Applicant For Major EU Open Access Publishing Contract Proposes Open Source, Open Data And Open Peer Review As Solution
from the Elsevier-not-invited dept
We’ve just written about growing discontentment among open access advocates with the role that the publishing giant Elsevier will play in monitoring open science in the EU. That unhappiness probably just went up a notch, as a result of the following development, reported here by Nature:
Elsevier last week stopped thousands of scientists in Germany from reading its recent journal articles, as a row escalates over the cost of a nationwide open-access agreement.
The move comes just two weeks after researchers in Sweden lost access to the most recent Elsevier research papers, when negotiations on its contract broke down over the same issue.
The open science monitoring project involving Elsevier is only a very minor part of the EU’s overall open science strategy, which itself is part of the €80 billion research and innovation program called Horizon 2020. A new post on the blog of the open access publisher Hindawi reveals that it has put in a bid in response to the European Commission’s call for tenders to launch a major new open research publishing platform:
The Commission’s aim is to build on their progressive Open Science agenda to provide an optional Open Access publishing platform for the articles of all researchers with Horizon 2020 grants. The platform will also provide incentives for researchers to adopt Open Science practices, such as publishing preprints, sharing data, and open peer review. The potential for this initiative to lead a systemic transformation in research practice and scholarly communication in Europe and more widely should not be underestimated.
That last sentence makes a bold claim. Hindawi’s blog post provides some good analysis of why the transition to open access and open science is proving so hard. Hindawi’s proposed solution is based on open source code, and openness in general:
Our proposal to the Commission involves the development of an end-to-end publishing platform that is fully Open Source, with an editorial model that incentivises Open Science practices including preprints, data sharing, and objective open peer review. Data about the impact of published outputs would also be fully open and available for independent scrutiny, and the policies and governance of the platform would be managed by the research community. In particular, researchers who are currently disenfranchised by the current academic reward system, including early career researchers and researchers whose primary research outputs include data and software code, would have a key role in developing the policies of the platform.
Recognizing the flaws in the current system of assessment and rewards is key here. Open access has been around for two decades, but the reliance on near-meaningless impact factors to judge the alleged influence of titles, and thus of the work published there, has barely changed at all. As the Hindawi blog post notes:
As long as journal rank and journal impact factor remain the currency used to judge academic quality, no amount of technological change or economic support for open outputs and open infrastructure will make research and researchers more open
Unfortunately, even a major project like the Horizon 2020 open research publishing platform — whichever company wins the contract — will not be able to change that culture on its own, however welcome it might be in itself. Core changes must come from within the academic world. Sadly, there are still precious few signs that those in positions of power are willing to embrace not just open access and even open science, but also a radical openness that extends to every aspect of the academic world, including evaluation and recognition.