Open Access: the Future is Diamond

As it was foretold the Council of Europe has now released a document (PDF) that calls for “transparent, equitable, and open access to scholarly publications”.  In its conclusions, the Council calls on the Commission and the member states to support policies towards a scholarly publishing model that is not-for-profit, open access and multi-format, with no costs for authors or readers. In other words, it calls for Diamond Open Access. The covering press release includes:

If we really believe in open science, we need to make sure that researchers can make their findings available and re-usable and that high-quality scientific articles are openly accessible to anyone that needs to read them. This should be particularly the case for research that benefits from public funding: what has been paid by all should be accessible to all.

Mats Persson, Swedish Minister for Education, Ministry of Education and Research

This is clearly how Open Access should be, though I am still worried that the sizeable publishing lobby will still try to persuade research agencies and institutions to pay the existing fees on behalf of authors, which does not solve the problem but merely hides it.

I know I’m not alone in thinking that the current publishing ecosystem is doomed and will die a natural death soon enough. The replacement should be a worldwide network of institutional and/or subject-based repositories that share research literature freely for the common good. Universities and research centres should simply bypass the grotesque parasite that is the publishing industry. Indeed, I would be in favour of hastening the demise of the Academic Journal Racket by having institutions make it a disciplinary offence for any researcher to pay an APC to any journal.

We are lucky in physics and astronomy because arXiv has already done the hard work for us. With the existence of arXiv, old-style journals are no longer necessary. It is great that arXiv is being joined by similar ventures in other fields, such as BiorXiv and EarthArxiv. A list of existing repositories can be found here. I’m sure many more will follow. The future is Diamond.

What is needed is a global effort to link these repositories to each other and to peer review mechanisms. One way is through overlays as demonstrated by the Open Journal of Astrophysics, there being no reason why the idea can’t be extended beyond arXiv. Other routes are possible, of course, and I would love to see different models developed. I hope the European Council call will result in more support for Diamond Open Access. But whether this happens or not, I think the next few years are going to be very exciting.

8 Responses to “Open Access: the Future is Diamond”

  1. Francis Says:

    The key phrase is ‘not for profit’. My understanding is that academic publishing (of research papers at least) is the one of the most profitable areas of the publishing companies. So I am sure they will push back.

  2. Francis Says:

    Do you know if schemes such as ERC sign up to DORA? That is, assessors are explicitly told not to use JIF as a measure of quality of a paper?

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    I was staggered when I learnt (at this blog?) that academic publishing is worth twice as much as the music business worldwide, although I don’t know how much of that money is in undergraduate and high school textbooks.

    If the EC has its own funds then can it implement this suggestion itself?

    “I would be in favour of hastening the demise of the Academic Journal Racket by having institutions make it a disciplinary offence for any researcher to pay an APC to any journal.”

    Employed researchers should be allowed to do this out of their own pocket, so I’d rather just warn department heads that if any money coming from government is used for APCs then there will be a swingeing financial penalty in the next academic year. You also need to be careful not to hammer the entirely reasonable small charges that Open J Astrophysics (what it its approved abbreviation, by the way?) levies. One problem is that doing it in this way rules out payment to referees for their services, which arguably they should demand.

    But yes, the future is bright. I wonder how slimmed-down the IOP, AIP and similar bodies in other subjects will look after the dust has settled and revenue from their publishing arm has withered? At present they are in a clear conflict of interest with their members.

    • telescoper Says:

      I think there will be moves from the ERC or national agencies to assist the development of not-for-profit publishing. I would prefer there not to be a heavy handed top-down approach, as such things have failed in the past.

      Currently the Open Journal of Astrophysics (official abbreviation OJAp) does not levy any charges – these are covered by grants as the costs are small. I hope to keep it that way but if we start publishing huge quantities of papers we might have to find extra funding from somewhere.

      You mention the music business. The comparison is strictly with the *recorded* music business, excluding streaming, whose revenues have been falling steeply for some time while those of scholarly publishing have been rising.

  4. […] week or so ago I mentioned that the European Council had adopted a text that calls for the EU Commission and Member States to […]

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