Tag Archives: oa

Documentary “Paywall: The Business of Scholarship” Premieres in Washington, DC

*This is a guest blog post by Judy Ruttenberg, ARL program director for strategic initiatives.*
*Updated September 11, 2018, with quotation from Geneva Henry.*

The documentary film Paywall: The Business of Scholarship made its global premiere in Washington, DC, on September 5, 2018, the same week that 11 European countries proclaimed that all their publicly funded research would be open access by 2020. Paywall producer and director Jason Schmitt and director of photography Russell Stone welcomed the DC audience, which comprised many of the scientists, publishers, and open access advocates featured in the 65-minute film. With minimal narration and expertly sequenced interviews, the film weaves together two principal stories: the exorbitant financial cost to access for-profit academic journals and the associated, incalculable human cost when doctors, patients, students, and would-be innovators all over the world hit paywalls that deny them access to the latest research.

Schmitt, an associate professor of media and communication at Clarkson University, told the DC audience that the film was made not for them but for their neighbors, friends, and colleagues who are not immersed in the world of academic publishing. To the uninitiated, the system makes little sense. The labor of writing articles is unpaid, as is much of the editing, peer review, and curation. Taxpayers fund most scientific research, whether done within government agencies, or through universities, and yet the results (until recently) have not been available to them. The top five academic publishers—which dominate the market—earn profit margins up to ten times that of top technology firms. While many of the film’s subjects acknowledged innovation and value within these publishing companies, Elsevier in particular, most were quick to say those contributions are outweighed by the costs to the scientific enterprise of excluding so many people from participating in it.

Some of Paywall’s most compelling interviews address the consequences of exclusion. Brian Nosek, executive director of the Center for Open Science (COS), described a meeting with a cohort of graduate students in Budapest who were all studying implicit cognition. Why so many students, in one sub-field? Because the papers are largely available on the open internet. Schmitt met with medical students and faculty in Africa and India who were unable to access the latest literature, and unable to contribute their own discoveries to it. Paywalls inhibit innovation because they minimize the chance that “the right person will be in the right place at the right time,” with respect to the literature, said Tom Callaway, from the open source software company Red Hat. And the audience laughed along with Sci-Hub creator Alexandra Elbakyan as, in a rare on-camera interview, she explained that Sci-Hub is targeting this exclusion by helping Elsevier fulfill its mission to make “uncommon knowledge common.”

Paywall is a celebration of the open access (OA) movement and its victories to level the playing field through preprint services like arXiv, and through policies mandating public access to government-funded research. The film is also a sober reflection on the OA movement’s progress, as for-profit academic publishers have both stalled and monetized open access while maintaining ever-increasing subscription revenue. The consortium of European national funders, called cOAlition S, announced their initiative this week with a set of principles addressing these exorbitant costs, including a cap on open access publication fees and a prohibition on publishing in hybrid journals (that charge a mix of subscription and open access fees). Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, emphasized in Paywall the critical importance of authors retaining copyrights in order for a large-scale open access system to function.

Geneva Henry, dean of Libraries and Academic Innovation at The George Washington University, also attended the premiere and offered this reflection:

Academic library leaders have been raising the concern for years about the unsustainable rate of inflation with online journals, particularly those supporting the sciences. We have shown our faculty and university leadership the solid data that demonstrates this problem, have cut journals each year to fit our budgets and have been met with criticism by the researchers, have provided information about open access and its advantages, and have received polite nods and smiles from everyone. But little has changed and the high-impact (high-cost) journals are still the ones that remain a priority for faculty publications. Paywall has the opportunity to present these audiences with perspectives from a wide variety of scholars and professionals who identify the issues we’ve been trying to communicate for so long. Its format as a film will enable broader distribution and hopefully be that communication vehicle for bringing this issue to the forefront of academic leadership. We’ve known for a long time that something needs to change and this film will hopefully serve as a catalyst for turning the tide on commercial publishing practices that limit the distribution of knowledge in our society. Perhaps librarians will now be viewed as the canaries in the coal mine rather than a bunch of chicken littles.

SPARC Europe, LIBER (the Association of European Research Libraries), and Research Libraries UK (RLUK) have all issued statements in support of cOAlition S. Peter Suber has also blogged about the plan.

Funded by a grant from the Open Society Foundations, Paywall will be screened by more than 175 universities this fall, and is available to stream under a CC BY 4.0 license at www.paywallthemovie.com. SPARC, a global coalition committed to making open the default for research and education, helped organize the DC premiere.

Richard Poynder Interview with UCLA University Librarian Ginny Steel on Open Access

A couple of weeks ago, Richard Poynder interviewed Virginia (“Ginny”) Steel, Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian at UCLA on open access. Ginny Steel is also the past chair of ARL’s Advocacy and Policy Committee and chair of the SPARC Steering Committee. She is, of course, deeply knowledgeable and thoughtful about open access—Poynder notes in the introduction to the interview, “In contrast to many OA advocates in Europe, Steel’s views on open access are nuanced and undogmatic”—and the entire interview (the PDF of which runs 24 pages, including Poynder’s intro) is well worth reading. The interview covers a range of OA topics from goals, current challenges, specifics related to University of California actions, publishers and more.

While I do recommend reading the full interview, here are a few highlights:

Ginny notes that while there are numerous OA models, including ones currently under development, it is important to evaluate these models and determine how they serve the ultimate goals of OA:

What’s really important and needs to be carefully evaluated . . . is 1) who controls the copyright of the content, 2) to whom is reading access provided, and 3) is there equity in the opportunities to publish for researchers in institutions or parts of the world that are not able to provide the level of financial support available in Europe and North America.

The ultimate goal of OA is to allow open sharing of research results in a way that offers equal opportunities for researchers around the world to publish, reserves effective peer review, allows authors to retain control over their work, allows worldwide reading access, and provides a sustainable financial model that covers the costs of publishing . . . It’s still very much a work in progress, and there are competing interests that make these conversations difficult.

Ginny’s statement points to the important issue of copyright because it is the copyright owner who chooses to make a work OA. Additionally, while a publisher with copyright ownership over an article might consent to open access so that a reader can read the text itself, it could try and limit other uses (such as text-and-data mining) particularly for licensed, born digital content.

Thus, the importance of academy controlled, rather than publisher controlled, content in ensuring meaningful open access. Ginny points out that new business models need to be developed and that these models will vary based on disciplinary needs. In addition to referencing the UC’s “Pathways to OA” document, she points to “a small group of members of the Association of Research Libraries is working on ‘Academy-owned OA’ (AO-OA) and is partnering with a handful of professional societies and disciplinary repositories to explore new models to move away from subscription-based models dominated by commercial publishers.”

In the final question, Poynder asks about preprint servers and Ginny responds with an “optimistic” view, while again emphasizing the importance of academy retaining control:

Actually I’m optimistic about the potential of preprint servers becoming full-scale platforms that provide access to preprints, peer-reviewed content, and underlying datasets.

If the academy builds open tools that result in a ‘Sustainable Knowledge Commons’ and there is widespread collaboration with professional societies, I would hope that governance models would ensure that control is retained by the academy and the content creators.

But there will have to be a deep institutional commitment to not cede control.

New Advocacy and Policy Update

The latest ARL Advocacy and Public Policy Update (covering the period from October 1 to December 22) is now available.  Previous Advocacy and Policy Updates can be found here.

From the current update’s summary:

Copyright continues to be an active area with a number of developments since October. The House Judiciary Committee continues to move forward with its copyright review and is close to completing its schedule of meetings between House Judiciary majority and minority staffers and witnesses who testified at hearings during the course of the review. In early 2016, members of the House Judiciary Committee will determine what issues they may want to work on with respect to possible reform. Additionally, Representatives Marino, Chu and Comstock introduced their bill on Copyright Office modernization, which would move the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress and establish it as an independent agency within the legislative branch. On October 16, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit released its long awaited opinion in Authors Guild v. Google, strongly affirming fair use. Also in October, the Library of Congress released its final rules for the current cycle of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) Section 1201 rulemaking. Finally, the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) filed comments responding to the Copyright Office’s Notice of Inquiry regarding a proposed pilot program for mass digitization and extended collective licensing. These comments questioned the wisdom of such a pilot program.

The US Congress passed the omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2016 and avoided a government shutdown. The omnibus exceeded mandatory caps on discretionary funding, resulting in positive results for higher education and libraries.

The Department of Education issued a proposal to amend regulations and require that all Department grantees awarded direct competitive grant funds openly license all copyrightable intellectual property created with these funds. ARL submitted comments supporting the benefits of open licensing and encouraging continued dialog.

ARL joined in comments on the proposed revision to OMB Circular A-130, the Circular that provides the rules of the road for federal information management and information technology.

The DC Circuit heard oral arguments on net neutrality in December. Although threats regarding a rider to undermine the FCC’s ability enforce its net neutrality rules emerged during the omnibus appropriations process, this rider was ultimately not included.

Congress continues to consider reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), and there is widespread support in the House for such reform. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 was altered in ways that raise greater privacy concerns than its original version and was passed in the omnibus appropriations bill.

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher II), a case involving the University of Texas (UT) admissions process, which seeks to improve student body diversity.

Finally on the international front, more countries have ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, moving the Treaty closer to entry into force. The negotiations of the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) have now been finalized and the texts are now public, but the agreement must still be signed and passed by each of the negotiating parties.

New Advocacy and Policy Update: August 14, 2015

A new ARL Advocacy and Policy Update, covering mid-June to mid-August is now available here.  Prior updates can be accessed here.

The summary and contents from the current Advocacy and Policy Update are reproduced below:

Summary

The US House of Representatives began the summer recess on July 30th, and the US Senate adjourned on August 6th with both reconvening on September 8th. September and October promise to be very busy months as both chambers must act on the FY 2017 appropriations bills, highway trust fund, debt ceiling, and many other issues. It is also hoped that there will be a deal to increase the spending limits under sequestration, which higher education institutions and others have long advocated for.

Much of the activity related to copyright has centered around the Copyright Office. Congressional offices continue to explore and discuss ways to modernize the Copyright Office, including various proposals to move the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress. Additionally, the Copyright Office has issued notices of inquiries that relate to orphan works, mass digitization, visual works, and extended collective licensing.

There have been positive developments with respect to open access, open educational resources, and open data. The Obama Administration released science and technology priorities for FY 2017, which note that “preserving and improving access to scientific collections, research data, other results of federally funded research, open datasets and open education resources should be a priority for agencies.” The FASTR Bill to enhance public access to research was approved unanimously by the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Privacy and surveillance concerns continue as Congress is considering cybersecurity legislation that raises serious issues for privacy and civil liberties. Litigation around net neutrality is in full swing, with the briefs of telecommunications companies opposing the FCC’s net neutrality rules filed in July.

Finally, ARL continues to promote a simple and quick ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. Currently, 10 countries have ratified the Treaty, and 10 more are needed for it to enter into force.

Contents

Copyright and Intellectual Property

  • Proposal to “Modernize” the Copyright Office
  • Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry on Visual Works
  • Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry on Mass Digitization and Extended Collective Licensing
  • House Judiciary Committee’s Copyright Review

Open Access, Open Educational Resources, and Open Data

  • Obama Administration Releases Science and Technological Priorities for FY 2017
  • Coalition Calls on White House to Open Up Access to Federally Funded Educational Resources
  • FASTR Bill to Enhance Public Access to Research Approved by US Senate Committee
  • National Technical Information Service (NTIS)

Update Appropriations

Draft Bill Would Eliminate NHPRC

Privacy and Surveillance

  • Cybersecurity Legislation
  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act Reform

Telecommunications

  • Net Neutrality Litigation

International Treaties

  • Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
  • Marrakesh Treaty

More than 90 Organizations and Institutions Call for Administration Policy on Open Educational Resources

On August 4, 2015, ARL joined more than 90 organizations and institutions wrote to President Obama calling for a policy to ensure that federally funded educational materials “are made available to the public as Open Educational Resources to freely use, share and build upon.”

 

The letter discusses the impact of open educational resources (OER) and points to several examples where the use of OER has resulted in significant cost savings, including Washington State’s Open Course Library program that has saved students more than $5.5 million.  It also points out that “[e]merging evidence in both K-12 and higher education has begun to demonstrate that students using Open Educational Resources have the same or better academic outcomes than peers using traditional materials.”

 

The letter recommends:

To achieve these goals, Administration policy on access to federally funded educational materials should direct the agencies to adhere to these core principles:

1.  A broad definition of educational materials. The educational, training, and instructional materials covered by the Order should include any unclassified information resource created, in whole or in part, with Federal funds designed to educate, instruct, train or inform. At the core, these would include learning materials, professional development resources and job training materials, but recipients of Federal funds create many other informational resources concerning, for example, public health, the environment, or energy that could be adapted for educational use if these were made freely available over the Internet under terms that permitted such adaptation.

2.  Free access through the internet. Any covered information should be freely accessible through the Internet if in digital form.

3.  Conditions that enable reuse. To maximize the value of these informational resources created with public funds, it is essential that recipients of Federal funds agree as a term and condition of such funding that they grant to the public broad copyright permission to reuse and adapt these materials for any purpose so long as the creator and the agency receive appropriate attribution.[6]

4.  Prompt implementation. Agencies should be required to implement this policy in no more than 12 months. This action is well within the purview of existing procurement law and does not require notice and comment.

5.  Reporting to OSTP.  Agencies should report their progress and results to the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

[T]he price of textbooks has risen more than 800% over the past 30 years, a rate faster than medical services (575%), new home prices (325%), and the consumer price index (250%).

from The Changing Textbook Industry – a fascinating blog post by Jonathan Band for CCIA’s DisCo blog.

The Board believes that the licensing terms in the Taylor & Francis author agreement are too restrictive and out-of-step with the expectations of authors in the LIS community.

Editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration resigns from Taylor and Francis journal over author agreement terms – The Ubiquitous Librarian – The Chronicle of Higher Education via @copycense