AOASG Inaugural Forum an Open Access Success

The Australian Open Access Support group is committed to raising awareness of and knowledge about open access.

2014 saw AOASG launch a new forum which brought together researchers from a range of disciplines to discuss the benefits and challenges of sharing their work through making it open access and communicating it through social media.

More than 50 people came together on the morning of November the 5th.

The event started with an inspiring recorded talk by Dr Erin McKiernan, a neurophysiologist from Mexico, on open access for the early career researcher. She covered what open access is, how to promote and embrace it and why. Her advice on how to debunk many of the myths about open access that get tossed out as road blocks for the ECR was inspirational. (The recording is available here:

Tom Cochrane, AOASG’s patron and Emeritus Professor at QUT, then reflected on the major open access current issues. He discussed the new business relationships and models that may be needed, including regarding copyright and licencing of research information; delved into the effect of funder and government mandates on the big publishers and examined again, as Erin had done earlier, who exactly does not have access to non-open access publications?

Dr Adrian Burton from the Australian National Data Service gave a very comprehensive over view of the comparisons between open access to publications and open data. Many of the funder and government mandates apply equally to the data from research as they do to the traditional article outputs. He noted that while the motivation to comply with these mandates are aligned between the institution and the researchers to make all outputs of research as open as possible, there are some fundamental differences that need not be in conflict. His slides can be found at

Attendees were inspired by a superb discussion by the members of the researcher panel. Prof Andrew Heathcote and  A/Prof Stephen Chalup, University of Newcastle; A/Prof Katrina Schlunke, University of Technology, Sydney;  Prof Laurie Buys and Dr Gillian Lawson, Queensland University of Technology gave a great range of insights. These eminent researchers seemed to relish the chance to explain to the audience their, and their fellow researchers support for open access. Wide ranging discussion included the motivations for selecting publishers, how they determine which research will be open access and which will not, and suggestions to the library community on how they can make the researchers life easier when they have to comply with the open access conditions of their funding agreements. They discussed barriers researchers face when trying to publish, not just open access articles but their data as well. Judging from the comments from around the room the audience were given lots to think about and many things to consider implementing when they returned to their home institutions.

It is clear that researchers need more information and guidance on open access publishing. The AOASG members will consider next steps at the planning day in January 2015.

Thanks to the Australian Catholic University for providing the wonderful venue and to the Australian National Data Services for the excellent lunch.

Open Access Scholarly Publishing

What is open access?

When used in relation to the dissemination of research findings, the phrase ‘Open Access’ refers to the practice of making the information freely available to anyone with an internet connection rather than leaving it hidden behind a subscription paywall.

Why is open access important?

Researchers formally share the results of their work by publishing it in the academic literature; primarily in the form of peer reviewed journal articles.  The research behind most of the articles produced in Australia is publicly funded but the vast majority of the articles are published in subscription journals which means that the information is only being shared with those who have a personal or institutional subscription.  By restricting access to only those who can afford to pay for access, the reach and impact of the research is severely constrained.   Practitioners such as pharmacists, teachers, nurses and business people are unable to see the latest developments in their field. Researchers in developing countries are unable to join the conversation.  Open access uses digital technology to maximise the visibility, accessibility and impact of research.

How is open access delivered?

The two main options for delivering open access include:

  • ‘Gold Open Access’ is where the published version of the article is freely available to anyone via the journal website.   If the journal is an open access journal, the entire contents of the journal will be freely available to all.  If the journal is a ‘Hybrid’ journal,  then only some articles will be freely available and a subscription will be required to read the full journal issue.  Some open access journals and all ‘Hybrid’ journals charge authors a fee to make their article open access.
  • ‘Green Open Access’ is where the author uploads, to an institutional or discipline-themed repository, an open access copy of an article published in a subscription journal.  In most cases, the version uploaded will be the ‘author’s accepted manuscript’ (AAM) version (which includes revisions made as a result of peer review but not the formatting, branding and ‘value-adds’ contributed by the publisher). No payment is required but many publishers require an embargo period (commonly 12 months) before the AAM is made open access.

Open Access Mandates

Around the world, 90 research funding bodies, including the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have made it a ‘condition of grant’ that articles arising from their funding are made open access.   In most cases, the obligation applies only to peer reviewed journal articles, but, in the case of the ARC in Australia, the obligation applies to all formats including books. Most funders will accept embargoes of up to 12 months, so researchers are free to choose between ‘Gold open access’ (using part of their grant to pay any article processing charges) or ‘Green open access’ which does not involve paying a fee (but researchers must upload the appropriate version to a repository).

Predatory Publishers: the ‘dark side’ of open access publishing

The availability of  open source journal publishing software, such as OJS (Open Journal Systems), has lowered the cost of establishing a new journal.  Most of the new journals that have been launched using this type of software are managed by groups of academics or scholarly societies.  Generally, they receive subsidies from the host institution which allows the journal to be fully Open Access;   i.e. free to readers AND authors.

Unfortunately, a number of opportunistic entrepreneurs are exploiting the willingness of some research funders and universities to for ‘Gold Open Access” and launching new journals that are money making ventures disguised as scholarly journals.   These journals claim to be peer reviewed but articles are generally all accepted without revision provided the author pays the, generally modest, article processing charge.  Articles containing serious flaws and plagiarised content have been linked to these so called ‘predatory publishers’ as a consequence of the absence any quality control mechanisms.  While these journals represent less than 3% of all the Open Access journals currently available, it is essential that researchers (especially early career researchers) learn how to identify potentially bogus journals.   Clues that a journal may not be truly scholarly include:

  • Journal is not listed in standard periodical directories (eg Ulrichs) and not indexed by the major indexes (eg ProQuest, EBSCO, Scopus, Web of Science).
  • Journal does not identify a formal editorial / review board.
  • Journal’s claims to publish articles within an improbably short timeframe (eg 21 days)
  • Journal claims to have an ‘impact factor’ when they are using metrics with no international standing ( eg Global Impact factor, Index Copernicus, View Factor etc) .
  • Journal falsely claims journal is indexed in legitimate abstracting and indexing services or claims that its content is indexed in resources that are not abstracting and indexing services.
  • Journal/publisher sends email requests for manuscripts, peer reviewers and editorial board members to scholars in unrelated disciplines.
  • Journal publishes papers already published in other venues/outlets without providing appropriate credits.
  • Publisher claims to be a “leading publisher” even though it is a novice organization.
  • Journal has a ‘shop front’ in a Western country for the purpose of functioning as a vanity press for scholars in a developing country.
  • Publisher does minimal or no copyediting.
  • Journal’s “contact us” page does not reveal its location.
  • The journal/publisher website includes spelling and grammatical errors.

For more information about predatory publishers (including a list of ‘suspect’ companies), refer to the website maintained by Jeffrey Beall, a librarian in Colorado.

This work by Paula Callan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This post is also available as a downloadable WORD document: Open Access_Briefing_Paper

Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 and Open Access: A good news story

By guest blogger Dr Joanna Richardson, Library Strategy Advisor , Information Services, Griffith University

Funding bodies and national governments worldwide are seeking an improved return on investment for funded research. In a number of countries accountability is measured among universities by means of a research assessment exercise.  In Australia the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) exercise, which is administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC), “evaluates the quality of the research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks”.

It is particularly pleasing to note that for the next round of ERA (2015): “Institutions are required to state whether a research output is available in an open access repository. Open access data will be used for reporting and analysis purposes only. Data will not form part of the evaluation process and will not be made available to peer reviewers or Research Evaluation Committees (RECs) (ERA 2015 Submission Guidelines, p. 9).”

In the context of the emerging global research data landscape–and Australia’s positioning within that environment, the importance of this step should not be underestimated. While it is easy to focus on “Why should we bother? It will not count”, it is much more useful to look at this in terms of some of the immediate benefits which Australian libraries have been reporting anecdotally. These include closer collaboration between the library, IT services and the Research Office.  In some institutions it has been a great door opener for a dialogue between researchers and librarians about the benefits of Open Access in general.

At a macro level, this initiative by the ARC can be viewed as part of a larger international conversation about developing the sustainability of the infrastructure and content services required to support OA and quality, replicable research outcomes. In a special themed issue of Information Standards Quarterly (ISQ) on the topic of “Open Access Infrastructure”, Liam Earney, Guest Content Editor, notes: “2013 seems to have been a watershed for open access (OA). Driven by a number of policy announcements from funding bodies and governments worldwide, the question is no longer whether open access will or should happen, but rather how will it be implemented in a sustainable way.”

In Australia the need to record open access –even though it will not be used for evaluation– in the ERA 2015 submissions is an exciting positive step for open access. It also sets the stage for future developments for open access to data from publicly funded research.

Open Access Week Webinars – Registration Now Open

Registrations are now open for the free AOASG webinars that will run during OAWK 2014.

Full details can be found on our webinar page:

But in short:

“Open access 101”: Tues 21 Oct  12:30pm  AEDT Register
“Funder OA policies & requirements”: Wed 22 Oct 12:30pm AEDT Register
“Understanding publisher agreements”: Wed 23 OCT 2:30pm AEDT Register
“The changing publishing landscape”: Thurs 24 Oct 12:30pm AEDT  Register

Feel free to spread the registration links far and wide, or to use the events to supplement your own OAWk events.

OAWk Webinars now open for registration

Registration is now open for the AOASG webinars to be held during Open Access Week 2014.

For a full description go to our webinar page, otherwise you can click on the links below to sign up.
These stand-alone webinars will run for 45 -50 minutes with 30 minutes for presentation and 10-15 minutes for discussion. All are being held during Open Access Week 2014.

Date Time Topic Register
Tuesday 21 October 12.30pm – 1.30pm AEDT “Open access 101” Register
Wednesday 22 October 12.30pm – 1.30pm AEDT “Funder OA policies & requirements” Register
Wednesday 23 October 2:30pm – 3.15pm AEDT “Understanding publisher agreements” Register
Thursday 24 October 12.30pm – 1.30pm AEDT “The changing publishing landscape” Register

Australian Chief Scientist comes out in support of Open Access.

Ian Chubb recommends in his newly released STEM strategy that the government “enhance dissemination of Australian STEM research by expanding open access policies and improving the supporting infrastructure.” and “Support the translation and commercialisation of STEM discoveries through: … a modern and flexible IP framework that embraces a range of capabilities from open access regimes to …” Check out pages 18 and 28 of the full report [pdf]