News: Academic Publishing Weekly

The future of the hybrid office, predatory journal threats, and MIT Framework's recent success

By Sabrina Cofer, digital media assistant, Choice

MIT’s Framework Yields OA Results

APW graphic. Reads: "Academic Publishing Weekly, the latest curated news from around the industry" Dark purple background, white lettering, with multi-colored shapes.

MIT Libraries announced two open access agreements with nonprofit publisher Public Library of Science (PLOS), allowing MIT authors to publish in PLOS without paying article processing charges. The deal grants MIT authors eligibility in the Collective Action Publishing agreement covering PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine, as well as including authors from Research4life countries, which “provides low-and middle-income countries with online access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content.” MIT Libraries notes that this agreement aligns with their holy grail, the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts, which was created to ensure negotiations keep the interests of scholars and MIT principles in mind. MIT Libraries has used the framework in negotiations since its release in 2020. [MIT Libraries]

How Will We Return to the Office?

Looking ahead to a largely vaccinated public feels too good to be true. But eventually (hopefully) many of us will become immune, and the spread of COVID will slow, then cease enough for us to be able to hug our relatives, eat in restaurants, and head back to the office. But will we (can we?) go back to pre-COVID office life? Alison Mudditt, CEO of PLOS, breaks down how the nonprofit OA publisher adjusted to remote work in the past year, and what the “hybrid office” might look like moving forward. Mudditt encourages transforming workspaces to accommodate in- and out-of-office work and shifting culture away from in-office bias. Mudditt covers key challenges moving forward—maintaining work relationships, onboarding, evaluating performance—and possible solutions. Will the conference room become an artifact of a bygone era? (If you’re looking for a lengthier read on the transformation of office spaces pre, post, and during COVID, Mudditt recommends this recent New Yorker article.) [Scholarly Kitchen]

To create the best, rather than the worst of both worlds, we will need to collapse the boundaries between being physically present in the office and out of the office. 

Alison Mudditt

PubEasy Becomes Easier wasn’t the only bookselling site to see increased partnerships last year. In 2020, over 800 retailers signed up with PubEasy, the electronic ordering and customer service platform. Now, the global bookselling site is getting a revamp, with “a fully rebuilt, state-of-the art technology infrastructure, including a streamlined modern interface, improved search, and tighter integration with related systems.” Technology and information provider MVB purchased PubEasy in 2017 and developed the new infrastructure. Used by a number of academic publishers and university presses, the revamped platform will launch in late March. [Shelf Awareness]

Big Bucks Offered at the PEN Awards

PEN America Literary Awards announced its 2021 finalists, offering prizes varying from $3,000 to $75,000. Out of almost 2,000 submissions, the jurors narrowed it down to 55 titles spanning 11 categories. As Publishing Perspectives notes, many of the category names change based on the year’s sponsors, but this year’s genres include poetry collections, science writing, biography, and nonfiction. A myriad of presses made the list, honoring Duke, Trinity, Wesleyan, and more. Awards will be announced (digitally) on April 8th. [Publishing Perspectives]

Predatory Journals on the Prowl

Scopus logo. Reads "Scopus" in orange letters with a white background.

Recent analysis found that Elsevier-run academic database Scopus hosts papers from over 300 potentially predatory journals, which “contributed more than 160,000 articles over three years — almost 3 percent of the studies indexed on Scopus during the period.” Predatory journals collect publisher fees from authors but provide little editorial work, which means false information or “low-quality science” is common. Popping up on other popular databases like PubMed, predatory journals often change names or publishers, making them difficult to eliminate—an essentially whack-a-mole situation. Scopus has stopped indexing new papers from flagged journals, but previously indexed content remains. [Nature]

Bringing the Commonplace Book Back

Who doesn’t love a rousing, awe-inspiring quote? Or a “scrapbook” of fascinating tidbits and useful concepts on a topic of your choosing? The New York Times offers a few apps and digital tools to help get you started on your own digital “commonplace book,” a Renaissance-era fad of collecting quotes or favorite lines in a notebook for safekeeping. NYT suggests first “flipping through” some commonplace books online; academic libraries or museums offer many from popular authors, figures, and philosophers to digitally peruse. Hey, it’s Friday, right? [New York Times]