• Journals and authors: how it works
• Journals and libraries: how it used to work
•With a small side-trip into interlibrary loan
• The Big Deal
• Open access
• Stuff I could have turned into issue-brief topics but
didn’t because I didn’t want to overload this week
•... yeah, I kind of know too much about all this.
•I’m boiling it down as best I can.
• I’m not even PRETENDING to be unbiased here. I’m biased
as all get-out.
• You aren’t obligated to agree with me, just to understand
•Want to give me h-e-double-hockey-sticks on the forums? Go for it!
JOURNALS AND AUTHORS
•(Future academic librarians: you need to know this!)
• Author writes article.
• Author submits article to journal.
• Editor gives article once-over; if it passes, editor sends
article to peer reviewers.
• Peer reviewers say yes/yes-but-revise/no.
•If no, usually author will submit to a different journal, whereupon
the whole process starts over from zero.
• If yes, journal (eventually) publishes article.
WHAT DOESN’T HAPPEN HERE?
• Money doesn’t change hands!
•Authors are unpaid. (No advances, no royalties, nada.)
•Peer reviewers are unpaid.
•Most editors are unpaid. (Some, at major publishers, are paid.)
• What? Seriously?! What a racket! How do they get away
•Remember last week, how I said that academia is a reputation
economy? This is where that plays out.
•Scientists have to publish in “the right” peer-reviewed journals
or lose their careers. Payment would be superﬂuous.
•Peer reviewing and editing are considered “service.”
SO WHO’S GETTING ALL THAT
• Production services
•Typesetting, copyediting, ﬁle conversion for online use, CrossRef
•Infrastructure, including paywall infrastructure
•Salespeople and lawyers; swag producers and conferences (think
about this the next time you go to a publisher-sponsored party at a
•Lots of this is commodity-priced, meaning there’s lots of competition
so prices are quite low. Or non-proﬁt (CrossRef).
• The publisher!
•Proﬁt margins on STEM journal publishing are OBSCENE. Last
ﬁgures I heard hovered around 40%. Even during recessions!
JOURNALS AND LIBRARIES
• In the old days, it was easy.
•Subscribe to journal (at a markup compared to an individual
subscription, but everybody knew that; it was okay).
•Receive print copy of journal as issues come out. “Claim”
issues that for whatever reason don’t arrive or are damaged.
•Rebind a bunch of issues at intervals; shelve indeﬁnitely.
•Loan out or photocopy for interlibrary loan, patron service.
• All of this on the level of individual journals!
•So collection developers could pick what they thought was
most useful, cancel what wasn’t.
•Feedback loop for journals: if a journal is crap, libraries can
and will unsubscribe. No revenue, no journal.
• A function of the first-sale doctrine, for physical things.
• But libraries recognized a potential unfairness.
•One library buys a book, ILLs it around indeﬁnitely. Legal, but
ethically dubious at best.
•CONTU Rule of Five: if you’ve ILLed it ﬁve times in a calendar
year, you should buy it, or get it some other way.
•For a journal: ﬁve ARTICLES from that journal in a year means
you should buy it.
• Digital? Hold that thought...
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
• Publishers realized they could raise that library markup.
•If anybody tells you the “serials crisis” is new or purely digital, please laugh at them.
I heard about it from my anthropologist dad when I was eight. I’m in my 40s.
•But my dad was an exception. For the most part, this happened and faculty didn’t
notice or care. They didn’t get the bills! (Buying-by-proxy: known market failure.)
•If libraries cancelled journals, it didn’t matter. Publishers could just start new ones
with the same inﬂated markup.
• The move to digital
•And the loss of ﬁrst-sale rights. It’s all licensing now! We know how that goes.
•Digital ILL? For journals, only if it’s in the license deal. There are journal contracts
that stipulate that libraries have to print out a digital ILL, and the patron has to come
to the physical library to retrieve it. Yes, really!
• Disciplinary (and therefore journal) proliferation
• Journal-publisher mergers/buyouts and journal buy-ups
• And digital + mergers/buyouts = bundling: the “Big Deal.”
THE BIG DEAL
•(term coined by Ken Frazier in the article you read)
•“O hai liberriez! U want e-journals? U CAN HAZ ALL OUR
E-JOURNALS! For one low, low price!”
• Libraries: “Wow, sounds great!”
•Ken Frazier: “It’s a trap!” Libraries: “... huh?”
• Publisher: “O hai liberriez...”
•“... we’re raising our prices. Yes, again. Suck it up.”
•“... you can’t cancel crappy journals any more; it’s all or nothing. If
you want the Journal of Indispensable Results, you also have to buy
the Journal of Lousy Plagiarized Reprints.” Buh-bye, feedback loop!
•“Look! More journals! What do you mean, nobody wanted them?”
• Hopelessly opaque pricing
•You can go to a publisher’s website and see a nominal price for a
Big Deal. Don’t you believe it! Ever!
•One of the major jobs of an e-resources librarian is to negotiate
Big Deal prices and licensing. You get the bargain you can
convince the publisher to accept. (Or vice versa!)
• For even more fun, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
•Contract provision that forbids the library from disclosing the
terms or price of a licensing deal
•For public universities, may conﬂict with state sunshine laws.
What little we actually know about real-world journal pricing
comes from FOIA requests!
•What do we know? That comparable libraries get VERY different
deals. And NDAs keep us from sharing knowledge to ﬁx this!
WHAT A RACKET!
HOW DO THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS?
TAKE A MOMENT
• You’re a collection developer in an academic library.
• One of your library’s Big Deals just handed you a
whopping price increase.
• What are your options?
•Note: Using L-Space or the library’s TARDIS to go back in time
and prevent the Big Deal signing is not an option. Sorry.
•At this point, the number of academic libraries that never
signed Big Deals is essentially zero.
YOUR TERRIBLE OPTIONS
• Go back to print... okay, who am I kidding here?
•I mean, a few libraries do, as a stopgap. But that ship has sailed; everybody wants digital.
• Grow your budget
•We’ve tried. It’s not an option these days. Just forget it.
• Cancel the Big Deal
•Often not an option! You’ll lose some prize journals and not be able to get them back.
•Or re-buying the prize journals won’t save you any money over the Big Deal.
• Buy consortially, to increase buying power
•This has been going on for decades. Yet faculty still trot this out as though it’s a new idea.
Oh, faculty. They’re so cute... except not.
•Publishers simply raise prices for consortia! Long-term, THIS TACTIC DOES NOT HELP. It
just puts off the day of reckoning, kicks the can down the road a bit.
• Cancel journals unaffiliated with Big Deals
• Move budget money away from other materials. Buh-bye, monographs.
BIG DEAL CASUALTIES
• Journals by independent publishers and scholarly
•Cancelled ﬁrst, to pay for Big Deals
•Many bought up by (or eagerly sold to/shared with) Big Deal
purveyors in order to be added to Big Deals and stay aﬂoat
•And the publishers who publish them.
•(But catch those publishers complaining about Big Deals! Why?
Because they’re making their real money off journals.)
• (Not staff. In libraries, staff and materials come out of
different budget buckets.)
•But that doesn’t stop faculty and administrators complaining
about library staff budgets when they see journal cancellations!
• Publishers can extract as much money as they want from
universities and their libraries...
• ... for access to (not even ownership of!) stuff that university
faculty made that publishers aren’t even PAYING them for?
• And people who can’t pay can’t read the stuff?
•I hope your social-justice nerves are twitching!
• In essence, yeah. Ain’t that a p.... redicament.
• Bethany Nowviskie: Fight Club Soap
AND THERE IS!
(AT LEAST IN THEORY)
IT’S CALLED “OPEN ACCESS.”
WHAT IS OPEN ACCESS?
• Thank you, Peter Suber, for the commonly-accepted definition:
•Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free
of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is
the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.
•In most ﬁelds, scholarly journals do not pay authors, who can therefore
consent to OA without losing revenue...
•OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA
initiatives for scientiﬁc and scholarly literature insist on its importance...
•OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to
produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not
whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are
better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access
barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is
SOME OA TOOLS YOU SHOULD KNOW
• SHERPA/RoMEO (and Juliet)
•Directory of publisher policies around green open access
•“Can I put my article in a repository? What version?”
•Juliet: grant-funder open-access and open-data policies
•Use a search engine; don’t memorize the URL. I do.
• Directory of Open Access Journals (doaj.org)
•What it says on the tin, but also...
•... open-access journal preservation program, and
•... open-access journal quality standards
OA RELIGIOUS WARS
• Green and gold OA: how does OA happen?
•Green OA: through a repository, institutional or disciplinary
•(Or author websites, though that’s a lousy option. Why? Use your
common sense and your knowledge of campus IT policies.)
•Gold OA: through an online journal that lets everyone read its content
for free via the Web
• Gratis and libre OA: exactly how open is it?
•Gratis: you can download and read, but legally, that’s it.
•Libre: licensed (usually via CC-BY) for reuse, including text-mining,
value-add services, and (controversially) republication
• Personally, I despise zealotry. It’s done us damage.
•Green or gold, who cares? Open is open. Different strokes.
•I acknowledge that libre is better than gratis, but I also know that gratis
is a lot better than closed!
A FEW OA MYTHS
• “OA journals = no peer review.”
•This is ridiculously false and always has been.
•To some extent, confusion of green and gold OA; most repos
accept non-peer-reviewed (or not-reviewed-yet) materials
• “OA journals = author pays.”
•This is closer to the truth than many OA advocates want to admit,
frankly. (Zealotry, again.)
•It is true that the vast bulk of OA journals do not charge author-side
fees. It’s also true that many subscription journals do!
•BUT it is ALSO true that journals with author-side fees publish the
majority of gold-OA articles! (STEM, pretty much.)
• Who wins from myth-spreading? Subscription publishers.
•And they do it! Read about the PRISM Coalition sometime.
•And a lot of dumb faculty believe the myths, which is infuriating.
FACULTY RESPONSE TO OA
• At first: ignorance. Still a lot of that around.
• When first told: apathy. Lots of that, too.
•In some cases: wild indignation about author-side fees
• In a few precious cases: activism!
LIBRARIAN RESPONSE TO OA
• At first: ignorance. Still a lot of that around.
• When first told: apathy. Lots of that, too.
•In some cases: wild indignation about library disintermediation
• In a few precious cases: activism!
PUBLISHER RESPONSE TO OA
• At first: “Oh, come on. Seriously? This is a joke, right?”
•“It’s hard enough to get faculty to use house style! Those ludicrous
librarians seriously think they’ll use repositories?!”
•And they were right. Mostly still are. (Exceptions: disciplinary repos in
disciplines with long-standing preprint or working-paper cultures.)
•INCLUDING IN LIS. I am ashamed of my profession.
• Later: “Holy @$%!#@ they’re serious. Let slip the lawyers,
lobbyists, and propagandists of war!”
•I cannot say this loudly enough: PUBLISHERS ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS.
•Nor are we theirs, necessarily. And that’s okay! Where there’s common
cause, great. But we must not let them guilt-trip us. Different missions!
WATERSHED: OA MANDATES
• 2008 was a banner year for OA!
• NIH Public Access Policy
•Taxpayers are footing the bill, so they should see the research, right?
•If you’re NIH-funded, researcher, you are obligated to put a copy of
your ﬁnal manuscript in the NIH’s OA repository, PubMed Central.
(Sometimes your publisher will do this for you, sometimes not.)
•Common confusion: PMC != PubMed
• Harvard faculty self-impose OA mandate
•If you’re a Harvard faculty member, you grant Harvard a nonexclusive license to your journal articles, and promise to trot them
over to the institutional repository for OA dissemination.
•Opt-out available (e.g. if your publisher raises a fuss)
•Many imitators, including some academic libraries! (E.g. UWEC.)
2013 WATERSHED: OSTP MEMO
• (issue brief on this, so I’m not going to stomp on it)
• Suffice to say, this is HUGE.
•How to reduce a cynical, sarcastic, much-abused ex-IR-manager
library-school instructor to tears in the middle of a conference
• Be aware that the US is still a bit behind Europe, Australia.
•Though I don’t even know what the UK is thinking.
•(Well, I do. “Finch report” hijacked by subscription publishers.)
SOME CURRENT EVENTS
AND CURRENT ISSUES
(that I didn’t put in issue briefs)
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ILL?
• STEM journal publishers are trying to prevent it.
•Through lousy licensing deals
•Europe: no ILL across country boundaries!
• Ebooks? Uh...
•Practically nobody knows how to do this yet.
•But if it goes the way of ejournals...
BIG DEAL CANCELLATIONS
• It’s starting to happen. Slowly, and as under the radar
as possible, because librarians fear faculty backlash.
•Which there... hasn’t been much of, say the pioneers.
• Usually sheer necessity. Publishers are killing their
own golden goose here.
•Presumed strategy: grab market share for your own Big Deal by
having libraries cancel some other publisher’s Big Deal.
• But many academic libraries are still deep in denial.
CALIFORNIA VS. NPG
• Nature Publishing Group: “Have a 3x price increase,
University of California. Sorry about that recession.”
• UC: “You have got to be @#$%& kidding me. No.”
•“And if you don’t call off your dogs, our faculty won’t author,
review, or edit for you.”
•(UC could make this threat because of long history of activism, by
the way. This wouldn’t have been credible from just anybody.)
• NPG: “Uh. Okay. Let’s talk about this.”
•And the rest is under NDA, apparently. I don’t know the real
outcome. But it goes to show, we’re not powerless here!
THE ACS VS. JENICA ROGERS
• American Chemical Society: “Hey, SUNY Potsdam, hand
over 10% of your TOTAL materials budget for our Big Deal.”
•“After all, we accredit chemistry departments! And we have all the
best journals, so you’re irresponsible if you don’t!”
• Rogers: “You have got to be @#$%& kidding me. No.”
•Nota bene: a LOT of faculty education went into this! Sense a
• ACS, (some) Librarians: “How dare you, Rogers?!”
•Some days I really do worry about this profession...
JOURNAL OF LIBRARY ADMINISTRATION
• JLA belongs to Taylor & Francis. Do NOT get me started.
• Starts themed issue on digital humanities with a lot of OAfriendly authors who ask for OA. Yanks them around.
•The exact details are disputed.
• Entire editorial board resigns.
•JLA hasn’t managed to publish another issue since then, though
their usual schedule would have pushed out one or two.
•Trouble ﬁnding more editors? Seems likely!
• Sometimes librarianship locates its spine.
OPEN ACCESS MEGAJOURNALS
AND OTHER EXPERIMENTS
• Public Library of Science
•Stable of journals. Funded by grants, author-side fees
•PLoS ONE: original megajournal
•Key difference from many journals: if it’s good science, they’ll take it.
To heck with asking peer reviewers the “importance” question.
•Largest OA publisher; PLoS ONE largest available journal
•PLoS ONE imitators: several, including SAGE Open in the social
sciences (which is a leap; doesn’t look to be panning out at this point)
•Pay by the author, not by the article
•Ruthless workﬂow optimizations... but a reputation for phenomenal
speed, author service!
• Electronic theses and dissertations
• Often a wedge for OA, use for otherwise-dusty IR
•And often popular! More streamlined process than print.
•... humanists expect to publish their ﬁrst book out of their
dissertation, often. Does OA-to-the-diss impede that?
•... MFAs have a COW over compulsory OA. (Iowa!)
•... the university-press director may have a cow too.
•Be careful! If you do this, offer embargoes, and exemptions if
COMPULSORY LICENSING DEALS
• So, another way all this could work is sort of the way that
music covers work: compulsory licensing.
•Libraries pay in; libraries get access. Rates set by supposedly-neutral
third party. (In practice, guess how neutral!)
• Canada: Access Copyright
•AC: “You want to use stuff in classrooms and not get sued? Pay up.”
•Some Canadian libraries: “... okay, sure, take all our money!”
•Others: “Subscriptions. Fair dealing. Up yours, AC.”
• US: Copyright Clearance Center
•You KNOW they are watching Canada.
•(And issuing copyright propaganda in the guise of “education.”
SCAM OA JOURNALS
• What’s to stop somebody slapping up a website and
calling themselves an OA journal publisher? And asking
faculty for author-side fees? Nothing.
• Typical targets
•Graduate students and postdocs who don’t know any better
•Desperate faculty in the developing world (h/t Richard Poynder)
• Subscription publishers and anti-OA faculty/librarians
use this phenomenon to tarnish all of OA.
•Never mind how many lousy toll-access journals there are!
• New prophylactic: DOAJ instituting quality measures
IF YOU’RE NOT ANGRY,
YOU’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.
• This presentation is available under a Creative
Commons Attribution United States 3.0 license.
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