Snakes and Ladders in Publishing

Snakes and Ladders in Publishing


It’s great to be here. This is my first
visit to Perth. I was told that when I came to Western Australia that, apparently nobody
in Australia cares about New Zealand, was the first thing I was told. And the second
thing they said was when you come to Western Australia, everybody, well, they don’t care
about the East. So I feel like I’m, you know, in slightly dangerous territory here
but anyway it’s very good to be here. I was asked to talk about scholarly publishing.
And I’m going to try and, I want to talk to you about it in the context of a lot of
different bits and pieces. And the title that I came up with was Snakes and Ladders. Now
of course, one of the things I really love about Australia, having not been here terribly
long is the dangerous wildlife, and everybody when I came here, everybody was kind of joking
about it. So I thought Snakes and Ladders would be a good title for the talk. I’m
going to not talk actually about too many snakes, but I do want to talk about why I
think ladders or tools are important. Because one of the things that I hear a lot about
when I talk with academics is the need to understand or the need to know more about
the current scholarly publishing landscape. Which is getting pretty complex. It’s very
interesting, I think it’s really fascinating. And there are lots of things that have changed
from when many of us used to publish a few years ago. So that’s the general theme,
so that’s the last time you’ll see a ladder but there you go, that was my intention when
I set this up. All right, so. Not so much a ladder, I think it’s a toolbox. This is
what we need. And if you were to, if I were to give this slide actually even five years
ago, I think there would only be one or two of these things on it, probably only one of
them. And why do they matter? It’s because when you’re publishing nowadays, it’s
not just about picking a journal, throwing it into the peer review and seeing what comes
out at the end. There’s a whole range of extra complex things happening. And I guess
what would be really good to hopefully have a sense of for you at the end of this is what
these tools are, why they’re particularly useful, and how they can help you avoid some
of the real pitfalls that I think there are in scholarly publishing. But also to you know,
use your research to make sure it actually gets disseminated in the way that you want
it to get disseminated. So this is a slide that if you’ve ever seen me talk, I apologise.
I’ve put this up a few times. I’ve actually been using it for quite a few years now, and
I think the most amazing thing about this is it, it talks about the future of the web
but it also talks about the fact that we never actually, when it was invented we didn’t
really understand what the possibilities associated with it were. James Boyle who wrote this is
somebody who’s done a huge amount of thinking on the, on the web and the future of it and
he makes the point that if you were to invent the internet right now we probably would not,
we wouldn’t understand the possibilities that were associated with it. And I think
we’d actually probably do things that would put boundaries around it, that make, would
make it not as useful as it could be. And what’s happened I think is that because
the internet grew up in the way that it did, many areas of publishing, many areas of society
more generally have exploited the internet in a way that scholarly publishing simply
hasn’t. And one of my frustrations I think is that
particularly academics have for a very long time, ended up being in this world where they’ve
not been able to exploit the possibilities. So I guess where I see the future is that
we begin to really use it for what it can do.
However, saying all that, we have gone quite a long way from the beginning of publishing.
So, for those of you that haven’t been paying attention to anniversaries, this is the 350th
anniversary of the Royal Society’s first scholarly journal.
I went to a meeting in the UK on it a few weeks ago which was on the, it was quite funny,
it was on the future of scholarly publishing. So it was at the Royal Society, which if you
haven’t been to Royal Society has an enormous number of portraits of mostly elderly white
men in wigs round the walls. There a quite a lot of elderly men in the
room actually, frankly, and we’re supposed to be discussing the future of scholarly publishing.
So at one point somebody said you know we actually just need to do this meeting again
with people a generation younger and then we can really talk about the future.
It was like, it was quite a weird meeting. But it was good and there was something that
came out of it which I’ll come back to, really I think, have changed, made a lot of
people think quite hard about what the future had to be.
However the Royal Society is also interesting because they are a publisher themselves and
for quite a long time they were quite cautious, I would say, about open access in a way that
was quite interesting. And then in 2014 they launched a very nice
open access journal which is this one. It’s called Royal Society Open Science.
So it only took them 349 years to join the revolution but never mind they got there in
the end. And it’s published some really fascinating
things and the most interesting thing I think about it is that it’s, this is a journal
that is beginning to exploit the fact that publishing nowadays needs to move beyond just
what is essentially a web version of an original publication like this, a PDF, which is what
most academics I think still find most useful, to things where the main publication actually
is some sort of media. So for example, this one is a, I’m not going
to play it but if you have a chance, do look at it.
This a beautiful example of where the primary information within the paper is a lovely video
of this beautiful thing which is called, which is Ruby the red sea dragon which is a, was
discovered in the Western Australian museum and was reclassified earlier this year as
a new species of sea dragon. And so the original, the whole point of this
is that the paper itself, to some extent, is an ancillary to what the primary data is
which is the description, the physical description, of the, of the new animal.
Okay, so we’ve gone from online. The next stage I think is going to be moving in to
open. Now there are lots of uses of the word open;
some of them are the right use and some of them are the wrong use and I think again one
of the things I would very much like to get the idea across is the understanding of what
open means in the current scholarly publishing landscape.
So these are examples are of what I say would think are good examples of being open.
So we have the open access logo which originally was designed by somebody at PLOS which has
now been translated into data which is very much I think the new frontier of publishing.
We have initiatives around repositories and access to research in Europe.
We have journals adopting it, Open Chemistry, and all of this is underpinned by what I think
is the really critical part of all of this which is the idea of the licenses associated
with publishing and this has spawned the development of things such as Science Commons for example.
But there is great confusion about what the difference between online and open, the difference
between free and open is, and understanding all of that I feel is really important to
how we think about the future. So, so I think we’re going to start, I’m
going to use some examples of things which I think we need, everybody needs to be equipped
with to understand the new landscapes. The first one is around the idea of what,
how open is it? This is an example that came out of a group
of organisations which included PLOS and Scholarly Publishers, Scholarly Libraries Association
in the US, and it’s a way of thinking about how open is it.
So if you were to ask a lot of people what they mean by open access, there is often this
conception that it is, that (free) being free is the most important thing but if you (I
don’t know how well this is going to project) this is available online, so please do go
and look at it afterwards. One thing that (you might) one thing that
this does very well is to make the, give you the idea that there are different dimensions
of openness and different things that you need to be aware of to think about it.
So they start from for example over here, which is the author rights. (Can you see that?
Sorry, the reader rights.) And over here to the machine readability of the paper, of the
paper itself. This is primarily for journals. There is a tool being developed which is for
individual papers. And the most important thing about this is
that it is not trying to, I think, be prescriptive about you know this is just one way of thinking
about open. What it’s doing is saying if you have a something in front of you and you
want to understand whether something is open or not, this gives you a way of looking at
it. So, for example, it ranges from full readership
rights through to having to pay a subscription (down here), machine readability with an open
API, down to inability to download the full text and (what is prove), what I think this
shows really well, is that actually it is incredibly hard to have things fully open
access, even with publishers that are doing their best around. Because the technology
around making things machine readable is actually very hard, if you are going to do it in a
useful way. And this is something that even the most dedicated open access publishers
are actually really struggling with. So this, the whole concept with this is, it’s
the open versus free and the open is greater than free and I think this is the concept
that I spend a lot of time talking to people about.
So free access is this idea that something (can) is free online, often after a waiting
period. So you’ll often hear this used as a synonym for open – it really isn’t – because
this is what open access is. It’s four things all of which are absolutely critical.
So the first one (is around) is the free online access but it’s the immediate access.
The second is around the copyright and the right to attribution.
The third one is the license that permits reuse.
And the fourth one is the secure archiving. And all of these were established quite a
long time ago by a number of different groups that got together to think about it and the
one that is the most important which I think is the most poorly understood in many ways
is this idea of reuse. And if you look at a lot of the works that,
for example, publishers are doing around open access, there is quite a lot of confusion
around open versus free and quite a lot of confusion around what you can use and what
you can reuse. And it’s hard not to think that some of this confusion is deliberate.
So I would just urge you to have a think about when you are looking at licenses, when you
are looking at publishing, whether or not these are, whether these things are explained
clearly. When you do have open access, when you are
thinking about open access, there are a number of different (way) routes to get to it and
the first one is the gold open access route which is the more traditional one that I’m,
the one that I’m most familiar with when it comes to publishing and it’s the, it’s
the model that public library, science is based on environment central.
And then the other route to it is green. And I think that, in Australia, I will come on
to why this is important in a minute, the primary route is green open access, and why
reuse becomes so important will become clear in a minute because the repositories are in
a very interesting space in the whole discussion around open access and in many ways the gold
access is simpler to understand but has its own challenges as many of you will know.
But when you do have open access, there is no doubt that there are many benefits for
researchers in the dissemination of their work. So just to touch on a few of these which
I think people, researchers in particular, find very important is there is very good
evidence, good and accumulating evidence that open access leads to higher citation rates.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence around how research gets in to policy because of
the readership that happens, outside of a discipline that happens. And one of the things
that I hear very often from academics is the cross-disciplinary research, the cross-disciplinary
collaborations that happen because of open access.
People will say something like well I only read this article because it was freely available,
there you go, free again, or openly available because my institution would not have subscribed
to it. So you’ll have a bio-chemist who will read
something in an engineering journal that they would not normally get access to if they were
not freely available. And there are other associated benefits that
I won’t touch on here but have been well documented.
And the whole thing that underpins all this is the legal tool for open access so I’m
a bit of a bore about licenses so I’m really sorry about this, but I’m a huge fan of
Creative Commons, I’m a huge fan of legal licenses and the reason for it is because
it enshrines your rights as an author and it makes it very clear what you can and can’t
do. So the one that you’ll see most, you’ll
be most familiar with is the Creative Commons attribution license but there are a number
of other ones, for example ones that require you to attribute but also to share alike so
that’s the CC BY share alike and there are some associated with non-commercial rights
etcetera, etcetera. And the whole point of these are, these licenses
is, there are three parts to it. So the first part is the legal code, which
is pretty long and detailed. The second bit which is actually, I’m really
sorry to say is the most unimportant bit is the human readable bit.
The most important bit is the machine readable bit because a lot of people think that the
future of science publishing, certainly the future of science aggregation is going to
be what the machines can do with research and there’s currently a big case going on
in the EU around the rights to reuse articles which is being fought between, in discussions
between in the European Parliament between the publishers and the people who are developing
laws around reuse. And it will I think if it goes the right way fundamentally allow
us to do great things with the reuse of information that we haven’t been able to do before.
But there’s a huge amount of pushback (going) coming from the publishers because they understand
that it infringes their rights in ways that they are, you know, very uncomfortable about.
But when you do have a license and you want to read it as human this is what it looks
like and so this is just from a PLOS article and it, the beauty of it is it’s completely
clear. You know exactly, if you read this, you know exactly what you can do with it.
You know who’s got the copyright which is the author, it’s not the publisher, and
it tells you, you know, what you have to do if you want to, if you want to reuse it you
simply have to credit the author and so when you, if you’re looking at articles which
are open access or say they’re open access, if they don’t say something like this on
it you need to be wary about it so I would, you know again as an author, as a researcher
(you know) a good tool for thinking about what you can do with an article is what’s
actually enshrined on the paper itself. Now, so saying, having talked about gold open
access publishing, the Australian approach to open access is largely green and that’s
based around repositories and this came out of a number of decisions that were made a
few years ago about the funding of repositories but also a more philosophical decision about
how open access was going to be funded here. And it’s very different, for example, from
the UK, which is primarily funded around gold open access.
And there are some very interesting discussions going on in the UK right now about what the
implications were of going down a route for gold open access, primarily around where the
funding for, where the funds for the open access are ending up and you probably won’t
be surprised to know that the outcome has actually been most of the funding for gold
open access publishing is not going to the new publishers who are sort of kind of coming
in to the PLETZ space. It’s going into the pockets of the publishers, of the more established
publishers who’ve managed to develop business models that have been very successful.
I won’t dwell on this too much but you’ll know of course that the NHMRC and the ARC
have supported green open access and so again looking at the Australian context compared
with the UK and the US. In the UK there are… the funders have made policy around gold open
access but in addition to the two, well the biggest funders in the UK, there are also
a number of very small funders of research and they have sort of been variable in the
uptake of open access. And in the US it’s all a complete mess,
I think it would be fair to say. There is huge fights going on between the publishing
industry and between the granting bodies and such like which has led to real confusion
about the route going forward. In Australia, it’s been pretty straightforward
and largely driven by these two big funders. And so I’m sure, I hope you’re all familiar
with the research repository here. It is, it is, I think probably worth re-emphasising.
The root of the research repository and green open access is, I think, incredibly, has the
potential to be incredibly transformative in publishing and Australia is in a very interesting
place to be able to exploit that. That is not the case really anywhere else
in the world. There are lots of issues around reusability and lots of issues around usability
of the repositories. But I think what’s going to happen over
the next few years is these are going to increase in importance and it will be very interesting
to see how that pays into the whole landscape. All right, so I’ve talked a lot about access
and the tools for, I guess, assessing, looking at research accessibility. I’d like to switch
tack a bit and talk about other things that are happening in publishing right now. So,
if you were ask most academics what they think of the peer review process, if you’re not
involved in publishing, they kind of think that this black box contains a bunch of ogres
who take your paper, usually do some terrible peer review, and then spit it out the other
end or not. And it’s all a very painful process.
(It’s) I’ve seen lots of comments on this. This is one of my favourite ones. (If you
don’t) If you’re a Twitter person and you’re not following the Twitter academics,
I would (I would) Lego academics, I would fully recommend it. What is particularly interesting
about this is, I think it encompasses in, you know, a very few number of characters,
what many people find very frustrating with the current publishing system.
And so, what is happening in the whole of scholarly publishing right now, is that there
is this, um, mix of technology around access, and this technology around different tools
of publishing that is changing in a very dramatic way. Um, and we’re seeing a shake up that
I actually I think has the potential to be really transformative. But we’re in the
middle of it right now. And I know that a lot of people find it very uncomfortable and
don’t really sort of understand what all the possibilities are. So, if that’s what
the academics want, I sort of decided to populate this with something that, you know, might
look a bit like what the future might look a little bit like.
What I do think is going to happen are a number of things. So, the first thing that’s going
to happen is, I think, we’re going to see a decrease in the traditional importance of
the peer review, I don’t think it’s going to go away completely, but I think it will
become much more open, and I think it will become something that people are more comfortable
with. I think there’s going to be much more of an emphasis on pre-prints and on post-prints,
and I think there’s going to be many more people involved in the whole process, and
we’re certainly seeing that right now. And the two things that I think are worth
thinking about is that first of all, I think we’re all going to have to get more comfortable
with being much more open about how we do scholarly research, and the second is that
there is going to be a large issue around managing all of this.
And if any of you follow the debates that are happening particularly on social media
on this right now, I think a lot of people are very uncomfortable with the whole idea
that publishing is becoming quite complex, and that it’s becoming much more open, and
the idea that when you publish a paper it’s not the last thing that happens to you; there
will be comments that happen afterwards. And I think, certainly when I was at PLOS a publisher,
it was something we found our academic researchers were much – were the most uncomfortable
with. But, it’s coming, and there’s nothing much we can do about it. Okay. So what this has led to, however, is
we have this huge evolution in the types of publishing that are happening. So I just want
to- it’s worth looking at how these have kind of evolved from each other, and what
the differences are. And these are, by no means, all the publishers that are out there.
In the publication space, I think BioMed central was the first open access publisher, really,
that did anything at scale, although PLOS came, uh, PLOS came after, was largely modelled
on BioMed Central, although it took a different approach to the types of journals which it
published. And out of that has come journals such as PeerJ and eLife, both of which are
actually run by people who use to be at PLOS, and BMJ open which came out of a model which
was very similar to PLOS One. Um, and each of these has done different things with innovation.
Um, and again, when I was talking at the beginning, I said that, you know, there used to be this
route that people were very comfortable with the idea that you just submit (your journals)
– your paper to a journal, it has (a set)- a type of peer review that you’re comfortable
with, and you sort of understand what’s going to pop out at the end. You might not
enjoy the process, but it’s, um, it’s kind of something you’re familiar with.
But each of these journals, something quite different might happen with your paper as
it goes through. So, for example, at BMJ open, peer review is completely open. So, if your,
you know, if you’re a reviewer for there, you probably want to know that, you might
not feel very comfortable about it if, um, if you don’t like signing your reviews.
Um, at PeerJ, their number of different innovations include the editorial processes, so for example
they have a pre-print server that you can use; the peer review can be open or closed,
you can- as an author, you can choose to have your peer reviews published with your paper
or not, and they have a funding model which is rather different from others.
But eLIFE, again they have another innovation in the editorial process. And my point here
is not to, you know, er, say anything more except that, as an academic, it’s worth
understanding all these different models and being aware of them.
But at the same time, you know, they sit within, um, an enormous (you know) role of publishing,
which, an enormous set of different types of publishing. So, as again, it can be very
hard to know which of these you can trust and which you can’t, and I think there are,
there are a number of different ways of thinking about this, so these, the ones that I put
up here, are all ones that I, um, you know, are doing interesting things and I think are
ones that one could be comfortable publishing in.
But we also know there are journals like this. I’m sure you’ve all had these types of
emails pop into your inbox, with um, they solicit, ah, ask for your articles, or being
asked to review for them. It can be incredibly hard, I think, to know which of these journals
you might trust. Anyone want to tell me which of the journals
you might feel comfortable with? (If you didn’t see my talk this morning, you can’t, ah,
yeah) So the short answer is it’s really hard to tell.
So, this one here is actually a biomed central journal, and is one which, you know, I think
you’d be reasonably comfortable with. The other two are journals that, um, um, you know,
I would have no confidence in publishing in, and it’s very, very hard, I think, because,
you know, many academics feel incredibly flooded with these papers which these, er, requests
for publications which have submitted which come to them, and don’t know what to do
with them. So, ah, one of the things that has happened
in this space is that, um, groups have grown up to try and help authors decide where they
should be able to publish. Um. There are some attempts to develop black-lists.
So you may be familiar with some of these. This is a group of organisations that, ah,
and I’ll include COPE here, which is one of the organisations which I’m involved
with, um, which has attempted to come up with a way of helping authors decide where they
might publish by giving them some criteria to, ah, to look at.
So, the other organisations which are involved are the Directory of Open Access Journals
and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association. And, actually, just today we published these
principles, we published the updated version of them and I’d encourage you to look at
them, because what we’re trying to do is to give, um, some things to consider when
you’re trying to pick your journals to look at.
Um, one of the ways of thinking about this is, well, if we, can we come up with a, if
we come up with a black-list, you know, will that be, will that be the be all and end of
it, and I think, I tend to think of it as, you know, it’s the equivalent of, um, you
know, the, the banking scams of the, you know, ten years ago or so, when we were all encouraged
to put our money into banks in, ah, you know, strange places.
Um, nobody ever thought that one should try and regulate all those banks. The truth was
you had to give people tools to understand that they were not legitimate.
And this is what we’ve tried to do. And they include things, for example, like, um,
you know, just to, ah, to put up here, one around author fees and one around copyright.
You know, if you are, if the journal comes, if somebody comes to you, they ask you to
submit a paper to them. You know, these are the types of things you should be using to
think about. But also I would say, you know, use the resources
of the people around you. Your librarians, colleagues. We do hear, I mean, really horrible
examples of where people have submitted their papers to journals like this, and then they’ve
discovered they’re not legitimate, and it’s led to them, it’s led to real difficulties.
You know, your institution may say that you can’t submit it for ERA. It might not even
be cancelled in HERDAC (?), which can be a huge problem.
So, again, it’s about understanding how to negotiate your way through these journals.
Um, I’m running slightly out of time, but I do want to just quickly mention EQUATOR,
which is also, um, a great way of understanding a little bit more of how articles are reported.
Um, it came out of the clinical trials initiative, ah, a consort which you may be familiar with.
And has now grown into a place where has many different examples of good reporting, and
I think can be, has, has been very useful for academics, um, in, and it’s very useful
also to, if you’re looking at a journal and want to understand whether or not they
conform to quality, um, guidelines, it does give you a good, um, suggestion that these
ones are reputable. Okay, I’m going to jump over a couple of
things, so other tools, tools for identifying people. So we all know this kind of problem.
We’ve all seen papers with hundreds of authors. Um, it’s kind of bad enough if your name’s
something, er, you know, like mine, which has a few extra, few possible er, ways of
looking at it, but if you’ve got a, a very common name, like Wang, you know, you’re
kind of in real trouble here, because who on earth is going to be able to tell what
you did on this paper? So the tool that has been developed for this
is called ORCID. So who’s got an ORCID identifier in this room?
Ok Who’s never hear of ORCID?
Ok well there you go so your take home message for today is get your ORCID ID.
It’s incredibly important, I think it’s going to be the thing that really enables
people to capture their entire academic output in a way that we’ve not been able to do
before. It’s a DIY for people and I often think
that it’s one of these examples which is particularly fantastic for women because if
you published in you maiden name and then your married name chances are you’ve completely
lost your ability to have all your stuff in one place and so this person who is a great
example of that she’s clearly changed her name several times. You can have one number
and you can link it all together. Other things that are coming so figuring out
how to attribute what you did so you saw that previous paper didn’t have actually that
paper didn’t have a list of attribution on it, this one does but if you look at this
all the contributions you know you can’t possibly figure out who did what on that I
mean it’s completely meaningless isn’t it? What on earth did the person who was the
you know conceived and designed the experiments? You know that’s not really tremendously
helpful way of listing things. A tool has been developed called CRediT which is coming,
it’s been built into some publishers databases now and this will allow you to give very accurate
attribution of what you did and also electronically link it to ORCID so it’s a nice example
I think of technology which is allowing us to solve some real basic problems about how
authors get credit for what they do. And then look I just want to kind of quickly
talk about some other things that have happened so one of them is around tools for Peer review,
so this is my um, I think that again I talk to you about the idea you throw everything
into the black box as often happens there are certain areas in publishing which jump
ahead of others so I think one of the mistakes that sometimes happens with publishers or
with um, is that they try to fit everyone into the same sort of box to do, everybody
does the same thing. So the physicists have been a long way ahead of many areas of academic
publishing. Are there any physicists in the room? Okay.
It’s true, isn’t it? So archive.org is a pre-print server that came along a long
time before many other areas were thinking about it. This is a great example of a paper
that, absolutely I think, needs to be on a pre-print service. Anyone read it? This is
a really important paper. This is the paper that says that things go faster than the speed
of light, which is pretty scary finding. And these authors posted it on archive.org, and
they up this text which says ‘Given the potential far-reaching consequences of such
a result… (Yeah, you’d kind of think so, wouldn’t you?) …independent measurements
are needed’. So they basically were asking for this to be looked at, to be replicated,
to be analysed, and for somebody to tell them where they went wrong. And sure enough, that’s
what happened. It was found to be, there was some anomaly in the measuring, and this paper
was subsequently revised. And I think it’s a great use of pre-publication
public peer-review which is really important. For something like this, which is a potentially
world-shaking result, you absolutely want to know whether it’s robust. And if it’s
not robust, how do you handle it? And, again, other things that are coming…
Tools for commenting are changing. It used to be that when you wanted to submit a letter
to the editor, you had to submit it within two or three weeks. It had to be formatted
in a certain way. It had to be 250 words. They’d spend six weeks looking at it, and
then they’d reject it. Nowadays, you can write a letter; you can post it on Pub-Med
Commons, which is a new tool that has been developed on top of Pub-Med, and it allows
you to very easily comment. And I think, again, it will change the post-publication dialogue.
Same with things like Twitter. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about social
media, but I do think, again, Twitter has been quite revolutionary in discussions post-publication
– and we’re just going to see more of it, whether we like it or not.
And then, I’m just going to touch very quickly on tools for assessment again. We’re all
tied into this idea of citations being terribly important, but we know, and of course that
ties into journal metrics such as the impact factor… PLOS is one of the first organisations
that came up with article metrics. This is one of the first papers that I was involved
in publishing at PLOS Medicine which has a very snazzy title, which I’m sure helped
with the fact that it’s been hugely read. But you know, you wouldn’t get a sense of
how important this was just from the citations, or that it had lots of citations. The most
striking thing is the readership, and you can dig down into that and look at it in a
quite sophisticated way. And there are many other companies that are doing similar things
now. Okay, so this is my group that I’m involved
with. In fact, I’m the only person who – I work on it full-time, although I was supported
by nine institutions across Australia, which includes UWA and Curtin. Our job, I think,
is twofold. We want to advocate and have a discussion about open access, but we also
want to provide support and provide information, and we try to do all that on the website,
so I’d encourage you to look at it. Um I want to, I end really with a couple of
slides so, skip over these, um when we talk about open access and when we are talking
about the future of scholarly publishing there are some really interesting things happening
– and one of the things that is happening that I think we have not been quite so aware
of is how the power in publishing has been concentrated increasingly over the past few
years in a very small number of players. The reason why I think its so important to have
discussions and talks like this, and make people aware of what’s going on like this
is because of graphs like this. This is a paper published in Plus One last week. What
it essentially shows is how the publishing has changed, or the control of publishing
has changed between 1979 and 2015 – it is called the oligopoly of academic publishers.
What you can see for example, just look at Chemistry, which has gone from having 40 per
cent of publications which were published by five publishers to in the early 2000s it
wad 80 per cent but has gone slightly down to 70 per cent. But all of these graphs are
going up. So in every area of academic publishing, the control of publishing is happening with
a smaller and smaller number of publishers. And I think that’s something that we should
be very aware of, because any future that happens for publishing has been increasingly
controlled by a small number of groups. Just one of those groups, that is very powerful,
is Elsevier and you do not often get Elsevier talking publicly about how much power they
actually have in publishing because they tend to not be too interested in having that discussion.
But, they are involved in a court case, that they kindly posted the court document online
last week, or somebody on their behalf. What they said, is that Elsevier holds the copyright,
or exclusive distribution rights to the works available through Science Direct. And that
is home to one quarter of the world’s peer reviewed scientific literature. So there,
I think in two sentences, encapsulated their power in the whole debate. So, my feeling
is this is what’s happening right now, which is the publishing industry, is trying to drive
a lot of public policy in this area. But it is incredibly important that we have bigger
discussion and it is not just the publishers that do it. This is a slide that came out
of a library in 2004 – Stanford Lane Medical Library, which I am very fond of. They were
great supporters of OA in the early days but they have also been very involved in the bigger
discussions around publishing. It doesn’t matter whether you think it is green open
access, or gold open access – or you think its one thing or another. The most important
thing is to have a wider debate about who’s involved in it. And to not just assume that
what is done by one set individuals is going to work for all parts of publishing.
Just to finish, this is Open Access week in 2015. I am trying to persuade them… I think
we’re going to have quite a lot of events in Australia. So if you are interested in
getting involved, please let me know. These are all the ways you can get in touch with
me. Please look at our website. We have newsletters and list serves which you can sign up to.
And I am a great Twitterer so please do get in contact via Twitter. Thanks very much.

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