Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Tim Koder

Featuring the release of the latest European University Association Open Access Survey results, the ordering of a predatory publisher to pay millions of dollars for deception, the adoption of Creative Commons licences by the European Commission and the launch of PeerJ-SciHub.

Most European universities are not monitoring open access costs via Times Higher Education

The results of the fourth European University Association (EUA) Open Access Survey, which collected responses from 321 institutions across 36 European countries in 2017–2018, were published this week. These showed that 62% of the institutions have an open access policy on research publications, and 26% are in the process of drafting one. However, only 43% monitor gold open access publishing, and only 31% monitor costs of gold open access. Lidia Borrell-Damián, Director of Research and Innovation at the EUA and co-author of a report on the survey findings, said that the figure was “most depressing”, and that universities are “spending a lot of money” on open access publishing, meaning it is “really important to monitor” the costs involved.

OMICS International ordered to pay $50 million in damages for deception via Science Mag

This week, a US federal judge has ordered the OMICS International Publishing Group to pay US$50.1 million in damages for deceiving thousands of authors who have published in its journals and have attended its conferences. Judge Gloria Navarro granted summary judgment, accepting as uncontroverted a set of allegations made against OMICS by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2016. The Court ruled that OMICS, which publishes approximately 700 journals, has claimed deceptively that it provides rigorous peer review, that it did not make clear enough that it would charge for publishing in its open access journals, and that it falsely advertised reviewers and conference participants who had never agreed to serve in those capacities. It remains to be seen whether any money will be collected from OMICS and shared with the deceived researchers as the judgment was made in the USA, whereas OMICS is based in India.

The European Commission adopts Creative Commons licences for sharing information via Creative Commons

The European Commission announced last week that it has adopted the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 licence and the CC0 Public Domain Dedication for online sharing of information such as photos, videos, reports, peer-reviewed studies and data. Until recently, the Commission relied on ‘reuse notices’ (simple copyright notices with a link to the reuse decision) that would accompany covered materials, but this practice produced “unnecessary administrative burdens for reusers and the Commission services”. By adopting the Creative Commons licences, the European Commission has joined governments such as those of New Zealand and the Netherlands in promoting the reuse of its materials with minimal restrictions.

Paris High Court orders Internet providers to block access to pirate publication libraries via Reclaim The Net

The Tribunal de grande instance (TGI) in Paris has asked several of the largest French Internet providers, including Orange, SFR, Free and Bouygues Telecom, to block access to the pirate publication libraries Sci-Hub and LibGen within 1 year. In its ruling, the French court said that the two websites “clearly claim to be pirate platforms rejecting the principle of copyright and bypassing publishers’ subscription access portals”. If the court order is implemented, France will join Sweden and Russia in the list of countries that have blocked access to the two pirate libraries.

Cambridge University Press reaches open access agreement in Germany via STM Publishing

Cambridge University Press has reached a 3-year ‘read and publish’ open access agreement with the Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek [BSB]) on behalf of universities, research institutions and academic libraries across Germany. The agreement, which was negotiated by BSB and is financially supported by the German Research Foundation, will allow authors from affiliated institutions to access four Cambridge University Press journal collections of their choice and to publish open access in hybrid journals without further charges.

PeerJ announces the release of PeerJ-SciHub via PeerJ Blog

This week, the publisher and preprint server PeerJ announced the release of a new tool for allowing faster and more direct access to its PDF articles. Check out PeerJ-SciHub here.