May 12, 2005
The Task Force met regularly during the 2004-2005 academic year in order to:
Our findings are documented in the attached report and appendices. Briefly, the practices that impede an open and sustainable system of scholarly communication and threaten the viability of research libraries include:
Actions that faculty members can take to improve the sustainability of scholarly communication include:
Framework for communicating findings to OSU Faculty include:
Draft Report to the Faculty Senate
May 12, 2005
Current Practices That Impede An Open and Sustainable System of Scholarly Publication
Several practices impede the development and maintenance of an open and sustainable system of scholarly communication. These practices, or impediments, collectively threaten the viability and even survival of research libraries around the world. These impediments are :
Data collected by the Association of Research Libraries indicates that the cost for serials by North American research libraries, such as the OSU Libraries, increased 227% between 1986 and 2002. (In the same period, the consumer price index increased 57%.) These rising prices are driven primarily by journals dedicated to science, medicine, and technology. During the 1990s, such serials had annual price increases of about 12%, on average. The 2002 spending on serials was three times that spent in 1986. The end result is a decline in the number of serial titles purchased and directly available for faculty and student use. These data are representative of the situation faced by OSU Libraries.
Studies have suggested that this rise in journal costs results from the increasing commercialization of science publishing. Commercially published journals are much more expensive than professional society, not-for-profit journals (although there are exceptions). Commercial publishing organizations are publishing seven times more journals than are professional associations (e.g., McCabe, 2000; also see Case, 2002), whereas 20 years ago there were many more society-owned journals than commercially-owned journals.
In the last 20 years, many not-for-profit journals, strapped for money, have been purchased by commercial publishers. Elsevier, the largest commercial publisher, owns approximately 1,400 journals. The OSU Libraries subscribe to approximately 400 Elsevier journals at a total annual cost of $800,000. This figure represents 20% of the entire materials budget and 25% of the serials budget. The rapidly rising cost of these journals is occurring in an economic context of flat or declining funding for research libraries.
Serial costs are out of control and are outpacing the consumer price index. Library budgets in general, and OSU's in particular, have not had corresponding budget funding increases to match the increases in serial costs. It is unrealistic to expect the OSU Libraries budget to increase significantly in the near future. Although we would like to see more robust funding for the OSU Libraries, the root problem is not library funding. Even if library funding was increased dramatically, the serial crisis would still be with us.
The immediate and obvious strategy for this serials crisis is to cancel journals, perhaps beginning with the most expensive and lowest use journals. Research libraries everywhere are engaging in the painful process of terminating subscriptions to large numbers of serials. In the 1990s, the University of Wisconsin library cut more than 7,000 subscriptions to academic journals. In the last five years, the OSU Libraries, which has a much smaller collection than Wisconsin, has cut approximately 1,500 journals. No end to these cuts is in sight. Higher costs, increasing publications numbers and shrinking library budgets have constrained access to published information among research libraries.
A steady increase in the number of serials being published, both in traditional paper and on-line, compounds the problem. Some new journals are now being published exclusively on-line. Questions regarding emerging systems for the storage and retrieval of on-line serial archives remain unresolved.
New on-line and low cost journals and other outlets for scholarly communication face challenges because of the "high impact" factor. In the culture of academe, especially as it relates to the promotion and tenure process, more weight is given to journals that have been deemed "high impact". Most high impact journals are older and well established, and are often owned by commercial interests. Newly emerging on-line and open access journals, given their recency, will inevitably be rated "low impact". Therefore, the use of the high-impact factor index tends to inhibit scholars, especially junior scholars, from publishing their work in alternative, less expensive publications . Although many (less expensive) society journals have high impact ratings, the preponderance of commercial high impact publications tends to impede the development of open and sustainable systems for scholarly communication.
Finally, a central question (actually, a paradox) relates to the control, ownership, and sharing of information. In the current system, researchers are usually supported by their universities or through public money of some kind, such as federal grants. With taxpayer support, faculty conduct research and write their results for publication. Researchers submit their work to publishers, who accept, edit, package and disseminate the articles in their journals. Most publishers require that authors give them copyright ownership. Publishers then turn around and sell back to researchers and universities the research paid for by public sector funding agencies. Publishers, especially commercial companies, are "in control ... with the ownership of scholarship and with the right to sell it as a commodity" (Branin & Case, 1998). The current system of copyright practiced by most commercial publishers impedes an open flow of information generated by scholarly work.
Possible Solutions Via Actions By OSU Faculty
Editors, editorial board advisors and society executive committee members:
Editors, editorial board advisors and society executive committee members may have influence or even decision-making authority on their journal's pricing and access policies. Editors and editorial board advisors for publishers who engage in unfair and unsustainable pricing practices can threaten to step down if pricing practices persist. OSU faculty who serve on executive committees can help societies to continue to self-publish journals, to publish them through open-access vehicles, or to publish them in association with for-profit publishers with reasonable pricing and copyright practices. They can help to persuade societies to keep control over their journals and their journal pricing and access policies. Even without decision-making authority, they can draw the attention of other executive committee members to society practices regarding pricing and access.
Editors can encourage publishers to make issues freely available for a limited time after publication. HighWire Press, out of Stanford University, publishes journals online for societies and publishers, making online content freely available immediately after publication or after a limited amount of time (6-12 months) designated by the publisher or society.
Editors can also encourage publishers and societies to allow authors to retain copyright permissions and/or to self-archive copies of their articles in institutional repositories or on pre-print servers such as arXiv or PubMed. The self-archiving of articles makes the research freely available and accessible to the world through search engines. OSU Libraries is piloting an Institutional Repository that allows authors to submit articles, technical reports and other university research that will be permanently archived and accessible. See Appendix 1.
Before deciding on an outlet, authors should learn about the publisher, its pricing practices, and its for-profit status. Whenever possible, authors should publish in journals that are reasonably priced, that allow authors to retain copyright, that have transparent pricing, and that do not bundle high- and lesser-impact journals. Authors are encouraged to choose open access options for their published work or to publish in journals that make back issues freely available after a limited amount of time (usually 6-12 months). Information on journal ratings for copyright issues and level of electronic access available to authors and readers can be found at SHERPA. Authors should also retain copyright of their work for personal and institutional use, such as the soon-to-be-established Institutional Repository at OSU.
Faculty members should support non-profit scholarly societies by volunteering to review for them and by refusing to review papers for high-priced commercial journals.
Promotion and Tenure
OSU guidelines for publication in support of promotion and tenure emphasize scholarship and creative activity that is validated by peers and then is communicated. OSU already acknowledges that scholarship takes many forms. Similarly, scholarly publication can meet the two key criteria (peer review and communication beyond the University) in electronic journals that are produced by entities following a number of business models. Society presses, open access journals, and electronic archives are publication models that meet these key criteria. Because standards for promotion and tenure are set within colleges, the Scholarly Communication Task Force urges college faculties and administrators to look beyond commercially produced journals whose inflating costs are limiting accessibility and scholarly communication. Academic units should consider publication models in which scholarship is broadly circulated in a way that is consistent with standards of peer review and scholarly excellence.
Specific Actions for Improving Scholarly Communication
We propose specific actions to address current problems with scholarly communication. Because many faculty are unaware of the extent of the existing problems, a critical component of any solution involves the education of the faculty . Our recommendations are:
FRAMEWORK FOR COMMUNICATING THESE FINDINGS TO OSU FACULTY
Progress during 2004-2005:
Presentations on the library's cost of discipline specific journals for Chemistry (Carter), COAS (Wheeler), and HDFS (Walker) (Completed Spring Term 2005)
Proposals for 2005-2006
Publish a series of articles in OSU This Week on the work of the Scholarly Communication Task Force. Topics should include: cost of journals, open access, institutional repository, impact factors, and electronic access to back issues.
Proposals for 2006-: