Scientists paid about 1 billion euros in 4 years to giant publishers to publish their research overtly | Science | EUROtoday

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Science has labored like this for the final half century: some scientists uncover a remedy for most cancers, different researchers examine that the info is appropriate, and the ultimate outcomes are printed in a examine in an educational journal. If it’s not printed, it’s not science. The system, nonetheless, has been remodeled in recent times. It is now not the readers who pay to learn the research, however slightly the authors themselves who pay for his or her analysis to be printed in digital journals with open entry to everybody. A gaggle of scientists, led by German professional Stefanie Haustein, has now calculated the turnover of the “oligopoly” that controls this new market. The scientific neighborhood, primarily with public funds, paid about 1 billion euros to the 5 giant publishers in 4 years, solely with the charges to publish open entry research, based on this estimate.

It’s a bubble about to burst. Public establishments that spend money on science have required since 2021 that research be printed with open entry. And scientists are judged by the variety of research they publish, in virtually weighty evaluations on which their salaries, their promotions and their budgets to proceed analysis rely. This system, referred to as “publish or die,” has led to an enormous enterprise with perverse incentives to provide an increasing number of insubstantial research: publishers earn extra money and researchers effortlessly fatten their resumes. The most prolific scientist in Spain, José Manuel Lorenzo, head of analysis on the Meat Technology Center of the Xunta de Galicia, signed 176 papers final 12 months, one each two days, even on unrelated subjects, corresponding to hospital administration of smallpox. of the monkey

Stefanie Haustein’s staff, from the University of Ottawa (Canada), has spent “years” gathering information from the interval 2015-2018. According to their calculations, the British writer Springer Nature took the most important a part of the pie, with about 550 million euros, adopted by the Dutch Elsevier (207 million), the American Wiley (107 million), the British Taylor & Francis (72 million ) and the additionally American Sage (30 million). The French sociologist Pierre Bataille calls “vampirization of analysis” to those charges required for a examine to be obtainable with open entry, formally known as “article processing charges.” Authors or their establishments should pay a median of greater than 2,500 euros for every work.

Haustein’s examine reveals that two scientific journals, Scientific Reports y Nature Communications, accounted for this earnings, with nearly 100 million and 67 million euros, respectively. Both belong to the British writer Springer Nature, 53% managed by the Holtzbrinck Group, a German household firm based after the Second World War by Georg von Holtzbrinck, a repentant Nazi. This publishing home is the proprietor of the celebrated weekly Nature, but additionally from one other 4,600 magazines. Haustein’s evaluation confirms that Scientific Reports y Nature Communications They are two megajournals transformed into profit-generating machines via open entry charges. Scientific Reports It is the journal that publishes probably the most research on the planet—nearly 22,000 works final 12 months—and prices 2,190 euros for each. Nature Communications It publishes about 7,500 articles a 12 months and calls for 5,390 euros for every of them. In the crown jewel, the journal Naturethe worth is near 10,000 euros.

Stefanie Haustein considers the revenue margins of the principle publishers “obscene”, “which reach between 30% and 40%, well above most industries.” The researcher provides the instance of the Dutch big Elsevier, which final 12 months printed 600,000 research, 1 / 4 of them in open entry. Elsevier’s annual earnings reaches 3,335 million euros, with 1,260 million in revenue, based on its 2022 accounts. “This means that for every 1,000 euros that the academic community spends on publishing in Elsevier, about 380 euros go into the pockets of its shareholders,” explains Haustein.

The German researcher factors out the paradoxes of the present system. The scientific neighborhood pays to publish its personal research and in addition works without cost for publishers, reviewing the work of different colleagues. To high it off, establishments proceed to pay annual subscriptions to learn journals that aren’t open entry. “This means that the academic community has to pay to access the content it has provided for free. And, on top of that, the general public faces a paywall, when it is often their taxes that finance these studies and their publication. “It is an unsustainable model that depletes research budgets around the world,” says Haustein, who publishes her leads to the journal of the International Society of Informetrics and Scientometrics.

The writer warns that these 5 giant publishers have tripled their variety of open entry research since 2018 and have elevated their costs, so the present expenditure will probably be properly above 1 billion euros. In addition, different actors have appeared, such because the publishing home MDPI, based in Switzerland by the Chinese chemist Shu-Kun Lin and accused of decreasing the bar to extend its earnings. Approximately one in six Spanish research are already printed in MDPI journals. Researcher Lin Zhang, from Wuhan University (China), has calculated that the scientific neighborhood of simply six international locations – the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Norway – pays about 1.9 billion euros every year to a dozen publishers to publish with open entry.

German Stefanie Haustein, expert in bibliometrics at the University of Ottawa (Canada).
German Stefanie Haustein, professional in bibliometrics on the University of Ottawa (Canada).Stefanie Haustein

A spokesperson for Springer Nature, Susie Winter, considers that the brand new evaluation makes use of “very outdated” information and a “poor” methodology, because it doesn’t consider reductions and exemptions from publishers, for instance, these meant for scientists in international locations with fewer assets. The similar supply maintains that “the main reason” for Springer Nature’s increased earnings is that the group opted for open entry earlier than its rivals. The British writer printed nearly 85,000 open entry research in 2018, based on its accounts, in comparison with 33,000 for Elsevier.

Chemist Luis González, professor on the Complutense University of Madrid, maintains that the calculation of 1,000 million euros in 4 years is “very short” in comparison with the present disbursement. The professor has carried out his personal accounting in Spain. “I started studying this issue because it was costing me a lot of money to publish my results in good journals. “Publication costs ate up half of my research budget,” he recollects. González emphasizes that Spanish universities and the most important Spanish science group, the CSIC, are going to pay round 110 million euros between 2021 and 2024 to a few publishers – Elsevier, Wiley and Springer Nature – to publish open entry research in them.

Publishing prices ate up half of my analysis price range.

Luis González, professor on the Complutense University of Madrid

The Complutense professor insists that there are alternate options. In fields corresponding to arithmetic and physics, a excessive proportion of research are first printed in Arxiv, a repository managed by Cornell University (USA). “Publishing on Arxiv is completely free for authors. The expenses, about 14 euros per article, are covered by donations from the university and foundations,” says González. Academic journals normally justify their excessive charges by having a staff of impartial consultants overview the research earlier than publishing them, however the professor emphasizes that these reviewers don’t cost. “Scientists do the review work for free to Nature and for all magazines. There is no way to take the increase in costs. It seems unbelievable that they have foisted this system on us to a body of people with the highest training. We are really at a loss,” González laments.

The Springer Nature spokesperson, nonetheless, maintains that the brand new evaluation “ignores the costs associated with publishing primary research articles.” [con datos originales]”. The spokesperson cites the figures dealt with by James Butcher —former vp of Springer Nature and now a marketing consultant on the American agency Clarke & Esposito—, who counted 147 editors employed within the journal. Nature Communications, to which we should add assistants, laptop scientists, attorneys, accountants, publicists, and so on. According to Winter, his charges replicate these prices and numerous others, corresponding to enhancements to his technological platforms.

Haustein responds to criticism. “If publishers believe our estimates are not accurate, we would appreciate it if they would publish their data and be transparent. Their lack of transparency is precisely what has made our work so slow and difficult. Our methodology is very exhaustive and solid, with quite conservative estimates,” explains the professor. Haustein factors out that the true prices of publishing a examine vary between 185 and 920 euros, based on calculations by German professional Alexander Grossmann. “To compare, Nature Communications He earned an average of more than 4,000 euros between 2015 and 2018 and now charges 5,390 euros,” he points out.

Two Spanish researchers fueled the debate in July with an open letter sent to the same magazine Nature. The letter was titled: “Publish without paying: use institutional repositories.” In it, Isabel Bernal, from the Scientific Information Resources Unit for Research at the CSIC, and Pandelis Perakakis, from the Complutense, explained their alternative model: that of Psychological, the flagship journal of the Spanish Society of Experimental Psychology, which until last year was managed by the German publishing house De Gruyter and is now published with open access in the institutional repository of the CSIC. The publication costs of each study are around 30 euros.

“Our case shows that it is a feasible model, but some pieces are missing, such as incentives for academic communities,” says Perakakis. The National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA), guardian of quality at Spanish universities, has just published a proposal to modify the evaluation criteria for researchers, with the aim of stopping judging their publications by weight. The psychologist Pandelis Perakakis considers that it is “a step in the right direction”, to leave behind “the system of paid magazines and easy publication”. The researcher issues a warning: “I fear that, as has already happened in the past, if we do not correctly channel this momentumthe future could be even darker than the present.”

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