Showing posts with label publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label publishing. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

How "open" is "Open Access"

As the Open Access model becomes increasingly important for public knowledge dissemination, some agencies with vested interests have begun to complicate matters by introducing hybrid publishing models.  Some of these are not fully in the interests of authors or readers.

PLOS has a great discussion about the issues at stake, and they refer to the OAS brochure, which is provided in many languages.

The second page of this OAS brochure is very short, clear and helpful.  Recommended!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Open letter to MLBD about their publishing Mein Kampf

Update, 21 May 2014
Motilal Banarsidass responded graciously, rapidly and positively to this letter and the petition, and agreed to stop distributing the book.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Resources for OA book publication

My post "Some OA journals that publish S-Asia related research," was self-evidently devoted to journals.

There is also a growing field of services for publishing OA books.  Some research funding agencies, such as the FWF in Austria, require contractually that books too should be published OA.  To me, the business model for OA book publishing is less clear than that for journals, and I see many difficulties.  Nevertheless, the field is growing.

Some resources:
  • Directory of Open Access Books

    "The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books. Academic publishers are invited to provide metadata of their Open Access books to DOAB. Metadata will be harvestable in order to maximize dissemination, visibility and impact."
  • Knowledge Unlatched

    "Knowledge Unlatched is a not-for-profit organisation committed to helping global communities share the costs of Open Access publishing so that good books continue to be published and more readers are able to engage with them."
  • Open Humanities Press

    "The basic idea is simple: making peer-reviewed literature permanently available, free of charge and freely redistributable by taking advantage of the low cost and wide access of internet distribution." ... "After looking at the various efforts underway, we concluded that an editorially-driven international press, focused on building respect through its brand, is what is required to tackle the digital 'credibility' problem. With OHP, we aim to emulate the strengths and flexibility of commercial presses, while avoiding the institutional limitations of the university-based e-presses."
  • Open Edition

    "OpenEdition is the umbrella portal for OpenEdition Books,, Hypotheses and Calenda, four platforms dedicated to electronic resources in the humanities and social sciences."
  • Open Edition Books

    "OpenEdition Books est une plateforme de livres en sciences humaines et sociales. Plus de la moitié d'entre eux est en libre accès. Des services complémentaires sont proposés via les bibliothèques et institutions abonnées."
  • Open Access Publishing European Network

    "Online library and publication platform.  The OAPEN Library contains freely accessible academic books, mainly in the area of Humanities and Social Sciences. OAPEN works with publishers to build a quality controlled collection of Open Access books, and provides services for publishers, libraries and research funders in the areas of dissemination, quality assurance and digital preservation."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Changing publication models

With the growth of good desktop document processing software and the universality of good, free Unicode fonts, it is now entirely feasible for an individual to produce excellent camera-ready copy of an academic book for themselves, with modest effort over a modest period of time.

With services like Lulu and Createspace, the transition from a PDF on your computer to a hard-bound, published book sold online and through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., is also very easy and cheap.  I mean, less than about $100, total cost.  I did a book with Lulu a couple of years ago (my father's memoirs), and I paid $60 to cover distribution through Amazon and all other big bookshops and online services.  Everything else was free.  The book is large, 650 pages, and costs about $50 for hardback, with free shipping in the USA (e.g., Amazon, B&N).    I also made the PDF downloadable directly from Lulu at $12.

What does all this mean?

What it means is that publishers are no longer necessary for performing the traditional roles of book production and distribution.   Authors can now do this satisfactorily for themselves at marginal cost, high quality, and with international distribution.

What remains?  What I call "Gatekeeping" services.  With today's deluge of free online resources, what we all really do need is someone to take responsibility for guaranteeing high intellectual quality.  Trustworthiness.

Traditionally, this was also a role performed by some publishers, especially the university presses.  A book on Buddhism from Cambridge University Press *should* be of a different calibre from a book on Buddhism from, say, Harlequin or Mills & Boon.   The good academic publishers acted as gatekeepers, offering an implicit guarantee of intellectual quality.

But if you look more closely at this arrangement, the university presses rely heavily on the free services of university staff for refereeing, book acquisition, series curation, and sometimes even content-editing and copy-editing.  In-house copy-editing was usual, however, and often of a high standard.

Another service that a big university press provides is prestige.  A young scholar with a book published by Princeton is likely to do better at getting a job than another with a book published with a publisher of less prestige.  This is because appointment committees are willing to take the implied quality-guarantee of Princeton UP.  But again, Princeton only publishes books because unpaid academic referees at universities give the thumbs-up.  The process is circular.

What does all this mean?

If books can be produced and distributed by academics themselves, and refereed and edited by them too, what is left for publishers?  Not much, I think, unless they dramatically change their business and service models.  

What we see going on today, I believe, are the last convulsions of a dying industry.  Yes, they're making a lot of money, but only because of the inertia and uncertainty of academics.  What used to be called FUD ("fear, uncertainty and doubt").  The upcoming younger generation of scholars with different preconceptions will probably not be so smitten by the prestige of old publishing houses, and will be more adept at self-publishing.

What remains is the need for gatekeeping, for the guaranteeing of quality.  If publishers really took that seriously, and divorced their editorial selections and quality judgements from their need to remain profitable, then they might salvage for themselves a genuine role in the future.  I cannot see a way in which genuine academic quality can be guaranteed by an institution that simultaneously has to satisfy criteria of profitability.  As long as their are two goals - quality and profit - there will inevitably arise cases of conflict and compromise.  In short, gatekeeping is the job of (publicly-funded) university staff, not a (commercial) publisher.

The alternative to this is that university staff take back into their own hands all the processes of the production and distribution of knowledge.  In fact, this is the change that the major funding bodies are pressing upon us, with the widespread requirement that publicly-funded academic research be published Open Access.  It is also the original idea of the university press.

Here's a hypothetical model for a future academic book series. 

  • Author on a research grant or university salary writes a book. 
  • The book is typeset using LibreOffice or TeX.  The university department provides some secretarial support to help, or some money from the research grant pays for smart word-processing by an agency.
  • The book is sent to an external commercial copy-editing company to tidy up the details.  A smart, accurate PDF results. 
    This is paid for by the university department, or out of the research grant (this is already common).
  • The PDF is submitted to a panel of academics somewhere who curate a book series, judging the intellectual quality of the submissions.  The book is accepted as an important intellectual contribution..
  • The PDF is uploaded to or Createspace, where it is turned into a print-on-demand hardback book for sale internationally through Amazon etc., and in bookshops. 
    Lulu are the printers and distributors. 
    The ISBN is provided by the university department, so they are the publishers, not Lulu.  
  • The book is advertised through a prestige university website that promotes the book as an intellectual contribution, contextualizes it as a university-curated product, and made available for sale through a simple click link to PayPal, Amazon, etc.  The university's series name is printed in the book, and splashed all over the website.
Ooops: high quality production, high quality intellectual content, university curation, international sales, but no "traditional" publisher!

Please blow holes in what I've said. There must be an elephant in the room that I'm not seeing.

(reproduced from my post to the INDOLOGY discussion list, 15 May 2013)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some OA journals that publish S-Asia related research

Name and URL online print Fee?* Copyright Licence, etc. DOAJ
------- ------- ------ -------- ------------ ---------------- ------
Himalaya Y N N not stated CC DOAJ
Studia Orientalia Electronica Y N N Author's Full OA license no entry
वागर्थः (An International Journal of Sanskrit Research) Y Y ₹ 5900/- unstated unstated but OA no entry
KERVAN - International Journal of Afro-Asiatic Studies Y N N author CC-BY no entry
Social Sciences Y Y N author Open Access DOAJ
Journal of World Philosophies (formerly Confluence) Y N N journal CC BY no entry
Journal of Bengali Studies Y N? N author a benign muddle DOAJ
Acta Poética Y N? N journal CC BY-NC DOAJ
Linguistica Y Y? N author CC BY-SA DOAJ
Hiperboreea Y N? N journal CC BY-NC-ND DOAJ
Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis Y ? N journal CC BY-NC-ND DOAJ
Ancient Science of Life Y Y N journal CC BY-NC-SA DOAJ
Asian Studies Y N N author CC BY-SA DOAJ
Acta Linguistica Asiatica Y N N author CC BY-SA DOAJ
South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal Y N N journal CC BY-NC-ND DOAJ
Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine Y Y N journal CC BY-NC-SA DOAJ
Journal of Ayurveda and Holistic Medicine Y N? Rs.1500/- for Indian nationals journal CC BY-NC-SA
History of Science in South Asia Y Y N author CC BY-SA DOAJ
Asian Literature and Translation Y not yet N author CC
Ancient Asia Y N? N? author CC BY DOAJ
Approaching Religion Y N? N?
Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception Y Y, price to be decided N author
Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde Y N N journal CC BY-NC DOAJ
Asian Social Science Y Y $300
Studi Linguistici e Filologici Online Y N N
eJIM - eJournal of Indian Medicine Y Y, cost N
Journal of History and Social Sciences Y N N?
Annals of Ayurvedic Medicine Y N N
Rivista di Studi Sudasiatici Y Y N
Himalayan Linguistics Y N N
Journal of South Asian Linguistics Y N N?
Annual of Urdu Studies Y Y, cost N
Pacific WorldJournal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies Y Y, free N? publisher
Health, Culture and Society Y N N author CC BY DOAJ
Open Journal of Philosophy Y N $400 + $50 per p. above 10 pp. publisher
International Journal of Jaina Studies Y Y, on demand N publisher Print copies handled by Hindi Granth Karyalay in Mumbai
Asian Ethnology olim Asian Folklore Studies Y Y N publisher
Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies Y N N? restricted OA policy
Transcultural Studies Y N N

And see the India-related list maintained by Scholars Without Borders (mostly science and medicine):

Saying that a journal is OA still leaves some critical questions unanswered.  E.g.,
  1. Is there a "going in" fee, or Article Processing Fee (APF)?
    One of the items in the list above charges $300.  Several of the big houses like Brill, Elsevier and Springer will also publish your article as OA, even in an otherwise non-OA journal, if you pay them enough.  Their APF prices are typically $3000 (Springer, Elsevier).  I am not interested in including such journals in the list above, as I consider anything above $300-500 to be profiteering.  APFs of $300-500 are typical of some even very large OA publishers like Hindawi, proving that this is a valid business model. 
    Quite apart from my personal view, I do not think APF fees of $3000 meet most people's normal expectation of the meaning of an Open Access journal.  As South Asianists, we are interested in access for both readers and authors in countries where scholars are relatively poor.  A high APF mutes less wealthy authors.  As such, both Gratis OA and low or zero APFs are indexes of relevance.
  2. Copyright: being OA means that whoever owns the copyright has given permission for the article to be disseminated at zero cost.  But it doesn't say anything about who owns the copyright of the article.  Many OA journals allow the authors to retain copyright, but not all.
  3. Is the journal online-only, or both online and in print?
  4. The online version is free by definition, but the print issues would usually cost something.  How much?
  5. Is the journal indexed by the main global indexing services?
  6. Is the journal peer-reviewed? Strongly or weakly?
More distinctions (e.g., Gratis OA (free of price) and Libre OA (free of price and rights restrictions)) and discussion in Wikipedia (consulted 13 Feb 2012).  The Sherpa/Romeo website helps with some of this.

I'm putting some indicators in parentheses after the journal title, for those cases where I can find out the information without correspondence.

It is often hard to find out these facts from the journals' websites.  This suggests to me that for some of the editors, the various business models of OA publishing are not always well understood.

*APF = Article Processing Fee, a fee that the publisher charges the author or the author's institution for publication in the Open Access journal.  See discussion in Wikipedia (consulted 12 Feb 2012).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Business models for Open Access journals

It seems to be becoming clear that OA publishing will come to be the dominant model for academic periodical publications.  This change is happening rapidly in Science, Technology and Medicine publishing.  It can be expected that Humanities journals will eventually follow in even greater numbers than at present.

As things change, some interesting new business models are emerging.  See, for example.  It turns on its head the idea of subscribing to a learned society and getting the society's journal.  Quite fascinating. 

See also the new OA projects by CUP, (£500 publishing fee) and especially Tim Gowers' blog., that describes several key points clearly.

Some of my own thoughts

In August 2008 I did some brain-storming on this subject with my friends C. V. Radhakrishnan and Kaveh Bazargan.  Here are some of my notes from those exchanges.

I was thinking about this problem that if the funding model changes from "reader pays" to "author pays", then not everyone could afford to publish.  Independent scholars, or those at 3rd world universities, might be priced out of publication.
  1. An OA journal *must* consider itself free to publish good peer-reviewed research, whether or not there's funding.  So there has to be a "let-out" or discretionary waiver clause in any statement about pricing.
  2. Would it be feasible for the journal to have a sliding scale of charges that is directly keyed to the budget of the institution to which the author belongs?  University budgets should be publicly available somewhere, shouldn't they?  It might take a bit of work to track them down, but it could be done.  Or the authors could simply be asked to provide that information.  In any case, if a university has a big endowment or annual budget, then their staff would be charged more to publish in the journal, and v.v.  Independent scholars would be free (?) or <$100. 

    The general idea is that a scholar from Cambridge Univ. or the TIFR, Bombay, could be charged $500 to publish an article in our hypothetical OA journal, on the assumption that his department has a budget for this (an "article processing fee").  Whereas Prof. Shivaramakrishna from a Jnanamatha in Trichy, or a Dr Salvador from Havana Univ., could be permitted to publish at $30.

    Or if direct keying is not easy to implement, there could at least be general funding bands: we could find somebody else's ranking, perhaps UNESCO, for national education budgets, or educational funding, and use those as bands for submission charges.
  3. Here's an important tweak.  I think this kind of banded charging can be thought of a bit like Google's AdSense advertising system.  Basically, the university is paying to have its name associated with the research that is published.  So at the top of the article it says,

      Dominik Wujastyk
      University College London
      [university address]

    and the University pays the journal $100 (or whatever) for document processing.

    However, if I - as an author - choose, I can say instead,

       Dominik Wujastyk
       Independent Scholar
       [home address]

    and then there would be no charge for document processing.

    It wouldn't matter to the journal whether it was actually true or not that DW was an "independent scholar". The point is, if there's no payment, then the university or research sponsor doesn't get its name mentioned, and is therefore not formally associated with the research. This treats the association of the university's name with the research rather like advertising or product placement.

    Most research contracts require the academic to include acknowledgement in his publications of the source of the funding. "This research was carried out under grant 123456789 of the National Science Foundation". So if the NSF is making such a requirement, they have to pay for it to be done. It's quite like advertising.

Copyright changes: updates

Changes may be afoot in the realm of academic copyright.  For a note about the situation in the UK and continental Europe, see the note in ALCS News, January 2013

See also Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, the  independent report by Professor Ian Hargreaves (2011).  Table of contents:
Foreword by Ian Hargreaves     01   
Executive Summary     03
Chapter 1 Intellectual Property and Growth     10
Chapter 2 The Evidence Base     16
Chapter 3 The International Context     21
Chapter 4 Copyright Licensing: a Moment of Opportunity     26
Chapter 5 Copyright: Exceptions for the Digital Age     41
Chapter 6 Patents     53
Chapter 7 Designs     64
Chapter 8 Enforcement and Disputes     67
Chapter 9 SMEs and the IP Framework     86
Chapter 10 An Adaptive IP Framework      91
Chapter 11 Impact     97
Annex A Terms of Reference     101
Annex B Stakeholders Met during Review of IP and Growth     102
Annex C Call for Evidence Submissions     105
Annex D List of Supporting Documents     

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Publishing in Medical History: The author's view

If I am an author coming to Medical History today, with a view to submitting my article for publication, what can I expect?

Copyright and free, online access

The journal's website has the statement reproduced in the Appendix below (after "Read more>>").  The website used to have CUP's normal "Transfer of Copyright" and OA conditions too, but these appear to have been removed recently (see image right).
Here are the questions I might ask:
  1. Will I retain copyright of my article? 
    Normally, yes.  But I may want to give it away.
    • Why would I want to give it away? 
      Because I would like my article to appear on the CUP website AND I would like to pay nothing, AND I would like a "one year subscription embargo period." (I don't know what that means.)
  2. Will I have to pay anything?
    Only if you want to.

  3. Will my article be free for the public to read?
    Yes, always.  All articles will be
    published online immediately, with Open Access, on the PMC website.
  4. Will my article be published online, Open Access, online, immediately on the CUP website? 
    Only if I pay $675.  And in this case, I probably have to give up my copyright.
    • Why would I do that?Because then my article will enjoy the added benefits of being on the CUP website.

Creative Commons licenses

The statement in the Appendix below raises the issue of CC licenses when discussing "Green OA."  What is a CC license?  It's all explained in baby language at
When you write something original, you automatically own the copyright of it.  And as such, nobody is allowed to copy your article without your permission.  
But what if you want people to copy your work, say from your website, while still respecting your authorship?  You want to give away some of your rights, but not all of them.

That's where the CC licenses come in.  They say, in effect, "I own the copyright, buster, so watch out.  But in advance, I give you certain rights, and here they are. ..."

bottom of page one.
As long as you still own the copyright, you are free to add one of these CC licenses to your article, stipulating exactly what others may or may not do with your article.  Here (right) is one I prepared earlier.  In this case, I've chosen the license that says that people using my article have to state that I wrote it (attribution), they can't sell it (non-commercial), and they can tweak or remix or build upon my article, as long as they release the new work under an identical license (share-alike).
What CUP says in the OA Options document below is that if you go for the Gold OA option, and pay CUP $675, your article will be published free, online immediately, with a Creative Commons license.  What isn't made explicit is that CUP wants you to transfer your copyright to them, and the CC license will be issued by them, not you.
Let me repeat that for the hard-of-hearing: if you pay CUP, they will relieve you of your copyright.
They will then release your work with a CC license of their choosing.
I am basing the above on the copyright forms that are normally issued by CUP for authors who choose Green OA, for example the form for Modern Asian Studies.  There seem to be different "Transfer of Copyright" forms for each journal that CUP publishes.  Sometimes the copyrights are transferred to the society or college behind the journal (SOAS, RAS), at other times the rights are transferred to CUP (as with the transfer forms that were on the MH website, but have now been removed).  As far as I have seen, copyright is in every case taken away from the author.

CUP corrects the copyright statement on MH back issues

True to their word, as reported yesterday, CUP has now corrected the copyright statements attached to the back-issues of articles from the journal Medical History.  This recognizes the fact that the copyright of these articles belongs to their authors.

I'm still not sure that it's right to say "Published by Cambridge University Press."  I believe my article was published by University College London, who were the publishers of the journal at the time my article was published in 2007.  Nor is the "published online 17 May 2012" right, since it was published online in 2007 by PMC.  I hope that these issues can also be straightened out.

Current article also (C) its author.
 To my surprise, this change in copyright statement now also applies to articles published this year, 2012, during the period since CUP has taken over the journal.  As mentioned in earlier blogs, the documentation on the CUP pages says clearly that OUP will take possession of the copyright of all articles, whether published Open or Closed Access. Do we have a glitch, or a genuine new policy here?