By Jon Tennant – The world of scholarly communication is broken. Giant, corporate publishers with racketeering business practices and profit margins that exceed Apple’s treat life-saving research as a private commodity to be sold at exorbitant profits. Only around 25 per cent of the global corpus of research knowledge is ‘open access’, or accessible to the public for free and without subscription, which is a real impediment to resolving major problems, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Recently, Springer Nature, one of the largest academic publishers in the world, had to withdraw its European stock market floatation due to a lack of interest. This announcement came just days after Couperin, a French consortium, canceled its subscriptions to Springer Nature journals, after Swedish and German universities canceled their Elsevier subscriptions to no ill effect, besides replenished library budgets. At the same time, Elsevier has sued Sci-Hub, a website that provides free, easy access to 67 million research articles. All evidence of a broken system.
The European Commission is currently letting publishers bid for the development of an EU-wide open-access scholarly publishing platform. But is the idea for this platform too short-sighted?
What the Commission is doing is essentially finding new ways of channeling public funds into private hands.
At the same time, due to the scale of the operation, it prevents more innovative services from getting a foothold into the publishing world. This is happening at the same time as these mega-publishers are moving into controlling the entire research workflow – from ideation to evaluation. Researchers will become the provider, the product, and the consumer. more>