[Taxacom] OSTP request for information on Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From US Federally Funded Research

Carlos Alberto Martínez Muñoz biotemail at gmail.com
Sun Mar 1 03:38:56 CST 2020


Hi Stephen,
Thank you for this question. First some context.
"*As for the most likely outcome from USA, I would point out that it
already has a well-entrenched history of most of the wealth being in the
hands of the few, and taxpayer funded OA fees for every single item of low
interest scientific research output would fit the established pattern!*"
I do agree in that USA "has a well-entrenched history of most of the wealth
being in the hands of the few". And I also agree in that "taxpayer funded
OA fees for (...) scientific research output would fit the established
pattern". What we need to clarify here is the pattern you are talking
about. In USA, concentration of wealth and tax burden are better
synchronized than in Europe. Europe has a more generous safety net than USA
and, in order to fund it, high taxes. In order to raise enough revenue,
these taxes fall disproportionately on the poor, middle and upper middle
class. Denmark has one of the highest
<https://taxfoundation.org/bernie-sanders-scandinavian-countries-taxes/>
top income tax rates
<https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=TABLE_I7> in the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 55.9 percent, but
that rate is applied to anyone making 1.3 times the average national
income. In the United States, this would mean that any income above $65,000
would be taxed at the rate of 55.9 percent. In fact, the highest tax rate
in the United States, 43.7 percent
<https://taxfoundation.org/bernie-sanders-scandinavian-countries-taxes/>,
applies to income that is 9.3 times the national average, which means that
only those with incomes over approximately $500,000 pay this rate. Yes, I
occasionally read the Washington Post.
Why am I pointing this out? Because I want to illustrate the fact that
while in Europe we may all be carrying the cost of open access in a
disproportionate way across economic classes, in USA that cost is not
likely to aggravate the tax burden of the poor, middle and upper middle
class. In USA it is the top notch of the wealthy few who will carry the tax
burden of funds destined to open access. However, this would be a
solidarian tax, in the sense that the wealthy top notch will benefit from
open access too. So, Stephen, it is unlikely that in a mandated
publicly-funded OA publishing model most scientists will be paying for open
access from their pockets, at least in USA. Instead, they will stop paying
for it, unless that some of them have a hidden fortune that we don't know
about. And if those wealthy few get a reason to worry about how much money
they have to contribute to rip-off private publishing, then they will
quickly become supporters of a non-profit academic press.

"*...Pensoft seemingly doing very well indeed by charging fairly
substantial fees and not having to worry if anyone actually ever reads
anything! I don't know the financial details, of course, but does Pensoft
in its present form fit your vision for an OA future, and, if not, is it
likely to change, do you think?*"
Part 1.  "*... not having to worry if anyone actually ever reads anything!*".
It is not the main interest of a private publisher in the current OA model
to worry about anyone reading anything. Research institutions are mandated
to publish and the private publishers are happy to get clients. As long as
metrics and economic incentives are put on number of publications and not
on quality, this will continue to be this way. However, there are already
advocates for "slow science" and hopefully at some point we will start
slowly fixing a system that was corrupted by metrics more than 40 years
ago. This I can promise, it will take a lot of time, effort and also a
capacity for logical thinking that seems to be lacking, even among
scientists.
Part 2. Even if it is not their main interest, private publishers do worry
if someone reads something. The Web of Science is well remembered for its
bragging about "we index the best science" and "we have the most cited
journals", and publishers want that. The current system just counts
citations without scoring them, even if the initial idea of Garfield (1955)
was to score negative citations too. But negative citations are difficult
to score and not good for private-driven ecosystems. They directly and
negatively affect engagement. That's why you won't find a dislike button in
Facebook, for example. However, 65 years after Garfield's initial ideas,
technologies for counting negative citations are emerging.
Part 3. "... *your vision for an OA future*...". I don't have a vision for
an OA future. I have a vision for an Open Science (OS) future. That is a
vision shared by Europe and USA. You can see that the OSTP request is not
just about OA but about OS. It includes not only publications but also data
and code.
Part 4. "...*does Pensoft in its present form fit your vision for an OA
future, and, if not, is it likely to change, do you think?*". Pensoft
indeed fitted the vision of the European Commission on OA. They are a
private publisher, they pay taxes and as part of that solidarian tax that I
mentioned above, they have received EC co-funding for developing informatic
tools fostering OA. As a publisher, they have benefitted from their own
taxes and from a symbiotic relationship with the public sector. Pensoft was
able to further develop the Pensoft Writing Tool into the ARPHA Writing
Tool, which is what we see today within their platform. The vision of the
European Commission then evolved from OA to OS, and Pensoft evolved with
it. They have co-developed and continue to co-develop open source software
for open science and biodiversity informatics applications. My critics to
Pensoft are that the ARPHA WT continues to be proprietary software and that
there are economic barriers to publishing with Pensoft. Small journals may
not find affordable to publish with Pensoft while getting the services that
the journal needs. Also, the current open source tools that Pensoft is
developing with EC co-funding continue adding value to their AWT
proprietary software. Using public funding in a way that adds value to
proprietary software may or may not be restricted in the near future. But
that is EC's call, not mine.

What I would recommend for USA is to develop an Open Science Cloud, and to
implement publicly funded, non-profit OA journals as an integral part of
that cyber-infrastructure. I think that Canada may well like to join in
building a North American Open Science Cloud. The Public Knowledge Project,
a distributed initiative involving institutions from both countries, could
contribute its 20+ years experience in the development of innovative online
environments. And of course, as a wealthy and worried billionaire, I would
consider injecting funds for developing the Open Journal Systems and
upgrade that open source publishing platform to present day biodiversity
informatics publishing standards.

Sorry for the long email. I didn't have time to write a shorter one.
Cheers,
Carlos


Carlos A. Martínez Muñoz
Zoological Museum, Biodiversity Unit
FI-20014 University of Turku
Finland
ResearchGate profile
<https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Carlos_Martinez-Munoz>
Myriapod Morphology and Evolution
<https://www.facebook.com/groups/205802113162102/>




El sáb., 29 feb. 2020 a las 23:06, Stephen Thorpe (<
stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>) escribió:

> Hi Carlos,
> Very interesting! As for the most likely outcome from USA, I would point
> out that it already has a well-entrenched history of most of the wealth
> being in the hands of the few, and taxpayer funded OA fees for every single
> item of low interest scientific research output would fit the established
> pattern! Even in Europe, there has been, for many years now, Pensoft
> seemingly doing very well indeed by charging fairly substantial fees and
> not having to worry if anyone actually ever reads anything! I don't know
> the financial details, of course, but does Pensoft in its present form fit
> your vision for an OA future, and, if not, is it likely to change, do you
> think?
> Cheers, Stephen
>
>
> On Saturday, 29 February 2020, 06:56:34 pm UTC, Carlos Alberto Martínez
> Muñoz via Taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:
>
>
> Hi Taxacomers,
> It is true that paying for Open Access could be a rip-off, but that is only
> a partial truth, in one of at least two possible scenarios. The rip-off is
> not inherent to OA itself but to the publication system being based mostly
> in for-profit publishers with high profit margins. For companies like
> Elsevier, this is as high as 37% of the total cost, which is higher than
> the profit margin of oil companies.
> However, it is clear now that journals are research infrastructures and
> that publicly funded academic journals (jobs included) are an integral part
> of the data life cycle and of existing physical infrastructures. It is
> evident to the European Commission that the current moral imperative and
> ethics towards taxpayers is not just about open access but about how much
> is lost in private publishers' profit margins. With this I want to say that
> private publishers are already experiencing the economic effects of a
> change of paradigm at the European level. Regardless of the platform or
> software, we will build a distributed, pan-European academic press in the
> upcoming years. The best current example that I know is the European
> Journal of Taxonomy.
> Of course, not all the science is publicly funded and private publishers
> have a role to play in both publishing and innovating. About private
> innovation, we should also not lose sight that part of it is also co-funded
> with public funds (rip-off included!). If well managed, there could be a
> symbiotic interaction, benefiting both the public sector and the private
> sector, instead of the predatory interaction that exists today.
> In summary, we will implement the necessary measures to close the research
> cycle within academic infrastructures. USA could do the same too in quite a
> short time, as there have been voices calling for more support to academic
> press. With non-profit academic journals, we could save up to one-third of
> publishing and access expenses and invest those in publishing more,
> expanding access and improving the current cyber-infrastructures. Now, if
> in USA you do mandate open access but don't change the publishing paradigm,
> then yes, Stephen Thorpe will be totally right, it will be a big rip-off,
> with (for example) publication and access charges rising 5% per year while
> the university sector will be growing just 1% per year. You could use your
> freedom and your democracy for voting against open access, or you could use
> it for voting for integrating non-profit publishing into academia. Up to
> you!
> Cheers,
>
> Carlos A. Martínez Muñoz
> Zoological Museum, Biodiversity Unit
> FI-20014 University of Turku
> Finland
> ResearchGate profile
> <https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Carlos_Martinez-Munoz>
> Myriapod Morphology and Evolution
> <https://www.facebook.com/groups/205802113162102/>
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