The conception of an open future with scholarly publications being freely accessible, sharable, and reusable cannot be easily subsumed under a single term. That is, it can. But the term has conflicting objectives. The reasoning behind Open Access interests is diverse with two essential concepts being ‘research advancement’ and ‘economic benefit’. This article clusters stakeholders regarding their Open Access interest and reasoning, leading to the clusters a Open Access as a threat, b a pain, c the ideal Open Access, and d the exploitative Open Access.
Considering that most of the talks on Open Access either showcase individual success story of Open Access, or bemoan how scholarly publishing is broken and only Open Science can fix it—without acknowledging the complexity of research communication, I wanted to provide a critique on why the current development of Open Access is not providing the hoped-for benefits. Surely the talk touched only some points of the already large movement, but it’s something that is not being talked about much at conferences. The talk sparked some interesting conversations, which is why I wanted to publish the content of the talk to keep the conversation going. Please do reach out to me in public @lepublikateur or in private marcel.knochelmann.15(at)ucl.ac.uk.
The current phase of transition shows that gold Open Access (OA) is likely to be a disruptive force for the establishment. Libraries and institutions aim to cut costs by pushing for more Open Access; publishers seek to raise profits, or at least stay in business. New ventures are growing in between those needs: they’re cheaper than established offerings, but can survive on lower profit margins. Those ventures gradually build the infrastructure for future scholarly communication. But at what cost?
Gold Open Access is an accepted, yet isolated model in academic book publishing. Publishing houses only dare to scale open access in small steps. While books, especially monographs, are still the preferred medium to communicate scholarship in many disciplines, foremost in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, the overall market of academic books is in recession. Less sold books means less access. Large scale Open Access publishing may be a solution. But publishing houses seem to be in a prisoner’s dilemma: to adapt Open Access on a large enough scale required a systematic approach in which all publishing houses would have to act. My recently published study (June 2017, UCL Press) provides a theoretical explanation for this.
“This ruling should stand as a warning to those who knowingly violate others’ rights,” comments Matt McKay of the STM Association on the decision of a New York district court against Sci-Hub. The court ruled that Sci-Hub, the Library of Genesis, and similar illegal projects will have to pay $15m to the claimant. Sounds about right, it’s copyright infringement. Of all the laws, publishers should hold up those dealing with intellectual property the highest.
Yet, the claimant is Elsevier, which gives the ruling a bitter taste.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just announced the launch of a new open access platform, Gates Open Research. The Wellcome Trust’s own platform is already running with F1000. All the while, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative opens research with cutting edge services. Funders become a major force changing the scientific ecosystem from the outside, accelerating openness and time-to-publish.
Emerging digital environments and online-solutions have created lots of challenging opportunities for academic publishers. They have changed the game for researchers, libraries, and publishers alike, and led to several new business models. In the long run, the most radical of those models will rise from a niche to sustainable market shares creating the future of academic publishing. Three major changes will boost this development: service based business models, findability oriented platforms, and format free content storing.
The following essay will analyse the academic publishing market in the UK. The analysis will incorporate and focus on data provided by Nielsen Bookscan in order to show the development of retail sales in the UK. University College London