January 28, 2023

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– We can get rid of them

Brussels (Chrono): Did scientific journals play their role?

Rector Kurt Reis at the Norwegian University of the Environment and Biological Sciences (NMBU) suggests more than yes to this question.

– Traditionally, magazines have two functions. They’ll distribute the work, get it out there, and they’ll do quality assurance,” Rice says, before adding:

– Today we do not need it for distribution, we can also achieve this through online archives. There are some majors that already do this.

The following judgment is made about quality assurance in journals:

They don’t do quality assurance well.

Rice points out that articles are constantly being pulled.

It is common for two colleagues to have different opinions. No one can believe that good papers don’t get rejected, it happens all the time. So they do this job poorly. If we manage one of the two things they have to do without, and they do the other badly, we can get rid of them, says the NMBU chief.

Thought the shift was coupd

Rice’s move to ditch the magazines came first on Twitter, when he shared one Khrono’s case About the Nifu report which concluded that focus on the scholarly publishing market has increased with the move to open publishing.

“For discussion: the only solution is to get rid of magazines entirely,” he wrote on Twitter.

Rice points to open publishing, also known as open access, and says it’s an effort to get in on a new system, albeit with journals. But he believes the move to open publishing was a coup.

– Taken over by major publishers, who have their primary responsibility to shareholders. They care more about profits than quality, he says and refers to the Minister for Research and Higher Education, Ola Borten Moe.

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– If Borten Moe really wants to save money, he should say that we don’t pay for magazines from major publishers. I wish he did.

Post and read agreements

As part of the transition to open publishing, Norway has in recent years entered into a number of so-called publishing and reading agreements with scholarly publishers.

facts

Post and read agreements

Norwegian conventions with an overview of participants and costs (in NOK) in 2022.

American Chemical Society

Participants: 13

Cost: 6,067,801

Cambridge University Press

Participants: 14

Cost: 3,354,138

Elsevier

Participants: 50

Cost: 90,271,168

Oxford University Press

Participants: 14

Cost: 7,673,936

a saw

Participants: 39

Cost: 16,228,196

Springer

Participants: 46

Cost: 24,060,064

Taylor and Francis

Survey participants: 43

Cost: $26,584,745

Wiley

Participants: 50

Cost: 40,570,233

The agreements are in line with Plan S, which requires that all research funded by the Research Council and the European Union, among others, be published. They guarantee both read access and open publishing access. They are intended as transitional agreements on the way to open publication. After 2024, there will be an end to such agreements.

An overview Khrono received from knowledge sector services body Sikt, which negotiates these agreements, shows that the publishing and reading agreements Norway had had a total price of approximately NOK 215 million for 2022 (see the full overview in the truth box).

Sikt states that costs are distributed differently among different organizations, depending on, among other things, the type of organization, size, publishing activity, and the number of subscriptions it had when the agreement was entered into.

What its price will be for 2023 is not clear. the It was negotiated last year New agreements with publishing giants Elsevier And Springer Nature, but negotiations with several other publishers were not completed before the agreements expired on New Year’s Day. In the negotiations, the price was pivotal.

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He participates in the agreements himself

When Norway struck an agreement with major publisher Elsevier in 2019, Rice, then president of OsloMet University, was decisive.

– Few of the major publishers get totally unjustified profit from universities. Elsevier is among the worst. Rice said at the time that they would not give up their level of profitability.

He makes it clear that at the same time he criticizes the Accords Overview of the participants Most of them participate in the publishing and reading agreements chaired by Rice University. He says they participate for the same reason as other institutions: Their researchers want access to journals and they want to publish in them.

– NMBU can not just start?

– It’s a tempting idea, but I know there will be a lot of opposition. I have no confidence that this can be done on an institutional level, it has to be done collectively. Changing that will require leadership at the national level, says the university’s president.

He referred to an article in Chrono about the Nevo report, which also indicates an increase in focus after the conclusion of these agreements.

– The contracts do not fund research, but are funded by contributors to the major publishers. It wasn’t meant to be. Then we have to break out of it and find alternative ways of distribution and quality assurance.

Peer reviews are publicly visible

– Do you think it is possible to drop magazines?

– We must have a guarantee of quality. Huge journals like PLOS experiment with publishing an article, then there will be peer reviews visible to the public. It’s a very different approach, which could have its advantages, Rice says, before adding:

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“Someone got into our milking operation, we’re just going to kick him out.”

Khrono asked Springer Nature, one of the largest science publishing houses, for comment on Rice’s remarks and what they think about the future of the journals. We haven’t received an answer yet.

– Who says that this is quality?

Rice isn’t the first to ask if we need journals.

– We don’t need magazines. Magazines were very useful at a time when we had to physically print things out to give out. Since the 1990s, we’ve had something called the Internet, Robert Kelly, Coalition’s head of strategy, says in the book “Plan S for Shock”.

As an alternative to journals, Kelly posits “a completely open archive where researchers can upload their research when they feel ready to share it—just like any prepress server.” He believes that ratings should also be made public.

then Chrono discussed the statements From Kiley, Jan Erik Frantsvåg, an organic agriculture consultant at Arctic University UiT Norway, asked what happens if you were to publish three million articles in a world without magazines.

– Who is to say that this is a quality, this is not a quality, this is a life-threatening waste, this is Einstein and this is Carrie Jackson? Someone has to take it upon themselves to tell the audience what it is, you have to have some kind of mechanism. It does not have to be a publisher, nor should it have anything to do with financial interests, Frantzwag said, referring to the arXiv preprint server.