ARPHA’s and Pensoft’s statement on the European Union’s Conclusions on OA scholarly publishing

On behalf of ARPHA Platform and Pensoft Publishers, we express our support for the Conclusions on high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing, recently published by the Council of the European Union. We do share all concerns articulated in the document that highlight major inequities and outstanding issues in the scholarly publishing environment.

In our opinion, it is of utmost importance to promptly address the existing issues in the publishing system, where healthy competition can thrive and contribute to a reality safe from potential mono-/oligopolies and corporate capture.

We firmly believe that only an industry that leaves room for variously-scaled pioneers and startups is capable of leading a long-awaited shift to a high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing landscape aligning with the principles of FAIRness.

Yet, we shall acknowledge that the industry has so far failed to eradicate the most fundamental flaw of the past. In the beginning, the main aim of the Open Access (OA) movement was removing the barrier to access to publicly funded scientific knowledge and scrapping costly subscription fees.

Recently, however, the industry’s biggest players merely replaced it with a barrier to publication by introducing costly Article Processing Charges (APCs) and “big deals” signed between top commercial publishers and academic institutions or national library consortia. 

As a result, small and middle-sized open-access publishers, which have, ironically, been the ones to lead the change and transition to OA by default and oppose the large commercial publishers’ agenda, were effectively pushed out of the scene. Further, we are currently witnessing a situation where OA funds are mostly going to the ones who used to oppose OA.

So, we strongly support measures that ensure an inclusive and FAIR competition, which could in turn prompt quality, sustainability and reasonable pricing in scholarly publishing. In our opinion, an environment like this would actually foster equality and equity amongst all publishers, either small, large, non-profit, commercial, institutional or society-based. 

One of the main points of the conclusions is a recommendation for a general use of the Diamond OA model, where no charges apply to either researchers or readers. While we fully support the Diamond OA model, we wish to stress on the fact that considerable concerns about the sustainability of existing Diamond OA models remain.

On the one hand, there are OA agreements (also known as read-and-publish, publish-and-read, transformative agreements etc.), typically signed between top publishers and top research institutions/consortia. This OA model is often mistakenly referred to as “Diamond OA”, since authors affiliated with those institutions are not concerned with providing the APC payment – either by paying themselves or applying for funding. Instead, the APCs are paid centrally. Most often, however, journals published by those publishers are still directly charging authors who are not members of the signed institutions with, in our opinion, excessive APCs. Even if those APCs are covered by a signed institution, these are still considerable funds that are being navigated away from actual research work. 

On the other hand, there are independent researchers, in addition to smaller or underfunded institutions, typically – yet far from exclusively – located in the developing world, who are effectively being discriminated against. 

In conclusion, this type of contracts are shutting away smaller actors from across academia just like they used to be under the subscription-based model. Hereby, we wish to express our full agreement with the Council of the European Union’s conclusion, that “it is essential to avoid situations where researchers are limited in their choice of publication channels due to financial capacities rather than quality criteria”.

There are also several alternative OA models designed to lessen the burden of publication costs for both individual researchers, libraries and journal owners. However, each comes with its own drawbacks. Here – we believe – is where the freedom of choice is perhaps most needed, in order to keep researchers’ and publishers’  best interests at heart. 

One of those alternatives is open-source publishing platforms, which – by design – are well-positioned to deliver actual Diamond OA for journals, while maintaining independence from commercial publishers. However, the operational model of this type of publishing and hosting platforms would most often only provide a basic infrastructure for editors to publish and preserve content. As a result, the model might require extra staff and know-how, while remaining prone to human errors. Additionally, a basic technological infrastructure could impede the FAIRness of the published output, which demands advanced and automated workflows to appropriately format, tag semantically and export scientific outputs promptly after publication.

Similarly, large funders and national consortia have put their own admirable efforts to step up and provide another option for authors of research and their institutions. Here, available funds are allocated to in-house Diamond OA publishing platforms that have originally been designed according to the policies and requirements of the respective funding programme or state. However, this type of support – while covering a large group of authors (e.g. based in a certain country, funded under a particular programme, and/or working in a specific research field) – still leaves many behind, including multinational or transdisciplinary teams. Additionally, due to the focus on ‘mass supply’, most of these OA publishing platforms have so far been unable to match their target user base with the appropriate scale of services and support.

What we have devised and developed at Pensoft with the aim to contribute to the pool of available choices is an OA publishing model, whose aim is to balance cost affordability, functionality, reliability, transparency and long-term sustainability. 

To do so, we work with journal owners, institutions and societies to create their own business and operational model for their journals that matches two key demands of the community: (1) free to read and free to publish OA model, and, (2) services and infrastructure suited for Diamond OA at a much lower cost, compared to those offered by major commercial publishers.

In our opinion, independent small publishers differentiate from both large commercial publishers and publicly funded providers by relying to a greater extent on innovative technology and close employee collaboration.

As a result, they are capable of delivering significantly more customisable solutions – including complete packages of automated and human-provided services – and, ultimately, achieving considerably lower-cost publishing solutions. Likewise, they might be better suited to provide much more flexible business models, so that libraries and journal owners can easily support (subsets of or all) authors to the best of their capabilities.

While we realise that there is no faultless way to high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing, we are firm supporters of an environment, where healthy competition prompts the continuous invention and evolution of tools and workflows

Our own motivation to invest in scholarly publishing technology and its continuous refinement and advancement, coupled with a number of in-house and manually provided services, which is reflected in our APC policies, aligns with the Council’s statement that “scientific practices for ensuring reproducibility, transparency, sharing, rigour and collaboration are important means of achieving a publishing system responsive to the challenges of democratic, modern and digitalised societies.”

Our thinking is that – much like in any other industry – what drives innovation and revolutionary technologies is competition. To remain healthy and even self-policing, however, this competition needs to embrace transparency, equity and inclusivity.

Last, but not least, researchers need to have the freedom to choose from plenty of options when deciding where and how to publish their work!

ARPHA Platform reports 6 journals now indexed in ERIH PLUS

Following a thorough evaluation that has been going on for the last several months, the Indexing team at ARPHA Platform reports that the applications submitted on behalf of six journals have all been approved by ERIH PLUS – the European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS)

Four journals (co-)published by the scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft: Nature Conservation, NeoBiota, Neotropical Biology and Conservation and Fossil Record, and two journals using the white-label publishing solution of ARPHA Platform: the Journal of the Bulgarian Geographical Society and the Amsterdam University PressHeritage, Memory and Conflict (HMC) were recently accepted by the key index within the field of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS): ERIH PLUS.

ERIH (European Reference Index for the Humanities or ERIH) was established by the European Science Foundation. In 2014, it was extended to also include social science disciplines and was renamed ERIH PLUS.

The aim of the index is to increase the visibility, searchability and availability of research published in the fields. It is widely used within the European academic community.

“We want to be a key player in the European work that is done to make HSS research available to the wider community, and we want to do this by providing an index which not only supplies metadata about journals, but also places the HSS research in a wider academic context,”

says the team behind ERIH PLUS.

The ERIH PLUS easily-searchable database includes journals that have proved to meet an extensive list of requirements in line with good academic practices and research integrity, such as: 

“explicit procedures for external peer review; an academic editorial board, with members affiliated with universities or other independent research organizations; a valid ISSN code, confirmed by the international ISSN register; abstracts in English and/or another international language relevant for the field for all published articles; information on author affiliations and addresses; a maximum two thirds of the authors published in the journal from the same institution”.

ERIH PLUS is a member of different key-organisations like COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) and DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals).

***

The six journals mentioned here are not the first ones in the ARPHA portfolio to be accepted at ERIH Plus. Already in the database are a total of 15 scholarly outlets published on the platform: 

  1. BioRisk
  2. Check List
  3. European Science Editing
  4. Maandblad voor Accountancy en Bedrijfseconomie
  5. One Ecosystem
  6. Plant Ecology and Evolution
  7. Plant Sociology
  8. Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal)
  9. Rethinking Ecology
  10. Fossil Record
  11. Heritage, Memory and Conflict
  12. Nature Conservation
  13. NeoBiota
  14. Neotropical Biology and Conservation
  15. Journal of the Bulgarian Geographical Society

***

Support in indexing and archiving is only a part of the human-provided services offered by the ARPHA publishing platform to client journals regardless of their choice to be (co-)published by Pensoft or retain their own publishing brand. 

You can find more about the services offered by ARPHA on the platform’s website.

***

You can also follow ARPHA Platform on:

Pensoft’s ARPHA Publishing Platform integrates with OA Switchboard to streamline reporting to funders of open research

By the time authors – who have acknowledged third-party financial support in their research papers submitted to a journal using the Pensoft-developed publishing platform: ARPHA – open their inboxes to the congratulatory message that their work has just been published and made available to the wide world, a similar notification will have also reached their research funder.

This automated workflow is already in effect at all journals (co-)published by Pensoft and those published under their own imprint on the ARPHA Platform, as a result of the new partnership with the OA Switchboard: a community-driven initiative with the mission to serve as a central information exchange hub between stakeholders about open access publications, while making things simpler for everyone involved.

All the submitting author needs to do to ensure that their research funder receives a notification about the publication is to select the supporting agency or the scientific project (e.g. a project supported by Horizon Europe) in the manuscript submission form, using a handy drop-down menu. In either case, the message will be sent to the funding body as soon as the paper is published in the respective journal.

“At Pensoft, we are delighted to announce our integration with the OA Switchboard, as this workflow is yet another excellent practice in scholarly publishing that supports transparency in research. Needless to say, funding and financing are cornerstones in scientific work and scholarship, so it is equally important to ensure funding bodies are provided with full, prompt and convenient reports about their own input.”

comments Prof Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.

“Research funders are one of the three key stakeholder groups in OA Switchboard and are represented in our founding partners. They seek support in demonstrating the extent and impact of their research funding and delivering on their commitment to OA. It is great to see Pensoft has started their integration with OA Switchboard with a focus on this specific group, fulfilling an important need,”

adds Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director of the OA Switchboard.

***

About the OA Switchboard:

A global not-for-profit and independent intermediary established in 2020, the OA Switchboard provides a central hub for research funders, institutions and publishers to exchange OA-related publication-level information. Connecting parties and systems, and streamlining communication and the neutral exchange of metadata, the OA Switchboard provides direct, indirect and community benefits: simplicity and transparency, collaboration and interoperability, and efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

About Pensoft:

Pensoft is an independent academic publishing company, well known worldwide for its novel cutting-edge publishing tools, workflows and methods for text and data publishing of journals, books and conference materials.

All journals (co-)published by Pensoft are hosted on Pensoft’s full-featured ARPHA Publishing Platform and published in a way that ensures their content is as FAIR as possible, meaning that it is effortlessly readable, discoverable, harvestable, citable and reusable by both humans and machines.

***

Follow Pensoft on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
Follow OA Switchboard on Twitter and Linkedin.

***

Image credit: OA Switchboard.

Te Papa’s journal Tuhinga published its first articles on ARPHA Platform

Following its move to ARPHA, a publishing platform developed by the scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft announced in late 2021, the historic journal of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa: Tuhinga has already started publishing on its brand new website.

Dedicated to original collections-based research in the natural sciences and humanities, including museological research, Tuhinga takes pride in being associated with nearly two centuries-worth of scientific knowledge provided by the museum’s curators, collection managers, and research associates across disciplines, from archaeology to zoology. 

Now, if you visit the ARPHA-powered website and start browsing through and within the published articles, you will notice the way the journal utilises the technological backbone and services provided by the publishing platform.

ARPHA has provided excellent service in helping us establish the new platform, is always available, helpful and responsive to our needs. The copyediting is a particular highlight for us that ensures the finished articles look fantastic,”

comments Tuhinga’s Editor-in-Chief Rodrigo Salvador.

Various sorting and search options let the user seamlessly navigate throughout the website and enjoy the articles in either semantically enriched HTML or classic PDF format. Meanwhile, non-regular readers of Tuhinga are now more likely to stumble across the journal’s content, since all publications and their underlying data are being instantaneously exported, indexed and archived at a long list of relevant specialised databases. In their turn, a suite of article- and sub-article level metrics allow for usage of different elements to be tracked in real time.

Further, Tuhinga has evolved on the inside too. Having adopted the package of signature services provided by ARPHA, the journal offers to its authors, reviewers and editors the ease of completing their tasks within the publication process without sending a single file outside of the online environment of the collaborative platform.

Next on the list for Tuhinga and ARPHA is the digitisation of the journal’s legacy content, which has so far been existing only in print. The project is set to conclude with those historic scientific contributions becoming machine-discoverable and convenient for the modern reader. The papers will also be assigned with DOI and registered at CrossRef, while their metadata will be indexed at relevant databases. A full-text search of the article’s content will also be available.

The decision to use ARPHA as Tuhinga’s new platform brings Te Papa’s peer-reviewed journal into the digital ecosystem of scholarly publishing. ARPHA will also help Te Papa provide access to previously published articles from Tuhinga and other historic journals as we work through our digitisation and rights clearance processes,”

comments Victoria Leachman, Head of Collection Access at the Te Papa museum.

***

Visit the new Tuhinga website, subscribe to its newsletter and explore its content to date on: https://tuhinga.arphahub.com/.

***

You can follow ARPHA Platform on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Contributions to Entomology is the fourth Senckenberg journal to move to ARPHA Platform

By signing with the scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft, Contributions to Entomology – a journal by the Senckenberg German Entomological Institute – becomes the fourth Senckenberg academic title to transfer to the growing portfolio of the open-access scholarly publishing platform ARPHA

Earlier this year, the publisher came to similar agreements with Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny, Vertebrate Zoology and Geologica Saxonica, which have already been relaunched on ARPHA under the branding of the Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden.

Likewise, Contributions to Entomology is to continue as a journal published exclusively by Senckenberg, thanks to the white-label publishing solution designed by ARPHA to preserve the identity of historical journals. Still, the journal is to utilise the whole package of signature services provided by the platform, including ARPHA’s fast-track, end-to-end publishing system, which benefits readers, authors, reviewers and editors alike.

With ARPHA – the scholarly publishing platform initially developed by Pensoft to cater for the needs for academic journals – each submitted manuscript is carried through the review, editing, publication, dissemination and archiving stages without leaving the platform’s collaboration-centred online environment.

Thanks to ARPHA’s highly automated workflow, once published, the content is indexed and archived instantaneously and its underlying data exported to the relevant specialised databases. Simultaneously, a suite of various metrics is enabled to facilitate tracking the usage of articles and sub-article elements – like figures and tables – in real time .

The articles themselves are openly available in PDF, machine-readable JATS XML formats, and semantically enriched HTML for better reader experience. Thus, the journal’s content is made as easy to discover, access, reuse and cite as possible.

Founded back in 1951 under the title “Beiträge zur Entomologie”, Contribution to Entomology publishes original contributions on insect systematics, taxonomy, phylogeny, zoogeography, faunistics, ecology, applied entomology, entomological bibliography, and the history of entomology. The journal operates a Diamond Open Access policy, where neither access to content, nor publication incurs charges.

“We are delighted to welcome this particular journal on ARPHA Platform. While we’re publishing academic titles from across the sciences, Pensoft and ARPHA are still best known for their biodiversity- and ecology-themed journals and domain-specific innovations. This is why we are honoured to be able to share our experience and approach with Senckenberg and Contributions to Entomology,”

says Prof. Dr Lyubomir Penev, founder and CEO at ARPHA and Pensoft.

***

About Senckenberg:

Senckenberg, Research Institutes and Natural History Museums, conduct research in bio- and geoscience. Major research fields are biodiversity and ecosystem research and the research on the entire Earth-Human-Earth system. Senckenberg headquarters are located in Frankfurt am Main, but research on marine, terrestrial and climate systems is also housed at additional nine locations throughout Germany: in Dresden, Gelnhausen, Gorlitz, Hamburg, Messel, Muncheberg, Tubingen, Weimar and Wilhelmshaven. Senckenberg employs about 1,000 people, including 300 scientists. Senckenberg scientists are active in projects worldwide, most of which are international collaborations with universities and other research institutions. Senckenberg hosts biological and geological research collections with more than 35 million series.

Moscow State Linguistic University’s journal Languages and Modalities launched on ARPHA Platform

Languages and Modalities, a new peer-reviewed international journal published by the Moscow State Linguistic University, now uses a high-end publishing infrastructure after moving to the technologically advanced ARPHA Platform and signing with scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft.

The journal encourages the exchange of ideas in the study of meaning at the intersection of various languages and modes and channels of communication. It explores the ways in which we create, express, or negotiate meaning using different languages and modes or channels of communication, how we borrow and adapt words and their meanings between languages, how meanings differ in different languages, and how they travel and change across languages and modalities.

Languages and Modalities publishes articles on the cross-lingual aspects of semantics, comparative and contrastive semantics, various types of bilingualism, and on the multimodality of human interaction. It especially encourages submissions that are interdisciplinary in content and methodology. The cutting-edge approaches and methods of cross-lingual and multimodal linguistic research it disseminates help improve our understanding of natural interaction across languages and contribute to more efficient communication. Providing an open-access platform for international audiences of scholars in cross-lingual and multimodal semantics, the journal contributes to building up the capacity of cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas worldwide.

After moving to Pensoft’s scholarly publishing platform ARPHA, and with a new user-friendly website, Languages and Modalities now takes full advantage of ARPHA’s signature fast-track, end-to-end publishing system, which significantly improves user experience for authors, reviewers and editors alike. The collaboration-focused platform supports manuscripts in all steps of the publishing process – submission, peer review, editing, publication, dissemination and archiving, all within its online environment. To the benefit of readers, published articles are then made available in PDF, machine-readable JATS XML formats, and semantically enriched HTML, which makes them much easier to discover, access, cite and reuse.

“ARPHA has proved to be the best solution for both commencing and experienced editorial teams, as it creates a very friendly environment from the point of view of publishing processes, as well as personal interaction,” commented the journal’s editor in chief, Olga Iriskhanova.

The journal’s first issue, focused on multimodal studies of co-speech gestures as well as sign languages, is already available open access on its new website. It is dedicated to the memory of Dominique Boutet (1966–2020), a French researcher who introduced a breakthrough method of analyzing co-speech gestures and sign language signs based on modern technology from the digital arts and a multidisciplinary approach to gesture annotation. His kinesiological approach offers a unique methodological system that changes a researcher’s perspective from an external (visual) to an internal (physiological) one, allowing for a more objective and digital-friendly analysis.

Other highlights in this pilot issue, which contains works are inspired, built on, or related to Boutet’s framework for multimodal kinesiological analysis of interlocutors’ bodily movements observed in various languages, include an investigation of the multimodal expression of irony in interaction and a discussion of the use of the question-answer pattern for relativisation across signed languages. 

With this new partnership, Pensoft steps into the field of linguistics and communication studies. The scholarly publisher, best known for its wide range of biodiversity journals, is constantly looking to expand its thematic scope – just recently it added computer studies to its portfolio after announcing a deal with the Journal of Universal Computer Science.

Pensoft and ARPHA welcome three biodiversity-themed journals in their portfolio

The scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft and its self-developed publishing platform ARPHA welcome three journals to their distinguished and growing portfolio of biodiversity-themed journals. The international, peer-reviewed and open-access journals Acta Ichthyologica et PiscatoriaCaucasiana and Zitteliana are now fully operable and open for submissions through their new websites and technologically advanced user interfaces.

By moving to ARPHA, the three scholarly outlets will not only revamp their websites and technological backbone, but will also take advantage from ARPHA’s signature fast-track, end-to-end publishing system, which is to benefit all journal users: authors, reviewers and editors alike. In addition, the journals will use all unique services offered by ARPHA, such as data publishing, linked data tables, semantic markup and enhancements, automated export of sub-article elements and data to aggregators, web-service integrations with over 40 world-class indexing and archiving databases, sub-article-level usage metrics, and more. Published articles are to be available in PDF, machine-readable JATS XML formats and semantically enriched HTML, so that they guarantee better reader experience to ensure they are easy to discover, access, cite and reuse.

Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria

Launched in 1970, Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria (AIeP) publishes research about all aspects of ichthyology and fisheries, concerning true fishes (fin-fishes), including taxonomy, biology, morphology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, parasitology, reproduction and zoogeography. To be accepted, manuscripts need to be based on original experimental data or experimental methods, or new analyses of already existing data. The journal stands against the publication of “isolated” research, linked neither to the “past” nor the “future” of science. Likewise, “salami science” is also discouraged. AIeP is indexed by all major indexers, including Web of Science and Scopus. The journal’s first Impact Factor was released in 2010, and currently stands at 0.629 (2019).

Caucasiana

As a successor of the Proceedings of the Institute of Zoology of the Georgian Academy of Science, the Caucasiana is to give new life to the historical, print-only zoological by becoming a full-fledged, exclusively digital scholarly journal, focused on the still poorly known biodiversity in the Caucasus region and its adjacent areas. Caucasiana‘s aim is to accumulate primary biodiversity data urgently needed to understand the big picture of the biodiversity in the area: from individuals to ecosystems. To support the mission of uncovering the secrets of the Caucasus, the journal operates a no-APCs policy.

While the journal will be considering all biodiversity-related studies, based on their merits and quality of research, Caucasiana places special attention to taxonomic inventories and systematics. Thereby, in addition to traditional research outputs, the journal also publishes data papers, annotated checklists, monographs and conference proceedings, making use of the suite of biodiversity data publishing innovations, tools and know-how available from Pensoft.

Zitelliana

In 2021, Zitelliana is celebrating its 50th anniversary in a brand new gear in an excellent example of tradition working perfectly together with innovation and modernity. Since its launch in 1961, Zitelliana, a scholarly journal devoted to all fields of paleontology and geobiology, and owned by the Bavarian State Collection of Palaeontology and Geology (SNSB), has changed several names (i.e. Mitteilungen der Bayerischen Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und historische Geologie, Zitteliana A (Abhandlungen) and Zitteliana B (Mitteilungen)) and has extended its scope to cover research from outside Bavaria and adjacent regions or materials deposited in the SNSB’s collections.

Today, Zitteliana welcomes both modern and traditional research outputs, including palaeobiology, geobiology, palaeogenomics, biodiversity, stratigraphy, sedimentology, regional geology, systematics, phylogeny, and cross-disciplinary studies. Thanks to the support of the SNSB, authors in Zitteliana publish free of charge.

“At Pensoft, we take pride in our experience and achievements in the field of biodiversity research publishing and dissemination, so we’re particularly pleased to welcome these three wonderful journals and share our know-how with them at all levels: readership, editorship, publication and dissemination,” comments Prof. Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.

***

Follow ARPHA on Twitter and LinkedIn.