The New Clarivate Science: A Second-Order Consequence of Open Entry

I wrote about Clarivate’s proposed acquisition of ProQuest when it was first introduced in Could. On the time, there was an excessive amount of uncertainty available in the market concerning the strategic reasoning, if any, behind the acquisition, with some observers questioning if the acquisition was principally pushed by a purely monetary rationale. Over the course of the autumn, I’ve been reflecting on second-order penalties of the shift to open entry, for instance in the trustworthiness of science. I’ve reached the conclusion Clarivate’s acquisition of ProQuest, which was completed last week, is one other second-order consequence of open. 

Painting, Waterfall at Terni
An engineered waterfall. Camille Corot, “Waterfall at Terni,” 1826, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Setting the Stage

Open entry (OA) is within the course of of remodeling STEM publishing, even when in the present day the progress in direction of open entry is inconsistently distributed by geography. STEM publishing is shifting quickly past a content material licensing enterprise. Past the Gold OA companies that many are growing, a number of main publishers are seeing the chance to develop a providers enterprise of 1 type or one other.  

Numerous main companies, not all of them main publishers, are working to develop user workflow and analysis administration and analytics providers. These classes of platform providers are far less complicated to supply in an open atmosphere than was beforehand the case. Some such providers are supplied to particular person students, labs, or departments. Others are supplied by means of the library, the college analysis workplace, or the data division. These university-wide channels recommend the chance for enterprise gross sales. 

Suppliers focused on addressing these platform providers wants need to suppose at a special scope than they beforehand have accomplished. To take a small instance from the previous decade, the library’s choice to license an A&I database for a subset of fields is a special proposition than licensing a discovery and entry service that can function the library’s entrance door for all customers. Many workflow and analytics providers are largely targeted on the wants of the STEM fields, which has been a energy in some methods, however has restricted their applicability at an enterprise degree. To the extent that providers might be structured at an enterprise degree with out sacrificing their high quality, they are often extra impactful and be bought extra successfully.  

The Logic of the Acquisition

Clarivate’s Science Group, helmed by Mukhtar Ahmed, is the one that’s related for the scholarly communication sector. Clarivate Science’s conventional energy, eponymously so, is within the STEM fields. It contains the previous Net of Science Group, which gives a wide range of platforms and providers, together with scholarly influence analytics, to universities, publishers, and funders. Anchored by Net of Science itself, different key merchandise embrace ScholarOne, Creator Join, Publons, Journal Quotation Stories, and EndNote. By itself, Clarivate’s Science enterprise has had a very sturdy model with Journal Influence Issue and Net of Science, but it surely has not had enterprise degree attain inside most universities, not least due to its comparative weak spot within the humanities. 

ProQuest brings two main companies, one that gives enterprise software program principally, however not solely, to educational libraries, which operates beneath the Ex Libris model, and one that gives principally humanities and social sciences (HSS) and first supply content material to educational libraries, working as ProQuest. It additionally has a set of companies targeted on public and K12 libraries, that are much less related to the acquisition. ProQuest faces stronger competitors within the educational content material enterprise (particularly by means of EBSCO) than within the enterprise software program enterprise, the place it has established an especially sturdy basis by means of its Alma library methods platform, overseen by a finest in school expertise product group. 

Bringing collectively Clarivate’s and ProQuest’s respective increased training companies will over time present a lot of the main content material, methods, and providers associated to scholarly analysis, in addition to instruction and studying. In a single sense, content material is crucial consideration right here. The mixed entity gives intensive content material, a great deal of it uniquely, within the fields that proceed to depend on licensed fashions, for instance in humanities, social sciences, and first sources. Observers have famous that, post-acquisition, Clarivate nonetheless doesn’t have a main publishing enterprise, nor does it straight present STEM content material. However in an atmosphere more and more characterised by open entry and syndication, particularly for STEM, this may matter far much less. Certainly, it’d even come to be a monetary profit to not be saddled with a STEM publishing division.

With the mixed entity in a position to present such a complete array of content in a STEM open entry atmosphere, it might have the ability to deal with platform providers. And certainly, wanting on the mixed entity by means of this lens, a studying administration system is maybe one of many few main gaps. With these components, the mixed entity will have the ability to present one thing approaching an enterprise platform resolution for scholarly analysis and educational instruction and studying. 

Open entry in STEM makes it doable for an organization to ponder a enterprise technique like this one. On this respect, Clarivate’s choice to amass ProQuest and thereby set up the primary portfolio of really university-wide enterprise info analysis providers and platforms is a direct second-order consequence of open entry. That is the second-order consequence dynamic at work. The affordances of open creates new enterprise alternatives that might not exist if that content material was closed.

Some Open Entry Group Reactions

For the previous decade, Elsevier has been amassing a instruments and analytics enterprise that competes straight with main components of Clarivate’s portfolio, constructing Scopus and related influence metrics, buying and growing Pure and Mendeley, and extra lately buying Aries, to take a number of key examples. With its enlarged portfolio, Clarivate is positioned to compete successfully with Elsevier — minus the STEM main publishing.

At a purchase order worth of greater than $5 billion, the Clarivate acquisition of ProQuest is essentially the most financially consequential influence of open entry. Unsurprisingly, nevertheless, main voices within the open neighborhood have expressed substantial concern concerning the transaction.

From my very own perspective, I do suppose there are professional issues concerning the analytics pushed enterprise fashions that seem like scaling up as a consequence of open entry. The broader Clarivate gives “analytics to speed up the tempo of innovation.” Past the choices for tutorial science, most of its portfolios are focused to a point on mental property, together with focus areas on patents, pharmaceutical and biotech, and trademark and model safety. Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe has raised questions on the privacy implications of such models, arguing that as a result the reader is often “the product.” It’s little marvel that Put money into Open related Clarivate’s acquisition of ProQuest with an extra development in what it phrases “surveillance capitalism.” 

Notably SPARC despatched objections to the acquisition to the FTC, the anti-trust regulator, arguing to dam the acquisition and saying that no different cures may suffice [available as a PDF]. It argued that an “efficient monopoly” on library methods in ProQuest’s Alma raises issues about anti-competitive practices — elevating a query about whether or not Alma might be tied in anti-competitive technique to different merchandise. Moreover, it argued that with the acquisition, “Clarivate neutralizes…an rising maverick positioned to compete with its core analytics enterprise.” And, it urged that, “Clarivate could try to painting the merger as rising competitors by creating a robust challenger to Elsevier, nevertheless, that is unlikely to materialize in a means that advantages shoppers. These two rising platform monopolies are more likely to be leveraged within the analysis analytics market to drive out remaining weaker opponents, making a duopoly between Clarivate and Elsevier.” I’ve hassle following the logic as to how rising competitors for Elsevier, which SPARC says is a monopoly, may result in a rise in anti-competitive dynamics — isn’t a duopoly, if that have been to be the outcome, an enchancment over a monopoly? However placing apart the validity of this explicit argument, it is vital that these views be thought-about and subsequently unlucky that SPARC was not in a position to weigh in till late October, almost half a 12 months after the acquisition was introduced and virtually actually too late to affect the FTC evaluate course of. 


The advocacy motion for openness in scientific publishing has been maybe the best marketing campaign for change ever seen in academia. Whereas reaching a lot of its preliminary aim, nevertheless, the entire sport has modified. 

Numerous second-order penalties of open entry have been anticipated years in the past, together with the shift to “computational publishing and workflow tools,” a prediction that “legacy publishers will coopt open access,” and an increase in consolidations among major publishing houses, simply to take three examples, all of them by Joe Esposito right here in these pages. Unintended as these second-order penalties could have been by advocates of open entry, we now should grapple with them. Platform lock-in and analytics-driven “surveillance capitalism” are among the many new issues. What transactions will come subsequent and might these targeted on these issues discover more practical mechanisms to pre-empt them? 

With Clarviate’s acquisition of ProQuest now full, we are able to count on a interval of inside integration actions. As these start to be accomplished, the mixed entity will introduce new options that mix strengths in discovery, analytics, and library methods, at the very least. Over time we might even see the emergence of a brand new type of product providing that leverages the technique mentioned above. Given the present strengths of Alma available in the market, it might not be a shock if such a technique have been at the very least initially centered extra with the library as in contrast with the channels that Elsevier has been pursuing. In that respect, this acquisition may show to have actual advantages not solely to end-users but in addition to libraries focused on enlarging their enterprise position. 

Past this transaction, openness has each monumental advantages and likewise, given the dynamism of {the marketplace}, potential second-order tradeoffs and even dangers. As we study extra instructions for scientific communication — whether or not it’s advocacy for open knowledge and open peer evaluate, the complexities of scientific globalization or identity management, and even the battle towards surveillance capitalism — the implications are equally advanced. 


Sci Hub