Open access update May 2014

This blog is a short update of events and developments in open access to late May 2014. It includes: Open Access NewsNew open access policies – internationalReports & ResearchAlternative ways to value journals and Events

Open Access News

AOASG a signatory on COAR Statement about embargoes – 29 May 2014

AOASG has become a signatory to the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) ‘Statement about embargo periods’, joining other international associations. The statement says embargo periods are a transitional mechanism to help facilitate a wholesale shift towards Open Access.

Open Access Week 2014 theme is Generation Open

SPARC have announced the theme for Open Access Week 2014 – Generation Open – with a focus on early career researchers and students. This provides considerable potential for activities and events.

Predator-watch 1 – ‘Hijacked’ journals list – 18 May 2014

This is a new predatory scam where someone will create a counterfeit website that pretends to be the website of a legitimate scholarly journal. The website creators then solicit manuscript submissions for the hijacked version of the journal, pocketing the money. In some cases the legitimate versions of the journals are only published in print form and they may not have websites.Jeffrey Beall now has a new list- Hijacked Journals

American Society Of Civil Engineers Issues take down notices – 16 May 2014

There have been over 1200 requests to Google to take down content. This move reflects Elsevier’s requests to take down the publisher’s versions of work at the end of 2013. It has caused considerable discussion including “Publisher targets university researchers for ‘pirating’ their own research

Librarians should be across OA & APC payment options – May 2014

That’s the conclusion of Christine Fruin and Fred Rascoe in their article “Funding open access journal publishing: Article processing charges” in College and Research Library News Vol 75, pp.240-243

Elsevier expenditure – 24 April 2014

Cambridge mathematician Tim Gowers sent out a series of FoI requests to find out what UK libraries are spending on Elsevier. His comprehensive blog on his findings notes “A striking aspect of these amounts is just how much they vary.” This has sparked considerable discussion, not least “The cost of academic publishing”.

Predator-watch 2 – another ‘sting’ – 21 April 2014

Another predatory journal ‘sting’, from a Canadian journalist who wrote a rubbish paper and had it accepted by several open access publishers. His article about it was publishing in Ottawa Citizen “Blinded by scientific gobbledygook

Declaration on open access for LIS authors – March 2014

This Declaration for LIS authors states the “undersigned, pledge to make ALL OF OUR WORK open access by all means possible, including especially placing versions of our work in institutional and disciplinary repositories, publishing in open access journals”. The text is being crowdsourced.

Complying with mandates – March 2014

The final version of the Guide to Tagging Institutional Repository Records Related to ARC/NHMRC Grants  is now available on the CAUL website. This document was prepared by: Paula Callan (QUT), Mark Gregson (QUT), Kerrie Burn (ACU) and Tony McCall (ACU).

Predator-watch 3 – Beware VDM publishing – 23 March 2014

A good read and clear warning for PhD graduates considering publishing with VDM Publishing from Joseph Stromberg: “I Sold My Undergraduate Thesis to a Print Content Farm” in Slate: Future Tense

New open access policies – international

Chinese Academy of Sciences Open Access Policy – 16 May 2014

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) open access policy will require its researchers and graduate students to deposit final, peer-reviewed manuscripts of research articles into the open access repositories of their respective institutes within 12 months of their official publication in academic journals.

Mexico national legislation on open access and repositories – 8 April 2014

Mexico is the third country in the region which now has national legislation related to the issue of open access. This legislation is intended to place Mexico into an ‘information society’. The Act provides for the establishment and operation of the National Repository of Science, Technology and Innovation Information.

Reports & Research

Open-Access Repositories Worldwide, 2005–2012 – 2 May 2014

This study Open-Access Repositories Worldwide, 2005–2012: Past Growth, Current Characteristics, and Future Possibilities by Stephen Pinfield et al reviews the worldwide growth of open access finding they typically use open-source OAI-compliant software but have immature licensing arrangements. Major factors affecting both the initial development of repositories and their take-up include IT infrastructure, cultural factors, policy initiatives, awareness-raising activity, and usage mandates.

British Academy study on OA journals in HASS – April 2014

The report Open Access Journals in Humanities and Social Science is a British Academy Research Project by Rebecca Darley, Daniel Reynolds and Chris Wickham

UKSG special issue on OA monographs – April 2014

This OA monograph supplement to the UKSG journal Insights (Vol 27, Supplement 1) is fully open access

Aligning repositories – March 2014

The report from the COAR Aligning Repository Networks Meeting in March 2014 is now available – “Towards a Seamless Global Research Infrastructure

Analysis of deposit rules of 100 largest journals

The study found 80.4% allow deposit of author’s manuscript or publisher’s pdf within 12 months of publication. Mikael Laakso’s Green open access policies of scholarly journal publishers: a study of what, when, and where self-archiving is allowed” also found that publishers are substantially more permissive with allowing accepted manuscripts on personal webpages (78.1% of articles) or in institutional repositories (79.9%) compared to subject repositories (32.8%).

Alternative ways to value journals

Journal Openness Index

In Librarian, Heal Thyself: A Scholarly Communication Analysis of LIS Journals, Micah Vandegrift and Chealsye Bowley propose a new metric to rank journals, the J.O.I. Factor (Journal Openness Index) which grades journals based on how “open” they are, as opposed to citation impact or h-index.


For biomedical researchers a new beta release JournalGuide provides a matching service for authors to help them identify the right journal for their article. Information on a journal’s scope, speed of rejection or approval, publication speed and cost plus the open access policy.

Quality Open Access Market

A European initiative Quality Open Access Market aims to provide ‘Journal Score Cards’ ranking quality of service against price and also lists the publication fees of journals. The score is out of five and attained by author’s input ranking on: Editorial info, Peer review, Process and Governance.

Open Review

This new service from ResearchGate offers a way of researchers reviewing a published paper.


Stop blaming open access: what’s wrong with scholarly communication and why it’s not the fault of open access, Dr Danny Kingsley, Executive Officer, Australian Open Access Support Group
6.00 – 7.30pm Thursday 12 June Ainslie Football Club, 52 Wakefield Ave, Ainslie ACT. Presented by Canberra Skeptics

Recent Developments in Open Access and Scholarly Communication: The case of History in Britain. Professor Miles Taylor  – Institute of Historical Research, University of London.
12.30 – 1.30pm Wednesday 18th June McDonald Room, Menzies Library, Australian National University

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Open access update April 2014

This blog is a short update of events and developments in open access to late April 2014. It includes: International open access news, Publisher OA newsReports & ResearchAustralian open access newsAOASG news

International OA news

Holding back funds results in compliance with OA policies – 9 April 2014

This news article from Nature shows compliance has increased for NIH and Wellcome Trust  since withholding funds for non-compliers. Wellcome Trust withheld funding on 63 occasions last year because of non-compliance with their policy. The NIH’s compliance rate — the percentage of papers placed in the PubMed Central database for public access no later than a year after publication — now stands at 82%. It had flatlined at around 75% for two years, says Neil Thakur, who oversees policy for the NIH’s Office of Extramural Research. The Wellcome Trust’s compliance rate is 69%, up from 55% in March 2012, says Robert Kiley, head of the trust’s digital services.

Policy for OA in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework – March 2014

This policy states that to be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection. The requirement applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number. It will not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data. So… If they don’t deposit it in AT TIME OF ACCEPTANCE they can’t count it. This is big news for open access in the UK.

Paying for hybrid does not mean article is OA – 27 March 2014

The UK’s Times Higher Education ran this story: “Elsevier: bumps on road to open access” – that is, they are keeping paid hybrid OA articles behind paywalls .

The State of Open Access – 21 March 2014

Richard Poynder has written his perspective on the State of Open Access – which follows on from his series of 19 interviews last year with prominent people on the open access space (including AOASG’s Dr Danny Kingsley). His views are interesting – he is a journalist not an OA advocate. Basically, he says the research community needs to get organised or the OA future will be controlled by publishers.

OERRH Ethics Manual – 5 March 2014

The OERRH Ethics Manual provides an overview of ethical issues that arise in research and offers strategies for best practice. It discusses some of the particular challenges for openness in research, including confidentiality of data, implications for dissemination strategies, and discusses some of the challenges that may be brought about specifically by ‘working in the the open’.

Blog to help library management of OA – 4 March 2014

A Wiki/blog has been launched to help direct librarians faced with managing OA workflows. The blog notes the current situation is similar to the early years of the Big Deal and librarians are struggling to implement new workflows to manage both green and APC-funded Gold OA.
The site provides basic information about article processing charges and the management of them plus information about open access generally. The wiki allows people to contribute to the site.

Publisher OA news

Nature launches ‘partner’ OA journals – 2 April 2014

new development from Nature – a ‘partner¹ series of OA journals. They have teamed up with a series of research groups and universities to create these journals. With a $4000 APC they are sitting at the pricey end of open access journals – presumably it is the Nature brand that justifies this cost. It seems the Nature brand is the benefit to the partners, who “also have the option of NPG’s internal editorial office to manage and administer the peer-review process”. The website does not indicate where the APC goes, to Nature one suspects rather than to the partner.

New application form for DOAJ – 19 March 2014

DOAJ have launched a new and much extended form for journals wishing to be included in the DOAJ. The form has been structured to collect upfront from the publishers as many quality indicators as possible about the journal. These indicators will be assessed as part of a journal’s application. The form also introduces the DOAJ Seal, a mark of approval that shows how a journal strives towards Best Practice.

Elsevier STM publishing profits rise to 39% – March 2014

An OA blog has discussed the March Reed Elsevier annual report, noting the revenue and adjusted operating profit for the Scientific, Technical & Medical portion of the business. The profit margin of 39% includes a $76 million USD increase in profit in the past year. The blog notes the number of researchers that could be employed for that alone.

Wiley goes (embargoed) green – February 2014

Since 1 January 2014 Wiley have changed their policy and now allow authors to make their Accepted Manuscript available in a repository after 12 months (24 months for Social Sciences and Humanities). They have been making the relevant changes to the language of their Copyright Transfer Agreements during February February 21, 2014. Good news. Well done Wiley, it is a very good step in the right direction.

Elsevier launches its text and data mining policy – 31 Jan 2014

Elsevier’s text and data mining policy now allows researchers in a subscribing institutions to register at the Elsevier developers’ portal to receive a key to the Application Programming Interface (API) of ScienceDirect, which provides full-text content in XML and plain-text formats optimal for TDM. Some commentators like the European Association of Research Libraries have indicated this policy restricts researchers rather than opens up the research by forcing people to use a specific tool.

Reports & Research

Nature – Can author pays compete with reader pays? – 14 April 2014*

This article compares the publishing industry with the car industry noting that publishers receive money from the consumer and the supplier (even in subscription journals – through page charges). (*NOTE – This article first appeared in 2006, it arose in another discussion on 14 April. Thanks to Pippa Smart for identifying this date discrepancy).

Monitoring Progress towards Open Access in the UK – 7 April 2014

This report stemmed from a recommendation of the Finch Report that a working group of representatives of the different stakeholder groups should collect reliable, high-quality indicators on the key features of the changing research communications landscape, including the precise configuration of the indicators, data definitions, protocols and methodologies.

The Value & Impact of Data Sharing and Curation – 2 April 2014

This synthesis report aims to summarise and reflect on the findings from a series of recent studies, conducted by Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Ltd. and Prof. John Houghton of Victoria University, into the value and impact of three well established research data centres – the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). It provides a summary of the key findings from new research and reflects on: the methods that can be used to collect data for such studies; the analytical methods that can be used to explore value, impacts, costs and benefits; and the lessons learnt and recommendations arising from the series of studies as a whole.

Developing an effective market for APCs – March 2014

Report Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges looks at the article processing charges (APC) situation coming up with three scenarios for discussion within the industry. Suggestions include: the reduction of subscription cost for a particular institution in line with the amount they have spent in APCs with that publisher, funders offering a level of funding for APCs based on the ‘value’ the publisher provides, and funders having a cap on what they will fund with the author having to find the remaining money. Read a blog about it.

Wellcome Trust publish spend on funded OA articles – March 2014

Robert Kiley from Wellcome Trust has published a spreadsheet of every single paper they have sponsored as paid (“Gold”) open access. In the fiscal year 2012-2013 the Wellcome Trust spent over US$6.5million on OA publication fees.  Peter Murray Rust however noticed that at least some of the Elsevier ‘OA’ papers are still offered as paid access on their journal website.

Australian OA news

Note the AOASG now has a webpage listing Australian OA Developments which is constantly being updated.

Victoria University partners with CLOCKSS – 4 April 2014

The CLOCKSS Archive  has partnered with Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, to preserve their ejournals and ebooks in CLOCKSS’s geographically and geo-politically distributed network of redundant archive nodes, located at 12 major research libraries around the world. This action provides for content to be freely available to everyone after a “trigger event” and ensures an author’s work will be maximally accessible and useful over time.

CAUL updates its statement on open scholarship – 26 March 2014

CAUL has an Open Scholarship page which covers developments such as open access, open science, open education and other “open” initiatives.  CAUL’s Statement on Open Scholarship explores the idea that the free flow of information and ideas underpins excellence in scholarship in detail.

NHMRC revises its OA Policy webpage – 25 February 2014

The NHMRC have expanded their advice and information about their Open Access Policy on the  Dissemination of Research Findings. There is more detailed information on how to report the open access status of published funded work, plus a new useful Guide for Authors.

ALIA open access statement – 24 February 2014

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has adopted a full open access policy. This means they will provide full access for the majority of their own reports, conference papers and other grey literature; member-only access for certain unique, high value materials, and green open access for our scholarly journals. ALIA supports Australian libraries in their efforts to work towards open access.

New open access journal – 12 February 2014

Victoria University recently launched a new open access journal,  the Victoria University Law and Justice Journal (VULJ). The journal uses the Online Journal Systems (OJS) platform which enables journal editors to manage the stages of issue creation from author submission through to publication. The University offers technical set-up,  and support with referencing, indexing, peer review models, copyright, licensing, ISSN and DOI registration. It is assumed that peer review and editorial tasks are performed by the journal’s editorial committee/board.

New OA journal for Flinders University – February 2014

Writers in Conversation is an international online open-access literary journal specialising in well-researched, in-depth interviews with writers in all literary genres (including criticism), concentrating on their work, their ideas and related matters, to be published jointly by Flinders University and the University of Central Lancashire. The journal will be published twice each year, in February and August.


AOASG gets a rap

Open Science campaigner Peter Murray Rust wrote in his blog:

  • If you are confused by “Open Access” you are in good company. So am I. It’s horrendous. Here Danny Kingsley and the  Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) have created an excellent series of blog posts on Open Access. They are readable and authoritative. After it you will be less confused and more authoritative. But it will still be horrendous.

See what he’s raving about: the AOASG Paying for Publication series is comprehensive and wide ranging.

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An effective market for APCs?

Worldwide, the recent increase in open access policies has led to funds supporting the costs of open access publishing in OA journals (or hybrid OA in a subscription journal). This trend towards paid gold open access has raised concerns over rising costs to research-intensive institutions paying multiple article processing charges.

A recent report called Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges aims to address some of these issues.

Discussion starters for administrators

The Report, by Professor Bo-Christer Björk of the Hanken School of Economics, Finland, and Professor David Solomon of Michigan State University, USA, is intended for research funding organisations and policy makers. It aims to “ensure a competitive and transparent market for scholarly journal article processing charges (APC)s”.

The authors suggested three scenarios as a starting point for discussion on how funding agencies might influence the APC market to encourage transparency and competition:

Scenario A addresses double dipping. This scenario does not suggest a change to article processing charges but the publisher comes to an arrangement where the individual institution is given some saving in subscription costs when researchers pay to publish in their hybrid journals.

Scenario B looks at ranking journals according to the ‘value’ they provide the author. This scenario suggests a price cap system based on the service provided by the journal. Those that provide high value (quality peer review, fast turnaround etc) have a higher cap than those which do not meet these standards. The funder only provides the money up to the cap for the particular journal. If the journal charges more than the funded cap it would be up to the author to find the money for the gap if they wished to publish in the journal.

Scenario B is very interesting from the perspective of the reward system in academia. Currently journals are ranked as being of high or low quality from a count of the citations of their articles – the Journal impact Factor. But this proposed ranking system would be considering the publisher’s ability to do their job well – the process of publication – as a means for assessing a journal’s ‘value’.

Scenario C is where the funders agree to only pay a fixed proportion of the article processing charge. By asking authors and their institutions to cover a portion of the cost of an APC this scenario ensures cost is one of the considerations in the choice of where to publish. The goal is to to provide an incentive for keeping the APC market (both full OA and hybrid) competitive and reasonably priced.

While Scenario C would be administratively very difficult to manage at an institutional level, the advantage of having only part of the article processing charge covered is it introduces an incentive for authors and their institutions to evaluate the benefit of publishing the article in question. This is, indeed one of the advantages of a move from subscriptions to article processing charges generally, they open up the researchers to the costs of the scholarly publication system. (For more discussion on this issue, the AOASG Managing APCs page).

Each scenario is discussed in full in the Report, with a full background rationale and an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).

The authors argued that irrespective of which scenario is chosen “that funding agencies should set minimum standards that must be met before APCs are paid to any journal.” To that end the authors provided two sets of journal criteria: one for fully OA journals, another for hybrid OA in a subscription journal.

Issues with management of article processing charges

The authors suggest that one of the major impediments to a switch Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 12.18.33 pmfrom a subscription model to funded OA publication can be put down to a “lack of effective administrative and work-flow structures for payments”.

Some of the broader issues relating to management of article processing charges, they argue, include the considerable transaction costs for handling the payments – both for publishers and the institutions of the authors. This was also noted in the 2012 Finch Report

There are also challenges posed by management of funds – such as situations where:

  • articles have authors from many institutions and countries
  • articles are published outside the time limits of the grants they stemmed from
  • managing the rules for waivers for authors without access to funds to pay, and
  • the added issue that decision making about rationing the use of funds will fall on the administrators of such funds, given that there is likely to be a scarcity of money to meet all requests.

The authors speculated what the APC market would look like if it worked on similar terms as the subscription market. They concluded it would result in a loss of transparency and would be very detrimental to smaller OA publishers and innovative companies wishing to break into the market.

The mega journal revolution

The Report observed that mega journals have become the fastest growing segment of the APC funded OA journal market. There are now at least 19 mega journals with another eight slated to begin publication within a year. PLOS ONE continues to lead this market,  publishing over 30,000 articles in 2013.

It is worth noting that many of these mega journals use a model where the journals accept papers that have been rejected from other journals in the publisher’s catalogue (with the accompanying reviews). This is referred to as the ‘cascade model’ in the case of the Royal Society’s new Royal Society Open Science, which accepts “articles referred from other Royal Society journals”.

While there are some advantages to this cascade approach – it does prevent people wasting precious time re-reviewing articles – the issue is it gives the impression to the academic community that these mega journals are the ‘slops bucket’ for rejected papers.

A cascade model for mega journals risks devaluing the open access brand.

Uptake of open access

The Report analysed the uptake of open access globally, noting that 11% of all articles indexed by Scopus were published in full OA journals (APC funded and others). Sixteen delayed OA journals add another 5% as well as an estimated 1% in hybrid journals. The authors extrapolated these findings to 2014, and estimated a share of almost 15% for gold OA, which would increase to around 20% if they added delayed OA journals.

The authors concluded: “It is evident that the article volumes of established OA journals are approaching the average of subscription journals”.

The Report found hybrid was quite prevalent – it is available for most subscription journals (at least from the bigger publishers). But the overall uptake of hybrid OA is still very low. A recent Elsevier report mentions an uptake for all publishers of only 0.5 % of Scopus articles.

The Report did attract some criticism from the publishing industry. In a news report from the Times Higher Education Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, is quoted as saying the Report’s claim of low take-up of hybrid open access options was not borne out by publishers’ experience. He is quoted: “We haven’t got hard and fast figures but, anecdotally, some publishers are seeing three-figure percentage increases in take-up since April 2013”.

Wellcome Trust expenditure on APCs

Possibly coincidently, in the same week as the release of the report “Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges”, the Wellcome Trust released details of its open access spend in the year 2012-2013. The Wellcome Trust has been an early supporter of open access, and since 2005, the Trust has provided funds to pay article processing charges within their research grants.

The Wellcome Trust open access spend was released as a raw data set, which Cameron Neylon from PLOS subsequently analysed and released back out as Wellcome Trust Article Processing Charges by Article 2012/13. This analysis has itself been re-analysed by Ernesto Priego to standardise the publisher names, released as Wellcome Trust APC spend (2012-2013) Spreadsheet with Publisher Names Refined.

The numbers are almost staggering at first glance. In the fiscal year 2012-2013 the Wellcome Trust spent over US$6.5million on OA publication fees. This paid for 2,127 articles, with an average cost of US$3,055 per article. This is equivalent to the subscription spend of a medium sized university.

Five publishers received 63% of the APCs in that year, in order: Elsevier, Wiley, PLOS, Springer/BMC and Oxford University Press. Elsevier ‘s share was 25%. This heavy weighting towards some publishers has resulted in calls by some commentators that the ‘Matthew Effect’ is dominating in this field.

Kent Anderson commented:

It’s interesting to contemplate exactly what Wellcome bought with its US$6.5 million, as many subscription journals in the fields covered are subject to 12-month embargoes. One could argue that Wellcome paid an average of US$254 per month per article to make the articles free early. Put even more starkly, Wellcome is now paying the equivalent of US$542,000 per month in aggregate this year to make these 2,127 articles free for the 12 months we’re in, rather than paying no APCs and allowing the articles to be published in a subscription journal that honors 12-month embargoes.

Another blogger noted that the figures indicate there is a ‘mere inversion of the business model’ where the high prices traditionally charged to libraries is shifting to researchers (through their funding agencies). The blog concludes: “Aren’t we clearly rushing towards a new “OA serials crisis”, where publishing is still dominated by the same major publishers who partly led to the serials crisis in the first place?”

The release of both the Wellcome Trust figures and the APC management report highlights some of the many substantial issues in the payment of article processing charges (many of which have also been explored in the AOASG Paying for Publication series).

The Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges report was commissioned by a consortium of major research funders by the Wellcome Trust: Research Councils UK, Jisc, Research Libraries UK, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the FNR (Luxembourg) and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer, AOASG

Open access update March 2014

This blog is a short update of events and developments in open access to mid-March 2014. It includes: International open access news, Reports & Research, Australian open access news, Wraps of 2013, New open access policies – international, EventsAOASG news and feedback from AOASG followers.

International open access news

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers – 25 February 2014

Last year OA copped a bad name because of the ‘sting’ by Bohannon where some of the (only OA journals) that were sent a scientifically unviable article accepted it for publication. At least that article was in English.

On 25 February Nature reported: “The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.” These gibberish articles were supposed to be ‘peer reviewed’ and were available under subscription, published mainly in conference proceedings.

Publishers launch free journal access for UK libraries – 3 February 2014

Academic publishers have launched their scheme to allow free access to research journals at UK public libraries. This was one of the concessions the publishing industry made in the Finch Report.  Users have to walk into the library to have this access.  The project will initially run as a two-year pilot while interest is monitored.

Data availability statement for PLOS articles – 3 February 2014

Articles submitted to any PLOS journal will need to have a ‘data availability statement’ for the data. The release said: “The new Data Policy will be implemented for manuscripts submitted on, or after, March 1st. The main change is that all PLOS journals will require that all manuscripts have an accompanying data availability statement for the data used in that piece of research. We’re well aware that this may prove to be a challenge, but we think that this thorny issue needs to be tackled head-on. Ultimately, an Open Access paper for which the underlying data are not available doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

T&F supplemental material open access on Figshare – 6 February 2014

T&F supplemental material is now available in a new online format as tables, datasets, filesets, videos and graphs become instantly viewable on Taylor & Francis Online, easily discoverable from search engines and quickly hosted on Figshare.

T&F extend Library & Information Science Author Rights pilot scheme – 23 January 2014

The pilot began in 2011 and as part of the pilot, a survey was conducted by Routledge to canvas opinions on the Library & Information Science Author Rights initiative and also investigated author and researcher behaviour and views on author rights policies, embargos and posting work to repositories. The survey elicited over 500 responses, including: “Having the option to upload their work to a repository directly after publication is very important to these authors: more than 2/3 of respondents rated the ability to upload their work to repositories at 8, 9, or 10 out of 10, with the vast majority saying they feel strongly that authors should have this right”.

Elsevier sends take down notices to and universities – December 2013

Elsevier sent a series of take down notices to and individual universities requesting take down of the Published Version of their works on these websites. Understandably this caused a great deal of discussion. Click here to see an example post.

Reports and Research

Major report on article processing charges – 12 March 2014

The report “Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges” was commissioned by several major UK and European funding bodies and examines the current status of the APC market, concluding that hybrid is twice as costly as fully open access and describing three possible scenarios suggesting ways to improve the market into the future.

UNESCO publishes Guidelines to compare Institutional Repository Software – 17 February 2014

The Guidelines to compare Institutional Repository Software is being published as part of the UNESCO’s Open Access Strategy. It compares the features of the major platforms and is intended to help libraries focus on which features will help facilitate the success of their repository. NOTE: The authors were from bepress which fares very well in the comparisons.

Journal usage half-life – 18 December 2013

The study was by an independent research Dr Phil Davis who analysed the half-life of 2812 journals. Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for articles in a journal to receive half of their lifetime total downloads. Some findings are not surprising – that these vary widely, and the timeframes are quite long (certainly in particular fields). What is perhaps surprising is that “Only 3% of journals in all fields have half-lives of 12 months or less”. A news story about the study is here.

Have digital repositories come of age? The views of library directors – December 2013

The report from the research group, CIBER, by David Nicholas, et al surveyed 150 library directors and has come to the conclusion that there is still considerable development required in the growth of institutional repositories.

It found that 70% had a digital repository, and 23% were planning one. It found that institutional repositories are mostly small affairs, operating on small budgets with one or two full time staff, and usually costing only about 1.8% of the total library budget. Their main objectives, according to the article conclusions, are to provide a shop front for the institutional output, with increasing global access to research a close second objective.

Finally, the article found that librarians see Gold OA as likely to supplant Green, and that subject based repositories will continue to outshine institutional ones. The article is published in Webology, Volume 10, Number 2, December, 2013

Australian open access news

University of Wollongong OA policy

The University of Wollongong has released its open access policy which applies to all research outputs including those that are non-peer reviewed. The policy is here.

Open Access Policy requirements spelt out in ARC funding rules

The ARC 2015 Discovery Project funding rules have been standardised across the Australian Laureate Fellowships, Discovery Early Career Researcher Award and Discovery Indigenous schemes  The rules say: “The Final Report must address compliance with the ARC Open Access Policy as detailed at A11.5” and later: “In accordance with this policy, any publications arising from a Project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve month period from the date of publication.”

Copyright report tabled

The Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC Report 122) was tabled 13 February. One news story about it: “Brandis likely to knock back relaxed copyright rules”.

Wraps of 2013

2013 the year that was science & technology

This article from The Conversation is a good wrap of what has happened in Science & Medicine in 2013, including an honourable mention for Matthew Todd at the end.

AOASG in 2013: That was the year that was

2013 marked the first year of activity for the AOASG. This blog summarises the activities and achievements of the group throughout the year.

Open access 2013: A year of gaining momentum

This blog from Scientific American is an excellent roundup of what happened in the open access area worldwide during 2013. It includes the comment that “July also marked the date that publications from research funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) were due to start appearing in repositories.”

New open access policies – international

[All open access announcements are added to the AOASG ‘Statements about OA page’]

Italy requires OA for young researchers – 23 January 2014

Italian Ministry of Education University and Research (MIUR) has launched SIR (Scientific Independence of young researchers) which includes a clause mandating OA for publications and data based on the Horizon 2020 grant agreement (in Italian- only)

US Congress passed FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill – 13 January 2014

The FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill has a requirement for the Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education And Related Agencies (LHHS). Section 527 (p1020) states each Federal agency or each bureau of multiple bureaus with funding of $100 million or more are required to provide a machine-readable version of the Accepted Manuscripts to peer reviewed journals to the agency and these must be freely accessible online no later than 12 months after official publication, complying with all relevant copyright laws.

Joint Research Centre adopts open access policy – 6 January 2014

The JCU is the European Commission’s in-house science service and in accordance with the EU’s new open access policy for scientific publications, JRC articles in peer-reviewed publications where JRC staff members are first or corresponding author will be freely and publicly available, making the majority of JRC scientific results accessible online. JRC researchers are now expected to publish any new peer-reviewed research paper in journals that are compliant with the updated policy. The JRC supports both gold and green routes to open access. In line with the Horizon 2020 requirement, the JRC accepts an embargo period no longer than six to twelve months.

Upcoming events

The “Canberra Data Citation Workshop” from ANDS and ANU will be held: Wednesday, 9 April 2014 from 9:15am to 12:30pm in: RG Menzies Building 15, McDonald Room ANU

The workshop is free to attend and will run from 9.30-12.30 (registration open from 9.00). As places are limited, if you register, and then find you can’t attend, please email so we can open up your place to someone on the waitlist. To book click here.

AOASG news

The Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) exists to: Advocate, Collaborate, Raise Awareness and Lead & Build Capacity in open access

The AOASG held a Strategic Planning Day in January, finalising the Constitution, determining Strategic Priorities for 2014 and reworking the Terms of Reference. Click for the full document.

Website –

The AOASG is currently publishing a series on ‘Paying for Publication’ which aims to demystify some of the aspects of payment for publication, beginning with publication costs and a description of the hybrid model. Pages released to date include the cost of hybrid, addressing double dipping, asking if OA funds support hybrid and noting not all hybrid is equal.

The AOASG website undertook a major reconfiguration in later 2013, with a separate section for the FAQ about open access and a cleaned up Resources page (including useful links to information to help with promoting open access, understanding publisher agreements, repositories, open access journals and measurement & metrics)

Additional pages include ‘0pen access policies’ and Resources ‘about open access’.

Twitter – @openaccess_oz

The Twitter account @openaccess_oz celebrated its 500th follower on Twitter just before Christmas and by March this had grown to 565 followers.

Feedback from AOASG followers

Just wanted to send my appreciation for this series. Your OA Support group blog is always a go-to resource as I figure out this work at Florida State. Thanks!  Micah V.

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

AOASG in 2013: That was the year that was

As we wind up towards the end of 2013, it is a good time to reflect on achievements during the inaugural year of the Australian Open Access Support Group.

The formation of the AOASG was announced during OAWk in 2012 in with the commitment of representatives from six universities – the Australian National University, Charles Sturt University, Macquarie University, Newcastle University, Queensland University of Technology and Victoria University. Work commenced in January this year.

Online presence

The AOASG produces resources and information about open access around the world, with a focus on Australia which is published on the website. The 21 posts and 38 webpages include Australian-specific OA lists, information about Australian mandates, downloadable resources for OA advocacy, blogs explaining OA news events and blogs including commentary and observation.

The website has been heavily used with 32,500 views since the site went live in February. The busiest month was October, coinciding with Open Access Week.

The most popular blog has been “So you want people to read your thesis?”   with 2,500 views. With 1500 views, the most used list is Australian OA journals. There has been great interest in blogs about journal editors,  copyright management and altmetrics.

Informing the discussion

One of the goals of the AOASG is to inform the discussion about open access in Australia. To that end, the group prepared a submission to the “Assessing Research Impact” government discussion paper.

This has been a big year for open access in Australia with four universities announcing their open access policies – taking the total number of universities with open access policies to 10 – one quarter of all Australian universities.  Both the ARC and NHMRC open access policies coming into effect. To assist with this implementation the group prepared some information for the AOASG website. These pages have been heavily used with over 2,500 views of the comparison of the policies, the compliance graphic and the policy compliance decision tree. This tree is replicated on the ARC website.

As an Open Access Week event, the AOASG in conjunction with the ANU organised the CEOs of the NHMRC (Professor Warwick Anderson) and the ARC (Professor Adrian Byrne) to meet for a discussion about their policies. This was filmed and is available on You Tube.

It was gratifying that the then Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education invited the AOASG to contribute a feature article to the Australian Innovation System Report 2013 which was published in early November.

Broader impact?

One word that has had been widely used in the research assessment environment in 2013 is ‘impact’. It is worth considering the impact some of AOASG’s work this year. Many of the blogs on the AOASG site have gone on to have lives beyond the website:

Sometimes the impact comes from unexpected places. The AOASG received an email from a director of a communications company in the US thanking us for the blog ‘Shall we sing in CHORUS or just SHARE?’ , saying “I appreciate your effort to look at both initiatives without prejudice and simply to ask the salient questions about their potential weak points. Nicely done and much appreciated!”

A life of their own

One of the resources on the website has gone on to have a life of its own. The decision tree for dealing with the new Australian open access policies has not only had a high number of hits, but the graphic was also
Altered policy decision treenoticed by a collaboration of US & UK open access advocates – SV-POW! who felt that the decision tree did not go far enough. One of them, Mike Taylor* altered the flowchart and reposted it (as the image was released under a CC-BY license this is perfectly fine).  The new flowchart is copied on this page, but the post is here and this new
version was also picked up and blogged in (I think) Indonesia.

(*Thanks Mike for letting us know of your authorship – attribution added 24 December.)

Other communication

Many visitors come to the site directly through clicking the links in posts to the Australian Open Access Community Discussion List. The list has over 230 members coming from a range of backgrounds. The largest group is librarians (72%) – from universities, research institution and government departments. The remainder of the list is filled in equal proportions by researchers, government administration and university administration.

The Twitter feed @openaccess_oz has sent over 1300 tweets to the 500+ followers and is the way 25% of people visiting the website find resources. The statistics for the AOASG website also indicate that over the year approximately 60% of visitors come to the site from search engines, 12% from other blogs and 6% from Facebook (with the remainder from a variety of places).

The AOASG will be exploring new options for communicating with the community in 2014.

Media interest

The AOASG has published articles and blogs in other outlets. Our stories published in The Conversation have been very popular. ‘Busting the top 5 myths about open access’ , published 11 July was viewed over 5000 times. ‘What is open access and why should we care?’ , published on 15 January had nearly 4000 views and the article on the UK sister website – ‘UK’s OA policies have global consequences’ – published 17 September had about 1500 views.

The AOASG has also been interviewed and appeared on television (The Project in January), radio ABC’s AM radio program and in The Australian newspaper. During OAWk Danny Kingsley participated in an online experts forum for The Guardian in the UK.

Face time

The AOASG has been invited to speak at a variety of events during the year ranging from presentations at individual universities, to workshops and presentations to industry meetings – for example, the CPA Researcher summit, Western Australian Group of University Librarians (WAGUL), Australian Association of Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI), and the CAUL Repository Community Days.

The AOASG was also invited to speak at the National Scholarly Communication Forum held in May at ANU and at the Towards Research Excellence summit held in December in Melbourne.

There have also been presentations and workshops at large conferences such as Information Online 2013 in Brisbane in February, the ARMS conference in September in Adelaide, and culminating with the Open Access Research Conference at QUT in October .

All publicly shareable presentations have been pulled together into a page ‘Presentations on OA’.

Looking forward

We end the year welcoming three new members – Curtin University, Griffith University and the University of Western Australia.

The AOASG will meet in January to discuss future directions and strategies to continue this momentum, and look forward to a productive and effective 2014.

Have a relaxing break and thank you for all the support.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group

Reflections on the OAR Conference 2013

The QUT hosted the Open Access and Research Conference 2013 between 31 October – 1 November 2013. The conference was preceded by several half-day Pre-conference workshops on the 30 October.Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 12.55.16 PM

Overall, the conference worked on the theme of Discovery, Impact and Innovation and aimed to provide an opportunity to reflect on the progress of Open Access and to consider the strategic advantages these developments bring to the research sector more generally. A broad spectrum of policy and research management issues were covered including advocacy, open innovation and alternative metrics.

There was a huge amount covered in the two days, and as always the opportunity to meet colleagues face to face after in some cases years of online collaboration was a highlight. The conference was filmed and the video recordings are linked on this page from presentations from Day One and Day Two below. The full program can be downloaded here.

This blog will summarise some of the key messages that emerged from the discussions. A caveat – these are a tiny sample of the whole event. For a bigger perspective see the Twitter feed: #OAR2013conf

Global and National Open Access Developments

The first day focused on Global and National Open Access Developments. The sessions covered the breadth of recent international initiatives.  Key messages are below

  • The current publishing model is not sustainable.

In the future the dominant model of publishing will have the web as the distribution. Managing and controlling a publishing environment of global publishers will be difficult. The ARC cannot be too prescriptive about open access models because it funds across so many domains. – Prof Aidan Byrne | Australian Research Council

  • The public remain depressingly confused about open access.

The web has been around for 20 years, after 10 years of monitoring the debates about open access it became clear that high profile universities in the USA and Europe were not going to take the lead on the policy front.  QUT then started implementing an open access policy in 2003. It took less than a year before it was endorsed by the University Academic Board. Prof Tom Cochrane | Queensland University of Technology

  • It is extremely important to ensure the definition of open access is consistent and includes detail about reuse of material.

Reuse included machine analysis of information. It is difficult to retrospectively add details into policies. It is also very helpful to tie this policy into existing policy platforms. The NIH policy has been extremely successful and more than 2/3 of the users of the research are outside the academy – Developing a Framework for Open Access Policies in the United States
 Heather Joseph | Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, United States

  • Having good open access requires: good policy development, infrastructure to support the open access system and advocacy of the policy.

Despite the gobsmackingly complex area that is European politics, they have managed to pull off the Horizon2020 policy development. The policy is consistent across the European Union and beyond. Part of the reason it succeeded was a huge campaign of 18,000 signatures from the research community. – Open Access Developments in Europe
 Dr Alma Swan | Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, Europe

  • Australia is building real momentum in the open access area.

Now one quarter of Australian institutions have open access policies, there are several open access monograph presses, and both government funding bodies are mandating open access to funded research outputs – Open Access Developments in Australia 
Dr Danny Kingsley | Australian Open Access Support Group

  • Chinese publishers are increasingly ambitious in the international market.

Publication in China is oriented towards evaluation of academia, and is only undertaken by state owned publishers, many enjoying subsidy from the government. There are about 1000 open access journals in China, many with a higher than average impact factor. The centralised platform of 89 institutional repositories called GRID (Chinese Academy of Science IR) – with over 400,000 full text items. – Open Access Developments in China
 Dr Xiang Ren | University of Southern Queensland

  • India is a net importer of knowledge – so open access helps India.

While India is not playing a significant role in open science and scholarship it is addressing ‘open’ issues elsewhere. There is a National Repository for open education, India has adopted the AustLI model for access to legal Acts, there are also interesting developments in the patent space to allow access to cheaper drugs. – Opening India 
Prof Shamnad Basheer | National University of Juridical Sciences, India

  • A good policy requires deposit immediately on acceptance for publication.

This ensures things are deposited and there are ways to allow researchers to have access to papers even during the embargoes. Waiting until the end of an embargo potentially loses use and application during that period – OA: A Short History of the Problem and Its Solution
 Prof Stevan Harnad | University of Southampton, United Kingdom

  • It is good to reach out to communities in their own language.

Open access advocacy in developing countries uses a range of tools, from high level stakeholders and influential researchers through to radio talk shows and actively engaging the community. Tools like usage statistics and live examples have proved successful. Open Access Advocacy in Developing and Transition Countries
 Iryna Kuchma | Electronic Information for Libraries, Ukraine

  • The open and networked web can be exploited to solve complex scientific problems.

For this to work it is important to have research outcomes that are reproducible or repurposable. It requires communicating research to different audiences who have different needs for support and functionality. Currently we do not have the data or models we need to analyse the system of scholarly outputs. We must not lose control of data into proprietary hands. Network Ready Research: Architectures and Instrumentation for Effective Scholarship
 Dr Cameron Neylon | Public Library of Science, United Kingdom

  • Altmetrics are a researcher’s footprint in the community.

They complement traditional metrics and research evaluation. Researchers thinking about a research impact strategy and funding agencies might want to include an impact statement in their Final Reports. – Altmetrics as Indicators of Public Impact
 Pat Loria | Charles Sturt University

Video of presentations from Day One

Open Data, Open Innovation and Open Access Publishing

The second day featured thematic sessions – focusing on specific areas of research and information management necessary to the advancement of Open Access. Specifically Open Data, Open Innovation and Open Access Publishing. Key messages:

  • Having a mandate alone is not enough.

An empty repository is useless, a partly filled repository is partly useless. It doesn’t work spontaneously – there is a need for an institutional policy that must be enforced. The Liege repository has 60,000+ items with 60% full text available – as only articles are mandated. The average number of downloads for items is 61.73. – Perspectives of a Vice-Chancellor Prof Bernard Rentier | University of Liège, Belgium

  • The patent system is supposed to lubricate the system but is increasingly throwing sand into the gears.

Copyright protects expression and patents protect functionality. Strong patents mean people make investments in order for people to convert ideas into product. However there is increasing concern that actual and potential litigation are not just costly but actually inhibiting innovation. The Economics of Open Innovation
 Prof Adam Jaffe | Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, New Zealand

  • Open stuff is useless unless you can translate it to something that means something.

We are no longer moving physical things, we are now moving information through the knowledge space. Because patents are jurisdictional there are many other countries that can use the patented information. The new facility The Lens is a map of the patent world allowing innovators worldwide to access all of the knowledge held in the patent system. “Solving the Problem of Problem Solving”: How Open Access will Shift the Demographics of Innovation to Create a More Fair Society and More Resilient Global Economy.
 Prof Richard Jefferson | Cambia

  • If monographs are behind paywalls when journals are free there is a problem for monographs.

The systems supporting scholarly communication via the monograph are falling down. Under the Knowledge Unlatched model libraries from around the world collaborate to share the publications. This spreads the costs of OA across many institutions globally. It ensures HSS books are accessible as OA journals. Libraries should avoid double dipping – if they were going to buy the titles on the startup list, sign up for KU instead. Knowledge Unlatched
 Dr Lucy Montgomery | Knowledge Unlatched

  • It is not adequate to ignore the humanities and say ‘we will deal with monographs later’

With monographs IP is not about capitalism but it is recompensation for the professional labour of editorial input that is significant and inherent to the quality of the product. The format is not important in policy setting (pixels or print). Ideally there would be a shared infrastructure that everyone can tap into, but this needs startup assistance. Free as in Love: the Humanities and Creative Arts in Open Access Publishing
 Dr John Byron | Book Industry Collaborative Council

  • We need to be thinking of knowledge as a network and an infrastructure – a common intellectual conversation and a quest for knowledge.

At the core scholarly communication is about communicating new knowledge. The default price on items online. The marginal cost of serving one more copy of an article is zero (more or less). The license is the one thing that does not cost anything – the more people reading doesn’t change the first copy costs. The question is how to charge for what actually costs money. There is a need to protect and retain core business but innovate on the non-core processes. Innovation in the Age of Open Access Publishing 
Dr Caroline Sutton | Co-Action Publishing, Sweden

Video of presentations from Day Two

Open Access Publishing – feature article

Earlier in 2013, the then Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education invited the AOASG to contribute a feature article to the Australian Innovation System Report 2013 which was published in early November. Entitled ‘Open Access Publishing’, the feature article by Dr Danny Kingsley appears in Chapter 4: Public Research Capacity and Innovation: University research quality assessment. The text of the article is reproduced here with the kind permission of the Department of Industry.


The full report is downloadable as a pdf here 

Open Access Publishing

Opening up access to publicly funded research outputs has been on an increasing number of political agendas across the world. The issue of unsustainable rising publisher subscription costs to research publications has been flagged since the 1980s. In the intervening period developments in technology such as the advent of the Internet have made the sharing of research outputs both possible and affordable.

Making publicly funded research openly available benefits all of society. The biggest issues the world faces require long term cooperative international research, and research is only effective when other researchers are able to see the outcomes of others’ research. As the total volume and pace of research increases, practitioners in any field need to be able to see the latest (quality assured) findings in order to provide the best service, and unless they have an institutional affiliation, they are unable to do so. Start-up innovation companies need access to research to inform their endeavours. Researchers also benefit from their findings having more exposure. And the taxpayer should be able to look up the latest findings if they wish to, for example to access information about health issues.

The Internet has forever altered the way information is disseminated and accessed. The open access movement has developed databases that specifically allow information to be indexed by search engines, and therefore findable. Called repositories, these can be organised by discipline, for example which caters for the physics community, or can be hosted by an institution as a collection of that institution’s research outputs. Most publishers will allow the author’s final manuscript version of an article to be placed into a repository although sometimes they require it not be made available for a period of time, called an embargo. The benefit of making work available in this way is the researcher is not compelled to alter their publishing choices, although they may tend towards more permissive publishers.

Another development has been the rise of open access journals. These make research freely available to all readers without a subscription. The majority of these journals are run through smaller society publishers using open source software. There are some commercial open access publishers, including Springer and Hindawi. The Public Library of Science is a trailblazer in this field. The multidisciplinary PLOS ONE open access journal launched in December 2006. Within two years it was largest open access journal in the world. In 2010, it was the largest journal in the world (by volume). The OA megajournal business model has been embraced by academic authors, and several other commercial publishers have since launched their own versions. Commercial open access publishers charge an article processing fee at the beginning of the publication process rather than charging a subscription for access. Many regular commercial academic publishers now offer open access options.

Over the past seven years many research funding bodies have made open access to research publications a requirement of funding. In 2006 the Wellcome Trust introduced their open access policy in the UK, followed by the US National Institutes of Health announcing their Public Access Policy in 2008. This trend is increasing exponentially with 2012 seeing the “Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings” from the Finch Group which recommended all UK research be made available in open access journals. In July the European Commission announced that research funded between 2014 and 2020 under the Horizon2020 programme will have to be open access to “give Europe a better return on its €87 billion annual investment in R&D”. In the early months of 2013 the Obama administration in the US has released a policy requiring all US federal agencies to prepare plans to make research available.

Domestically, in 2012 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) announced its revised policy on the dissemination of research findings, effective 1 July 2012. The Australian Research Council (ARC) released its Open Access Policy on 1 January 2013. Both policies require that any publications arising from a funded research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a 12 month period from the date of publication. There are two minor differences between the two policies. The NHMRC relates only to journal articles where the ARC encompasses all publication outputs. In addition, the NHMRC mandate affects all publications as of 1 July 2012, but the ARC will only affect the outputs produced from the research funded in 2013. Researchers are also encouraged to make accompanying datasets available open access.

Both policies require the deposit of work in the originating institution’s open access repository. All universities in Australia host a repository, many of them developed with funds the government provided through the Australian Scheme for Higher Education Repositories (ASHER). This scheme which ran from 2007–2009 was originally intended to assist the reporting requirement for the Research Quality Framework (RQF) research assessment exercise, which became Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). The ASHER program had the aim of “enhancing access to research through the use of digital repositories”.

Repositories in Australia are generally managed by libraries and have been supported by an ongoing organised community. In 2009–2010, the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) established the CAUL Australian Institutional Repository Support Service (CAIRSS) and when central government funding for the service ended, the university libraries agreed to continue the service by supporting it with member contributions. CAIRSS ended in December 2012; however, the email list continues a strong community of practice.

In October 2012 the Australian Open Access Support Group launched, beginning staffed operations in January 2013. The group aims to provide advice and information to all practitioners in the area of open access.

Historically Australia has a strong track record in the area of supporting open access. The Australasian Digital Theses (ADT) program began in 2000 as a system of sharing PhD theses over the Internet. The ADT was a central registry and open access display of theses, which were held in self-contained repositories at each university using a shared software platform that had been developed for the purpose. The first theses were made available in July 2000. In 2011, as all these were then being held in universities’’ institutional repositories, the ADT was decommissioned. It was estimated that the number of full text Australian theses available in repositories at the time was over 30,000.

The Australian government is investing tens of millions of dollars in developing the frameworks to allow Australian researchers to share their data. The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) has responsibility for supporting public access to as much publicly funded research data as can be provided within the constraints of privacy, copyright, and technology. In an attempt to provide a platform for sharing information about data, ANDS has developed a discovery service for data resulting from Australian research, called Research Data Australia, which is a national data registry service meshing searchable web pages that describe Australian research data collections supplementing published research. Records in Research Data Australia link to the host institution, which may (or not) have a direct link to the data.

The work of ANDS reflects the broader government position in Australia of making public data publicly available. The Declaration of Open Government was announced on July 16, 2010. This policy position is in the process of practical implementation across the country, providing access to information about locations of government services, for example. The level of engagement between government areas and different levels of government varies. Another government initiative has been the Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework (AusGOAL) which has an emphasis on open formats and open access to publicly funded information and provides a framework to facilitate open data from government agencies. In addition to providing information and fora for discussion, it has developed a licence suite that includes the Australian Creative Commons Version 3.0 licences.

Open Access Champion 2013 – Open Journal Project

To celebrate Open Access Week 2013, the Australian Open Access Support Group is recognising two ‘Open Access Champions’ – an individual and an organisation.

The Open Access Champion 2013 – Organisation Category has been awarded to the not-for-profit international development organisation Engineers Without Borders Institute’s Open Journal Project.

Julian O’Shea, the Director of the EWB Institute, who is heading up the project, spoke to Danny Kingsley about what has happened in the three months since the AOASG featured a story about the project in July.


In bestowing the Open Access Champion 2013 award the AOASG is recognising the excellent work that Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has been doing to open access to research. The Open Journal Project publishes the Journal of Humanitarian Engineering (JHE)  which is not only open access, but provides easy to understand interpretations of the technical papers, translated into the local language(s) and addresses other issues of accessibility.

This project exemplifies a true commitment to open access in its pure form. The Project has considered all aspects of accessibility, well beyond the first step of simply providing access to the original research. In addition, the stated intention of the Project to act as a stimulus for others to follow the example set further increases the already impressive impact of the Project.

Increasing academic engagement

Since the project launched there has been a great deal of interest, explained Julian. “What is really pleasing is the level of academic interest,” he said.

The EWB have been talking to practitioners in the area of WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene Wash) research. Despite the focus on development, much of this research is still published in closed journals.

“This is probably one of the most important groups for development practice”, he explained. “But even people who would like to be out in the open publish in closed journals”.

The group has been offering them the opportunity to publish in the JHE. And to increase interest, the EWB have started discussions with organisers of the international WASH conference being held next year in Australia. The JHE is intending to publish a WASH-themed issue at the same time.

“The conference brings together leading academics and practitioners in WASH, so we will be using this as a platform to showcase our relatively young journal,” said Julian. “We want to build a network of the WASH and to formalise this as another opportunity to publish”.

The project is also looking to engage researchers in many of the countries where the humanitarian work is being conducted.  “We are looking at opportunities for them to publish”, said Julian.

The Project has considered the issue of different academic standards in different countries. “If you apply a fixed standard to your journal you are ruling out many parts of the world that do not have that experience,” he said. “English is the primary language of our journal”.

Many people who work in the area of humanitarian engineering may not have higher education degrees and may not have done formal academic writing. “If English is their second language we are happy to provide people in international research who can support and collaborate on the work”, said Julian. This is an open invitation, he explained, noting the journal is still a peer-reviewed journal committed to academic and technical rigour. “Their ideas have no less merit to their work but they do face academic hurdles”.

Sharing the message in the community

The target audience for the journal’s articles are practitioners in the field in developing countries. “What we have found is the idea that something is on the web so therefore it can be accessed is a bit of a stretch”, explained Julian. The EWB have a program which is a design challenge for Australian students – to come up with research outcomes that can be more readily understood.

“They make plain language guides rather than just the 10 page article,” he said. “So part of the process is we have readable understandable summaries of the research.”

The EWB are also planning to start spreading the word in person. “As of next year we will be disseminating these outcomes in country,” he said. “Because we have a network of people in country, with our local partners we will be holding local workshops targeting the groups we know about and share in person about what some of these outcomes have been”.

The group hopes to run some workshops in Nepal, one on water and one on energy. This will be using a human connection. “We can’t underestimate that,” said Julian. “Sharing in person makes it a lot more real. We will be working on the networks within their communities that spread the word”.

This AOASG award is not the only recognition the project has had. It was shortlisted for the World Youth Summit awards which recognises ICT and technology solutions addressing poverty alleviation. “We were the only program nominated from Australia”, explained Julian.

Future plans

The Project continues to innovate, with a summer project planned. “A student will develop a technology solution that converts an academic paper’s pdf or preprint into a low bandwidth version”, explained Julian.

The EWB are hoping to be able to automate the conversion, to allow the process to be scaled up across whole journals. “We expect to have a prototype by early next year that will enable editors and publishers to have a version that is low bandwidth friendly,” he said. “So these can be accessed in the developing world where downloading a pdf can be a technical challenge – this will give practitioners more scope to download. The outcome of the project will be open source so it can be shared.

Julian and the EWB team are brimming with ideas, but time is an issue as the Open Journal Project is just one of the projects currently running. Julian would like to develop a resource pack for editors and publishers to help them with these access issues. “It could help them with the change from one type of licensing to other”, he said.  “That would make it more of a movement.”

Open Access Champion 2013 – Alex Holcombe

To celebrate Open Access Week 2013, the Australian Open Access Support Group is recognising two ‘Open Access Champions’ – an individual and an organisation.

The Open Access Champion 2013 – Individual Category – has been awarded to Associate Professor Alex O. Holcombe, who is a psychologist studying human visual perception and visual attention. He is based in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney. Alex spoke to Danny Kingsley about his interest in open access and how he is spreading the message.

The realisation that there were flaws with the scholarly communication system started during Alex’s PhD when he began publishing in academic journals. “It was hard not to notice the many closed aspects of the process,” he said. “Research is supposed to be well documented but it is published without raw data and often the article is behind paywalls”.

But the issues Alex identified were broader than just access challenges. During meetings of journal clubs – where PhD students bring in articles for discussions – inevitably people came up with criticisms even for articles published in Nature or Science. “Yet there was no indication of any weaknesses in the paper,” explained Alex. “The group often were left wondering ‘how did this get past peer review?’”.

There was no way for others to point out errors in already published papers. Alex and his colleagues concluded this system cannot be the future of communication if these problems are being swept under the rug.

During his postdoctoral fellowship Alex began his advocacy, submitting with a colleague a letter to Nature “Improving science through online commentary” which was published in May 2003 (the paper can be downloaded from here).  The pair also contacted the director of PubMed, which was not able to add this capability at the time.

When Alex became a lecturer in Cardiff, Wales, “PLOS had just started and they were thinking of starting PLOS One, they sent a survey around to test the waters”. Alex joined the founding advisory board, and watched PLoS ONE grow to become the largest journal in the world.

Australian advocacy

Alex has been in Australia for the last seven years and became an Australian citizen last week. His activities in the open access arena has ranged from writing articles for The Conversation to blogging, advocating at professional meetings and universities, and working on new open-access scientific journal initiatives. “I have seen how the movement has gained steam”, he said.

Alex shares the difficulty most open access advocates face: “It is hard to get the academic community involved,” he said. “Most people don’t give a thought to open access”.

One solution is to jump on newsworthy items that engage academics. Alex has made several presentations to his colleagues about open access. The Australian Research Council mandate has proven to be a good excuse to have conversations about open access in the university because researchers need to know about it. Another way of spreading the message is engaging people in casual conversation.

But Alex thinks the big boon for open access has been the rise in social media because it allows a continuing dialogue around “meta-issues that aren’t normally discussed outside the pub. These are backchannels cutting across academic disciplines that we didn’t have when we started”.

He also notes that The Conversation has been a great development in Australia. The information authors receive means “I know people are reading it, and not just academics”, he said. Comments on articles are made by academics, doctors and business people. One example is a small solar technology company that needs access to engineering journals.

Future projects

Alex continues to work towards a more effective scientific communication system. One new project he is involved in is the “Registered Replication Reports” (RRR) project where he is taking an editorial role. This is a new and open-access type of article in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the peak organisation in scientific psychology.

“In psychology research there are many disputed findings and people want to know if the findings will replicate,” he explained. But in the current system, it is difficult to publish negative findings such as non-replications.

The new RRR replication process begins with a submission of a proposal for an experiment that should be replicated. If the associated research is deemed important to replicate, a replication protocol is developed in conjunction with the original author.

The entire protocol – the exact series of steps involved in the experiments – is then announced prior to any collection of data.  Such preregistration often required for clinical trials to protect against bias in reporting the eventual results. But this process is only beginning to reach other types of research. Every step is documented on the Open Science Framework website with all raw data posted on the site. Commentary is encouraged, and “if it is important enough it will be published in the pages of the journal”, he said.

The project is a world-wide effort. “The first one has 27 labs across the world participating,” he said. “We have 27 datasets coming in”. The project promises to publish the results as a summary of the big experiment in the journals, with all the contributors are co-authors.

Alex is hoping that as people see this replication data it will push the broader open access message because people will see the value of making the raw data publicly available.

“To further open research we need policy changes, plus education, plus cultural change,” said Alex. “Cultural change is furthered by sharing positive examples”. This is the philosophy behind a second project in which Alex is currently involved, called “Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices”.

These badges will appear alongside articles in journals to acknowledge researchers sharing their materials, their data, and preregistering their methods., “Individual journals can decide to participate by awarding the badges to any articles they publish that meet the criteria”, he said. The project will be launched in Open Access Week and is led by the Center for Open Science.

ARC & NHMRC OAWk panel discussion

In celebration of Open Access Week, the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) and the Australian National University (ANU) invited the Chief Executive Officers of the two government funding agencies to a panel discussion about their open access policies.

Professor Aidan Byrne, CEO of the Australian Research Council (ARC), and Professor Warwick Anderson, CEO of the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) spoke about their open access policies, and then participated in a Q&A session that was moderated by ANU Vice Chancellor, Professor Ian Young.

The session was recorded and is available on the ANU You Tube Channel  (see below for time stamps of different parts of the recording). The slides and an audio recording are also available (note the recording goes for the whole event but there were only slides from Professor Anderson’s presentation).


Summary of the discussion

The presentations covered the broader international open access landscape and how much this has changed in the past year. Both Professor Anderson and Professor Byrne discussed how, given the speed of change in scholarly communication, it is almost impossible to know what the open access agenda will look like in five years time. For this reason, neither the NHMRC nor the ARC wish to be prescriptive about how to implement their policies.

The presentations underlined that neither policy advocates a particular method of achieving open access, or specifically requires payment for open access. However, the NHMRC considers the cost of publishing journal articles a legitimate Direct Cost of Research, and the ARC is progressively removing the caps on the percentage of research funds that can be used for publication.

One of the questions that arose was the issue of monitoring compliance to the policies. Both organisations are working on the premise that as researchers make their work open access they will see the benefit of having work available. Professor Anderson noted the NHMRC’s Research Grant Management System now allows Chief Investigators to list publications linked to grants and these will be checked next year. While there are no current plans to withhold future grants from researchers that do not comply with the policies, this could become the case into the future.

More than one researcher noted the challenges with making creative works, or culturally sensitive research freely available. Professor Byrne reiterated that these were examples of why the ARC was not expecting 100% compliance to their policy.

Time points during the recording:

(Note: 2:34 means 2 minutes and 34 seconds into the recording etc)

2:34 – Professor Anderson’s presentation on the NHMRC policy

20:24 – Professor Byrne’s presentation on the ARC policy

28:48 – Question session begins

28.54 – The first question referred to elements of image copyright in particular in the visual arts, given this is an area where people rely on the images for their livelihood

30:49 – The second person asked if there were particular things we should be doing in Australia to comply with the policies and whether we should be positioning ourselves in terms of the international context?

34:36 – This question referred to issues of monitoring compliance, and asked about the tagging proposal from CAUL for harvesting articles and where that proposal is going

40:00 – There was a statement about Australia being a leader in open access monographs

40:26 – A technical question followed about grant applications and asked how compliant researchers had to be in their applications

43:21 – This was a discussion about the dissemination of culturally sensitive research materials

46:36 – The question related to data, and noted that the policies have been shaped and informed by changed expectations of an open society but how have they been shaped and formed by processes in government to make data more open for the taxpayers?

49:01 – The question referred to the cost associated with publication, in particular when groups are disadvantaged because they do not have the resources to come up with the page charges to publish

57:40 – The final question asked about where the country is going in terms of major infrastructure for research