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A PLOS Response to Open in Action with Open Science

PLOS has proven that making quality research openly available for anyone to read, download and reuse is a viable business model. Our collaborative efforts with like-minded organizations have inspired others, from individual researchers to the larger publishing industry, to move toward a more open ethos. In this environment, Open Access is no longer constrained to free access to research, it's also about open data and a more open way of working together. Examples of this at PLOS include our pioneering a forward-thinking data policy at scale and contributions to the community-developed open-standard taxonomy of contributions, the CRediT Project, that provides specific and comprehensive attribution on research articles for all who participate in generating a published work.
   
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The New Model for Scientific Publishing

Scientific publishing is a multi-billion dollar industry, yet little of that money is reinvested in the scientists actually conducting the research. Paywalls for those looking to access information and high open access publishing fees impede scientific progress and favour people and institutions with resources. As one of the last independent, nonprofit scientific publishers completely governed by scientists, The Electrochemical Society has developed a business-model changing initiative called Free the Science that will make our research freely available to all readers, while remaining free for authors to publish. Free the Science is an effort to keep more money in research rather than in the publishing industry.
   
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Rising academic journal prices limit research access at LSU, other universities

Universities' libraries are struggling to maintain extensive research libraries as subscription costs for academic journals continue to rise, sometimes at four times the rate of inflation. Procuring journals is especially difficult when library budgets remain stagnant or dip. Researchers still need reference materials, and many have to make do with less respected materials because they're available. Others are resorting to using pirated journal articles from sites such as Sci-Hub, a Russian user-supported website that aims to counteract the rising costs of academi journals.
   
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Could subscriptions for academic journals go the way of pay phones?

The cost of academic journals has increased steeply over the past few decades and continues to climb. Academic libraries, already caught in an economic squeeze, are finding it difficult to acquire new journal subscriptions or, in the worst case, are even canceling existing subscriptions. Either way, faculty and students find they are unable to access journal articles that could further their research and learning. As an academic librarian, the author has witnessed the serials crisis transition from the print to the digital world with no relief from ever-escalating subscription costs. Early hopes that a digital publishing environment would lead to lower costs and greater access have failed to bear fruit. In view of such rising costs and the failure to achieve universal access, a conference held in Berlin in December 2015 announced the launch of a radical open access initiative - OA 2020.
   
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Is there a problem with academic integrity?

For many academics today, research is not about pushing intellectual boundaries. It is not about investigating a fascinating issue so much as it is about churning out publications, demonstrating impact and generating revenue in order to meet the performance targets upon which institutional reputation and individual careers depend. The temptation to cut corners is immense. Tricks include getting your name on a paper that you contributed little towards, or 'salami-slicing' the same research across several publications. More seriously, some researchers falsify - misrepresent - their data, or even fabricate them entirely. Some universities tacitly encourage such behaviour and the boundary between academic integrity and malpractice is becoming blurred.
   
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