Reinventing University Publishing: day 2, Panel – New Models

by Paul Maharg on 18/03/2015

Had to miss the keynote, so in for the morning panel.  First up, Randy S. Kiefer, Exec Dir CLOCKSS.  This is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the principle of LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) + C = Controlled.  So they’ve developed a decentralised, geographically disparate preservation model, with 12 nodes worldwide, and seek to preserve orphaned and abandoned scholarly electronic content.  Effectively doing for e-resources what has been done for paper resources, particularly in the case of publisher failure and no pickup of their assets, discontinuation of journals, etc.  So this is in effect an ‘insurance policy’ for e-resources.  What is not preservation: commercial hosting (aggregation databases eg Gale, EBSCOhost, ProQuest, journal-hosting platforms, eg Ingenta.  There are two types of archives — global archives (CLOCKSS) and regional archives, eg British Library.  Generally content is only available in the country hosting the archive.  CLOCKSS is community governed, with publishers and librarians having equal say.  It reinforces the social value as memory organisations, insuring against geosocial and geophysical risks.  It’s a dark archive, ie a repository of safekeeping of content that does not grant access.  This limit on access protects the content from damage.  It’s open-source software.  The workflow includes trigger events, eg publisher no longer in business or change of platforms by publishers.  The archive is committed to OA, and is the only archive group to score a perfect score in Security and Technology.  Brazil is applying to become the 13th node (CLOCKSS Board has authorised 15 archive nodes).  Randy gave us impressive stats on global reach of CLOCKSS.  There are ongoing discussions on subjects such as space (since items are saved 12 times) and value to the community, as well as collection development policy.  Funding: comes from librarians, publishers (there’s a correlation between the efforts of CLOCKSS and the funding from publishers, which sounds like a reasonably sound model).  Solid idea, sound presentation.

Next, Virginia Barbour, Medicine & Biology Ed Dir, PLOS.  She described the OA policy of Royal Society Open Science, which started in 2014.  Bit of a random roundup of the science open access movement, not really needed for this audience, too little time on the interesting ideas at the end.  Pointed in the direction of e-credit application for (largely) authors in science journals, versioning software, and the need to make data visible and accessible, but so fast couldn’t make sense of it.

Finally Lucy Montgomery, Dep Dir Knowledge Unlatched (KU), a not-for-profit whose vision is ‘a healthy market that includes free access for end users.’  As an academic, her monograph would be sold in small volumes and behind paywalls on the web.  She showed how print runs have declined from 1980 to 2010. Libraries are key markets for monographs – so what if every library didn’t buy a single copy of a book, but instead collaborated in providing a fee payment to publishers for OA?  Her institution (Curtin) started a pilot project, with QUT, Melbourne and UWS providing funding to refine the model.  Key supporters included the British Library Trust and the Open Society Foundation.

The project used CC-BY-NC or CC-BY-NC-ND licenses.  It deals with new books, and OA is immediate on publication (ie on embargo).  The title fee represents the basic cost of publishing a book (wd be interested to know how that’s calculated).  It’s fixed, so as the number of libraries participating increase, the fee total that libraries pay decreases, but increases for publishers.  Lucy gave interesting stats to show how it worked.

In 2013-14 KU ran a proof of concept trail.  28 new books from 13 publishers in literature, history, politics, media and comms.  At least 200 libraries would be required.  Max cost per library: $1680, averaging $60 per title. Publishers signed up included CUP, Bloomsbury, Duke UP, Edinburgh UP – a blend of European and USA university and commercial publishers.

Result?  297 libraries signed up, in 24 countries.  The cost was reduced to $43 per book.  Collections cost reduced from $1680 to $1195.  Over 100 libraries have re-registered to keep this going.  Most of the sign-ups were in USA and UK.  (Interestingly, HEFCE, and Scottish & N Irish FCs matched funding, generously).  Impact?  Total downloads – 23,159 (from mid-March-December).  USA & UK top download sites.  Mean average number of total downloads per book: 827.  Range per book: 176-1822 each.

From 2015 KU will take a small cut of the title fees to cover costs as volumes go up, helping to make the consortium sustainable.  I like this project a lot: it looks like helping libraries buy monographs at a time when budgets are under huge pressure from bulk-buy journal purchases from the likes of Elsevier.  It means libraries collaborate to engage with publishers.  And it makes financial sense for both sides of the contract, and makes even more sense for the academics who just want their texts to be as accessible as possible once they’re published.  Really good presentation.

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