Gold OA: The basis for going on (1 of 2)

October 27th, 2015

At this point–seven weeks after The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 was published–it seems like a good time to discuss the issues surrounding possible continuation of this full-survey research for another year (that is, covering 2015, done in 2016).

Part 2 will deal with finances: what it would take to make it happen.

This part deals with a related question: Since I’m not depending on this revenue to keep meals on the table or a roof over our heads, why do I need any revenue for it at all?

[No, nobody’s said that quite so flatly. Still: every time somebody says “there’s something wrong with charging for a writeup about open access or the research it took to do that writeup, because OA’s supposed to be free,” or something of the sort–which has happened every time I or ALA (or MIT) has published something on OA that carries a price–once I calm down, I turn it into the question above.]

Turns out, this is a philosophical question of sorts: Namely, what motivates me to do anything (other than lie around the house, do some housework, read books, watch TV, go for walks and like that)?

That question’s been clarified in my own mind over the years since it’s become clear that Cites & Insights itself is unlikely to attract significant contributions (the total has never reached the high three figures in a year, much less four figures). Here’s how I’ve worked it out in my own head, although I’m sure it’s an incomplete model.

I see four factors: Fun, Interest, Worth/Usefulness/Effectiveness, and Appreciation. Two are internal, two external.

Fun

I do some essays in Cites & Insights because they’re fun or amusing to me. Certainly true of The Back, The Middle, most Media essays (esp. old movies). That’s part of why I started looking at liblogging, library blogging and library slogans (and, for that matter, library use of social media): it was fun.

“Fun” and “interesting” can overlap in slightly unpredictable ways. It was, initially, fun to unveil the realities behind Beall’s lists, and in some ways it’s been fun to see how well Chrome/Google does or does not translate non-English journal websites (and to appreciate some of the blank verse generated by some translations).

Interest

I have lots of interests, and I’ll pursue an interest to what might possibly be considered extremes–I’m a completist in some areas. It has certainly been interesting to examine the Gold OA landscape in detail, and once I got well into it I realized that I wanted to see it through.

Interest certainly explains some ongoing features in Cites & Insights. I don’t find copyright discussions particularly amusing, but they’re interesting, just as one example.

But I have lots of interests, and could readily cultivate more. And time eventually does become a limiting factor. At this point, I don’t expect to live for more than 30 years or so–possibly quite a bit less, probably not much more. (For a long time, I’d pegged 93 as my desirable stopping point; I’ve moved that to 98–which gives me 28 more years–as long as I’m im good mental and reasonable physical health. I have no desire to live to 103 or 108 or some extreme old age–but ask me again 20 years from now, I suppose.) There are a lot of books I’d like to read and quite a few I wouldn’t mind rereading; there are a lot of movies I want to watch; I read and enjoy quite a few magazines (and one daily “paper”); there’s a fair amount of TV I enjoy watching (although probably very little by most people’s standards); lots of music to pay attention to; and… and… and…

So at a certain point I have to balance competing interests, especially since time is finite and some significant portion of it is taken up with household maintenance, family life, sleep (yes, I get 7.5 to 8 hours a day; no, I’m not willing to reduce that much), vacations, exercise and long walks/hikes, etc…

Balance isn’t much of an issue when I’m choosing a book that may take 4-5 hours to read or an essay that may take 5-10 hours to write. It’s a lot more of an issue when I’m contemplating a project that would probably take 500 to 600 hours over the course of six or seven months.

Which is to say: I find the ongoing story of gold OA interesting. Do I find it interesting enough to give up 500-600 hours per year of other stuff? Which brings us to:

Worth/Usefulness/Effectiveness

When something’s fun and not too time-consuming, this and the final factor don’t come into play.

When it’s a question of balance and which projects are worth starting or continuing, this and the final factor definitely do come into play.

To wit: what is this worth (and how useful is it) to me and other people?

(Yes, this and the final factor overlap a lot. That’s how life is.)

I look at readership, citations, and things like that as indications of worth and usefulness. If an issue of C&I is only read 200 times over the course of three months, it apparently wasn’t found to be worthwhile or useful; if it’s read 2,000 times over three months, it apparently was worthwhile or useful.

Of course, worth can also have a financial aspect, which gets more into appreciation: do people find something sufficiently useful or worthwhile to pay for it?

I recognized that my series of books on liblogging had ceased to be worthwhile/useful about a year too late, when sales declined to pretty much nothing and readership for related C&I issues declined substantially. But I did eventually recognize it and stopped doing the series. (A ten-year recap might or might not happen; if it does, it will be at a “this might be fun/interesting” level, not a “people might be willing to buy this” level–there wouldn’t be a book.)

There have been other themes in Cites & Insights that have disappeared because it appeared that people didn’t find them useful or worthwhile. Indeed, I stopped doing individual HTML essays because there didn’t seem to be much demand for them (and it was clear nobody found them worthwhile enough to pay for) and they were never interesting or fun to do–while the single-column version of C&I has proven to be useful enough to keep doing.

As to effectiveness: that’s so hard to measure that I generally ignore it–but I do have to mention it within this discussion.

So how does the OA research fall on the interesting/worthwhile axis?

Journal Readership

Looking at OA-related issues of Cites & Insights over the past two years, including research-based ones and others, I find the following download numbers through this morning at 5:30 a.m. (but missing most of the last day of each month):

  • April 2014 (“The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall”): 10,576, one of the highest total downloads figures ever — but in terms of effectiveness, I look at how often the lists continue to be used as the basis for policy or, sigh, “research,” and have to wonder whether there’s been any real effect at all.
  • May 2014 (“The So-Called Sting”): 4,126 downloads, a high figure.
  • July 2014 (“Journals, ‘Journals’ and Wannabes”): 5,121–a high figure, and since this was a full-issue essay, I can reasonably assume that the readership was entirely related to this essay.
  • August 2014 (“Access and Ethics 3”): 1,643, a decent-but-not-great figure.
  • October/November 2014 (“Journals and ‘Journals’: Taking a Deeper Look”): 1,704, another decent-but-not-great figure.
  • December 2014 (…Part 2): 1,669, another decent-but-not-great figure.
  • January 2015 (“The Third Half”): 2,783, a good solid figure, especially since it represents less than a year.
  • March 2015 (“One More Chunk of DOAJ”): 2,281, a good solid figure, but in this case the essay taking up most of the issue–“Books, E and P, 2014”–probably accounts for much of that, since that’s always been a hot topic.
  • April 2015 (“The Economics of Open Access”): 2,476, a good solid figure–and this one’s a single-essay issue.
  • June 2015 (“Who Needs Open Access Anyway?”): 1,595, a decent figure for five months.
  • July 2015 (“Thinking About Libraries and Access, Take 2”): 839 downloads–and this one’s a little disappointing because that essay was my own take on/beliefs about OA. This suggests that people are a lot less interested in what I think than in what I’ve found out through research. That’s OK, of course…but…
  • October 2015 (“The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014”): 2,169 downloads in the first seven weeks or so, which I regard as very good numbers, especially for the first couple of months.

But…

Appreciated

This shows up in citations elsewhere, tweets and the like, but also in donations and sales (and, heck, speaking invitations–one of the coins of the realm, but there haven’t been any in a couple of years–certainly none related to this research).

When it comes to citations, I don’t have any real complaints; ditto tweets.

As far as donations: still in the low three digits, and that was mostly when I was offering a free ebook and production-priced paperback. None since the project was completed (other than two very small recurring donations that are for C&I, not OA research.)

As for sales…

Book Purchases

For the same period–the books appeared a couple of days before the October 2015 issue did–here’s what I show, not including my own copy: Seven paperback copies, one site-licensed PDF ebook. Total: Eight copies.

In other words, not even one-half of one percent of those who’ve downloaded the October 2015 issue have, so far, found the research sufficiently worthwhile to buy the full story.

Of course, there could be dozens, nay, hundreds of orders just waiting to go to Amazon or Ingram.

So where does this leave me? Wondering whether the effectiveness and demonstrated worth is enough to justify doing it again.

(If you’re wondering, I’d say total revenue counted toward this project–including all donations and all self-published book sales of any sort since September 1, 2015–is more than one-third of the way, but considerably less than halfway, toward being enough to make the anonymized spreadsheet available on figshare. It’s a bit more than one-fifth of the way toward making me think seriously about doing it again.)

Which brings us to Part 2, later today or maybe another day.

 

 

Gold OA: How many no-fee articles?

October 26th, 2015

Earlier this year, in a comment stream on a blog post about open access and fees, one commenter (from the commercial journal field) asked whether there were any actual numbers on how many articles were published in gold OA journals that don’t charge APCs or other author-side fees.

At the time, another commenter responded with my figures from the partial study of gold OA journals, the one that didn’t include journals without English-language interfaces. The total from 2012 through 2014 was around 470,000 articles.

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 includes graphs showing free and paid article counts overall and for each segment and subject, and shows overall article counts and the percentage of free articles, making it easy to calculate approximate counts, but I didn’t actually include the figures that create the graphs; that would have been redundant and I was trying to keep the book as short as possible. And the excerpted version in Cites & Insights didn’t include graphs at all.

So, for what it’s worth, here are some key figures for articles published in serious gold OA journals (those listed in DOAJ ) and graded A or B in my study) that do not charge APCs or other author-side fees.

Overall

Among the DOAJ journals included in The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 (grades A & B), 7,048 did not charge APCs. Those journals published 177,855 articles in 2011, 198,552 articles in 2012, 206,561 articles in 2013 and 206,588 in 2014. That’s a total of 789,556 articles during the four-year period in serious gold OA journals without author-side fees.

Biology and Medicine

For this segment, there were 57,627 articles in 2011, 63,411 in 2012, 64,735 in 2013 and 66,057 in 2014, for a total of 251,830 articles during the four-year period in serious gold OA journals without author-side fees.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Serious gold OA journals without APCs or other author-side fees in this segment published 52,892 articles in 2011; 59,593 in 2012; 64,637 in 2013; and 65,088 in 2014, for a total of 242,210 articles during the four-year period.

Humanities and Social Sciences

Serious gold OA journals without APCs or other author-side fees in this segment published 67,350 articles in 2011; 75,556 in 2012; 77,189 in 2013; and 75.443 in 2014, for a total of 295,538 articles during the four-year period.

Surprised that there were more no-fee articles in the humanities and social sciences than in either biomed or STEM? You shouldn’t be.

By the way, today (Monday, October 26, 2015) is the last day to get 30% off this or any other Lulu books using coupon code OCTFLASH30.

30% sale extended through October 26

October 23rd, 2015

Lulu rarely offers a 30% discount. (For some of my books, that means Lulu’s covering the entire cost of production!)

It’s even rarer for Lulu to offer a flash sale of such magnitude and then extend it.

But that’s what they’ve done: coupon code OCTFLASH30 gets 30% off Lulu print books (one order per customer but as many books as you want in that order) through Monday, October 26, 2015.

Instead of deleting yesterday’s one-day post about the sale, I’ve modified it to reflect the longer term (and to thank the person or persons who not only saved $18 by buying The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 but saved $13.50 each by buying the 2013 and 2014 paperback annual editions of Cites & Insights, including indexes).

The original post is here; what you specifically need to know is coupon code OCTFLASH30 (capitalization does matter!) and that it’s a great time to buy the new book or the annual volumes. (Yes, all net revenues, including those from C&I volumes, will count toward monetary targets for freeing the 2011-2014 data and continuing my OA research.)

If you want to browse all of my currently available Lulu books (including Your Library Is…, a charming little book that’s fairly cheap in any case), go to my Lulu storefront, which also includes the family history books my wife’s written.

Save $18 on The Gold OA Landscape, through 10/26: OCTFLASH30

October 22nd, 2015

Lulu’s having a one-day 30% sale on print books: just use the coupon code

OCTFLASH30

It’s only good today, October 22, 2015 (I’ll delete this post tomorrow).

Update Friday, October 23: To my considerable surprise–this is unusual for such a large discount–Lulu’s extended the 30% sale through Monday, October 26.

That brings The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, paperback version, down to $42–less than you’d pay at Amazon.

You can buy any number of print books in a single order and get the same 30% discount.

Note that coupon codes are case-sensitive.

Addendum Friday, October 23: I’m delighted to see one sale of The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 yesterday, together with one sale each of the 2013 and 2014 annual paperback compilations of Cites & Insights. If that was all a single purchase, that’s great too. (Yes, I’ll count the net revenue from those purchases, typically $23 to $27 depending on the size of the volume, toward revenue goals for continuing OA research.) At sale prices, the annual paperbacks–which include mediocre indexes and, in most cases, spectacular wraparound photographic covers–cost $31.50 each.)

 

 

You’re a PPPPredator! You’re a PPPPredator! You’re ALL PPPPredators!

October 20th, 2015

I think I finally get it: what Jeffrey Beall is driving at, given his apparent standard that One Bad Article Condemns An Entire Publisher and his apparent plan to discredit each significant gold OA publisher for some reason, one at a time…

Namely, he’s too narrow but he’s right–and I’m using “PPPPredator” for “potential, possible or probable predatory publisher.”

I apologize for doubting him; I simply failed to realize the Oprahism in what he’s saying, once you remove the OA-only blinders: to wit, every publisher is a PPPPredator.

No? Consider:

  • BMC is owned by Springer Nature, so now that Beall’s pointing out one possibly-defective article in one journal from BMC–but phrasing it as an attempt to discredit BMC in general, with the tagline “This is scholarly open-access publishing,” it only makes sense to conclude that Springer Nature is a PPPPredator.
  • Frontiers just had the honor of being added to Beall’s list because…well, because Beall Gets Complaints. (But then, it’s also part of Springer Nature and we already know Springer Nature is a PPPPredator) Corrected: While Holzbrinck, owner of Nature Publishing Group (now part of Springer Nature), is a minority investor in Frontiers, NPG itself does not own Frontiers. I regret the error/oversimplification.
  • Beall’s made it clear that APC-charging journals inherently represent a conflict of interest (but apparently subscription journals with page charges don’t), and pretty much every major subscription journal publisher now has at least “hybrid” journals (it appears that a substantial majority of subscription journals from larger publishers now have “hybrid” options, at least based on Outsell’s reports), and most of them have APC-charging Gold OA journals, then Elsevier, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, SAGE, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, the American Chemical Society, BMJ, RSC, IOP, American Institute of Physics…all PPPPredators. (With a bit of research, I could extend that list quite a bit…)
  • AAAS (publishers of Science)? Yep. Science Advances (even if the others aren’t “hybrid,” which I don’t know), so AAAS is a PPPPredator.
  • Hmm. That does leave gold OA publishers funded by means other than APCs, but since Beall’s already attempted to discredit SciELO and Redalyc for being “favelas,” I’m sure he has similar approaches at the ready for other serious non-APC gold publishers.

So there it is. You’re a PPPPredator! You’re a PPPPredator! You’re all PPPPredators!

(Now that I think of it, I don’t believe ALA has any APC-charging gold OA journals or hybrid journals, although it does have  both non-APC gold OA and subscription journals…but ALA’s published my writing on open access (or my “bilge” as Beall termed it in one of his never-ad-hominem remarks, which he since deleted from the comment stream in which it appeared), so they must be a PPPPredator.)

Well, that’s a relief.

Actually, it’s also true: any publisher is potentially a predatory publisher, especially when one man gets to determine what’s predatory. Pretty much every publisher will occasionally publish a “bad” paper, possibly one that some others think is “obviously” bad, possibly even one that’s plagiarized. Pretty much every publisher will have at least one journal where at some point the editorial board or peer review may involve issues (excessive publication, editorial overrides, etc.).

I need to modify some previous conclusions. As far as I can tell, somewhere between 1.4 and 2.5 million papers were published last year by PPPPredatory publishers,in the most general sense.

If you want to avoid all PPPPredatory publishers….you’ll just have to self-publish or go directly to arXiv or some other archive.

Or you could step back, take a deep breath, and look at journals using a little judgment and, for open access, the Directory of Open Access Journals, a whitelist that’s getting better and better. And maybe a little common sense. If you believe your already-paid-for scholarly research deserves the widest possible audience, there are thousands of serious gold OA journals available that don’t even charge author-side fees. (At least 6,383 of them published articles in 2014.)

Oh, and since this is my own odd little contribution to Open Access Week, let me add: If you want to know more about the realities of serious gold OA publishing from 2011 through 2014, based on a 100% “sample” of what’s out there, I’ll recommend my book The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, available in paperback form or as a site-licensed non-DRM PDF ebook. Every library school should have a copy; so should every serious OA publisher, at the very least. So, IMNSHO, should every ARL library.


A couple of non-footnotes:

  • What? You believe one fundamentally flawed journal is enough to discredit a publisher, even if one article isn’t? You might check into the publisher that continues to publish a “scientific” journal that presumes that water somehow has memory… Just a hint, the name begins with Els…
  • If you think I’m saying “All publishers are alike” or “There are no fundamentally defective journals” or “There are no publishers more interested in scamming money than in actual scholarship”–I’m not.
  • If you think I’m saying “Blacklists are fundamentally flawed, and any transparent blacklist would include every major publisher”–well, yes, I am.
  • NOTE: A handful of possibly-inflammatory words changed at 4:15 p.m. PDT October 20, 2015. The message stays the same.
  • And, of course, “pretty much every” does not at all mean “every,” just “many or most large and well-known.” Maybe it’s in the same truth-space as “all gold OA publishing involves APCs.” Maybe not.

The Gold OA Landscape: quick update

October 16th, 2015

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014 came out on September 11, 2015* (35 days ago). The free excerpted version, Cites & Insights 15.9, came out the next day (September 12, 2015).

To date (excluding most of September 30 for the C&I figures):

  • The single-column version of C&I 15.9 has been downloaded at least 1,607 times, while the two-column version has been downloaded at least 202 times. So apparently 1,809 people (or more) find the work worthwhile.
  • Other than my own copy, the paperback edition has sold five copies, the site-licensed PDF ebook has sold one copy.
  • Exactly one copy of the book has sold in the first half of October 2015; the previous sale was on September 24, so one copy of the book has sold in the last 22 days.
  • New contributions to C&I to encourage continued work, since September 11, 2015: $0.
  • New sources of funding: Zero.

It’s early yet, but the nearly complete lack of activity is not encouraging. (The single copy sold in October was purchased from Lulu’s German outpost.) I’m roughly one-sixth of the way toward making the data freely available and one-tenth of the way toward considering continued research.

(There are no copies in Worldcat so far. That’s not surprising. It is gratifying to see that Open Access: What You Need to Know Now shows 1,216 copies in Worldcat.org. Maybe I should have quit while I was ahead…)


*Technically, the ebook came out on September 10, but didn’t yet have the explicit site license statement.

Frontiers: Get the numbers right

October 15th, 2015

On October 13, 2015, Frontiers posted a piece on its blog, “Frontiers’ financial commitment to open access publishing.” It’s sort of an effort to be transparent about the OA publisher’s finances, although “sort of” may be the right qualifier, as it lumps all the publishing-related stuff into one $6.8 million chunk (only 34% of total spending).

But I’m not commenting on the piece in general; at least, it’s more data than we have for a lot of other players in scholarly journals. Instead, I’m concerned about the second paragraph, because I believe it at tends to undermine the remainder of the post.

I have a slight concern about the very first sentence in the post as well, to wit “In 2014, the annual cost of traditional, subscription-based scholarly journal publishing was $14 Billion” Suddenly seeing total spending on traditional scholarly journals (this isn’t cost, this is price) jump by 40% is rather startling. But at least that figure is sourced, sort of: apparently it involves combining two different reports, one of them published before the year it supposedly covers. But I’ll leave that for somebody else to deal with.

Here’s the paragraph in question:

Open Access does away with subscriptions to allow any reader in the world unrestricted access to scholarly articles. To provide this option, Open Access publishers directly charge the authors an Article Publishing Charge (APC), which authors typically pay from their grants or receive institutional support to cover the cost. The APC generally ranges from $500 to $6,000 with an industry average of around $3,000. Often people wonder “Where does this money go?”

The first sentence is just fine. The last sentence is just fine.

But those middle two sentences:

To provide this option, Open Access publishers directly charge the authors an Article Publishing Charge (APC), which authors typically pay from their grants or receive institutional support to cover the cost.

Can y’all repeat with me the old refrain? Most OA journals do not have Article Publishing Charges. And yet this sentence doesn’t say “most Open Access publishers” (which would be false) or “the OA publishers publishing the most articles” (which would be true for some fields and as a whole, but false for others). Nope. It’s an unqualified “Open Access publishers.” Which is convenient, of course, if you’re an APC-charging OA publisher…

I’ll give you two real numbers–one that’s Published by a Reputable Publisher but covers only about two-thirds of serious gold OA journals (that is, the journals in DOAJ), another that covers nearly all serious gold OA journals but is not Published by a Reputable Publisher, instead being self-published by, well, me.

Published by a Reputable Publisher*:

67% of the gold OA journals that are accessible to English-speaking readers, reachable on the web, and actually published articles between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2014 do not charge article processing charges. (Biomed is the only broad segment in which a slight majority of journals–53%–do have APCs.)

Published by Walt Crawford with transparent methodology:

Of the 9,512 gold OA journals that don’t raise warning flags and published articles between 2011 and 2014, 74% do not charge APCs. (A higher percentage of non-English journals are free to authors.) Of the 8,760 that actually published articles in 2014, 72.9% do not charge APCs. In 2014, 42.8% of articles in gold OA journals were in journals that don’t charge APCs. Even in biomed, a majority of journals (56.2%) do not charge APCs.

Now, let’s look at the second of the two offending sentences:

The APC generally ranges from $500 to $6,000 with an industry average of around $3,000.

As with the first sentence, this one’s not sourced, but here are some real numbers–again, one covering two-thirds of serious gold OA journals (those at least partly accessible to English-speaking people) and Published by a Reputable Publisher, and one covering nearly all serious gold OA journals:

Published by a Reputable Publisher*:

Fees range from $8 to $5,000. The average is such a silly figure that it wasn’t published, but only 12% of APC-charging journals charge $2,000 or more and only 16 out of 2,064 charge $3,000 or more. So an “industry average” of $3,000 must define the “industry” to include only the 30 most expensive journals. (42% of the journals charge less than $450, for what that’s worth.)

Based on article counts, the average APC per article in APC-charging journals is $1,045; the average across all articles is $630. Even for biomed, the average across APC-charging journals is $1,460, a far cry from $3,000.

Even in biomed, a minority of APC-charging journals charge $1,451 or more.

Published by Walt Crawford with transparent methodology:

I didn’t provide top and bottom figures because they’re not very meaningful, but the top quadrant of APC-charging journals (that is, the 25% with highest APCs) begins at $1,420 and the second quadrant begins at $600, so the average is somewhere in the $600 range. (Even in biomed, only 520 out of 1,365 APC-charging journals charges $1,420 or more.)

Based on article counts, the average charge per article for APC-charging journals in biomed was $949 in 2014.

Let’s look directly at the spreadsheet (not published, and in this case I’ll even include a few hundred journals that seem to be sketchy–those graded C–for a total of 9,824 journals):

  • The highest APC in 2014 was still $5,000, with only one journal at that level, but among this broader group of journals, there are 28 charging $3,000 or more–that is, 28 out of 2,619 APC-charging journals.
  • The low is now $2 (in U.S. dollars), not $8.
  • The average APC is $830.
  • The median APC is $600, as you’d expect.

Ah, but those numbers include a few journals that I regard as sketchy. So let’s look at just the 9,512 journals that appear to be good:

  • The high is still $5,000, with 28 journals out of 2,470 charging $3,000 or more. (That’s just a little over 1%–an odd version of “average.”)
  • The low is still $2.
  • The average APC per journal, a very silly figure, is now $842.
  • The median APC is…still $600.

I suppose you could inflate that “average APC” a lot by including so-called “hybrid” journals, which tend to charge extremely high fees for the handful of suckers wealthy authors/funding agencies that pay to (possibly) make their articles open while shoring up the $10 (or $14?) billion subscription marketplace. But by my reading, it’s a bad set of numbers (with no sources provided).

*Open-Access Journals: Idealism and Opportunism, published as the August/September 2015 issue of Library Technology Reports, an imprint of the American Library Association.

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014: Medicine

October 12th, 2015

Another in an intermittent series of posts encouraging folks to buy The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, in part by noting what’s not in the excerpted Cites & Insights version.

Chapter 10 is Medicine–which probably should be broken into, say, half a dozen subsets, but I don’t know enough to make that breakdown. It’s by far the largest subject, as noted in the excerpted version.

A few items from the book’s coverage:

  • While a majority of articles published in serious gold OA journals in 2013 and 2014 involve APCs, a majority of those in 2011 and 2012 were in no-fee journals.
  • Fee-based articles have more than doubled since 2011.
  • 44% of articles involving APCs appeared in journals within the most expensive segment, $1,960 and up–and the average for articles involving APCs was $1,446 per article ($854 per article overall).
  • There does seem to be a gold rush of APC-charging journals starting in 2007 and peaking in 2009-2010.
  • You can probably guess the two countries publishing the most medicine articles in 2014, but maybe not the order: UK first, US second. Iran is sixth. For the rest of the 22 countries with at least 1,000 articles, see the book.

Much, much more in the book. Worthwhile for your library or if you’re seriously interested in OA. If enough copies sell (no change in the last week), the anonymized spreadsheet will go up on figshare; if enough more copies sell (or some other form of funding comes through), the study will be continued in 2016 for 2015 publications.

And you can buy the book through Amazon (and possibly Ingram), although it counts three times as much toward sales goals if you buy through Lulu.

This should not be my fight

October 7th, 2015

I’ve probably said this before, but thinking about yesterday’s post reminded me of it once again.

That is:

This should not be my fight.

No, I haven’t gone to each site that wrote a story touting the Shen/Björk article to point out the problems with the data–especially now that it’s clear what the response will be. Somebody should. They have the actual data.

But it shouldn’t be me. It’s really not my fight.

I didn’t even start out to discredit Beall’s lists. I did cross swords with him on his absurd notion that the Big Deal had solved the serials crisis, but I did a real-world study of the journals and publishers on his lists to get a reality check. I was fully ready to believe that the picture was as bleak as he painted it–and if that’s how the data had come out, that’s how I would have published it.

After all: I don’t publish any OA journals. I’m not on the editorial board of any OA journals. I don’t need publications for tenure (I’m retired and was never in a tenure-track position). I don’t make big bucks from speaking fees (haven’t done many appearances lately, and that’s OK). I sure as heck don’t make big bucks from the data gathering and analysis, although ALA Editions has published some of my work in the area (not big bucks, but some bucks and a venue I regard highly).

For that matter, I’ve been the subject of ad hominem attacks from Stevan Harnad as well as Jeffrey Beall, so I’m not even well-liked among all OA folks.

What I’ve been trying to do is see what’s actually happening and bring my 26 years of off-and-on experience with OA to bear in looking at what’s going on now and what’s being said. My mildly obsessive personality and retired status, and reasonably well organized techniques, have allowed me to do some large-scale studies that wouldn’t have been done otherwise. (With modest funding, I’d keep on doing them.)

It’s painful to see questionable results spread far and wide: it hurts good OA (the bulk of it) and probably doesn’t do much to questionable OA. It’s painful to see librarians and others take the easy way out, relying on a seriously defective set of blacklists rather than starting with an increasingly good whitelist (DOAJ) and working from there.

I’ll continue to provide facts and perspectives. (I’ve just subdivided a bunch of tagged items into a baker’s dozen subtopics within the overall “Ethics and Access” topic. That’s probably the December Cites & Insights; it might also be the January one, depending on how it goes.) I’ll continue to post the occasional post. I’m hoping some libraries, librarians, OA folks and others will eventually buy the book (which is apparently now available on Amazon as well as via Lulu; it may also be on Ingram, but I have no way of testing that). It’s always a pleasure to see my work being cited or used where it’s appropriate.

I’m not going away just yet…but as for coping with all the misrepresentations well, it’s not (or at least not entirely) my fight.


For those of you who need a Respectable Published Source:

I refer you to Open-Access Journals: Idealism and Opportunism, published by the American Library Association. That link gets you to the $43 40-page monograph (published as the August/September 2015 issue of Library Technology Reports). You can also go here to read the first chapter or order the ebook version (I believe you can also order individual chapters). If you’re in one of the several hundred libraries that subscribes to Library Technology Reports, it should already be available to you. (The link here is to one of two worldcat.org records for the series.)

Open-Access Journals: Idealism and Opportunism was professionally copy-edited, edited, and typeset. It was also reviewed by three professionals (two librarians, one other), although that wasn’t formal peer review. It’s concise, and includes not only real-world figures for 6,490 gold OA journals (in DOAJ) publishing 366,210 articles in 2013, it includes chapters on the “sideshow” of Beall’s lists, dealing with OA journals (including spotting questionable journals), and libraries and OA journals.

(It’s not a complete survey of DOAJ, because it doesn’t include journals that lack an English-language interface option. It also goes through June 30, 2014 rather than the end of 2014–thus, the 366,210 count is for 2013). It’s also, of course, far less detailed than The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014.

But it’s concise, well-edited, based on an actual survey rather than sampling, and published by what I consider to be the premier publisher in librarianship, part of the world’s largest library association. So it has that level of authority that my self-pubbed works may not have.

The author? Walt Crawford. (No, I’m not angling for extra money here: the fee for preparing the issue was a one-time fee, with no royalties. But the final chapters make it a great resource, and for those who require Reputable Publishers, you don’t get more reputable than ALA.)

 

 

The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014: a brief note on numbers

October 6th, 2015

oa14c300Here’s the tl;dr version: Go buy The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014, either the $60 paperback or the $55 site-licensed PDF ebook (the contents are identical other than the copyright page/ISBN). I try to be wholly transparent about my investigations, and I’m confident that TGOAL represents the most accurate available count for serious gold OA publishing (excluding non-DOAJ members, “hybrids” and other stuff). Oh, and if enough copies are sold, I’ll keep doing this research…which I don’t think anybody else is going to do and which, as far as I can tell, can’t really be automated.

Running the Numbers

Now that I’ve said that, I won’t repeat the sales pitch. You presumably already know that you can get a hefty sampling of the story in Cites & Insights 15:9–but the full story is much more complete and much more interesting.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten involved or failed to get involved in a number of discussions about numbers attached to OA.

On September 30, I posted “How many articles, how many journals?,” raising questions about statistics published in MDPI’s Sciforum asserting the number of OA journals and articles–numbers much lower than the ones I’ve derived by actual counting. I received email today regarding the issues I raised:

Thank you for passing this on. I think it’s quite difficult to pin down exactly how many papers are published, never mind adding in vagueries about the definition of ‘predatory’ or ‘questionable’ publishers. The data on Sciforum are taken from Crossref and, on http://sciforum.net/statistics/open-access-papers-published-per-year, shows about 300,000 OA articles published in 2014. The difference may depend on correct deposition (including late or not at all), article types or publishers just not registered with Crossref. I think ball-park figures are about the closest we can get as things stand.

Well…yes and no. I think it’s highly likely that many smaller OA journals aren’t Crossref members or likely to become Crossref members: for little journals done out of a department’s back pocket, even $275/year plus $1/article is a not insignificant sum.

What bothers me here is not that the numbers are different, but that there seems to be no admission that a full manual survey is likely to produce more accurate numbers, not just a different “ball-park figure.” And that “pinning down” accurate numbers is aided by, you know, actually counting them. The Sciforum numbers are based on automated techniques: that’s presumably easy and fast, but that doesn’t make it likely to be right.

Then there’s the Shen/Björk article…which, as I might have expected, has been publicized all over the place, always with the twin effects of (a) making OA look bad and (b) providing further credibility to the one-man OA wrecking crew who shall go nameless here. The Retraction Watch article seems to be the only place there’s been much discussion of what may be wrong with the original article. Unfortunately, here is apparently the totality of what Björk chooses to say about mine and other criticisms:

“Our research has been carefully done using standard scientific techniques and has been peer reviewed by three substance editors and a statistical editor. We have no wish to engage in a possibly heated discussion within the OA community, particularly around the controversial subject of Beall’s list. Others are free to comment on our article and publish alternative results, we have explained our methods and reasoning quite carefully in the article itself and leave it there.”

Whew. No willingness to admit that their small sample could easily have resulted in estimates that are nearly three times too high. No willingness to admit that the author-nationality portion, based on fewer than 300 articles, is even more prone to sampling error. They used “standard scientific techniques” so the results must be accurate.

No, I’m not going around to all the places that have touted the Shen/Björk article to add comments. Not only is life too short, I don’t believe it will do much good.

The best I can do is transparent research with less statistical inference and more reliance on dealing with heterogeneity by full-scale testing, and hope that it will be useful. A hope that’s sometimes hard to keep going.

Meanwhile: I continue to believe that a whitelist approach–DOAJ‘s tougher standards–is far superior to a blacklist approach, especially given the historical record of blacklists.