Elsevier Making Deals?

South Korean universities have successfully negotiated a better pricing deal from publishing giant Elsevier, according to a report from Science Magazine. This deal comes after a standoff between the consortium of hundreds of institutions and the publisher, where database access contracts were refused due to exorbitant price increases.

Earlier this month as Elsevier threated to cut access to ScienceDirect, a database containing content from over 3,500 academic journals, the two parties came to an agreement of a subscription price hike of between 3.5 and 3.9 percent, instead of the initial 4.5 percent as pushed by Elsevier.

“We want Elsevier to abolish the minimum flat rate system, in which our universities have to pay for digital content that nobody reads,” Lee Chang Won, secretary general of the Korea University & College Library Association, told Science Magazine.

South Korea’s pushback against Elsevier follows the trend of many similar efforts still underway in Germany, including Projekt DEAL. While over 200 German institutions have already canceled their Elsevier subscriptions in protest of skyrocketing prices, the publisher has still not terminated access, looking to continue negations.

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A new article from The Scholarly Kitchen provides a good summary (and a short read) of a recent action against a particular predatory publisher (OMICS) and why that’s important. As the last, independent nonprofit publisher in the top-ranked journals in our field, ECS lives up to its obligations to the community to maintain very high standards: dedication to mission, rigorous peer review, and transparency in our open access publishing practices.

Commercial publishers represent a major challenge for a scholarly society like ECS to uphold those standards and meet our mission; but the open access environment has created even more challenges. Authors have these same challenges. So it bears repeating that there are some “best practices” to which we should all do our best to adhere: carefully vet journals where we are submitting; create awareness with our various constituents (members, students, colleagues) that there are “good” and “not good” places to publish; and do a periodic Web scan of own own names from time to time to make sure we have not been added to an editorial or advisory board without our knowledge, which can compromise our personal identity and standing in the community.

ECS will continue to work toward its Free the Science goals to create a more open, but responsible, scholarly communications ecosystem.

Open AccessA new open access publication platform for African researchers is set to launch in early 2018. The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) has partnered with open access publisher F1000 to launch AAS Open Research, which will provide a transparent, post-publication peer review system for AAS-funded and affiliated researchers.

By using the F1000 publishing platform, African researchers will be able to immediately publish their work online and gain access to an efficient, transparent peer review. Once the article appears online, F1000 will arrange a peer review that will appear alongside the article. The authors of the work will then have the opportunity to make recommended changes based on the review. Upon passing peer review, the papers will be indexed in abstract databases.

The implementation of this system aims to level the playing field for research in low-income countries, where the perception of the quality of research may be lower than that of higher-income countries. Additionally, it also allows for African researchers to quickly and easily find a home for their work.

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By: Shane Sutton, Dean of University Libraries at the University of Arizona

Open AccessIt’s been a busy summer for open access (OA) in Europe. On one hand, nationally coordinated efforts in places like Finland and Germany have sought (unsuccessfully so far) to pressure Elsevier into better subscription pricing and OA options. On the other hand, a group of early career researchers (ECRs) at the University of Cambridge are looking to mobilize fellow ECRs to embrace open models that are not controlled by commercial entities. In my view, these divergent approaches illustrate why we should focus our collective energies away from strategies in which commercial interests retain control under new economic conditions (see also, proposals to flip subscription payments to APCs), and towards working with ECRs and others who envision a return of scholarly dissemination responsibility to the academy.

One aspect of the Finnish No Deal, No Review boycott that seems especially telling is that signees refuse to serve as reviewers or editors for Elsevier journals, but make no such commitment in terms of ceasing to submit articles to those same journals for publication. That is probably a bridge too far for many who feel compelled to meet traditional promotion and tenure expectations of publishing in prestigious journals that are often controlled by publishers such as Elsevier. While the Finnish position is admirable in a general sense, even if the demands for better economic terms are met, Elsevier would remain a profit-driven conduit through which dissemination occurs, though with slightly less robust profit margins.

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Venkat SubramanianVenkat Subramanian is the Washington Research Foundation Innovation Professor of Chemical Engineering and Clean Energy at the University of Washington. His research efforts focus on computational models to bridge next-generation energy materials to battery management systems. Subramanian has recently been named a new technical editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, concentrating in the electrochemical engineering Topical Interest Area.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role as technical editor?
I am humbled and honored to be a Journal of The Electrochemical Society technical editor and I hope to help improve the impact factor and reach of our journal without losing the rigor we are known for. In particular, the electrochemical engineering topical interest area serves a critical role of taking fundamental electrochemistry to industrial applications. My current aim is to promote both traditional and new industrial applications of electrochemistry across different scales.

What are some of the biggest barriers for authors and for readers in the current publishing model?
Once I had a proposal rejected in my early academic career wherein the reviewer criticized me for not being aware of a recent article. I called the program officer to convey my unfortunate situation of not having access to the specified journal at my institution. While there are interlibrary loans or other such mechanisms, they are not optimal for making progress in research. Research requires instantaneous and immediate access. If you don’t have it, you lose out to your competitors who have such access. Note that every proposal is (and should be) reviewed on its merit and not resources available at a particular institution. Open access is critical for researchers and scientists.

What is the role of the Journal Impact Factor in scientific publishing?
Whether we like it or not, perception matters. Many academic departments have become highly interdisciplinary. Impact factor plays a big role in tenure and promotion decisions and there may be only one faculty member working in the field of electrochemistry. While I personally don’t read or benefit much from journals with high impact factor*, I will strive hard to promote and improve the impact factor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and the perception about ECS journals in the scientific community.

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For-science or For-profit?

Overcoming barriers in scholarly publishing

ResearchIn 1995, Forbes published an article entitled, “The Internet’s first victim?” In the article, author John Hayes predicted the world of commercial, for-profit scholarly publishing would suffer under the thumb of the internet and begin the slow process of fizzling out for lack of ability to turn a profit.

Turns out he was wrong.

Commercial scientific publishing has adapted to the times, becoming a multi-billion dollar industry; a $25.2 billion industry to be exact.

The rise of the for-profits

According to CBC News, the top for-profit scientific publishers report profit margins of nearly 40 percent, making some of those margins even higher than that of companies like Apple and Google.

The divide between ECS publications and that of top commercial publishers has deep roots. In the early days of scientific publishing, most journals came out of nonprofit scientific societies like ECS. However, the digital age changed things. It did not stifle the commercial publisher as Hayes thought, instead it hurt the scientific societies. Because the cost to make the switch from print to digital was so high, many societies sold their journals to large, for-profit publishers.

The top five largest, for-profit, academic publishers now publish 53 percent of all scientific papers in natural and medical sciences, but ECS still remains as one of the last independent scientific society publishers, and is still committed to the initial vision of the journals: to disseminate scientific research to the broadest possible audience with the fewest barriers.

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September 28-October 2, 2015 is the first Peer Review Week, and it’s a good a time to put a spotlight on good practice in peer review and celebrate all it brings to the scholarly communication process. At ECS, we are marking Peer Review Week with a look at how peer review works here, and what happens to your manuscript after you submit it.

Our authors already know that the preparation and submission of a scientific manuscript for peer review can be a lengthy process, involving not just the research work and writing of the paper, but also the collection of supporting pieces of information required to enable publication.

But what happens after you hit the “Submit” button?

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peer review weekThis week (September 28-October 2, 2015) marks the first-ever Peer Review Week, a community-driven movement to discuss and celebrate the peer review process. Peer Review Week serves as a forum to take a deeper look at the heart of scholarly communications.

Peer review is not only critical for assuring high-quality science is published, it is also a crucial part of how society perceives published science and how reputable it is to the world at large.

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Celebrating Open Access Week

OpenAccess3

Open access allows free, immediate, online access to peer-reviewed research with full rights to reuse the work.

This week has been declared International Open Access Week. Here at ECS, we’re boldly moving toward open access (OA) publication to make scientific research results and the latest findings more widely accessible, and thereby speeding up the discovery process.

Still, open access can be confusing and controversial at times – specifically for publishers. In order to explain many of the issues and concerns revolving around open access, a few OA advocates have banded together and took to Reddit’s popular “Ask me Anything” series.

Head over there now to see what they had to say about all things open access.

Note to ECS Subscribers about Swets

Swets logo

Subsidiaries of the distressed Dutch publisher Swets are up for sale after an attempt to sell the group fell through.

As you may know, Swets Information Services  has recently been receiving much attention because of its current financial position.

This news places both publishers and libraries who work with Swets in a difficult position.

We are happy to help subscribers through this situation.

If you have any questions about your subscription or any other matter we can help you with, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Subscriber.services@electrochem.org

And if you aren’t a subscriber, visit the ECS Digital Library and see what we have to offer.

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