Earlier this year, SPARC released an in-depth Landscape Analysis of the changing academic publishing industry and the implications of the large-scale deployment of data and data analytics. The the academic community’s response was immediate and strong, and it underscored the need for coordinated and strategic action to avoid the potential consequences. As noted in the Landscape Analysis:
“Until now, [commercial publishers] were – at worst – seen by institutions as an annoyance for selected communities within academia. Librarians complained about the cost of periodicals and talked about a “serials crisis”, but the impact on the overall budget of a university was well below half of a percentage point. Similarly, the high cost of textbooks was an issue for students, and in particular those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, but scholarships and some forms of financial aid, as well as the used textbook market, tended to mitigate the problem.
The move by publishers into the core research and teaching missions of colleges and universities, with tools aimed at evaluating productivity and performance, means that the academic community could lose control over vast areas of its core activities. In addition, the collection of massive amounts of data about faculty and students poses a significant legal and reputational risk for institutions, along with potential privacy and security threats for individuals.”
As the project unfolded, we recognized the need for a range of potential solutions for the key stakeholders to consider pursuing. The purpose of this document is to build on the Landscape Analysis by offering a roadmap of potential actions that stakeholders can use to chart both individual and collective responses. Recognizing that solutions to these complex issues are not “one size fits all,” this document offers a framework with multiple, concrete solutions that individual organizations can improve and adapt to their local culture and needs. The solution set is by no means exhaustive, and is intended as a starting point for the community to build upon.
We are pleased that this project has helped to stoke a debate around the need for academic institutions to take concrete steps, and that our initial analysis has proven to be a valuable resource on campus. As an example, this spring, as the University of California system grappled with the issues surrounding adopting commercially- owned research information management systems, its Academic Senate issued a set of recommendations which refer to and largely support the initial findings and recommendations contained in our Landscape Analysis. We hope that the academic community will find this document a useful additional resource to inform discussion of these issues on campus and to serve as a catalyst for taking considered action.