here we only report on the first approach.

A full overview of journal open access policies and allowances (such as will be provided by the Journal Checker Tool that cOAlition S announced early July 2020) was beyond our scope here. Therefore, we carried out a policy check for a limited set of 36 large publishers to get a view of currently existing options for immediate green archiving with CC-BY license, supplemented with anecdotal data on journals that offer a compliant option. We also briefly discuss the potential and limitations of an empirical approach, and potential publisher motivations behind (not) allowing immediate sharing and sharing under a CC-BY license, respectively.

Our main conclusions are that:

  1. Based on stated policies we found very few (18) journals that currently allow the combination of immediate and CC-BY-licensed self archiving.
  2. Based on stated policies of 36 large publishers, there are currently ~2800 journals with those publishers that allow immediate green, but all disallow or do not explicitly allow CC-BY.

Large publishers – policies

We checked the 36 largest non-full-OA publishers, based on number of 2019 articles according to Scilit (which uses Crossref data), for self archiving policies allowing immediate sharing on (institutional) repositories. Of these 36 publishers, 18 have zero embargo allowances for at least some of their journals for green sharing of AAMs from subscription (incl. hybrid) journals in institutional or disciplinary repositories. Overall that pertains to at least 2785 journals. Elsevier only allows this in the form of updating a preprint shared on ArXiv or RePEc. From these large publishers, those with the most journals allowing zero embargo repository sharing are  Sage, Emerald, Brill,  CUP, T&F (for social sciences), IOS and APA. Notably, though not a large publisher in terms of papers or journals, the AAAS also allows immediate sharing through repositories.

None of these policies allow using a CC-BY license for sharing in repositories. Three explicitly mention another CC-license (NC or NC-ND), others do not mention licenses at all or ask authors to state that the copyright belongs to the publisher. Sometimes CC-licenses are not explicitly mentioned, but it is indicated that the AAM shared in repositories are for personal and/or non-commercial use only. 

For the data see columns F-H in the tab ‘Green OA‘ in the accompanying spreadsheet.

Other evidence

From the literature and news sources we know of a few examples of single publishers allowing zero embargo sharing in repositories combined with a CC-BY license:

  • ASCB:
    • Molecular Biology of the Cell (PV OA (CC-BY) after 2 months,
      AAM 0 embargo with CC-BY)
  • MIT Press:
    • Asian Development Review (full OA but PV has no open license)
    • Computational Linguistics (full OA but PV=CC-BY-NC-ND)
  • Microbiology Society
    • Microbiology
    • Journal of general Virology
    • Journal of medical Microbiology
    • Microbial genomics
    • International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology
    • JMM case reports
  • Royal Society
    • Biology Letters
    • Interface
    • Interface Focus
    • Notes and records
    • Philosophical Transactions A
    • Philosophical Transactions B
    • Proceedings A 
    • Proceedings B 

A check of the long tail of smaller publishers could yield additional examples of journals compliant with 0 embargo / CC-BY sharing from smaller publishers. 

Empirical analysis of green archiving

Empirical analysis of actual green archiving behaviour (e.g. using Unpaywall and/or Unpaywall data in Lens.org) could also provide leads to journals allowing early sharing.

Since Unpaywall data do not contain information on the date a green archived copy was made available in a repository, a direct empirical analysis of zero-embargo archiving is not readily possible. As a proxy, a selection could be made of articles published in a period of 3 months before a given database snapshot, and then identifying those that are only available as green OA. A period of 3 months, rather than 1 month or less, would allow for some delay in posting to a repository. 

The benefit of using Lens.org for such an analysis is the availability of a user-friendly public interface to perform queries in real time. The disadvantage is that, although Lens sources OA information from Unpaywall, no license information for green OA is included, and no distinction is made between submitted, accepted and published versions. Analyses could also be done on a snapshot of the Unpaywall database directly, which includes license information for green OA (where available) and provides version information.

Gap analysis report

In our previous gap analysis report that gave a snapshot of publication year 2017, we did harvest policies from Sherpa Romeo systematically for the subset of journals included in the gap analysis (journals in Web of Science publishing articles resulting from Plan S-funded research). As explained above, updating this approach was beyond our scope for this exercise. 

In our original gap analysis data, we found no examples of journals that allowed 0 embargo in combination with CC-BY. 

Journal policies for green OA: embargo lengths and licenses
(source: Open access potential and uptake in the context of Plan S – a partial gap analysis)

Potential publisher motivations 

From checking policies and behaviour, different publisher approaches emerge regarding embargoes and licenses for self-archived article versions. It seems that the reluctance of publishers to allow immediate sharing is weaker overall than the reluctance to allow CC-BY for green OA. That may have to do with the reasons behind these two types of reluctance. 

The reason to not allow immediate sharing may concern fears of losing subscription income and perhaps also a dwindling effect on visitors to their platform. However, several publishers have noticed that this fear may be ungrounded, as libraries do not unsubscribe yet just because some percentage of articles is also immediately available as AAM, not only because of incomplete open availability but also because of the wish to provide access to published versions in their platform context. Some publishers (e.g. Sage) have also publicly stated that they do not witness a negative effect on subscriptions. 

For the reluctance to allow CC-BY licenses we expect other reasons to be at play, primarily the desire to be in control over how, where and in what form content is shared. This relates to  protecting income from derivative publications (reprints, printing-on-demand, anthologies etc.) and also to preventing others having any monetary gain from including content on competing platforms. 

Another aspect is the inability of publishers to require linking back to the publisher version in cases where the CC-BY licensed AAM in the repository is reused, rather than depending on community norms to provide information on and links to various versions of a publication.

Looking at the empirical evidence and these considerations, it can potentially be expected that across publishers, a move towards shorter embargoes might be easier to achieve than a move towards a fully open license for green-archived versions. It should be noted that while there are examples of publishers allowing shorter embargoes in response to specific funder mandates (e.g from Wellcome, NIH), to our knowledge there has not, prior to Plan S, been funder or institutional pressure to require open licenses for green archived AAMs. Thus, it will remain to be seen whether publishers would be inclined to move in this direction in response. The reactions to the letter cOAlition S sent to a large number of publishers to inform them on the cOAlition S Rights retention Strategy should provide clarity on that. 

In addition to funder policies, institutions and governments could further support this development through policies and legislation relating to copyright retention, as well as zero embargoes and licenses for green OA archiving of publications resulting from publicly funded research. This could provide authors with more rights and put pressure on publishers to seriously reconsider their stance on these matters. 

Open access potential and uptake in the context of Plan S – a partial gap analysis

Today we released the report Open access potential and uptake in the context of Plan S – a partial gap analysis, which aims to provide cOAlition S with initial quantitative and descriptive data on the availability and usage of various open access options in different fields and subdisciplines, and, as far as possible, their compliance with Plan S requirements. This work was commissioned on behalf of cOAlition S by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), a member of cOAlition S.

The reports builds on the work described in two of our 2018 posts: Towards a Plan S gap analysis? (1) Open access potential across disciplines and Towards a Plan S gap analysis? (2) Gold open access journals in WoS and DOAJ. The new report extends the methodology and range of data used, including more information on hybrid and green OA from Crossref, SHERPA/RoMEO, and Unpaywall directly Also, it provides more detail, with narrative sketches of publication cultures in 30 fields. In the appendix of the report, some other aspects of the open access landscape are addressed, such as journal size distribution and publisher types.

Uptake and potential of open access types in four main fields

Main results
Within the limitations of our approach using Web of Science (see below), the results show that in all main fields, including arts & humanities, over 75% of journals in our analysis do allow gold open access publishing. This currently consists predominantly of hybrid journals, which authors can only use in a Plan S compliant publishing route when the journal is part of a transformative arrangement or when authors also immediately share their article as green OA. The most striking result is the very large number of closed publications in hybrid journals, also given the fact that most of these journals do allow green open access.

Regarding licenses we find that a sizeable proportion (52%) of full gold OA journals already allow Plan S compliant licenses as well as copyright retention and importantly, that these journals are responsible for a large majority (78%) of articles published in full OA journals by cOAlition S fundees. Results on the green route to open access show that almost all hybrid journals and about half of the closed journals in our analysis do allow green OA archiving. In physical sciences & technology and life sciences & medicine, a 12 month embargo is most prevalent, with longer embargoes more common in social sciences and especially arts & humanities. At the same time, there are examples of journals with a 0 month embargo in all fields, and especially in social sciences these have a considerable share.

Overall, one could say that while there currently is limited compliance with the various Plan S requirements, there is huge variety among fields and at the same time also a lot of potential and opportunity.

Limitations of using Web of Science
We acknowledge the limitations of the report caused by using Web of Science as the sole source to identify cOAlition S-funded research output. The choice to use Web of Science relates to availability of funder information and field labels, that are essential in this analysis. However, apart from not being an open data source, relying on Web of Science inevitably introduces bias in disciplinary, geographical and language coverage, as well as in coverage of newer OA publication venues and many diamond OA venues. In this light, this report should be seen as a partial gap analysis only. In the appendix of the report, we provide an overview of characteristics of a number of other databases that influence their potential usage in analyses of OA options at funder or institutional level, as well as their coverage of social sciences and humanities specifically.

Feedback and next steps
The narrative sketches of a number of subdisciplines provided in the report are largely informed by the quantitative results of the report. It would be interesting to learn to what extent and how they reflect the image that researchers in these fields have of the availability and usage of open access options in their field, and how these are influenced by the publication culture in that field.

The report is intended as a first step: an exploration in methodology as much as in results. Subsequent interpretation (e.g. on fields where funder investment/action is needed) and decisions on next steps (e.g. on more complete and longitudinal monitoring of Plan S-compliant venues) is intentionally left to cOAlition S.

We want to thank our colleagues at Utrecht University Library for their contributions to this work. Any mistakes and omissions remain our responsibility.

The data underlying the report are shared at: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3549020

See also: press release by cOAlition S on the report.

Nine routes towards Plan S compliance – updated

by Jeroen Bosman & Bianca Kramer

Changes in Plan S compliant options as of May 31, 2019

On May 31, cOAlition-S, the group of funders responsible for Plan S, published the updated Plan S principles and implementation guidance, addressing feedback received during the public consultation period.  Based on these details we updated our scheme of nine routes towards compliance.

The information in the principles and guidance document involves some changes and additional details compared to the draft implementation guidance that was made public on November 27, 2018:

  • the option for cOAlition-S members to approve the use of the CC BY-ND license for individual articles
  • addition of transformative model agreements and transformative journals to the options for transformative arrangements that allow hybrid journals to be compliant
  • specification that funders can (but are not obliged to) financially contribute to transformative arrangements, up until 2024
  • removal of the requirement for transformative agreements to include a scenario for  subsequent full transformation to OA

Some of these  changes effect the compliant routes available. We hence made adaptations to the scheme and the list of routes. For each of the routes the scheme shows examples (please treat them as such), assessments of effects on various stakeholders and on overall cost and also whether the route aligns with expected changes in the evaluation system.

Other changes in the principles and implementation guidance do not have a direct effect on the possible routes, but do have the potential to  influence their feasibility and effects. These include the postponement of the formal commencement point of Plan S with one year to January 1 2021,  the relaxation of some of the requirements for repositories, requirements for transparency  of costs and prices, the stipulation that funders will only financially support transformative agreements after 1 of January 2021 where they adhere to the ESAC Guidelines and the elevation to the 10 principles of the commitment to revise evaluation criteria.

The routes

In our view it is useful to discern 4 potential gold routes, 1 hybrid route, 1 hybrid/green route and 3 potential green routes.

  1. Using existing or new APC-based gold journals / platforms.
  2. Using existing or new non-APC-based gold journals / platforms (a.k.a. diamond).
  3. Flipping journals to an APC-based gold model, by publishers or by editors taking the journal with them.
  4. Flipping journals to non-APC-based gold (diamond), by publishers or editors taking the journal with them.
  5. Using a hybrid journal that is part of a transformative (model) agreement with a funder, institution or consortium, or that is a transformative journal. Funders can choose to support this route financially until the end of 2024.
  6. Publishing your article open access and CC-BY(-SA) in a non-compliant hybrid journal and self-archiving that article in a compliant repository.
  7. Archiving the publisher version, on publication, with copyright retained and an open license.
  8. Archiving the accepted author manuscript, on publication, with copyright retained and an open license.
  9. Sharing preprints (e.g. in dedicated preprint archives) and using overlay journals for peer review.

Discuss

We hope this is valuable in supporting discussions or that it will at least provoke some comments. For the latter you can either use the comments function below, use Hypothesis or use the Google Slides version of the scheme.

The scheme (click to enlarge)

Nine routes towards PLan S compliance 20190531

Plan S feedback

Feedback on the guidance on the Implementation of Plan S by

Bianca Kramer https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5965-6560

Jeroen Bosman https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5796-2727

Dated 20190208

 

 

We have a few overall recommendations:

  • Improve on the why: make it more clear that Plan S is part of a broader transition towards open science and not only to make papers available and OA cheaper. It is part of changes to make science more efficient, reliable and reusable.
  • Plan S brings great potential, and with that also comes great responsibility for cOAlition S funders. From the start, plan S has been criticized for its perceived focus (in intent and/or expected effects) on APC-based OA publishing. In our reading, both the principles and the implementation guidance recognize for all forms of full OA publishing, including diamond OA and new forms of publishing like overlay journals. However, it will depend to no small extent on the actual recognition and support of non-APC based gold OA models by cOAlitionS funders whether plan S will indeed encourage such bibliodiversity and accompanying equity in publishing opportunities. Examples of initiatives to consider in this regard are OJS journal systems by PKP, Coko open source technology based initiatives, Open Library of Humanities, Scoap3, Free Journal Network, and also Scielo and Redalyc in Latin America.
  • The issue of evaluation and assessment is tied closely to the effects Plan S can or will have. It is up to cOAlitionS funders to take actionable steps to turn their commitment to fundamentally revise the incentive and reward system of science in line with DORA into practice, at the same time they are putting the Plan S principles into practice. The two can mutually support each other, as open access journals that also implement other open science criteria such as pre-registration, requirements for FAIR data and selection based on rigorous methodological criteria will facilitate evaluation based on research quality.  
  • Make sure to (also) provide Plan S in the form of one integrated document containing the why, the what and the how on one document. Currently it is too easy to overlook the why. That document should be openly licensed and shared in a reliable archive.
  • In the implementation document include a (graphical) timeline of changes and deadlines.

 

Looking at your first question for feedback (Is there anything unclear or are there any issues that have not been addressed by the guidance document?) we would like to bring a number of issues to your attention.

 

Feedback on article 2:

  • There is uncertainty over acceptance of overlay journals and generally journal external peer review systems. The implementation document lists as a basic requirement for journals and platforms that they are registered in DOAJ or applying for registration with DOAJ. The problem is that we are not sure whether DOAJ will list/accept non-journals peer review platforms or overlay journals. They do list SciPost physics, but Scipost considers itself a full fledged publication platform. We understand that it is the cOAlition’s intention to support this route, but as it is in some ways unchartered territory, it would be wise to specifically indicate how quality certification is done for non-journal venues

 

Feedback on article 8:

  • Acknowledging the resulting limits on potential (re)use, consider including an opt-out of the license requirements by accepting CC-BY-ND when requested, in order to increase support of humanities.

 

Feedback on article 9:

  • Acceptance of separation of publishing and peer review in 2 locations/systems.
    The implementation guidance text potentially casts some doubts about the eligibility of overlay journals when the publication (including any revisions following peer review) resides on e.g. a preprint server or repository, rather than being published on the overlay journal platform. In these cases, only the peer review is taken on by the overlay journal, and the article would of course be listed as being included in the overlay journal. In terms of the four traditional functions of publishing, the overlay journal would serve the functions of certification and dissemination, but not those of registration and archiving.
    Open Access platforms referred to in this section are publishing platforms for the original publication of research output (for example scholarly articles and conference proceedings). Platforms that merely serve to aggregate or re-publish content that has already been published elsewhere are not included. In this regard, it is also interesting to note that Jean-Sebastian Caux commented on our earlier version of the then-eight routes that he does not consider SciPost an overlay journal in that sense of the word, because SciPost does publish articles on its own platform (https://101innovations.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/eight-routes-towards-plan-s-compliance/#comment-203). A possible way to elucidate the intent of cOAlition S in this regard  might be to explicitly mention (perhaps added to the paragraph quoted above) that overlay journals taking on peer review and publishing the resulting articles are compliant, even when the articles themselves do not reside on the platform of the overlay journal. But this is indeed relatively uncharted territory.

 

Feedback on articles 9 and 10:

  • The are quite some (technical) requirements for journals and repositories. We would like to see cOAlition S to commit to support the implementation of those requirements by smaller (esp. non-APC-based) journals and repositories. This can be done by (financially) supporting technical solutions and co-organize training, materials (e.g. video) and meetings to help implementation.
  • The requirements for journals do not seem to apply to hybrid journals in transformative agreements. This creates the strange situation that a lot of hybrid journals will be held to much lower standards than full OA journals, platforms and repositories and do not have to invest until (in some cases, depending on agreement timing) 2025. To redress this to some extent, we would like to advise relaxation of the technical and other requirements mentioned in article 9.2 and 10.2  (XML, JATS (or equivalent), API, CC0 metadata incl. references, and transparent cost/prices) for instance until 2021 (instead of 2020).

 

Feedback on article 11:

  • It says now “COAlition S acknowledges existing transformative agreements. However, from 2020 onward, new agreements need to fulfil the following conditions to achieve compliance with Plan S”. There is a chance that by pre-2020 signing of long term contracts hybrid could remain compliant even after 2024. To avoid that we would change the wording to include a maximum running period length for existing (pre-2020) contracts to be acknowledged. E.g. change this into “COAlition S acknowledges existing transformative agreements with contract periods that do not go beyond 2022”.
  • We also recommend replacing ‘existing transformative agreements’ with ‘existing off-setting, read-and-publish and publish-and-read agreements’ to prevent confusion as to what is meant by ‘transformative agreements’.
  • It says now “The negotiated agreements need to include a scenario that describes how the publication venues will be converted to full Open Access after the contract expires.” To avoid leaving room for multiple interpretations of the flipping deadline we would change the phrasing in such a way that it is beyond any doubt what is meant exactly. (E.g. “at the moment the contract expires”, or “within a year after the contract expires”.)

 

 

Towards a Plan S gap analysis? (2) Gold open access journals in WoS and DOAJ

(NB this post is accompanied by a another post, on open access potential across disciplines, in the light of Plan S)

In our previous blogpost, we explored open access (OA)  potential (in terms of journals and publications) across disciplines, with an eye towards Plan S. For that exercise, we looked at a particular subset of journals, namely those included in Web of Science. We fully acknowledge this practical decision leads to limitation and bias in the results. In particular this concerns a bias against:

  • recently launched journals
  • non-traditional journal types
  • smaller journals not (yet) meeting the technical requirements of WoS
  • journals in languages other than English
  • journals from non-Western regions

To further explore this bias, and give context to the interpretation of results derived from looking at full gold OA journals in Web of Science only, we analyzed the inclusion of DOAJ journals in WoS per major discipline.

We also looked at the proportion of DOAJ journals (and articles/reviews therein) in different parts of the Web of Science Core Collection that we used: either in the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) / Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) /Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), or in the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI).

The Emerging Sources Citation Index contains a range of journals not (yet) indexed in the other citation indexes, including journals in emerging scientific fields and regional journals. It uses the same quality criteria for inclusion as the other citation indexes, notably: journals should be peer reviewed, follow ethical publishing practices, meet Web of Science’s technical requirements, and have English language bibliographic information. Journals also have to publish actively with current issues and articles posted regularly. Citation impact and a strict publication schedule is not a criterion for inclusion of journals in ESCI, which means that also newer journals can be part of ESCI. Journals in ESCI and the AHCI do not have a Clarivate impact factor.

Method
We compared the number of DOAJ journals in Web of Science to the total number of journals in DOAJ per discipline. For this, we made a mapping  of the LCC-classification used in DOAJ to the major disciplines used in Web of Science, combining Physical Sciences and Technology into one to get four major disciplines.

For a number of (sub)disciplines, we identified the number of full gold journals in Web of Science Core Collection, as well as the number of publications from 2017 (articles & reviews) in those journals. We also looked what proportion of these journals (and the publications therein) are listed in ESCI as opposed to SCIE/SSCI/AHCI. For subdisciplines in Web of Science, we identified 10 research areas in each major discipline with the highest number of articles & reviews in 2017. Web of Science makes use of data from Unpaywall for OA classification at article-level.

All data underlying this analysis are available on Zenodo: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1979937

Results

Looking at the total number of journals in DOAJ and the proportion thereof included in Web of Science (Fig 1, Table 1) shows that Web of Science covers only 32% of journals in DOAJ, and 66% of those are covered in ESCI. For Social Sciences and Humanities, the proportion of DOAJ journals included in WoS is only 20%, and >80% of these journals are covered in ESCI, not SSCI/AHCI. This means that only looking at WoS leaves out 60-80% of DOAJ journals (depending on discipline), and only looking at the ‘traditional’ citation indexes SCIE/SSCI/AHCI restricts this even further.

Gold all 0

Fig 1. Coverage of DOAJ journals in WoS

DOAJ-WoS table.png

Table 1. Coverage of DOAJ journals in WoS (percentages)

We then compared the the proportion of DOAJ journals covered in SCIE/SSCI/AHCI versus ESCI, to the proportion of publications in those journals in the two sets of citation indexes (Fig 3). This reveals that for Physical Sciences & Technology and for Life Sciences & Medicine, the majority of full gold OA articles in WoS is published in journals included in SCIE, indicating that journals in ESCI might predominantly be smaller, lower volume journals. For Social Sciences and for Humanities, however, journals in ESCI account for the majority of gold OA articles in WoS. This means that due to WoS indexing practices, a large proportion of gold OA articles in these disciplines is excluded when considering only what’s covered in SSCI and AHCI.

Gold all 1-2 large

Fig 2. Gold OA journals and publications in WoS

The overall patterns observed for the major disciplines can be explored more in detail when looking at subdisciplines (Fig 3). Here, some interesting differences between subdisciplines within a major discipline emerge.

  • In Physical Sciences and Technology, three subdisciplines (Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences) have a large proportion of full OA journals that is covered in ESCI rather than SCIE, and especially for Engineering, these account for a sizeable part of full gold OA articles in that subdiscipline.
  • In Life Sciences and Biomedicine,  General and Internal Medicine seems to be an exception with both the largest proportion  of full OA journals in ESCI as well as the largest share of full gold OA publications coming from these journals. In contrast, in Cell Biology, virtually all full gold OA publications are from journals included in SCIE.
  • In Social Sciences, only in Psychology a majority of full gold OA publications is in journals covered in SSCI, even though for this discipline, as for all other in Social Sciences, the large majority of full gold OA journals is part of ESCI, not SSCI.
  • In Arts & Humanities the pattern seems to be consistent across subdisciplines, perhaps with the exception of Religion, which seems to have a relatively large proportion of articles in AHCI journals, and Architecture, where virtually all journals (and thus, publications) are in ESCI, not AHCI.

Gold PT 1-2 large
Gold LM 1-2 large
Gold SOC 1-2 large

Gold AH 1-2 large

Fig 3. Full gold OA journals and publications in Web of Science, per subdiscipline

Looking beyond traditional citation indexes

Our results clearly show that in all disciplines, the traditional citation indexes in WoS (SCIE, SSCI and AHCI) cover only a minority of existing full gold OA journals. Looking at publication behaviour, journals included in ESCI account for a large number of gold OA publications in many (sub)disciplines, especially in Social Sciences and Humanities. Especially in terms of an analysis of availability of full OA publication venues in the context of Plan S, it will be interesting to look closer at titles included in both SCIE/SSCI/AHCI and  ESCI per (sub)discipline and assess the relevance of these titles to different groups of researchers within that discipline (for instance by looking at publication volume, language, content from cOAlitions S or EU countries, readership/citations from cOAlition S or EU countries). Looking at publication venues beyond traditional citation indexes fits well with the ambition of Plan S funders to move away from evaluation based on journal prestige as measured by impact factors. It should also be kept in mind that ESCI marks but a small extension of coverage of full gold OA journals, compared to the large part of DOAJ journals that are not covered by WoS at all.

Encore: Plan S criteria for gold OA journals

So far, we have looked at coverage of all DOAJ journals, irrespective of whether they meet specific criteria of Plan S for publication in full OA journals and platforms, including copyright retention and CC-BY license*.

Analyzing data available through DOAJ (supplemented with our mapping to WoS major disciplines) shows that currently, 28% of DOAJ journals complies with these two criteria (Fig 4). That proportion is somewhat higher for Physical Sciences & Technology and Life Sciences & Medicine, and lower for Social Sciences & Humanities. It should be noted that when a journal allows multiple licenses (e.g. CC-BY and CC-BY-NC-ND), DOAJ includes only the most strict license in its journal list download. Therefore, the percentages shown here for compliant licensing are likely an underestimation. Furthermore, we want to emphasize that this analysis reflects the current situation, and thereby could also be thought of as pointing towards the potential of available full OA venues if publishers adapt their policies on copyright retention and licensing to align with criteria set out in Plan S.

Copyright criteria (CC-BY and copyright retention) of DOAJ journals_empty

Fig 4. Copyright criteria (CC-BY and copyright retention) of DOAJ journals

*The current implementation guidance also indicated that CC-BY-SA and CC0 would be acceptable. These have not been included in our analysis (yet).

Towards a Plan S gap analysis? (1) Open access potential across disciplines

(NB this post is accompanied by a second post on presence of full gold open access journals in Web of Science and DOAJ)

In the proposed implementation guidelines for Plan S, it has become clear there will be, for the coming years at least, three ways to open access (OA) that are compliant with Plan S:

  • publication in full open access journals and platforms
  • deposit in open access repositories of author accepted manuscript (AAM) or publisher version (VOR)
  • publishing in hybrid journals that are part of transformative agreements

Additional requirements concern copyright (copyright retention by authors or institutions), licensing (CC-BY, CC-BY-SA or CC0), embargo periods (no embargo’s) and technical requirements for open access journals, platforms and repositories.

In the discussion surrounding plan S, one of the issues that keeps coming back is how many publishing venues are currently compliant. Or, phrased differently, how many of their current publication venues researchers fear will no longer be available to them.

However, the current state should be regarded as a starting point, not the end point. As Plan S is meant to effect changes in the system of scholarly publication, it is important to look at the potential for moving towards compliance, both on the side of publishers as well as on the side of authors.

https://twitter.com/lteytelman/status/1067635233380429824

Method
To get a first indication as to what that potential for open access is across different disciplines, we looked at a particular subset of journals, namely those in Web of Science. For this first approach we chose Web of Science because of its multidisciplinary nature, because it covers both open and closed journals, because it has open access detection and because it offers subject categories and finally, because of its functionality in generating and exporting frequency tables of journal titles. We fully recognize the inevitable bias related to using Web of Science as source, and address this further below and in an accompanying blogpost.

For a number of (sub)disciplines, we identified the proportion of full gold, hybrid and closed journals in Web of Science, as well as the proportion of hybrid and closed journals that allows green open access by archiving AAM/VOR in repositories.  We also looked at the number of publications from 2017 (articles & reviews) that were actually made open access (or not) under each of these models.

Some methodological remarks:

  • We used the data available in Web of Science for OA classification at the article level. WoS uses Unpaywall data but imposes its own classification criteria:
    • DOAJ gold: article in journal included in DOAJ
    • hybrid: article in non-DOAJ journal, with CC-license
      (NB This excludes hybrid journals that use a publisher-specific license)
    • green: AAM or VOR in repository 
  • For journal classification we did not use a journal list, but we classified a journal as gold, hybrid and/or allowing green OA if at least one article from 2017 in that journal was classified as such. This method may underestimate:
    • journals allowing green OA in fields with long embargo’s (esp. A&H)
    • journals allowing hybrid or green OA if those journals have very low publication volumes (increasing the chance that a certain route is not used by any 2017 paper)
  • We only looked at green OA for closed articles, i.e. when articles were not also published OA in a gold or hybrid journal.
  • Specific plan S criteria are not (yet) taken into account in these data, i.e. copyright retention, CC-BY/CC-BY-SA/CC0 license, no embargo period (for green OA) and being part of transformative agreements (for hybrid journals)
  • For breakdown across (sub)disciplines, we used WoS research areas (which are assigned at the journal level). We combined Physical Sciences and Technology into one to get four major disciplines. In each major discipline, we identified 10 subdisciplines  with the highest number of articles & reviews in 2017 ((excluding ‘other topics’ and replacing Astronomy & Astrophysics for Mechanics because of specific interest in green OA in Astronomy & Astrophysics)
  • We used the full WoS Core collection available through our institution’s license, which includes the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI).

All data underlying this analysis are available on Zenodo:
https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1979937

Results

As seen in Figure 1A-B, the proportion of full gold OA journals is relatively consistent  across major disciplines, as is the proportion of articles published in these journals. Both are between 15-20%. Despite a large proportion of hybrid journals in Physical Sciences & Technology and Life Sciences & Medicine, the actual proportion of articles published OA in hybrid journals is quite low in all disciplines. The majority of hybrid journals (except in Arts & Humanities) allow green OA, as do between 30-45% of closed journals (again except in Arts&Humanities). However, the actual proportion of green OA at the article level is much lower. As said, embargo periods (esp. those exceeding 12 months) might have an overall effect here, but the difference between potential and uptake remains striking.

https://101innovations.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/all1.png

All2

Fig 1A-B. OA classification of journals and publications (Web of Science, publication year 2017)

Looking at subdisciplines reveals interesting differences both in the availability of open access options and the proportion of articles & reviews using these options (Fig 2).

  • In Physical Sciences and Technology, the percentage of journals that is fully gold OA is quite low in most fields, with slightly higher levels in energy fuels, geology, optics and astronomy. Uptake of these journals is lower still, with only the optics and geology fields slightly higher. Hybrid journals are numerous in this discipline but see their gold and green open access options used quite infrequently. The use of green OA for closed journals, where allowed, is also limited, with the exception of astronomy.  (but note that green sharing of preprints is not included in this analysis). In all fields in this discipline over 25% of WoS indexed journals seem to have no open options at all. Of all subdisciplines in our analysis, those in the  physical sciences fields display the starkest contrast between the ample OA options and their limited usage.
  • In Life Sciences & Biomedicine, penetration of full gold OA journals  is higher than in Physical sciences, but with starker differences, ranging from very low levels in environmental science and molecular biochemistry to much higher levels for general internal medicine and agriculture. In the Life sciences and Biomedicine discipline, uptake of gold OA journals is quite good, again especially in general internal medicine. Availability of hybrid journals is quite high but their use is limited; exceptions are cell biology and cancer studies that do show high levels of open papers in hybrid journals. Green sharing is a clearly better than in Physical sciences, especially in fields like neurosciences, oncology and cell biology (likely also due to PMC / EuropePMC) but still quite low given the amount of journals allowing it.
  • In Social Sciences there is a large percentage of closed non-hybrid subscription journals, but many allow green OA sharing. Alas the uptake of that is limited, as far as detected using Unpaywall data. In this regard the one exception is psychology, with a somewhat higher level of green sharing. Hybrid OA publishing is available less often than in Physical Sciences or Life Sciences, but with relatively high shares in psychology, sociology, geography and public administration. The fields with the highest shares of full gold OA journals are education, linguistics, geography and communication, with usage of gold in Social Sciences more or less corresponding with full gold journal availability.
  • In Arts & Humanities, the most striking fact is the very large share of journals offering no open option at all. Like in Social Sciences, usage of gold across Humanities fields more or less corresponds with full gold journal availability. Hybrid options are limited and even more rarely used, except in philosophy fields. Green sharing options are already limited, but their use is even lower.

PT 1-2 large

LM 1-2 largeSOC 1-2 large

AH 1-2 large

Fig 2. OA classification of journals and publications in different subdisciplines (Web of Science, publication year 2017)

Increasing Plan-S compliant OA 

Taking these data as a starting point (and taking into account that the proportion of Plan S compliant OA will be lower than the proportions of OA shown here, both for journals and publications), there are a number of ways in which both publishers and authors can increase Plan S-compliant OA (see Fig 3):

  • adapt journal policies to make existing journals compliant
    (re: license, copyright retention, transitional agreements, 0 embargo)
  • create new journals/platforms or flip existing journals to full OA (preferably diamond OA)
  • encourage authors to make use of existing OA options (by mandates, OA funding (including for diamond OA) and changes in evaluation system)

We also made a more detailed analysis of nine possible routes towards plan S-compliance (including potential effects on various stakeholders) that might be of interest here.

Towards compliancy

Fig 3. Ways to increase Plan S-compliant OA

Towards a gap analysis? Some considerations

In their implementation guidance, cOAlition S states it will commission a gap analysis of Open Access journals/platforms to identify fields and disciplines where there is a need to increase their share. In doing so, we suggest it would be good to not only look at the share of currently existing gold OA journals/platforms, but view this in context of the potential to move towards plan S compliance, both on the side of publishers and authors. Filling any gaps could thus involve supporting new platforms, but also supporting flipping of hybrid/closed journals and supporting authors in making use of these options, or at least considering the effect of the latter two developments on the expected gap size(s).

Another consideration in determining gaps is whether to look at the full landscape of (Plan S-compliant) full gold journals and platforms, or whether to make a selection based on relevance or acceptability to plan S-funded authors, e.g.  by impact factor, by inclusion in an ‘accepted journal list’ (e.g. the Nordic list(s) or the ERA-list) or by other criteria. In our opinion, any such selection should be presented as an optional overlay/filter view, and preferably be based on criteria other than journal prestige, as this is exactly what cOAlition S wants to move away from in the assessment of research.  Some more neutral criteria that could be considered are:

    • Language: English and/or at least one EU language accepted?
    • Content from cOAlition S or EU countries?
    • Readership/citations from cOAlition S or EU countries?
    • Editorial board (partly) from cOAlition S or EU countries?
    • Volume (e.g. papers per annum)

Of course we ourselves already made a selection by using WoS, and we fully recognize this practical decision leads to limitation and bias in the results. For a further analysis of inclusion of DOAJ journals in WoS per discipline, as well as the proportion of DOAJ journals in ESCI vs SCIE/SSCI/AHCI, see the accompanying blogpost ‘Gold OA journals in WoS and DOAJ‘.

To further explore bias in coverage, there are also other journal lists that might be worthwhile to compare (e.g. ROAD, EZB, JournalTOCs, Scopus sources list). Another interesting initiative in this regard is the ISSN-GOLD-OA 2.0 list that provides a matching list of ISSN for Gold Open Access (OA) journals from DOAJ, ROAD, PubMed Central and the Open APC initiative. It is especially important to ensure that existing (and future) publishing platforms, diamond OA journals and overlay journals will be included in any analysis of gold OA publishing venues. One initiative in this area is the crowdsourced inventarisation of (sub)areas within mathematics where there is the most need for Fair Open Access journals.

There are multiple ways in which the rough analysis presented here could be taken further. First, a check on specific Plan S compliant criteria could be added, i.e. on CC-license type, copyright retention, embargo terms, and potentially on inclusion of hybrid journals in transitional agreement. Many of these (though not the latter) could be derived from existing data, e.g. in DOAJ and SherpaRomeo. Furthermore, an analysis such as this would ideally be based on fully open data. While not yet available in one interface that enables the required filtering, faceting and export functionality,  a combination of the following sources would be interesting to explore:

  • Unpaywall database (article, journal, publisher and repository info, OA detection)
  • LENS.org (article, journal, affiliation and funder info, integration with Unpaywall)
  • DOAJ (characteristics of full gold OA journals)
  • SherpaRomeo (embargo information)

Ultimately, this could result in an open database that would allow multiple views on the landscape of OA publication venues and the usage thereof, enabling policy makers, service providers (including publishers) and authors alike to make evidence-based decisions in OA publishing. We would welcome an open (funding) call from cOAlition S funders to get people together to think and work on this.

 

Nine routes towards Plan S compliance

by Jeroen Bosman & Bianca Kramer

NB Please note there is a separate, updated post based on the Plan S implementation document of May 2019

Changes in Plan S compliant options as of November 27, 2018

On October 22 we posted Eight routes towards Plan S compliance. Meanwhile, cOAlition-S, the group of funders responsible for Plan S, has put out a guidance document detailing  implementation of the plan. Based on those details we updated our scheme of routes to achieve compliance.

The information in the guidance document involves some changes and additional details compared to what was made public on September 4:

  • compliance of self archived (green) publications, with a few strict requirements (it has to be immediate, with copyright retained and with a CC-BY, CC-BY-SA or CC0 license)
  • compliance of hybrid journals if they are part of a transformative deal with maximum length of 3 years.
  • publications in mirror / sister type journals are not compliant
  • no cap (yet) on APC-levels

These and some other, smaller changes effect the compliant routes available. We have hence adapted the scheme and the list of routes. For each of the routes the scheme shows examples (please treat them as such), assessments of effects on various stakeholders and on overall cost and also whether the route aligns with expected changes in the evaluation system.

The routes

In our view it is useful to discern 4 potential gold routes, 1 (temporary) hybrid route, 1 hybrid/green route and 3 potential green routes.

  1. Using existing or new APC-based gold journals / platforms.
  2. Using existing or new non-APC-based gold journals / platforms (a.k.a. diamond).
  3. Flipping journals to an APC-based gold model, by publishers or by editors taking the journal with them.
  4. Flipping journals to non-APC-based gold (diamond), by publishers or editors taking the journal with them.
  5. Using a hybrid journal that is part of a transformative agreement with a funder or institution. This is a temporary option (until the end of 2024).
  6. Publishing your article open access and CC-BY in a non-compliant hybrid journal and self-archiving that article in a compliant repository.
  7. Archiving the publisher version, on publication, with copyright retained and an open license.
  8. Archiving the accepted author manuscript, on publication, with copyright retained and an open license.
  9. Sharing preprints (e.g. in dedicated preprint archives) and using overlay journals for peer review.

Discuss

We hope this is valuable in supporting discussions or that it will at least provoke some comments. For the latter you can either use the comments function below, use Hypothesis or use the Google Slides version of the scheme.

The scheme

Nine routes towards Plan S compliance

Eight routes towards Plan S compliance

by Jeroen Bosman & Bianca Kramer

[also see the update of this post (‘Nine routes towards Plan S compliance‘), published after the Plan S implementation guidance became available]  

Plan S

Much has already been said and written about Plan S, the initiative of a group of European research funders to drastically increase and speed up the transition to full open access. Instead of adding to that with statements on whether it is a good idea or on which elements we like and which we do not like, here we present and dissect eight possible routes towards compliance. For each of those routes the scheme shows examples (please treat them as such), assessments of effects on various stakeholders and on overall cost and also whether the route aligns with expected changes in the evaluation system.

The routes

In our view it is useful to discern 5 potential gold routes and 3 potential green routes.

  1. Using existing or new APC-based gold journals / platforms.
  2. Using existing or new non-APC-based gold journals / platforms (a.k.a. diamond).
  3. Flipping journals to an APC-based gold model, by publishers or by editors taking the journal with them.
  4. ‘Soft-flipping’ journals to APC gold (leaving subscription/hybrid intact): this means creating a APC-based full OA sister journal with same scope, editors, policies etc..
  5. Flipping journals to non-APC-based gold (diamond), by publishers or editors.
  6. Archiving the publisher version, on publication, with copyright retained and an open license.
  7. Archiving the accepted author manuscript, on publication, with copyright retained and an open license.
  8. Sharing preprints (e.g. in dedicated preprint archives) and using overlay journals for peer review.

Discuss

We hope this is valuable in supporting discussions or that it will at least provoke some comments. For the latter you can either use the comments function below, use Hypothesis or use the Google Slides version of the scheme.

The scheme

Scheme with characteristics of eight routes towards Plan S compliance

Plan S – response to alternatives proposed by Kamerlin et al.

The recent substantial critique* by a group of mainly chemistry researchers to Plan S has garnered a lot of discussion on Twitter and in blogposts (e.g. Plan S, Antwort auf die Kritik), mostly around the risks the authors associate with the implementation of Plan S in its current form. The authors, in their well-thought-out piece, also include four solutions as alternatives to Plan S, and these have as yet, to our knowledge, not been given as much attention they deserve. To further the healthy debate around both Plan S and alternative (existing) options for open access, we hereby provide our point-by-point response to the four scenarios sketched by the authors (below in cursive) and how we feel they relate to the goals and methods as proposed in plan S. 

(1) One possible solution would be to convince all subscription (TA) journals to make all papers fully OA after an embargo period of 6-12 months, without APCs. In this environment, libraries would still buy subscriptions to allow scientists to catch up with the most recent developments, and the broader public would have access to all research without a paywall (but with a slight delay). While this plan does not provide immediate access to everyone, it is a safe and easy solution that would be beneficial for most stakeholders. Under this model, most publications would be read by scientists in the first 6-12 months after publication, and after the embargo period is over, no further costs should be accrued to access a scientific paper. In a modification of Plan S, rather than an indiscriminate blanket ban on all non-pure Gold OA journals, it would then be possible to exclude any (non-society) journals that won’t accept this policy from the list of ‘allowed’ journals. This will likely still result in some journals being excluded as possible publication venues, but is a smaller infringement on academic freedom, and could become an acceptable situation for most researchers and a model to which any journal can easily adapt without compromising on quality. We note that according to Robert-Jan Smits, the European Commission’s Open Access Envoy, even an embargo period of 6-12 months is “unacceptable”, but he does not explain why  29 exactly that should be the case. Very recently, Belgium accepted a new law following this exact 6-12 month embargo model. This embargo period is intended to “give authors the chance to publish their papers in renowned journals, and prevents that publishers are damaged by a loss in income from subscriptions’, as is the opinion of Peeters’ cabinet.”

This option is currently executed by a number of journals/publishers, and is often referred to as delayed OA. While this would indeed be an option that would not disrupt the current reputation-driven publication system (the disruption of which is arguably one of the goals of plan S), it has also several issues:

1) by limiting immediate access to subscriptions, it would limit access to only those researchers (typically from richer institutions) that can afford those subscriptions, excluding researchers from other institutions, non-affiliated researchers, members of society, NGOs, small and medium (and large) companies, start-ups and non-profits, from immediate access to scientific and scholarly findings and the benefits flowing from that. Thus, this is arguably not an optimal solution for most stakeholders.

2) Currently, most delayed open access models do not include an open license for the publications involved, making this a read-only model rather than a true open access model that enables access as well as re-use.

3) Currently, as far as we know, publishers making journals available free to read after a number of months or years do not guarantee in any way that they will remain available. If the journal is sold to another publisher, volumes may become unavailable again.

4) This does not solve the problem currently unsustainable subscription prices, one of the very reasons of the push for OA.

NB1 The law recently approved in Belgium deals with the authors’ right to archive and sharing the manuscript of a publication after 6-12 months embargo, e.g. in a repository, not with the publisher making closed publications open on the publisher platform. It therefore more closely relates to solution 2 proposed by the authors. (see below).

NB2  It is unclear why the authors seem to argue that society journals should be exempted from this model (“it would then be possible to exclude any (non-society) journals that won’t accept this policy”).

 

(2) Another model, which can be implemented in conjunction with point (1), is a mandate on depositing preprints in appropriate online repositories (Green OA), similar to the Open Access requirements of the US National Institutes of Health . This is the model frequently employed by scientists to meet funders’ Open Access requirements. These are then easily searchable using a range of search tools, including (but not limited to), most easily, Google Scholar. This is a solution with great benefits to the reader and limited risks to the author, as it allows for rapid early-stage dissemination of research, the provision of real time feedback to the authors, while opening up research to the scientific community and general public much faster than waiting for the very long publication time scales inherent to some journals. (…)

There seems to be a misunderstanding here around the difference between preprints and the deposition of published articles (either publisher version, or the author-version after acceptance by the publisher). The OA requirements of NIH and many other funders concern the latter (e.g. through deposition in PubMed Central). While this model has indeed resulted in a large proportion of publications from NIH (as well as, for instance, the Wellcome trust) to be OA, where an embargo is involved (such as with NIH) it has the same drawbacks regarding non-immediate access as discussed above for scenario 1. As with scenario 1, it also does not provide incentives for publishers to change their publication model nor for funders, institutions and researchers to change the reputation-driven publication system.

NB The further benefits discussed in this scenario (early-stage dissemination, real-time feedback, circumventing long publication time scales) are benefits that are associated with preprints. Additional benefits of this model include a demonstrable trace of the scholarly record (e.g. being able to see changes made in an article as the result of peer review and community feedback).

(3) We note here also that more and more reputable publishers are now adding high quality open access publications to their repertoire of journals. In particular, we encourage fully open access journals published by scientific societies. A brief (but by no means exclusive) list of examples of such journals include ACS Central Science , ACS Omega , Chemical Science , RSC Advances , the Royal Society journals Open Biology and Open Science , IUCrJ and eLife , among others. A move to a fully open access landscape is clearly going to become much easier when there are more journals that can guarantee the same level of quality control and sustainability as current reputable subscription journals, as venues to disseminate one’s work. It may be a slower transition, but making this transition in an ecosystem that supports it does not infringe on academic freedom as Plan S does. Clearly, the overall march towards Open Knowledge Practices seems inevitable, as well as desirable, as researcher consciousness about the means of research dissemination, the possibilities, and the important ethical issues surrounding closed science increases. We must be careful to encourage this march in a way that does not replace one problem with another.    

The increase in the number of good quality open access venues (both from commercial and non-profit publishers, as well as from scholarly societies) is fully in line with what Plan S aims to stimulate. While there are clearly different opinions on the ways in which this development is best stimulated, there appears to be no difference in opinion as to the benefit of having a wide array of qualitatively good full OA publication options. It is encouraging to see that the authors include in their examples journals  for multiple disciplines that do not claim to be selective based on perceived impact, but judge research on the basis of soundness (like ACS Omega and Royal Society Open Science), indicating that they do not equate quality with selectivity per se. It should also be noted Plan S includes the commitment of funders to apply rigorous criteria as to the quality of full OA publication venues, although the exact nature of these criteria remain to be decided on. Plan S also wants to cap APCs. Though it is as yet unknown at what level, it probably will be at a level below the highest APCs currently asked for by full OA journals. It is interesting to see that the examples given have APCs ranging from 0 to 2500 USD.

Finally, the debate about Open Access, and APC, ignores the Diamond (also known as Platinum) model of OA publication. Diamond publication is a fully sponsored mode of publication, in which neither author nor publisher pays, but rather, the journals are funded by a third party sponsor. An example of Diamond OA is provided by the Beilstein Journals, all publications for which are covered by the  non-profit Beilstein Institute in Germany . Similarly, there is no fee for publication in ACS Central Science, and all publication costs are covered by the American Chemical Society . It is important to ensure the moral and ethical integrity of that sponsor. But, when performed in an ethically uncompromised framework, this would be an ideal model for publications by scientific societies, whose  journals could then either be sponsored by funders and other donors. In such a framework, rather than simply transferring costs from readers to authors, while allowing questionable journals to flourish and exploit APC, quality control can be ensured by financially supporting high quality not-for-profit publications. Would this not be a much braver step for European and National funders to mandate, than  a push for pure Gold OA?  

Plan S explicitly does not state a preference for an author-paid APC model. Other forms of pure gold OA, like indeed diamond and platinum OA, are fully in line with plan S. Diamond not being compliant is thus a misunderstanding. Depending on the implementation, the stated intent of funders to “provide incentives to establish and support full gold OA versions where appropriate” might also take the shape of enabling diamond/platinum models. One possible model for this would be the announced plans for a publication platform financed by the EC that will require no APCs from authors or institutions.  

Overall, the four solutions proposed by the authors all represent tried-and-tested solutions that are practiced in various settings, and all are providing valuable contributions to progress in open access (or in some cases, free-to-read access) of research articles. Two of them (3 and 4) are, as models, fully in line with plan S. The other two (1 and 2) facilitate access but fall short of the ambitions of plan S to not only provide immediate open access to research articles, but also to stimulate a shift in publishing away from a subscription-based journal system. Whether those ambitions and their proposed implementation are deemed to risky, too forceful and/or too limited in geographical scope to be beneficial to research and researchers remains a topic of debate even (or perhaps especially) among proponents of open research practices, which include both the original authors and ourselves.

Bianca Kramer (@MsPhelps) and Jeroen Bosman (@jeroenbosman)
Utrecht University Library

Bianca Kramer is currently also a member of the EC Expert Group ‘Future of Scholarly Publishing and Scholarly Communication 

 

*The piece is also published as part of a  post on the For better science blog