Research output availability on academic social networks: implications for stakeholders in academic publishing

Authors: Mikael Laakso, Juho Lindman, Cenyu Shen, Linus Nyman, and Bo-Christer Björk

Abstract: A recent disruption in academic publishing are Academic Social Networks (ASN), i.e. web platforms such as ResearchGate and that have provided new ways for researchers to disseminate, search for, and retrieve research articles. ASNs are still a grey area in terms of implications for involved stakeholders, and research on them has so far been scarce. In an effort to map out factors related to ASN use this article provides a multi-method case study of one business school (Hanken School of Economics, Finland) that incorporates 1) a bibliometric analysis on the full-text availability of research output on ASNs for research published 2012–2014 by Hanken affiliated authors, 2) semi-structured interviews with faculty active in publishing in order to gain insight into motivations for use and use patterns, and 3) a survey distributed to all research-active faculty and doctoral students in order to gain a wider perspective on ASN use. ASNs have for many become the primary way to provide access to one’s research output, outpacing all other types of online locations such as personal websites and repositories. Based on the case study findings, earlier research, and recent industry developments, the article concludes with a discussion about the implications that the current trajectory of ASN use has on major stakeholders in academic publishing.

Citation: Laakso, M., Lindman, J., Shen, C., Nyman, L., & Björk, B-C. (2017). Research output availability on academic social networks: Implications for stakeholders in academic publishing. Electronic Markets, 27(2), 125-133. doi:10.1007/s12525-016-0242-1


Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

Author: Stephen Buranyi

Abstract: It is an industry like no other, with profit margins to rival Google – and it was created by one of Britain’s most notorious tycoons: Robert Maxwell.

Citation: Buranyi, S. (2017, June 27). Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science? The Guardian. Retrieved from 


A longitudinal study of independent scholar-published open access journals

Author: Bo-Christer Björk, Cenyu Shen, & Mikael Laakso

Abstract: Open Access (OA) is nowadays increasingly being used as a business model for the publishing of scholarly peer reviewed journals, both by specialized OA publishing companies and major, predominantly subscription-based publishers. However, in the early days of the web OA journals were mainly founded by independent academics, who were dissatisfied with the predominant print and subscription paradigm and wanted to test the opportunities offered by the new medium. There is still an on-going debate about how OA journals should be operated, and the volunteer model used by many such ‘indie’ journals has been proposed as a viable alternative to the model adopted by big professional publishers where publishing activities are funded by authors paying expensive article processing charges (APCs). Our longitudinal quantitative study of 250 ‘indie’ OA journals founded prior to 2002, showed that 51% of these journals were still in operation in 2014 and that the median number of articles published per year had risen from 11 to 18 among the survivors. Of these surviving journals, only 8% had started collecting APCs. A more detailed qualitative case study of five such journals provided insights into how such journals have tried to ensure the continuity and longevity of operations.

Citation: Björk, B.-C., Shen, C., & Laakso, M. (2016). A longitudinal study of independent scholar-published open access journals. PeerJ, 4, e1990.

A model open access journal publication agreement

Author: Stuart Shieber
Abstract: This blog post from 2014 provides language that can serve as a model for publication agreements between an open access journal and authors submitting their work to it. Rather than the traditional approach requiring the author to grant all rights in the work to the journal, this language has the author granting only what the journal needs to publish, and keeping all other rights for the creator of the work. The post explains what each paragraph in the agreement aims to do, and how it will protect the interests of both the author and the publisher while making the work open access. The comment section below the post also has useful discussion that further explains the reasoning behind some of the clauses.
Citation: Shieber, Stuart. “A model OA journal publication agreement.” Blog post. The Occasional Pamphlet. Harvard Blogs, 19 February 2014.


Reimagining the Digital Monograph: Design Thinking to Build New Tools for Researchers

Authors: Alex Humphreys, Christina Spencer, Laura Brown, Matthew Loy, Ronald Snyder

Abstract: Scholarly books are increasingly available in digital form, but the online interfaces for using these books often allow only for the browsing of PDF files. JSTOR Labs, an experimental product-development group within the not-for-profit digital library JSTOR, undertook an ideation and design process to develop new and different ways of showing scholarly books online, with the goal that this new viewing interface should be relatively simple and inexpensive to implement for any scholarly book that is already available in PDF form. This paper documents that design process, including the recommendations of a working group of scholars, publishers, and librarians convened by JSTOR Labs and the Columbia University Libraries in October 2016. The prototype monograph viewer developed through this process — called “Topicgraph” — is described herein and is freely available online at

Citation: Alex Humphreys, Christina Spencer, Laura Brown, Matthew Loy, Ronald Snyder (2017) Reimagining the Digital Monograph: Design Thinking to Build New Tools for Researchers. JSTOR Labs White Paper. Available online:



Source: Reimagining the Digital Monograph: Design Thinking to Build New Tools for Researchers

Live Discussion on Open Access — Cultural Anthropology

Author: Grant Jun Otsuki

Abstract: These are the questions and comments from the March 20th, 2013, discussion on Open Access with SCA President Brad Weiss, and CA Editor Charles Piot.

Citation: Otsuki, Grant Jun. “Read the Transcript of our March 20th Live Discussion on Open Access.” SCA News, Cultural Anthropology website, March 21, 2013.


Source: Live Discussion on Open Access — Cultural Anthropology

Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research

Author(s): Fyfe, Aileen ; Coate, Kelly; Curry, Stephen; Lawson, Stuart; Moxham, Noah; Røstvik, Camilla Mørk

Abstract: Since the Second World War, academic publishing practices have had to cope with enormous changes in the scale of the research enterprise, in the culture and management of higher education, and in the ecosystem of scholarly publishers. The pace of change has been particularly rapid in the last twenty-five years, thanks to digital technologies. This has also been a time of growing divergence between the different roles of academic publishing: as a means of disseminating validated knowledge, as a form of symbolic capital for academic career progression, and as a profitable business enterprise.
This briefing paper aims to provide a historical perspective that can inform the debates about what the future of academic publishing should look like. We argue that current policy regarding open access publishing, and many of the other proposals for the reform of academic publishing, have been too focused on the opportunities and financial challenges of the most recent changes in digital communications technologies and have given undue weight to commercial concerns.
We show that the business practices and the cultural significance of academic publishing have been significantly transformed since the late nineteenth century as increasing government funding drove the expansion and professionalization of the research community, a process that accelerated rapidly after the Second World War. We examine how academic publishing practices have responded to the increasing number of researchers and publications worldwide, the changing expectations of academic workloads and outputs in the higher education sector, and the new business models in the publishing industry.
A key phenomenon has been the growing importance of published works as career-defining tokens of prestige for academics. Although the new technologies that emerged in the late twentieth century offer great potential for improving the speed and efficiency of scholarly communication, the publishing model has been relatively slow to change.
The key themes of this briefing paper are:

  • the business of academic publishing
  • the role of publishing in academic careers
  • and the tangled and changing relationship between them

Citation:Fyfe, Aileen, Coate, Kelly, Curry, Stephen, Lawson, Stuart, Moxham, Noah, & Røstvik, Camilla Mørk. (2017, May 25). Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research. Zenodo.


Open Science: One Term, Five Schools of Thought

Authors: Benedikt Fecher & Sascha Friesike

Abstract: Open Science is an umbrella term encompassing a multitude of assumptions about the future of knowledge creation and dissemination. Based on a literature review, this chapter aims at structuring the overall discourse by proposing five Open Science schools of thought: The infrastructure school (which is concerned with the technological architecture), the public school (which is concerned with the accessibility of knowledge creation), the “measurement school”(which is concerned with alternative impact measurement), the “democratic school”(which is concerned with access to knowledge) and the “pragmatic school” (which is concerned with collaborative research).

It must be noted that our review is not solely built upon traditional scholarly publications but, due to the nature of the topic, also includes scientific blogs and newspaper articles. It is our aim in this chapter to present a concise picture of the ongoing discussion rather than a complete list of peer-reviewed articles on the topic. In the following, we will describe the five schools in more detail and provide references to relevant literature for each.

Citation: Fecher B & Friesike S. (2014). “Open Science: One Term, Five Schools of Thought”. In Opening Science. Amsterdam: Springer.



Open Access: A Collective Ecology for AAA Publishing in the Digital Age

Authors: Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Dominic Boyer, John Hartigan and Marisol de la Cadena

Abstract: Just over a year ago Cultural Anthropology went Open Access. It has been an exhilarating experience, which has seen the journal engage new publics and conversations as well as explore new intellectual and editorial possibilities. For those involved in the running of the journal, it has also demanded a steep learning curve. We, as members of the board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology, thought it would be a good idea to put some of these lessons down in writing while responding to a recent memorandum (5/4/15) to section presidents, journal editors, and section treasurers, which recapitulated the AAA’ history of scholarly publishing. As we write, Michael Chibnik (the editor-in-chief of AA), has published an editorial expressing his hesitation about an open-access solution for American Anthropologist.1 We take this opportunity to reply to Chibnik’s text too.

We offer here three brief reflections on why our experience with Cultural Anthropology has reassured us that Open Access is the future of scholarly publishing. First, we draw attention to the fact that Open Access offers perhaps the most robust model for managing the AAA journals’ portfolio in accordance with its history of collective responsibility. Second, we offer some insights into the changing landscape of scholarly publishing in the digital age. Last, we remind readers that Open Access is, perhaps above all other things, a moral and political decision.

Citation: Corsín Jiménez, Alberto, Boyer, Dominic, Hartigan, John and de la Cadena, Marisol . “Open Access: A Collective Ecology for AAA Publishing in the Digital Age.” Dispatches, Cultural Anthropology website, May 27, 2015.



Source: Open Access: A Collective Ecology for AAA Publishing in the Digital Age

Looking into Pandora’s Box: The Content of Sci-Hub and its Usage

Author: Bastian Greshake

Abstract: Despite the growth of Open Access, potentially illegally circumventing paywalls to access scholarly publications is becoming a more mainstream phenomenon. The web service Sci-Hub is amongst the biggest facilitators of this, offering free access to around 62 million publications. So far it is not well studied how and why its users are accessing publications through Sci-Hub. By utilizing the recently released corpus of Sci-Hub and comparing it to the data of  ~28 million downloads done through the service, this study tries to address some of these questions. The comparative analysis shows that both the usage and complete corpus is largely made up of recently published articles, with users disproportionately favoring newer articles and 35% of downloaded articles being published after 2013. These results hint that embargo periods before publications become Open Access are frequently circumnavigated using Guerilla Open Access approaches like Sci-Hub. On a journal level, the downloads show a bias towards some scholarly disciplines, especially Chemistry, suggesting increased barriers to access for these. Comparing the use and corpus on a publisher level, it becomes clear that only 11% of publishers are highly requested in comparison to the baseline frequency, while 45% of all publishers are significantly less accessed than expected. Despite this, the oligopoly of publishers is even more remarkable on the level of content consumption, with 80% of all downloads being published through only 9 publishers. All of this suggests that Sci-Hub is used by different populations and for a number of different reasons, and that there is still a lack of access to the published scientific record. A further analysis of these openly available data resources will undoubtedly be valuable for the investigation of academic publishing.

Citation:  Greshake B.Looking into Pandora’s Box: The Content of Sci-Hub and its Usage.” F1000Research 2017, 6:541. (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.11366.1) .