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Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) presents sector overview
- 29 Mar 2019

In view of their central role in society, universities are expected to provide transparency and accountability. In an effort to meet this need, an overview of key data on education, research and impact, staff and finances has now been created for each individual sector and university. Following months of intensive cooperation within the sector and collaboration with external stakeholders, the sector overview is now complete and accessible to all interested parties.

According to Pieter Duisenberg, President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), this overview sets a high bar for the university sector when it comes to transparency. It features all relevant figures, ranging from the number of assistant professors to solvency percentages, from real-world impact to labour market outlooks.

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands previously offered access to a broad range of information through the Facts and Figures page. The sector overview takes things a step further, offering the full picture at both sectoral and university level. The overview offers users access to all data at a glance, arranged by theme. In a new feature, it also devotes ample attention to the societal impact of research projects: the groundbreaking innovations developed at each university are now visible at a glance. All information is up to date and free of charge, and can be used by any interested party within the university sector: from journalist to student, from civil servant to professor.

The overview should be especially useful to institutional representative advisory bodies. The sector overview is set to be further elaborated and improved over the coming period. In addition to ensuring continually updated figures, efforts are also being made to develop new functionalities and topics.

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Negotiations fail between University of California and Elsevier
- 04 Mar 2019

The University of California has announced its decision not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. The move comes after months of negotiations over a proposed deal that would have allowed university researchers to publish in Elsevier journals under open-access terms.

Research produced by UC's 10 campuses accounts for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. publishing output. In negotiating with Elsevier, UC aimed to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by ensuring that this research is made immediately available to the world, without cost to the reader. The move is the latest in a rising global dispute between scholarly publishers and academic institutions, which are pushing to make more of scientific literature freely available. According to these academic institutions, the costs of publishers' subscriptions are becoming unreasonably expensive.

Open access publishing, which makes research freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world, fulfills UC's mission by transmitting knowledge more broadly and facilitating new discoveries that build on the university's research and scholarly work. This follows UC's faculty-driven principles on scholarly communication.

Elsevier is the largest scholarly publisher in the world, disseminating about 18 percent of journal articles produced by UC faculty. The transformative model that UC faculty and libraries are championing will reportedly make it easier and more affordable for UC authors to publish in an open access environment.

The University of California (UC) is reportedly the first US institution to have completely cancelled its subscription with the global publisher.

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New Institute for Scientific Information report on Plan S poses key questions for the research community
- 01 Mar 2019

A new report on Plan S from the Institute for Scientific Information, using Web of Science data poses a number of questions for the research community, including funders, publishers and institutions. This is the second report in the Global Research series from the recently relaunched Institute for Scientific Information.

The report, 'The Plan S footprint: implications for the scholarly publishing landscape', examines recent patterns of publications funded by Plan S supporters, exploring potential impacts on funders, subjects, countries, publishers, and journals.

The report findings pose the following questions, which are backed up with data: Some research areas have very few journals that are currently Plan S compliant. Without carefully paced transition to allow for the emergence of new titles, is there a risk of unusual constraints and disjunctions in publishing opportunities in affected subjects?; Citations are not a defining metric of quality, but might the restructuring of the spread of well-cited papers have unplanned contingent consequences?; How can the shift to Gold Open Access and associated APCs be managed equitably to protect the positions both of unfunded researchers in G20 economies and of a wider spread of authors in emergent research regions?; The large publishers, with a diverse stable of titles, will be influential in discussions, but there are many small publishers, including those linked to learned societies, who publish an important part of the Plan S funded output in serials central to their discipline. Will transition be more difficult for them and, if so, can this be managed effectively but flexibly?

The report dataset comprises publication records drawn from the more than 20,000 journals in the Web of Science Core Collection. These records were filtered for content published in 2017 and documents were then classified as articles or reviews. Proceedings papers are not identified as a document type under the Plan S proposals.

Document records in Web of Science contain 'acknowledgments', which include funding sources. These were used to identify papers sponsored by Plan S funder organisations, by cross-reference to a manually curated list of funder variants. This enabled broad capture of papers that would be affected by Plan S mandates. Some authors will have failed to identify Plan S funding and there will also be papers not included because of missing data or obscure name variants. The Plan S funded records analysed therefore represent a minimum estimate of Plan S papers published and of those indexed in the Web of Science.

Web of Science integrates data from Impactstory's Unpaywall which has one of the widest sets of data on article level OA information and is augmented by a direct journal level feed from the DOAJ.

The full report is available for download here: https://clarivate.com/g/plan-s-footprint/.

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Europe's open access Plan S unlikely to sway US policy, says Simba Information report
- 28 Feb 2019

A coalition of European national research institutes' bold plan to divert the researchers it funds away from publishing results in journals that collect subscription fees would face a tougher path in the US. This was the consensus of a law and policy panel assembled February 7 by the Association of American Publishers at its annual professional and scholarly publishers conference, reports market research firm Simba Information.

The panel cited differences between the states and Europe in history, law, process and a current US policy that clearly acknowledges the role of publishers and the need for commercial innovation.

In September 2018, 11 national funding agencies across Europe got creative with the shift key dubbing themselves cOAlition S. Much like the name's flip on cap convention, the group plans to flip conventions in the scholarly research publishing industry by mandating that all research it funds be published in journals where all articles are available for free. The group also proposes that its members place caps on the fee a journal can collect upfront in exchange for publishing an article openly on the web.

High impact journals across many fields operate under a hybrid model where any individual article can be published on an open access basis with payment of an article processing charge (APC), but other articles are locked behind paywalls and available only to institutions that pay hefty subscriptions.

The stance against hybrid journals has softened since the September announcement, but any exception or alternative the coalition has brought forth has an expiration date in a not-too-distant, subscription-free future. A price cap on APCs also remains a key element of the plan.

The coalition's plan was not developed with open public comment and recounted how hearings and open comment have been a staple of how US open access policy has evolved going back to the early 2000s.

Current US policy dates to a February 22, 2013 White House policy statement in support of open access to federally funded research output, including published scholarship and datasets. The memorandum, officially issued by the director of the Executive Office of Science and Technology, requires that every federal agency with R&D expenditures of over $100 million develop a plan to support increased public access to federally funded research.

The US policy statement included language recognising that publishers provide valuable services including the coordination of peer review that are essential for ensuring the high quality and integrity of scholarly publications.

Even if Plan S proponents show up and make a convincing argument, it is hard to see a path for any policy change given the current political upheaval in Washington and the looming Presidential campaign cycle.

It also appears as if some of Plan S support in Europe is coming from associated educational ministries and institutions, but not always the key funding body. Out of 43 possible signatories, only 11 signed on initially. Since the initial announcement, two additional national funders and three charitable foundations - the Wellcome Trust in the UK, the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation in the US, and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond in Sweden - have joined the coalition.

Even if the plan does not come to pass in the UK and the US, there is enough funding and individual researchers bound to it that publishers need to prepare for compliance strategies.

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Feedback on the implementation guidance of Plan S generates large public response
- 20 Feb 2019

Over 600 individuals and organisations provided feedback to cOAlition S on the implementation guidance of Plan S. Originating from over 40 countries, respondents providing feedback include researchers, librarians and libraries, publishers and editors, universities, learned societies, research funders and performers, and other interested citizens and organisations.

Responses are now being analysed and will be fed into an updated version of the Plan S implementation guidance. An initial analysis of the feedback will be released in the spring and all feedback responses will be made openly available.

Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders. The initiative requires that, from 2020, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.

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