Are we overestimating the problem of “predatory” publishing?

In order to unravel the unjustified association of open access with bad or even predatory publishing Tom Olijhoek and Jon Tennant wrote this blog post, recently published in the LSE Impact Blog.
Last summer an international association of investigative journalists launched a massive media offensive on the problem of predatory publishing in science. The data shown were taken from the 2015 study by Cenyu Shen and Bo-Christer Björk, but without proper reference to it.
The study launched by the association of investigative journalists suggests a link between predatory publishing and open access publishing, and that the problem is huge.
However, according to Tom Olijhoek, the DOAJ Editor-in-Chief, and Jon Tennant, a leading voice in and advocate of open science, the facts tell a different story: predatory publishing does also exist in toll-access journals, and the total revenue of predatory open access publishers is 0,5 – 1,5 % of the total revenues of open access publishers.
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment here.

The 10 Principles of Plan S

The welcome announcement last week from Marc Schiltz‘s Science Europe about cOAlition S and the publication of The 10 Principles of Plan S was well received at DOAJ Headquarters. The key principle of Plan S is:

“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

The document continues to outline important factors surrounding the desired model of open access and this model sometimes follows closely DOAJ’s preferred model for open access:

  1. Authors will retain copyright.
  2. Content will be published under an open license which fulfils the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration.
  3. All scientists should be able to publish Open Access even if they have limited means.
  4. Publications fees should be standardised or capped.
  5. The hybrid model of publishing is not compliant with the principles.

DOAJ is pleased to see these principles so in line with the DOAJ criteria.

Lars Bjørnshauge, DOAJ Founder and Managing Director, said: ‘While we should remember that these principles only cover Europe and focus on science and that they may not be applicable on all continents or to the humanities, they will hopefully have a positive impact. Their announcement is timely and they are a welcome move in the right direction. DOAJ is proud to support their implementation.’

Russian scientific journals in the era of open access to knowledge: problems of adaptation

Our DOAJ Ambassador Dr. Natalia Gennadievna Popova has recently published a paper (in Russian) “Russian scientific journals in the era of open access to knowledge: problems of adaptation” or Российский научный журнал в эпоху открытого доступа к знаниям: проблемы адаптации. We are sharing this work with the wider DOAJ community, as we know that there is still lots to do in Russia in the open access arena (as our Ambassadors’ programme has shown) and this is covered in the paper.

Here is the paper’s abstract in English:

The advancement of open access to scientific knowledge has become a determining strategy in the sphere of scientific communication. Open access implies, along with a free access to full-text information online, the creation of a legal basis for the results of research to be used fairly by all interested bodies. The Directory of Open Access Journals, DOAJ, as well as other similar institutions, carries the mission of providing and guaranteeing the quality of open access. Russian journals are increasingly become part of this project, which is considered to be a positive trend. Currently, about 163 Russian titles are listed in DOAJ. However, some journals face difficulties in bringing their publication standards in compliance with the DOAJ quality criteria, which has become a reason for suspending 15 Russian titles from this esteemed international database. This article investigates the process of open access advancement in Russia, in particular, the implementation of international quality standards in the sphere of Russian scientific periodicals. Main DOAJ acceptance criteria are analyzed, as well as those problems that Russian titles experience adapting to them.

Read the full-text (in Russian).

Silver Sponsor National Library of Sweden Answers our Questions on Open Access Publishing and DOAJ

Beate Eellend, Open Access Coordinator at Kungliga Biblioteket (National Library of Sweden), and contributor to the OpenAccess.se blog, answers our questions.

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– Your organisation has been supporting DOAJ for some years now. Why is it important for the National Library of Sweden to support DOAJ?

The National Library of Sweden (NLS) has been supporting DOAJ from the very beginning, partly financing the launch of DOAJ at Lund University in 2003. For NLS it is important to support DOAJ as an independent part of the scholarly communication infrastructure. NLS promotes open sources with international standards and rich quality metadata which DOAJ stands for. NLS relies on DOAJ’s assessment on quality Open Access journals and uses DOAJ as a data source for verifying and enriching metadata on Open Access publications from the Swedish universities.

 

– What is the National Library of Sweden doing to support that development? Do you have any exciting projects underway?

NLS is developing the national research publication database Swepub in regards to needs of bibliometrical analysis. One of the needs is to be able to collect data on Open Access publications from the Swedish universities. For this NLS uses DOAJ to verify and enrich Open Access status.

Since 2006 The National Library of Sweden has worked with advancing open access to scholarly output. At the beginning of 2017 the National Library received an appropriation directive from the Swedish Government to act as a national coordinating body in the work towards a transition to open access to scholarly publications. NLS coordinates five studies concerning different aspects of the transition to an open access publishing landscape:

  1. The current merit and resource allocation system versus incentives for open access;
  2. Funding for a transition from a subscription-based to an open access publishing system;
  3. Open access to scholarly monographs;
  4. Financial and technical support for converting peer-reviewed and scholarly journals from toll access to open access;
  5. Monitoring of compliance with open access policies and mandates.

All groups have stakeholder representation from Swedish funding agencies, HEIs, researchers and the National Library of Sweden. The goal of the studies is to formulate recommendations for national solutions to fulfil the goal of the Swedish Government; that the transition to open access to scholarly publications, research data and artistic works should be fully implemented in 2026 at the latest

– What are your personal views on the future of Open Access publishing?

It is our firm belief that open access will strengthen the scholarly system as well as society at large. A broad collaboration between stakeholders is needed in order to achieve the goal of open access. Also, we aim to strengthen the control of the total costs of publishing while preserving the quality control system. This is no easy task, conflicting interests complicates the transition to a sustainable open access publishing system.  

– What do you think that the scholarly community could do to better support the continued development of the Open Access movement in the near future?

As long as there are little or no incentives or rewards for researchers practicing open access and open science, the prestige economy will continue to hinder the development. Scholarly community leaders have an important role to show the way forward.

– Much has been said recently about whether open access is succeeding or failing, particularly in terms of the original vision laid out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Do you think that open access has fallen short of this vision, or has it surpassed expectations?

None of the above. We are in the middle of a very complex societal transition where digitization strongly affects both research and higher education. This transition is still ongoing and has never been tried before – we are living in a trial and error era.

 

Silver Sponsor MDPI answers our questions on DOAJ and Open Access

This is the first of a series of interviews with our Gold and Silver sponsors. MDPI answered our questions on DOAJ and Open Access publishing.

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Your organisation has been supporting DOAJ for a few years now. Why is it important for MDPI to support DOAJ?

Both DOAJ and MDPI are pioneers in open access. DOAJ was one of the first organizations to provide guidance to scholars looking to publish in open access. An application process was introduced a few years ago and the directory has defined a very clear set of best practices that are expected. Today, DOAJ is an important and trusted source of information about open access publishers and journals, both for authors and funding bodies. Maybe DOAJ could consider maintaining a public list of changes (new additions and removals) to the directory in future!

*NOTE from DOAJ: we actually do this, but we are aware we need to place the link on a more prominent place on our site: https://doaj.org/faq#metadata. You can download a list of journals in CSV (comma-separated) format which can then be imported into Excel or any equivalent analysis tool. The CSV file is updated every 30 minutes.

What benefits does being indexed in DOAJ bring to your journals?

Our journals are more visible to researchers and institutions through being in DOAJ and authors can trust we adhere to best practices and open access principles set forward by the directory. MDPI has the greatest respect for what DOAJ has achieved!

Do you think that the DOAJ has been and/or still is important for the development of Open Access publishing?

Of course!

What is MDPI doing to support that development? Do you have any exciting projects underway?

We collaborate with institutions, universities, and libraries to jointly develop and promote open access. We think it is very important to work hand in hand with the main stakeholders, which is why we launched our institutional program five years ago, currently with over 350 institutions participating in the program. We are exploring different publishing models through our preprint platform Preprints.org, Knowledge Unlatched (which supports 9 MDPI journals in the area of humanities and social sciences) and our research collaboration and conference platform at sciforum.net. We also support initiatives like DORA and the Jussieu Call to explore how research can be communicated more effectively and to explore different models beyond article processing charges paid by authors.

What are your personal views on the future of Open Access publishing?

Open access is the publishing model of the future. We focus our energy and capacity on upholding the quality of our publication process, which we see as essential for continued growth. We will support funders and universities in their efforts to define policies aimed at ensuring research is freely available.

What do you think that the scholarly community could do to better support the continued development of the Open Access movement in the near future?

There is no special treatment needed for open access publishers. Authors are becoming aware they need to gain control over their intellectual property. Not least to ensure their work is as visible as possible, with free access to as many readers as possible. The right to distribute/deposit accepted versions is one way of gaining more control.

Much has been said recently about whether open access is succeeding or failing, particularly in terms of the original vision laid out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Do you think that open access has fallen short of this vision, or has it surpassed expectations?

Open access will continue to grow. MDPI is expanding, both in number of journals and papers published. Other publishers are adding to the number of high-quality open access journals. We will continue to work exceptionally hard to ensure open access is a success and research becomes freely available to everyone.

 

Open Access in the Francophone Global South: Between Collective Empowerment and Neocolonialism

This is a guest post by Florence Piron from Université Laval, Québec, Canada.

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An anthropologist and ethicist, Florence Piron is a professor in the Department of Information and Communication at Université Laval where she teaches courses on ethics and democracy. She is the founding President of the Association for Science and Common Good and its open access publishing house. She is interested in the links between science, society and culture, both as a researcher and advocate for a science that is more open, inclusive, socially responsible and focused on the common good. She’s doing research on open science, and cognitive justice with universities in Africa and Haiti.

 

Two major issues are often lacking within the general conversation about open access, whether in blogs, discussion lists or papers. Indeed, their invisibility is in itself a symptom of the problem that I want to briefly expose here.

The first issue is the difference between openness and accessibility. Depending on where a person lives or what their resources are, they may forget that there exists such a difference, whereas it is obvious to others. A door may be open, but if a person does not have the ability to walk or find the path that leads to it, if many obstacles prevent them from moving forward, they will not be able to go through it: what then is the value or the meaning of the door’s openness? In other words, are articles and books in open access always accessible  and, if not, what does openness really mean? This question demands that more precise social and political analyses of accessibility be added to the usual discussions of publishers, copyright or policies.

The second issue concerns what lies behind the door, in other words what kind of knowledge is so precious that the opening of the door to get it justifies all kinds of fighting and arguing and huge amounts of money? This fundamental epistemological debate seems to me very seldom dealt with within the general conversation about open access. Should all types of knowledge be covered by the open access movement? Or only the “science” that lies within the boundaries of the Web of Science, Google Scholar and Scopus databases, that is to say the “centre” of the science world-system? Should knowledge produced outside these boundaries, for instance non-English non-indexed knowledge produced in universities from the periphery of the science world-system, be left out of the fight for open access because it is not “properly scientific”?  Should the invisibility of knowledge coming from minorities or the Global South continue to be seen as not a problem?

A detour to the Global South, particularly Haiti and Francophone Sub-Saharan African universities where I have been doing research for several years through the SOHA project (Piron et al. 2016, 2017), can open eyes and ears. In the North, open access is equivalent to effective access because a researcher or a student always has a computer, web access, electricity and a basic digital literacy that enable them to have immediate access to everything that is open. But this is not the case in the Francophone Global South, where our SOHA project has identified and documented several huge cognitive injustices. In this part of the world, not only is Internet access far from being generalized and remains very expensive, but students often touch a computer for the first time when entering university, lecturers rarely know how to use the web in their teaching and sometimes mistrust it, electricity can be cut for several hours a day, the quality of the connection is usually very low and connectivity is often not the priority of university leaders. Most important of all is the fact that digitalization of African theses and journals is very rare, which contributes to their invisibility. We have also met African academics who still hope to compensate for their meagre salary by selling books and are thus opposed to open access in general. Let’s add that very few of these countries have a research and innovation policy able to fund research, libraries and equipment, so that they usually depend on “partners” from the North who have their own research agenda, a neocolonial situation in itself (Mvé-Ondo 2005). That many people manage to do brilliant research there, without leaving to the North, is a feat in itself! Believing that “open access” is the grand solution to problems of research in the Global South is therefore a huge mistake, mirroring the general ignorance of the centre about the periphery. Open access is a necessary, but not at all sufficient, condition.

The second issue may be more complex to grasp, since it is of a socio-epistemological nature. Let’s just recall here the postcolonial and feminist scholarship that has shown that “science” is in fact a situated (fascinating) knowledge anchored in European male white history which became hegemonic during Modernity and its colonial project. This knowledge carries a specific epistemology based on the hope of producing a decontextualized (“universal”), neutral (value-free, culture-free, gender-free), explicative, predictive type of knowledge which I call “positivist” in short. Such a knowledge, defined as a normative ideal, obviously considers any mention of cultural/political context as irrelevant or even anti-science, anti-truth. Let’s do it anyway. If open access only concerns the hegemonic positivist science that is produced and showcased in journals obeying the norms and rules created in the North, it would contribute to maintaining other epistemologies or knowledges not quite following the said rules in their state of invisibility and inaccessibility, whether in the North or in the (Francophone) Global South. Yet these knowledges are indispensable to overcome the challenges in these countries, each country needing local relevant nuanced knowledge that could help its action, that “speaks” to local social actors.

In summary, if open access reinforces the visibility and usability of papers, theses and books from the North (even if only because they have a digital life), knowledge from the (Francophone) Global South, mainly constituted by un-digitized theses and research reports (Piron et al. 2017), will remain invisible and little used, unless published in journals from the North. This is why, if open access is only interpreted as facilitating access to “science” without any analysis of material conditions of access and without any conscience of the necessity of maintaining a “knowledge diversity” within an ecology of knowledges (Santos 2007), it could become just another tool of neocolonialism.

Conversely, open access can become a formidable tool of collective empowerment for the Global South – and of improvement of world science –  if its leaders and proponents make a sincere commitment to creating and maintaining within “science” a real openness to the plurality of epistemologies, of knowledges (in the plural form) and of normative frameworks. My African and Haitian colleagues and I have been working on numerous concrete projects in this regard, notably a pan-African open repository. We are convinced that DOAJ could also play a major role not only in showcasing African and Haitian journals without necessarily imposing on them a rigid normative positivist framework, but also in helping journals from the North become more open to epistemologies, languages and ideas from the Global South.

Let me conclude with a sad paradox: many critics of hegemonic science, whether from a decolonial, feminist or constructivist standpoint, do not care whether their own work is available in open access or not, and therefore accessible or not to the people suffering from cognitive injustices… The road is long!

References Continue reading

Open Access Asia

This is a guest post by Vrushali Dandawate (@vrushalisainath), DOAJ Ambassador, India.

“Open Access means free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.” (BOAI, 2002)

Open Access is playing an important role in developing countries to give equal opportunities for access to necessary E-resources. Open Access has rapidly gained popularity in Europe and the USA, but by comparison its growth in Asia has been very slow.

The situation in Asia is explored in a report published by Asia OA, a forum hosted by the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR). This report analysed the status of Open Access publishing in sixteen countries in Asia. The major finding was that all countries studied are already adopting Open Access policies, but that they lack the organised efforts and support to make Open Access successful in each country.

As an ambassador of DOAJ in India, and living in the Asian continent, I have decided to do research on Open Access development in Asia. Just a simple Google search (country name + open access) gave me the following indication about the state of Open Access in each country.

List of Asian countries* and whether or not they have an Open access policy, open access journals and open data

Afghanistan – Yes
Armenia – Yes
Azerbaijan – Yes
Bahrain – Yes
Bangladesh – Yes
Bhutan – Yes
Brunei – Yes
Cambodia – Yes
China – Yes
Cyprus – Yes
Georgia – Yes
India – Yes
Indonesia – Yes
Iran – Yes
Iraq – Yes
Israel – Yes, less information found
Japan – Yes
Jordan – Yes
Kazakhstan – Yes
Kuwait – Yes
Kyrgyzstan – Yes
Laos – Yes, less information found
Lebanon – Yes
Malaysia – Yes
Maldivesv Yes
Mongolia – Yes
Myanmar (Burma) – Yes
Nepal – Yes
North Korea – Information not found
Oman – Yes
Pakistan – Yes
Palestine – Yes
Philippines – Information not found
Qatar – Yes
Russia – Yes
Saudi Arabia – Yes
Singapore – Yes
South Korea – Yes
Sri Lanka – Yes
Syria – Yes, less information found
Taiwan – Yes
Tajikistan – Information not found
Thailand – Yes
Timor-Leste – Information not found
Turkey – Yes
Turkmenistan – Less information found
United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Yes
Uzbekistan – Yes
Vietnam – Yes
Yemen – Yes

The development of Open Access in Asia will be explored as a research project. “Open Access Asia”, born at OpenCon 2017, is a community of Open Access advocates in the region. The main objectives of the Open Access Asia project are:

  1. To make an open platform for all OA Advocates in Asia.
  2. To hold workshops/conferences/seminars in all Asian countries in rotation, helping effect culture change across institutions.
  3. Network sharing for OA Advocates in all Asian countries through bulletins and write-ups.
  4. A platform for advocating Open Access and sharing success stories of the OA movement in the world and in Asia.
  5. To invite everyone who is involved and interested in the OA movement to discuss and raise issues related to Open Access in general and specific to Asia.
  6. Collaborate with Open Access Network and leverage with other such networks for information exchange.
  7. That Open Access will influence policy makers, research workers, researchers, scholarly societies for their research and move institutions towards adopting open access policy across Asia.

To encourage more involvement of people from Asian countries with the Open Asia Project, a social media platform has been created:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1166441533488173/
Twitter: @Open_Asia_Org

With this blog post I invite all interested people to join Open Access Asia and help to promote Open Access more collaboratively in the Asian region and worldwide.

*Country list taken from https://www.countries-ofthe-world.com/countries-of-asia.html.