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Journal editorial board quits over open access principle

The entire editorial board of a US academic journal has resigned in protest over restrictions that would require scholars…

The editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration is the latest group of journal editors to quit over open access issues. http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wjla20/current

The entire editorial board of a US academic journal has resigned in protest over restrictions that would require scholars to wait up to 18 months before making their published research more widely available on open access, or pay a fee of nearly $3000.

The stoush marks the latest chapter in the open access debate, which centres on the rights of academics who have their work published in commercial journals to also share their research findings in open access repositories or to publish instead in free journals with no pay wall.

Under the traditional commercial journal publishing business model, readers and universities must pay hefty subscription fees to read about research that is often publicly funded in the first place. Copyright of the journal article is usually transferred to the publisher.

In the latest development, the editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration, published by Taylor and Francis, quit over licensing terms that editor Damon Jaggars described as “too restrictive and out-of-step with the expectations of authors.”

“Authors find the author agreement unclear and too restrictive and have repeatedly requested some form of Creative Commons license in its place,” Jaggars was quoted as saying.

Institutional repositories

Many academic institutions have large repositories of published research available open access for anyone to read. Several funding bodies, such as the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council have made receiving a research grant conditional on the academic promising to make their research available in such an institutional repository.

Publisher Taylor and Francis stipulated that academics may put a copy of their edited journal article into an institutional repository but only 12 months after publication for science, engineering, behavioural science, and medicine.

For arts, social science, and humanities journals, the waiting period is 18 months.

“After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor and Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $US2995 per article fee to be paid by the author,” Jaggars said.

“Thus, the Board came to the conclusion that it is not possible to produce a quality journal under the current licensing terms offered by Taylor and Francis and chose to collectively resign.”

Journal editors

Dr Danny Kingsley, Executive Officer for the Australian Open Access Support Group, said the Journal of Library Administration board’s resignation was the latest in a series of resignation by editors and editorial boards in protest over licensing restrictions.

“A webpage put together by the Open Access Directory called Journal declarations of independence lists examples of ‘the resignation of editors from a journal in order to launch a comparable journal with a friendlier publisher’. There are 20 journals listed on the pages, with the timeline running from 1989 to 2008,” Dr Kingsley wrote on her blog.

“This latest case could open the discussion and see journal editors – who have quite a lot of power –- start taking up the question of allowing more permissive conditions with their publishers. We might start getting some leeway,” she said in an interview with The Conversation.

Professor Tom Cochrane, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Technology, Information and Learning Support at the Queensland University of Technology and a Creative Commons expert said it was not the first time but it was unusual for a journal editorial board to quit over open access.

“Significantly, it’s in response to a charging problem which will be around for a while as business models are worked out,” he said.

“The idea of having to pay an article processing charge of $3000 in a journal which is also charging a subscription fee is repugnant. It’s double dipping.”

UNSW art academic Associate Professor Joanna Mendelssohn, who also edits an open access data base of Australian art and design called Design and Art of Australia Online, said it was “about time universities reconsidered their relationship to scholarly academic journals, and in particular the the way they have enabled a small group of publishers to make academics hostage to their commercial interests.”

“We have to resist the archaic notion that unless access to journals are restricted to universities (or those libraries with subscriptions) then it does not count. It is a bit like 15th century scholars assuming knowledge was only valid if it was in Latin,” she said.

Colin Steele, Emeritus Fellow at the Australian National University and an expert in open book publishing welcomed the stand taken by the Journal of Library Administration editorial board.

“It’s a very good stand because, by and large, academics are ‘protected’ from paying for journals directly – their University libraries do – will now start questioning the economics of scholarly communication,” he said but added that the high Australian dollar had cushioned the debate on library subscriptions.

“Nonetheless, many editors and editorial boards are still only too happy for the multinational publishing firms to continue as they are. The publishers charge significantly higher subscriptions to libraries when they take over journals, even though the editors do the bulk of the work in commissioning manuscripts, organising peer review and receive little or no remuneration for that work,” he said.

“There is an obligation, particularly here for the Australian library and information journals, given the place of libraries both historically and currently in disseminating knowledge for the public good, particularly when the creation of that knowledge has been funded by the taxpayer.”

Response from Taylor and Francis

UPDATE: Here’s a response from a spokeswoman for the publisher of the Journal of Library Administration, Taylor and Francis:

“Taylor & Francis is concerned to address the misunderstandings that have arisen in commentaries around the resignation of the Journal of Library Administration (JLA) Board.

JLA authors have the best “Green OA” route option available. As for all other journals in our Library & Information Science (LIS) portfolio, JLA authors do not have to pay an Author Publishing Charge (APC) in order to achieve full OA from the point of publication. Under our LIS pilot program, authors can freely post their (“post-print”) manuscript immediately on publication – ie without any embargo. For a complete explanation of our current LIS Author Rights Policy, please visit the following link:http://journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/preparation/lisrights.asp

There is no requirement for JLA authors to pay an APC in order to publish in the JLA or to get immediate full-text Open Access of their articles. Taylor & Francis’ APC paid OA model, T&F Open Select, has been implemented as an option for authors to comply with the recent RCUK and Wellcome Trust mandate on those journals where there is an embargo period on author accepted version posting in a repository:http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/documents/RCUKOpenAccessPolicyandRevisedguidance.pdf.

The regrettable circumstances around the resignation of the JLA Board have highlighted the complexities of the current arena. This is characterised by a range of Open Access models, alongside a range of licences, in the quest to meet the different requirements being set by various funding bodies around the world.

Taylor & Francis has a range of licences designed to meet author and funder needs. We regularly review author documents, and since late last year we have been working on new versions for release. These versions will provide greater choice and more immediate clarity to our authors about the rights they retain.

We trust this information is helpful.

Sarah Blatchford – Regional Director Routledge/Taylor & Francis Australasia."

Join the conversation

19 Comments sorted by

  1. Jack Arnold

    Polymath

    I commend the actions of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Library Administration for their principles stand over academic publishers following the dubious example of auctioneers charging finder's fees, or buyer's fees to purchaser's, so that they receive two streams of income for the one professional action.

    Then, Editorial Boards may also resign and so be seen to accept responsibility for a disastrous decision(s) made on their watch.

    Perhaps Ms Sunanda and the TC Editorial Board might consider resignation en masse for the unfortunate appointment of Ms Michelle Grattan and her personal vitriolic attacks on our Prime Minister.

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    1. Rex Gibbs

      Engineer/Director

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      How did you get from the Journal of Library administration to a demand for resignation by Michell Grattan. Michelle Grattan does not attack the Prime Minister ad hominem. She does write as a Journalist about dumb things she and her party colleagues did on the day. And that is Journalism. She also has done the same in the past about Opposition Leader Abbot. But the Prime Minister has escalated her 'Self Harming Behavour' since Michelle joined the Conversation. Abbot has consequentially been able to avoid his own occasional Self Harming Behaviour because he hardly needs to overexert and has therefore been less prone to hyperbole and doing and saying dumb things. Now pick up your dummy wash it and pop it back in. There,There! You'll get over it.

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  2. Michael Marriott

    logged in via Twitter

    Access to information is the lifeblood of open, democratic societies. An informed citizenry is one of the greatest guarantees of this continued tradition - on par with voting rights, the rule of law, the separation of powers and a (non-partisan) free press.

    Information which is vital to the public interest - particularly from the sciences - needs to be more broadly accessible. Locking it away behind expensive pay walls is detrimental, and ultimately self defeating. When research is originating from publically funded bodies, I'd argue the public has a right to see the results of said research.

    As an information professional I commend my peers in the US for taking this stand. Put aside the stereotype of librarians as mousey kill-joys who love nothing better than admonishing patrons for being – giving the public the information it needs is a duty taken seriously.

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    1. Sarah Blatchford

      Regional Director, Taylor & Francis Australia

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Taylor & Francis is concerned to address the misunderstandings that have arisen in commentaries around the resignation of the Journal of Library Administration (JLA) Board.

      JLA authors have the best “Green OA” route option available. As for all other journals in our Library & Information Science (LIS) portfolio, JLA authors do not have to pay an Author Publishing Charge (APC) in order to achieve full OA from the point of publication. Under our LIS pilot program, authors can freely post their…

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    2. Michael Organ

      Manager Repository Services at University of Wollongong

      In reply to Sunanda Creagh

      There are no misunderstandings in regards to the actions by Taylor & Francis in regards to claiming copyright and charging for full open access of the publisher pdf, and that is why the JLA board resigned after much consideration.

      If I want to publish in JLA I have to hand over my copyright to Taylor & Francis. This is unacceptable. If I want to put my article on open access I have to pay around $3000. This is unacceptable. Yes, I can put a copy of the post print up on an institutional repository…

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    3. Sarah Blatchford

      Regional Director, Taylor & Francis Australia

      In reply to Michael Organ

      In response to the initial commentary and Michael Organ’s response today, we need to reiterate that authors of the JLA and all authors under our LIS (Library & Information Science) pilot retain their own copyright and simply license Taylor & Francis to publish the definitive version of record. There is ZERO embargo as detailed on our LIS author rights page:
      http://journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/preparation/lisrights.asp#link3

      So there is Full Green Open Access at the point of publication for JLA…

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  3. John Harrison

    Senior Lecturer at University of Queensland

    As a communication scholar I would be grateful for a "plain English" version of the response from Taylor & Francis excerpted below:
    Green OA” route option available. As for all other journals in our Library & Information Science (LIS) portfolio, JLA authors do not have to pay an Author Publishing Charge (APC) in order to achieve full OA from the point of publication. Under our LIS pilot program,...JLA authors to pay an APC in order to publish in the JLA or to get immediate full-text Open Access of their articles. Taylor & Francis’ APC paid OA model, T&F Open Select, has been implemented as an option for authors to comply with the recent RCUK ...

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    1. Sunanda Creagh

      Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to John Harrison

      Hi John. There's some info here about what 'Green open access" means. According to this website, http://www.ercim.eu/publication/Ercim_News/enw64/jeffery.html, "'green': the author can self-archive at the time of submission of the publication (the 'green' route) whether the publication is grey literature (usually internal non-peer-reviewed), a peer-reviewed journal publication, a peer-reviewed conference proceedings paper or a monograph". Hope that helps clarify at least one part of their response.

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  4. Simon Batterbury

    Associate Professor at University of Melbourne

    I have been interested in the OA issue since assuming editorial duties at an OA journal (one of the oldest in the social sciences - 1994 is going back a bit now..). I have summarized my thoughts here and regularly update them. http://simonbatterbury.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/158/
    The 'recommendations' at the end include finding ways that we can all get through this transition with a clear conscience. This starts at the top - with government, research councils and university managers, who need to shift the current obsession with the prestige of the place of publication of an article to the quality of the article itself. This will assist the choice of scholars about where they can publish. And their articles should be available to all, if possible. We are not there yet.

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    1. Michael Organ

      Manager Repository Services at University of Wollongong

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      Gavin - the Taylor & Francis response may be prompt and moderate in your opinion, however their actions are far from that. If you go to the Sherpa/Romeo site you will see that 630+ T&F journals are classed Yellow, which only allows archiving of the pre-print (pre-refereed) version of a paper. As you may be aware, this is totally unacceptable to academic researchers as it means that the version of the paper that is digitally archives is NOT the version of the paper as published, and the content varies. No, a prompt and moderate response from Taylor and Francis does nothing to hide an otherwise heavy handed and harsh action, which is why editorial boards and individual researchers are opposed to the current actions by publishers in opposing open access liberalisation.

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    2. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Michael Organ

      The commercial publishers and some UK learned societies which publish journals have behaved so badly that I think it appropriate to encourage a commercial publisher's less exploitative behaviour, as isolated as it may be.

      SHERPA/RoMEO rates as yellow the Taylor & Francis journal for which I am reviews editor. I raised this with our editor who in turn has raised it with Taylor & Francis. Hopefully this will encourage Taylor & Francis to change its position to earn a green SHERPA/RoMEO rating for our journal. If not I will raise this with my association which I think still subsidises Taylor & Francis to publish the journal. If this doesn't work I will reconsider my position.

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    3. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      In response to my previous post the publisher of Routledge/Taylor & Francis Australasia contacted me separately to point out that my journal allows posting of the author’s accepted version after an embargo of 18 months, which SHERPA/RoMEO normally rates as fully green. So SHERPA/RoMEO's rating seems to be wrong for this journal and apparently for numerous others.

      I also gather that Taylor & Francis subsidises production costs of my journal and pays royalties to my association. I'm not familiar with the details, but the arrangement seems to be much more favourable to my association than the one that I and my then co editor was able to negotiate with the journal's first commercial publisher which was later acquired by Taylor & Francis.

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  5. Bill Skinner

    Research Professor at University of South Australia

    As with most researchers, I am inundated with emails from new, "open access" journals, "inviting" article submission. OK, all well and good, but there are some aspects that do not make the move to these sorts of journals very attractive at all.

    Many of these new journals, if you take the next step, charge a fee for publication costs. Yes, I know even a portion of conventional journals also charge. However, with the price tag and the non-existent journal impact factor, what possible motivation…

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    1. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Bill Skinner

      Yes, those new open access journals may trap naive authors into publishing in journals read by no one. I advise colleagues not to consider a journal with which they are unfamiliar unless its on the ARC's list for ERA. I normally find the ARC's list for the 2010 ERA more useful because its ratings give researchers new to a field an idea of the journals' standing in the field.

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  6. John Kelmar

    Small Business Consultant

    I doubt if any journal can claim copyright privilege over the work undertaken by an academic, unless the journal actually funding the research in the first place.

    All of my articles are my own work, and finding was obtained from my university or from Government sources which allowed me to publish my results when and where I saw fit. I still use my articles in other media without fear of repercussions from those who published my work.

    This was clearly the case when the University of Western Australia lost a copyright case against one of its Professors, who was funded by UWA for his research, but retained the rights for hos work, and then took his information into the commercial world, thus receiving royalties from his work.

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    1. Michael Organ

      Manager Repository Services at University of Wollongong

      In reply to John Kelmar

      John - traditionally authors were required to transfer copyright to publishers and this remains the case in many instances. Taylor & Francis states the following on their website: "We recommend that authors assign copyright in journal articles to Taylor & Francis or the journal proprietor (such as a learned society on whose behalf we publish)." Publishers also couch this loss of rights in terms of the granting of perpetual licenses, but it is basically the same thing.

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