News: Academic Publishing Weekly

Assessing transformative agreements, new AI legislation, and self-censorship in university libraries

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Are Transitional Agreements Sustainable?

Alison Mudditt of The Scholarly Kitchen questioned if transitional agreements (TAs) are truly transformative, looking at Jisc’s analysis of the success of its TAs. Starting with the benefits of transitional agreements, Mudditt acknowledged that the “global proportion of OA articles published has increased from 21% in 2014 to 46% in 2022.” That said, Mudditt stressed that TAs have prioritized hybrid publishing rather than fully OA, with journal flipping rates seeing little growth. Mudditt also underlined issues with article processing charges (APCs) incentivizing an “article growth economy,” noted the pitfalls of APC waivers, and commented on the lack of standardized TAs across publishers. To close, Mudditt recommended libraries invest in open access models that advance equity and accessibility and acknowledge the drawbacks when considering different pathways to OA. As for publishers, Mudditt reiterated the importance of moving away from a growth mindset that emphasizes article quantity. [The Scholarly Kitchen]

Utah Introduces AI Legislation and a Look at AI in Research Libraries

Utah Governor Spencer Cox introduced new legislation on artificial intelligence, signing the “Artificial Intelligence Amendments,” part of the Artificial Intelligence Policy Act, into law. Ben Wodecki of AI Business explained that the law “establishes liability for companies using generative AI that violates state consumer protection laws if they fail to disclose they are using the technology.” Further, teachers and other “regulated occupation[s]” will be obligated to reveal their AI usage. Wodecki also covered the legislation’s rules on criminal offenses and the formation of Utah’s Office of Artificial Intelligence Policy and Artificial Intelligence Learning Laboratory Program. Turning to AI in the library, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) polled its members in April and December of 2023 to track how attitudes and approaches to AI have evolved. As ARL shared, the report results “capture changing perspectives on the potential impact of AI, assess the extent of AI exploration and implementation within libraries, and identify AI applications relevant to the current library environment.”

Self-Censorship in University Libraries

Following increased censorship efforts in public and school libraries, Ithaka S+R surveyed several leaders at public research university libraries on self-censorship in the academic library sector. Comparing perspectives from those facing “laws or policies limiting the way programs, positions, or funds can be used for diversity, equity, and inclusion or issues related to sex, gender, and sexuality” and those without such policies, Ithaka S+R found that universities continue to utilize academic freedom as a shield and are not “subject to large-scale, systematic content challenges.” That said, state policies are affecting collection development and several universities have experienced the restructuring of their DEI programs. Of note, the survey revealed that “Library directors are seeking opportunities to speak to others at peer institutions about these issues without drawing public attention” and several respondents reported fear among employees, “which is impacting the workplace.” [Ithaka S+R]

Open Access Publishing Insights and GenAI Impact Papers from MIT

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) spoke with the history finalists for the ACLS Open Access Book Prize, who shared insights on their pathways to open access publishing. The finalists explained how they were able to fund the cost to publish and offered recommendations for authors considering open publishing. Simon P. Newman, author of Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London from University of London Press, underlined, “For me it was important to realize that the scholarly processes involved in creating a traditional physically weighty academic tome are just as integral to the creation of an open access book that for many people will exist only on their computer or digital device.” Next up, MIT President Sally Kornbluth announced that MIT Press’s MIT Open Publishing Services (MITops) published several preprints on generative AI after providing research teams with funding to “develop impact papers that would articulate effective roadmaps, policy recommendations, and calls for action across the broad domain of generative AI and its effects on society.” Kornbluth shared that MIT Press plans to share additional preprints following a second call for papers. 

Syracuse OA Agreement and Memorial University Partners with PeerJ

Syracuse University Libraries announced a new open access partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). The read and publish agreement will enable free open access publishing in RSC journals for Syracuse University researchers. Scott Warren, Senior Associate Dean for Research Excellence at Syracuse University Libraries, commented, “Sustainably enabling SU authors to publish their groundbreaking research openly ensures they meet a growing cadre of funders’ public access requirements. Such innovations are a core element of the Libraries’ Academic Strategic Plan.” In other OA news, Memorial University entered PeerJ’s Annual Institutional Membership (AIMs) program. Under the program, Memorial University researchers will be able to publish open access in PeerJ’s journals.