Friday 13 September 2019, 9:15 AM – 10:15 AM (1 Hour)
How are you feeling about the accelerating transition towards full and immediate open access? Are you excited, scared, overwhelmed, confused? Are you ready? Are you bothered? In this interactive plenary session you’ll have the opportunity to hear from and debate with a panel of leaders at the heart of the transition.
Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing Officer, Springer Nature
Springer Nature’s mission is to advance discovery and central to this is applying and scaling Open Research methods. Having 100% immediate OA publication of all primary research is an important element to achieving this and our idea of transformative publishing has been developed with this in mind. But it is only one element. Open Data, Open Code, Open Protocols, Open Standards, Open Repositories, etc. – are all essential and we want to play a full role in enabling their systematic utilisation. What needs to happen first if we are to move forward into an integrated Open Research world? A renewed focus on the OA article version of record (rather than the Author Accepted Manuscript version) and ensuring that this is sustainably funded to maintain the robustness, integrity and resulting trust in the whole system. Today this transitionary drive remains largely European and we need to extend this to the rest of the world to succeed and, if it is be accomplished rapidly and efficiently, we need to enable the thousands of existing, trusted journals that continue to receive most of their funding via subscriptions to also transition to OA.
Malavika Legge, Director of Publishing, Portland Press/Biochemical Society
The Biochemical Society, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Portland Press, is a self-publishing learned society. We are financially reliant on subscriptions but committed to scoping and commencing a transition to open based on our mission and ethos. How to transition away from paywalls and pivot to open scholarship while keeping the Society financially viable and able to provide grant funding, training and other support for the advancement of science? How to continue to serve our author and researcher communities based around the world when funder and institutional requirements vary by region? We are trialling transformative renewals for 2020, re-wiring our workflows, rewriting policies and discussing transformative agreements with consortia. We are also using the ALPSP network and a grouping of >30 learned societies in the Society Publishers’ Coalition to investigate achievement of a fair and sustainable transition to open scholarship by organizations, like ours, who publish as part of charitable objectives.
Niamh O’Connor, Director, Global Journals Development, PLOS
PLOS is dedicated to leading a transformation in how researchers communicate to accelerate progress in science and medicine. Increasing transition to open access brings potential for huge benefit but needs to be seen as a first step towards a fully open research culture. This evolution challenges us to think differently. Should we transition from focus on articles and book chapters to thinking about a digital knowledge stack? How will we ensure continuation of a diverse publishing ecosystem? Can we realign incentives with stakeholder interests? What is needed to create an environment where researchers, publishers, societies and institutions are prepared to take risks in order to build new systems of trust? Embracing these challenges offers us a path to a future with greater availability of information, greater inclusion in the research process and increased speed of discovery and innovation bringing increased benefit to society as a whole.
Ralf Schimmer, Director of Scientific Information Provision, MPDL
From the perspective of a very large, research-intensive organization, we can only be galvanized by the surge in forward momentum that global efforts such as OA2020 and now Plan S have instigated. The research community made clear well over a decade ago their expectations for an open information environment that would enable deeper, faster and more impactful scholarship. The subscription journal framework for the dissemination of scholarly research is a gilded cage that must be unlocked to unleash the full potential of the work of our scientists and scholars. Instead of spending our money and efforts polishing the cage, our resources should be directed at easing the lock; transformative agreements and cost-neutral transitional business models such as “subscribe to open” are the key.
1909AIC Plenary 4 Session slides
Mr. Phil Garner
Managing Director, Future Science Group
Phil is the Managing Director of Future Science Group, an independent publisher that publishes journals, runs eCommunities and organizes events in biomedicine. Phil is also a non-executive director at Portland Press.
Mr. Dan Pollock
Chief Digital Officer and Open Access Practice Director, Delta Think
Dan is the Chief Digital Officer and Open Access Practice Director at Delta Think, based in London, UK. His strength lies in helping publishing companies successfully explore and exploit new digital opportunities, through his combination of commercial expertise and technical understanding. Over the last 20 years, Dan has specialized in digital publishing strategy and product innovation for companies primarily in STM and Legal publishing. He has held executive leadership and strategic advisory roles, and senior positions managing products, operations and change in organizations ranging from dot-coms to complex corporates. His expertise includes the establishment of new business units and product management functions in large organizations, handling digital extensions to flagship brands, the implementation of analytics and social media practice and policies, business and price modeling, interfacing between business and technology functions, and strategic advisory services. Most recently, prior to joining the Delta Think team, Dan was part of the leadership team of Jordan Publishing Ltd through its successful sale to LexisNexis (RELX). He has previously worked for Macmillan Publishers (Nature Publishing Group), Outsell Inc., RELX (Elsevier Health Sciences, LexisNexis), Times Mirror International Publishers. His early career was in software engineering, specializing in publishing solutions. Dan has been the principal architect of the Delta Think Open Access Data & Analytics Tool and supports market intelligence and strategy projects related to Open Access.
Chief Publishing Officer, Springer Nature
Steven Inchcoombe read Physics at Merton College, Oxford and qualified as a chartered accountant with PwC. From 1990 to 2000, Steven was at Interactive Data Corporation, where he ultimately became responsible for strategy, M&A and the EMEA region, and during this period the business became listed on NASDAQ. He then moved on to Board positions with the Financial Times Group, including UK Publisher of the Financial Times and Managing Director of ft.com. Steven joined the Macmillan Board in 2006. From 2007 to 2013, he led the Nature Publishing Group (NPG), and in 2013 became CEO of Macmillan’s Science and Scholarly division, comprising NPG, Scientific American and Palgrave Macmillan. Following the creation of Springer Nature in May 2015 he was appointed Managing Director of its Nature Research Group and most recently promoted to Chief Publishing Officer for Springer Nature in March 2016.
Director of Publishing, Portland Press/Biochemical Society
Malavika Legge is Director of Publishing at Portland Press, the wholly owned publishing arm of the Biochemical Society. Along with strong roots in content development and extensive licensing experience, she has a special interest in workflows and publishing technology. Prior to her time at the Biochemical Society she held a variety of editorial and management roles at Informa PLC (in academic-publishing divisions that now sit within Taylor & Francis). The majority of her experience is in cross-functional working, and her current focus is balancing editorial, charitable and commercial interests in the context of today’s scholarly communications landscape and the Biochemical Society’s stated objective to transition its publishing business model. Malavika has a degree in Biochemistry and a Masters in Bioscience, and retains a passion for serving the research community.
Dr. Niamh O’Connor
Director, Global Journals Development, PLOS
Niamh is Journals Publishing Director at PLOS where she has responsibility for the business management of PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine and the PLOS Community Journals, as well as working with the Editorial Teams to ensure that the journals maintain and grow their connections with their communities. Previously she was the Director of Publishing at the Biochemical Society/Portland Press, where a central part of her role focused on developing collaborative relationships with Boards, Committees and the wider community to recommend and deliver against organizational strategic objectives. Prior to joining the Biochemical Society she spent nine years at the Royal Society of Chemistry in a variety of publishing roles including Publisher and Managing Editor, where she worked to co-create and implement journal strategies with Editorial Boards to meet the needs of the evolving global scientific community.
Mr. Ralf Schimmer
Director of Scientific Information Provision, Max Planck Digital Library (MPDL)
As Head of Information and Deputy Director, Ralf Schimmer leads the licensing strategy of the Max Planck Digital Library, serving the 80+ advanced research institutes of the Max Planck Society. A champion of open access in scholarly communications, he chaired the Governing Council of SCOAP3 (2014-2016), serves on many international boards (e.g. Knowledge Unlatched and Fair Open Access Association), and is project lead for the Open Access 2020 Initiative.
[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:00:15.51] DAN POLLOCK: Good morning, everyone. I hope you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to go after last night’s festivities. Welcome to this Plenary session, Transforming Publishing– Sharing Perspectives on the Latest Models to Expand Open Access. I wasn’t at the conference last year, but I’m given to understand that the corridors were abuzz this time last year, because the little announcement had come out about a week previously about Plan S. And really, whatever your perspective on Plan S, I think it is fair to say that it has, if nothing else, reinvigorated discussion and debate around open access, especially with regard to accelerating a move to a fully open access world.
[00:00:57.19] So to help us explore where we are a year on, where we might be going on this journey, I am joined by four very distinguished panelists, who I would very briefly like to introduce. Steven Inchcoombe, chief publishing officer from Springer Nature, representing the big corporate side of things, one hopes. Am I allowed to say that? Is that–
[00:01:18.09] STEVEN INCHCOOMBE: Ever popular, the big corporate.
[00:01:20.42] DAN POLLOCK: Corporate– but cool winning name, but not by nature, I’m sure. Malavika Legge is director of Publishing at Portland Press, which is a wholly owned by the biochemical society, representing the small society publisher. We then have Niamh O’Connor on my left, director of global journalist development at PLOS. I’m sure PLOS needs very little introduction. And then, finally, in the red corner, as it were, last but by no means the least, Ralf Schimmer, who is director of scientific information division at Max Planck Digital Library, representing the library, the bio, I suppose, the consortium.
[00:01:54.96] So the format of this session is somewhat experimental. So please do run with us. And we’re going to run it in two halves. I will shortly ask each of our panelists just to present an opening position on their perspective of where we are in our models to expand open access. And then we’re going to take some questions. When we were putting this together, we were thinking how best to do this to stimulate some sort of discussion and debate.
[00:02:23.91] And so we took our inspiration from BBC television’s Question Time program. So I should just walk you through that, because not all of you will, of course, be aware of that. BBC’s Question Time is a current affairs program where a studio audience, a live studio audience, will ask a panel of politicians questions about the current affairs issues of the week. And the USP of the program is that the panelists have not seen the questions in advance. So I have four rather nervous panelists sitting next to me. This is what we’re trying to do.
[00:02:54.97] Now, the advantage the BBC have is that their audience arrives a few hours ahead of transmission. So that gives the team time to gather questions in the audience and line everything up. We haven’t had that luxury. We felt you would not appreciate being asked to come here at about 6 o’clock in the morning. So instead, some of you may have seen an email that went out ahead of the conference, canvassing questions.
[00:03:17.13] So we’ve done our question gathering in advance. We have some people lined up ready to ask questions, when we get to that part of the session. And my co-chair Phil Garner will be wandering around with a microphone, when we get to that part of the session. So really, that’s it. Without further ado, I’d like to hand it over to Steven. And we’ll walk along the panel for some opening perspectives. And off we go, and to you, Steve.
[00:03:44.64] STEVEN INCHCOOMBE: Dan, thank you very much and great to be here to have a chance to discuss what has been, I would like to say, the subject of the moment, but probably the subject of the last 20 years moments. So it’s perhaps the slowest revolution to have taken place of any industry. I think it’s fair to say– and I’m speaking particularly from a larger publisher perspective. I’ll let others better qualified talk about the perspectives for other publishers.
[00:04:13.35] But I think, for almost all publishers, we were actually very comfortable and happy with a subscription model and money in advance, small numbers of transactions, no real bad debt. And what isn’t there to like about the subscription model? So it was not publishers, let’s face it, that invented open access. The reason open access really matters is because it’s part of open science and open research. And those techniques have an incredibly beneficial impact on the world of research and the world of science.
[00:04:52.85] And given that that’s what has attracted, I would say, the vast majority of us in the room and the vast majority of our colleagues and other publishers to help that mission, to play our role in supporting that, that has to be a motivating force, to say, we have to set aside the model that served us well for the model that’s needed to be able to genuinely advance discovery. And that’s the reason why, I think, publishers of every size and shape need to really embrace the change to open access and find out how they can make it work for them.
[00:05:35.73] For the larger publishers, I think it’s fair to say that there is an advantage. Because open access, any period of change requires substantial investment. It requires systems to change and processes. It requires relationships to change. And if you get a seat at the table in those discussions, and if you get a seat early, you get a chance to try to participate more rapidly than others. And publishers in that very fortunate position squander that at their peril.
[00:06:11.44] I’m not going to talk particularly about Springer Nature’s position, because I’m trying to represent a group of publishers on their behalf. But the one thing that I’m trying to do is create a mobilization amongst all publishers of any size and shape that wants to be a part of it and in a transformative program. If anybody saw it, there was a publication we put out to explain how we thought the ingredients might work together.
[00:06:48.29] And we’re trying to get publishers to work together towards shaping those ingredients with Plan S, with the European Union, into something that can serve all of our needs and create a common approach that allows everybody to succeed together. And we might refer to it again in the questions, but that’s enough of a little pitch at the beginning to say, I think we have to focus on solutions, not problems. But thank you for the opportunity, and I look forward to the questions in a few minutes.
[00:07:22.43] DAN POLLOCK: Thank you. Malavika?
[00:07:24.55] MALAVIKA LEGGE: Morning, everyone. So I thought I’d start by just giving you a bit of context. The Biochemical Society is a relatively large learned society. We are a charity. We exist to serve the molecular bioscience community and advanced molecular biosciences. The society carries out a load of good work, charitable work. And I won’t spend much time talking about that.
[00:07:54.05] But one of the things we do as part of our mission is also publish journals. We are a self-publishing society. We wholly own Portland Press, the society’s publishing arm. And publishing brings in, as it happens, 75% of the society’s income. So essentially, that’s activity that funds a lot of the charitable work that the society carries out and really the reason for its existence in doing that work.
[00:08:21.13] So Portland Press is community owned, and its work and its commercial strategies have to be in harmony with that community and in harmony with the society’s mission to advance the molecular biosciences. So we feel that a transition to open access is what our community needs. It’s what our researchers want. And we think it to be possible for seven journals. That’s the extent of our portfolio in the molecular biology and life sciences.
[00:08:49.28] So we’ve been committed to open access for a long time. In 2012, we flipped a journal, the cold, hard, cliff edge type of flip, that if you have questions about, I can answer in the next section. But that was a rough road. But then, in 2017, we specifically chose and actively chose a transition to open access, which I noticed a year before Plan S was announced. And the society published its first open science policy in April 2018.
[00:09:19.66] And in Jan 2019, we joined a group of like-minded society publishers seeking a sustainable transition to open access in the form of the relatively new Society Publishers Coalition, or the SocPC. And again, I can come to the SocPC later. But I thought about what might be useful for you to hear about. And we have a few operating principles that have worked for us. If I had to answer the question, how to effect a transition? What are those principles that have worked for us and that we’re living by?
[00:09:52.47] First, rewiring current spend from the institutions to move the models. Simplistically, this is clubbing together reading and publishing into a single transformative offering. And I won’t go into great detail, but there are two points of differentiation, if you like, with the standard read and publish, or the read and publish that’s been around and emerging over the last few years. And second principle– take individual APC invoices away from authors. We’re really excited about this, and we see this as a help, as a support, to the community. And we really believe that ability to publish should not be linked to the individual’s ability to pay. So how can we find a way to work to make that happen and support all researchers that need to publish?
[00:10:47.07] Third principle– and this is where that point of differentiation with the other standard read and publish offering comes in– support as much OA publishing as possible to drive the transition. So we’re talking about unlimited, APC-free open access in all of the societies journals– so not just the hybrid journals, but the gold, fully open access journals, as well– combined with read access to all of the journals. And those of you who were here at the Plenary yesterday will see some parallels with the sort of model that the Microbiology Society was talking about, as well.
[00:11:25.80] And fourth principle– flip institutions to flip journals. So we think that increased uptake of our transformative offerings will affect, or at least move us towards, a transition. And we expect, that when most of the content in our, say, currently hybrid journals is published OA or under a transformative deal, we will then be able to flip these journals to being fully open access. So this brings me to the next principle, which is stop being distracted by a deadline. Staring at the headlights just gets you run over, right?
[00:12:00.41] So political situations and in different regions are very, very different, very changeable. We can’t affect all of the politics of all of the things going on in the rest of the world. So stop being distracted by a date, and which policy is coming out when, and how many years can this transformative be allowable, and all of that. Instead, principle six, start to think about what you can do. So for us, when we assessed that, that was to start gathering up and analyzing our subscription and APC data and to start conversing and co-developing thoughts and offerings with consortia and institutions.
[00:12:42.44] And as a side note, this the second point wasn’t possible for a publisher of our size until recently. So I really think tanks are due to initiatives. The [INAUDIBLE] initiative and [INAUDIBLE] and Welcome in UK are making that possible, because it did make connections for us and give us the guidance we needed to start us down the road.
[00:13:03.05] Now, taken together, these six principles have led to transformative agreements at a consortia level, that we hope to strike, but also a transformative renewals pilot that we want to bring out for 2020, where we’re offering each of our institutional subscribers the ability in their existing renewal cycle with help from subscription agents, like [INAUDIBLE] and the like, offering them the option to take a transformative renewal and do a read and publish with us for 2020. Seventh principle– we publish and carry out activities for the molecular bioscience community, as I said. So the principle is remain guided by this in sculpting the APC-free workflows. Commit to doing this with the strength of persistent identifiers and things like that, so it really works.
[00:13:55.45] There’s no point us offering a read and publish deal or a transformative agreement on anything, that then we can’t really uphold in the workflows. So you’ve got to think about that, and how are you actually going to deliver that for the researchers, for the institutions, meet their reporting needs, et cetera? That’s stuff to think about.
[00:14:15.28] Eighth principle– learn by doing. So why are we doing all of this stuff? Why are we sticking our necks out and piloting things? Because we think, if we’re committed to making a transition, then we have to learn by doing and see how much of a transition we can affect in our journals in a sustainable way.
[00:14:33.40] Ninth principle– seek input from and converse with colleagues. That’s why we’re in the Society Publishers Coalition. It started with a handful. Now it’s 43 members. Between us, we publish 200 journals. We’re not a trade body. The SocPC is a practical-minded doing group, who have quite a tightly defined mission around seeking a sustainable transition. And that makes it quite a good hotbed of ideas and a great support system. So that’s really worked for us.
[00:15:02.30] And lastly, be open about the roots to sustainable OA. So this is our starting position, right? We’re thinking transformative, flipping institutions, all the things I’ve said. But that’s a starting point. We have our eye on other models. We think subscribe to open is very, very interesting, very creative. We think open platforms bear a lot of attention and time. So we are open to these things. But while we’re thinking about big ideas, we’re also thinking about today’s plumbing, today’s electricity, to how to make the workflows work, how to strike these transformative deals. So that’s my opening position.
[00:15:41.32] DAN POLLOCK: Thank you very much, Malavika. Niamh?
[00:15:44.91] NIAMH O’CONNOR: OK, thanks. So I’m going to come at this from a slightly different angle. And one of the reasons that I’m really glad to be here as part of this panel today is that something that has struck me since I joined PLOS, which was in the middle of last year, is that very often, when talking about things like Plan S, people will say, oh, well, it’s OK for you. And I see Sarah Greaves here in the front row, smiling.
[00:16:12.02] I can tell you for absolute sure that being a fully open access publisher does not mean that we have everything sorted. And I think that’s something that’s really important to highlight and say that each of us have to really look at how the transformation that’s happening is going to affect us and how we are really going to make the research ecosystem work more effectively for everybody. And I can absolutely say for me– I’m a chemist by background. And anyone who works in any kind of physical science publishing– and I’m sure lots of you who work in academic sessions, as well, can tell you– chemists are not usually the early adopters of open access.
[00:16:54.29] So as they say on some other television programs, it’s been a journey for me, from there to where I am currently. And I think, in common with Steven, the thing that has really made that change for me is thinking about open research and open science, which I find a really compelling future for us to aim for. And I think there are some really fantastic things that are on offer to us or that we can see a glimpse of that could be there, if we could really make that work.
[00:17:26.90] And things I see are I am really taken with the idea, that by making more research and discovery open, that you can increase the pace of innovation leaps. And by doing that, that you can drive economic benefit and actually make more money available, not just in the system of research, but for society as a whole, and make the world a better place– which might sound like a really utopian ideal. But I think, for a lot of us who got into science– and I speak as a scientist in this– originally, that was a little bit of the driver, that and being really curious about how things might work. So the experimentation side really appeals to me.
[00:18:06.80] But I also think there is really something in that about challenging the ideals that we come with. And I’ve had a few conversations over the last few days about things like recognizing our own cultural baggage. And I think there is really something in publishing for each of us in this to think about. What are our preconceptions? Why do we think things have to be done in a particular way? And I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep the parts that are valuable.
[00:18:35.88] But I think we should really question, is an article really of value? Could we share research in a different way? Is where I work really valuable? And I think that there is attention for all of us in that. I see it for those of us working in publishing companies, in that we think to ourselves, well, actually, where I work is– I hope we think to ourselves– where I work is good and valuable. But actually, we need to be able to not just assert that, but have some evidence to show that that’s the case for the researchers whose research we have– excuse me– helping to share and people who are looking for those discoveries.
[00:19:13.39] And I think absolutely the same thing is true for all of us in this ecosystem, and really be able to think about, how are we going to develop new systems of trust that work in an open environment? Because most of our trust signaling is based on a closed system, and that’s how we have worked. And I think if we can’t find ways to really make that trust between the different actors and the research ecosystem work in an open environment, we’re not going to be able to make that transition. And I think that poses a huge challenge for all of us. So I’m sure some of that might come up through the questions again later. So I’ll leave it there for now.
[00:19:51.98] DAN POLLOCK: Thank you. Ralf?
[00:19:54.32] RALF SCHIMMER: Thank you. Well, it’s a great pleasure to be here and to be in a position and able to discuss the topic of transition to open access with such a distinguished crowd of representatives from the publishing community. I guess I sit in front of you as a representative of what Malavika has just called a flipped institution. I suppose that we, as the Max [INAUDIBLE] of the library, or the Max Planck Society as our mother organization, is really probably the leading force in terms of trying to move away from the current subscription system and the current standard renewals of agreements with publishers towards transformative models, so that open access is included as a component and built in as a goal and perspective to arrive at an open access, pure open access model, as an endpoint.
[00:21:01.18] So therefore, it’s no surprise, that when I re-emphasize as the major theme that has emerged over the last year, that carries the biggest promise in the entire arena of our industry, is the notion of transformative agreements. And this concept by itself has had to travel a long way. There were early starters, when we did not even have that concept and that name.
[00:21:31.32] So I would say that, of course, the open access declarations, we all know them. They were the Budapest Declaration in 2002, the Berlin Declaration in 2003. They have been cited around the globe and Research Council, been debated at library conferences, at publisher conferences, at joint conferences, almost everywhere.
[00:21:57.96] I would say the first visual expression of the idea of what became a transformative agreement was probably the Scope 3 Cooperative in the field of high energy physics. That initiative started in 2006 as an idea, as a concept. I was involved in the group that planned this. And the idea at that time was people felt like, at the end of 2006, the plan could perhaps be enacted, so that it would be operational by the year 2008. That was totally unrealistic, as we all know.
[00:22:42.99] The launch year, the factual launch year, was 2014. So it was really six, seven years of intense communication, campaigning, around the globe. The colleagues at CERN, namely Salvatore Mele as the front runner– and probably all of you have probably heard him speak sooner or later at some point– he was indefatigable in his efforts to push this forward.
[00:23:13.62] But since to 2014, we have seen a certain acceleration, in that– I mean, there was the Finch Report, in 2012, with all the policy implementations by the Research Council and governments in the UK, that also established the enhanced ambition to bring more open access to the system. We also contributed our own share to that game. So we published our White Paper in 2015 that demonstrated on the empirical data evidence, that there is already enough money in the system. What we could show in that paper was that the libraries of the world, through their collective subscription spend, put as much money on the table as 3,800 euros per article through the subscription system. And this is massive money.
[00:24:10.77] So the idea was born that this money that has already being transacted in the subscription purchase could be used and repurposed, and so put towards the mission to buy, for that money, open access services. And so through further steps of piloting and refinement, we now sit on a pretty rich evidence of that proof, the concept to be viable. So the early agreements in 2014 and ’15, the first, they were called offset at the time. The very first agreement was between IOP and Austria. And then the UK had had some. The Netherlands jumped on board; we ourselves, the Max Planck Society. Then the Nordic countries expressed an interest, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:25:05.76] And now it’s been really an initiative that is catching fire almost everywhere. And we have also launched, back in 2016, the OA 2020 Initiative. The mission is really to build a community of like-minded institutions, libraries, and consortia, so that we can, and Malavika, have since come to the negotiating table with a clear set of mind and strategy. We have understood that we have to do our data analytics in a sense that goes beyond counter data and value assessment exercises as libraries used to do them. So we think we have reached a point where we know that this is a viable approach. There is ample proof of concept, and we think that it has the capacity to be scalable and also sustainable for the future.
[00:26:13.48] I would like to make a second point, and that is, because the abstract for that session raised the question, how do you feel about this change? And I want to get now more to the maybe emotional side of things. I don’t know whether this is the right word. But it’s not only because– in last night’s quiz, one of the answers was Greta Thunberg, so the 16-year-old activist from Sweden in the arena of climate debate.
[00:26:51.42] When I look at our discussion– and I think Steven’s notion that this is one of the slowest revolutions ever reminds me of really the discussions also in climate change. So in both arenas, we know that the status quo is not sustainable and inevitably will have to be changed. But we don’t really know how. And as a result, in both arenas, both in climate change questions, as well as in changing the information industry to a purely or truly digital business models, we have done too little, too late, procrastinated for way too a long time, and never with enough scale.
[00:27:42.87] When we look at the climate discussions– so we have the Paris Convention and the many international follow-up conferences, with where they have new declarations, where they define new target lines, et cetera. In the open access arena, we had the Berlin Declaration and the almost annual conferences at an international scale. We have always formulated nice papers, reconfirmed what we wanted. But not so much real concrete massive action has been organized.
[00:28:16.77] The goals in both arenas are pretty clear and obvious. I mean, in climate discussion, we know that we have, at one point, to become climate neutral, or at least to get as close to that as possible. In the information sector, it’s clear open access is the only legitimate business model in a purely digital ecosystem. There is no alternative. There is no other choice.
[00:28:48.78] The means in the climate discussion is we need to move away from our carbon-intense industry. Decarbonization is the means what we have to aim for. In the information industry, it’s really the clear goal. We have to remove the paywall system. The subscription have to be removed. This system has to fall. This is absolutely clear, and this is now more outspoken as a goal than ever before.
[00:29:26.40] In both arenas, we see now– speaking of 2019, we see a certain acceleration, as I explained to you before. So the mature concept of transformative agreement does help to accelerate things. But we may ask, have we in the information industry already had our Greta Thunberg moment? You could now look at this, and you all would have certain characters in your mind. You could say, yes, there are quite a number of rebels out there who have expressed relatively ambitious, bold goals or statements. I would argue, no, we have not seen our Greta Thunberg moment yet.
[00:30:14.92] And the reason why I say this is, I would say, the young generation, what Greta Thunberg stands for, has not entered the scene yet in our arena and has not yet made themselves forcefully heard. So the discussions, even the rebels among us are still of the old, non-digital, native generation. We are all gray and to some extent, some more than others. But I myself, I count myself there.
[00:30:52.20] So but this is done with among ourselves. It’s like the politicians that have been in powers over the last 30 years. So of course, they do something. But of course, names change, people change. The new prime ministers come and go, et cetera, et cetera. But they are all of that type. And this is probably the same here.
[00:31:15.27] The Greta Thunberg in our arena would be represented by the real digital native generation. They are now maybe approaching their 30s or already are into their 30s. But they have not made it yet into the real power positions in our industry. And my perception would be, and prediction, that as soon as the true digital native arrive in the power positions in academia, I think, from that moment on, if we have not been able to organize the transformation on orderly terms ourselves by that time, then they will play hardball with what’s left of that system. Because they will not tolerate it.
[00:31:59.61] I sometimes really think, what would happen if the Max Planck Society would see the first digital native as a president at the very top of our organization? All our rationalization, the regular reporting of libraries, why they have to spend so much money with ever-increasing prices, oh, from year to year, for the little amount of services that they get for that, this will just not be tolerated anymore. They will wipe things out faster than we could all look. So therefore, I think, from that, I would take this really as a call to action. We are tasked with a mission to show that we have understood and that we can organize ourselves in a way that we finally deliver an open access before others take the control out of our hands and do what they think they have to do.
[00:32:57.48] DAN POLLOCK: Thank you very much. I think there’s some really interesting stuff. Thank you, all, for some very good starting points. So we’ll now move on to take some questions. I have to do– for those of you who know the BBC Question Time [INAUDIBLE], do my David Dimbleby peering over the glasses thing, because you really wouldn’t want to see me just [INAUDIBLE] of Bruce. Trust me, that’s not a good mental image.
[00:33:17.09] So our first question from Sarah Greaves, from [INAUDIBLE]– please, Sarah.
[00:33:21.48] AUDIENCE: Good morning. Good morning, everyone. Steven, as you alluded to, this has been a really slow revolution, as Ralf pointed out, as well. And I remember, back in days that Springer Nature, we would always be sitting there, going, oh, it’s another five years. When is this going to happen? Oh, it was always that never-ending, always moving another five years.
[00:33:41.64] So my question is to all of the panel, what is your estimate, at the moment, of how long this transformation to a fully open access world will take? And why? And obviously, we could say it’s 2020, but probably not. Maybe 2030– who knows? What is your vision for how long this is going to take?
[00:34:02.60] DAN POLLOCK: Thank you. What I’m going to do is we’ll run this one in reverse order, I think. So Ralf, could you kick off with your top of my thoughts, just whatever?
[00:34:10.08] RALF SCHIMMER: Well, for us, we have a very clear not only vision. We have we have a concrete plan, and we are getting very close. So going back to my climate analogy– so we all know some regions or city have started to declare themselves carbon neutral. We might be the first organization to declare ourselves subscription neutral. And we are getting very close.
[00:34:41.30] And we have done this at various conferences and been very explicit and public with our statement. We work with all our top 20 publishers that represent more than 80% of our output and want to move away from a regular subscription process. So we will offer them a fair transformative agreement. And if we cannot get it, then we are prepared to move away from the contract.
[00:35:13.58] This is the approach that many institutions in Germany have taken with Elsevier. We have also moved away from our Elsevier agreement this year. So since January, we don’t have access to Elsevier, and we are still alive. And so from our top 20 publishers, it looks like it will, in next year, 2020, it will only be Elsevier and two others, who have– there are good reasons. Society Publishers was a difficult setting that will not yet be in a transformative arrangement. And they will come next.
[00:35:47.60] DAN POLLOCK: So I– kind of to pressure you. If we were to zoom out, if you were to take a view of the world at large, this grand vision, when do you think that the world at large, [INAUDIBLE]?
[00:35:57.26] RALF SCHIMMER: Well, if institutions take this seriously and go with– even if they have only 50% of our ambition and would try to get us as many agreements that are up for renewal, whenever they are up– if it’s this year, next year, or in two years– then I would say this is really a matter of a next contract cycle, three, four, years. And this is then the point, where it will be widely visible that we have not only reached, but moved beyond the point of no return. And from then on, it will accelerate like this.
[00:36:35.54] DAN POLLOCK: It’s a sort of tipping point, so three to four years?
[00:36:37.58] RALF SCHIMMER: So therefore, it’s, I would say, yes, three to four years. We will see the ultimate and final tipping point. That’s my conviction, and I have said it often enough. I will invest all my energies to reach that moment.
[00:36:52.87] DAN POLLOCK: I can feel the Twitter voice humming.
[00:36:56.25] Niamh, what’s your take on this?
[00:36:59.11] NIAMH O’CONNOR: So I think it’s really difficult to give it a specific time. And I was just thinking as Ralph was speaking that firstly, I think it depends, what do you mean by fully open access? Does that mean journals? Do you count books and monographs? Are you counting absolutely everything? And I think the answer to that is those are not the same timeline. And what occurred to me, as I was listening to Ralph, is I think it’s like radioactive decay. I think it’s going to be like half will decay.
[00:37:27.39] But will we actually get to the point where everything is open? I hope so, but I think there’s going to be a very long tail on that. And I also think, taking the international nature of research and publishing into account and the total variation between disciplines, I think an awful lot depends by, what do you mean by open, and what do you mean by complete transition? And I recognize that’s a vague question without a time attached to it. But I mean, I think Ralph’s point is a good one. I think within the next five years, we’re going to see a lot of movement. Do I think the whole thing will have flipped by then? No, I don’t.
[00:38:07.34] DAN POLLOCK: OK.
[00:38:08.76] MALAVIKA LEGGE: And so I don’t have views that differ massively. I think, from the molecular bioscience perspective, I think five years, if the institutions all around the world do, do have that same sort of fire and if they’re willing to come with those, we’re ready, we’re there. I have the sense a lot in that– a lot of other publishers in the space are there, as well. So I think that’s very doable. But there are other ways of doing things and other approaches and other routes to funding and other disciplines. So I think it depends, like Niamh was saying, how wide we’re talking about and about everything. But I think a tipping point and a lot of it in five years– absolutely.
[00:38:55.70] STEVEN INCHCOOMBE: I think we have to focus on primary research. That’s what the open access movement was originally designed for, has ambitions rightly beyond that. But primary research is the thing that will be the catalyst around which other things are possible. And that’s the goal that we should all be focused on now. And I think the biggest question is whether or not the agencies that are ultimately our customers, the institutions and the funding agencies, whether they get joined up and have a common purpose. My sense is the supply side publishers increasingly are trying to work out how not if.
[00:39:44.08] We work with 254 funding agencies around the world. And I can tell you, outside of Europe and California, there’s very few standing ready to follow the lead that Max Planck, Plan S, the European Union, and others are setting. And they have very good reasons. They tell us why it’s not appropriate for them. But we can’t, as a supplier, force our customers to change. We can only help them share the experiences elsewhere, the benefits, and try and do that. We need a coalition European Union, leading institutions, societies like Max Planck, to be out there advocating to their peers. Because that’s going to be the critical path and the timeline. They will be setting the pace.
[00:40:32.38] And I really hope that we’re talking about four or five years, not significantly longer. But at the moment, my concern is it will take much longer, because of the way in which organizations elsewhere are set up, how their funding is [INAUDIBLE], and what their priorities are. And many of them still see paying money for publishing, versus paying for research as a choice that they don’t want to have to make. They want to keep the money in research and away from publishing.
[00:41:09.05] And they point to the libraries and say, we constitute there. And then the libraries have lots of reasons why it’s not so straightforward for them. And we have to help them bridge those gaps. But we can’t force somebody else to change the way in which they set their priorities. We can only have to convince them that the benefits are worth the transitionary challenges and overcoming them. So I’d say at least four to five years, but the fundamental will be how fast we can convince our organizations on the demand side elsewhere in the world to follow this lead.
[00:41:48.84] DAN POLLOCK: Thank you. Next question from Rod Cookson, IWA.
[00:41:55.84] AUDIENCE: Thanks, Phil. Thanks, everyone, for coming this morning. It’s sometimes said there’s enough money from institutions and funders in the system to support a complete flip to open access. What’s the best way to achieve that which is fair and equitable for all stakeholders?
[00:42:13.70] DAN POLLOCK: Niamh?
[00:42:15.20] NIAMH O’CONNOR: Great, I get to go first. OK, well, I think a few thoughts about this. I’ve been very struck, particularly since the announcement of Plan S, that I think something that, at least I see happening, is that people are thinking of effectively trying to mirror what other people are doing. And I am not putting aside in that the outline Alicia gave yesterday during her presentation and the description of this [INAUDIBLE] project. And I think it was 27 potential business models. And clearly, there are a lot of options out there.
[00:43:01.08] But I do think a lot of people are focusing on the ones that larger publishers are doing, transformative deals. And I think really what we need to do is think of different ways of doing this. And I think if it’s going to be equitable, there have to be a variety of models. You can see in the work– I mean, I’d say, as part of that, that a huge challenge, which I think is one that’s been articulated very well by the California Digital Library, Ivy Anderson and her colleagues, in trying to effectively corral the money that’s given for open excess payments into something that can then be used in one place. And that’s a really big challenge.
[00:43:40.95] So I think the answer, annoyingly again, is there isn’t one way to do it. But I think experimentation is the answer. And I think it’s really thinking outside what are becoming the established ways to transition. And I’ll say really openly in this, PLOS was a place that started with APCs, really showed that could work as a business model. We also need to experiment with the different ways of doing things. That’s not the answer. It’s an answer. And I don’t think there will be just one.
[00:44:11.79] And a final comment on this one, and something that we are also looking at, is I think it’s important, in all of this, not to forget the different sources of funding that come into paying for the sharing of research. And something that concerns me a little bit is that in the conversation, while, of course, quite rightly, that’s a conversation between stakeholders, funders, research institutions, and publishers, but there are other people who contribute to the cost of sharing research. Corporates pay a lot of money for a subscription paywall content. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that that’s a huge contribution to the costs of sharing research.
[00:44:55.49] And actually, we in the Royal Society of Chemistry are having an event in [INAUDIBLE] on the 24th of October, exploring this, if anybody’s interested. And It’s free to take part. You just have to get a reserve. So I think it’s really important, and that’s looking at pharmaceutical, the pharmaceutical company, money that contributes to the system. And they benefit hugely from research that’s done. And I think we really do need to look at the different actors in the system and how we can make it an equitable transition for everyone.
[00:45:23.06] DAN POLLOCK: Steven?
[00:45:25.85] STEVEN INCHCOOMBE: I’m afraid my perspective is it’s not going to be equitable. We all aspire to fairness, but some of the unintended consequences of this transition is that the organizations are going to be really challenged. And some will decide to outsource. Some will decide to sell up. Some will get so compromised, that they become unsustainable in the process.
[00:45:56.95] And actually, at least in some of the discussions I’ve had, it’s very clear that some of the stakeholders relish that competition as a way to drive profit out of the industry. They think it’s unsustainable. It’s unreasonable. And they may just say that to a large publisher, because it’s more acceptable to say that than to say to the face of a society, well, tough, if you can’t keep with it, then you deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs like it, how the world works. But I don’t think it is going to be equitable and fair. I think that there’s a lot of protection of budgets that have been sitting in different pools.
[00:46:43.55] I hear, increasingly, funders complaining about closed-minded, resistant attitudes in libraries, and that they’re not prepared to cooperate and pool in a way that’s in the greater interests of the whole system. And I think there’s going to be quite a lot of friction along the way. That said, I believe very strongly in the prize at the end of it and that we have to find the best ways of helping each other, because the diversity of our system is one of its strengths. What we do not want to lose is some of the strengths that have allowed us to cater for a wide variety of customers in the process of trying to come up with a better system that can, when you get to the end of it, benefit all, but can really damage some of the participants on the route from where we are now to that promised land.
[00:47:43.18] DAN POLLOCK: OK. Ralf, I thought you might have some thoughts about that.
[00:47:48.35] RALF SCHIMMER: Well, of course, as we have heard already, that can go into a very extensive elaborations. I really try to be brief. The notion that there is enough money in the system is not the end point. This is the starting point of acknowledging, yeah, there is an opportunity, but there’s also challenges, of course. And we were not naive when we published that paper. We knew that, when you break it down, so it works on the global level. It works mostly also on the country level. But when you break it down to the regional and institutional level, then you will find inevitably, moments where the money is not allocated currently where it would be needed in the future scenarios. So there.
[00:48:34.49] But this is where work has to begin. So we have all been on the learning curve. Malavika has mentioned that we all have enlarged our understanding that we need to have additional data, both on the publishing side and also on the side of the libraries and institutions. And this has been discussed. This is common knowledge, common ground already. And work has been done. And yeah, I could give you example, but then it gets too long.
[00:49:07.21] I would just say that, I mean, the system that we have now is human-made. And what is human-made can be changed and expanded, further evolved by humans. I mean, the humans being were able to fly a human being to the moon and bring it back home safely. I don’t see why we should inherently be limited to reorganize the system according to challenges and needs and what we want.
[00:49:40.43] And when we see the universities, I mean, talking of going back to the early ’90s, when the computers came to the labs and departments, also in the publishing industry, when now everybody works at the computer, in the early ’90s, a few were maybe there. And then it started to come. They didn’t have a budget for buying computers for everybody. And this investment that was needed is much more massive than the reallocation.
[00:50:10.33] Overall, we can still say, from a government perspective, if you fund the research in your country– so for the European countries that have a strong government involvement in funding the research system, why should it be a challenge if institution A, that is more research intensive, needs perhaps 20% to 30%, not in their overall budget, more just for a library budget, with it’s a tiny proportion? Where others might save it. So even at the level of a finance minister in a country, you could see, well, we reallocate, but the baseline is there, also a relative level of cost neutrality, or it’s a marginal, yeah.
[00:50:56.38] DAN POLLOCK: OK, so [INAUDIBLE].
[00:50:58.06] RALF SCHIMMER: So therefore–
[00:50:58.81] DAN POLLOCK: –geography [INAUDIBLE].
[00:51:00.28] RALF SCHIMMER: The good thing is it’s been recognized and addressed already. And it’s work, and yes, there are some who are more reluctant and less positive or enthusiastic than others. But hey, we are confronted with human beings. We know that all.
[00:51:23.20] DAN POLLOCK: Anything further to–
[00:51:24.49] MALAVIKA LEGGE: Just to add a couple of thoughts– while we’re talking about rewiring the spending and repurposing the money that exists in the system, publishing will change, and what we have to offer will change. And so from my perspective, we predict there’ll be a whole fresh approach then to pricing and to looking at what money there is in the system. And I think it’s very, very important that we come to that together with our library partners, our institutional partners, that currently have those purse strings and build from there. So those are my couple of thoughts.
[00:52:03.68] DAN POLLOCK: Thank you. Our next question from Marcus Parker, IntechOpen, please.
[00:52:10.36] AUDIENCE: Hi. So my question is Plan S– a positive push or wrong track?
[00:52:17.48] DAN POLLOCK: Malavika. I’ll put on first then. Someone has to draw to straws. I’m sorry.
[00:52:24.87] MALAVIKA LEGGE: Well, I think good that it happened, because it really accelerated thinking across a much wider group than may have been prepared to be thinking in that direction already. So in that sense, it was a positive outcome. I think that the first instance of it, there was misalignment and things. But they were very quick to engage and consider and have a feedback loop and redraft, if you like. And I think, given that that has been their approach– and through the SocPC, we continue to see engagement with Plan S. We’re talking to them about other things now. We’re looking at the double dipping area with them.
[00:53:15.95] So the fact that they’re willing to have that conversation with us means I see it in a positive life. If they had just put the barrier up, said, this is it, and fend for yourselves, that’s it, then it would have not been as positive. But given their approach to it, I think positive push.
[00:53:35.05] DAN POLLOCK: Thank you. Niamh?
[00:53:37.68] NIAMH O’CONNOR: So my view on Plan S is that it’s a manifesto for change. I’m not going to go into the detail and the many comments that have happened here on that. But I think it really picks up on the point that Steven made in the beginning, around the pace of change is the transition. And I have seen Plan S very much as a manifesto to really push things forward. And I think it’s done that, and it’s really re-opened the conversation and made it take off in a different direction. And so I see that as a really positive thing.
[00:54:11.68] DAN POLLOCK: Ralf?
[00:54:12.14] RALF SCHIMMER: Yeah, I like this notion of a manifesto to push things forward. So from my perspective, it’s clearly positive. Of course, when you have such an ambitious and relatively short statement, that, of course, is subject to criticism. Because when you think it further broken down to operational levels, yes, there are complications, and some are very viable.
[00:54:41.64] From our perspective, going back to the transformative agreements and that thing– so Plan S helps to give, to bring the funders into the game and give them a very purposeful, intentional role in a target-oriented way. And this is absolutely complementary. So the institutions with the approach of transformative agreements come from one side, and the funders come from the other side. And they are aligned in that goal and purpose as they are expressed in plan S. So therefore, I see a full alignment here and in fact, a very nice reinforcement of efforts. And going back to Rod’s question about the financing, this is also an instrument to realign the financial streams of money, so that the institutions themselves could perhaps be lifted from some of the financial burdens through input from the funders.
[00:55:51.17] DAN POLLOCK: Steven, how this play out from your perspective?
[00:55:53.87] STEVEN INCHCOOMBE: Absolutely a force for change and welcome it. But my caveat is that it’s too specific in some areas and creates a straitjacket that will inhibit in some areas the transition, when we should be fundamentally focused on getting to the goal as quickly and as effectively as possible. I’m not trying to prescript the means of doing so. We should embrace every opportunity and not limit them. And there’ll be a time in the future when standardization is going to be necessary, just for the practicalities. But that’s not now.
[00:56:38.19] DAN POLLOCK: I think we’ve got time for one more. So I’m going to ask Michael [INAUDIBLE], from RPS, please. And it’s going to, I’m afraid, be about a 30-second answer from the panel.
[00:56:49.66] AUDIENCE: Yes, just very quickly, my question is green open access a temporary or permanent solution?
[00:56:57.75] DAN POLLOCK: There you go, a tiny topic to end on in 30 seconds– 20 or 30 seconds each– Ralf.
[00:57:03.92] RALF SCHIMMER: Well, my answer is short. Green open access was never a solution.
[00:57:09.69] DAN POLLOCK: There. So you can clap for the [INAUDIBLE].
[00:57:14.58] NIAMH O’CONNOR: I agree with that. I think it’s not the solution. And I think, apart from the financial aspect of it, which is enormously problematic, it also doesn’t allow re-use, which is part of the point of open acc– of real open access and open research.
[00:57:29.83] DAN POLLOCK: Malavika?
[00:57:30.77] MALAVIKA LEGGE: I’m aligned in the view I think we should go for the best version, the version that the researcher would be happiest to stand behind, the version the institution would be happiest to stand behind, the version that the publisher would be happiest to stand behind.
[00:57:44.57] DAN POLLOCK: Steven, last word.
[00:57:45.47] STEVEN INCHCOOMBE: Well, with the panel, is in complete agreement. [INAUDIBLE] agreement. Green open access is a compromised public access, delayed and not reusable. Why focus on the wrong goal? Focus on the right goal and enable everybody to achieve that, not get distracted by, at best, an interim solution.
[00:58:13.38] DAN POLLOCK: OK, very quick final comment.
[00:58:15.04] RALF SCHIMMER: Yeah, I would like to follow up on my comment, because I know that people might Twitter here. And maybe that– that–
[00:58:22.78] DAN POLLOCK: So your secret [INAUDIBLE].
[00:58:24.57] RALF SCHIMMER: I would want to qualify it a little bit. I mean, I stick with what I’ve said. Green was never a solution. But green still did have a very important and valuable role in the evolution of the open access movement. There was no alternative to green. The merits of green was that this approach kept the open access on the political agenda and put the pressure up, because the readiness for now, the goal, the approach, the transformation, was just not there 15 years ago. And as I said, how long it took for Scope 3, which was only a tiny project compared to the larger scheme of things. So therefore, green had its–
[00:59:10.85] DAN POLLOCK: OK. So we almost got them into agreement, but not quite. I know we’ve run just a couple of minutes over. Thank you so much to our panelists doing this. These are very, very difficult things, so I really do appreciate the four of you being here. So thank you, all.
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