University of California Library and Elsevier Continue to Disagree

Academic journals have long worked on the “subscription model”, where print subscribers pay to read articles that, for the most part, authors submit for free.  With the advent of digital content, the same model has been used – subscribers pay and author provide content for free.  There is a shift to “open access”, which typically means that the authors pay upon submission, and readers view for free.  Among the first quality journals adopting this model is PLOS One.  Other quality journals are moving in this direction, and we are currently in a mixed model paradigm shift, where authors can pay for non-subscribing readers to have free access (“Open Access”).  This is not to be confused with “predatory journals” – technically open access journals – but ones that are of low quality.

Universities, through a special application of the subscriber model, pay a subscription fee to allow their faculty and staff to have access to many journals, including those from Elsevier, Wiley, etc.  Academic researchers find this tool of high value. For decades, there has been a symbiotic relationship.  UC’s researchers contribute quality research for free to quality journals, which in turn publish the “peer-reviewed” paper, key to academic prestige.  UC has paid for subscriptions. However, in the paradigm shift, academic authors are starting to have to pay fees – and thus universities are caught in a financial bind.  There’s no increase in income for the Universities – yet universities are paying for both subscriptions and author fees for open access.  In particular, this has been an issue for the University of California and one of the largest publishers of medical literature, Elsevier. In short, Elsevier’s view of the fees to be paid by the University of California in this transition phase were greater than what UC thought they should pay.  This came to a head in January 2019, when it became public that the two were not able to come to a resolution (as discussed in a piece by University of California, Davis, University Librarian, MacKenzie Smith.

Throughout this period, University of California researchers still had access to Elsevier publications.  That changed in early July, with Elsevier announcing that they are now stopping that access.

The impact of this decision has yet to be felt or fully comprehended.

(Disclosure – I am an alumnus and professor of the University of California, serve on the UC Davis Library Leadership Board, and an author, reviewer and on the editorial board for Elsevier journals).

Predatory journals – just say no!

In the 10 May 2019 issue of Science magazine, Assistant Professor of the University of Florida, Alan H Chambers, writes about his experience with a predatory journal.  In a moment of weakness after rejection of a manuscript, he submitted it to a newly launched journal.  It turns out it was a “predatory journal” in all aspects of the phrase.  He realized his mistake and requested it be withdrawn.  With a quality journal, this would be honored immediately.  This journal demanded payment.  Only with repeated demands from the University was the paper “let go”.  The author also suggests ways to test a journal (e.g., look at the editorial board, contact them separately to confirm, etc.).  Moral of the story – the pressure to publish are real  – but don’t succumb to submitting to these journals.

Collaboration in Academic Research

In a recent editorial in EyeNet on the importance of collaboration in successful research, past-president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Ruth Williams, M.D. cites Dr. Novack.  Dr. Novack stated “…You cannot be successful unless you realize that you do NOT know everything”.  Further she states that “…major breakthroughs usually require a multi-disciplinary approach, ophthalmic researcher must recognize and woo individuals who may not currently be working on vision research”.  A prime example of this is the Glaucoma Research Foundation’s “Catalyst for a Cure”.

Myopia prevention journal issue

Dr. Novack’s article on pharmacological prophylaxis of myopia was published in a special issue of  Eye and Contact Lens.  This issue (Volume 44 / Issue Number 4, July 2018) features articles on Myopia Control: Current thoughts and future research.  It was edited by Drs. Penny A. Asbell and Kazuo Tsubota.  The publication is based upon a symposium held in November 2017 in Tokyo at Keio University.  The issue includes authors from a wide variety of perspectives.  All agree – myopia is an epidemic that will continue to take medical resources to deal with the increasing number of affected patients worldwide.

Ophthalmic Drug Delivery – Dr. Novack quoted in EyeWorld

Dr. Gary Novack was quoted in an article on ophthalmic drug delivery in the May 2018 issue of ASCRS‘s EyeWorld.  Dr. Novack pointed out “…In considering what molecules might be most likely to succeed in a sustained delivery approach…this depends on the type of delivery system. If it’s a zero order, i.e., constant delivery with respect to time system, a molecule like brimonidine or timolol is most appropriate,” … “If it’s a pulsatile, i.e., peaks and troughs system, a molecule like the prostaglandins is the better choice.”  Dr. Novack has published several articles on issues in ophthalmic drug delivery, and worked on a number of successful products in this area.