Identifying publishing outlets that follow best practice

Andy Pleffer provides advice  on deciding where to publish, based on Macquarie University’s approach 

checklist-1402461_1920There are two sides to the proverbial open access coin. Heads: the open access movement has produced many high quality, peer-review publications designed to make research accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Tails: the adoption of quasi-open access models appeals to new publishers seeking to set up journals with little-to-no standards for quality—where publications are at best a waste of effort, and at worst damaging to your career.

Sarah Beaubien and Max Eckhard (Grand Valley State University) addressed this tension through their seminal piece on Open Access Journal Quality Indicators, which has subsequently been adopted and promulgated by many other US institutions. And rightfully so, as the article champions three principles that are crucial to identifying best practice approaches to publishing academic research:

  1. On each occasion you are looking to publish your research, each outlet you consider should be evaluated on its own merits.
  2. There is no single criterion that will always reliably indicate high or low quality.
  3. Informed decisions occur when a series of tried and trusted criteria cumulate to reveal either a net positive or negative result.

At Macquarie University, we determined that the overarching theme uniting these three principles is due diligence. By providing enough guiding information on concerns in the current publishing landscape, we aim to enable researchers in developing your own sense of quality and, ultimately, empowering you to become self-sufficient in critiquing potential outlets for your scholarly research.We aim for advice that  is:

  • focused on the big picture
  • simple to understand
  • adaptable to different contexts (or disciplines), and
  • experiential, in that its value builds through repeated application.

As a researcher, selecting appropriate venues is an investment in your own currency. When you have invested many months or years thoroughly researching and writing your scholarly work, the end goal should be to maximise the return on your investment: to gain exposure, engagement and influence with your research. The most successful investments are built on a wise strategy, and a wise research publication strategy is informed by a sound understanding of best practice.

We call this “strategic publishing”. Designed in consultation with academics and senior administrators, these guidelines address four key themes in best practice publishing: relevance, reputation, visibility and validity. In summary, your chosen outlet must be:

  • relevant to your field of research to guarantee it will target an appropriate audience
  • considered reputable to those in your research community
  • visible and easy to access for your research to be read, and
  • characterised by ethical and valid publishing practices.

Underpinned by evidence, this approach is characterised by investigating and responding to checklists of tried and trusted criteria in order to determine a net result—one that can be compared and contrasted across myriad outlets. Other great resources that resonate and harmonise with this method include the Think Check Submit checklist, the SHERPA/RoMEO database of copyright and self-archiving policies, and the joint peak body initiative on Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.

Times change. Individual outlets and publishers come and go: some change hands; some change policies. Places are exchanged on editorial boards, while metrics and rankings designed to gauge quality publication outlets are only applicable to specified time periods.

Do not risk the currency of your research on complacency or guesswork. Have a well-defined publishing strategy, monitor its impact and adapt it as necessary. By doing your due diligence and associating your work with outlets that follow best practice approaches to publishing, you will be placing yourself in a much better position to grow the reach of your research.

Dr Andy Pleffer manages research data projects and develops resources for researchers at Macquarie University, Sydney.

Macquarie University is a member of AOASG.




AOASG response to Productivity Commission Intellectual Property Arrangements, Draft report

aoasgAOASG response to Productivity Commission Intellectual Property Arrangements, Draft report

Prepared by Dr Virginia Barbour, Executive Director, on behalf of the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group, (AOASG), June 2, 2016

General comments

The AOASG ( welcomes the Productivity Commission report. We limit our response to Chapter 15: IP and Public Institutions, though we note the comment on p4 that “Open access repositories can further assist in the dissemination of ideas generated through publicly‑funded initiatives.”, which we agree with for all outputs of research.

We particularly welcome:

DRAFT Recommendation 15.1

“All Australian, and State and Territory Governments should implement an open access policy for publiclyfunded research

We also believe there is an opportunity with this report to bring some clarity to the issues surrounding copyright and license as applied to research outputs.

Specific comments

Page 401

Paragraph entitled “Key points”


The dissemination of research findings does not have to be limited by IP applied on the work that it reports.

We agree that journals remain an important mechanism of dissemination, but they are now just one part of a rapidly evolving ecosystem of publishing and the same issues apply to all outlets for dissemination of research, and which include not just research articles but also data, code, software, etc.

Copyright per se does not limit dissemination – it is the retention of copyright, coupled with restrictive licenses as applied by subscription publishers that limit dissemination. We feel it is essential to separate out these two issues.

Page 404

Paragraph beginning “The key relevant questions for this inquiry relate to:

  • where the IP system frustrates the achievement of the underlying goal for public funding
  • changes to the IP system that would accentuate the benefits of such public funding.


For scholarly publishing we already have the tools to hand to ensure that authors retain rights to and get credit for their work while allowing for maximum dissemination. The two tools required are proper application of copyright in conjunction with Creative Commons Licenses.

However, the current inconsistent and largely publisher-driven application of these tools does “frustrate the achievement of the underlying goal for public funding”.

This is to be expected when publishers are operating under a subscription model. In this situation the long term practice has been to require the transfer of copyright to journals, and also require that restrictive licenses agreements are signed.

However, restriction of author rights is not now limited to subscription publications.  For articles that are apparently open access, Elsevier, for example, requires that authors grant Elsevier an exclusive license ( to publish for article published under a CC BY license (intended to be the most liberal of the licenses). This is direct contradiction of both the spirit and the letter of the Creative Commons license (

Furthermore, a number of publishers are seeking to assert rights over earlier versions of articles, an area where they have no jurisdiction. Rights being asserted include requirements for citation of articles to which a preprint may relate This is an example of a meaningless and probably unenforceable requirement, but which may nonetheless have a stifling effect on authors seeking to share research before formal publication.

Page 405

Paragraph beginning “A major mechanism for diffusion of ideas is through academic journals”


The models of dissemination of scholarly outputs are changing very substantially and though journals remain at the core, as above we note that there are other important mechanisms now such as preprint servers, repositories (for data as well as for research manuscripts) etc. Despite the diverse array of outputs and their routes of dissemination the issue in relation to IP are largely the same.

  • Copyright needs to remain with the generators of the work (if work is not owned by the Government or is otherwise in the public domain);
  • Generators of work must be credited for that work;
  • Licenses applied to the work should maximize its discoverability, dissemination and reuse.

Copyright does not per se limit reuse, but it will do if coupled with restrictive licenses. For example, an author may retain copyright but grant an exclusive license to a journal which could then restrict reuse (see above); conversely an author may assign copyright to another body (e.g. their institution) but if that is coupled with a non-exclusive license that allows reuse, dissemination is not impeded.

We therefore suggest that the Commission separates out the issues of copyright and licenses and makes the following recommendations

  1. Authors (or their institutions) should retain copyright to research outputs.
  2. Outputs should be licensed under the most appropriate, usually the least restrictive, internationally accepted license from Creative Commons, preferably CC BY.
  3. Publisher-specific licenses, even supposedly “open access” ones such as those from Elsevier (, should not be supported as they lead to further confusion.
  4. These terms should apply to all research outputs wherever they are stored and wherever they are in the lifecycle of the research including but not limited to; preprint, author’s accepted manuscript, published article, data etc.

Page 406

Page beginning Copyright for publically funded research


We believe copyright over research articles should not be mixed up with IP rights over the subject of the research itself. In particular, copyright itself, whether held by authors or publishers, does not limit the visibility or accessibility or reusability of articles or associated data. What does limit accessibility and reusability is the license associated with those works (see above) and which was previously most commonly denoted as “All rights reserved”

With the technology now available to us, the role of copyright has changed. As Jan Velterop said in 2005, ( “copyright can [now] be used for what it is meant to in science, not to make the articles artificially scarce and in the process restrict their distribution, but instead, to ensure that their potential for maximum possible dissemination can be realised”

Page 407

Paragraph beginning “universities and some publishers”


The fact that universities are able to provide access to journals may be seamless, but it is at great cost. In fact the vast majority of research journals require a subscription. In 2014, Australian universities paid AUD 221 million (data from the Council of Australian University Librarians, CAUL) for access to electronic journals. While it is true that open access journals are increasing, currently they remain in the minority and the proportion of work that is fully open access is around 12-15%, though many more articles are free to access at some point.

Page 407

Paragraph beginning “Recognising that further incentives”


This is indeed a hugely active area of policy development globally. It is clear that there is a number of different approaches to open access, with some countries favouring it via journals primarily (e.g. the UK and most recently the Netherlands) and others such as the US and Australia approaching it via the route of repositories – usually institutional. What is currently unclear, however, is the copyright and license status of much of the material within institutional repositories and this has led to difficulties in promoting seamless dissemination via these venues.

Page 408

Paragraph beginning “A similar trend”


We agree that there is no one policy now covering all publicly funded research and we therefore support Recommendation 15.1 on page 409. We particularly welcome the insightful comment on page 409 that precedes it: “It is important when crafting policy in relation to open access to delineate exactly what is meant by the term” As noted above, the interchangeable use of phrases open access and free access, without clear indication of what these terms mean with regard to copyright and licenses has led to much confusion among authors in particular. We would urge caution therefore in the use of these terms, including in this recommendation. We do not recommend the development of different policies at national, state and territory levels. Rather, we believe the opportunity should be taken to craft one overarching policy that is applicable nationally.

Page 408

Paragraph beginning “encouragement of different ways”


We welcome the recognition that new models of publishing will need to be supported and that funds must be allocated for this purpose as the transition occurs. However, a fundamental aim of a transition to new publishing models must be that costs are lowered. Schimmer and colleagues ( have modelled this (via the “flipping” of journals from subscription to open access for three countries, including Germany. Whether this can be replicated elsewhere remains to be seen. It is not yet clear the flipping projects will reduce costs over a sustained period if pricing decisions remain in the hands of the established vendors. What will be crucially important is the encouragement of a diversity of publishing models from a variety of players, not just the five large publishers ( who currently dominate scholarly publishing.

Furthermore, such innovation and openness should be specifically rewarded – not just “treated neutrally” as on the bottom of page 408.

AOASG May 2016 Newsletter: Australian Productivity Commission & US VP on OA; OA week theme & what “open” really means

17 May 2016: in this month’s newsletter

What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing in AU & NZ
What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing globally
Upcoming events in OA & scholarly publishing
OA week is back!
Recent writing & resources on OA


What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing in AU & NZ

The Productivity Commission of the Australian Government issued its Draft Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements.

One of its recommendations was:
“15.1 All Australian, and State and Territory Governments should implement an open access policy for publicly-funded research. The policy should provide free access through an open access repository for all publications funded by governments, directly or through university funding, within 12 months of publication. The policy should minimise exemptions. The Australian Government should seek to establish the same policy for international agencies to which it is a contributory funder, but which still charge for their publications, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.” 

Among a range of other comments was this: it is “important when crafting policies relating to open access to delineate exactly what is meant by the term.”

The report garnered a lot of positive comment, internationally, including from TechDirt – “the Productivity Commission, released one of the most amazing reports on copyright that you’ll see out of a government body.”

Responses are invited by June 3, 2016.

A second consultation is on Data Availability and Use for which an issues paper was released on 18 April  to assist anyone wanting to prepare a submission to the public inquiry. It outlines a range of issues about which the Commission is seeking information. Initial submissions are due by Friday 29 July 2016. Further comment will be sought upon release of the draft report in November 2016.

An International Alliance of Research Library Associations, including CAULendorsed an Accord on Open Data

Richard White, the University of Otago’s copyright officer, took a look at the recent revelations about Sci-Hub usage (see more below).

Jane McCredie at the Medical Journal of Australia wrote on OA in this blog: Open access, the modern dilemma.

What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing globally

US Vice-Presidential support for open access
In speech to the AACR US Vice-President Joe Biden  came out strongly in support of OA, data sharing and collaboration as part of the $1 billion Cancer Moonshot initiative. SPARC reported on this here.

How do researchers access scholarly publications?
There was even more discussion about Sci-Hub following an article in Science  (Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone). along with a feature on its founder and a responsefrom the Editor-in-Chief of Science.

To continue the theme of the ways in which academics access research, a paper which surveyed how students access the resources they need found only one in five obtain all resources legally.

Creative Commons and rights statements
Ryan Merkely, CEO of Creative Commons, wrote in ForbesYou Pay to Read Research You Fund. That’s Ludicrous.  And in the courts, a judgement (Court Correctly Interprets Creative Commons Licenses) on Creative Commons was hailed as an important  interpretation of the issues. – an initiative of Europeana and the Digital Public Library of America – announced the provision of 11 standardized rights statements for online cultural heritage.

Meetings on open scholarship

The European Union Presidency Conference on Open Science  was held on April 4 and 5. The conference preamble noted that “Open Science is a key priority of the Dutch Presidency. The Netherlands [who hold the presidency currently] is committed to open access to scientific publications and the best possible re-use of research data, and it would like to accelerate the transition this requires.” The output of that conference was the  Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science,  which feedback was solicited on (the AOASG gave feedback  on this). The final version of this document is not yet released. The draft document proposed ambitious goals around open access and data sharing and reuse in science, ie:
Two pan-European goals for 2020
  • Full open access for all scientific publications.
  • A fundamentally new approach towards optimal reuse of research data.
 Two flanking policies
  • New assessment, reward and evaluation systems. ‘
  • Alignment of policies and exchange of best practices.
There were then twelve concrete actions proposed as a result of these goals.
Danny Kingsley reported on the first OSI workshop in this blog Watch this space.

The Force 11 meeting covered many forward looking discussions. A specifically interesting one was reported here Working Beyond Borders: Why We Need Global Diversity in Scholarly Communications

Policy and more
JISC in the UK outlined released its OA Publisher Compliance document.

A paper defending hybrid journals by the Publishers Association triggered a strong response from RLUK.

COAR and UNESCO issued a Statement on Open Access, responding to European initiatives focused on gold OA. They note: “This statement highlights a number of issues that need to be addressed by organizations during the large-scale shift from subscription-based to Open access mode of publishing”

News from OA publishers
The DOAJ announced it had removed more than 3000 journals from its database for failing reapply by the deadline. This is part of a long-term project to curate the DOAJ list of journals.

Two new manuscript submissions systems for open access publishing  were launched. From eLife there was Continuum, a new open-source tool for publishing and from the PLOS journals, Aperta was launched on PLOS Biology. In other journal newsCanadian Science Publishing announced the launch of FACETS, Canada’s first and only multidisciplinary open access science journal.

An analysis of two publishers, Springer Open  and de Gruyter,  have shown that they are developing a model whereby institutions sponsor a journal, that then has no article processing charge for authors.

OA papers and data in particle physics 
In news from CERN, the SCOAP3 initiative was extended for three more years and CERN put 300TB of data from the Large Hadron Collider online.

Costs of publishing now more transparent than ever
More and more data on costs in publishing are being released, with  the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) publishing its Publication Cost Data 2015

In the annual Periodicals Price Survey 2016 the authors  found an “average e-journal package price increase of 5.8% to 6.3%, down slightly from last year’s average of 6.6%. this year’s feature examines pricing for 18,473 unique titles, our largest sample to date. Increasing the sample makes the results more reliable”

Preprints and their place in scholarly communication are a hot topic for discussion. Hilda Bastian dissected some of the issues in her blog, Breaking Down Pros and Cons of Preprints in Biomedicine – where she also draws the cartoons.

But in further new of their increasing acceptability, Crossrefannounced that members will soon be able to assign Crossref DOIs to preprints.

Growth of OA
Heather Morrison continues her excellent  regular summary, Dramatic Growth of Open Access  with a March 31, 2016 update. More controversially, she noted that Elsevier is now the worlds largest publisher of OA journals (by number of journals) which is prompted discussion on twitter about what that really means for OA .

The COAR annual meeting had a theme of The Role of Collaboration in Building a Global Knowledge Commons. Following the meeting, COAR announced a new initiative – the COAR Next Generation Repositories Project “to position repositories as the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication, on top of which layers of value added services will be deployed, thereby transforming the system, making it more research-centric, open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.”

Book publishing

The HathiTrust Research Center announced that it had expanded its services to support computational researchon the entire collection of one of the world’s largest digital libraries, held by HathiTrust.

And finally… prizes!
In Phase I of the Open Science Prize, an initiative from the Wellcome Trust, US National Institutes of Health and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, six winning teams received prizes of $80,000 to develop their prototypes. Winners included MyGene2: Accelerating Gene Discovery with Radically Open Data Sharing, a collaboration between researchers at the University of Washington, United States, and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney.

Want more OA news?

We can’t cover everything here! For daily email updates the best ways to keep up to date is the Open Access Tracking Project. Our Twitter account has posts throughout each day and our curated newsfeed on the website is updated daily.

The newsletter archive provides snapshots of key issues throughout the year.

Upcoming events in OA & scholarly publishing

11th Annual Conference on Open Repositories takes place at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) from the 13th – 16th June 2016.

The theme for this years’ aaDHDigital Humanities Australasia Conference in Hobart, 20-23 June  is  “Working with Complexity“.

Open Con will be on 12-14 November in Washington, DC, with satellite events hosted around the world. From the website Open Con describes itself as  “a platform for the next generation to learn about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data, develop critical skills, and catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information—from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital research data.”

OASPA’s 8th Conference on OA Scholarly Publishing (COASP) will be on 21st & 22nd September, 2016. at Westin Arlington Gateway, Virginia.

OA week is back!

SPARC has announced that the theme for this year’s 9th International Open Access Week, to be held October 24-30, will be “Open in Action.” Details below.

International Open Access Week has always been about action, and this year’s theme encourages all stakeholders to take concrete steps to make their own work more openly available and encourage others to do the same. From posting pre-prints in a repository to supporting colleagues in making their work more accessible, this year’s Open Access Week will focus on moving from discussion to action in opening up our system for communicating research.

Established by SPARC and partners in the student community in 2008, International Open Access Week is an opportunity to take action in making openness the default for research—to raise the visibility of scholarship, accelerate research, and turn breakthroughs into better lives. This year’s Open Access Week will be held from October 24ththrough the 30th; however, those celebrating the week are encouraged to schedule local events whenever is most suitable during the year.

The “Open in Action” theme will also highlight the researchers, librarians, students, and others who have made a commitment to working in the open and how that decision has benefitted them—from researchers just starting their careers to those at the top of their field.

Recent writing & resources on OA

The Open Access Directory listing of social medial sites about OA has been updated and revised. You can help improve it by suggesting edits.

In Fifty shades of open Jeffrey Pomerantz and Robin Peek take  an entertaining and highly informative trip through “open” everything – from open beer and puppies to open code and open access

Rights statements for cultural heritage

Julia Hickie writes on the importance of the newly released Right Statements

rightsThe much-anticipated has just been released. It provides 11 standard rights statements to identify the copyright status of an item, and when there are extra restrictions or exceptions to re-use. It’s been developed with cultural heritage in mind but definitely extends to the research sector.

From the blog post:

“There are three categories of rights statements: Statements for works that are in copyright, statements for works that are not in copyright, and statements for works where the copyright status is unclear. The statements provide users with easy to understand, high-level information about the copyright and re-use status of digital objects.”

Like Creative Commons, is human and machine readable. There are citable URLs that can be included in metadata records. This is just the kind of URL that would go in the <license_ref> field proposed in last year’s NISO Access and License Indicators Recommended Practice. That’s the really exciting part for Trove as we hope to one day use this metadata, alongside CC licences, to power a ‘Rights’ facet.

I’m imagining a bright future where a researcher couldn’t be convinced to use a CC licence but was happy for educational use and so included one of these statements with their publication. A teacher then does a search restricted to articles that are ok for re-use in an educational context, and that article comes up.

Or even those specially digitised collections, where we will have one day added these statements and users will understand that the fact that knowing that copyright has expired is not enough.

The 11 statements are:

  • In Copyright
  • In Copyright – EU-Orphan work
  • In Copyright – Educational use permitted
  • In Copyright – Non-commerical use permitted
  • In Copyright – rights holders unlocatable or unidentifiable
  • No Copyright – Contractual restrictions
  • No copyright – Non-commercial use only
  • No copyright – other known legal restrictions
  • No copyright – United States
  • Copyright not evaluated
  • No known copyright

You can read more about on the Digital Public Library of America’s blog

Julia Hickie is the Co-Assistant Director, Trove, National Library of Australia


AOASG response to Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science

The EUNL Conference on Open Science, convened during the Netherland’s presidency of the EU, last week proposed ambitious goals around open access and data sharing and reuse in science.

These are listed below – and at the bottom is the AOASG response, which is included on this public page along with other comments

Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science

There are two pan-European goals for 2020

  1. Full open access for all scientificpublications.This requires leadership and can be accelerated through new publishing models and compliance with standards set.
  2. A fundamentally new approach towards optimal reuse of research data.Data sharing and stewardship is the default approach for all publicly funded research. This requires definitions, standards and infrastructures.

Two flanking policies

To reach these goals by 2020 we need flanking policy:

  1. New assessment, reward and evaluation systems. New systems that really deal with the core of knowledge creation and account for the impact of scientific research on science and society at large, including the economy, and incentivise citizen science.
  2. Alignment of policies and exchange of best practices. Practices, activities and policies should be aligned and best practices and information should be shared. It will increase clarity and comparability for all parties concerned and to achieve joint and concerted actions. This should be accompanied by regular monitoring-based stocktaking.

Twelve action items with concrete actions to be taken

Twelve action items have been included in this Call for Action. They all contribute to the transition towards open science and have been grouped around five cross-cutting themes that follow the structure of the European Open Science Agenda as proposed by the European Commission. This may help for a quick-start of the Open Science Policy Platform that will be established in May 2016. Each action item contains concrete actions that can be taken immediately by the Member States, the European Commission and the stakeholders:

Removing barriers to open science
1. Change assessment, evaluation and reward systems in science
2. Facilitate text and data mining of content
3. Improve insight into IPR and issues such as privacy
4. Create transparency on the costs and conditions of academic communication

Developing research infrastructures
5. Introduce FAIR and secure data principles
6. Set up common e-infrastructures

Fostering and creating incentives for open science
7. Adopt open access principles
8. Stimulate new publishing models for knowledge transfer
9. Stimulate evidence-based research on innovations in open science

Mainstreaming and further promoting open science policies
10. Develop, implement, monitor and refine open access plans

Stimulating and embedding open science in science and society
11. Involve researchers and new users in open science
12. Encourage stakeholders to share expertise and information on open science


AOASG response to Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science

Submitted on behalf of Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG  by Virginia Barbour

General comments:

We welcome the initiative being taken by the EU on open science.

Like other commentators, we would urge the consideration that these principles should apply to all of forms of scholarly outputs across all disciplines, not just science.

Specific comments below:

We recognize the need for global, not just pan-European collaboration on many of these action items, in particular for action items1.  Change assessment, evaluation and reward systems in science and also item 6. Set up common e-infrastructures

  1. Changing the reward system, to incentivize openness and sharing is the core to any wholesale transformation of scholarly communication towards openness. This change needs to happen not just at the level of individual departments or institutions or even countries, but needs to be truly international and become part of the assessment of institutions, not just individual academics. For example, many of the current university league tables are heavily reliant on the publishing as it exists now. Unless alternatives are available there will not be any substantial buy in globally.

6. Common infrastructure will underpin whether or not openness fulfils its promise. Rather than common “e-infrastructures” it may be better phrased as common international standards which facilitate inter-operability, reuse, citability, reproducibility and linking. Without interoperable structures globally we risk repeating the current situation with silos of open research outputs, rather than silos of closed outputs, as we have now. We note that in the detailed explanation of this point  the need is  stated to “Align practices in Europe and beyond” and we urge that this is considered early in any developments.

We believe further clarification of the intentions and extent of the recommendations around items 2, 3 and 5 are needed. Specifically, text and data mining rights should be extended to research publications as well as data. Furthermore, reuse should extend to other uses beyond TDM.

7. and 8. We very much support the stated intentions to “Provide a framework for developing new publishing models” and “Encourage the development of publishing models that provide free access for readers/users.” We suggest that the publication in such new models should be specifically rewarded under any new incentive structures that are developed.

AOASG April 2016 newsletter

In this month’s newsletter

What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing in AU & NZ
What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing globally
Has academic publishing reached its Napster moment?
Are funders of OA getting good value for money?
Upcoming events in OA & scholarly publishing
Recent writing & resources on OA

What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing in AU & NZ

It was Open Data Day on March 5 and as part of that the Queensland Government Science Division of the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation highlighted a number of data sets that are available for use and re-use through the Queensland Government Open Data Portal,

In an article for the Conversation, Roxanne Missingham from ANU discussed the cost of textbooks and how an open access model could be the answer.

Linda O’Brien from Griffith University  highlighted the need for access to research to support the Australian government’s Innovation and Science Australia agenda.

What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing globally

March 7-11 was Open Education Week . A nice visualisation of initiatives is shownhere. One specific one worth calling out is Poland’s national program of open textbooks.

An analysis written for the Smithsonian Institution on The impact of open access on galleries, libraries, archives, and museums concluded that “A strengthened institutional brand, increased use and dissemination of collections, and increased funding opportunities have been some of the benefits associated with open-access initiatives.”

The Open Library of the Humanities expanded with all eleven sites of the University of California Library system joining its Library Partnership Subsidy scheme.

Knowledge Unlatched launched a new German branch and announced it will be scaling up more in 2016.


The European Union Presidency Conference on Open Science kicks off on April 4. The conference preamble notes that “Open Science is a key priority of the Dutch Presidency. The Netherlands [who hold the presidency currently] is committed to open access to scientific publications and the best possible re-use of research data, and it would like to accelerate the transition this requires.”

The follow up to the Berlin 12 meeting was launched in March. The initiative, called OA2020 has as its aim “the swift, smooth and scholarly-oriented transformation of today’s scholarly journals from subscription to open access publishing.”  The site is worth looking at with its suggestion of the steps needed for such a transition, which include crucially “a better understanding of publishing output and cost distribution.” Thus far theexpression of interest has 39 signatories, most from Europe.

Meanwhile, it seems that France is heading towardsgreen open access

The UK’s HEFCE OA policy began on 1st April 2016. The policy requires that to be eligible for submission to the next Research Excellence Framework, (REF), authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts that have been accepted for publication must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository.

At the Research Libraries UK conference OA was a prominent topic including a presentation from  Gerard Meijer of Radboud University, Nijmegen on the OA transformation in the Netherlands.

The Open Data button launched – a follow up to the Open Access Button.


The review commissioned by Harvard University’s Library Office for Scholarly Communication on Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences – more informally known as “Journal-flipping” opened for public comment.

A draft code of conduct for altmetrics providers & aggregators has been launched and is available for comment on the NISO site.


A new open science site for Japan launched with links to policies, events and updates.

Want more OA news?

We can’t cover everything here! For daily email updates the best ways to keep up to date is the Open Access Tracking Project. Our Twitter account has posts throughout each day and our curated newsfeed on thewebsite is updated daily.

The newsletter archive provides snapshots of key issues throughout the year.

Has academic publishing reached its Napster moment?

Last month we reported on debate around Sci-Hub. Since then the debate has reached the mainstream media in a big way with discussions in the New York Times, and Washington Post. Whatever comes next it is clear that the site has stirred up much debate and has re-focussed attention on the problem of lack of access to academic papers.

Meanwhile an interesting parallel debate has been provoked by the two recent global health crises of Ebola and Zika virus. Again, as we discussed last month scientists have committed to sharing data and science publishers have committed to make access to this research free – at least for the duration of the epidemics, not necessarily long term. The Economist reported on how new models of publishing are desperately needed in such settings, but as yet are slow to catch on. Meanwhile,NPR reported on the concern that many who work in countries affected by these epidemics have when western scientists “parachute in” to do all the interesting analyses which may or may not be shared, and rarely includes local scientists in a meaningful way.

Are funders getting good value for money?

The Wellcome Trust published its 2014/5 analysis of where its money goes in OA. It’s worth comparing with last year’s analysis. All the data are on Figshare.

Points to note include:

  • As in 2014 hybrid publishing is the most expensive model.
  • OA journals published by subscription publishers tended to have higher APCs then their “born digital” counterparts.
  • Elsevier is the most expensive publisher
  • 392 articles for which the Wellcome paid an APC were not available OA – ie in PMC or Europe PMC. As they say “In financial terms this equates to around £765,000.  Spending this level of money – and not having access to the article in the designated repository – is clearly unacceptable.”
  • 50% of Wiley papers were non-compliant with the policy
  • There were  many examples of papers where the licence cited on the PMC article  was different to the licence cited on the publisher web site.

The blog ends by noting that the Wellcome will be developing “a more detailed set of principles and requirements which have to be met before we regard a journal to be compliant.  Journals which confirm that they can meet these will be compliant with our policy; those which don’t, will not.” They add that they will still fund hybrid journals for now but “If hybrid publishers are unable to commit to the Wellcome Trust’s set of requirements and do not significantly improve the quality of the service, then classifying those hybrid journals as “non-compliant” will be an inevitable next step.”

A critical issue in the acceptance of OA via the APC route has to be that it guarantees OA and hence the Wellcome’s statement on what it is doing in compliance is important. It’s worth noting that SCOAP3 has > 99% compliance for its OA model – which has now published more than 10,000 articles.

A useful briefing paper on costs in scholarly publishing was released by Alma Swan on behalf ofPasteur4OA. This is one of a series of Pasteur4OA resources.

Upcoming events in OA & scholarly publishing

The FORCE11 FORCE16 conference will be in Portland Oregon on April 17 -19, 2016. 

OASPA’s  8th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing (COASP) will be held on the 21st & 22nd September, 2016.

Recent writing & resources on OA

Peter Suber’s book Knowledge Unbound: Selected Writings on Open Access, 2002–2011 was published  and is OA to read.

Creative Commons launched its 2016-2020 strategy

Breaking the myths of scholarly credit

Catriona MacCallum on why it takes 30 seconds to transform science.

Twitter: @catmacOA
ORCID: 0000-0001-9623-2225

Information on the Feb 2016 Australian Outreach Meeting, and the official launch in Canberra of the Australian ORCID consortium  is here

orcid_128x128Imagine a world where researchers can reliably keep track of – and receive credit for – the myriad ways in which they contribute to science – not just articles, books, data and software but peer-review reports, preprints, grants, blog posts, video and sound recordings, and not just complete stories but individual experiments, images, methods and analyses.

A diverse group of publishers and journals, including PLOS, eLife, the Royal Society, AGU, EMBO, Hindawi, IEEE and the Science Journals, have banded together to help make this a reality by supporting the adoption of ORCID iDs, a persistent digital identifier for researchers, in their publication workflows in 2016. In an Open Letter, they outline their intention to require iDs from corresponding authors of accepted articles that will ensure researchers get credit for their work while reducing the reporting burden on them. The specific date of requirement in 2016 will vary and be added to the letter subsequently.

As Natasha Simons pointed out in a previous post on this blog, ORCID iDs are already integrated in the workflows of many publishers and other scholarly platforms. Indeed, there are currently more than 200 research platforms and workflow systems that collect and connect iDs from researchers. And almost 2 million researchers have registered for an iD, not least because it helps to distinguish their contributions from those of all the other Smiths, Jones or Zhangs in their field. Funders are also signalling their interest. The Wellcome Trust requires their grantees to use ORCID iDs in grant applications and others, such as the NHMRC and ARC in Australia, look poised to follow suit.

If ORCID iDs are being embraced so widely, why is this new commitment by publishers needed?

The rationale is to speed up the adoption and use of ORCID iDs within scholarly systems. This will benefit researchers, publishers and funders who want to ensure that appropriate credit is given for an output, and also help readers or future collaborators discover the work of particular researcher more easily.

Persistent identifiers are increasingly common. Most researchers are familiar with Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), which are a unique alphanumeric string attached to a digital object, most commonly an article, book or dataset. They persist because they contain stable information (metadata) about the object even if the URL to the website where the object is hosted changes or the object is hosted on multiple websites.

DOIs work because they have been adopted by 1000s of publishers and libraries as the de facto standard for identifying and locating scholarly digital objects. They are an accepted and essential part of the scholarly infrastructure – a key machine-readable connector in the global digital network, with registration organisations such as Crossref and DataCite acting as a junction box.

In many respects, an ORCID iD provides the equivalent of a DOI for researchers – enabling articles and datasets and a host of other outputs to be linked unambiguously to specific individuals – while ORCID the organisation is the junction box. To register for an iD takes about 30 seconds and is free, and it’s up to the researcher to choose which data and fields are made public in the ORCID record associated with their iD (e.g. see Jonathan Eisen’s public record as well as the privacy policy on ORCID).

In the open letter, the guidelines for publishers includes a requirement that the metadata they already send to Crossref with DOIs also include the ORCID iDs for authors. This will help reduce the reporting burden for researchers (e.g., to funders or institutions) because Crossref’s new auto-update function means that researchers can choose to have their ORCID record automatically updated with any new article, book, dataset (or other object) that already has a Crossref DOI.

An oft repeated sentiment is that the value of open access is to enable others to discover and build on work that already exists. But making something freely available on the web is just a first and somewhat limited step. Persistent identifiers, such as DOIs and ORCID iDs, are crucial to building the infrastructure for Open Science and enable discovery not just of the work itself but also of the researchers who made that contribution possible.

Moreover, if we are to reform the evaluation and credit system, then we need to be able to reliably link scientists (in the broadest sense) to all their contributions. Making these traceable and transparent will help dispel the myths that the only valid contribution to science comes in the form of a published article or book and the only measure of quality is publication in a high impact journal or established monograph press.

ORCID iDs provide the digital glue to facilitate this. The hope is that the publisher’s Open Letter and joint commitment will accelerate the incorporation of ORDID iDs in every scholarly system.  There are many different ways that funders, research organisations and content providers can support ORCID (available on their website). If you are a publisher, make the commitment and sign the open letter. If you are a researcher take 30 seconds to help transform research – register for an ORCID iD and use it wherever you use your name.


See also the post about the initiative by Laurel Haak, Executive Director of ORCID.

Competing interests: Catriona MacCallum is a paid employee of PLOS, one of the organisers and original signatories of the Open Letter supporting ORCID. PLOS is also an unfunded partner in the EU THOR project, whose aim is to establish seamless integration between articles, data, and researchers across the research lifecycle.

 About the author: Catriona is currently the Acting Advocacy Director for PLOS

Processing APCs: a necessary pain

In a sequel to his Oct 9 blog, Anton Angelo writes on what happened next in their investigation of APCs at the University of Canterbury.


“Pain” LL Twistiti CC BY-NC

Let’s face it, Article Processing Charges (APCs) are a pain to understand and manage.  APCs devolve the costs of scholarly publication away from from the library, where subscriptions can be neatly reported on, monitored and centralised, to being the responsibility of individual researchers where payments are currently almost entirely untraceable.

We last left gentle readers with our efforts to understand how much the University of Canterbury was paying in APCs (Follow the money: tracking Article Processing Charges at the University of Canterbury).  Our next step was to launch a pilot where we had some central funds to pay APCs, and asked for applications.  This is the story of that pilot, and how it proved useful far beyond simply providing needed cash for researchers to make their work Open Access (OA).

The initial idea for the pilot came as a recommendation after we had analysed the data of our survey on APCs.  There were a number of threads we recognised needed to be addressed:

  • The order of magnitude of the problem was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (and probably higher), an amount of spending by the university that could not be ignored.
  • If the institution was supporting Open Access, then we needed to support that practically, whatever our thoughts were about Gold v. Green (or the horrid hybrid). Researchers should publish in the best possible place for their work, and when that was in an OA journal that required APCs, then it is incumbent on us as an institution to help with that.
  • Libraries are constantly concerned about maintaining their relevance and launching an initiative kept the library in centre of the scholarly publications process.

The fund itself was set up quickly – $NZ10,000, and a six week application period at the end of 2015.  We knocked up a few web forms, sent out emails to Heads of Departments and advertised in the internal bulletin.  Criteria included; that local scholars were the lead author, journals and publishers were ‘reputable’ and early career researchers would be preferred if the fund was oversubscribed.  A crack committee of interested academics was assembled to assess the applications, chaired by me, as a facilitator.

The first application came in within an hour of the web form going live.

In all, six applications were received, from all parts of the University, totalling a request of $NZ11,000.  We found another thousand dollars so we didn’t have to reject any applications because of money, and went through them one by one.

The applications could not have represented the current state of Gold OA better.  Three of them accounted for 90% of the money, with APCs of $2,500, $3,000 and $4,500 apiece.  The most expensive was a hybrid journal, with a publisher that had no concrete reporting on how APC payments affected our journal subscription rates.

Two of the applicants were for PeerJ author memberships for one article.  The committee exercised itself over these, as the cost was for the submission of the article, not for its publication after it was accepted, as is the PeerJ way.  Though we decided to fund the membership only if the article had been accepted (and let the poor researchers suffer a financial loss as well as the indignity of rejection) the idea of sponsoring researchers to publish – and thereby sponsoring the model and publisher itself, was found to be Very Interesting Indeed.

The last application was the hardest.  From junior faculty, it was a request to publish with a “suspected predatory publisher” according to Jeffrey Beall.  We had included Beall’s list in our criteria of ‘reputability’ as well as h-index, inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), and impact factors.  I had argued against formally including Beall’s list, as I have an issue with black lists being problematic. White lists and selection criteria are harder to manage, but fairer and less liable to bias, but Beall’s list has captured the academic imagination, so it was in.

I was trepidatious to tell the researcher that we had rejected their application and why.  In fact, the conversation went really well, and a teaching moment on the dark side of scholarly publication was not missed.  A new journal was targeted, and if the APC for that is applied for in a new round, it will be about NZD$3,000, rather than the predatory publisher’s $150.

Dealing with hybrid, predatory, ‘straight’ OA, and PeerJ’s memberships, virtually all the OA business models were covered.  A really strong set of examples mean that the pilot APC fund not only met our objectives above, but also let us work in practice with the implications of supporting OA.  We grew a supportive team in our assessment committee, who can take the message back to their communities, and we have successfully placed the library at the heart of the matter, practical, effective and principled.

The recommendation from this exercise is a strong one to continue funding OA APCs from a central source, if it hasn’t been allowed for as a specific line item in a grant application.  As more funders demand public access to research outputs as a result of their philanthropy, it will move from the policy of the university, to a practical necessity to have mechanisms in place to pay APCs.

We will never be in the position where all of the money that goes towards scholarly publication will neatly lie in one budget for journal and book purchases ever again.  This collaborative, but library led, approach was really successful as one of many ways we are going to need to rethink how we pay the costs for new knowledge to be disseminated.  APCs are a real pain, but fronting up and asking for support from your community can ease that, and even help with the communication about OA and changes in scholarly publication in general.


Once all the dust had settled, we asked for invoices so we could pay for the APCs we had funded. There was a little urgency, as we wanted to spend the fund within a particular budgeting period.  Of course, none of the authors were at the stage where they needed to pay for their APC charges.  Publishing is a notoriously slow and involved process, so we should have expected that this part of the process would be delayed. Discussions with colleagues who had run similar programs revealed they had suffered from the same problem. When this process scales up to cover more of our research output there will be a considerable administrative workload as the Library shifts from paying for entire databases worth of articles in one hit, to paying to publish each article from your institution.  Though most publishers offer institutional deals for covering APCs, they are not worthwhile to us from a purely financial perspective.  When we have a larger volume of publications APCs are due for, and once we account for the time of handling each invoice and payment, it may make more sense to do some kind of bulk deal with the bigger players.

 Anton Angelo is Research Data Co-ordinator, University of Canterbury.

Contact: @antlion


AOASG and Creative Commons Australia response to the Australian Government National Innovation and Science Agenda and Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements

The Australasian Open Access Support Group (AOASG)  and Creative Commons Australia welcome the new initiatives in the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda .

In a modern world both  publications and the data underlying them are equally important parts of research and their value and potential to contribute to innovation  are maximized when the publications and data are made openly available.

We therefore very much welcome the recognition of the importance of open data, as reflected in the creation of Data61. We also support the idea that new and additional ways of recognizing the impact of universities is needed – beyond traditional publications.

The Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements, which was announced on Friday, acknowledged the importance of open access to research results.

This is a pivotal moment and there is an  opportunity now to ensure that as part of, and in order to drive, innovation, open access to all parts of the research lifecycle – publications and data – is supported.

Hence, what will be important is the implementation of such recommendations and also how “open” is defined. The Open Access policy of the Higher Education Funding Council for England is a good model for driving open access to the research literature, with its emphasis on deposition of research results published in journal articles into an open access repository within 3 months of acceptance and made openly available at 12 or 24 months at the latest, with credits given to outputs that can be text mined – that is  with a license that allows reuse.

Open access to research data is now also increasingly being recognized as being a critical part of ensuring that research is reproducible. Publishers and universities, along with agencies such as ANDS,  are developing the necessary policies and processes.

We look forward to working on the consultation for, and implementation of, the new initiatives and would specifically highlight the need for:

  • Adequate investment in the infrastructure to support open access to publications and data, including physical infrastructure such as repositories and in the skills needed to manage these policies and processes
  • Appropriate consideration of licensing arrangements (such as through Creative Commons licenses) associated with all research outputs so that they can not only be accessed but also reused in the way that will maximize their impact.

Australasian Libraries Needed to Help Scale Knowledge Unlatched

Lucy Montgomery writes about the need for new models in humanities publishing and the second round of Knowledge Unlatched. Other models include Open Library of the Humanities.

Contact: @KUnlatched

Specialist scholarly books, or monographs, are a vital form of publication for Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) scholars globally. Monographs allow HSS researchers to develop and share complex ideas at length, and to engage with international communities of peers in processes of knowledge creation. However, library spending on books hasn’t kept pace with growth in the number of researchers required to publish a book in order to secure tenure and promotion. Dramatic increases in the costs of maintaining journal subscriptions have left libraries with little to spend on other areas. As a result monograph sales have declined by as much as 90% over 20 years.

Although a growing number of librarians, authors, research funders and publishers would like to see books transition to OA, book-length scholarly works pose unique challenges. This is because the fixed costs of publishing a 70,000 — 100,000-word book are much higher than they are for a 5,000 – 10,000 word journal article. High costs mean that ‘gold’ routes to OA are not a practical option for most authors. Monograph publishers, many of whom are not-for-profit University Presses and already dependant on subsidies, are struggling to find funding to support OA experimentation. Creative approaches to enabling positive change across the system are needed.

ku_mark_facebookAustralasian Libraries are playing a key role the development of one such model. In 2014 Australasian libraries took part in the global pilot of a revolutionary OA book experiment: Knowledge Unlatched (KU). Libraries from around the world were invited to share the costs of making a 28 book Pilot Collection OA.  The collection, which included globally relevant topics such as Constructing Muslims in France and Understanding the Global Energy Crisis, has now been downloaded more than 40,000 times by readers in 170 countries. In addition to demonstrating the viability of KU’s global library consortium approach to supporting OA for books, the award-winning Pilot also allowed KU to demonstrate the power of OA to increase the visibility of specialist scholarly books in digital landscapes. In 2015 KU helped to secure the indexing of monographs in Google Scholar.

The 2014 KU Pilot confirmed that Australasian libraries are important change-makers in the global scholarly communications landscape.  KU is widely regarded as a strongly Australasian project, thanks in no small part to the three Founding Libraries that provided additional cash support for the development of the KU model: UWA, University of Melbourne and QUT. Australasia also punched well above its weight in sign-up rates for the Pilot Collection. 28 libraries from Australia and New Zealand took part, joining a global community of close to 300 libraries that contributed to making the 28 book Pilot Collection OA.

Libraries are now invited to support the next phase of the project by signing up for Round 2. Round 2 is a key step in scaling the KU model and ensuring that the project delivers on its promise to create a sustainable route to OA for large numbers of scholarly books.

As the end of the year fast approaches, we encourage you to consider signing up. Libraries have until 31 January 2016 to pledge, but we’d be happy to assist with earlier invoicing for those that would prefer to support the project from a 2015 budget. KU Round 2 is an opportunity for libraries from around the world to share the costs of making 78 new books from 26 recognised publishers OA.  The 78 new books are being offered in 8 individual packages. Libraries must sign up for at least six in order to participate.

As with the Pilot Collection, books in Round 2 will also be hosted on OAPEN and HathiTrust with  Creative Commons licences, preserved by CLOCKSS and Portico, and MARC records will be provided to libraries.

If models like KU are to succeed it will be because libraries have made a conscious effort to move beyond established work-flows to support new innovative approaches to OA and publishing generally.  At this stage in its development the support of Australian libraries remains key to the capacity of KU to scale and operate sustainably.

Competing interests: Lucy Montgomery is Deputy Director (an unpaid voluntary position) of Knowledge Unlatched.

About the author: Associate Professor Lucy Montgomery is Deputy Director of Knowledge Unlatched and Director of the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University.