Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring the drive towards restructuring academic publishing, an exciting new deal for Cambridge University Press and Plan S feedback and resources

Open access – not just about the price tag via the Los Angeles Times

The University of California’s split with Elsevier last month received mixed reactions, with people questioning whom this really benefits. This article from the Los Angeles Times reminds readers that the controversial decision was not just about the cost of journal subscriptions but also about the free and open exchange of the research outputs of universities. For-profit publishers such as Elsevier emerged about 50 years ago; before this, research was typically published by professional societies or the universities themselves. Although they initially lifted the pressure and costs of publishing from universities, the for-profit publishers now expect free-of-charge editorial and peer-review support from the academic community while charging steep subscription fees for access to publicly funded research. In the past, bills such as the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act have failed to gain traction, but many hope this recent separation will eventually lead to a much-needed restructure in academic publishing.

One size doesn’t fit all via The Publication Plan

The call for feedback on Plan S has led to over 600 responses from individuals and organizations. Although all feedback will soon be made publicly available, some organizations have gone so far as to issue formal public statements in response to the implementation plan in advance. A preliminary analysis available on the Scholarly Kitchen has demonstrated overwhelming public support for the plan in addition to highlighting some of the key points of contention. Moving on from the well-publicized concerns of article processing charges and unrealistic timelines, the feedback highlights the issues of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for open access publishing. This was reiterated in the statement from the League of European Research Universities, who requested this approach to be adjusted for different disciplines. The volume and scope of the feedback demonstrate an exciting level of engagement from the research community.

Transformative agreement to support mission open access via the University of California Office of Scholarly Communication

From no deal to deal: this week, the University of California entered into a transformative agreement with Cambridge University Press. The deal allows the university to access all 400 journals in the press’s collection in addition to providing an open access publishing option for its researchers. Although open access publishing will incur costs, the reduced subscription fee means that the university won’t experience any significant financial loss. The 3-year pilot agreement is an exciting step for Cambridge University Press, marking its first such deal in the USA. For the University of California, this indicates an important shift towards global open access.

Presenting the facts  via Apollo

Despite Plan S’s near-constant social media presence, it remains unclear to many academics what the initiative is about and what it will involve. This week, the University of Cambridge Office of Scholarly Communication released a Plan S fact sheet providing an overview of the plan’s policies and advantages. Not only is the sheet concise enough for researchers with a busy schedule, it is also freely available under a CC BY licence.