Sunday, December 22, 2013

An open access New Year's wish

Being a professor comes with a few perks - for example, for me, having an office in a prominent spot on a floor of the Desmarais Building at the University of Ottawa that houses the Information Studies and Communication departments.

There is space to post things on the outside of my door. Many professors have posters about conferences that they are involved with, for example. Which gets me to my New Year's wish - an open source poster to promote open access in these disciplines. It should be possible to build on some of the excellent work on promotional materials such as open access logos developed for open access week. How about a link to the DOAJ subject lists for these areas, the Social Sciences Research Network, E-LIS and PubMed (all relevant to faculty members in these areas).

A customizable poster would be optimal. For example, the institutional repository could be an example, for everyone to look up and substitute their own. People in different disciplines could switch to more relevant DOAJ lists and subject repositories.

If the poster were manipulable, then people could add information of local interest, such as journals we or our colleagues are involved in. A list of bullet points on why open access could be provided, with individuals selecting what is most likely to speak to people locally.

This is just a wish! Given the time of year, projects for next year's OA Week may be more feasible.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Elsevier boycott: the cost of knowledge

Please join us in boycotting Elsevier at The Cost of Knowledge website. Thanks to Tyler Nelson for creating and updating the site.

Elsevier has bought two publishers of my works, including the publisher of my book (Chandos / Woodhead). I'm debating adding a clause to future publishing contracts that states no selling my work to Elsevier.

If anyone from Elsevier is reading this, please remove me from your Elsevier "Author Connect" list. I an not an Elsevier author, and I do not wish to connect.

Second update: ownership of a work by a publisher that I am on the record as boycotting is in fundamental conflict with my moral rights as an author. Chandos published a number of books on open access, and other authors may have the same perspective.

Update December 22: my original blogpost on joining the Cost of Knowledge boycott can be found here

One upside of this sale is that it provides an excellent example of how copyright ownership can be completely divorced from, and often counter to, creativity. My book Scholarly Communication for Librarians is the result of a great deal of hard work on my part and inspiration and comments from many others, who are listed in the acknowledgements. The contributions of Glyn Jones and the staff at Chandos were significant. Elsevier contributed absolutely nothing to the creative work involved with this book; this company simply holds the ownership to extract rent from sale of the book. This method of dissemination - no dissemination without paying a toll to this company - impedes the dissemination that is necessary to advance scholarly knowledge. Elsevier's ownership of the IP for this book is an impediment to updating it.

If instead of writing a book in this way I had created a wiki, I would have had a tool that anyone, anywhere could access, one that I could update easily. I would have had a textbook that I could have asked my students to read (I never required this for the published version as the price to me was outrageoues). No worries, dear reader - as you probably realize, a book a scholarly communication dated 2009 is substantially out of date. Next book I write will be much more like a wiki than a traditional book.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Open access mandate from the European Union

Thanks to Peter Suber - major and most welcome OA news from the EU!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Responses to Canada's Tri-Agency Draft Open Access Policy

From the Canadian Association of Research Libraries
Noteworthy: 8 university libraries across will welcome articles from researchers at other universities to facilitate adoption of this policy!

ACOA / APLAC Response (submitted December 12)
Noteworthy: ACOA / APLAC's final recommendation is to eliminate the open access publishing option as part of the policy. Researchers should deposit in a Canadian-based open access archive whether they publish with an open access or toll access journal.

My response (submitted October 16):

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The unstoppable growth of high quality open access resources (December 2013 early year-end edition of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access)

As shown in this chart (thanks to César Villamizar), the number of articles indexed in PubMed for which free fulltext is available within 3 years of publication is now over 800,000, or 28% of the articles indexed.  This growth is an important indication of the dramatic growth of high quality open access resources. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, responsible for the PubMed index, does not index junk!

Recently Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society wrote about the unstoppable rise of open access. The 2013 early year-end edition of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access confirms this unstoppable rise, featuring a number of notable areas of growth and important milestones, with a focus on numbers that are indicators of growth of high quality open access resources.

Congratulations are due to the Public Library of Science as recently PLoS celebrated a milestone of its 100,000th article. The number of journals actively participating in PubMedCentral continues to rise. In the past year, the number of journals actively participating in PMC increased by 215 - about one title per working day. There are now more than 1,000 journals in PMC with all articles open access.

The number of research funding agencies and institutions with open access mandates continues to rise. 12 more institutional open access mandates have been added to ROARMAP since September 30th! Mandates by funding agencies and prestigious research institutions and universities ensure that the growth of open access features high quality articles, due to the vetting processes involved in assessing funding grant requests and institutional hiring, tenure and promotion practices. 

Congratulations to the Directory of Open Access Journals for passing another very recent milestone of 10 thousand titles!  Due to continuous improvement DOAJ was deleting as many titles as it was adding earlier this year - for this reason, the growth in DOAJ reflects not only quantity but quality as poorer journals have been weeded. Dramatic as the growth of open access has been to date, it looks like we can count on a ramping up of growth in 2014, when the first discipline-wide transition to open access, in particle physics, is implemented as SCOAP3 is set to begin January 1, 2014. 

Internet Archive continues to amaze, having added 1.8 million texts this past year for a total of more than 5 million texts!

A special thank you to César Villamizar, a student in our School of Information Studies and research assistant, for help with this issue's data and charts - and a well-deserved Happy Holidays and New Year to everyone in the open access movement!

The full data and chart are available to download from uO recherche. This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access series.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Call for participation: resource requirements for small scholar-led not-for-profit open access scholarly publishing


Are you are a scholar involved in small not-for-profit open access publishing (from one to three journals, occasional conference proceedings, or small-scale monograph publishing)? Or, would your small not-for-profit publishing operation  like to switch to open access if the economic logistics can be worked out? If so, you are invited to participate in an interview (half hour to an hour) designed to further flesh out the resource requirements needed to sustain this kind of open access publishing.

Results of these interviews will form the basis for further research, including case studies and focus groups, in preparation for a larger project on the economics of global transition to open access. It is anticipated that results of this study will be useful in the development of business practices for open access publishing, and inform open access policy. Participants can choose whether their contributions will be anonymous and confidential or open and acknowledged.

To volunteer or for further information, please contact Heather Morrison re: study title: resource requirements for small scholar-led not-for-profit open access


Dr. Heather Morrison
Assistant Professor
École des sciences de l'information / School of Information Studies
University of Ottawa
Heather dot Morrison at uottawa dot ca

Appel de participation : Ressources nécessaires pour le libre accès pour les revues savantes à but non lucratif


Vous œuvrez dans une université et êtes impliqué dans la publication (sans but lucratif) d’une à trois revue(s) savantes, d’actes de conférence occasionnels, ou la publication de monographies à plus petite échelle en libre accès? Ou est-ce que votre petite maison d’édition aimerait se convertir en libre accès si un plan d’affaires peut être élaboré? Si la réponse est oui, je vous invite à participer à un entretien (entre une demi-heure et une heure) conçu pour déterminer les ressources nécessaires pour soutenir ce type de publication libre accès.

Le résultat des entrevues servira de base d'une recherche plus poussée, y compris des études de cas et groupes de discussion, dans la préparation d’un vaste projet sur l’économie d’une transition globale vers le libre accès. Il est probable que les résultats de cette recherche soient utiles dans le développement de pratiques d’affaires pour la publication en libre accès et qu’ils éclairent la politique de libre accès. Les participants peuvent choisir de soumettre leurs commentaires anonymement et confidentiellement ou qu’ils leur soient attribués publiquement.

Pour se porter volontaire ou pour toute autre question, veuillez communiquer avec Heather Morrison, Objet : Ressources nécessaires pour le libre accès pour les revues savantes à but non lucratif


Dr. Heather Morrison
Professeure Adjointe
École des sciences de l'information / School of Information Studies
University of Ottawa
Heather dot Morrison at uottawa dot ca

Monday, December 09, 2013

Open access publishing by APC: dominated by the commercial sector

To put this post in context: Beall just published an article in Triple C claiming, among other things, that "the open access movement is an anti-corporatist movement". This just doesn't make sense. Beall's focus is on the subset of the OA movement that uses open access article processing fees. This segment of open access journal publishing is actually heavily dominated by the commercial sector. For example, based on our research-in-progress, the 14 largest publishers in DOAJ "with article processing charge" (publishers with 20 or more journals) appear to be all commercial companies. (If this is not correct please let me know).

Update December 10th: I'd like to note that the number of journals published is not necessarily the same as the size or importance of an open access publisher using this particular business model. For example, while Public Library of Science publishes a relatively small number of journals, PLoS ONE is the world's largest scholarly journal in terms of number of articles published, and that by a wide margin. Also if the full impact of a publisher including qualitative measures is taken into account, PLoS' essential role in advocacy would arguably make it the most notable publisher in this category, at least in my opinion. ~ Heather 

Data thanks to César Villamizar

Publisher Using OA APCs
# journals
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
BioMed Central
Scientific Research Publishing
Bentham open
Dove Medical Press
Libertas Academica
Internet Scientific Publications, LLC
Canadian Center of Science and Education
Frontiers Media
Hans Publishers
Asian Network for Scientific Information
Co-Action Publishing

In total, these publishers account for 1,326 of the 2,637journals listed in DOAJ "with article processing charge". The total percentage of journals using APCs that are commercial in nature has not been calculated, but will be more than 50% as many of the smaller publishers are also commercial in nature. Note that these 2,637 journals "with article processing charge" represent only 26% of the close to 10 thousand journals listed in DOAJ - and open access journal publishing is only one of the means of providing open access, along with open access archiving.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Scholarly journal article publishing: profits at below 30% of current revenues

Thanks to Mark Ware, Michael Mabe and the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) for releasing the 2012 STM report as open access.

Based on data from the Executive Summary, we can calculate that the current average revenue per scholarly journal article published globally is approximately $5,000 US. BMC is making a profit charging an average APC that is 37% of this amount, and PLoS is bringing in a 23% surplus at less than 30% of this amount.

This is based on Ware and Mabe's report of:

9.4 billion in revenue for english-language STM journal publishing
1.8 - 1.9 million articles published per year in 28,100 actively scholarly journals
=  approximately $5,000 in average revenue

BioMedCentral average of $1,874 is based on data downloaded from the BMC website as part of the open access article processing fee research project

The average article processing fee for an article in the profitable BioMedCentral journals is $1,874 US - that's profit-making at an average of 37% of the current average revenue. PLoS is now enjoying a 23% profit rate, charging $1,350 per article for PLoS ONE - that's a high profit rate at 27% of the revenue of the current average.

It should be noted that PLoS was not originally designed to be a model of publishing efficiency, but rather a combined advocacy and publishing organization meant to compete primarily at the high end of the scholarly publishing market. PLoS' costs reflect this original mission: well-paid professional staff and headquarters in one of the world's costliest real estate markets, San Francisco. 

This is yet an another indication, as I have argued elsewhere, that high quality scholarly publishing can be accomplished for a small fraction of existing spend - something that every faculty member and university administrator in today's tough economic times ought to know.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Make my collection open access!

I just sent this message to my library to tell them how much I want to support Knowledge Unlatched - let's make open access to scholarly monographs a reality!

I would like to dedicate up to the remainder of my new faculty start-up fund to support this project (capped maximum of US $1,680). For the future, I would wholly support dropping the big deals of every large publisher and re-directing funding to support works like this.

As a bit of context, at the University of Ottawa we new faculty members have the good fortune of having a $2,000 start-up fund to build the collection.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Open access legislation in the US and Canada looks to prioritize post-publication archiving, not publishers' profits

My open access policy post has just been published in the London School of Economics Impact Blog.

The text follows. Note that this was written before the Canadian tri-agency draft open access policy was released on October 15, but correctly predicts expansion of the CIHR policy basics across the funding agencies. My comments on the tri-agency policy are posted here.  The ACOA / APLAC response draft is posted here.

Providing further context on open access policy, Heather Morrison presents cases from the U.S. and Canada, where each are also grappling with how to provide wider access to publicly funded research. If passed, the U.S.’s FASTR Act would require ‘green’ archiving and a focus on interoperability of local repositories. Across North America, faculty-led institutional policy has also been instrumental in administering access whilst preserving university autonomy.

What do UK academics and policy-makers need to know about open access policy across the pond? This is a call for UK academics to join us in calling for public policies that prioritize the needs of scholars and the public interest, not the profits of a handful of publishers. U.S. leaders have developed approaches to policy that are good models for any country! The U.S. Free Access to Research Act (FASTR), if passed, would require the archiving of peer-reviewed results of research funded by federal agencies for public access with a maximum six month embargo. A White House directive in response to a public call for open access is calling for much the same approach, with implementation details anticipated at any moment.
Scientific Data on Demand – NERSC’s High Performance Storage System
Image credit: Berkeley Lab (CC-BY-NC-SA)

A six month embargo is more than generous considering that scholarly publishers have had over a decade to transition to open access. There are more than ten thousand fully open access peer reviewed journals successfully employing a variety of business models listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. By insisting on deposit in repositories for public access with long-term preservation addressed, FASTR ensures ongoing access to these works for the U.S. public. FASTR addresses the technical requirements for re-use much more directly than the RCUK’s indirect and insufficient preference for a particular license. Research funders in the U.S. and Canada fund research rather than targeting funding to open access article processing fees. The faculty permissions approach, developed by academics for academics, pioneered by Harvard and perfected by MIT is the optimal model for institutional open access policy from the scholar’s point of view. Perhaps a topic for another day: throughout the U.S. and Canada, university libraries provide hosting and support services for faculty-led publishing.

The Free Access to Research Act (FASTR) in the U.S., if passed, would require free public access to federally funded research for departments with research budgets of $100 million or more. Unlike the UK, FASTR does not ask authors to publish in open access journals, nor does it provide funding for open access article processing fees. FASTR’s call for examination of open licensing is very similar to the recent advice from the UK’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee for further research on this point.

FASTR is a superior policy to the UK’s RCUK policy from a number of perspectives. First, demanding deposit in repositories designed for long-term preservation for free public access assures that U.S. citizens will have access to these works in perpetuity. The UK’s push for gold open access policy leaves works funded by the UK at the mercy of publishers and journals that could fold, be owned or controlled by organizations outside the political influence of the UK, or that could change their business model in future.

The US focus on interoperability and local repositories meeting technical requirements directly addresses requirements for data and text-mining. This is likely to be far more effective than the UK’s attempt to achieve this indirectly through CC-BY (attribution only) licensing. CC-BY is not necessary for data and text mining of freely available works as these are essentially automated forms of reading materials. CC-BY is not sufficient for data and text mining because a CC-BY license can be placed on works that are not technically suited for these tasks, such as a locked-down PDF.
Both the UK and the FASTR approaches are designed to accommodate publishers in the transition process. The FASTR maximum six-month embargo on green open access archiving is appropriate given that scholarly publishing has now had more than a decade of experience with open access. The Directory of Open Access Journals now lists close to ten thousand fully open access, peer reviewed scholarly journals which use a variety of business models. This is a strong indicator of the ability of scholarly publishers to transition to open access, given good public policy which prioritizes scholarship and the public interest while giving scholarly publishers a lengthy period of time to adjust. The goal for open access policy should be to gradually decrease embargo periods to zero, reflecting that the public interest is and should be the priority of government, not protecting outmoded business models.

Other North American funding agencies are largely following this U.S. model. For example, Canada’s first federal funding agency to adopt an open access policy, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), adopted a policy fairly similar to the public access policy of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Canada’s tricouncil funding agencies are currently undergoing discussions with a view to standardizing open access policies across the agencies, with CIHR’s policy most likely to serve as the model.  It should be acknowledged that the UK’s early lead in green open access policy and repository development was a major influence in the direction of U.S. and Canadian policy.

While U.S. and Canadian research funders allow for researchers to apply for open access article processing fees in research grant applications, it is unlikely that either the U.S. or Canada would follow the lead of providing targeted funding for this purpose, particularly in the current lean economic environment. Even in better economic times, in North America there is far more university autonomy and less central direction than is the case in the UK.

A great model for institutional policy from the scholar’s point of view is the faculty-led open access permissions policy pioneered by Harvard and perfected by MIT. Shieber and Suber have developed a webpage dedicated to what they call “good practices” for this kind of policy.  The basic idea is that faculty give their university permission to post their peer-reviewed articles for open access in their local repository, with a waiver option available to authors on request. This approach gives a university all the permissions needed to make the work of its faculty open access, while at the same time asserting the rights of faculty to their own work.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ACOA et APLAC: premiere reponse à politique libre accès de NSERC, CIHR et SSHRC

Les membres fondateurs d'ACOA / APLAC voudraient vous inviter à joindre une réponse commune a la version préliminaire de la Politique de libre accès des trois organismes.

The founding members of ACOA / APLAC invite you to join in a common response to the tri-agency open access policy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Canada's tricouncil draft open access policy: my comments

Canada's tricouncil funding agencies (NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC) have posted a consultation on their draft open access policy. Comments are due by December 13, 2013. Following are my comments.

Kudos to the tricouncil for an overall sensible draft open access policy that in many respects can serve as a model for other funding agencies.


One of the strengths of the policy is that open access publishing is an option, not a requirement, with use of grant funds allowed for this purpose. The reason this is a strength is that this permits market forces to operate. This is important to address a long-term market dysfunction in which a few large commercial scholarly publishers enjoy hefty profit margins in the range of 30-40% in an inelastic market that does not respond to market signals such as deep cuts to universities and research budgets, while on the other hand a significant portion of scholarly journal and monograph publishing requires subsidy. Today's technology makes it possible to conduct high quality scholarly publishing (peer review coordination and editing) at a fraction of the costs of some of the large commercial publishers, suggesting that it is very much worthwhile pursuing a competitive market so that funding can be re-directed from paying for publication to more money for research per se, as well as new needs such as research data retention, management and preservation. See the Appendix to this letter for more detail.

3.1 Option #1: Grant recipients submit their manuscript to a journal that offers immediate open access to published articles, or offers open access to published articles within 12 months.

Suggested change - add: and deposit a copy of the final peer-reviewed full-text manuscript in a Canadian open access archive on acceptance for publication, with open access delayed if necessary. 

Rationale: option #1 is not sufficient to ensure ongoing open access. The policy applies to grantees, not to journals. If a grantee meets the requirements by publishing in a journal that fits the criteria for this option, there is nothing to stop the journal from subsequently changing journal policy, for example changing its business model to toll access or extending the embargo period. This is true even for journals that use Creative Commons licenses; these extend and clarify permissions downstream but pose no obligations on the original copyright holder.

Option #2: Grant recipients archive the final peer-reviewed full-text manuscript in a digital archive where it will be freely accessible within 12 months (e.g., institutional repository or discipline-based repository). It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to determine which publishers allow authors to retain copyright and/or allow authors to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies.

Suggested change to:

Option #2: Grant recipients archive the final peer-reviewed full-text manuscript in a Canadian-based digital archive on acceptance for publication where it will be freely accessible within 12 months (e.g., institutional repository or discipline-based repository). It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to ensure that they retain rights to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies.


Ensuring ongoing open access to Canadian works is best served through archives based in Canada. Archives based elsewhere are subject to funding contingencies that are not under the control of Canada and access to archives outside of the country could be impacted by forces not under the control of Canada or Canadians. For example, if a grantee fulfills the requirement of this policy by depositing a copy of a work into an archive in a foreign country, it is within the realm of the possible that the foreign archive could be under the control of a country with which Canada is at war or in a trade dispute.

To facilitate compliance, authors should be required to deposit a copy of their post-peer-reviewed manuscript on acceptance for publication, with delay in open access if necessary. This greatly simplifies the process of accountability.

The original statement places more emphasis on publisher rights than is warranted. Research funding agencies have the right to set policies with which grantees must comply, and copyright begins with the author. Authors should insist on rights retention rather than passively complying with publisher policy.

Requiring deposit in a local open access archive is not an onerous burden, and is much less of a burden today than it was a few years ago. The majority of Canada's universities already have institutional repositories in place, and all Canadian research institutions will need to develop repository services in the near future, whether for this policy or for other purposes. For example, every institution with graduate students either has, or will soon need, a repository for electronic deposit of theses. Every institution with researchers will soon need one or more repositories for storing research data. A few years ago development of an institutional repository required local expertise and considerable investment, but today hosted solutions are available and affordable, and smaller institutions can share repositories and save quite a bit on the costs.

Embargo period (option # 1 and option # 2): suggest 6 months, not 12

The embargo period of 12 months is, in my opinion, far too generous. Scholarly publishers have had more than a decade to adjust to open access. The purpose of scholarly research is to advance our knowledge and serve the public interest; any financial benefits to scholarly publishers is incidental and should be given an accordingly lower priority. The embargo period should be shortened to 6 months, with an indication of review with a view to eventually eliminating the embargo period.

Another suggestion

One suggestion to facilitate both acceptance and compliance would be for the tricouncil to accept URLs to works in institutional repositories in CVs for grant application purposes. This would mean that the small steps needed to make works open access would also free up time for researchers.

Thank you for a good model for open access policy and for the opportunity to participate in this consultation.

Heather Morrison
Assistant Professor
University of Ottawa School of Information Studies

Appendix: how researchers can save money when open access publishing is a choice

Researchers can save money by selecting more cost effective options such as publishing in one of the majority of open access journals that do not charge article processing fees. Of the close to 10,000 fully open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, 6,555 or approximately two-thirds have "no article processing charge" (DOAJ, 2013). Researchers considering open access journals that do charge article processing fees have an incentive to prioritize journals equivalent in scholarly value but lower in cost where possible, as seeking lower costs means more research funds can go to other priorities such as support for student training and purchase of necessary equipment. Today's technology has made it possible to complete the important scholarly work of coordinating peer review and editing at a very high level of quality at a fraction of the cost associated with some of the large commercial scholarly publishers. According to my analysis (Morrison, 2013), the average global expenditure by university libraries for each peer-reviewed scholarly article is approximately $4,500. To illustrate the potential for savings, note (merely as one of many examples) that the profitable Hindawi manages the process charging article processing fees as little as a tenth of this amount.


DOAJ (2013). Browse by publication charges. Retrieved October 16, 2013 from

MORRISON, Heather. Economics of scholarly communication in transition. First Monday, [S.l.], may. 2013. ISSN 13960466. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 16 Oct. 2013. doi:10.5210/fm.v18i6.4370.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

September 30 2013 Dramatic Growth of Open Access

This issue of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access is dedicated to the hard-working staff at the US PubMedCentral who have done so much to make open access happen and are now on furlough.

These charts show the steady increase in numbers and percentages of articles funded by NIH that are freely available within 3 years of publication. Since 2008, the percentage has increased from 35% to 64%.

Aside from thanking the researchers, the reason that I have selected this as an issue to highlight is to point out that the U.S. government shutdown is a major concern for scholarship as a whole, not just open access scholarship. When the world's largest medical research funding agency is shut down, research funds do not flow. Equipment cannot be bought or research assistants hired. When the total quantity of research decreases, there will be less need for publication, whether toll or open access. For anyone with a genuine concern to advance knowledge, this should be the focus. This is incidentally intended to add to my critical comments on the Bohannon / Science article focusing on poor peer review at a few new journals. I argue that the fact that Science would choose this as a focus at this moment in time suggests a publisher out of touch with the realities of the research communities. If the U.S. government shutdown continues, I predict a drop in scholarly research outputs.

Highlights this quarter

The open access journals listed in DOAJ are growing significantly in number of journals and article searchable at article level. The number of journals searchable at the article level grew this quarter grew by 660 to a total of 5,597, a total of 7 new journals searchable per day. The number of articles searchable via DOAJ at article level is now 1.5 million, a growth of 386,000 this quarter. DOAJ now has a browse by publication charge feature which makes it easy to illustrate that about two-thirds of the journals listed in DOAJ do NOT charge article processing fees. Internet Archive continues to amaze, adding 10 billion webpages this quarter for a total of 357 billion webpages. The number of texts freely available through the Internet Archive is over 5 million, with half a million added this quarter. 

Items of interest since June 30, 2013

The numbers: September 30, 2013

Directory of Open Access Journals
9,944 journals. Growth this quarter: 185 journals (2 per day)
121 countries. Growth this quarter: 1 country.
5,597 journals searchable at article level. Growth this quarter: 660 journals (7 per day).
1,517,338 articles searchable at article level. Growth this quarter: 386,957 articles (over 4,000 per day). 34% growth this quarter.
New: browse by publication fee. This browse feature demonstrates that the vast majority of OA journals do not use article processing charges.
Data as of October 12, 2013:
  • No article processing charge - 6,557 journals
  • With article processing charge - 2,687 journals
  • Conditional article processing charge - 498 journals
  • No information re article processing charge - 199 journals
Directory of Open Access Books
1,566 academic peer-reviewed books. Growth this quarter: 113 books
54 publishers. Growth this quarter: 5 publishers.

Electronic Journals Library
# of journals that can be read free of charge:  42,115 journals. Growth this quarter: 1,487 journals. 

Highwire Press
# free fulltext articles: 2,288,352. Decrease of 31,907 articles.
total # of articles: 7,114,008. Decrease of 9,063 articles.
completely free sites:  84. Growth of 11 sites this quarter.
Sites with free back issues: 279. Growth of 1 this quarter.

# open access repositories: 2,452. Growth of 130 this quarter.

Registry of Open Access Repositories
# open access repositories: 3,511. Growth of 130 this quarter.

Bielefeld Academic Search Engine
# of documents: 50,063,294. Growth this quarter: 2,915,212.
# of content providers: 2,690. Growth this quarter: 83.

# of freely available items: 2.8 million (from PubMedCentral website)
journals actively participating in PMC: 1,647. Growth this quarter: 91 journals.
# journals in PMC with immediate free access: 1,133. Growth this quarter: 32 journals.
# journals with all articles open access: 996. Growth this quarter: 36 journals.

878,022 documents. Growth this quarter: 22,640

Social Sciences Research Network
Full text papers: 414,100. Growth this quarter: 13,859

Open access mandate policies (ROARMAP)
Total: 415. Growth this quarter: 16

Internet archive
Webpages: 357 billion. Growth this quarter: 10 billion.
Moving images (movies): 1,396,202. Growth this quarter: 87,925
Live music archive (concerts): 120,782. Growth this quarter: 3,319
Audio (recordings): 1,724,574. Growth this quarter: 82,528
Texts: 5,104,988. Growth this quarter: 500,828

This post is part of the Dramatic Growth of Open Access Series.
Rationale and method.
Full data edition.

Bohannon and Science: bogus articles and PR spin instead of peer review

The Bohannon "study" published in Science may have consequences beyond what was intended. In brief, Bohannon picked a list of journals largely from the list identified by Beall as predatory and submitted a bogus article that should have not passed peer review. A large number of journals accepted the article for publication. There is some benefit to this study as it confirms a problem first identified by Beall. However, this article reveals more problems than Bohannon or Science thought. First of all, this is a problematic study in itself, published in a prestigious journal but the Bohannon study itself was not peer reviewed, and I argue that no responsible peer reviewer or serious scholarly journal should have published this article in its existing form. Because the journals were cherry-picked from a list of journals known to be problematic, the logical conclusions at most provide supporting evidence for Beall's qualitative work. These results are clearly not generalizable, and the extent of the problem may be quite small (there are close to 10,000 fully open access journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals; the 157 journals that accepted this article, most not listed in the vetted DOAJ list, represent about 1.5% of open access journals. This study did not conduct a control group, submitting articles to subscription journals; nor did the author mention the literature on similar hoaxes with subscription journals, a substantive omission that should have been picked up by competent peer review and/or academic editing.

More worrying, however, is that while Bohannon and Science may have meant this as an attack on open access, this study could easily be picked up by those who oppose science and scholarship.

For example, an Economist article on this sting begins with a focus on the Sokal hoax; this was a subscription journal, not OA, so not focusing too strongly on OA is much appreciated by the OA movement. Kudos to the Economist for picking up what Science should have. However, this means that an Economist article is focusing on a critique of scholarly peer review rather than a problem with a small set of journals.

Similarly, a CBC article focuses on the problems with peer review, rather than problems with a few new journals that happen to be OA:

This article illustrates what I consider to be a potential danger to all of scholarship / science, not just open access. Here we have a newspaper article quoting a study as saying that the majority of peer-reviewed journals will accept an article that is obviously fabricated. It is not hard to imagine newspaper articles like this being used as fodder for climate change denial types.

To me, this in itself illustrates the need for careful quality control in scholarly communication. It is unethical for Bohannon and Science to publish an article that could so easily be misinterpreted in this way and used as arguments by opponents of science and scholarship. This is a bigger problem for science and scholarship than all of the predatory journals exposed by the Bohannon sting.

In conclusion: the Bohannon sting provides welcome evidence supporting Beall's qualitative evidence of serious problems with a small sub-set of new publishers who happen to be open access publishers. The study is not generalizable, the article was not peer-reviewed and should not have passed peer review in its current form. At minimum, every effort should have been made to ensure that readers understood the limitations of the study (small percentage of OA journals, non-generalizable study), and referred to literature on similar hoaxes that were accepted by subscription journals in the past. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Scholars: let's keep our jobs and ditch the commercial scholarly publishers high profit margins

The University of Alberta is just one of many universities that has gone through (or will go through) deep cuts in recent years. The U of A's recent cost-cutting exercise has resulted in 121 voluntary severance packages, including: 83 Faculty, Faculty Service Officers, and Librarians, and 38 Administrative Professional Officers.

Meanwhile the scholarly publishing industry which benefits from the free work of scholars as authors and peer reviewers are so enjoying an inelastic market (one that does not respond to market conditions like your customers facing such deep cuts) that they are acting like things are business as usual. For the scholarly publishing business, this means price increases year after year - in this case serials subscriptions agent EBSCO is reporting that libraries should expect increases in the range of 6 - 8%. Not only that, but cheerfully double-dipping: pocketing cash for open access article processing fees which are meant to cover the cost of publishing articles so that they can be made open access. 

It is time for scholars, university administrators and research funders to wake up and realize that creation of new knowledge is done by researchers, not publishers. Don't give up your job or or let your colleagues give up theirs without demanding that the large commercial scholarly publishers give up their 30-40% profit margins. 

The economics of scholarly publishing is a topic covered in my dissertation

This post is the first in a new scholars jobs not publisher profits series.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Forthcoming research: tracking open access article processing fees

In the interests of open research, here is a project that I'm considering for the near future. To avoid any confusion, please remember that the vast majority of open access journals do not charge article processing fees. The purpose of this research is to track the fees themselves for those journals that do, to note evidence of competition (e.g. new low-cost approaches), reactions of publishers to substantive surpluses (such as PLoS' apparent comfort with retaining current prices in spite of a 23% surplus, and to establish a benchmark for existing article processing fees and to track these over time, similar to the Library Journals Serials Price Survey, to keep an eye out for unwarranted price increases. 

 At this point in this process, it would be most helpful to know:
  • is anyone else already doing this?
  • is anyone considering doing this (if so, are they interested in collaborating?)
  • tips to make this work of obtaining lists of article processing fees easier
  • links to information about article processing fee levels
Comments welcome. Please note the IJPE commenting policy: this is a scholarly blog. Comments must be attributed (get in touch with me off-blog if you have a substantial comment and a good reason to request confidentiality), and any potential conflicts of interest must be noted. For example, if you are involved with a publisher / journal that charges OA article processing fees, this should be stated in your comment.

Update October 3 - on the open research approach - so far, in less than 24 hours, I have substantive comments via e-mail from 4 experts in the field, including one with an interest in collaborating. I will limit acknowledgements at this point to comments posted to public lists or at the request of the contributor in the case of personal e-mails, but wanted to note that from my perspective the open approach on this project is already succeeding - but please keep the comments and suggestions coming!

Thanks to Andrew Adams on the GOAL Open Access List:


The ACM, a major scholarly society publisher in computer science, set it APCs 
for hybrid gold journals (and hybrid gold for its fully-refereed conference 
proceedings, an unusual element of computer science research whereby full 
papers are reviewed for conference which produce proceedings which are of 
equivalent status to journals, in some cases being the premiere publication 
locus in a field) by reference explicitly not to the costs it incurs for 
articles but at the "low end of commercial publishing rates". They are 
looking at their entire business model (which currently has publishing as a 
major income line but which they admit is an uncertain basis on which to 
proceed) over the next few months but any changes to this will not be quick. 
There are groups within ACM pushing for cost-receovery only on APCs including 
breaks for under-resourced authors (including but not limited to those from 
developing economies).

References / Bibliography

Solomon, D. J. and Björk, B.-C. (2012), A study of open access journals using article processing charges. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci., 63: 1485–1495. doi: 10.1002/asi.22673

Peterson, AT, Emmett, A, Greenberg, ML. (2013). Open Access and the Author-Pays Problem: Assuring Access for Readers and Authors in a Global Community of Scholars. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 1(3):eP1064.

Second update October 4 - thanks to Leslie Chan on the GOAL Open Access List:

You probably came across this already, but just in case:

Marcin Kozak and James Hartley, Publication fees for open access journals:
Different disciplinesfor Information Science and Technology
Article first published online: 18 SEP 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/asi.22972

Not OA!



This post is part of the essential efficiences series.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Library and Archives Canada / Héritage privatization of public heritage

As noted on this Library and Archives Canada website, LAC and Canadiana are partnering to digitize Canada's heritage - and sell subscriptions to the metadata that would be necessary for anyone wanting to make use of this collection, both to libraries and to individuals.

From the announcement: also will also transcribe millions of handwritten pages, and create related descriptions. Enhanced search tools facilitating access to these records will be available to Canadians free of charge at LAC, as well as at hundreds of subscribing libraries in regions across Canada. For a small monthly fee, Canadians will also be able to use the enhanced tools online to conduct advanced searches without leaving home.
It is most unfortunate that LAC and the libraries involved in this partnership have decided to move in this direction, for several reasons:

  1. This essentially privatizes public materials. The works that are being digitized were collected by Library and Archives Canada as a public service on behalf of Canadians. Neither Library and Archives Canada nor the partner libraries have any right to sell a search service built on these collections.
  2. To illustrate what is wrong with this picture, consider the history / ancestry of individual Canadians and communities that is reflected in these collections. By selling subscriptions, Canadiana and LAC essentially ensure that those at elite universities and wealthy regions whose public libraries can afford subscriptions, or who can afford individual subscriptions, have access, while other Canadians are largely left out. In some cases the history of a community will be much more readily available to wealthy, well-connected (in an internet sense) people outside the community than those in the community themselves.
  3. This puts libraries in the role of search service development business. This is an appropriate role for library vendors like EBSCO, ProQuest and Elsevier; but it is not an appropriate role for libraries.  If libraries go this route, they should expect to lose public support, and be in a poor position to fight private sector library takeovers. To put this another way: if libraries become businesses, they are no longer libraries.
  4. This is being positioned as open access after a 10-year embargo. Libraries and partner organizations around the world have been advocating for open access for about a decade. The current most common maximum embargo is 1 year, and there is a push to reduce this to 6 months. So what are libraries thinking developing a project they call open access with a 10-year embargo?
Canadiana, library partners of Canadiana, and Library and Archives Canada: please drop this approach and provide full, real, immediate open access to the search service and metadata developed from this or future projects. This is our heritage, our collection built with public funding for the public. If we cannot afford this right now - the works have been microfilmed and are stored in many locations. That means, from a preservation perspective, we have a few centuries to do this right.

See also:

Michael Geist - The untold story behind the LAC-Canadiana digitization plan 
Bibliocracy - Canadiana & LAC - paywalling Canadian heritage?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

PLoS reaches 23% surplus. Time to lower those article processing fees?

Update Nov. 29th - according to Van Noorden in Nature, incoming CEO of PLoS Elizabeth Manicola plans on a revamp...

Public Library of Science has released their 2012 financials. Kudos to PLoS for four years of not raising article open access processing fees. However, now that the PLoS surplus has reached 23%, isn't it time to lower these fees?

Highlights from the PLoS financials:

The 2012 financial year represented a third consecutive year of sustainability for PLOS. Gross revenue grew 57% to $38.8 million (2011: $24.7 million), of which the increase in net assets was $7.15 million (2011: $3.95 million). PLOS’s expenses grew by 52% to $31.6 million (2011: $20.8 million), not least because of the increase in resources required to support the more than 26,000 articles published by the journals in 2012. This represents a 62% increase (2011: more than 16,000 articles); the total number of articles published by PLOS through 2012 was more than 68,000.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Should we protect high cost subscription scholarly journals? Why not support scholars instead?

Dana Roth on the GOAL open access list has raised a question about whether subscription journals like the 'Journal of Comparative Neurology', with a subscription price of $30,860, would be sustainable with green open access. The subject line is Disruption vs. Protection. Following is my response:

A journal publishing 234 articles per year charging $30,860 for a subscription SHOULD be disrupted, on the basis of price. At this rate it would cost 7 times more to provide access to only the medical schools in North America than to provide open access to everyone, everywhere with an internet connection, even at the rates of a for-profit professional commercial publisher's very high impact journal. At the rates of The Journal of Machine Learning, aptly described by Shieber as an efficient journal, all of the articles published in this journal could be made open access for a total cost that is less than 10% of a single subscription.


The Association of American Medical Colleges accredits 141 medical schools in the U.S. and Canada alone. If each one of these schools purchased a subscription at $30,860, that would add up to revenue of $4.3 million per year.

$4.3 million would be sufficient to pay open access article processing fees for 1,657 articles at the rates of the professional for-profit BioMedCentral's very-high-impact journal Genome Biology (U.S. $2,265).

Shieber describes the approach and costs (average $10 per article) of the Journal of Machine Learning on his blog The Occasional Pamphlet:

The question should be how we can protect and sustain high-quality scholarly publishing in an open access environment - not how to protect such mind-boggling inefficiency as journals that charge over $30,000 for a subscription!

Those who think that it is important to sustain scholarly journals so that a surplus can assist with things like education might want to consider whether medical schools should immediately cancel this journal and offer a medical student a $30,000 scholarship instead.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kudos to the UK Business, Innovation & Skills Committee: important steps in the right direction

The UK's Business, Innovation & Skills Committee just released its report on its inquiry into UK Open Access policy.The conclusions and recommendations are available here. On March 11: the BIS Committee has posted the full set of evidence here. My submission to the BIS Committee is posted on IJPE here.


Following are the Conclusions and Recommendations themselves in full, and my comments. In brief, the BIS report is a welcome correction to the problems brought forward by the RCUK push for gold open access. I would like to highlight the BIS suggestion that more research is needed on the impact of APCs; my preliminary research suggests that a $3,000 APC is equivalent to the full-time salary for an Associate Professor in a country like Ethiopia, for example. The BIS emphasis on market correction is welcome, however two of the most promising approaches for cost-effective scholarly publishing (direct subsidy for publishing and peer-review overlay on repositories) are not included. The RCUK approach actually lends itself to decreasing access by encouraging the development of longer embargoes on free access. Like BIS, I am concerned that the RCUK approach takes needed dollars away from researchers to further fund an already distorted market. Finally, while the BIS committee notes the absence of voices of SMEs, no doubt appropriate for their mandate, I would like to add that the major group whose voices are not heard in open access policy discussions is academics. It is our work, after all.


In the report conclusions are shown in bold, recommendations are shown in bold italics. In this list, recommendations are shown in italics. [Heather: BIS conclusions are in block quotes].

Current open access policy in the UK
1.  The major mechanism through which the UK has achieved its world leading status (Green open access) has been given inadequate consideration in the formation of Government and RCUK policies. Neglecting repositories and consigning them to a relatively minor role in open access policy is likely to see repository infrastructure, which has been established through continued public investment, fall behind through lack of investment and monitoring. (Paragraph 24)
2.  We are disappointed by the Government's conclusion that "development of infrastructure for repositories will primarily be a matter for institutions themselves", not least because the Government has spent £225m on repositories in recent years. We recommend that the Government takes an active role in working with the Joint Information Systems Committee and the UK Open Access Implementation Group to promote standardisation and compliance across subject and institutional repositories. (Paragraph 25)
Comment: it is important for every country's open access policy to support local open access repositories. One basic gap with the open access publishing approach is that it leaves open the possibility that the only copies of open access works will be outside of the country that funded the work. This leaves such works vulnerable to shifting ownership and approaches of publishing companies as well as political shifts over time. These are additional reasons for the UK to follow the BIS committee's recommendation to restore funding and UK leadership in the area of open access repositories.

Strengthening deposit mandates to increase open access
3.  We strongly support author freedom of choice between Green and Gold open access. If implemented, HEFCE's proposals would ensure that the UK's existing network of repositories was used and monitored effectively. We commend HEFCE for its considered approach to developing its open access policy, and support its proposals for the post 2014 Research Excellence Framework, in particular the immediate deposit mandate as a requirement for eligibility. (Paragraph 29)
4.  We recommend that HEFCE implements its proposals, and maintains the strength of its proposed immediate deposit mandate in the appropriate institutional repository as a pre-condition of Research Excellence Framework eligibility. (Paragraph 30)
5.  RCUK should build on its original world leading policy by reinstating and strengthening the immediate deposit mandate in its original policy (in line with HEFCE's proposals) and improving the monitoring and enforcement of mandated deposit. (Paragraph 31) 
Comment: immediate deposit in a local repository is the best means to ensure that the conditions of the policy are met, and to address the need to assure local access to works as described above.

Open access worldwide
6.  Government and RCUK should rigorously monitor global take up of Gold and Green and international developments in open access policy worldwide. This data should be used to inform both the reconvening of representatives of the Finch working group in the Autumn of 2013, and RCUK's review of its open access policy in 2014.(Paragraph 35) 
Comment: in addition to monitoring international developments, I suggest that UK funders consider more carefully the impact of UK open access policy on researchers around the world. A $3,000 article processing fee charged by some publishers for open access would, in many areas of the world, be sufficient to fund either a full-time annual salary for a professor, or a substantial portion of one. This is another reason to consider green or open access archiving as the most basic or generic necessary portion of policy. Institutional repositories everywhere can benefit by paying local average salaries for the necessary personnel.

The transition to open access: costs and hidden costs
7.  RCUK has undertaken to publish data on "how the open access block grants are being used, specifically the numbers of research papers which are being made open access through payment of an APC and the actual APCs being paid to publishers". We recommend that RCUK also requires data on subscription expenditure from UK HEIs to establish the impact of its policy on subscription purchasing and pricing. (Paragraph 41) 

Comment: this is an excellent idea, as it would quantify the likely problem of double-dipping by hybrid journals with the push for gold open access publishing.

Embargo periods
8.  We note the absence of evidence that short embargo periods harm subscription publishers. We have seen evidence that current UK open access policy risks incentivising publishers to introduce or increase embargo periods. This has serious implications for open access in the UK and the rest of the world. We agree with the Government that lengthened embargoes are counter to its aim to increase access. (Paragraph 49)
9.  The stated policy objective of the Government and RCUK is to increase access to publicly funded research. Long embargoes are a barrier to access. We recommend that the Government and RCUK revise their policies to place an upper limit of 6 month embargoes on STEM subject research and up to 12 month embargoes for HASS subject research, in line with RCUK's original policy published in July 2012. (Paragraph 50)
10.  Given the importance of ensuring that UK open access policy does not result in reduced access in the UK or worldwide, the Government and RCUK must monitor and evaluate the impact of their open access policy on embargo lengths imposed by UK publishers. The impact on different subject areas must also be carefully monitored. That information must inform future meetings of the Finch Group and RCUK's reviews of open access policy. (Paragraph 51) 
Comment:  it is a very good thing that the BIS committee has found evidence that the current UK policy creates incentives to increase embargo periods. It is highly unlikely that UK preference for gold will be repeated elsewhere. Thus, if publishers increase embargoes to try to force authors to pay for OA gold in the UK, then everyone everywhere experiences greater delays in access to published works.

Levels of Article Processing Charges
11.  We conclude that the Finch Report, the Government and RCUK have failed to assess adequately the existing levels of APCs that are charged by a range of open access journals, both within the UK and worldwide, and instead formed a plan of expenditure based on payments to publishers that, compared to a range of benchmarks including APCs of the largest "pure" Gold publisher, are rather less than competitive. (Paragraph 57)
12.  We recommend that the Finch working group commissions an independent report on APC pricing, which should include average APC prices of pure Gold journals and hybrid journals, domestically and internationally. (Paragraph 58)
13.  We strongly support the recommendation of the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Lords that the Government undertake a full cost-benefit analysis of open access policy, including the impact on different subject areas. This analysis must include data to reflect actual rather than projected costs during the transition period. (Paragraph 59)

Comment: I fully support the statement of the committee that further research is needed. Economics of transition to open access is one of my areas of research. I am sharing my work openly in the spirit of open research. My very preliminary data suggests that we should question whether an article processing fee approach would work in many countries, even assuming local operations. As for the developing world paying UK level APCs, note that the fee many charge of $3,000 US is approximately the annual salary for an Associate Professor in a country like Ethiopia. This is one of the reasons I urge research funders with an interest in the developing world to require green open access archiving, and not to support gold. Direct the funds to support the researchers, please. See this blogpost for details:

Affordability of APCs for authors and UK research organisations
14.  At a time when the budgets of research organisations and HEIs are under great pressure, it is unacceptable that the Government has issued, without public consultation, an open access policy that will require considerable subsidy from research budgets in order to maintain journal subscriptions and cover APCs. Significant public investment has already been made in institutional repositories, of which there are 120 in the UK, and they could represent a more cost-effective and sustainable route to full open access. (Paragraph 63)
15.  We are concerned that the expectation appears to be that universities and research organisations will fund the balance of APCs and open access costs from their own reserves. We look to the Government and RCUK to mitigate against the impact on university budgets. The Government must not underestimate the significance of this issue. (Paragraph 64) 

Comment: I cannot speak to the UK situation, however from a Canadian perspective, our funding councils in many disciplines can only fund about 20% of applications, and is turning down some that are "approved but not funded".  Diverting funds from research to paying for article processing fees will not result in the acceleration of research that is one of the potentials of open access, because it means that less research will be done. Junior scholars, far from enjoying the full benefits of the OA citation impact advantage, will be disadvantaged in not having support to do the research. Much of this funding is designed to support grad students, so diverting funding from the research per se hurts them, too.

The shared ultimate goal of full Gold open access
16.  The pro-active stance the Government has taken in the formation of open access policy is to be welcomed. However, we are of the view that the Government has failed to communicate effectively that Gold open access is the ultimate goal at the end of a transition phase. Because insufficient attention has been given to the transitional route, the Government has neglected the opportunity to ensure that costs are constrained, and that institutions and research authors are convinced of the merits of open access policy. (Paragraph 69)
17.  The Government and RCUK should clarify that Gold open access is the ultimate goal of, rather than the primary route to, their open access policies. We recommend that the Government and RCUK reconsider their preference for Gold open access during the five year transition period, and give due regard to the evidence of the vital role that Green open access and repositories have to play as the UK moves towards full open access. (Paragraph 70)
18.  RCUK's current guidance provides that the choice of Green or Gold open access lies with the author and the author's institution, even if the Gold option is available from the publisher. This is incompatible with the Publishers Association decision tree, and RCUK should therefore withdraw its endorsement of the decision tree as soon as possible, to avoid further confusion within the academic and publishing communities. (Paragraph 71)
Achieving a functional market
19.  Both the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's 2004 Report, and the Finch Report, highlighted the fact that VAT currently applies to e-journals, but not to print journals. This creates a clear disincentive for online access, and therefore to open access. Despite this anomaly, the Government has asserted that it does not consider it worthwhile to pursue a reduction in VAT rates with the European Union. We disagree, and believe that the Government should be willing to increase its efforts to remove or reduce this barrier. (Paragraph 76)
20.  If RCUK and the Government continue to maintain their preference for Gold, they should amend their policies so that APCs are only paid to publishers of pure Gold rather than hybrid journals. This would eliminate the risk of double dipping by journals, and encourage innovation in the scholarly publishing market. (Paragraph 77)
21.  The evidence we saw suggested that authors have little price sensitivity when they choose a journal in which to publish. We recommend that RCUK amends its policy to allow grant funds to be used for publishing charges, which is by far the most common model internationally. This would re-introduce price pressure by prompting authors to make an informed decision on where to publish. We recommend that the Government endorse genuine price transparency from publishers so that it is clear to subscribers which services and costs are and are not included in the overall subscription price, enabling subscribers to assess the costs and benefits of purchasing. (Paragraph 78)
22.  We strongly agree with the recommendations of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and the Finch Report that the Government should work to introduce a reduced VAT rate for e-journals. Given the emphasis the Government has placed on the benefits of increasing open access, the Government should seek a derogation on this point from the European Commission. (Paragraph 79)
23.  We further recommend that the Government indicates clearly that non-disclosure clauses should not be included in publishing contracts which involve public funds. In the first instance, this should be achieved through dialogue between Government, publishers and universities. If the use of non-disclosure clauses persists, then the Government should consider referring the matter to the Competition Commission. (Paragraph 80)
Comment: the recommendations of the BIS Committee here are sound, however there are two notable omissions. First, the model of direct subsidy of scholarly journal publishing that is common in many countries (e.g. Canada, most Latin American countries) is not considered. Second, the peer review overlay with institutional repositories which the  JISC funded Houghton & colleagues study found to have the most potentially transformative effect from an economic standpoint, is not considered. An immediate move to this system would not be possible, however looking out at the next five years it would make sense to at least consider this possibility and fund some pilot projects.

24.  We conclude that the Government must keep an open mind on licensing requirements until the findings of the ministerial roundtable are available. The Government should commission independent research on the implications of the most common licences if necessary. We believe that authors should be able to choose the licence that applies to their work, especially during the transitional period while further evidence is gathered. Mandating the use of a particular licence should not be prioritised over immediate online access to findings of publicly funded research, which is at the heart of open access. (Paragraph 84)
25.  We recommend that the Government reports the outcomes of its further investigations into licensing to us and communicates them clearly through RCUK as soon as possible in order to assuage concerns of authors and their institutions. (Paragraph 85)
26.  RCUK should monitor complaints from authors and/or their institutions about breach of licensing conditions or inappropriate re-use of content, consider these at its review of open access policy, and identify appropriate action if necessary. (Paragraph 86) 

Comment: this is wise. I would add that analysis and experience with the use of open licenses is needed. It is good to monitor author complaints, however at this point in time we do not fully know how people might make use of open licenses, and since no permission is required, authors might not be aware of how their works are being used. Also, some of the potential for abuse comes only when a substantial number of works are openly licensed. For example, commercial re-sale of a single article available via a CC-BY license under toll access conditions is hardly likely to attract the interests of the private sector; but millions of articles is a different matter.

Open access, innovation and growth
27.  We believe that BIS must review its consultation processes to ensure that lessons are learned from the lack of involvement of a broader range of businesses, particularly SMEs, in the formation of open access policy. It is particularly important to ensure that future policies and initiatives (for example Gateway to Research) take into account the specific needs of the communities they are intended to serve, to ensure optimum functionality and a more efficient use of public funds. (Paragraph 91) 
Comment: this makes sense in terms of the mandate of the BIS committee, however I would like to note that the group most absent from open access policy discussions is academics themselves.  Professional staff of scholarly society publishers are not an adequate surrogate for researchers engaged in academic work on a full-time basis.