Nature Article on How Open Science, Done Wrong, Can Increase Inequities

I saw this Nature article on Twitter. I’m not in academia and have no experience with this, so I would be interested to hear the thoughts of this group.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00724-0

A particularly pressing issue is open access (OA) publication fees, in which the benefit of free readership is being offset by new barriers to authorship.

The article seems to relate to the idea that the “open” label does not automatically mean that all problems have been disposed of. On the other hand, how does one create sustainable journals to share knowledge that do not have paywalls for either reading or publishing?

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This is a great point. I really hope we can get the Journal of Open Hardware to be platinum OA (no one pays). Also I have an article in the last stage of review showing platinum OA journals with impact factors now number in the hundreds…all the important stuff including data and lists available now OSF | The Rise of Platinum Open Access Journals with both Impact Factors and Zero Article Processing Charges

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Is the main driver of cost for a journal the time/pay for the reviewers? In open source software, when someone submits new code to be considered for inclusion in a project, we have the ability to assign reviewers (or they self-assign) from a pool of developers who have volunteered. Could a similar thing be done with journals where the reviewers are pulled from a volunteer pool of vetted subject matter experts from all over the world? It takes time to build and organize that pool of volunteers, but it seems like that kind of selective crowd sourcing might work, and could possibly sustain a higher throughout of reviews while reducing long-term costs.

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I wish that was the problem – usually reviewers are not paid. In fact - I have reviewed for dozens of journals and I think I was only paid once for a conf proceedings – some others have given me APC discounts for open access - but normally reviewing is seen as a public service.

The money goes to copy editors, type setters, journal staff – and the disgusting part is most of it goes to profits and executive compensation of the companies involved. Academic publishing is one of the most profitable businesses outside of drug dealing. Academics do all the content creating, reviewing, and often editing for free - then turn around and get their libraries to buy million dollar subscriptions to read it. We are supposed to be smart!

The whole system is in flux now though - I predict things will not stay like this for long.

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This is a very interesting topic and we should definitely discuss it, although in my (limited) experience, there are no simple answers to the issue. I recommend this documentary:

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There are already various “experiments” and designs of new pre-print and publishing platforms out there (see ReimagineReview registry, e.g. Researchers.One).

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These video seems particularly relevant:

and

There are of course some costs associated with publishing. Currently academic institutions get ripped off paying for both access and publishing fees. We also provide all the content, the reviewing, and the majority of the editorial work without compensation. Yet despite this were are limited in what we can access and how we can publish.

The money is there, the labour is there, but we are stuck in a broken recurring system. We could end it almost instantly if we all just chose to boycott the worst offenders. But you try herding a tens of thousands of academics across the world to do anything. Then try getting all of them to do something that will harm their careers unless everyone else buys in.

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Note that APC is an example of issues (a “pressing” one), it is by far not the only one…

about this, today is ON-MERRIT final event: Ensuring Equity in Open Science | on-merrit (final call of the project behind that paper)

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Also found this podcast and thought, it was inspiring due to the Commons perspective: Sam Moore of The Radical Open Access Collective | Frontiers of Commoning, with David Bollier (simplecast.com) (also available on other podcast platforms)

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Very interesting podcast, thanks for sharing.

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