News: Academic Publishing Weekly

New declaration on open research, a rapid increase in book bans, and Stanford University's annual AI index

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Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information: Overview and Industry Response

Several research and funding organizations published the Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information this week, urging the research community to support open research databases and platforms. Science’s Catherine Offord had coverage, noting signatories’ aim to create a Coalition for Open Research Information, and the Latin American Council of Social Sciences through the Latin American Forum for Scientific Evaluation’s hope that open research will aid the “circulation of scientific and local knowledge produced in different languages, formats, and in different geographic regions.” Offord also addressed comments from Clarivate and Elsevier, owners of widely used proprietary databases, on their thoughts on the declaration and concerns on the reliability of open platforms. In response to the declaration, Digital Science created an open research initiative, releasing a set of Open Principles. Designed by Figshare founder and Digital Science’s VP of Open Research Mark Hahnel, the principles center on pledging Digital Science’s “research information solutions to open science now and into the future.”



Stanford’s AI Index and a Call for Standardized AI Guidelines

The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) released its annual 2024 AI Index, chronicling AI trends and policies from the past year. Multiple AI regulations emerged including the EU’s AI Act, with HAI reporting “2,175 mentions of AI in global legislative proceedings in 2023, nearly double the number from the previous year.” HAI also underlined that academia lags behind when it comes to large language model production, producing 15 models compared to industry’s 51. The majority of models come from the United States, although the AI Index cites China as a budding competitor. Turning to AI in academic publishing, a group of 4,000 researchers seek standardized AI guidelines across publishers. The ChatGPT, Generative Artificial Intelligence and Natural Large Language Models for Accountable Reporting (CANGARU) initiative, comprised of both researchers and leading scientific publishers, is currently engaged in a “systematic review of the relevant literature” to help develop a set of guidelines and determine how and when researchers should use LLMs. The group plans to publish the final guidelines by August of this year, although several academics expressed concerns about keeping up with the pace of AI and ensuring the guidelines are adhered to.


cOAlition S Working Group Update, UPLOpen.com, and Furthering OA Book Publishing

After launching last September, cOAlition S’s beyond article-based charges working group has shared an update on its progress toward identifying non-APC based publishing models. Of note, the group announced a new “How equitable is it?” framework that “will enable stakeholders to assess how equitable a business model or arrangement is.” The framework will include criteria like fee transparency, and the group plans to publish a draft version in July and complete framework by October. Next, the De Gruyter eBound Foundation announced the launch of UPLOpen.com, a website that brings together “high-quality open access scholarship from the world’s leading university presses” with a focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The website currently holds over 350 books from more than 30 presses, including works from Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem (TOME) and the University of California Press’s Luminos. Last, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Association of Learned Society Publishers (ALPSP), the British Academy, and the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA) launched a new project centered on open book publishing. In particular, the project aims to “develop advice, options, and a toolkit for learned society, subject associations, and smaller specialist publishers to help them explore and embrace open access for academic book publishing.”



Book Bans Continue to Rise and More Thoughts on Preprints

According to a new report from PEN America, Banned in the USA: Narrating the Crisis, there has been a record number of more than 4,000 book bans thus far in the 2023-24 school year. Cataloging bans across 52 school districts in 23 states, the report found an increase in targeted books that discuss sexual violence and center LGBTQ+ stories. That said, PEN America underscored that students are continuing to protest the attempted bans, with Kasey Meehan, Freedom to Read Program Director at PEN America, stressing that, “Students are at the epicenter of the book banning movement, and they’re fearlessly spearheading the fight against this insidious encroachment into what they can read and learn across the country.” Next up, Robert Harington, Chief Publishing Officer at the American Mathematical Society (AMS), made a case for the coexistence of preprints and scholarly journals following the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s new OA policy. Harington argued that eliminating journals won’t solve issues of research integrity, instead stressing the need to rethink how we appraise researchers’ success. Advocating for the importance of acknowledging peer review contributions, Harington underscored that, “If we change the mindset of researchers to focus on peer review as being just as important as producing the next big result, we have a chance of weaving research integrity into the fabric of what it means to do research.”


The Latest OA Agreements

Rowan University has signed an agreement with Taylor & Francis, enabling affiliated authors to publish in Taylor & Francis’s Open Select hybrid journals. Under the three-year agreement, researchers will also have access to the Taylor & Francis Humanities & Social Sciences Library, an element that “expects to significantly boost Rowan’s HSS research.” As Jamie Hutchins, Director of Open Research – Americas at Taylor & Francis, commented, “We’re absolutely delighted to work with Rowan University to find a way to offer its researchers a path to publish open access, especially in fields where access to funding for OA is less available.” Next, Springer Nature entered an open access agreement with seven members of the NorthEast Research Libraries (NERL) consortium. The partnership will provide authors from Rutgers University, Syracuse University, Temple University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Miami, and Vanderbilt University with reading access to all Springer journals and “permits eligible authors to publish open access, with fees covered, in hybrid journals across the Springer portfolio.”