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The role of university presses in the face of Open Access publishing in Germany


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By Christoph Bläsi

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The role of university presses in the face of Open Access publishing in Germany

  1. 1. Christoph Bläsi Gutenberg Institute for World Literature and Written Media / Book Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (D) The role of university presses in the face of Open Access publishing in Germany "Biblioteche accademiche e University Press verso l’editoria Open Access“, Milan (I), March, 17th, 2017 Folie Nr. 1 Datum: 20.03.2017
  2. 2. Introduction OA: a very short history and a few aspects of the current situation The legal situation with respect to secondary publication rights Open Access policies … and persistent resistance against it And what do the publishers (their association, the „Börsenverein“) say ? Konstanz in the focus: a clash of extreme positions Q: A special role for university presses ? Conclusions Folie Nr. 2 Datum: 20.03.2017 Structure
  3. 3. • The focal points of my contribution are … – … Open Access (policies and) “politics” (concerning schemes, players, etc.) and … – … Germany as well as obviously … – … a possibly specific role of university presses • In this context, I will present Open Access in Germany not least as an object of a clash of interests, hence a somewhat “political” issue • The parties – Academics – Libraries – Academic publishers (and their association[s]) and … – … maybe in between (?) university presses (and academic associations / societies) Folie Nr. 3 Datum: 20.03.2017 Introduction
  4. 4. • ´Journal crisis´: excessive prices; differentiation of scholarly disciplines, cut son library budgets • Enter new digital distribution options -> also speed, improved visibility (and by that promotion of success factors of locations, international and interdisciplinary aspect), access to less affluent countries and institutions, etc. • Open Access – target: access without economic, legal and technical barriers, options: golden, green, hybrid • Solved problems, at least in principle: discoverability (e.g. DOAJ), sustainability (e.g. DOI) • Remaining problems: insufficient paying in to the academic reputation economy • Front lines / open questions: overall system costs, fundamental critique: ´the public sector pays twice´, more fundamental critique: see below • Current relevance: 13% of academic publications in the EU Folie Nr. 4 Datum: 20.03.2017 OA: a very short history and a few aspects of the current situation
  5. 5. • „If the research is funded by the public at a degree of at least 50% […], the author of a scholarly contribution has the right to make this contribution […] publicly available on expiry of the period of twelve month after the first publication if this does not serve commercial purposes. This also holds if he or she had granted an exclusive licence of utilisation to the publisher or the editor. […]“ (§38 (4), Copyright Law) – „Der Urheber eines wissenschaftlichen Beitrags, der im Rahmen einer mindestens zur Hälfte mit öffentlichen Mitteln geförderten Forschungstätigkeit entstanden und in einer periodisch mindestens zweimal jährlich erscheinenden Sammlung erschienen ist, hat auch dann, wenn er dem Verleger oder Herausgeber ein ausschließliches Nutzungsrecht eingeräumt hat, das Recht, den Beitrag nach Ablauf von zwölf Monaten seit der Erstveröffentlichung in der akzeptierten Manuskriptversion öffentlich zugänglich zu machen, soweit dies keinem gewerblichen Zweck dient. Die Quelle der Erstveröffentlichung ist anzugeben. Eine zum Nachteil des Urhebers abweichende Vereinbarung ist unwirksam.“ (§38 (4), Urheberrechtsgesetz / UrhG) Folie Nr. 5 Datum: 20.03.2017 The legal situation in Germany with respect to secondary publication rights
  6. 6. • Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF): clear recommendation for Open Access, including explicitly the secondary publication / green road solution (typically after an embargo period) • German Research Council (DFG): strategy and recommendations clearly pro-Open Access – no obligation to publish Open Access, though (apart from one special program) [<-> US, GB, CEC / Horizon 2020] – "The possibilities to oblige recipients of [public] funds to make their research results accessible Open Access find their limitations in the academic freedom and the freedom to publish on the side of authors [...] as well as possibly in interests of general academic policies.” – Open Access APC funds as integral part of research project funding; typical model / flow of money in mind: research funding institution / DFG -> authors -> publishers („offsetting“ deal) • (“My”) Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU): clear recommendation for Open Access, financial (DFG funds) and organizational (mainly repository management) support Folie Nr. 6 Datum: 20.03.2017 Open Access policies
  7. 7. • Politically – Librarians (important protagonist: Uwe Jochum): • danger of control; control is an intrinsic feature of computerization (related example: Web of Science, SciFinder -> platform operators, Libraries, Universities -> ?), hence also for Open Access • undue support of US ICT behemoths: “[…] one can […] make the free ´content´ that had been home delivered to the internet a basis of all sorts of ´business models´ that work like this: commodify and monetarize the data traffic that forms around this ´free´ content.”; “[…] a gift [from the state, C.B.] in truth not to its citizens, but a gift to Google and associates” – Authors (important protagonist: Roland Reuß): • undue support of international publishing giants: Open Access “circus” would do the groundwork for the oligopolistic international publishing houses instead, as brought forward as a feature of Open Access by its proponents, to limit their power • !: statement of the minister (on the occasion of the presentation of the current policy) a “hard digestible ragout consisting of neo-liberal ideas of academic markets […], virtual GDR 4.0 (with an expropriation of intellectual property) and state authoritarianism of a wilhelminian complexion” Folie Nr. 7 Datum: 20.03.2017 … and persistent resistance against it
  8. 8. • Legally – Librarians / Jochum: • “And here´s the actual crux: the publications are the property of the authors; that´s the intention of the constitution with respect to the freedom of academia, that´s the intention of the copyright law. Because only if what they publish remains their property, the logic of resistance applies that is tied to every property: it belongs to me, and not to you and not to the state, either. […]” Folie Nr. 8 Datum: 20.03.2017 … and persistent resistance against it, contd. -
  9. 9. • Legally – Authors / Reuß: • „The sovereignty of a scholarly author to decide about the place of his or her publication autonomously is not a marginal note. It follows as a core right from the freedom of research and teaching and must never be made dependent of interests external to academia.” • Moreover: – research funding organizations are not subject of democratic control - > ´politically´ … Folie Nr. 9 Datum: 20.03.2017 … and persistent resistance against it, contd. -
  10. 10. • Legally – Authors / Reuß: • Further remarks: – different disciplines / difference with respect to disciplines: patent- relevant material or other material with relevance to exploitation will never be Open Access – publishers / relieving from work / without publishers there is no transmission mechanism, no buffer between the author and the public; authors have to transform to machines of self-marketing – publishers / ensuring diversity / dissident places of publication (for material that the public sector does not consider relevant) are important; Open Access publication bodies with equal representation will hinder academic break-throughs and produce sterility: “It comes down to a structural censorship using digital tools, if not something is held out to it.” – publishers (summing up): “It is in the interest of academic system that the publishing sector is not thrown out of the production and distribution context by obligatory digital Open Access repositories.” Folie Nr. 10 Datum: 20.03.2017 … and persistent resistance against it, contd. -
  11. 11. • a much more lenient position recently: publishers more service providers for quality, citeability, discoverability, sustainability: “Publishers see themselves increasingly as service partners and not as gatekeeper in the publishing process, because there are a lot of models following which academia and publishers can cooperate constructively.” (Matthias Ulmer, head of the publishers´ committee of the “Börsenverein”) and also as partners in solving problems (like ´double dipping´) – however: “It is clear today that Open Access is not a model for saving costs and that the pricing policy of a few publishers have caused a damage to the image.” – Jochum and Reuß also hold that Open Access publishing is not cheaper overall – and: internal criticism to this position, especially from small and/or humanities publishers Folie Nr. 11 Datum: 20.03.2017 And what do the publishers (their association, the „Börsenverein“) say ? -
  12. 12. • The University of Konstanz (D) obliges its academics to exercise their secondary publication rights following §38 (4) UrhG (and Baden-Württemberg state is thinking about such a step for all its universities) … • … - and is being sued by a number of Konstanz professors (also: Uwe Jochum is the head of the university library …) Folie Nr. 12 Datum: 20.03.2017 Konstanz in the focus: a clash of extreme positions -
  13. 13. • University presses – especially if they are more than just branded repositories – are only seen as one facette, one building block of a balanced publication strategy – to keep away some content from ´monopolistic structures´ (Zürich) – to keep open the road to print (e.g. ´on demand´) (and hence particularly attract humanities researchers) (Zürich [CH], Passau) – to facilitate certain kinds of marketing (and hence particularly attract humanities researchers) (Zürich [CH]) • Remarks: – university presses are not considered to be able to handle considerable shares of the sheer amount of publications, anyhow – university presses have never played a major role in Germany – presumably because of the existence of experienced and renowned commercial academic publishers since the 19th century (´path dependency´) • A: no, not in Germany (it seems) … Folie Nr. 13 Datum: 20.03.2017 Q: A special role for university presses ? -
  14. 14. • Concerning Open Access publishing in Germany, … – … there is the need for substantial studies e.g. with respect to the overall costs of the system, … – … there are a few fundamental criticisms, levered by individual rights which seem worth thinking about and … – … there is – it seems – no special catalytic, problem-solving, etc. role for university presses … Folie Nr. 14 Datum: 20.03.2017 Conclusions
  15. 15. Thank you ! Christoph Bläsi Folie Nr. 15 Datum: 20.03.2017 Prof. Dr. Christoph Bläsi Gutenberg Institute for World Literature and Written Media / Book Studies Johannes Gutenberg University Philosophicum, Jakob-Welder-Weg 18 D-55128 Mainz Germany Fon: +49-(0)6131-39-36289 (unified messaging) Fax: +49-(0)6131-39-25487 SKYPE: christoph.blaesi e-Mail: Web:, XING: LinkedIn: