Open AccessOver the summer, librarians and academic leaders in Germany came together to lead a push in taking down the paywalls that block access to so many scientific research articles. The initiative, named Projekt DEAL, represents a bold push toward open access that could change the landscape of academic publishing.

The latest developments in Projekt DEAL pick up on a battle now over two years in the making, where libraries and universities in Germany have united in pushing large publishers to adopt a new business model. The institutions are looking to forego the typical subscription-based academic publishing business model in lieu of paying an annual lump sum that covers publications costs of all papers whose first authors are associated with German institutions.

The concept behind Projekt DEAL is relatively straight forward: multiply the number of papers with first authors associated with German institutions by a reasonable fee per paper. The institutions would pay that amount and those papers would then be published open access, available to everyone around the world, in exchange for free access to all of the publisher’s online content for the German institutions. This would not only mark a huge step in the open access movement, but would alleviate some of the financial burden facing libraries paying for high-cost journal subscriptions.

But this push isn’t the first of its kind. According to reports from Science, institutions from the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, and United Kingdom have all worked for similar agreements. The results, however, have been less than the libraries and universities had hoped for.

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ECS shows its vision for the future of academic publishing

Open Access WeekECS is celebrating International Open Access Week by giving the world a preview of what complete open access to peer-reviewed scientific research will look like. ECS is taking down the paywall October 23-29 to the entire ECS Digital Library, making over 132,000 scientific articles and abstracts free and accessible to everyone.

This is the third consecutive year ECS will take down its paywalls during Open Access Week, an annual event organized by SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Eliminating the paywall during Open Access Week allows ECS to give the world a preview of the potential of its Free the Science initiative.

Free the Science is ECS’s move toward a future that embraces open science to further advance research in our field. This is a long-term vision for transformative change in the traditional models of communicating scholarly research. ECS last opened its digital library in April 2017 for the first ever Free the Science Week.

“ECS is working to disseminate scientific research to the broadest possible audience without barriers,” says Mary Yess, ECS chief content officer/publisher. “Through Open Access Week, we’re able to once again highlight a new scholarly publishing model that promotes authors and the science they do.”

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Founder of the highly controversial Sci-Hub, Alexandra Elbakyan, has recently pulled access to the research pirate site in Russia. After criticism from Russian scientists, Elbakayan finally pulled the plug on Russia’s access to Sci-Hub after researchers named a new parasitic insect after her.

The so-called “Pirate Bay of science” made its mark in 2011 when Kazakhstan hacked into hundreds of scholarly journals, leaking million documents and illegally allowing the public to freely access scientific papers.

Previously, Elbakyan referred to the internet as a “global brain,” stating that paywalls should not exist in order to provide a free flow of content that can help build society. Now, she has described recent attacks on her as an “extreme injustice,” saying: “If you analyze the situation with scientific publications, the real parasites are scientific publishers, and Sci-Hub, on the contrary, fights for equal access to scientific information.”

This is not the first to Sci-Hub has come under attack. In June 2017, publishing giant Elsevier won a legal judgement against sites like Sci-Hub, awarding the publisher $15 million in damages for copyright infringement. The site is also facing legal action from the American Chemical Society.

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A recently published article in The Scientist tells a growingly familiar tale in scholarly publishing: predatory publishers taking advantage of, and often times profiting from, researchers across the globe.

The term “predatory publishers” was coined by University of Colorado Denver librarian, Jeffrey Beall, nearly a decade ago. These publishers disseminate plagiarized or poorly reviewed content, taking advantage of a pay-to-publish open access system by charging authors high prices to disseminate their content while all but eliminating the peer review process. In the case of the article published in The Scientist, these predatory journals even trick established researchers to agree to have their names listed on editorial boards, falsley presenting themselves as credible start-up journals. While this may bolster a journal’s credibility at first glance, it often doesn’t go beyond a name listed on a website, with little to no communication from the journal to the editors.

(RELATED: “For-science or For-profit?”)

And if predatory publishers can’t trick honest researchers, that publisher may just recruit a fake editor. A recent investigation, spearheaded by Nature, found that dozens of academic journals have been recruiting fake editors and offering them a place on their editorial board.

According to reports from the Hanken School of Economics, predatory journals increased their publication volume from 53,000 to 420,000 articles per year between 2010 and 2014. Taking article processing charges into account, the report estimates that all-in-all, the predatory publishing market was worth at $74 million in 2014.

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In May 2017, we sat down with ECS Senior Vice President Yue Kuo and ECS’s newly elected 3rd Vice President Stefan DeGendt at the 231st ECS Meeting in New Orleans. The conversation was led by Roque Calvo, ECS’s executive director and chief executive officer.

Kuo joined ECS in 1995. Since then, he has been named ECS fellow and served as an editor for both the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology. His research efforts have made a tremendous mark on the scientific community, earning him the ECS Gordon E. Moore Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Solid State Science in 2015.

DeGendt is also an ECS fellow and was recently elected to the Society’s board of directors. Since joining ECS in 2000, DeGendt has participated in the organization of several meeting symposia and currently serves as a technical editor of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology.

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ECS OpenCon 2017

By: Delaney Hellman, ECS Development Associate

Open AccessECS is proud to announce that at the upcoming 232nd ECS Meeting, we will be hosting our first OpenCon satellite event! OpenCon is a conference that places a spotlight, produces discussion, and increases collaboration on issues of open access, open science, open data, open source, and open education. Initially hosted by the Right2Research Coalition and SPARC, satellite events can be held by anyone with an interest in the subject matter. As ECS works to advance its Free the Science initiative, we want to be at the forefront of the open discussion in our industry.

The event is completely free to attend on October 1, from 2:00 – 6:00 pm.

Don’t miss speakers from Dryad, The Gates Foundation, SPARC, Center for Open Science, and more.

RSVP as soon as possible: http://www.opencon2017.org/ecs_opencon_2017

By: Delaney Hellman, ECS Development Associate

Sci-Hub launched a few years back when Alexandra Elbakyan of Kazakhstan was struggling to find affordable and relevant research through her institution. Fast forward to 2017 and Sci-Hub serves as one of the most common sites that seeks to circumvent paywalls and provide access to scholarly literature.

While 25 percent of scholarly documents on the web are now open access, thanks to the growing movement, Sci-Hub offers access to around 62 million academic articles. Its unconvincing legality has caught the attention of major proponents of publishing, including Elsevier.

Despite the whirl-wind of controversy surrounding the site’s launch, Sci-Hub data was able to answer some important questions: who needs access to research, what do they need access to, and how much do they lack access to?

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In May 2017, we sat down with ECS journal editors Robert Savinell and Dennis Hess at the 231st ECS Meeting to discuss the future of scholarly publishing, open access, and the Society’s Free the Science initiative. The conversation was led by Rob Gerth, director of marketing and communications at ECS.

In 1978, Savinell became an active member of ECS, serving as an associate editor for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES) in 1984. He was appointed editor of JES in 2013, where he began focusing on continuing the tradition of rigorous review, enhancing timeliness of decision and publication, while transitioning JES to full open access. Savinell has recently been reappointed as editor JES for a three-year period, from May 18, 2017 through May 17, 2020.

Hess became a member of ECS in 1974. He has been active in both the ECS Dielectric Science and Technology and Division and ECS Electronics Division, serving as a divisional editor from 1978 through 1990. Currently, Hess is the editor of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology.

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Sharing the Science

Free the Science Week

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In April 2017, ECS celebrated its first annual Free the Science Week, giving the world a preview of what complete open access to peer-reviewed scientific research will look like.

Free the Science Week is part of ECS’s long-term Free the Science initiative, which will provide free access to the peer-reviewed research in the entire ECS Digital Library, not just for a week, but permanently.

Here are just a few insights from the week:

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By: Elizabeth Gilbert, The Medical University of South Carolina and Katie Corker, Grand Valley State University

ResearchWhat is “open science”?

Open science is a set of practices designed to make scientific processes and results more transparent and accessible to people outside the research team. It includes making complete research materials, data and lab procedures freely available online to anyone. Many scientists are also proponents of open access, a parallel movement involving making research articles available to read without a subscription or access fee.

Why are researchers interested in open science? What problems does it aim to address?

Recent research finds that many published scientific findings might not be reliable. For example, researchers have reported being able to replicate only 40 percent or less of cancer biology results, and a large-scale attempt to replicate 100 recent psychology studies successfully reproduced fewer than half of the original results.

This has come to be called a “reproducibility crisis.” It’s pushed many scientists to look for ways to improve their research practices and increase study reliability. Practicing open science is one way to do so. When scientists share their underlying materials and data, other scientists can more easily evaluate and attempt to replicate them.

Also, open science can help speed scientific discovery. When scientists share their materials and data, others can use and analyze them in new ways, potentially leading to new discoveries. Some journals are specifically dedicated to publishing data sets for reuse (Scientific Data; Journal of Open Psychology Data). A paper in the latter has already been cited 17 times in under three years – nearly all these citations represent new discoveries, sometimes on topics unrelated to the original research.

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