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The Costs of APC: Universidad de Antioquia Case

CoLav1

The costs of publishing in open access according to the European tendency to regulate its market of scientific publications have opened a debate warning Latin America about the need to take a stance on the cost that policies such as Plan S could bring for science development and its circulation.Latin America has a groundbreaking proposal: a path for open science, as publications from the region were conceived in open access, where scientific production is created and circulated by the academy itself.Nonetheless, an important part of European and North American publications have not only charged for publishing, which they do more and more, but for having access to such articles as well. Such cost has not been estimated for Latin America. What we want to show here are the publication costs of Universidad de Antioquia’s production, which is Colombia’s second most productive university and is among Latin America’s 50 most productive.

Latin America has a groundbreaking proposal: a path for open science, as publications from the region were conceived in open access, where scientific production is created and circulated by the academy itself.

In the 2017-2027 Institutional Development Plan, Universidad de Antioquia adopted open science as the guidelines that will guide the institution’s development over the decade. In this frame, the university approved in April 2018 the Open Access Policy for the publications for the entity, it expresses that the institutional position is directed toward self-archiving by representatives in which the Sistema de Bibliotecas (Library System) plays a crucial role because it is responsible for managing the university’s Institutional Repository in which scientific production is collected as long as moral and patrimonial rights allow it so.

However, where such policies have been socialized and disseminated it has been observed that researchers are concerned about one thing: who would take the responsibility to finance publications in open access? Wondering who finances the Article Processing Charges (APC), automatically assuming that publishing in open access implies paying publishing houses the APC, forgetting thus that there are other routes for open access which do not require APC 2.

It is for this reason, among others, that the Universidad de Antioquia has begun to developed strategies to measure and demystify open access within itself. In the first case, a research was carried out to calculate institutional practices in open access from sources and computing tools that CoLaV of UdeA (Universidad de Antioquia), a collaboratory that has been created in the university, has developed. In the second case, an awareness-raising campaign, open UdeA, has being designed. It aims to draw university’s actors to open access, showing them its advantages, practices and the need to implement it in the institution.

This text aims to show advances in the first case, offering a global view of the Universidad de Antioquia case.

Methodology

The university developed its own algorithm to identify scientific production in open access, seeking to include various available sources, and then, it carried out an analysis of the information it found. In all 15.504 articles were identified, of which 7.990 had DOI, the study focused on the latter. The methodology is shown in the figure below (figure 1):

Figure 1. Diagnosis process for open access in UdeA

Data and Research

The university’s researchers have not needed an institutional policy to increase their interest for producing in open access. Figure 2 evinces how the percentage of production in open access in the Universidad de Antioquia has increased. So, in this decade the amount is about 50% with an upward trend in the following years. Striking though is the fact that such data are considered up to 2017, in a context where there hasn’t been an institutional incentive clearly defined to promote open access. Thus, we could say of researchers that they do are sensitive to make their researches available.

Figure 2. Open access proportion in the UdeA per year

It is appropriate to show, in the figure below, how the production in open access is distributed (figure 3): A great amount of the university’s production is done in the gold route (52%), 43% in the green one (repositories) in the university whereas the other 5% in other routes such as hybrid open access. In the figure we see that 35% of production in orange has incorporated APC, due to the available data it is not clear which institution payed, however.

Figure 3. Types of open access and APC in the UdeA

Hence, the interest to analyze how APC work. Starting from 1990 and to 2017, when USD$186,000 were paid, we use the exponential smoothing tecnique to forecast APC values in the following years (figure 4). There’s a trend that clearly increases in the amount of money that would be paid for the university’s publications, likely to reach USD$300,000 in 2022. Among other reasons this is why the temporal Committee of Open Science has worked to warn the university as regards this trend so as to take policy actions according to the interests defined by the university.


Figure 4. Estimated and projected costs per publications with APC of the UdeA.

Conclusion

A position must be taken, and that implies taking a route such as Plan S or support a project such as AmeliCA. Both lead to open science, the first with high costs for Latin America in the path toward visibility, and the second one returns the possibility to strengthen the circulation of its own production to the academy, taking charge of the costs cooperatively and not delegating to the enterprise such possibility.

From the studies on Open Access in the Universidad de Antioquia conducted so far, we see how professors have being developing a culture, of their own and with no institutional incentives, inclined to publications that the university freely makes available. Now, a link between open access and APC has been identified, in the sense that the former necessarily implies the latter, which shouldn’t be like that, and it’s more the result of a publication dynamic out of habit and a lack of greater knowledge of scientific communication and its various alternatives, in this case publishing in open access.

This is seen in the considerable increase of APC from the university’s publications in recent years, and it’s forecast it’ll reach a similar value to the subscriptions that could be canceled to databases by the university. This should be a warning not only for the Universidad de Antioquia but for the group of Latin American institutions so that they address in a proactive way the APC subject and define the institutional position about it, which should lead to strategies and decision-making, to publish or not with APC, negotiate with the enterprises of databases a unified-integrated cost between access to database-open access-APC or canceling subscription as it’s already happening in various countries and universities (https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/?s=apc-https://bit.ly/2ZspOJ9), among others. In sum, a position must be taken, and that implies taking a route such as Plan S or support a project such as AmeliCA. Both lead to open science, the first with high costs for Latin America in the path toward visibility, and the second one returns the possibility to strengthen the circulation of its own production to the academy, taking charge of the costs cooperatively and not delegating to the enterprise such possibility.

1 César Pallares, Alejandro Uribe Tirado, Gabriel Vélez quartos, Diego Restrepo, Jaider Ochoa, Huber Molina, David Medina.

2 See Open Access Journals free of charge APC: http://www.biblioteca.mincyt.gob.ar/revistas/apc

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