Academic Newsletter - February 2019

Alastair Horne
News - Academic Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Alastair Horne, in association with the London Book Fair, on Plan S concerns and other news from the academic publishing world

Scholarly publishers raise concerns over Plan S
More than 40 scholarly publishers working in the humanities and social sciences (HSS), including 11 presses based in the UK, have signed an open letter contributing to the consultation on Plan S. Focusing on what it describes as "the unintended consequences and deleterious impact of applying a model designed for STM journals to all humanities and social science disciplines", the letter asserts that "Plan S is not appropriate for HSS" and that it risks decelerating the move to open access in HSS and harming the research communities it intends to serve. Because funding in these disciplines rarely includes money for APCs (article processing charges), existing subscription journals will be unable to flip to the APC model, it states, while the lack of clarity over plans for monographs is a further concern. The letter calls for urgent and transparent dialogue between all parties and a commitment to develop solutions that are both sustainable and appropriate for the entire community.

Cambridge signs deal with JISC Collections
Cambridge University Press has signed a three-year deal with JISC Collections designed to ease the transition towards a full read-and-publish model of open access publishing. The agreement offers a range of options for institutions depending upon their stage on the road towards open access, covering access to the press's journals and article processing charges for publishing in them, and linking increases in open access publishing to a decrease in subscription spending.

Accessibility audit finds room for improvement
The crowd-sourced Aspire project has reported back on the accessibility of 54 academic ebook platforms and 87 scholarly publishers. Among the platforms, 10 suppliers received badges marking a positive level of accessibility, with EBSCO ebooks, Kortext, and VitalSource gaining the highest Gold badge, while Cambridge Core received the solitary Silver awarded. Of the publishers, only four attained badges, with Palgrave Macmillan awarded Silver, and Policy Press, Palgrave's Red Globe Press, and SAGE (US) achieving Bronze; no Gold badges were awarded.

Open Library of the Humanities shares figures, signs new deals
The Open Library of the Humanities has shared provisional figures for the year ending 13 February 2019, showing that the press published 458 articles during this period, achieving more than 330,000 views and 60,000 downloads. In the past month, a consortium of five Austrian institutions has signed up to the OLH Open Consortial Offer, while Furman University in the United States and the University of Cologne have joined its Library Partnership Subsidy model.

In brief
Rutgers University Press has formed a global partnership with De Gruyter covering the distribution of the press's 2,500 frontlist and backlist ebook titles. The two publishers will work together to digitise 1,500 titles published by Rutgers between 1936 and 2000, after which De Gruyter will have exclusive marketing and sales rights to the collection for three years.

Bloomsbury Academic will this year begin publishing scholarly titles in India, beginning with Time, Doubt and Wonder in Humanities by Prasanta Chakravarty. R Chandra Sekhar has joined Bloomsbury as publisher responsible for the programme, which will focus on the humanities and social sciences.

Oxford University Press has launched a new technology centre in Budapest, to work alongside its existing technology teams.

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