Control of Open Repositories

OAlogo_Lock2Are open access repositories the new front in the battle for control of the scholarly communication ecosystem?  It appears so based on the volley of outrage to two new initiatives.  Now that the commercial publishing corporations such as Elsevier and Springer Nature have fully embraced open access publishing as part of their highly profitable business model, it may be natural that open repositories are in their sights too.

The latest indications that open repositories are targets of the commercial information industry are:

  • the acquisition of SSRN, a well-regarded open repository for the social sciences, by Elsevier, which involves migrating SSRN to the Mendeley platform, a collaboration network acquired by Elservier 3 years ago
  • a collaboration between Elsevier and the University of Florida (UF), which involves using Elsevier’s API to populate the UF repository with the descriptive information for papers published by faculty which then in turn directs users to access the papers on the publisher’s site; only those from an institution with a subscription to Elsevier’s journals in which these papers are published can access these papers.

Among the swift reactions to the UF/Elsevier pilot:

  • “In potentially offering some shorter term benefits, depending on one’s calculus, it cedes too much to a commercial entity whose values and mission are orthogonal to our own, and sets us on a road that is in opposition to realizing our deeply held values and mission.” From the new blog IO: In the Open: Beware the Trojan Horse: Elsevier’s repository pilot and our vision for IRs & Open Access
  •  “By shifting the UF repository’s focus to serving as a discovery layer for pay-walled articles, the UF-Elsevier model subverts the commonly held vision of repositories as a collective mechanism through which academic libraries empower all users, regardless of their location, affiliation, or economic means, through open dissemination of scholarship. ”  From the COAPI Steering Committee, which added this statement as a comment to the above noted blog.

The need for “next generation repositories” has never been greater, so that there is no compelling need to hand over so much control to commercial enterprises.  Dartmouth’s building of the Dartmouth Academic Commons is an example of institutional commitment towards this end.DAC_Logo

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