GERALD BEASLEY: So, welcome again and thank you very much for coming. And I am very grateful to our guests for making this special trip to Ithaca for this event as I have said already. We've already spent some time together discussing open access, open source, open data, many other things that begin with the word open. And we've all benefited from that as a community. So I'm really hopeful that this panel will give us an opportunity to take that conversation just a little bit further.
And I do undertake, of course, to give, I hope, plenty of opportunity for what I hope will be plenty of questions from the audience. So just to let you know, you're very welcome to interrupt at any moment. But in any case, there will be plenty of time at the end for questions. I'm going to ask a few questions, in other words, just to get the ball rolling. First of all, I would like to introduce my guests.
So immediately to my left is Heather Joseph. Heather is executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which everybody calls SPARC, because otherwise to be honest without that acronym it is a bit of a mouthful. And SPARC, for those of you who don't know, has been an important partner of institutions around the world, including Cornell and Cornell University Libraries in advancing openness in scholarly communications. It was founded in 1998.
It promotes open access to scholarly articles, the open sharing of research data, the creation adoption of open educational resources. Heather's most recent article-- at least I think it's her most recent article-- is Securing Community Controlled Infrastructure. And that just by its heading alone I hope will give you some indication of one area of interest of SPARC and of Heather. I want to mention as well, I want to introduce as well--
JOHN WILLINSKY: John.
GERALD BEASLEY: Second on my left, I guess, John.
JOHN WILLINSKY: John Willinsky.
GERALD BEASLEY: John, John Willinsky, Professor Willinsky, who is the Khosla Family Professor at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education. John also has a partial appointment at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, where he directs the public knowledge project. And John has many reasons for being engaged in open access and open source and issues related to that. Perhaps most well-known is the fact that he developed the open source software, Open Journal Systems, that is used worldwide in support of open journal publishing.
And John's most recent book, which is actually in my bag but I'm not going to get my bag and display it right now. But his most recent book is The Intellectual Properties of Learning, a Prehistory from St. Jerome to John Locke. And that was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2017. So please take a moment to welcome our guests.
So, I'm just going to say just a tiny bit before we get to questions. And I'm just going to say I hope everybody knows the title of this panel, which is Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge. So, one of the things I did was I went to my very favorite source, which is Wikipedia, to find out what open knowledge actually is. And the reason I did that is because I'm very familiar with the concepts of open access, at least I think I am. And Wikipedia would specify that open access refers to research outputs, distributed online, free of cost or other barriers, possibly with the addition of a Creative Commons license to promote reuse.
And it can be applied to all forms of published research output. So that includes peer reviewed. That includes non-peer reviewed, academic journal articles, conference papers, theses, book chapters, monographs, anything. But it is somewhat associated with academic and research outputs. Open knowledge, I discover-- and I'm grateful for my internet connection-- is knowledge that one is free to use, reuse, and redistribute without legal, social, or technological restriction.
And that means it's, I guess, all kinds of knowledge. And all kinds of knowledge, I think, is the theme that we're particularly going to focus on today because we have, as I said, we've kind of broadened the concept of open access. And perhaps that's been one of the achievements of the open access movement, I would say, is to broaden the concept of open access and to think about open in ever widening circles of knowledge. And now we have designing equitable foundations for open knowledge as a title for a panel.
I'm going to start with some fairly general questions. And I'm very much hoping that people will, if they don't wish to interrupt me that's fine because then we'd have to find a microphone. I don't mind, by the way. But if you do wish to wait you could be sure there'll be plenty of time for getting into more detailed discussion. But if I may, I'd like to start--
HEATHER JOSEPH: You may.
GERALD BEASLEY: --by asking the why question which is, why do you think people in general, and the academic community in particular, should care about open knowledge and open access? And I want to ask Heather first and then John.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Sure. So thank you, first and foremost, for having me here. And thank you all for coming. And for many of you, it's nice to see you again. Spending two days with you has been a pleasure.
As to why, I think people care about this and should care about this. I think we have an opportunity for the first time, really in human history, to marry a new technology-- with the advent of the internet and networked digital tech, we have the ability to take that and marry it with the tradition of, why we're doing what we're doing as academics, as students, as researchers, which is to discover and to share the results of what we're finding as widely as possible. We have an enabling technology for the first time, really in the history of the world, that lets us do something we could never do before.
For me, open is all about being an enabling strategy to help us reach farther and do more with the information, the knowledge, the things that we're interested in, and being able to share it not just with our neighbors in the next cubicle or in the office next door but with interested minds all around the world. And for me the beautiful encapsulation of what got me thinking about using open as an enabling strategy to share knowledge was the Budapest Open Access Declaration, which was written in 2002. The Soros foundation brought together researchers, librarians, publishers, just a wide variety of people who were interested in thinking about, how could we use this new technology and connect it with scholarly traditions to empower really all of us to kind of go further? And the thought process was that by opening up, using technology to open up access to knowledge, we could connect the learning with the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich and unite humanity in a common conversation and quest for knowledge.
And I loved that thought process of, knowledge is for everyone. It's not just for those of us in an ivory tower. And I think in our hearts what we want at the end of the day is to be talking to anybody who wants to talk with us. And I feel like open is an enabling strategy that allows us to really get close to that ambition. Well, I didn't write the Budapest Open Access Initiative, let me tell you. But it is a gorgeously written document.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Let me take a contrary position.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Thanks, John.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Let me stand because I see people are getting kinks in their necks. Sorry, Matthew, I think that was [INAUDIBLE]. Can you still hear? Is this not going to work the mic? Oh. I'm the only one without a wireless mic, though. I've noticed that.
So I want to say the opposite, or the contrary position, and just where our obligation is to fill out the space is to say that there's nothing new in this. That science started with the notion that things would be open, and that alchemy, esoteric forms of magic, and all of those aspects of medieval mysticism and scientific activity were based on a notion of secrecy. And part of the breakthrough of the university was the idea that science was to be open, that there could be no claim about knowledge that wasn't open to scrutiny, open to replication, open to criticism.
And at the time in the medieval period, the manuscript, the illuminated manuscript-- and it wasn't even illuminated in the university so much. It was copied quickly and haphazardly and it was spread using the available means. And the West is famous for being very slow to get to paper. Still using forms of vellum, and this would be a good area. Those would all be sheep out there preparing for the next texts, he bet. And this idea that we take advantage of the current technologies. And so my concern joins with Heather, because when the period of print came along a similar kind of concern.
Do we share? The universities were not the first to print. The pornographers and the church were the two first groups to get to print. But then the university realized that it had a huge advantage in that it was part of its obligation and that it was a sense of the current technology that could be used to strengthen the claims of knowledge, that could be used to share and build, could build reputations. It wasn't building fortunes in the university but it was certainly building reputations. And now with this new technology, again, we have not been the first to market if you like, or the first to delve.
Well, we have in some ways, but not in others. DARPA and the beginning of the internet happened within a university environment, supported by the Department of Defense mind you. So those kinds of contradictions I want to see as a long history. And what we face today is a huge opportunity that I think Heather hit on beautifully to open again. And we happen to live in this moment when print is transforming into the digital era. And we need to think again about our responsibilities and about the very claims that distinguish the knowledge that we produce, because there is some question today about qualities of knowledge.
I don't know if you've noticed. Some question about factfullness and trustworthiness. And that our responsibility and our opportunity, very much in the spirit of what Heather said, is to make the knowledge that we produce and the knowledge that has been based for centuries on a spirit of openness, and sharing, and critique, and review, and advancement, and extension. We have an opportunity now to move that knowledge much further into the public domain. Print did that. The paperback revolution of the 1950s and '60s did that.
It was a university for everybody. It was some of the same language that was used. And so in that way we need to see ourselves as taking advantage of current technologies in order to do what we've always done, and maybe to do what we haven't done before, maybe to push and open and challenge things that are going on in the public forums of knowledge that we can contribute to in a new way. So that's the why for me. Thank you.
GERALD BEASLEY: Thank you. So, I am one of the people that loves this concept of the broad sweep of history. Actually thinking that, yeah, maybe there isn't anything new about this but there's something that needs to be brought back.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Like the reopening.
GERALD BEASLEY: The reopening.
HEATHER JOSEPH: [INAUDIBLE]. But that's not where it is now.
GERALD BEASLEY: No. So--
JOHN WILLINSKY: That's trademarked, sorry.
HEATHER JOSEPH: No, Creative Commons license, John, come on. CC buy, I'll attribute my friend.
GERALD BEASLEY: But I also want to get really-- particularly you've mentioned that there are good reasons why we should be interested in open access now, like at this time. But getting even more granular, if you will, is there something about 2018, 2019, what we see going on around us that would inspire you to think actually this is quite urgent. We should not be waiting. I'm going to ask John first.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Yes, Mike. We're alternating here.
GERALD BEASLEY: Alternating.
JOHN WILLINSKY: It's the polite way of doing things. Yes and no. Actually I'm not-- there isn't no now for this open access movement. I think everyone is at a different place and the different stage in all of this. I would rather say that the nowness it is that, what are you doing today and what are you going to do next week that will further open and share your work?
So it may be just to put your final draft that all publishers permit you to share publicly in an institutional repository, or on your website. It may be to send out to all of your friends the latest work that you've done in the old fashioned off print kind of manner, sending a PDF around to people. It may be to start, within your society, a concern about open access, why your professional journals are not being shared more widely. Depending on the area that you're working in there may be a public out there waiting for it.
So the nowness aspect of it, and part of our involvement-- in fact, 1990, 20 years ago when SPARC started, that's when I first had my realization as it were, the epiphany, that suggested to me as a schoolteacher by trade and a professor of education, that if I was concerned about public education maybe the research of the university should be part of that public aspect. It suggests to me that we need to look at opportunities that will serve the work that we do and that will serve a wider public in terms of that work. So there's no, for me at least, there's no particular aspect.
I mean, we're at-- just to give one element, we are, I think we can safely say although the research is not decisive on this, we're at the 50% point. 2018 is the year, and 2015, '16 is leading up to it, when 50% of the research that is published this year will be publicly available. Not just in every public library which is wonderful enough, but in every high school, on every bus stop where people are looking at their iPhones or their phones. We've reached the halfway point. Now, a portion of that has been published in open access journals.
And a minority has been placed online. And a minority is up there illegally. And those are still-- that's what, 15%, 20% in that area for each of those. So we're still at that kind of convoluted state where there is not a decisive form, a decisive economic model, a decisive way. But there is that expression of urgency in the sense that all of the leading funding agencies are behind this and now half the literature is up. And we're waiting for that other half now to follow.
GERALD BEASLEY: So, Heather, can you answer that too?
HEATHER JOSEPH: So my response is going to be--
GERALD BEASLEY: Tipping point is [INAUDIBLE].
HEATHER JOSEPH: Yeah, tipping point is there. My response is going to be will probably a theme here, a little bit more pragmatic. And I live in Washington so there'll be a political element to it too. John mentioned funding agencies. So the source of funding for research is federal governments, state legislators, private foundations.
And more and more, following on the theme of why now-- we have technology that allows us to communicate faster, wider, better-- funders have kind of taken that to heart. And they've recognized that communication of results is part and parcel of doing the research. If I fund you to do research and you can't or you won't or you don't-- I mean, you would, but if you can't or you won't or you don't communicate what you found, the funder can rightly ask, what was the value of my investment in that research in the first place? Because knowledge only gains in value when it's shared, when it can be built on. So funders have really taken this idea of opening up access to their funded research results, whether it's primary data or research articles to share with a broad audience so that it can be built on and gained in value.
And that's created a sense of an imperative that we're going to be, as academics, as researchers, pushed in the direction from our funding agencies, their conditioning our grant money to go in that direction. Most researchers, I think, most students, most scientists, feel pretty good about doing that. And that's wonderful. The culture change has been a little slow to keep up with some of the institutions but that's moving us in that direction.
And it's reaching critical mass now with, it's not just the US policymakers. It's not just a handful of disciplinary funders who are thinking in this direction. It's really become a global norm for funders to say, these are the new rules of the road. And I think that momentum has been growing for about a decade.
And it took on a whole new sense of urgency when we had a change of administration here in the US. And part of what happened in the very early days of this new administration was this real, very real sense among many, that science and research was not valued by the administration. And that in fact, some of the science and some of the research outputs that had been already produced, particularly in areas that are susceptible to politicization-- I can never say that word-- that are politicized, we're vulnerable.
And I feel like the added impetus for people to say particularly things like climate change data needs to be made available to people-- it needs to also be protected by our private institutions as well as our public institutions-- has really led a sense of urgency to, we want the facts to be out there because there are such thing as facts. And we know there are such things as facts. And openness in many senses-- replicating, providing copies of these things, making sure that they're out there as broadly and widely as possible-- I think has never been more urgent or important than it is in 2018.
GERALD BEASLEY: Thank you. And I think both of you have touched on many of the parties-- but we have a question. This is good. Could you wait for the microphone, just so that people who are listening to this as a recorded event?
AUDIENCE: In terms of additional publications, is there any evidence that putting them in open access actually gets more readers?
HEATHER JOSEPH: Yes. We'll say it in [INAUDIBLE]. There is a plethora of studies that look at citation impact effects of making your papers open. And it happens across disciplines. It's not the same effect in every discipline, so some disciplines the citation advantage is greater than in others. But it is consistent across the board.
We're not sure how it will hold up over time, whether the advantage is persistent. But certainly we have studies that track everything from a brand new paper being published in open access, in an open access journal, versus a paper on a similar topic in a closed access journal. You can see citation advantages there. We also really interestingly have universities. We were talking this morning, some of us, about-- it was recently in Brisbane.
And the Queensland University of Technology for a long time has tracked the citation impact of making papers open just through their institutional repository. And the citation advantage is quite visible. Even when you take papers that are old papers and put them in the repository they get new life breathed into them and they're cited more often. So yes, there is a very robust body of data that shows that advantage is real.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Now let me just add a couple of points on that. It's much more robust in the readership. Your point is well taken. There are many, many more readers than there are citers. One study in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS year book, the uptake was three times as many citations for those authors that chose to, which they had the option to, make their articles open access compared to those that don't.
There's always limits on these studies because it wasn't random. It was professors who chose to do it. But that three times uptake is much less than the humanities-- I must fudge out to my humanities colleagues here-- in terms of the percentages that have been done. But what's been consistent is the readership increase at all of these points. And my doctoral student who's now a Professor Juan Alperin, Juan Pablo Alperin, did a study in Latin America where we think 85% to 90% of the literature has always been open access. There was not a subscription market in print and there's not an APC or a restricted subscription market electronically.
And he checked to see how many of the public were coming in. He had a one question pop up. And 25% of the people coming in to thousands of articles published in Latin America were members not affiliated with universities, were members of the public. So the promise there is not only a greater readership and a greater citation. It is a public interest, and a public interest that was extended not evenly at 25% but that hovered around that in the humanities, social sciences, and the medical sciences actually. The biomedical field was the heaviest, had the heaviest public interest.
So that's part of this promise. And I think it's a fair question to ask in terms of, does it make a difference in terms of the public and the readership and the citations? But it's a limited term offer, I have to say Heather. And this is, the advantage of going open access, when everything is open access, will disappear. So you have, I would say, five years from now, to get an open access article out and you'll get that citation three times uplift, if it's in PNAS, three times uplift, and then it'll disappear when it's 100%.
HEATHER JOSEPH: But it shouldn't matter, because part of what we want to talk about in terms of the idea of equity and sort of building a new system, is to move away from the reliance of citations as the primary way that we are judged and the quality of paper--
JOHN WILLINSKY: [INAUDIBLE]
HEATHER JOSEPH: No, but I mean, look, you set that up beautifully and you did it on purpose. Really, it really is. I think one of the things that we're wrestling with in terms of progress towards open access and open access publication in particular, one of the ways that we had to start off the open access movement was to go slowly. And it was to take journals, much like we did in the move from print to online. We kind of replicated the print journal exactly. PDF looks like what we were used to in print.
And that was a good step forward. OK, pfew, the sky didn't fall. Everything goes forward. Moving to business models that supported, you don't have to pay to read, there's a payment somewhere else in the pipeline and everybody gets access-- we didn't change anything else about the journals really. We didn't change anything.
The articles look the same. The peer review process is the same. The only thing that's different is the point at which the money that supports the process, which is necessary, comes into play. Now we have an opportunity to kind of take that next step. And that next step is, I think, a little bit more scary because it looks like maybe not having journals look the same way, maybe not articles being the currency and the coin of the realm. And certainly not relying on a proxy metric to tell us whether or not a paper is good when that metric really doesn't tell us anything about that individual article at all.
So I think that that's an inflection point where we have the opportunity to say, what do we have the chance to do together to move the needle to create a system? When Budapest was convened, and we do this all the time as a refresher exercise, the question was asked, if we can rebuild the system for how scholars and scientists share their work from the ground floor up what would that look like? And so we're taking these incremental steps and we have an opportunity to take yet more steps together. These next steps involve culture change and really changing how we think about and do things.
GERALD BEASLEY: So, Greg, please. Microphone if we have one? And perhaps just mention who you are. I forgot to say that but it's probably useful for everybody to know.
AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm Greg Morriset. I'm a computer scientist, so I'm going to ask John a question from a different angle. Your historical analysis says, in some ways nothing has changed. But one thing that's changed with the digitization of information is that there's a new lens in terms of computation over all these data and papers. So for example, the Google Books project allowed us to calculate a law about, when do irregular verbs die out in English? And these are the kinds of things, a lens across all the publications, that we couldn't do-- at least I don't think we could do-- before that. And I'm curious to Heather's point, in the design of the idealized system how do you support that new lens as its open?
HEATHER JOSEPH: I think that's a legal question more than a technical question, right? So this is the idea that open is not just freely available but texts that are freely available and carry the rights for folks to reuse them fully in the digital environment. The only role for copyright in an open access publication environment is to make sure that the author gets attributed, to make sure that when I say reopen I attribute John Willinsky, 19-- how old am I? 2018.
Open licenses allow reuse for all kinds of novel computational mater-- it should, right? All digital articles are is data. And it should be open for us to compute on any way that we want. That's been another stutter step in getting the movement started, is that people were-- publishers in particular. And those of you that I've talked to you know I was a journal publisher for 15 years and I completely understand the protective instinct of society publishers to want to move slowly and make sure that we could continue to provide the kind of valuable services that societies provide.
But it was, let's make articles free to read in PDF form. Well, you can't compute on PDFs the way you can compute unstructured markup language. XML is a gift, right? The value of unlocking that format across a whole corpus is just huge. The initial policies and the initial efforts that we've made, some material carries open licenses and you can compute on and you can see what happens when you get access to those collections versus looking at a collection like PubMed Central.
NIH has five million articles in their online repository. About 40% of those articles now carry open licenses and you can text and data mined them. 60% of those five million articles are left out of that. What are we missing in terms of being able to trace different pathways or gene structures or relationships because we can't compute on that? That's one of the next frontiers. That really is a licensing issue. It's a rights issue.
JOHN WILLINSKY: I might also say it's a quality of science issue that I think is a very important one to note. Since we have been involved for decades now in open access, it's time to think about how open access is contributing to the quality of science. And so the idea that we can do the kind of computational work that you're suggesting means that we need the data to be open. And for the data to be open means that we have the power and the possibilities of replicating the research. And that's been a missing aspect previously.
Forgive me. I'm on this historical element. But one of the things that print introduced was a regularity of data. One of its contributions was that every time you had a manuscript, you had a mistake in the data.
And so in fields like astronomy, where statistics began to develop, the regularity of the printing of data was a critical feature for improving the quality of science. And the computational work that we're able to do now is part of that aspect. So the open contribution we need to hold two in 2018, and I think this is a now aspect, is no longer, is it open or not? That's not it. Is open contributing to the quality of science?
And that kind of contribution now is the motive and incentive, as opposed to I want it for free. And the aspects in which we need to think about that is in the representation of data. And one of the most exciting aspects of the post journal field is dynamic data, is the ability to rerun on the flies, the ability to drill down in tables and look at the source data. And the sharing of that kind of information is very much a quality aspect, and very much a requirement of openness, and very much an aspect of intellectual property rights around database-- the very difference in laws between the United States and Europe around databases is a good point, stumbling point-- or stutter point. Can I use that one now?
HEATHER JOSEPH: You may, John.
JOHN WILLINSKY: OK. So, the exchange is magnificent. So that that element is one I want to keep on the table, about the quality. And it's one that we should be pushed on in terms of the contribution. So the public on one side, and the idea that we're going to push out to the public something that has greater quality, that we can make about, and that we can be concerned. And again, I think, I'm very taken, Heather, by the point about the current administration's approach to science. There is something to be defended at every point in that aspect.
HEATHER JOSEPH: You mentioned something that just struck a chord with me, which was the public engagement with science which is something that I think we're all concerned with. When the NIH became the first funding agency in the United States to say, we're going to require that if you take money from the NIH you make a copy of every article that reports on that funding available online in our PubMed Central open access repository 10 years ago, one of the biggest pieces of pushback that we got from opponents of that policy-- it took a law, first of all. We had to get Congress to require that to happen. And there was a lot of pushback by mainly the commercial publishers, but also some in the community which was, the public's never going to want to read these things.
These are complex, esoteric, scientific articles. And the public isn't going to want to engage with this material. And one of the things that's been the most, I think, gratifying and illuminating at the same time to me is that PubMed Central, that database is housed in the National Library of Medicine. And librarians, thank you Gerald, will protect the privacy of users to their graves, right? We don't know who is looking at this material. But we do have usage data based on domain.
And the domain usage that we would expect, if everybody was coming from someone from an academic background or institution was using it, would be .edu usage. And two thirds of the users of PubMed Central on any given day, whether it's domestic or international, come from non .edu domains. Sure, there's some percentage of, they're just, we're an academic and we're home and we're using it. But the demand for that information from the general public-- from patients advocacy groups, from consumer groups, from entrepreneurs, from just members of the general public, from parents who have kids who are interested in the latest information on whatever condition is affecting their families, is the vast majority of the use.
And that proof of concept to me says that that opportunity for engagement is vast. And it's something that we feel that in terms of equity, bringing the public in to this conversation with humanity on these issues that are so important to us, is at our fingertips to enable.
GERALD BEASLEY: So, I'm not seeing any other questions now. Well yes, there is a question. So if we could have a microphone. And if you could say who you are, as I say, that was just helpful.
AUDIENCE: Jonathan Joseph. I work in the astronomy department here. I'm Heather's brother-in-law.
GERALD BEASLEY: That's OK.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Thanks Gerald.
AUDIENCE: This is not a plant question. So I'm wondering with publishing houses that are for profit, maybe one of their arguments might be that if everything is open access there might be a degradation of quality control over what's being put out there. So can you say anything to that?
HEATHER JOSEPH: Yes, that is definitely one of their arguments, to which we respond-- we had a meeting yesterday of many of the journal editors who are on campus here in Cornell who are the folks who are responsible for actually coordinating the quality control for many of those journals, although many work for scholarly societies. Some are Elsevier run journals, though. I believe we have Joe is here.
The peer review is actually done by academics who are members of the scientific community, scientific societies, departments, guilds, who do this as part of their service to the field. Elsevier layers some organization on top, so do scholarly societies, so could other entities, university presses-- Dean is here from the university press. The administration of peer review is not, by any means, the sole purview of commercial publishers. They charge a lot of money for their part in it.
It could easily be done and taken over by-- and would be taken over by those in the community who are already doing it. We've retaken-- retaken is maybe the word, but reopen. It is part of what's, I think, really compelling to many is the notion that there is something fundamentally unfair about a business proposition where the community produces the information, the content, the community does the quality control checks on the content, and then buys back that content from a third party who puts a journal name and an impact factor on it. That fundamental unfairness is beginning, I think, to reach a boiling point. And the idea that the community can retake ownership and reclaim ownership for a fair price of that information is very compelling.
HEATHER JOSEPH: You get Thanksgiving dinner this year.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Thanks for the-- we're not actually related, so can I jump in? Let me take this aspect. My surprise last year when I read-- and it was actually labeled something like, facts you won't believe but it wasn't quite like that. Surprising facts under an Elsevier site, in which Elsevier was very proudly claiming that it was the second largest open access publisher in the world. So there's no longer a question about the publishers versus open access. 10, 15 years ago, Elsevier was part of the party saying that open access would destroy research as we know it.
They have found a way to monetize that. And their profits are still moving in a very positive direction from a shareholder's perspective. So it's no longer that question about quality. It's no longer that question about the checks, or the preservation of the tradition.
It is about the community control. It is about the proportion of the resources, the research resources, that are going to the publishing process as opposed to what we might think of as the bench science or the more traditional humanities and social science research process. And that has changed. So in 2018, you're not making a decision anymore and we're past the tipping point. It is going to be open access.
And whether you notice that your journal has changed or not, or whether you're paying APCs or not, is an interesting question and we can talk about those details. But it's no longer-- and this is a strange thing to find, to wake up in the morning and it's not a horse's head beside me but it's Elsevier, and it's Wiley, and it's Sage-- because we're now all on the same side. And so what we're talking about, and what this title in a very obscure way, Gerald, I have to say. Equitable foundations?
In a very obscure way-- and a very clever way, excuse me, in a very clever way Gerald has referred to this open infrastructure question. The question for us today is, Elsevier has been in a mergers and acquisition splurge, and has been buying up pieces of the infrastructure, whether it's pre-prints with CERN, whether it's bibliographic management with Mandalay, whether it's the Psi-Value and the other kinds of statistical or analytical tools, all of these different areas are seeing a lock down. And Elsevier has recognized that it will no longer own the content. It will now move into the infrastructure.
And so we talk about an open infrastructure, and SPARC has been a leader in this area. And it becomes a matter of the academic community not owning so much but is gaining some control and participation in that. It's around finances but it's also around this, whose business is this?
GERALD BEASLEY: And by the way, I really like the title. But I actually claim no credit for it because this was put together by the International Open Access Week Committee.
JOHN WILLINSKY: So I've insulted everybody?
GERALD BEASLEY: No. It's the theme--
HEATHER JOSEPH: It's very--
GERALD BEASLEY: --for next week, which is the open access week.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Very deliberate in terms of the choice of word.
GERALD BEASLEY: What I really appreciate is that you've moved us to a topic which I think we've kind of touched on, perhaps not addressed absolutely directly. So maybe-- maybe not. Maybe we have a room full of people who now see yeah, there's real value in open access, there's real value in openness and open knowledge, and in fact we are at a time in history where we can actually act on this and see results.
But the title is well chosen, I think, because we are also at a point where we have to think about, well, if we're going to design that future, how are we going to do it while taking account of equity, and the need to have an equitable future, and to build on foundations that are equitable? Seems to me to be a very good theme to address. I'm going to ask you, Heather, because I'm sure you've thought about it a lot and I want to hear what you're going to say. And then of course, Jonathan.
HEATHER JOSEPH: The theme was very deliberately chosen by a very international, a global group of participants. The Global Open Access Week Organizing Committee I think was comprised of representatives from 20 different countries. And that's very deliberate, because knowledge generation-- research, scholarship-- is a global enterprise. And one of the characteristics that is really notable about the current system that we have from a paper based system moving into online, and what we really don't want to replicate in an open access system, are the inequities that are baked into the system.
So right now we have a culture of journals that are largely published in North America and in Europe. The language, the predominant language, is English. The topics are chosen by editors who are predominantly, again, North American, European. And you think well, OK, that's where there's lots of academic institutions. There's an aspect of truth to that.
But what ends up happening when you put barriers, language barriers or the predominance of participants coming from specific regions, is those perspectives are reflected more heavily in the subjects that are chosen, the topics that are included in the journal, what's considered important in science. What we're missing in the scientific literature and in the scholarly literature in many cases-- much more familiar with scientific than the humanities so I'll kind of frame my comments more around the sciences-- is that the voices of those from developing countries where locally produced knowledge that might not be in English, or might not in fact be written down, where it's oral traditions to share information that is vital to the well-being of a specific populace, gets ignored in the literature.
And that bias of who's allowed to speak in the conversation is something that we want to avoid happening. How do we avoid this happening? If we could recreate the system from the ground floor up, while we're designing this we have deliberate choices to make. And we need to design with equity and inclusivity in mind at every step of the way. So when we're choosing the technology platforms, the modes of accessing science, the languages that it's available in, the places from which we make a specific effort to invite, deliberately invite, more voices to be at the table, that's what we need to be thinking about and talking about. What are the things that we should be doing deliberately?
We use the phrase at SPARC, it needs to be built in, not bolted on, because we tend to think about inclusivity and equity after the fact so often. Like, oh, yes, well we need this to be more international so let's invite somebody to the meeting from Africa, or let's invite someone from a community college to be at the table. What we should be doing is designing with these voices at the leadership tables helping us to build the system from the ground floor up in their image, in our image. The collective is global. The collective needs to be deliberately built that way. So.
The theme was chosen by this team, organizing committee. And one of the things that-- it's a learning process every minute of every day for me with this group. I said, wouldn't it be great to have this translated into as many languages as possible? And we sent out a note saying, if you would be willing to translate this into a language. And we immediately got back a bunch of different things. We got back translations of designing equitable knowledge foundations in 20 different languages within 30 days. But we also got that criticism for saying translate this from English into something else.
It was, can you tell us, can you share with us, what this is in x language? The translation putting English as the dominant language and something else as a derivative is like, that's one of the things we need to be thinking about in designing a system for a common conversation that's truly global and truly inclusive. So it really was chosen to stimulate these kinds of conversations and to stimulate the kind of feedback that we got well intended, but this is an operating reality that we have the opportunity to be aware of and we have the opportunity to change.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Now that's very powerful. And I want to give a example as well as an apology. But we've been working with Google Scholar. So part of it, this new landscape has been the mix of corporate and nonprofit and university entities. So we're being very hard on Elsevier one minute and then I want to talk about Google Scholar and the equity issue.
Because part of what distinguishes Google Scholar in our experience has been-- thanks for the visual prompt. You show me a mic, I understand that I should put the mic up here. That's good.
When we developed Open Journal Systems, which as Gerald mentioned earlier, part of its uptake was in the developing, or the global south, or however you want, emerging economies. And part of it was in multiple languages. And one of the first groups to reach out was was Google Scholar. They wanted to know how they could improve and how we could improve, actually-- it is Google after all-- how we could improve our indexing system so they would pick up all of these additional sources.
That we could begin to level the playing field in some way. Now, Google is not level in any true sense of the word. But it was an opportunity. And in my group at first we said, no. We said, we're not feeding data to Google. Elsevier said no as well.
But we're going to use an open standard, not Google's standard. But then we realized after a discussion after a while that the opportunity was too great to turn our back on. And that our service to the journals that were using OJS in multiple languages required creating as many opportunities as possible. And now looking back at that decision, we see that these journals are indexed and are showing up in the same way that every other journal is in a way that wasn't present in the ISI Web of Science or in the subject indexes that the library still subscribed to, was an important aspect.
So again, this idea of the changing landscape-- that Elsevier on the one hand is this and now it's this, and Google is this large corporation and now it is providing this service that may start charging or may advertise or may whatever. But at this point it's providing these opportunities. So this question about equitable decision making, the question about the knowledge exchange on a global basis, it still goes back to the quality of science element, the fact that the participation is on a global scale. In terms of that earlier urge to have things reviewed, to critique them, to extend them in some way, is a very, very important aspect of open. But the other part of it is that there would be no participation from the global south if it wasn't open.
The subscription levels from libraries was pitiful before and it would be non-existent now. And so the open access made that possible. Latin America is a very good example of being-- in the earlier days they were doing exchanges of journals among institutions. You would print 500 copies and send them to 500 other institutions that were Spanish or Portuguese language. And then you would receive from each of those one, and you would build your library collection that way. So there has been a circulation of knowledge in terms of that openness that didn't exist in the north.
And so in terms of being triumphant about it, or in terms of being optimistic about it, that has changed. That is something that is new today and on the scale. What we think about, and Heather mentioned, is the center of knowledge and the periphery. And those elements have started to change, even though we have legacies around impact factors and other things that are working against that.
HEATHER JOSEPH: And we really have to be careful, too, about the business models that we choose to support, because the example of Latin America is so powerful when you look at the culture. I mean, we always used to talk about how commercial publishers came into a circle of gifts economy where scholars share the fruits of their labor, they shared the peer review. It really was was not based on doing this for financial gain. We had the commercialization of that happen. And the knock on effects of commercialization were particularly damaging in the developing world.
They're damaging here in the United States, for instance less well-funded institutions we can see them just as, I would say, strongly. What is, I don't know, very immediate to me is, Latin America's following that sort of circle of gifts economy in how it promotes the exchange of open information. Here again in North America and in Europe, we're using article processing fees, which is just kind of subscriptions in sheep's clothing as far as I'm concerned. So it's just taking the charge and moving it to a different part of the process.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Like Gucci clothing.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Gucci clothing, that's brilliant. Designer clothing, yes.
GERALD BEASLEY: So maybe you should say-- because you mentioned APCs a couple of times.
HEATHER JOSEPH: What it is.
GERALD BEASLEY: I mean--
AUDIENCE: Maybe not everybody.
GERALD BEASLEY: I know, but maybe not everybody knows. And you were just about to define them, I think.
HEATHER JOSEPH: I am now. Thank you for the cue. So APC is shorthand for Article Processing Charges, which is just a business model that says instead of paying to access an article, that at the time an article is accepted for publication in a journal a fee is paid to that journal to cover the costs of publishing that article. "Cover the costs of publishing that article" in giant red air quotes because everyone charges something different. Is a profit margin, a commercial profit margin, for an Elsevier or Springer of a 20%, to 30%, to almost 40% baked into that APC? Or is it really just covering the costs of publishing that article as a non for profit society would say, where they-- it's what it cost plus maybe a little bit to keep the lights on and buy coffee?
There's nothing inherently wrong with article processing charges as an entity. It's the way they're being applied that is very concerning. The fact that what's happening now is the commercial publishers in particular have essentially just taken the amount of money that they're currently making out of subscriptions, the number of articles they published, dividing one by the other and saying, this is what it costs us to publish journals. They're coming up with numbers that-- I'm not making this up-- are around $3,000, $5,000, to $10,000 for an individual article.
There is no way on God's green Earth that somebody at a community college or in a less well-funded institution here in the US, or in the global south, is ever going to be able to pay that fee. What happens then is, we're replacing the problem of access to science-- I can't afford to read the article-- with, I can't afford to make my science part of the conversation. So we replace the access problem with a problem of participation in science. And that should scare the hell out of us. And we need to work to make sure that the models that we are promoting are not skewing the playing field in that direction.
JOHN WILLINSKY: So, a point I wanted to-- just one second. The point I wanted to make back on this is that the question about the quality and the money aspect. So where the open access advocates don't believe it should be free. The information doesn't want to be free. I've spoken to it. It's not even on the agenda.
What it is much more about is how the money is being spent. So the example I used yesterday-- was it only yesterday? The example I used five meetings ago was the $10 billion, that we can roughly calculate that $10 billion is being spent on subscriptions today. And of that $10 billion on subscriptions that are being spent today, and with some of that being open APCs but still a very small minority of the money that's involved, we're simply saying that if the universities are already paying that $10 billion-- it's probably too much but we are paying it-- we would be willing to pay that for open access. So it's not that we expect this to be published for free. It is that we're paying $10 billion to lock up this knowledge, and its data, and its references, and the whole paraphernalia.
And we're asking that we begin to think about allocating that money for open access because having the exclusivity of the ownership and the proprietary ownership that comes from subscriptions is not a goal, does not serve the function of the institution. It only serves-- in fact even the publishers are beginning to realize that they're moving away from publishing in the sense of ownership of content to publishing services. So there is, I don't want to say a convergence. There is a convoluted kind of obfuscation of the goals, or of the way we're going to achieve those goals. But there is within that some common threads at this point. And one of them is about the allocation of resources, not one system is free and one system is overcharging.
GERALD BEASLEY: So I see a couple of hands. I think to you were first.
AUDIENCE: I'm Michael Cook, head of collections at main library. The Latin American model that you were describing about gifts in exchange was a healthy, robust model in this country for about a century through the land grant schools. We had bulletins, those experiment station bulletins, for many years. And it was part of the mission of the land grant was to make this research available to the public. Later you had extension, which kind of made it digestible and understandable by the layman. And that died out probably by the mid 1980s.
And people would ask why. That's because that research was then being published in commercial journals. So there was a time when we had that but it cost money to have a publishing arm in towns.
JOHN WILLINSKY: That's a wonderful example. I mean, the land grant universities were created on that very principle, that there needed to be that distribution of knowledge across the country. This institution's about the marriage of [INAUDIBLE]. Thank you.
HEATHER JOSEPH: I think John's comment about the redistribution of money that's already in the system. sometimes I cringe at that, there's plenty of money, we just need to redistribute. It seems too simplistic. But the reality is that the library's budgets are, as you know well, what percentage of the collections budget is tied up in commercial journal multi-year big deal packages, right? If you could free up that money and redirected to support the distribution of knowledge in a different way, what would you bet on? What would be the thing that you would want to invest in?
And imagine you're not the only one in that position. But your colleagues and other universities are in that position. We would have enough money to be able to support completely different mechanisms and functions. When you ask the question about, what happens with peer review? And anyways, if the commercial publishers aren't organizing it, who organizes it?
Could scholarly societies organize the peer review of all kinds of different outputs on open platforms? Yes, and we would be willing to take that money that's currently going into paying for subscriptions to supporting scholarly societies or guilds or disciplinary groups who say, we're the community who has the expertise. We want to do this.
So I think those are the opportunities that we're really thinking about. And that return concept-- I'm not saying we should turn the clock back and go back to exactly that. But more things that are more in the spirit of that circle of gifts economy.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] linguistics. Wanted to kind of follow up on something we touched on yesterday afternoon, which is the ways that we as institutions are completely complicit in the restricted access of knowledge and the desire that it plays into a notion of elitism and prestige and how scarcity actually supports that. And how do we start to flip that? And then at the same time, how do we think about-- I mean, it really gets at what you were just saying. But how do we define knowledge? And where does curation and evaluation and judgment come in and counterbalance that?
GERALD BEASLEY: Can I say something about that? Perhaps not giving a definitive answer, but it is something that exercises librarians a lot. And I think from my perspective, at least, knowledge should no longer be associated with elitism. It should no longer be associated with a distinctiveness. Knowledge is actually, from my perspective, part of the infrastructure that we should all be sharing.
We should all be networking as best as we can. And of course, we will have all those hurdles and barriers that you would expect us to have. But fundamentally, it should not be part of the competitive edge is that we have this and someone else does not.
GERALD BEASLEY: Thank you! I'm fine with huge cultural shifts. We've already had a mention of one or two.
JOHN WILLINSKY: There has to be distinctions. There has to be distinctions about the knowledge. I mean, I'm very concerned about the university's position. And I think the open access movement is very much about the positioning of the university as a producer of knowledge. So, I can only justify the privilege of being a faculty member on the basis of producing a distinctive form of knowledge.
And that there is a quality to that knowledge, and a distinction around its production and its checks and its contribution and how it grows and builds in a way that will change with open access, in a way that will begin to justify itself. In the early days of open access we ran into a lot of people saying, I don't want my work public. It's a threat to my academic freedom. And I understood that to mean that their academic freedom was justified by obscurity. And that was a terrible license, and a terrible justification, and that we should say that, I am prepared to share what I do.
And this is a good one for the Humanities because they're often beaten up on in these kinds of areas. I am prepared to share and defend what I do. And it is on a distinctive contribution, on the basis of these distinctions. Now the elitism and the different ways in which that is handled-- excuse me-- that is going to change. We are saying that this is, to take NYU's former slogan, a private institution for the public service-- or private institution in the public service.
And that basis, and we see this at Stanford where we were challenged on our tax free exempt status. And the justification of that has to be on the basis of what we give back. And what we give back has to have that value of distinction. It can be applied, it can be pure, and there are lots of interesting aspects of that. But it is that we do something here of value, that we want to give back in a new way and we want to be held accountable for in this more open way.
HEATHER JOSEPH: I wonder if there's also an element-- I mean, in my mind there's an element of elitism that may be slightly different than what you're thinking. But when I look at the opportunities that we also have in front of us, one of the most compelling possibilities to me is that we could be designing incentives and rewards for things other than article, monograph, or book publications. In the current incentive system, we don't really have a value structure for people who produce nice data, like for people who are adding value to the ability for their colleagues to do the work that they're doing. We reward individuals but we don't really reward contributions to what really advances things which is people working together in teams in different ways. And the individual contributions that make my work possible because somebody else goes through and annotates the data for me so that I can figure it out-- like, I just didn't do [INAUDIBLE] collecting it, which a lot of us don't.
People who are responsible for the code that makes things run, for the beautiful algorithm that otherwise wouldn't get me anywhere. I would like to see those kinds of things acknowledged and rewarded. And opening the process up, when we think about open as an enabling strategy, or what does open knowledge look like? To me those are key elements in the mix. And to some extent, we talk about democratizing access to the outputs but we should also talk about democratizing rewards and incentives and contributions in a new way.
And I think that gets to the idea of elitism from a slightly different angle, but in one that's maybe very pragmatic and something that can bring more people along and seeing, why am I talking about open? Open in order to do what? Not open for open's sake, but open to get to this discovery faster, or unlock new knowledge. And my contribution is directly in that value chain and I'm recognized for what I've one.
GERALD BEASLEY: We're starting to see that a bit in the citation of data. So there are a number of systems that are available now that will give you a data cite, a citation. And the idea that your data citations-- oh, whoops, I'm slipping into that again.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Yeah, I was going to say. And you did it. You caught yourself. That was good.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Yeah, it's good. I self-corrected here.
HEATHER JOSEPH: I didn't do a face either.
JOHN WILLINSKY: No, no, no.
HEATHER JOSEPH: That's good. No, but that's-- it's important, right? This is the thing.
JOHN WILLINSKY: I think many audiences now sometimes have these concerns.
HEATHER JOSEPH: We go in that automatically, into well, the reward should be for citation. But that-- it's got to be more than that.
JOHN WILLINSKY: It should be goodness itself, OK.
GERALD BEASLEY: So, I think there's a question from Paul. You have the microphone.
AUDIENCE: I studied German and comparative literature. And just to return to the conversation we started yesterday, and what you just mentioned, John, again about 10 minutes ago about, at this point Wiley, Elsevier, they're all on board with open access. So in some ways, the open access side is, it's already happening. We're at the tipping point. We all agree with that.
Even the big corporations agree with that. OK, so I'd like to return to the financial side, which is, this is where, I think, where the rubber hits the road. And this is where the real pressure-- again, speaking as the co-director of the faculty library board here-- where the real financial pressures are on. And we talked the amount yesterday, the $10 billion. And if we just switched it to make it, we pay $10 billion now to keep it closed and now $10 billion now to open it.
On the one hand that's great, but Wiley, Elsevier still walk away with their 30% profit margins. That is not sustainable. That's where the real problem is. And so we need to get to what the solution is to this financial real problem pressures, even on elite places like Cornell that can't afford this anymore. And this is why I think the question of the different models comes in and becomes very interesting, particularly if we are at this transition, what that transition would look like without it all falling apart.
Or maybe we want it to all fall apart. I don't know. But so I mean, the one model that we talked about yesterday was like where the funders have a repository, like NIH has a repository-- more than a repository, are curating a particular type of site that would be built into it. Or in your case, the funders being built into the structure of paying for it. You can maybe recap that for the audience here.
The one thing I was wondering about is, in that transition, Heather, you mentioned that it's the societies that can adjudicate the quality. And one thing I'm thinking about, just speaking from the perspective of German studies, a small field and a very traditional field, but in some ways the societies are also stuck 20, 30 years in the past. And where things are going is going to be much more interdisciplinary work. German studies should be talking with Greg from CIS. And there should be this type of societies being developed as to where things are going.
And the societies then ultimately can be also not necessarily the positive force as far as where things are going to be in 20 years. And we need to be thinking where things are going to be in 20 years also on the quality side. So think together these two elements, the financial side together with quality that is also-- and this is where the right-- you know, John, and your model still allows that friction, that creative friction a bit more, perhaps, that would allow different things to emerge-- different societies, different ways of groupings. So to bring these two factors together, or to start think-- because I think it's going to happen one way or another in the next 10, 15 years, where things are really going to start to fall apart because we just can't afford it anymore.
And I think it would be good to start having that covered. The OA, I believe, is won. It's done. This other one is the real, the elephant in the room.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Yeah. But one of the phrases that Joey Ito, who runs a Media Lab at MIT, said a couple of weeks ago at a meeting was, he felt like we were at the Berlin Wall moment for the open access movement. And so we've been talking since then, a group of people, about what's on the other side of the wall? And I think what you're getting at is what we were talking about yesterday, which is, we have some ideas and some differing directions of, what is life on the other side of the wall to look at? And since I jumped in, let me let you go first.
GERALD BEASLEY: OK. Is it [INAUDIBLE]?
JOHN WILLINSKY: Let me put a couple of things on the table that we didn't talk about yesterday. One is, I think we have to respect the publishers at a certain level. So the fact that it's not sustainable suggests that it's a golden goose and the publishers are going to kill it. And that's to say the publishers aren't very smart, that they don't see-- they don't do any future forecasts and they don't understand that. The fact that they will take us to the limit to drive the library committee crazy on the margins that they're taking out of the library's limited resources only speaks to how smart they are. So they're going to operate on that basis.
So that's one aspect. So Elsevier is going to evolve. And it's not going to kill the golden goose. And it's going to find ways to in this case move the publishing services where they don't own the content-- but I want to come back to that point-- and buy infrastructure and all those sorts of things. So they are going to do everything in their power to maintain their position and they're going to move in response to how we move.
And so the ability for my project is to create some open infrastructure is going to challenge them a bit. And I think if we're offering publishing services and OJS is out there with Ares that they just bought-- a similar kind of workflow management, journal management-- then that to me is a better situation. But it doesn't mean that they're not going to be still taking a lot of money out of the system. The second aspect, and this is where Heather and I differ in terms of our-- I mean, when you say you're pragmatic, there are moments of great idealism, I think, running through you.
HEATHER JOSEPH: I'll concede.
JOHN WILLINSKY: And in the spirit of that-- and then to dress it up in pragmatism so that it seems like it's--
HEATHER JOSEPH: I don't know about that.
JOHN WILLINSKY: But because we-- I am pragmatic about Elsevier in that sense. They own a heck of a lot of our work. And the idea that they're going to go away, what happens to that work? I'm more concerned about how we get that work back. I'm more concerned about encouraging them to move out of ownership. That to me is a very positive step.
And the back issues, how that happens. I mean I've even fantasized about them getting a huge tax break by donating their back issues. And there are examples of this, precedents of this, where a corporation gives something to the public and gets an enormous tax break for it. So those are the kinds of questions.
I think the library committee and the responsibilities around managing those budgets are part of that. And the pressure from the libraries has had an effect. But that they're going to maximize-- in fact they're going to increase their market share while maximizing their profit is going to be something we are going to wrestle with. And it can't be, they're going to disappear. It has to be where are we going to draw the line and on what principles?
HEATHER JOSEPH: They're definitely not going to disappear. And I think one of the things we've been doing at SPARC is, about this time last year we took a look at the pattern of acquisitions that Elsevier in particular was making in terms of what kind of infrastructure were they buying and what did that tell us about their future direction? Because they're not stupid. And they've been planning for about a decade and a half for the day when gating primary content was no longer their golden goose. They are quite far down the path. And John's correct, it's buying up infrastructure.
Their ultimate goal, though, I would say John, from our analysis, is not limited to publishing services. They've become a data analytics company. So they are buying and selling research analytics software, the PureSystems, to say, what is the research output? What does the productivity of your faculty look like?
They're moving into enrollment systems, core selection systems, learning management systems. The infrastructure that's the end to end-- not scarlet communications infrastructure in our universities, but the end to end, how do our universities do business? It is the knowledge, not just production but knowledge management infrastructure. And the end game for Elsevier is not about ownership of that infrastructure per se, but rather the data that's produced by or attendant on top of that infrastructure. And that ranges from research and output data, to student performance data, to productivity data for faculty, to retention, to how do we identify at risk students? There's an enormous amount of financial value in the data and the IP.
You gave a great number. And when we look at this with the market analysts, the control of content industry for journals is roughly $10 billion revenue producing industry. For textbooks it's another $10 billion. So they've got the publisher sort of writ large and have about another $20 billion that they're currently in control of. When they move up the food chain into infrastructure, that represents roughly a trillion dollar revenue potential market. When you look at the data and the IP on top of that, it's a tens of trillions of dollars market.
That's where Elsevier has its sights set. That's where every piece of business acquisition that they're making is targeting. That's where every piece of policy work that we see them doing in Washington is targeted towards giving them an advantage to ownership, exclusivity, and control of this data. So it is all about control, but they're moving up the food chain. And so at the same time that we're thinking about the imperatives and the possibilities that using open as a strategy to regain control of the content, we have to be thinking about a block play for this data.
And John mentioned earlier that infrastructure is an important thing. We don't need to have ownership as in, we buy the infrastructure, or we create open source that the community owns. Although I think open source is an important piece of the puzzle. What we need are strategies in our agreements with the commercial entities, like Elsevier, that take into account deliberate, right? We design these contracts, we make deliberate decisions about who owns the data when we sign the contract.
We're not doing that across the board. So building in mechanisms that ensure, fine, we'll lease Pure from you. But at the end of the day that data comes back to us on our time frame and on your dime. Data migration, ownership, where does it live? Who has exclusive control?
We're giving it to them right now without deliberately designing contract. So this notion of ownership is really what we're finding is a contractual, a procurement issue across universities. So there's sort of two fields that we're fighting Elsevier on now, or we're recognizing we're needing to kind of fight on two fields. And it doesn't mean we want to put them out of business or that we want to say no commercial players in the space. But what we want to avoid is having that data space locked shut the way the content space is locked shut for competition. We want to have terms and conditions that lock it open for competition so that ownership and the academy can use this data and infrastructure in the ways that we want to use it.
GERALD BEASLEY: So, Heather--
JOHN WILLINSKY: Very pragmatic.
HEATHER JOSEPH: That's [INAUDIBLE]. Not 100% idealist.
GERALD BEASLEY: I'm just looking for the glimmer of optimism in this. As far as I can see--
JOHN WILLINSKY: Well, there's one thing though.
GERALD BEASLEY: Oh, one thing--
JOHN WILLINSKY: There's time.
GERALD BEASLEY: --worse. Let's have the worst thing and and then I'll look for--
JOHN WILLINSKY: The analytics are going to be business analytics. The analytics are going to be ROIs, Return On Investment. The analytics are going to be driven by the data in the sense that, what can be measured and how it can be tracked? And the analytics are going to be driving machine learning kinds of algorithms that are going to be providing constant outputs of concern at targets of productivity.
And so it is a commercialization, an industrialization if you like in a very old fashioned kind of way, of the university setting. And we can wax romantic and concerned about our scholarly production at one level. But I think Heather's point's very, very well taken that the way in which we enter into contracts, the way in which we negotiate-- because they still are businesses and we can still say that we'll purchase x but not y. And so I think those kinds of very pragmatic decisions are to be pursued.
HEATHER JOSEPH: We want to have the option to purchase x and not y. And that's what we're trying to protect. The glimmer of hope is that in the analysis that we've done with-- we hired folks out of Wall Street to do this with us-- is that they're not there yet. They don't own this market. They've been setting the stage for quite some time, but they haven't penetrated into the universities to the degree that they need to do to have lockdown.
We have probably a year and a half, two year window to-- all right, so that's not the great-- there's time, right? There's still time before--
GERALD BEASLEY: That's the urgency piece.
HEATHER JOSEPH: Right, before it's, we're--
AUDIENCE: Is that Elsevier or Google?
HEATHER JOSEPH: So, this is interesting. So we're talking in our analysis at SPARC about Elsevier, Clarivate, Academic Analytics, Pearson, Cengage, Wiley-- so we're looking at textbook, the cabal that's been doing content and where they are now. We have colleagues in Sage Bio Networks, which is an open drug discovery network for oncology drugs looking for targets by using open science techniques, who've been running into this exact same issue with data storage, cloud storage. And their infrastructure that they're coming up with these exact same issues is Google and AWS, Amazon Cloud, right?
So their concern is less locking the market open for competition-- well, it's locking the market open for competition because the issues for them is, surveilled science. We're signing contracts to like, it's cheap storage. So we're throwing data in the cloud, but we're not paying any attention to what we're giving them permission to do with our data stored in that cloud. And so these conversations are actually kind of coming together now, which is good. I think the strategies will be [INAUDIBLE].
GERALD BEASLEY: I'd like to hear from Dean. I think, do you have the microphone nearby?
AUDIENCE: Dean Smith, director of the university press. And 10 years ago I was working for an STM publisher in scenario planning, what would happen with a six month embargo? And also looking at author processing charges as an additive revenue stream. So, that's where it's coming from. I'm now in humanities where our model for monographs is broken and we're experimenting with open access through the NEH.
And for a lot of the years we've heard that these are low use monographs. But from my perspective, they're really just undiscoverable. And once you make them discoverable, even through Kindle where we have zero dollar downloads, we have access in 150 countries to these and substantial usage. So what thoughts do you have for a humanities publisher? What do we need to do to educate our authors?
Even culturally within the press there's a lot of pushback. I think there are only probably 15 university press directors that are even remotely interested in open access.
JOHN WILLINSKY: I know that because I had to negotiate with University of Chicago to get open access to my recent book. And their starting position was that, of course, I could put my final draft up. I just couldn't use the title, which I thought would have a discovery problem to it. And so I have negotiated a one year trial in which I have to record every person who downloads it and to report it.
But I had a better contract with MIT. I guess I should've stayed with them. And they were actually quite amenable. So the presses have very different attitudes. The humanities-- and anyone else? Yes, we've got humanities here.
Because the humanities are in a different space in terms of open access, and a different regard. There's still the smell of paper and print and ink and glue that are an issue, and dust jacket designs. So what I want to say is that Knowledge Unlatched is a model for the Humanities. And the Open Library of the Humanities is another model.
Knowledge Unlatched has been selling to libraries open access books, has been bringing lists to libraries of titles that publishers like Cambridge University Press and Brill and others are willing to publish open access if the libraries will commit on a shared basis to funding them. And they have been selling to hundreds of libraries-- not thousands, but hundreds of libraries, hundreds of books that are now being made available on that basis. The Open Library of the Humanities has in the area-- and please fact check me on this. But it is close to 400 libraries paying for 20 to 30 journals, humanities journals.
And libraries are in effect subscribing to open access. And this idea that if you think about the root of-- let's play humanities here from home. If you think about the root of the word subscribe it refers to enlisting an idea. And the societies, the early societies-- a thing historians say, it's kind of fun. The early societies, the Royal Society was having trouble publishing books and they had the members subscribe. And they would subscribe at a certain rate per picture, per page, all of those sorts of things.
So they were making-- the book still sold for a price but the price was reasonable because the members had subscribed. And the idea that the libraries would be patrons of the humanities in that way seems to me a reasonable proposition. However, you can point up to me how the monograph budget of the libraries has been in a period of decline while the journal acquisition budget has been increasing. So there are still real pragmatic issues at every corner around this.
The question of the humanities, though, is a general, a much larger sense of crisis within the humanities. And the idea of the humanities becoming a public enterprise also has historical roots in terms of, with the cultural aspects of what the humanities covers from literature to film to dance, all these different areas. But also the public library as an intersecting point of the humanities.
So I think the appeal to humanity scholars has to be on the basis of, this is the future of the humanities as a public enterprise. And we can arrange to have your book printed on fine paper but there will be a print on demand charge for that. And so that kind of approach will, within not my lifetime, but will eventually take hold, I hope.
GERALD BEASLEY: So I think we may have time for just a couple more questions if there are any in the audience. Yes, there is a question over here. Do we have the microphone?
AUDIENCE: Joe Regenstein. The quality control issue has sort of been implied. But again, putting more and more stuff in open access, are we going to be able to get people to continue to do peer review? And what about some of these other things that traditionally weren't going through those kinds of quality control systems appearing simultaneous and next to each other? As the librarians have beaten me over the head, their role is to help with students understand quality control. But with the internet as a reality beyond our open access discussion, how are we going to be sure that we've got and how to improve quality control?
HEATHER JOSEPH: I think we can do a lot to improve quality control. One of the conversations that's most interesting to me around what's possible in an open environment is, think about the fact that right now we're locked into quality control that's done prior to publication. And anybody who says that peer review is perfect is, you know-- I'm not going to go there. And anybody who says peer review means the same thing from journal to journal, article to article, publisher to publisher, is also mistaken.
So one of the opportunities that we have is to unpack and to change and make more transparent what's done in the process of peer review in an open environment. So think about organizing peer review differently and also signaling peer review differently. One of the examples that I love is, if people are familiar with Creative Commons licenses there's a set of icons that are very clear. And if an object carries a Creative Commons license you see, like, CC BY and you know that means that my rights are, I can do anything I want with it as long as I attribute the original author.
What if we had similar icons for peer review that were attached to an object-- attached to an article, attached to a methodology, attached to whatever it is that we were communicating that said, this was a double blind anonymous peer review? You know, two little people with, I don't know, dark glasses on or something. I'm not going to be creating the icons, clearly. But we have an opportunity to signal, to say what does peer review mean on this object? That helps tremendously to increase transparency and understanding of what kind of curation actually is taking place on what object at what time.
Sticking to the journal, the article, and peer review as a catch all is limiting. We actually have the opportunity, I think, to open up and improve that process quite a bit.
JOHN WILLINSKY: Yes. I'm very grateful to everyone because it's almost the end of the session and no one has mentioned predatory journals. So I'm-- ah, shoot. I see a hand flicker there. So, I've been working last summer looking at, we have this free open source software that can be downloaded at no cost and you don't have to record your name or anything. And so it didn't take us long to find that we were contributing to predatory journals. Predatory journals, people, are not predatory. Predatory journals are just a ruse of a journal.
They are charging $90 for an APC and they're not doing any peer review. They have editors who don't exist and they're putting your article and they're publishing it. And the worst of it is, author's know, some of the authors have been established to know that this process is going on. And there are hundreds of thousands of articles-- not 10, hundreds of thousands of articles.
And OJS is being used by some of them, yes. I can't release the data because I signed a non-disclosure agreement. We think 1,000 journals are probably predatory journals using OJS. So we're going to-- what we discovered in the process, we're working with some of those journals because they feel they've been unfairly labeled. And so we have been working with them to both prove that they're actually doing peer review.
But I think my approach is from yesterday. We talked abou-- thank you for introducing the idea from yesterday. I talked about having the libraries subscribe to open access and having the funders pay automatically for any research that they supported as research, they should pay for its publication. But underneath that what I didn't get to yesterday is the notion of vetted open access. The difference between subscription journals and open access is every subscription journal is vetted by librarians in a curatorial manner.
And those librarians are taking their cues from faculty. I know because they send us lists all the time, what journals can I cancel? I look for the journals that my colleagues are publishing, in I circle those, my colleagues look for my journals, they circle those, and so the process goes. So the idea that we need to think about a form of vetting open access isn't just because the-- the irony of double blind review is, it's hidden.
The best example I think right now is PeerJ, where authors have the option of sharing the review, the response to the editors as an author, and the whole process. And if you don't want to do that, it has the dates when those things took place without the information. And I realized that OJS was contributing to the problem in the sense that we didn't have that kind of structured availability. ORCID is another device. ORCID is the author disambiguate in system. It identifies scholars and what they have done.
Anyone signed up for ORCID here? Should be 100% because that kind of identification is part of us. Now the reason all of this is happening is, we've gone public. Before that we could count on what we knew. Abbey yesterday talked in linguistics, that she knew what the best journals were.
She didn't have to have impact factors. All of that was a given. But for the public, it's not. For the global south, it's not. And so we are going to have to go through in terms of that quality control, Joe.
We're going to have to go through that sense of further verification, further vetting. So a model in which funders will pay for articles being published in journals that they approve of, and library subscribing to open access, will reintroduce a level of vetting. There will be challenges. This is a brand new journal, it's very creative. Scholars will verify for it and there will have to be that kind of dispute resolution, because academic freedom and because the need to start new journals.
And you think of women's studies arising out of a number of journals in the '70s. It's important to be able to do that. But at the same time, we can't lose that sense of this community because we need to assure the public, we need to provide-- I love the double-- I love the glasses, two people with glasses, that double blind.
GERALD BEASLEY: You're not [INAUDIBLE]
JOHN WILLINSKY: I think that's brilliant. So that idea of how we begin to do this is going to increase the quality, because right now we just take it for granted. And if any-- yesterday it came up. Had any of the most respected journals had any kind of fraud or retraction issues?
JOHN WILLINSKY: No. Good. So this aspect of how we change because the university is being repositioned in a public space is an important aspect and an opportunity. Thank you.
GERALD BEASLEY: So this has been a wonderful conversation. And I really want to thank John and Heather for what could easily have been a lot longer, I know. We feel very passionate and committed on these topics.
JOHN WILLINSKY: [INAUDIBLE].
GERALD BEASLEY: I'm sure you're going to join me in thanking John and Heather.
We've received your request
You will be notified by email when the transcript and captions are available. The process may take up to 5 business days. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this request.
Open Access (OA) commonly refers to making research outputs freely available to everyone with an internet connection. Now in its tenth year, International Open Access Week invites all who engage with scholarship to share perspectives and ideas about how best to transform knowledge creation and access to be more open and inclusive.
Internationally known OA advocates Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, and John Willinsky, Stanford professor and founder of the Public Knowledge Project, joined Oct. 17 for a panel discussion on designing equitable foundations for open knowledge. The panel was moderated by Gerald R. Beasley, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, Cornell University.