German researchers resign from Elsevier journals in push for nationwide open access

Five German scientists decided to quit Elsevier. They decided to resign from their editorial positions in protest of Elsevier’s open access policy. The reason behind these scientists’ decision is Elsevier’s refusal to accept a new open access payment model offered by the German libraries, universities and research institutes.

German based Projekt DEAL, a consortium of leading German research institutes,  coordinated efforts to push Elsevier to embrace open access. It has been negotiating with Elsevier to make all papers published by researchers based in Germany open access;  in return for the publication cost that Projekt DEAL covers. The major point of contention is about who else can access these papers. Projekt DEAL wants these papers to be globally accessible free of charge. However, Elsevier does not want these papers to be freely accessible to researchers and readers outside Germany.

The criticism Elsevier and others are facing is that despite taking some steps, they have not gone far in terms of embracing open access. Those industry dominating companies including Elsevier publish some of the most prestigious journals in many research fields.  Individual institutions have very little leverage over those publishers. That is why coordinated action seem to work to some degree. Last year, in a similar way, the Dutch universities forced Elsevier to come to terms with their demand.

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Springer Nature pioneers charitable incentive system for peer reviewers

Peer reviewers are enabling people in developing countries to access safe drinking water as the result of a collaboration between Springer’s journal Environmental Earth Sciences and the non-profit humanitarian organization “Filter of Hope”. Since the start of the initiative at the beginning of 2017, almost 600 water filters have been distributed in Liberia, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, Russia, Cuba and India. This scheme is the first of its kind to acknowledge the fundamental contribution of peer reviewers in the scientific publishing industry through a non-profit partnership.

When a reviewer completes a peer review for Environmental Earth Sciences, it is tracked in the manuscript submission system so that it corresponds to a donation made by Springer Nature to Filter of Hope. The reviewer can also choose whether they would like to be acknowledged for their review in a special Editorial to the journal which is published at the end of the year.

“Filter of Hope – Clean Water for Life” is a non-profit organization that serves people in over 40 countries. Their goal is to change the world through the distribution of highly effective and affordable water filters. The water filters remove bacteria, protozoa and microorganisms from contaminated water sources, making it completely safe to drink. The work of Filter of Hope depends on global distribution organizations and funding partners that include foundations, corporations, philanthropic families, schools, churches, humanitarian groups and young people all across the world. Read Full Text on Springer

German universities plan to operate without subscribing to Elsevier’s Journals

German universities have coped “easily” when cut off from Elsevier journals and do not need to rely on pirate article-sharing sites such as Sci-Hub, according to a negotiator from Germany’s biggest network of research centres.

Martin Köhler, who has helped to lead negotiations between the Dutch publishing giant and the Helmholtz Association, gave Times Higher Education details of Germany’s strategy to survive “no deal” with Elsevier – shedding some light on whether other countries could take a similar stance.

A consortium of all German research organisations is locked in hostile and so far unsuccessful contract negotiations with Elsevier, demanding full open access for German-authored papers and a model in which they pay per article published, not a flat journal subscription fee.

Part of their strategy is to demonstrate that German academics can operate without Elsevier subscriptions, and an increasing number of institutions have said they will not renew their contracts at the end of the year, now including the vast majority of Helmholtz centres, which have a combined revenue of €4.38 billion (£4 billion).

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Study shows that Open Access On the Rise

Open-access papers are more popular in the scholarly literature than they’ve ever been, and this trend shows no signs of abating, according to a study of hundreds of thousands of papers published in journals spanning disciplines from physics and astronomy to chemistry and social science. The sprawling study, published this week (August 2) in PeerJ, found that 28 percent of the total scholarly literature is open access, and in 2015 (the most recent year with data complete enough to analyze), 45 percent of papers were open access.

By analyzing the recently unveiled web extension Unpaywall, which points users in the direction of open-access [OA] versions of papers, the authors found that nearly half of a sample of 100,000 papers users searched for in June were open-access. Information scientist and coauthor Jason Priem, cofounder of Impactstory, the nonprofit that spun out the open-source data platform OADOI, which powers Unpaywall, spoke with The Scientist about the study and its implications.  Read full article on the Scientist

The benefits of open data for the Global South

The modern era is marked by growing faith in the power of data. “Big data”, “open data”, and “evidence-based decision-making” have become buzzwords, touted as solutions to the world’s most complex and persistent problems, from corruption and famine to the refugee crisis.

While perhaps most pronounced in higher income countries, this trend is now emerging globally. In Africa, Latin America, Asia and beyond, hopes are high that access to data can help developing economies by increasing transparency, fostering sustainable development, building climate resiliency and the like.

This is an exciting prospect, but can opening up data actually make a difference in people’s lives?

Getting data-driven about data

The GovLab at New York University spent the last year trying to answer that question.

In partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the non-profit FHI 360 and the World Wide Web Foundation, we scoured the evidence about what roles open data, particularly government data, can play in developing countries.

The results of our 12 in-depth case studies from around the world are now out. The report Open Data in Developing Economies: Toward Building an Evidence Base on What Works and How offers a hard look at the results of open data projects from the developing world.

Our conclusion: the enthusiasm is justified – as long as it’s tempered with a good measure of realism, too. Here are our six major takeaways: Read full article on the Conversation