WordPress as a tool for the publication of scientific journals

Creator: Nate Steiner, picture available under CC0-Licence V 1.0 from https://www.flickr.com/photos/nate/284184160/

Yesterday, Piotr Otręba asked on the Radical Open Access mailing list for themes and plugins to use WordPress as an Open Access Repository. I also spent some time on this question and answered with this message: “I used annotum in the past to run journals as a test, but it is outdated, http://blogs.plos.org/mfenner/2011/06/30/annotum-publishing-with-wordpress-soon-coming-to-a-journal-near-you/. As far as I see, there are unfortunately only several plugins that simulate some repository functions in parts, e.g. ScholarPress Coins, Enhanced Publication, OAI-ORE Resource Map. However, these have very few users, so it is difficult to say how reliable and sustainable they are. Perhaps a crowd funding campaign for a wordpress-repository theme/plugin might be an option …”

This morning I read another answer (from Mathew Arthur, Co-Editor in chief and WordPress-publisher of the Open Access journal Capacious) which is a kind of late Christmas gift. Mathew describes in detail (and by using many screen shots) the necessary adaptations to run a scientific journal using WordPress, which fulfills expectations technically as well as organizationally (peer review) and is at the same time much more flexible than OJS. Here is a quote from Mathew’s message: “Using WordPress with only a few plugins (…) and filters in the theme functions.php file, the Capacious platform includes a robust online article submission, revision, and online publishing architecture. Each submission entity is tracked throughout review, editorial, and typesetting processes all the way through to publication and each article and all its associated blind review comments, edits, and assets are accessible from an intuitive administrative dashboard. Article pdfs are generated dynamically from the same submission entity and assigned a digital object identifier (DOI).” The Google Scholar indexing also seems to run smoothly.

There is almost always something to improve and maybe this also applies to these WordPress adaptations, but there may be interest in working together to address any improvements. In consideration of the frequent questions to me about using WordPress as a journal platform, I would be pleased.


Concentration in Commercial Open Access: Data from the University of Stockholm

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Photo by h_pampel

Stockholm University Library  has monitored gold and hybrid publication charges (or Article Processing Charges APCs) for Open Access publishing at Stockholm University. The results are published on OpenAccess.se in a short posting  by Lisa Lovén and
Liisa Hänninen.

The University of Stockholm has spent 2.967.093 Swedish Krona (SEK) between January and August 2017 for APCs.  Of this total, 60% were paid for Hybrid Open Access APCs and 40% were paid for Gold Open Access APCs. The data show that these four publishers have received more than half of all paid APCs, 1.662.896 SEK:

  • Elsevier: 639.054 SEK
  • Wiley: 583.826 SEK
  • Frontiers: 234.672 SEK
  • Nature Publishing Group: 205.344 SEK
Illustration by Lisa Lovén and Liisa Hänninen, taken from http://openaccess.blogg.kb.se/2017/11/20/lisa-loven-apc-kartlaggning-su/#more-3935, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License

By the way, Springer ranks eleventh with 67.857 SEK, behind BioMed Central (74.535 SEK).

Lisa Lovén and Liisa Hänninen comment this as follows (translated by the author of this article): “The results reinforce the image that has been reported so far, both nationally and internationally, and show that the commercial approach of Elsevier and Wiley is top of the league, long before anyone else”

Similar concentration effects can also be found in Germany (see slides 9 to 13 of this presentation), where in 2016 49.59% of the APC payments reported by the OpenAPC project went to Springer Nature, Elsevier, and Wiley. If one considers frontiers as part of Springer Nature, the share increases to 55.5%.



Does the success of Sci-Hub and Guerilla Access prove that Open Access has failed?

open access buttons photo
Photo by h_pampel

Toby Green published an article dealing with new impulses for Open Access. The starting point is the success of Sci-Hub. First, he explains his key points:

  • “Sci-Hub has made nearly all articles freely available using a black open access model, leaving green and gold models in its dust”
  • “Why, after 20 years of effort, have green and gold open access not achieved more? Do we need ‘tae think again’?”
  • “If human nature is to postpone change for as long as possible, are green and gold open access fundamentally flawed?”
  • “Open and closed publishing models depend on bundle pricing paid by one stake-holder, the others getting a free ride. Is unbundling a fairer model?”
  • “If publishers changed course and unbundled their product, would this open a legal, fairer route to 100% open access and see off the pirates?”

He notes that the success of Sci-Hub and Guerilla Open Access proves that Open Access Gold and Green Open Access failed. According to Green, the unbundling known from aviation could strengthen Open Access: “In the traditional airline industry model, to get to B from A, one used to purchase a ticket, which covered the cost of a travel bundle: you were carried, fed, watered, entertained, and could take as much or as little baggage as you wanted. Today, led by low-cost airlines, the product has been unbundled: food, drinks, seat allocation, baggage, changing tickets, and even the way you pay are now being priced as extras to the core service of getting you to B from A.”

From the conclusion: “I suggest that we might be encouraged by the airline industry and unbundle the product. This would make all content free to read, answering the plea that the results of publicly funded research be available to the public, reveal the true values for the existing bundle’s component parts, and lead to a situation where each stakeholder has the choice to pay for the particular benefit they get from the scholarly communication process. This might prove to be a fairer, cheaper, more sustainable, and less controversial model in the long run.”

This is the bibliographical information for Toby Green’s article:

Green, T. (2017). We’ve failed: Pirate black open access is trumping green and gold and we must change our approach. Learned Publishing, 30(4). DOI:10.1002/leap.1116, http://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1116

Funding for Alternative Funding Mechanisms for non-author fee based Open Access Publishing

Open Access buttons photo
Photo by h_pampel

Not only the The Jussieu Call for Open Science and Bibliodiversity but also the European Union as a research funder seems to be paying attention to the problem of the commercialisation of Gold Open Access.

As OpenAire has posted the EU published a Call for proposals for Alternative Funding Mechanism for non-author fee based Open Access Publishing. Particularly noteworthy: not only article publication charges are mentioned but also book publication charges. The application procedure will be open until November 9, midnight CEST. The maximum total budget is 200,000 € and will be located to as many projects the selection board deems suitable with an upper limit of 50 000€ per application

From the posting: “The OpenAIRE EC FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot is pleased to announce a new call for bids, this time to support open access publishing initiatives (see definition below) that intend to experiment with sustainable funding models alternative to author facing  article/book processing charges (APC/BPC, hereafter referred to as ‘author fees’). The first call was focused on facilitating technical improvements for existing OA journals and platforms (the results are available in this final report)

With this second call, we want to acknowledge the efforts that are being made, within the OA publishing landscape, to develop, pilot, and apply business models other than author fee based ones. We want to support ongoing and new initiatives that put an effort in investigating or experimenting with sustainable and scalable alternative business models. We want to support both start-up initiatives during the planning and launching stages and/or publishing initiatives that want to transition from one business model to another. We also welcome Research & Development initiatives, provided that the results will be made public and reusable. 

As this call is embedded within the OpenAIRE project, all eligible initiatives will have to prove that a number of FP7/H2020 publications will be published by it. The total budget available is € 200 000.”

Elsevier & Open Access: “the primary reason to transition to gold open access should not be to save money”

ElsevierToday Elsevier published its vision of Open Access, written by Gemma Hersh, and suggests a route that is neither green nor gold, but a mixture of it, one could say blue Open Access: Articles published by European institutions should be available Gold Open Access within Europe and – if deposited on a repository – Green Open Access outside of Europe. It is also made clear that Elsevier’s Gold Open Access will be expensive.

These are some of the key statements:

  • As about 80 percent of all journal articles are still  published in Closed Access journals, Green Open Access will remain an important Open Access strategy.
  • Elsevier considers Europe “a region where a transition to fully gold open access is likely to be most cost-neutral”.  According to Elsevier this is not the case for “other research-intensive countries such as the US, China and Japan”.
  • Elsevier suggests that for Europe it would be recommendable to “enable European articles to be available gold open access within Europe and green open access outside of Europe.” Somehow in the mentioned green-golden mixture.
  • Referring to a paper of the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) Elsevier continues to explain “that average APCs would need to rise to fund the infrastructure currently paid for via the 80 percent of articles published under the subscription model. In any event, APCs are likely to be higher than they are today even just accounting for inflation and the continuing global growth in research output, which is currently about 4 percent a year.”
  • Furthermore, funding for global Gold Open Access would also have to replace subscription revenues from commercial enterprises or other non HE-institutions. According to Elsevier, these account for 25% of the income in the Cosed Access model.
  • Elsevier also emphasizes the transitions costs in a mixed Gold Open Access and Closed Access era: “In a world where more than 80 percent of articles continue to be published under the subscription model, any country that moves to gold open access first would need to pay to broadcast its articles while also continuing to subscribe to the rest of the world’s content published under the subscription model if they want to retain access to articles published elsewhere (and not supported by gold OA).”

The core message of the text summarizes all this and sheds light on the further price development to be expected by Elsevier: “We [Elsevier] believe that the primary reason to transition to gold open access should not be to save money”.

Open Access: Von Inklusion zu Exklusivität?

Anlässlich der Open-Access-Tage 2017 in Dresden referierte ich in der Session “Debatten” dazu, inwiefern sich Open Access zu einem kommerziellen und exklusiven Modell entwickelt. Die Folien zum Vortrag sind via slideshare verfügbar und auf dieser Seite eingebettet.

Es existiert auch eine zitierfähige Version auf Zenodo:
Herb, Ulrich (2017). Open Access: Von Inklusion zu Exklusivität?  DOI:10.5281/zenodo.1001901

Hier der Abstract zu meinem Vortrag: “Open Access scheint sich gewandelt zu haben. Um die Jahrtausendwende wurde er in Fach- und journalistischen Publikationen romantisierend dargestellt und war in ein Begriffsensemble aus Partizipation, Nivellierung, Demokratisierung, digitaler Allmende und Gleichberechtigung eingeordnet. Heute scheint Open Access exklusiver zu werden: In dem Maß, indem kommerzielle Akteure ihn als Geschäftsmodell entdeckten und Artikelgebühren zu einem prägenden Merkmal des goldenen Open Access wurden, entwickelte sich Open Access zusehends zu einem Exzellenzmerkmal und Exklusivitätsfaktor. Wissenschaftler beginnen mittlerweile die Wahl einer Hochschule oder Forschungseinrichtung als Arbeitgeber auch danach zu richten, ob diese anfallende Artikelgebühren in impact-trächtigen, aber hochpreisigen Journalen übernehmen wollen. Erstaunlicherweise wird diese Wandelung des Open Access weder in Fach- noch journalistischen Publikationen nennenswert thematisiert, vielmehr herrscht hier immer noch die Vorstellung der digitalen Wissensallmende. Dieser Beitrag führt die These aus, Open Access sei dabei von einem wissenschaftssozialen Unterfangen zu einem gewinnmaximierenden und Exklusivität wie Distinktion herstellenden Projekt zu werden.”

Open Access wird, so der Tenor des Vortrages, zusehends zu einem Instrument, das Exklusivität, Exklusion, Distinktion und Prestige herstellt. Diese Funktionen werden jedoch durch Strategien des symbolischen Schenkens als altruistisch inszeniert, so dass in der internen Darstellung der Open Access Community wie in der medialen Berichterstattung über Open Access das gleichermaßen beschönigende wie weitgehend überholte prosoziale Story-Telling des Open Access dominiert.

Der Beitrag ist eine Kurzfassung zu meinem Artikel in einer Ende des Jahres erscheinenden Anthologie, die von Joachim Schöpfel und mir herausgegeben wird:

Open Divide? Critical Studies on Open Access
Editors: Ulrich Herb and Joachim Schöpfel
Price: $35.00
Expected: Fall 2017
Publisher: Litwin Books
ISBN: 978-1-63400-029-1

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CERN’s new Open Access Policy requires scientists to publish instrumentation articles

instruments photo
Photo by shellac

The Open Access Policy of the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN has been published in October 2014 and was updated some weeks ago. It now requires not only all CERN physics results to be published Open Access but also instrumentation articles. The posting on the CERN’s homepage mentions even mentions Open Access instrumentation journals:


Commercial Open Access Publishers in the DOAJ

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Photo by h_pampel

On August 1, 2017, 9,621 journals were listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).Only 32 publishers published more than 20 of these journals and thus have a quantitatively significant influence on Open Access. PLOS can not be found among them, but still has influence – more qualitative than quantitative.

These 32 publishers publish 2,950 journals, which are 31% of all journals listed in the DOAJ.

At this date, the DOAJ reported 7,474 publishers, thus 0.43% of all DOAJ-listed publishers produced 31% of the journals.

Of these 2,950 journals, 1,641 (56%) are in the hand of publishers who already dominate the market in the subscription model: e.g.Elsevier, Springer Nature (including BioMed Central, Frontiers), Wiley, SAGE, De Gruyter, Taylor & Francis, OUP, Wolters Kluwer).

For more information please see the data deposited on Zenodo:
Herb, U. (2017, August 2). Publishers of journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). http://doi.org/10.5281/ZENODO.838022

Elsevier gegen die Schattenbibliotheken

sci-hub photo
Photo by DustMoon.Com

Elsevier und die American Chemical Society verklagen die Schattenbibliothek Sci-Hub, die unter Ignoranz des Copyrights wissenschaftliche Publikationen en masse kostenlos anbietet. Derweil stocken die Verhandlungen der Hochschulrektorenkonferenz mit Elsevier im Projekt DEAL, das ein landesweites Konsortium zum Bezug von Literatur aus dem Portfolio des Verlages inklusive Optionen zum Open-Access-Publizieren für deutsche Wissenschaftler anstrebt. Eine Stimmungslage dazu in Telepolis – mit Verweis auf Überlegungen zu einem legalen Sci-Hub, mit dem Elsevier gut leben könnte, das Bibliotheken aber noch obsoleter machen würde als die illegale Variante: Sieg ohne Wert gegen die Schattenbibliotheken?

Neues von Scholastica: Templates für einfaches Journal-Customizing

Scholastica kündigte kürzlich den Launch einer neuen Funktion an, die es Journal-Herausgebern erlauben soll, das Design ihrer Online-Zeitschrift mittels Templates sehr einfach zu änderen. Tiefergehendes technisches Verständnis ist laut Scholastica-Posting nicht erforderlich. Als Vorteile nennt man unter anderem:

  • Content wird für die Indexierung in Google Scholar aufbereitet,
  • automatisches Bereitstellen einer Seiten-Version für mobile Devices,
  • Anbieten von Metadaten, die in der Wissenschaft gebräuchlich sind (genaueres konnte ich auf den ersten Blick nicht dazu finden, vielleicht meint man COinS),
  • Anpassen des Designs im Stile eines Worpress-Templates oder einer Squarespace-Instanz.

Dazu kommen Funktionalitäten, die Scholastica gehosteten Journalen auch bisher schon anbietet, wie etwa der Peer Review Workflow. Anscheinend werden für die Nutzung der Templates keine höheren Gebühren fällig als die bereits bekannten 10 US-Dollar pro publiziertem Artikel.