5.2 Issues related to Open Access

Awareness of OA and advocacy has gathered momentum with significant mandates and policies being framed at governmental as well as institutional levels in just past two years (2012-13). However, there are several issues that have to be addressed before open access can be fully implemented. A fundamental issue is that academics are simply used to publishing being taken care of by publishers over the years while they are only concerned about publishing count for career advancement. OA brings about a paradigmatic shift in mode of publishing. It puts the onus on authors to choose how they make their research publication accessible to users. Open access has an ideological basis in 'knowledge for all' by giving access to resources freely and with no legal or technological barriers. Traditional commercial journal publishers have the advantage of being much older than OA journals which when compared to former are quite recent. Traditional journal publishers are an organized sector with established workflows for soliciting content, for peer reviewing, publishing, promoting and archiving content. By virtue of their experience in publishing the journal publishers have managed to establish notions of 'value' and 'quality' around the journals. In contrast to this OA journals are more recent and will take some time to establish the same quality assurance as the commercial journal publishers. However it is important to study and note that the parameters of quality associated with 'ranked' journals originate from academia who are the generators, peers andalso the consumers of knowledge. Hence if OA journals could leverage the expertise to complete the cycle of knowledge they could very well stake their claim to 'quality' content.In the context of the above discussion, there exist several open access challenges and issues.

5.2.1 Issues of Quality

Commercially published journals enjoy the status of top ranked journals and the concept of quality is associated with them. It is true that these journals adopt a rigorous peer review process through which they attempt to ensure that only high quality papers are published. By sheer period of time they have existed the processes are well documented, promoted and are accepted by the research and academic communities. Contrary to this OA journals are new. Establishing the same workflows will take time. As already stated it is matter of time only that will credit OA journals with the same authenticity as that of commercially published journals.Peer review as a process of quality assurance is well accepted in academicpublishing. The assurance out experience and expertise of peers is the benchmark used to declare that content of journal is of very high quality and of research value. Though, OA journals also have peer review process.(Abadal, 2012).

5.2.2 Notion of Ranked Journals and Prestige

Journal ranking is a measure to show the comparative standing of journal in a domain. It is deemed also as an indicator of how difficult it is for a publication to make it to higher ranked journals. Impact Factor (IF) is computed mainly by the number of citations received by articles in journals. IF has been most favoured measure to assess performance of journals as well as that of the authors publishing in journals. There have been several arguments against the way journals' impact factors have been calculated and hence the arguments that IF need not necessarily be the only factor to judge scholarship. Peter Suber (2009) opined that the dominance of IFs is an impediment to the growth and acceptance of OA journals. Further that '...new journals can be excellent from beginning, but even the best journal cannot be prestigious from its very birth'. The issue of prestige is perhaps the toughest one for OA journals to address. OA journals' editorial committees have strived to include the best of researchers, scientists and academics as reviewers to assure quality. Some renowned scientists have voluntarily quit being on editorial committees of certain profit making journals after protesting the high price of publication that made journals out of reach of the common academicians. Many of these have joined editorial boards of journals from professional associations and some even back the OA journals. Hence OA journals will gain both by the expertise of committed OA scientists and researchers. According to Peter Suber (2009)it will take a while for OA journals to gain the respectability of ranked journals, therefore, the only short cut available maybe to adopt the prestigious ranked journals as OA journals.

5.2.3 Lack of Awareness of Open Access

Open access movement is by and for academicians, scientists and researchers. It is however ironic that many members of this very community worldwide are not aware of what 'open access'is. According to a study conducted by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) in 2005, many researchers do not know what Open Access means and due to their ignorance have not included this form of publishing into their normalpublications. A number of authors also believe that an Open Access publication in an institutional repository will not be given the similar acknowledgment as a publication in scholarly journals.It is often the case that authors are impressed with the philosophy and significance of Open access. Even then they do not choose OA journals to publish their research articles. One of the main reasons is that the higher level administrators of their organizations, institutions and universities are not themselves aware of the Open access. Hence 'journal ranking' is still taken as the only indicator of quality of publications. Hence for performance assessment, they still go by number of publications in ranked journals as the touchstone of quality. Institutes and administrators of those show off their productivity in terms 'how' many such publications their institutes contributed in top ranked journals.

5.2.4 Sustenance and Financial Matter

The greatest challenge involved in the setting up of a new journal is always to get it established. In the case of OA journals the widespread misconception is that they are free and hence have no financial implications. While the OA content itself is meant to be free for access, the production of such journals have costs attached to them. Gold OA usually sustains through charging authors publication fee. Such fees are often challenged by authors who feel that despite contributing valuable research contents to journals they are still required to pay to get published. In the traditional commercial journal publication authors were not required to pay for publishing their articles. Such journals recovered publication costs and made profit by promoting their titles and soliciting subscriptions. For both traditional and Open Access publications, start-up financial assistance is essential. It is true for any journal but more for OA journals as they do not intend to make money from subscriptions. Often journals are supported by professional associations, research foundations and institutes. For instance the New Journal of Physics (NJP) was supported by the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft and the Institute of Physics. The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) has formal grants for scholars who seek support towards publication costs. The Max Planck Society provides financial assistance for publications in the NJP from its central funds. The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) also provides financial assistance for publications by British authors. In addition, universities, university libraries and research institutes offer support for publication cost as well.

Business Models for Sustainability of OA

The concept of sustenance is directly related to profit. There is hence a disbelief regarding sustenance of OA, the question being if it does not sell how will sustain?' Notwithstanding the other belief that 'if something is free it will be of low quality'. To defy such questions and doubts it is useful to note that there are exemplary OA access publisherswho have shown that they are open access and have managed to have business models that have succeeded in securing self-sustenance. A case study shows very popular OA journals and publishers making profits such as BioMed Central, Hindawi, Medknow, Optics Express, PLoS ONE.[http://www.upf.edu....challenges-for-open-access-journ-sustainability.html]

a) BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/)

It is a British group founded in early 2000 and publishing some 220 open access journals in the areas of biology and medicine. It was purchased by Springer, the second scientific publisher in the world, in 2008. BioMed Central charges article processing charge (APC) but has also tiers of different payment modes. For example, they have institutional membership that allows an institution to pay a lumpsum annually in advance, for publishing articles of their scientists and researchers and making it available as OA content.

b) Hindawi Publishing Corporation (http://www.hindawi.com/)

Hindawi was founded in 1997 in Cairo, Egypt, as a traditional commercial publisher specialized in mathematics and engineering, but quickly added biomedicine too. This is a particular case of transition from the subscription model to open access, and has been the object of some specific studies (Loy, 2011). It is currently publishing more than 300 journals. Hindawi seeks to sustain through APC. It charges institutions annual memberships or prepaid memberships so that articles by authors of those member institutes are published as OA.

c) PLoS (http://www.plos.org)

It published PLoS Biology in 2003 and currently has several titles that arevery well situated in impact indexes. It only accepts 10% of the submittedarticles. PLoS showed profits from 2012 onwards. Its sustenance is throughAPC.

Consortium Approach to OA

Library consortia were formed in order to subscribe to content with consortium price rather than individual libraries ordering copies of the same titles. This arrangement was perceived to be a win-win situation for libraries as well as publishers. In a similar way open access consortia would lead to win-win situation between OA authors and OA publishers that need to sustain themselves. A salient example is the SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) consortium in high energy physics. “The SCOAP3 consortium is a collection of institutions, research laboratories and scholarly societies which, together with national research funders, are to pay fees to the publishers of journals in high energy physics in return for making the entire contents of those journals Open Access”(www.openoasis.org).

Funding Channels

OA focus is on two issues; one to make content freely accessible and usable and second one is that the authors get to retain their rights over the content they produce. However to achieve these goals OA journals have to find the financial support or they should strive to be self-sustained. Developing business models around a commodity that is to be freely 'sold' is indeed a difficult proposition. Villarroya et al. (2012) provide a complete bibliographic update regarding business models in open access. This article highlights the importance of analyzing beyond the funding sources and taking into account other economic and funding components as well as the operative and strategic dimensions of the publishing house. This discussion depicts the different funding channels for open access journals as below:

i. Fees (payment for publishing)

The author has to pay a charge for publishing their scholarly work. The cost of publishing an article can range between 600 and 2,500 €, which can vary depending upon the journal and some characteristics of the article. In most cases this amount is paid by the author's institution or through project funding. In other scenarios, these publishing charges are directly expected from the institution the author belongs to. In such cases usually it is an understanding between the OA publishers and institution themselves where the institution agrees to pay publication fee. For instance, BioMedCentral has institutional membership. More than 90% of revenues in this kind of journals is from institutional funds.

ii. External subsidies

In this case, there is an essential economic influence external to the publishing action. It might come from public administrations, scientific societies or users’ consortia, among others.

a) Public fundingIn this model, the costs are directly and entirely supported by the public administration (university faculties and departments, research centers, government or other types of public organisms) that funds the publishing activity of the journals. This channel is very much extended in Humanities and Social Sciences. A clear example would be that of Revistas CSIC, which has the economic support of the Spanish research organization. [http://revistas.csic.es/]

b) Membership feesIn order to meet the cost of publishing, generally authors are asked to pay an open access fee or article-processing charge (APC) per publication. This model tends to remove this burden from the individual authors, by incorporating Open Access Membership Program. The Membership Program enables academic and research institutions, societies, groups, funders and corporations to actively support open access in scholarly publishing, and help ensure the most widespread dissemination of the work published by their researchers or members. Depending on the type of Membership, member institutions cover some or all of the publication cost for their individual researchers.(http://www.springeropen.com/libraries)

c) Users’ OA consortiaThose libraries subscribingto journals of a specific scientific discipline together with agencies supporting research, fund publishing houses so that they publish journals and distribute them freely to the authors. A particular example is that of the SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access in Particle Physics Publishing) project, a consortium of research centers, funding agencies and libraries that propose an economic model to transform all scientific journals to open access in the areas of particle physics. They have already received worldwide support and specially in the US.

iii. Advertising

Advertising can be one way of fund generation. Several journals carry advertisement. Nevertheless, the percentage of revenues obtained through this path is mostly low.

iv. Institutional subscriptions

It refers to the annual contributions to publishers by universities, research centers, etc., so that, in return, the authors belonging to the paying institution enjoy important discounts to publish their articles: for instance, Hindawi has 25 subscribed institutions providing 2% of its revenues (Loy, 2011).

v. Services sales

This channel refers to the benefits from prints, offprints, etc. In Hindawi, this source of revenues means 9% of the total (Loy, 2011).It is evident from the above that there are several channels of funding apart from the widespread belief the Gold OA requires authors to pay. While it is true that a payment is required for publication costs it is not necessary that the authors only is required to pay. As discussed above other modes of sustenance could be explored.

5.2.5 Copyright and licensing

Open access content providers are more focused on making content open but often do not specify copyright and licensing on the OA content. It is important to study what types of licensing will set free content in the true sense. It is also important that the copyright ensures right to producer of knowledge resources and not to middlemen or providers only. In any case what the authors or such content producers want to do with their content and under what licensing they want to provide content should ideally be their choice.There are very few OA journals listed in DOAJ that use some kindof CC license. There is main divide between Gratis and libre OA. Gratis OA removes price barriers but not permission barriers. Even though it allows content free of charge it may not be free from copyright or licensing restrictions. It provides users no-fee access for reading but not the reuse rights. They may be allowed to use it to the extent that fair use or the local equivalent laws permit. On the other hand, libre OA not only removes price barriers but also some permission barriers. It lifts some copyright and licensing restrictions and certifies at least some uses beyond fair use. The first step is for authors towards OA is to retain rights over their work, who utmost should only grant non-exclusive rights when they are required to sign copyright forms. Awareness of types of licensing and restrictions will help authors choose the license pertinent for their purpose. Authors can involve libre OA to their work by affirmatively waiving some of their rights. Creative Commons (CC) licenses [creativecommons.org] are designed to help the authors waive some rights without losing their ability to enforce rights that they wish to retain. There are many levels of rights that can be assigned using CC licenses. To enable access under libre OA, CC provides CC-BY licenses which waives all rights except the right of attribution and the CC-BY-NC waives all rights except the right of attribution and the right to block or control commercial reuse. It is the right of authors to make a choice of whatever license they find appropriate for their content. After making the choice the authors should make sure that the content is released with explicit mention of what licensing is used.

5.2.6 Preservation

Authors fear that their ideas and work will be lost and institutions fear that they will not be accessing the most illustrious information. Preservation is an issue often connected with e-published content. The fear of whether content will be lost over time due technological overhauls is widespread (Rothenberg, 1999]. Commercial publishers of journals have preservation policies and also attached are various subscription costs when they allow access to preserved back volumes. OA journals and repositories need to assure prospective authors and OA contributors that their content will be time proofed. Fortunately preservation options are neither expensive or difficult. Several of the best options are free of charge, both for the journals and for users who want to access the content. LOCKSS (OA at least for the hosting institutions) and the DOAJ are the two very popular preservation system (OA for all). Both are free of charge for the journals. Another free and stable option is to deposit the digital content with a trusted, financially secure, and well-equipped library. For example, BioMed Central has been depositing its digital output since 2003 in the National Library of the Netherlands. The DOAJ preservation program offers to preserve journal content. National libraries and university libraries with digital preservation programs could render a great service by opening their vaults to peer-reviewed ejournals (OA and TA). BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science routinely deposit their articles in PubMed Central.

Last modified: Tuesday, 13 April 2021, 12:30 PM