Home 9 Featured Posts 9 The Movement to Open Access Scholarly Publishing, Part 3: Knowledge E’s Emily Choynowski on the future of Scholarly Communication

The Movement to Open Access Scholarly Publishing, Part 3: Knowledge E’s Emily Choynowski on the future of Scholarly Communication

by | Jan 24, 2022 | 0 comments

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 By: Nancy K. Herther, writer, consultant and former librarian with the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Last May, Servicescape’s website noted that due to the pandemic, “scientists from around the world worked frantically to understand the virus, find effective treatments, and develop vaccines to stop the spread and save lives. As part of this international effort, researchers, universities, companies, and governments agreed to knock down barriers set up by the traditional system of sharing research results. Scientists shared results before publication. Publishers fast tracked the peer review process for COVID-19 research papers, and allowed them to be freely available online. Organizations helped curate the rapidly growing list of COVID-19 publications, so researchers could more easily find the information they needed.”

The Open Access (OA) Scholarly Publishing Association,  a non-profit trade association of open access journal and book publishers, is becoming a major force in moving OA forward.  Recently OASPA reported sustained growth for OA:  “Just under 2.7 million articles were published by members in the period 2000-2020. Over 579,000 of these were published in 2020, representing a growth of around 28% over the previous year. The number of articles published each year reported by members has grown around 13x from 2011 to 2020.”  

In order to make this work, it isn’t just the individual researcher that has to agree to OA, but also the policies and priorities of their institutions, and the existing reward structures that influence choices that writers make. Is the global academic community ready to take this on? What kinds of incentives or requirements will be needed to wean faculty and researchers from their existing publishing preferences? How quickly can university faculty requirements for advancement and promotion be changed to not only allow but prefer OA options?  Along with this is the growing need for sophisticated  tools to gather, analyze and study trends in OA publishing across the globe.

One new commercial service, Delta Think, is now providing sophisticated tools to analyze and study trends in OA publishing across the globe. Established in 2005, this company is focused on annual reports, Delta Think’s OA Market Sizing, which analyze the changing nature of the industry and the growing value of the open access journals market.  Using their Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) algorithm, the company was able to estimate the growing total number of OA journals, rising from 14.4k in 2010 (of which 1.6k were fully OA) to 20.1k in 2020 (of which 5.9k were fully OA).  

Delta Think sees growth, but not as quickly as many would want.  “When we first did this analysis,” the company explains, “we found that fully OA journals had lower impact metrics than average, but over time they were catching up. The trend has continued, and fully OA journals are still gaining ground. Some of this is simply due to there being more such journals. However, the speed at which fully OA journals are catching up is slowing. At current rates it will be around 2033 before fully OA journals overtake the average. This slower rate of change may be of concern to researchers and publishers because, rightly or wrongly, researchers and publishers often perceive “quality” through the lens of impact metrics.”

KNOWLEDGE E’S EMILY CHOYNOWSKI ON OPEN ACCESS TODAY

Emily Choynowski is an academic and acknowledged expert in 19th century literature who became Head of Publishing for Knowledge E in 2020. Knowledge E, also known as KnE Publishing, is a global Open Access publisher, established to help “regional scholars reach the global research community through training, manuscript editing, publishing academic journals and conference proceedings, and indexing them in global databases.”

NKH: In order to make this work, it isn’t just the individual researcher that has to agree to OA, but also the policies and priorities of their institutions, and the existing reward structures that influence choices that writers make. Do you believe that the academy itself is ready for this now? What are you hearing in your work with faculty and researchers? 

Dr. Emily Choynowski

EC: Institutional input is an important factor in encouraging researchers to engage with Open Access research on multiple levels, and as an Open Access publisher, we work closely with institutions and researchers to facilitate the expansion of their engagement with Open Access, both with regards to access to research resources and as a beneficial method of publication. There is a growing appreciation for the benefits of Open Access within the MENA region, though some challenges undoubtedly remain – and that is the central focus of our recent symposium “Towards a more knowledgeable world: Open Access research in MENA”. This event included a series of talks by leading regional stakeholders and global organizations offering valuable insights regarding the implementation and benefits of open research practices.

NKH: What role do you see libraries taking on? In some cases (such as the Library Publishing Coalition) academic libraries are taking on publishing books and journals in-house. The UMICH/BTAA effort is hoping to demonstrate the ability of the academy to handle monograph publishing. Can you talk a bit about the key importance to starting with this sector of academic publishing? Journal publishing involves far more complex issues such as peer review, metrics (JIF, etc.), versioning, access/availability of datasets related to the research, indexing/access, etc. What changes need to happen before true OA can be established reliably for the entire breadth of academic publishing? 

EC: One of the benefits of Open Access is undoubtedly the greater visibility and accessibility of the research, which can facilitate a higher citation rate. Unfortunately, however, some of this advantage is potentially lost when universities opt to publish their journals in-house, as their websites have a smaller reach and lower visitor rates than those of commercial publishers. 

NKH: As Taylor and Francis noted in one of their webpages: “Many funders and institutions now ask their researchers to publish in open access journals, so a journal’s open access options will be an important deciding factor when choosing a home for your research.” Do you see the new processes being developed by for-profit publishers as fitting in with this new publishing ecology? Or, do you see the eventual end of commercial research publishing?

EC: As a platinum Open Access publisher, we pursue an approach that offers maximum benefits and minimal costs to the journals we publish and the institutions we publish them for, in order to provide free scholarship to researchers. At Knowledge E, we believe that increasing the accessibility and visibility of research is key to ensuring the sustainability of scholarly communications ecosystems, supporting diverse research communities and the needs of the wider public.

NKH: What role do you see for libraries? A 2020 article described the challenges faced by libraries in this way: “Research Support, Teaching and Learning, Digital Scholarship, User Experience, and Scholarly Communication….the scope and nature of the new roles, the skills required to provide new services, and the confidence librarians have in their abilities to perform the new roles….librarians’ job satisfaction and their perceived impact on the academic enterprise.” Clearly their role will be critical to the success of truly Open research data and publishing in serving the research community.

EC: Libraries remain the central hub for access and to perform research. Regardless of the increase in online and digitized content, libraries will always remain the integral core of research institutions – especially as their role expands beyond mere bricks-and-mortar to encompass digital accessibility, professional training, and researcher support services. 

NKH: How do you think we should measure the success of these OA efforts? How much change would represent ‘success’ – full-blown transition to academy-based OA? Work to have the majority of articles/research available in some type of pre-pub but post-per review format? Something else?

EC: We are committed to supporting the Open Access Movement, and as part of this we are hosting a free symposium on the 28th of October to discuss the benefits and opportunities which Open Access research offers scholars, scientists, and institutions across the Middle East and Africa.

Towards a more knowledgeable world: Open Access research in MENA” provided effective strategies and useful tips for higher education institutions and individual researchers, with a panel of experts from global organizations like Crossref, Harvard University, Open Access Directory and ORCiD, as well as speakers from leading regional stakeholders including the Dubai Health Authority, the Qatar National Library, and the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research.

An array of topics were covered, including how and where to find Open Access resources; how research libraries can engage with Open Access and evaluate its effectiveness; the practicalities surrounding publishing Open Access for educational and government institutions; and the value, validity, and impact of Open Access research for scholarly communications.

Nancy K. Herther, writer, consultant and former librarian with the University of Minnesota Libraries

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