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Open Access Publishing in Astrophysics

Talk given at the Institut de Physique Théorique, Paris-Saclay, 28th November 2023. Over the past decade, the landscape of academic publishing has changed dramatically, with publishers moving from subscription-based models to "open access" in which papers are available to read free of charge. Many journals have made the decision to maintain revenue by charging authors for this, via so-called "Article Processing Charges" (APCs) which can run to $1000s, thereby closing the door on those without funds to pay. More recently, there have been moves to encourage researchers to publish using "Diamond" Open Access wherein papers are published without charge to the authors and without cost to the reader. In this talk I discuss the environment for Open Access Publishing in Astrophysics with reference to the Open Journal of Astrophysics (OJAp), which offers a not-for-profit service of this kind using an arXiv-overlay model. I also offer a possible vision of the future of truly "Open Access" publishing based on a global network of institutional and/or subject-based repositories.

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Peter Coles
Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023
1
The Academic
Publishing Industry
• Global revenues of the academic publishing industry
amount to about, €28 billion per annum (2019 figure)
• This exceeds the annual global revenues of the recorded
music industry.
• Profit margins for these publishers are much larger (up to
45%) than e.g. Apple, Google and BMW.
• The worst offenders are the `Big Four’: Elsevier, Springer,
Wiley and Taylor & Francis.
• The academic community is being fleeced!
Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023
2
Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023
3
•Most research in astrophysics (and other “blue skies”
subjects) is funded by the taxpayer, so the public should
have access to it.
•Open science is better science
•Does Open Access Publishing go far enough?
•Everything needed to reproduce the results should be made
public: data, analysis tools, the lot…
Why Open Access?
Open Access:
Green, Gold & Diamond
• “Gold” = free to readers, usually paid for by authors (via
“Article Processing Charge”) – this is often large, in order to
maintain revenue in the absence of subscription income.
• “Green” = “free” to authors and readers (e.g. arXiv,
institutional repositories, etc) self-archiving (possibly) after
an embargo period
• “Diamond” = immediately free to authors and readers.
• Open Access of some form is often mandatoryor some
funding agencies, and this is likely to increase (Plan S).
Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023
5
Open Access Publishing in Astrophysics
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Open Access Publishing in Astrophysics

  • 1. Peter Coles Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 1
  • 2. The Academic Publishing Industry • Global revenues of the academic publishing industry amount to about, €28 billion per annum (2019 figure) • This exceeds the annual global revenues of the recorded music industry. • Profit margins for these publishers are much larger (up to 45%) than e.g. Apple, Google and BMW. • The worst offenders are the `Big Four’: Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and Taylor & Francis. • The academic community is being fleeced! Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 2
  • 3. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 3
  • 4. •Most research in astrophysics (and other “blue skies” subjects) is funded by the taxpayer, so the public should have access to it. •Open science is better science •Does Open Access Publishing go far enough? •Everything needed to reproduce the results should be made public: data, analysis tools, the lot… Why Open Access?
  • 5. Open Access: Green, Gold & Diamond • “Gold” = free to readers, usually paid for by authors (via “Article Processing Charge”) – this is often large, in order to maintain revenue in the absence of subscription income. • “Green” = “free” to authors and readers (e.g. arXiv, institutional repositories, etc) self-archiving (possibly) after an embargo period • “Diamond” = immediately free to authors and readers. • Open Access of some form is often mandatoryor some funding agencies, and this is likely to increase (Plan S). Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 5
  • 7. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 7
  • 8. •Most new astrophysics research has been available via in Open Access format via the arXiv for 30 years. •Running costs are $1M per annum: this amounts to an average of $11 per paper. •Who looks at journals anyway? •Why not just referee the arXiv submissions? •Hence, the arXiv overlay journal. Why Academic Journals?
  • 9. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 9
  • 11. • Online only • We charge no fee to either author or reader. • You (the author) keep copyright to your work. • From acceptance to publication (usually) takes a few hours. • We curate the paper (store in private repository) • We promote papers on social media What do we do differently?
  • 12. •OJAp is a free, open access, community-reviewed “overlay journal” based on the arXiv, i.e. DIAMOND Open Access. •Published by Maynooth Academic Publishing •Annual running cost $2000 •Also thanks to: The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, the arXiv, NASA/ADS, Arfon Smith and Chris Lintott. •See also, e.g., the Journal of Open Source Software (JOSS). The Open Journal of Astrophysics
  • 13. 1. astro-ph.GA - Astrophysics of Galaxies. 2. astro-ph.CO - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics. 3. astro-ph.EP - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics. 4. astro-ph.HE - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena. 5. astro-ph.IM - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics. 6. astro-ph.SR - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics. The six sections of astro-ph…
  • 14. • • Peer Review – usually two referees • Publish – create overlay, issue a DOI and register metadata with CrossRef. • We can now host additional files, e.g. catalogues or software. • Liaise with, e.g., NASA/ADS and Inspire to ensure papers are listed. What do we do?
  • 15. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 15
  • 16. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 16
  • 17. • 110 papers published (to November 21st 2023) • Average of 16.3 citations per paper • Approximately 50% acceptance rate • No “official” Impact Factor (yet) - IF for year N uses N-1 and N-2 and is published in N+1. Some statistics…
  • 18. Journal Impact Factor (𝐼𝐹) Let 𝑁(𝑖) be the number of papers published by the journal in year 𝑖 and let 𝐶(𝑗|𝑚, 𝑛) be the number of citations obtained in year 𝑗 by papers published in the journal in year 𝑚 and year 𝑛. Then the Journal Impact Factor for year 𝑘 is defined to be 𝐼𝐹 𝑘 = 𝐶 𝑘−1 𝑘−2,𝑘−3) 𝑁 𝑘−2 +𝑁(𝑘−3) For example, the Impact Factor for 2022 is based on citations received in 2021 for papers published in 2019 and 2020.
  • 19. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 19
  • 20. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 20
  • 21. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 21
  • 22. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 22
  • 23. Colloquium at IPhT, 28th November 2023 23
  • 24. • Preparation for increasing numbers (automation) • We have applied for listing in the Science Citation Index, WoS, Scopus •“Official” IF • Further cooperation with arXiv • Funding for the Future? Plans for OJAp?
  • 25. • Please consider submitting papers! – if it is appropriate for the astro-ph section of the arXiv then we will consider it! • The rate-limiting step in the publishing process is refereeing, so please take any refereeing requests seriously – this is not a predatory journal! • Support the arXiv! To support the Open Journal of Astrophysics…
  • 26. Academic journals have been publishing the results of biomedical research for more than 350 years. Reviewing their history reveals that the ways in which journals vet submissions have changed over time, culminating in the relatively recent appearance of the current peer-review process. Journal brand and Impact Factor have meanwhile become quality proxies that are widely used to filter articles and evaluate scientists in a hypercompetitive prestige economy. The Web created the potential for a more decoupled publishing system in which articles are initially disseminated by preprint servers and then undergo evaluation elsewhere. To build this future, we must first understand the roles journals currently play and consider what types of content screening and review are necessary and for which papers. A new, open ecosystem involving preprint servers, journals, independent content-vetting initiatives, and curation services could provide more multidimensional signals for papers and avoid the current conflation of trust, quality, and impact. Academia should strive to avoid the alternative scenario, however, in which stratified publisher silos lock in submissions and simply perpetuate this conflation. (Richard Sever, co-founder of bioRxiv and medRxiv.) A Future of Academic Publishing?