Publication platforms

Putting researchers in control

In 2017, a variety of initiatives were set up to give researchers or research funders greater control over the publication process.

In the Netherlands, the most recent initiative is the platform ScholarlyHub, launched by Guy Geltner, a historian at the University of Amsterdam. ‘We want to achieve a type of open access that combines maximum accessibility with minimum costs for researchers and society,’ explains Geltner. ‘Digital technology enables much cheaper publication than was possible during the paper age.’ ScholarlyHub was launched at the end of 2017 and is currently seeking funds to enable it to go live. ‘By 2020, we want to get established journals to switch to our platform en masse, as well as helping to launch new journals,’ explains communications manager Tashina Blom. ‘It will be a cross-disciplinary platform via which research and education can be developed and large amounts of data can be stored.’ According to Geltner and Blom, continued efforts by
the VSNU to raise awareness of the importance of open access among researchers and administrators will greatly benefit platforms such as ScholarlyHub. They also believe the roadmap must include consideration of ways to support these alternative publication platforms.

Another initiative originating from the University of Amsterdam is SciPost, created by Professor Jean-Sébastien Caux. Just like ScholarlyHub, this platform is free of commercial distractions. ‘To us, “open” means that authors don't have to pay any publication costs, the review process is both open and respected, and that our financial structure is clear to all.’ ’SciPost was launched in autumn 2016, and the flagship platform SciPost Physics has already racked up 70 publications in just over a year. Within a very short time, SciPost Physics was awarded the DOAJ Seal from the Directory of Open Access Journals. ‘By 2020, SciPost Physics will publish a broad range of journals, including lecture notes, proceedings and codebases, although SciPost will also branch out into other academic disciplines.’ However, Caux is realistic about the fact that funding must be sought. ‘SciPost needs supporting partners to fund part of
our operations and infrastructure. This is a much more attractive, cheap and sustainable funding method than the current APC models.’


A true alternative

Jean-Claude Burgelman, head of the Open Data Policy Unit and Open Science Cloud within the European Union's Directorate-General for Research and Technical Development, hopes that the VSNU and the Netherlands specifically focus on rewards and incentives. ‘It is a great help when universities act as one on this issue. More generally, this kind of concerted action as part of a solid strategy is vital to the European objective of “open access on the day of publication at a reasonable cost”. The universities are a powerful player, although there's still a lot of work to be done on incentives!’ Recently, the terms of reference were formulated for the European publication platform (see the information note published on 21 December 2017). The call for tenders will be issued in early 2018. ‘The publication platform must offer a genuine alternative,’ explains Burgelman. ‘Whatever happens, it will be a complementary open-access channel. It's a zero-sum game for the EU, as we will still have to pay for open-access publishing. In this way, we want to provide a true alternative.’