Issue 41 · April 2022

Join the conversation on Twitter @Briefer_Yet and LinkedIn.

Did a colleague forward the The Brief to you? Sign up via the button below to get your very own copy.

James Butcher Joins C&E

C&E is delighted to announce that James Butcher has joined the firm in the position of Practice Lead for Europe. James comes to C&E from Springer Nature, where he was Vice President of the Nature journals. He was responsible for the Nature journals’ editorial and commercial strategy and managed a team of 500 editors, journalists and publishers who produce Nature, the Nature research journals, the Nature Reviews journals, and Nature Communications. James contributed heavily to the group’s open access strategy, which included the publishing development of Scientific Reports, the Communications journals, and Nature Communications, as well as overseeing the OA transition on Nature and the Nature research journals. 
James’s work at C&E will span many of the firm’s practice areas, including strategic and operational assessments, open access strategy, portfolio development, market analysis, and product development. He is based in the United Kingdom and will both lead the firm’s UK and European practice and provide C&E’s clients with insights into how European funder mandates and other EU and UK regulations may affect their organizations and the global STM marketplace. Full press release

Chief Publishing Officer at the American Physical Society

The recruiting window is closing soon for the American Physical Society Chief Publications Officer. This newly created position on the APS Senior Leadership Team will help define the future for APS publishing and the Physical Review journals. Learn more

C&E Benchmarking

We are currently recruiting Biomedical and Life Sciences journal publishers for the 2022 Journal Metrics Benchmark Study.
Inspired by feedback from participants, we are broadening the scope of the 2022 study to include both Biomedical and Life Sciences journals. Many participants have portfolios that cross over both disciplines – by bringing them together, we are able to increase the dataset yet still construct effective peer group comparisons (such as clinical medical journals and other subject-specific peer groupings). For more information see our website or contact us at



The invasion of Ukraine continues, and with it comes challenges for myriad industries and businesses including scientific and scholarly publishers. The challenges faced by businesses outside of Ukraine pale in comparison to the existential plight faced by individual Ukrainians and Ukrainian businesses. Organizations with substantial operations or assets in Ukraine or Russia also face challenges of a different order of magnitude from those that are “merely” grappling with navigating sanctions and the related moral questions posed by doing business with organizations and individuals in Russia. Over 750 major companies have withdrawn their business, in whole or in part, from Russia. Fifteen scientific and scholarly publishers have issued a joint statement announcing they have suspended sales to Russian institutions, though they continue to accept papers from Russian authors. 

Many publishers are required to follow US or EU sanctions, making the decisions of some companies relatively easy (though navigating the nuances of the sanctions and their applicability to scholarly publishing is often less so). But there remain decisions that fall outside of the scope of sanctions, such as whether to continue accepting papers from Russian authors. One school of thought is that individual Russian researchers and scholars should not be prohibited from publishing in international journals due to the decisions of a government they may not support. This perspective is voiced by Kurt Deketelaere, secretary general of the League of European Research Universities, who is quoted as saying, he has “No idea why we would punish innocent universities and academics for the stupid acts of their government.” This is COPE’s (the Committee on Publication Ethics) position as well, which states:

Editorial decisions should not be affected by the origins of the manuscript, including the nationality, ethnicity, political beliefs, race, or religion of the authors. Decisions to edit and publish should not be determined by the policies of governments or other agencies outside of the journal itself, except where a decision might place the journal in violation of applicable law.

Another school of thought is that the entire point of sanctions is to be broad and far reaching in order to put pressure on a government to change its policies by making life uncomfortable for all citizens, including those who do not support the war. This is the position advocated by some Ukrainian researchers

Some organizations will generally ascribe to the second school of thought but point out there are moral exceptions, such as the continued delivery of medicines, a position taken by pharmaceutical companies. An important question for publishers is whether the publication of research and scholarship constitutes such an exception? 

We do not bring a point of view on this matter beyond to say that there is no clear-cut answer and we do not envy the executives and boards who must respond to rapidly shifting (and often complex) sanctions and make difficult decisions. We are glad to see STM helping its members navigate sanctions and also has started a resource page on actions the research publishing community is taking to help support Ukraine. 

The invasion of Ukraine highlights the growing role that geopolitics plays in professional and scholarly publishing, as Lisa Hinchliffe and Roger Schonfeld note in their review (“Decoupling from Russia”) of the state-of-play with regard to sanctions and academic policies related to Russia. A few short years ago there was effectively one global market for scientific and scholarly content. Publishers sold content, largely on a subscription basis, to institutions and individuals in nearly every country in the world. Organizations in some countries received discounted or free access, but other than that, publishers did not have to worry about country-specific policies outside of a very small number of special circumstances (North Korea, Iran) with little financial significance. 

This “global market” now seems remote and may prove, in hindsight, to be an exceptional period in history. It is not just a case of Russia “decoupling” from the West but, as Richard Poynder discusses in his prescient 2020 book, Information Wants to Be Free, the entire post-WWII global order shifting, with the resulting fragmentation of what was once a largely uniform market. Examples of this fragmentation include China, which in addition to a tightly controlled Internet, has begun to set policies regarding the amount of research published in international journals, with the goal of increasing the output of research in Chinese-owned journals. Europe has meanwhile started to exert its own regulatory control over the Internet, though policies (GDPR, Article 17 of the Copyright in the Single Market Directive, and the recent Digital Markets Act) aimed largely at curtailing the influence of American tech companies. One lens through which to view Plan S is as an initiative that further bolsters large European publishers via its focus on transformative agreements (a largely European phenomenon), resulting in further market consolidation and the entrenchment of the largest publishers in consortia budgets (whether this is viewed as a feature or a bug in Brussels remains unclear). The idea of “geowalling” European open access journal articles to prevent, well, open access to countries outside of Europe has even been mooted. 

Publishers (as well as other organizations) are increasingly forced to navigate very different regulatory regimes with, at times, conflicting requirements. Plan S, for example, prohibits (after 2024) cOAlition S funds from being used for publication in hybrid journals. By contrast, the vast majority of institutions and institutions outside of Europe prefer hybrid journals. This may result in developing different journals for different markets, a practice publishers have spent the last 20 years moving away from. 

While we do not know what the future will bring, it seems likely to more resemble the geopolitics of an earlier era than that of the last twenty years. In a recent letter to shareholders, Blackrock’s (the world’s largest asset manager) CEO Larry Fink has called the invasion of Ukraine the beginning of the end of globalization. While “globalization” has always been a fraught term (and its end no less so), it is true that the financial and logistical disruptions caused by the war, following on the shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have organizations rethinking their supply chains and operational resilience. These same events are leading countries to revisit their trade policies and practices. The pandemic has underscored the importance of research and development, with pharmaceutical companies (with a substantial assist from university researchers, Oxford University, biotech innovators, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, national agencies, and countless others) able to develop and produce novel vaccines in a stunningly short period of time.

What all this means for the future of research output is unknown, but what is clear is that publishers will need to pay increasing attention to national and regional politics, particularly those that affect R&D, media, and technology. More sophisticated lobbying, education (of regulators), and intelligence capabilities are likely to be needed in key markets. Cross-industry and inter-industry alliances are also likely necessary. The ability to navigate complex geopolitics, in other words, is becoming a required competency. At the same time, organizational agility – the ability to rapidly adjust to disruptions in the market, in supply chains, and in operations – has become an essential trait. The organizations able to combine these competencies, moving rapidly and flexibly to adapt products and services to increasingly fragmented markets driven by geopolitical forces, are those most likely to find continued success.

Source: Yale School of Management, Science|BusinessNatureWired, STM, Open and Shut?, Brookings, BBC, The Scholarly KitchenMarketWatch

Professional and Academic Publishing


February 14th of this year marked the 20th anniversary of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, one of the founding efforts in the ongoing transformation of scholarly communication. The anniversary was marked by a new set of recommendations, a fascinating read in the context of the original declaration, as well as the ten-year anniversary declaration. Twenty years into the open access (OA) movement, the new recommendation highlights its continuing evolution, from a set of broad principles to a more careful set of implementation designs.
The original BOAI Declaration offered what has largely become the standard definition (at least as far as there is one standard definition) of “open access,” as well as setting the goals for the movement. The tenth anniversary declaration provided a long list of ideas about how open access should work but did not delve deeply into the specifics of turning those “shoulds” into “does-es.” A decade later, we are seeing the beginnings of those specifics. 
The new recommendations are reminiscent of many early critiques of the OA movement, particularly Stevan Harnad’s warnings against “fool’s Gold,” and countless experienced analysts predicting that the proposed models would not result in cost savings, but would consolidate the market, further cementing incumbent power and shifting the inequities off of readers and onto authors. As is the fate of Cassandras, those voicing these concerns were largely pushed to the side, or declared “Enemies of Open Access” and dismissed. These polarizing practices continue to this day, as described by MIT Press Director Amy Brand in a cogent and bracing article that appeared this month in Times Higher Ed
Perhaps the most notable update in the new recommendations (see Recommendation 2) is a clear understanding that the biggest friction point with regard to a transition to OA is the hiring, promotion, and funding practices of academia (speaking of Cassandras, we noted this as the key friction point back in 2010!). It is easy to blame publishers for problems, but publishers are reactive to the demands of the market and as long as the market is driven by hiring and tenure committees entrenched in the Impact Factor and a publish-or-perish mindset, that is going to drive publisher strategies.
The new recommendations do suffer from a long-running strain of anti-commercialism which has often run in parallel with the open access movement. For some, punishing the perceived profiteering of the largest commercial publishers remains an important goal. How (and by whom) OA is achieved matters as much if not more than whether it is achieved. Should it matter what the corporate structure of a supplier is so long as the prices are reasonable and the necessary conditions (openness, lack of lock-ins) are achieved? 
There are some strong conclusions offered in the recommendations, particularly acknowledging that research assessment is a qualitative activity (Is this work “good”?; Is this work “important”?) and that the research community needs to get over its obsession with ranked lists of numbers. 
If open access was easy to implement globally, it would be even further along than it is today. Nonetheless, while some OA advocates may find the pace frustrating, this 20th anniversary of BOAI marks remarkable progress and perhaps even quickening steps toward the movement’s goals.

Source: BOAI, LogosThe Scholarly KitchenTimes Higher Education


Speaking of attempts to shift open access advocacy from broad statements of principle to more practical, actionable tools, cOAlition S, in partnership with ALPSP and Information Power, has turned their initial report on “Enabling smaller independent publishers to participate in OA agreements” into a new toolkit meant to enable those smaller and independent research societies and publishers to effectively negotiate transformative agreements with libraries and consortia. 
As we discussed back in June of last year when the initial report came out, although there are some useful recommendations, the report (and now the toolkit) does not really address the problem of scale. For a university library (or consortia), making such an arrangement with a small, independent publisher with one or two journals publishing a handful of articles per year from authors affiliated with the university (or consortia) makes little financial sense. Why engage in protracted negotiations, contract writing, author education, and ongoing transactional monitoring all to cover the costs of a few articles? When such agreements cover hundreds, if not thousands, of journals and thousands of articles, the return on the effort is clearer. We struggle to understand how such agreements are practical for either universities or independent societies until a certain scale is reached. (To its credit, the toolkit also digs into Subscribe to Open and crowdfunding models as well.)
In thinking beyond transformative deals to all-OA deals (transformed deals?), the same scale problem remains (it is even more of a challenge, in fact, as it locates all of the deal economics on publishing). The question we are pondering is, what might cOAlition S and other funders do to help societies with this scale problem, to help them avoid having to partner with commercial publishers to achieve the necessary scale? How might cOAlition S help support the development and adoption of infrastructure (payment infrastructure, transaction monitoring infrastructure), standards (persistent identifiers, standardized deal frameworks), and society coalitions? 
Also welcome would be more funder-supported analysis of the impacts (and unintended consequences) of OA mandates. If supporting smaller, independent publishers is important, then it remains surprising that no focus has been put toward quantifying the market consolidation that has resulted from Plan S and other mandates, nor has any analysis done on the resulting impact on research society revenues.

Source: Information Power, ALPSP, The Scholarly Kitchen



Elsevier has announced its intention to purchase education technology company Interfolio to add to its burgeoning research intelligence portfolio. Interfolio may best be known as the owners of ResearchFish, a tool used to track research impact that was the subject of some controversy as of late for their behavior on Twitter. Roger Schonfeld has offered some insights into how this acquisition positions Elsevier in its increasing competition with Clarivate, as well as the increasing consternation seen from the community as consolidation continues.
Brill announces the acquisition of Wageningen Academic Publishers, an international academic publisher of books and journals in the fields of Animal Science, Food and Health Science, Agriculture, Environment, and Agribusiness.



The American Medical Association has announced Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a leading voice for equitable healthcare, as the next Editor in Chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network.
James Butcher joins Clarke & Esposito as Practice Lead for Europe. 
Mark Cummings, editor and publisher at Choice, a publishing unit of ACRL, has announced his retirement.
Fiona Hutton joins eLife as the new Head of Publishing. 
Wolters Kluwer has named Maria Montenegro as its Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation.
Judy Verses has been appointed to the newly created role of President, Academic and Government Markets at Elsevier. “Judy will join Elsevier on May 2, 2022, as a member of the company’s executive leadership team, reporting to Kumsal Bayazit, CEO; she will be based in Amsterdam.”
Macmillan Learning announced that Susan Winslow has been promoted to the role of Chief Executive Officer.
IEEE announced the departure of Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Stephen Welby.


Kevin Lippert, Founder and Publisher of Princeton Architectural Press, has died.

Briefly Noted


Annual Reviews announced that it will transition its entire portfolio of 51 Annual Reviews journals to a Subscribe to Open (S2O) model over the next 18 months. Ann Michael interviews Richard Gallagher, President and Editor-in-Chief of Annual Reviews, about the decision. 
The transformative agreement train rolls on for the largest of publishers, as Elsevier has reached a milestone arrangement with Jisc, bringing the total number of institutions supported by such deals with Elsevier to over 2,000.
Springer Nature, meanwhile, raised eyebrows by announcing the launch of three new Nature-branded journals. Notably, the new titles are being launched as “transformative journals,” meaning they are hybrid-OA journals committed to eventually flipping to open access. If these are meant to be open access journals, why not launch them as open access journals? This perhaps reflects a strategy that looks to appeal to multiple constituencies, maintaining compliance for Plan S–funded researchers (at least through 2024) while continuing to serve the needs of the majority of authors who are not under such funder regulations.
The American Chemical Society has jumped on the transformative journal bandwagon as well, announcing the intention for its entire suite of more than 60 hybrid journals to achieve transformative journal status, ensuring compliance with Plan S requirements through 2024.
In what is sadly unsurprising news, a new study notes that while women and people of color increasingly populate the field of medicine, authors at high-profile medical journals remain largely white and male. A new cross-publisher set of standards for author demographic data collection should help provide a better picture of existing biases and support actions to correct them.  
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy continues to stumble, as a new controversy has arisen over the unusual level of influence given to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Maryland’s law requiring publishers to sell ebooks to libraries at “reasonable prices” is apparently dead, as the state’s attorney chose not to contest a judge’s temporary injunction against the law, which will now become permanent.
Amazon has announced it will shutter all of its physical bookstores.
Meanwhile, James Daunt’s turnaround of Barnes & Noble is succeeding – despite pandemic headwinds – and practically everyone is cheering him on
Looking to sell or buy some Wiley shares? You may have to update your stock tracker as Wiley changed its ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. You can now find shares of the venerable publisher listed under “WLY” and “WLYB.” The stock was formerly listed under “JW-A” and “JW-B,” where the “JW” stood for “John Wiley.” The new ticker symbol better aligns with current corporate branding. 
The London Book Fair of 2022, held this month in its longstanding home at Olympia Exhibition Centre in London, was a (symbolic) grand reopening of the book business. Unfortunately, many attendees carried home more than spring catalogs
The Guardian publishes its umpeenth installation in its tiresome series on “How people who write for The Guardian do not understand scientific and scholarly publishing.”
It is not every day that an acquisitions editor at a university press is the subject of a profile in The New YorkerKen Wissoker, who has held his post as editor at Duke University Press since 1991, has been among the most notable shepherds of “theory” and has proven a “leader in taking once marginalized disciplines built around the experiences of marginalization (queer studies, ethnic studies, disability studies, trans studies) and institutionalizing them.” It is a flattering profile, though one that is largely ignorant of university press publishing. For example, Duke was not the first press to build a list in cultural studies; California was. The author’s comment about Wissoker considering a title that sells more than 2,000 copies “a year” to be a bestseller was meant to be ironic – but surely Wissoker meant 2,000 copies in toto. Comparing Duke’s output to Oxford’s, while accurate, is somewhat misleading. Better comparisons would be to the presses of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Chicago, and California. Nonetheless, it is good to see a profile of a member of our little community in such a high-profile venue.  
Revisiting the Two Paper Rule, a practical approach to overcoming the “mud moats” of vast literature that surround some fields (we missed this the first time around but will make up for lost time). 
Are personal academic blogs a thing of the past? Or has the blog just morphed into newsletters, posts on Medium, and Twitter threads? Mark Carrigan (a prolific blogger) suggests this may be the case and also discusses the role of new knowledge databases (e.g., Roam) in replacing one of the functions of some blogs. (We note Carrigan was careful to use the qualifier “personal” – meaning the works of lone researchers as opposed to group blogs or blogs from organizations). 
OA Switchboard and ORCID have announced a new collaboration to bring “authoritative affiliation data from authors’ ORCID profiles to corroborate affiliation or organizational identifiers (such as ROR or Ringgold IDs).” This is a welcome initiative though raises the question of how many ORCID profiles contain accurate organizational affiliations and identifiers? 
arXiv has added an institutional dashboard where members can view submission numbers and other metrics related to papers submitted by authors associated with their institution. The dashboard is being developed in partnership with Elsevier, who is providing some data via Scopus, though the exact contours of the partnership are not yet clear. 
Take that Nevin! What to do when you and your research collaborator reach opposite conclusions.

We will reschedule just as soon as we have finished vanquishing our invaders. —From the notice posted by the Ukrainian Library Association rescheduling (not canceling) their spring meeting