Many of the articles we have published in the last three months share the common theme of how collaboration enables change. Collaboration is perhaps more important than ever, as libraries are under pressure to deliver more at lower cost. By sharing resources and knowledge, collaborations can also enable actions for the common good that would otherwise be impossible. For example, most of us would like to see under-represented cultures fully participate in academic publishing. Janneke Adema and Samuel A Moore write about how the Radical Open Access Collective, an enthusiastic community of presses, journals and publishing projects, aims to create greater equitability. As part of that mission, it is experimenting with low-cost collective business models.
April Hathcock and Guy Geltner define private and for-profit academic publishers as a problem. They argue that such publishers are an ‘invasive species’ that has taken over the scholarly communications garden. Anyone can gripe about a problem, but addressing it is another, and sometimes risky, business. Their solution is to seek crowdfunding to enable an initiative called ScholarlyHub, which aims to provide a non-profit, member-run and open access scholarly social network.
In these times of anti-globalization, Janet Peters asks if we should accept shrinking horizons or push the boundaries. In her thought-provoking article, she points out risks to scholarly communications, but says that by working collaboratively there is much that can be done to achieve change. Peters cites examples of regional, national and global collaborations which are working to tackle a range of issues. She argues that those libraries that are willing to trust each other and work together may have the best chance of survival.
Peters points to monographs as an area of risk. As UK libraries face increasing pressure to reduce their estate footprint, the problem of what to do with low-use monographs is pressing. Hazel Woodward and Helen Henderson undertook a project to look for feasible solutions. Following extensive research, they recommend a national solution based on the highly successful UKRR model for journals. This would provide a shared repository collection of low-use monographs, housed and administrated from a central site. It will be interesting to see if their recommendation is adopted and funded.
Gaëlle Béquet and Clément Oury tell us about the new ISSN Portal, which became operational in January 2018 and is a great showcase for international co-operation between diverse bibliographic agencies. The new portal offers tools and services to search, discover, visualize and retrieve ISSN data. The portal also successfully achieves another goal, which is to expose a subset of the ISSN Register as linked option data to foster its reuse and wider dissemination.
However, there are limits to the numbers that could effectively or practically collaborate on a scientific paper. The article by Stefan Eriksson, Tove Godskesen, Lars Andersson and Gert Helgesson is a real eye-opener. We had not realized that so many scientific papers have more than 1,000 authors. Eriksson et al. explain that this excessive number of authors is a problem because it undermines the research merit system. They provide practical solutions for ending the practice of undeserved authorship.
Over the next few months, our theme will shift slightly as we publish several articles about open access (OA). We are looking forward to Gareth Johnson’s article about his research into the cultural, ideological and practical barriers to OA adoption within the UK academy. A technical barrier to OA can be the limitations of journal systems, which are often built with complex coding that is difficult to maintain. Martin Eve and Andy Byers will describe the project which is tackling this problem: Janeway, a new press and journal system that is being built and is designed for OA and is free to download, use and modify. The article by LIBER President Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen will be welcomed by many libraries and library consortia. She will explain the five principles they should use when conducting OA negotiations with publishers.
We end this editorial with thanks to the authors listed above who have shared with us their research, case studies, opinions and suggestions for change. We hope these articles both inform and stimulate debate about topical issues. If you would like to join the discussion, please do submit your article to Insights. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lorraine and Steve