Locked up science

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Locked up science
Tearing down paywalls in scholarly communication
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Restricting access to knowledge and science is not beneficial for society. So why are scientific results still locked up behind paywalls? Even though the answer to this question is enlightening, the story is quickly told. Much more important is the knowledge on how to change this.
Keywords Ethics, Society & Politics

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[Music] and now please welcome our speaker Claudia so hopefully there will be my
slides up there I see someone running running fast okay
ah here we go yes so hello everybody and
welcome also from my side to one of the first talks of this year's Congress yeah
my name is Claudia flick or if you know me from Twitter my name is fuzzy leapfrog and I'm about to refresh your memories on scholarly communication and scientific publishing but since this is my first talk at a chaos communication congress I'd like to start with two facts about me so that you know who is talking to you so a fact number one I am an atmospheric scientist so I have a PhD in meteorology fact number two I am now working as a librarian in the library of a research center the most common reaction I usually get when I say this is why there
are actually several reasons why I left science and join the library world and for the next 30 minutes I'll talk about one of these reasons and to be honest
it's the reason I'm most passionate about okay so let's dive into the topic and I'll start with a few simple questions that you can answer just for yourself do you think science helps us
as a society to be well educated and to make rational and fact-based decisions do you think science helps us to live healthier longer and to deal with diseases do you think science helps us to face global challenges like climate change if you answered at least one of these questions with yes then you must also think that restricting the access
to scientific results is not beneficial for our society unfortunately that's what we are currently doing 72%
of scientific publications are locked up behind paywalls which means that only
those with money have access to science and those who don't have money are either left behind or they are forced to go illegal ways and this is not how it should be but how should it be instead
we should have open access to science and open access means that everybody in the world should have access to science without any financial technical or legal barriers at the end of my talk I want
you all to know what we can do to tear down the pay walls and scientific publishing and to achieve open access to science but before we can talk about how we can change a system like scientific publishing we have to understand how it works so we'll start with a look on the question what the most common way of
scientific publishing currently looks like so for all the non scientists in this room are those who haven't published a scientific publication so far let me take you on the roller coaster journey of scientific publishing imagine yourself to be an atmospheric
scientist a brilliant atmospheric scientist and you spent the past five years of your life in your laboratory and you made some time-consuming experiments you ran some complex simulations and after a lot of sweat and pain and a lot of Tears you've finally found it you found the solution to climate change yes and it's absolutely great that you know how to reduce greenhouse gasses back to proper level and how to stop temperatures from increasing but the whole scientific community everybody in the world should know about it so that we can realize the solution and finally stop climate change so you have to communicate your research in order for it to benefit society and that you can get the Nobel Prize that you absolutely deserve so you write down a
summary of your solution into a manuscript let's say 15 pages but what's next how do you distribute this
manuscript in the community since I am at the Chaos Communication Congress and we are in the 21st century I assume that most of you are currently thinking yeah just put it on the Internet yeah that's not what the most common way of scientific publishing looks like at least not yet what you will do instead is that you will either submit your manuscript to a scientific conference or to an academic journal which one you will do mainly depends on your discipline so if you are for example a computer scientist you will most likely submit your manuscript to a scientific conference if you are an atmospheric scientist you will most likely submit your manuscript to an academic journal but both publishing processes are nearly the same so I will only guide you through one of them so since you are an atmospheric scientist you now submit your manuscript about the solution to climate change to an academic journal and at this stage your manuscript is called a preprint and your manuscript fits into the scope of the journal therefore in the next step a process of quality control starts this is called peer-review peers are other scientists like for example these two guys yeah I know that this is scary but these two guys will have a look at your manuscript and check whether everything you did and wrote is well it and scientifically correct because maybe you only you found the solution to climate change
but in reality you made a really awful mistake already on page one but that's not what happens to you because you're brilliant and your solution is perfect so these two guys only have some minor Corrections and comments and you integrate them into your manuscript and resubmit this new version to the journal and now you are lucky because the journal then says yeah okay with these
changes will accept your manuscript for publication and at this stage your manuscript is called the post print because the content is now the final one that will be later printed in the journal or published online since we are in the 21st century and now in the last
step some typesetting happens so your manuscript is brought into the layout of the journal and then this fancy publishers version is published on the journal website from where everybody in the world can see that you've found a solution to climate change and this is what the most common way of scientific publishing currently looks like simplified but I forgot one very important detail and this is the paywall you published closed access and at this point I'm sorry but we have to talk about money because there's a lot of money changing hands in this process and the first occasion money changes hands has actually nothing to do at all with the paywall because did you know that you the author of the manuscript or your laboratory might have to pay money to
the publisher in order for your publication to get published yeah maybe your manuscript was too long and you have to pay page charges or you included some colorful figures and you have to pay color charges yes color charges in the 21st century and the second occasion money changes hands is at the paywall because there are a lot of scientists out there that need to know the solution to climate change and some of them are lucky like her and they work for an institution that has money and that has
a library and this library will pay money to the publisher to grant these scientists access to your publication
either by paying a subscription fee so that they have access to all publications in the journal or by just for chasing your single application but there are a lot of scientists out there that aren't that lucky and they won't have access to your publication and what about all the non scientists in this room that I'm sure also want to know the solution to climate change they won't have access either unless they are willing to pay but who said that we altogether didn't already pay for this publication because who
funds you the brilliant atmospheric scientist and her laboratory who funds the two guys during the peer review and who funds the libraries that grant other scientists access it's awesome we all do
it's tax payers money so don't you think we kind of already paid for this publication okay you might now think about hey there will obviously be money coming back because authors and people doing peer review will get paid for their work by the publisher no that doesn't happen in science scientists are doing all of this work cost free for the publisher okay but then you might think but hey then they maybe this is just the business model of academic publishers I mean they definitely have their costs
that they need to cover so maybe they are just doing this covering their costs and they are not making so much more money out of it we are currently having three major
academic publishers they are called as via Springer and Wiley and let's have a look at the profit margins of at least as we're in China they are 35 and 37
percent pure profit these margins are
even higher than the ones of Google and Apple we are all together paying in every year seven point six billion euros for access of public publications seven point six billion euros per year and this has some very weird practical consequences because publishers are requesting so much public money to get access to mainly publicly funded publications that even those that really do have money like the Harvard
University can no longer afford them and when I had learned this all of this for the first time I only had two options left option number one joined the open access
movement and tear down these paywalls option number two become myself an academic publisher now my bank account
this morning said I chose option one so
let's talk about how we can tear down the pay walls there are generally a lot
of approaches we can take some of them
are smaller but persistent and others are more massive steps but who can do
anything about the pay wall who are the involved players in scientific publishing well we have the scientists
that do most of the work they produce the content they do the quality control of the content and they are even the ones that later in the process mainly consume the content let me have the funders that provide the money we have the libraries that grab axes we have the publishers that publish the academic journals since I assume that we are not having so many funders and publishers in here and I don't think that the number of librarians is higher
than 10 I'd like to focus on what scientists can do to tear down the paywall but I will also have a look on what we
can achieve if the first three players work together but let's start small with you the brilliant atmospheric scientist
so you just published your solution to climate change like this and you just
realize damn I published behind the paywall and a lot of scientists won't have access to my publication and usually that's not what scientists want
because most scientists I know want their publications to be read to be spread to be cited and to be discussed as widely as possible and the paywall prevents this so you might now wonder whether there's anything you can do about the paywall when you publish like this yes you can do something about it
the first option you have is brought to you by the publisher the publisher offers you the possibility to remove the paywall just in front of your single publication while all other publications in the journal remain behind the paywall this is called hybrid open access and what does the publisher want to remove that off the paywall in front of your publication it's even more money yeah I do not recommend this is there anything
anything you can do about this
publication without paying even more money to the publisher I mean it's your publication it's your work that you've done can't you just take it from the
journal website and put it on the Internet this is called a secondary publication and there are places for this they are called archive institutional repository or even the commercial website ResearchGate can't you just upload your
manuscript there and make it available why a so-called green open access the answer to this question is it depends because what happened when you decided to publish behind the paywall is that you signed a so-called copyright
transfer agreement and it is what it literally says you signed away the
copyright of your work to the publisher yeah so if you want to republish your manuscript somewhere else you have to check whether this is okay for the copyright owner that is the publisher but hey some good news here most publishers will allow at least some form of republication but this is where it gets really really tricky because publishers are having some very specific and very restrictive conditions on this
so you cannot just publish any version of your manuscript maybe you can only publish the preprint that is the version
of your manuscript without all the changes that came in during peer-review so it's not the content that you finally published and they have some very specific conditions on where you can publish maybe you can only do it on your personal website but not on the one of your university and then they have some very specific ideas on when you can republish because you cannot just do it right away most of the times you have to wait an embargo period of six months twelve months or even four years and four years is kind of a long time to wait for a solution to climate change and these conditions they do not only vary by publisher they vary by journal so you really have to check for each single of your publication what you are allowed to do and whatnot and I totally get it that's not easy that's confusing it's time-consuming and believe me it's absolutely no fun at all but if you are ever struggling with this as a scientist I have a very simple and convenient advice for you and it is to just ask your librarian because that's
our business and I'm absolutely sure that even in your library there's at least one librarian that has specialized on copyright and can do this for you but wouldn't it be so much easier if you could just do whatever the hell you want to do with your publication if you could just keep the copyright right away yes it would be and it's possible so maybe the next time you publish a solution to a global challenge publish it gold open
access this means that you will publish in a so called open access journal these journals do not have any pay ball at all and all publications in there are published under Creative Commons license so you will keep the copyright of your work how do these journals work well let's get back to closed access what
open access journals obviously do is that they remove the paywall which means
that libraries don't have to pay money to the publisher to grant their scientists access and what also happens is that you are no longer asked to pay colored charges but you have to pay an article processing charge or your laboratory but since libraries are saving a lot of money by not paying for access to these journals most German libraries for example will cover these costs for you but it can be even better because there are a lot of open access journals out there that do not even charge an article processing charge this is called platinum open access and these journals do not ask for money from anyone neither for reading nor for publishing but how do these journals even survive because they are not making any profit while we know that scientists are already doing most of the work in this process and some of them decided to just do the rest of the work - yes there are scientists out there running their own academic journals several of them joined forces with the libraries to have a powerful and experienced infrastructure in the background and together scientists and librarians are providing this non-for-profit service for science in the hands of scientists without any commercial interests so this is already an example of what we can achieve if we are no longer only focusing on you the
single scientist and your single publication but if we look at what we can achieve if we work together and join our forces and there are a lot of more examples out there for this I listed a few over here and for the rest of the talk I'd like to focus on one of them mainly because it's a German project and it got some recent attention and this is project deal brought Jack deal is commissioned by the Alliance of science
organizations in Germany and is driven by scientists and librarians together and what they want to achieve is a major step forward to open access with our three already known major academic publishers and project deal wants to achieve this by implementing so-called nationwide Consortium agreements but what is a nationwide consortium agreement and what can it do about open access these agreements consist of two components they are so-called publish
and read deals and the first component is the reach component and it means that all participating institutions universities will have access to all journal publications of the publisher when there is a deal and the published component means that all publications with a corresponding author from one of these participating institutions and universities will be published open access with this publisher and both of these components are covered with one single and one reasonable fee so for example if your university would be part of such a deal
with Elsevier you would have access to all of your publications and all your publications would be published open access with Elsevier this would mean that there would be up to sixty thousand five hundred publications published every year open access under such a deal
and this is what project deal wants to achieve so these are the goals but how
is project deal progressing there are currently ongoing negotiations with Wiley and Springer so there are two
parties the publisher and project deal sitting together at one table and having a major common understanding about the future of scientific publishing and about what the basic conditions of such a deal should be and they are now discussing the details the picture becomes quite different if we look at s veer because there seem to be right away a major disagreement about the basic conditions of of such a deal should have and on what a reasonable fee is so after a long time years of negotiating and no real progress what happened is that project deal so scientists and librarians currently suspended the negotiations with Olivia and this is something new and it's definitely something big and I can tell you that the world is watching bro check deal and Germany and this is where the power of joining forces really shows up because scientists and librarians are really emphasizing the need for such a deal to elsevier for example scientists stopped to offer their cost free work to Elvir so they are no longer publishing with Elsevier what doing the peer review if you are one of them or will be one of them after this talk please let your library know because we collect this information and make sure that heads of your nose and libraries well they just cancel their subscriptions to elderly journals yes now currently 200 German institutions without subscription access to elevate publications and there will be even more next year the Max Planck Society cancelled the contract to the end of this year so these are a lot of scientists without access to a severe publications and it's a lot of saved money and what happened after we got cut off from Elsevier publications six months ago well the world of science
didn't break down neither did the world of libraries what happens is that scientists use alternative ways to get access and library support these alternative ways I listed a few of the legal alternatives up here
but speaking of legal some of you might now wander or wander through the entire talk why should we even care about subscriptions why should we pay for access to publishers or use alternative ways that are legal because sigh hub
sype is basically the Pirate Bay of science so you can get nearly any scientific publication there and I'd like to forward the question and why we should pay for access if we have SCI hop directly to the publishers but I think that they already know the answer because they do what industries do that face piracy they took legal action and
filed a lawsuit they requested it internet service providers to block site but you know don't mess with the
[Music] so dear publishers let me put it this
way as long as you publishers hold on to paywalls there will be piracy no matter what and even worse as long as you hold on to paywalls there will be people scientists and librarians finding alternative ways of scientific publishing without you and the only way to stop this is to tear down the pay walls and to you the
brilliant atmospheric scientist and all the other brilliant scientists in this room please provide open access to your publications and support open access in any way that you like or that you can and if you have any questions or concerns or any ideas I can only encourage you to talk to your librarian because if we work together if we join our forces I think that we can finally unlock science thank you
pencils amazing talk
okay everybody you know the rules if you have questions please line up at the microphones there's five of them - there - there and one day on the corner and if you are on the stream just somehow ask the question I'm not really aware how it works and then we have
someone here to read the questions out to be our human interface device so please microphone number one the
publishers say they have the brands we assigned this need what I mean as a quality number so for a young scientist at least for me it was very difficult to publish in a way that gives me the academic reputation I need without having access to highly ranked journals closed source publishers so is there a way you can get out of this yeah we can talk about the impact sector I love it it's real love it's absolutely difficult because this is a self-enforcing system dealing with reputation and if you think about it if all scientists would immediately stop to publish him without a mirror or the reputable reputable journal and would move to another one that has no impact actor at all after five or six years this journal would have the high impact factor but it's true that it's not that easy to just do it because you want to come forward with your career and it's a problem but there's no real solution so far for this so prochik deal is kind of addressing this idea by remaining with the major publishers so this would be the easiest way out for this problem do we have an
internet question yes yes since I'm gonna turn on the microphone the signal angel please what influence do the university have on the publishing
process of their scientists can a university force their scientists to publish in a certain way or with a specific publisher no it's not that easy there are policies that state that you have to publish open access but most of them do not define how you can do it so you can do green or gold or hybrid whatever you want but they just say that you have to publish open access microphone number two please given
everybody access to their own screaming platform how the public sharing of science to be tainted with all the bad science out there with what bad science
there's a lot of it if you look at the newspapers yeah oh you should absolutely not remove the peer-review process at the moment out of this scientific publishing process so there should be some quality control but there are some ideas to change the way a peer review is done but if you remove it they are then you have a problem at the moment mic number 3
please hello do you have any statistics
about how many open access publications there are compared to I would say classical Elsevier and stuff or if their movement is advancing if it's getting traction yeah I stated the source of the 27% 72% access publications and there's a detailed analysis on how many articles are closed hybrid gold green I published the slides already I will tweet them later and the
signal angel trees what do you think about the plan s initiative plan as
first those who don't know it's a coalition of research funders in Europe not the Dodger for shift but all others and they want to have open access immediately so they say when you work for us if you're funded by us you have to publish open access and I think that this is a good approach can we get Mike
to place I could journals printed by
various universities like solve that
issue which was raised here about having a well known brand behind the publications for example if you have a university business which is very famous it can run release their own journal and solve that brand issue if they release their own journal I hope it's open access but I think that it is general an illusion to think that the name of the journal or the publisher has anything to do with the quality of a single paper in there so this linked idea I think it's kind of broken Mike number one please
we can sign up but leave archive.org alone for all these years I essentially get the same thing from both I know there are differences of the details but yeah it's restricted to a specific community and so it's not for all publications and it's um still about prints and post prints or not the final publisher version but I think that they didn't because it's a powerful tool and it's a powerful community yeah could we
get the internet again please somebody the internet has heard that scientists shield the editors asking for a share of the profit of their work did you get any feedback how this ended no but that
sounds interesting no sorry number four please
journals provides three aspects for
scientists they provided logistics like delivery of papers do whoever wanted to read them they provided editors which is like not peer review about the redditors which are hired by journals and they provide reputational engines obviously would think PDF online is a solved problem so logistics is not longer a problem for the fully decentralized alternative to the journals can we do centralized altitude I actually didn't hear the question properly I'm sorry try again so journals are providing free
services they provide delivering services free like number three they
provide delivery to whoever wants to read them they provide reputation engine and they provide editors like not be reviewers but real editors of self we can this is relies with we can decentralize delivery that with decent relize editors can we decentralize reputations I stay going to be a question at any point yeah I got the question I think but did you know that editors are also scientists so they are already scientists doing this work so I really question the high value that publishers provide to science I think there is some value but it's not that high as we all thought number two please
thus does project deal include any
incentives for the scientists to publish gold open access instead of hybrid so if you publish with a publisher that has a deal with your university that it will be open access no matter what okay just a quick interjection please remember
when you leave please leave after the talk but when you leave please use the front exit and not the entrance in the back thank you could we get another internet question okay the Internet is out of questions as excellent number one place [Music]
to close access journals maybe it would be a good idea to rethink the format of the publishing I don't want to advertise it buttons I think it's a good example there's distill dodge PAP which is a journal for artificial intelligence at the moment mostly and they publish it in HTML because it's the current year and you have interactive interactive I think it would be better if we wouldn't have only PDFs published from the journal articles there should be other formats definitely machine readable mica number
two please for the last question also
like you said your opinion is then at least fashionable what publishers provide to science and to society that it's worth something or what vomiting I also think this way and if I have a manuscript now that I don't want to accomplish in this way in the system do you have any recommendation maybe any program a project or something where I maybe saying here's my manuscript and then especially have a solution for the peer-review process that is now officers facilitated by the publisher but the publisher doesn't do anything is just facilitating so how could I solve this and go around the publisher in this way so I'm not sure whether I get the question because if you have open access journals there's also peer review yes there are publishers but if you have platinum open access this peer review process is organized with the library or scientists that are running the journal so this is already organized the peer review process for other sorts of journals that do not have a paywall open
access journals cover all fields of science there are a lot of there there
are a lot out of there I can tell you how you can find them there is a directory of open access journals where you can filter through any subjects and filter for how much do they cost and now please thank our speaker again
[Music] [Music] you [Music]