Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Featuring the latest falling out between publishers and universities, a discussion of the place of preprints in the publishing landscape, and what pending EU copyright legislation could mean for open science.

Springer face revolt from French universities via The Scientist

2017 saw the beginnings of a standoff between Elsevier and German universities that still awaits resolution, and it seems Springer are the latest publisher facing the wrath of academic institutions. Couperin.org, a consortium of over 250 French universities, announced on 30 March that they would be cancelling all subscriptions to more than 2000 journals published by Springer, Nature and BioMedCentral. Institutions have cited the rise in subscription costs for journals containing an ever growing proportion of articles that are open access.

Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) releases discussion document on preprints via COPE

As preprint servers are increasingly used by academics of all disciplines, their implications for the academic publishing environment need to be considered. In this discussion document, COPE lay out the frequently asked questions about preprints, and outline suggestions for journal editors, publishers, preprint platforms and authors. The focus of the document is a need for clarity: clear guidelines from journals, consistent linking between preprints and the final version from publishers, and visible markers showing that preprinted articles have not yet undergone peer review from preprint servers.

What do new copyright laws mean for science? via Nature

The EU has set out to update their regulations on copyright and intellectual property with the Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market. It is the fear of many scientists, however, that the Directive may undermine open science initiatives. The primary bone of contention is a passage that would grant publishers broader royalties for the re-use of material such as headlines or figures, and another that would compel repositories to prevent the upload of copyrighted material. Although this section of the directive was designed to generate revenue for news publishers from materials shared on social media, the current proposals would also apply to academic publications – potentially leading to further paywalls and escalating costs for research funders and end users. There is still a long way to go before the directive becomes law, so it is hoped that discussing the implications for open science will allow these problems to be ironed out.

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) commit to full open access by 2020  via Open Access Government

Following the lead of higher education institutions in Switzerland and across member countries of the EU, the SNSF this week announced their pledge to make all publicly funded research open access by the year 2020. In this statement by the president of the SNSF Matthias Egger, the policy and the reasoning behind it is elucidated. Like other similar policies, the SNSF will require gold open access for all research that it funds.

Will the US join the charge for open access? via Nature Index

Last year, a consortium of ten University of California campus libraries joined together to form a working group to push for open access to research outputs. An article published on natureindex.com outlines the progress that US universities have made towards open access, including the development of the Pathways to Open Access toolkit. The group want more North American funders to get involved in these initiatives, and it is clear that they have a high purchasing power if they were to announce a preference for particular models: at present, US institutions and individuals contribute approximately 50% of global journal subscription revenue. The group have been motivated by the clear drive seen in many European institutions and funding bodies to work with publishers to pull towards the models they think best serve their research.