Joint AOASG and CAUL statement on the Importance of Open Scholarship

CAUL and the AOASG have released a joint statement about the importance of Open Scholarship. The statement responds to recommendations in the Australian Government Funding Arrangements for non-NHMRC Research report released by the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training in November 2018.

Though this inquiry was primarily on funding, both AOASG and CAUL discussed OA in their submissions to the inquiry: AOASG put in two submissions and Virginia Barbour, AOASG Director, gave evidence at a hearing.

The committee noted the information given by CAUL and AOASG  on scholarly publishing and supported the AOASG recommendation for a national approach to open scholarship, putting it as Recommendation 12:

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop a more strategic approach to Australia’s open scholarship environment.

They noted the following in the body of the report:

5.17 While there are moves internationally and locally within Australia to shift to open scholarship, Australia lacks a national coordinated approach. In its submission, the AOASG sets out a proposal to establish a national coordinating body, funded for five years, to oversee the development of a strategic approach to open scholarship in Australia. It suggests that such a body could either be situated within an existing government agency or be constituted separately. The Committee supports these recommendations.

A joint press release from CAUL and AOASG is below.

caul aoasg

Joint statement on the Importance of Open Scholarship

29th November – The Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) and the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) are delighted to see that the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training committee’s report into Australian Government Funding Arrangements for non-NHMRC Research recognises the importance of open scholarship and the need for a strategic approach to it.

Importantly, the report makes a specific recommendation (Recommendation 12) that the Australian Government develops a more strategic approach to Australia’s open scholarship environment. CAUL and the AOASG welcome this initiative and are ready to work with the Australian Government to achieve a coherent approach for open scholarship in Australia.

Both the CAUL and AOASG submissions to the committee highlighted the significant costs, inefficiencies and lack of transparency associated with research publication in subscription journals.

CAUL reported that Australian university libraries spent approximately $282 million on access to subscription journals in 2017 alone, and that to make their work available to those who do not have access to those subscriptions, researchers often must pay Article Processing Charges (APCs) which can range from $1500 – $8,000 per article.

The AOASG asserted that Australia lacks a national coordinated approach to open scholarship and set out a proposal to establish a national coordinating body, funded for five years, to oversee the development of a strategic approach to open scholarship in Australia. This recommendation was supported by the committee.

‘CAUL applauds the recommendation to develop a more strategic approach to Australia’s open scholarship environment. Government-led initiatives across other jurisdictions have provided the impetus and imperative to develop open scholarship policy, practice and infrastructure for the economic and social benefit of their nations. This review, and the subsequent recommendations, positions Australian scholarship and research outputs as strategic assets; assets that should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable, and importantly open to all who have an interest and stake in leveraging the nation’s publicly funded research’ said Margie Jantti, President of CAUL.

‘There is a global ecosystem emerging of open scholarship which will undoubtedly lead to improvements in how research is done and communicated. Taking a strategic approach now to the development of open scholarship will position Australia well to support regional initiatives as well as to coordinate with and respond to relevant global initiatives, such as the European Plan S, and will accelerate the development of the infrastructure needed to support open scholarship in Australia’s research system’ said Virginia Barbour, Director of the AOASG.

See: Commonwealth, Australian Government Funding Arrangements for non-NHMRC Research: Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training, (2018).

Download a PDF of the joint statement

End

For comment:

Margie Jantti, CAUL President caul@caul.edu.au, (02) 6125 2990 &
Virginia Barbour, Director AOASG eo@aoasg.org.au

About CAUL
CAUL is the peak leadership organisation for university libraries in Australia. CAUL members are the University Librarians or equivalent of the 39 institutions that have representation on Universities Australia. CAUL makes a significant contribution to higher education strategy, policy and outcomes through a commitment to a shared purpose: To transform how people experience knowledge – how it can be discovered, used and shared.

About AOASG
The AOASG is supported by fifteen universities in Australia and eight in New Zealand; Creative Commons Australia and Tohatoha, New Zealand are affiliate members. AOASG works to make Australasian research Open and FAIR and to promote innovation in all areas of scholarly communications.

 

 

 

OA week 2018 – Designing for Equity

 

Today marks the kickoff of OA week, Now in its 10th year, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness, celebrate and reflect on everything that’s going on in OA.

OA Week poster 8_5x11_2ndoriginal

Since OA week started the OA landscape has got much more complex. Now there are a range of models of OA for research articles: green (repository-based); gold (journal-based); bronze (which is not really OA at all but just free to read); hybrid OA (supposed to be transitional but as the most expensive way to fund OA is  consuming the biggest proportion of  article processing charges (APCs) paid by some funders); and even illegal, black OA. Universities support OA through their OA presses and journal publishing. There are new OA models for monographs  and books and increasingly the expectation of more open data. Layered on top of this are other changes to publishing with more open expectations for peer review in some fields and emerging new models such as preprints.

What underpins all of this is the need to build a robust, well supported infrastructure that encompasses a variety of models in order to ensure that not only can everyone benefit from OA, but that everyone can participate more equitably in  contributing to knowledge, a theme summed up in this delightful gif from Mark Hooper.

Mark-Hooper-OA18.gif

 

Key elements of infrastructure

FAIR genericHence the theme of this years OA week is so timely. “Designing the Equitable Foundations of Open Knowledge” explicitly recognises that there is no one model of open scholarship that will work for all. In order to have a truly equitable system, the foundations have to be purposefully designed. There is a role for serendipity and evolution but assuming all that we need will just arise ad hoc risks leaving out key parts of the system. One part of the infrastructure are the elements that identify and link people and research outputs and we have highlighted the need for these and other key items – such as Creative Commons licenses – in this OA week bookmark which you are welcome to share under a CC-BY license.

Welcoming new AOASG members

OA week is always a week of new announcements on OA and we will be featuring many of these throughout the week. As a first one, we are especially delighted to welcome three new members to the AOASG this week – University of the Sunshine Coast, Flinders University and The University of Notre Dame. We very much look forward to working with them alongside our current members: Charles Sturt, Curtin, Griffith, Macquarie, Melbourne, Newcastle, QUT, UNSW, UWA, Victoria, and the CONZUL group of university libraries in New Zealand. Widening our group’s membership gives us the opportunity to represent and support a wider part of the sector.

On our 2018 OA week page we have  gathered together in one place many diverse activities this week across Australia and New Zealand. Keep in touch to let us know how your OA  activities go this week and if you’d like to find out more about membership of AOASG  or our many activities, let us know.

 

Funder-based open publishing platforms: what they are and why they’re happening

Thomas Ingraham

Thomas Ingraham

By Thomas Ingraham

Historically, funders had no reason to get involved with publishing: they were experts at funding research, publishers were experts at publishing research – why venture into a role that is already well-serviced by established professionals?

However, since the advent of online publishing and the open access movement, and the subsequent realization of potentially widespread irreproducibility and publication bias in the scholarly literature, the interests of funders are growing increasingly at odds with conventional scholarly publishing.

Funders (like ARC & NHMRC) are mandated to ensure maximum impact is achieved from the projects they fund. This means:

  • Making research open access for reuse by anyone; not blocked by unaffordable paywalls.
  • Ensuring new findings can be rapidly translated into new research or practical applications; not delayed by months or years due to lengthy embargo periods, or unnecessarily cumbersome peer review and production systems.
  • Guaranteeing all valid work they fund is available for reuse, including data, code and negative results; not leaving these outputs to languish on a hard drive where no one can use it due to a novelty-obsessed editorial system or a data-shy research culture.

Further, funders want publishing to be as rigorous and transparent as possible, to ensure the system’s accountability and so build academic and public trust in the published literature, after it took a knock during the reproducibility crisis.

Several funders have implemented policies encouraging open access and data sharing but feel the progress has been too slow and the wider publishing system too resistant to change. There is also the issue of the cost effectiveness of current immediate open access options. Most are expensive and funders are worried costs could escalate further, especially for prestige and hybrid journals.

Some funders felt they couldn’t simply wait for the publishing system to realign itself with these goals; they need to get actively involved in kick-starting a better way of disseminating research.

So, in late 2016, Wellcome became the first funder to decisively move into the publishing game with the launch of Wellcome Open Research. Other major philanthropic and public funders have since launched their own open publishing platforms, namely: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Health Research Board Ireland, and most recently AMRC (a consortium of 24 UK-based biomedical charities). Earlier this year, the European Commission put out a tender to create its own platform, which would make it the biggest funder by far to move into this space.

Current funder-based publishing platforms

Current funder-based publishing platforms

The platforms allow a funder’s grantees (and their collaborators) to openly share any research they think is fit to publish, along with any dependent raw data and code, within a few days of submission; referees openly review the work and if they deem it scientifically sound, the work is indexed. Articles can be updated if and when necessary.

The platform development and publishing work is contracted to an independent publisher, partially to make use of their expertise, partially to avoid potential funder conflicts of interest influencing editorial decisions. Currently, F1000Research is the sole provider of these platforms, but this may well change after the European Commission announces the results of its tender. However, the platform is owned by the funder and operates under its name; the latter is important as this endorsement helps ease their grantee’s minds, knowing anything they publish on the platform will be considered eligible for evaluations.

Funder publishing platforms are a still a very new development, and there are issues that need to be navigated carefully. These include but are not limited to preventing funder-editorial conflicts of interest; how smaller funders can get involved; who pays in joint-funder collaborations; avoiding vendor lock-in; and arranging long term governance of the platforms. These issues all look to be resolvable, and it will be exciting to see how much these platforms might disrupt the publishing ecosystem over the next few years.

Tom Ingraham is Scholarly Communications Officer at the University of Queensland. He was formerly an Associate Editor and Publisher at F1000Research, spending six years at the company from its inception in 2012 until early 2018 managing several of its publishing initiatives and community-based article collections.

SCOSS hits half-million Euro funding mark

SCOSS_NewPieceGreat news to hear that funding for SCOSS (Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science) has raised half a million Euros in funding.

This is an important new initiative whereby libraries and other users of open infrastructure can directly contribute to supporting it.  As the press release notes “The initiative, which intends to provide a framework for libraries, policymakers and other stakeholders to collectively fund and stabilize a vital infrastructure of freely available open science services, selected the Directory of Open Access Journals and SHERPA/RoMEO as beneficiaries of this pilot call for community funding.”

In Australia and New Zealand more than 64 percent of all universities have pledged funding via the Council of Australian University Libraries (CAUL consortium).

Read the full press release here.

https://sparceurope.org/global-sustainability-coalition-for-open-science-scoss-hits-half-million-euro-funding-mark/

Creative Commons Aotearoa is now Tohatoha

This blog post has been reproduced with permission from Tohatoha Chief Executive Mandy Henk

Wendy Henk

We have so much exciting news to share with you all! New projects, new people, a new website rolling out soon – it’s been a whirlwind year behind the scenes.

But first, you’re probably wondering why we decided to change our name and logo. Tohatoha is the Māori word for ‘share’ – and that’s what we are about; sharing information so that every single New Zealander has access to knowledge and stories — whether they get that access through the Internet, in their local library, or by listening to the elders of their communities.

We want a world where New Zealand leads by ensuring universal access to research, education and culture — one where Aotearoa builds a fair and equitable information system. ‘Tohatoha’, as a name, communicates both the primacy of sharing and embraces our uniquely Kiwi identity.

Our new logo, designed for us by Mohawk Media, takes the globally recognised symbol for New Zealand – the kiwi bird – and combines it with the iconic, cultural image

for Kiwi ingenuity, Number-8 fencing wire. The DIY ethic embedded in our origins as part of Internet mash-up culture, entwined with our national symbol, gives us a recognisable visual identity both here and overseas. Alongside this, the new tagline – supporting Kiwis to, create, share and innovate – encapsulates our work and our mission.
To be clear, we will still continue to support the New Zealand chapter of Creative Commons, but our work will be broader than simply supporting the Creative Commons licenses. We will still do that work when and as needed, but as the range of threats to information sharing in the digital and analogue worlds grows, so we also need to grow and evolve. That’s what this repositioning is about – adapting to a changing environment so that we can realise our vision.

Our new structure is also about sharing power. As an organisation we have our roots in the open movement – open source, open access, open data – and we fiercely support openness. But there is still so much work to be done to bring marginalised voices to the centre and make space for new voices across the spectrum of New Zealand society.

Building a movement focused on sharing that doesn’t explicitly seek out and welcome diverse communities – rural communities, Māori communities, migrant communities – is a movement destined to seek the wrong things for the wrong reasons. For us, openness is a strategy; the goal is a more equitable system for sharing knowledge – and you can’t build a more equitable system without welcoming new voices and sharing power with new communities.

I look forward to hearing from you as we begin this new part of our journey. Change is scary and so to do it right we need your engagement, your voice, and your support. There is so much work to be done in this space, so let’s do it together and do it right.

Mandy Henk, Chief Executive, Tohatoha

What was missing in Australia’s $1.9 billion infrastructure announcement

This article by Ginny Barbour was originally published on The Conversation

When we think about infrastructure it’s most often about bridges or roads – or, as in this week’s federal government AU$1.9 billion National Research Infrastructure announcement, big science projects. These are large assets that can be seen and applied in a tangible way.

It’s not hard to get excited over money that will support imaging of the Earth, or the Atlas of Living Australia.

But important as these projects are, there’s a whole set of infrastructure that rarely gets mentioned or noticed: “soft” infrastructure. These are the services, policies or practices that keep academic research working and, now, open.

Soft infrastructure was not featured in this week’s announcement linked to budget 2018.




Read more:
Budget 2018: when scientists make their case effectively, politicians listen


Ignored infrastructure

An absence of attention paid to soft infrastructure isn’t just the case in Australia, it’s true globally. This is despite the fact that such infrastructure is core to running the hard infrastructure projects.

For example, the Open SSL software library – which is key to the security of most websites – has just a handful of paid individuals who work on it. It’s supported by fragile finances. That’s a pretty frightening thought. (There’s another issue in that researchers doing this work get no academic credit for their efforts, but that’s a topic for another time.)

There are other high profile, globally used, open science infrastructures that also exist hand to mouth. The Directory of Open Access journals which began at Lund University relies entirely on voluntary donations from supporting members and on occasional sponsorship.

Similarly, Sherpa Romeo – the open database of publishers’ policies on copyright and self-archiving – came out of projects at Nottingham and Loughborough Universities in the UK.

In some ways these projects’ high visibility is part of their problem. It’s assumed that they are already funded, so no-one takes responsibility for funding them themselves – the dilemma of collective action.




Read more:
Not just available, but also useful: we must keep pushing to improve open access to research


Supporting open science

Other even more nebulous types of soft infrastructure include the development and oversight of standards that support open science. One example of this is the need to ensure that the metadata (the essential descriptors that tell you for example where a sample that’s collected for research came from and when, or how it relates to a wider research project or publication) are consistent. Without consistency of metadata, searching for research, making it openly available or linking it together is much less efficient, if not impossible.

Of course there are practices in place at individual institutions as well as national organisations. The soon-to-be-combined organisations -Australian National Data Service, the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources project and Research Data Services (ANDS-Nectar-RDS) – are supported by national infrastructure funding. These provide support for data-heavy research (including for example the adoption of FAIR – Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable standards for data).

But without coherent national funding and coordination, specifically for open science initiatives, we won’t get full value from the physical infrastructure just funded.




Read more:
How the insights of the Large Hadron Collider are being made open to everyone


What we need

What’s needed now? First, a specific recognition of the need for cash to support this open, soft infrastructure. There are a couple of models for this.

In an article last year it was suggested that libraries (but this could equally be funders – public or philanthropic) should be committing around 2.5% of their budget to support open initiatives. There are some international initiatives that are developing specific funding models – SCOSS for Open Science Services and NumFocus for software.

But funding on its own is not enough: we need a coordinated national approach to open scholarship – making research available for all to access through structures and tools that are themselves open and not proprietary.

Though there are groups that are actively pushing forward initiatives on open scholarship in Australia – such as the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group, the Council of Australian University Librarians, and the Learned Academies as well as the ARC and NHMRC who have open access policies – there is no one organisation with the responsibility to drive change across the sector. The end result is inadequate key infrastructure – for example, for interoperability between research output repositories.

We also need coherent policy. The government recognised a need for national and states policies on open access in its response to the 2016 Productivity Commission Inquiry on Intellectual Property, but as yet no policy has appeared.




Read more:
Universities spend millions on accessing results of publicly funded research


It’s reasonable to ask whether in the absence of a national body that’s responsible for developing and implementing an overall approach, what the success of a policy on its own would be. Again, there are international models that could be used.

Sweden has a Government Directive on Open Access, and a National Body for Coordinating Open Access chaired by the Vice-chancellor of Stockholm University.

The Netherlands has a National Plan for Open Science with wide engagement, supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. In that country, the Secretary of State, Sander Dekker, has been a key champion.

The EU has had a long commitment to open science, underscored recently by the appointment of a high-level envoy with specific responsibility for open science, Robert-Jan Smits.

Private interests might take over

Here’s the bottom line: national coordinated support for the soft infrastructure that supports open science (and thus the big tangible infrastructure projects announced) is not just a “nice to have”.

One way or another, this soft infrastructure will get built and adopted. If it’s not done in the national interest, for-profit companies will step into the vacuum.

We risk replicating the same issues we have now in academic publishing – which is in the hands of multi-billion dollar companies that report to their shareholders, not the public. It’s clear how well that is turning out – publishers and universities globally are in stand offs over the cost of publishing services, which continue to rise inexorably, year on year.


The Conversation


Read more:
Publisher pushback puts open access in peril


Virginia Barbour, Director, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

All the flavours of FAIR, fair & F.A.I.R

The word fair can mean many different things to many different people, but it’s generally a description of activities or processes which are just, equitable and reasonable. Within scholarship it’s been used as an acronym FAIR (Freedom of Access to Information and Resources) for the ongoing campaign for an open democratic society where everyone can access information. In 2015, fairness was found in another acronym in the F.A.I.R. Data principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable). Created to support knowledge discovery and innovation and to promote sharing and reuse of data, these principles informed the development of the F.A.I.R. Access policy statement in 2016 for all Australian publicly funded research outputs.

 

The concept of fairness has implications for how journals should be run. “Fair Open Access” has been a rallying cry for researchers seeking to achieve fair, low-cost journal open access. In 2017 a group of researchers and librarians formalized Fair Open Access principles for journals and the Fair Open Access Alliance. The basic principles are:

1. The journal has a transparent ownership structure, and is controlled by and responsive to the scholarly community.
2. Authors of articles in the journal retain copyright.
3. All articles are published open access and an explicit open access licence is used.
4. Submission and publication is not conditional in any way on the payment of a fee from the author or its employing institution, or on membership of an institution or society.
5. Any fees paid on behalf of the journal to publishers are low, transparent, and in proportion to the work carried out.

The Fair Open Access Alliance is currently working on disciplinary organizations aimed at helping journals flip from a subscription model to Fair OA, and have so far started LingOA, MathOA and PsyOA. The Alliance includes independent journals already practising Fair OA principles, flipped journals, and other institutional members with a strong belief in FairOA. The idea is to share resources and harmonize journal practices. In working towards spreading Fair journal practices, it’s hoped the debate about Green vs Gold OA is forgotten and the movement yields a way forward towards a goal of the conversion of the entire body of scholarly literature to Fair Open Access.

Drafted in 2015, the FAIR Data Principles are a framework for thinking about sharing data in a way that will enable maximum use and reuse.  The principles have been recognised by organisations including FORCE11, NIH and the European Commission.  The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) says they are useful because they:

  • support knowledge discovery and innovation
  • support data and knowledge integration
  • promote sharing and reuse of data
  • are discipline independent and allow for differences in disciplines
  • move beyond high level guidance, containing detailed advice on activities that can be undertaken to make data more FAIR
  • help data and metadata to be ‘machine readable’, supporting new discoveries through the harvest and analysis of multiple datasets.

ANDS says not only will researchers benefit professionally by making their data FAIR, the entire research community will be better off.  Benefits include:

  • gaining maximum potential from data assets
  • increasing the visibility and citations of research
  • improving the reproducibility and reliability of research
  • staying aligned with international standards and approaches
  • attracting new partnerships with researchers, business, policy and broader communities
  • enabling new research questions to be answered
  • using new innovative research approaches and tools
  • achieving maximum impact from research.

The example below shows what it looks like when the components of F.A.I.R. for research outputs are applied to an Australian research project comprising a thesis, paper and data set – on penguin poo in the Antarctic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the first webinar of our 2018 series we discussed the future of all types of FAIR in scholarly publishing. Joining the AOASG’s Ginny Barbour were Keith Russell, Partnerships Program Manager from the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and Alex Holcombe, Associate Editor of Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not just available, but also useful: we must keep pushing to improve open access to research

This article by Virginia Barbour was originally published on 27/10/17 on The Conversation.

There is a huge appetite for science and other research – so why aren’t more academic publications truly ‘open access’?

Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis became freely available online this week, and promptly crashed a server following massive public interest.

It’s a clear example of the public appetite for open access scientific information, and of the potential reach when articles are available.

But most of the world’s academic literature is still only legally available behind a paywall.

It’s time we brought the idea of open access publication truly to fruition: not just so more people can read research, but also to improve the application of academic work to address issues such as health inequity and poverty.


Read more: How the insights of the Large Hadron Collider are being made open to everyone


A brief history of open access

The example of Hawking’s thesis backs up what we know already from the numbers: work that is freely available is at least two to three times more likely to be read than closed access articles, and is 47% more likely to be cited in Wikipedia.

Defined simply, “open access” publications refer to work that is freely available, licensed in way that allows broad use and reuse, and which is permanently archived in a public repository or open publishing platform.

This week marks the tenth anniversary of Open Access Week, and 15 years since the Budapest Open Access initiative (one of the first definitions of open access) was launched.

In the past 15 years open access has morphed somewhat. It started as a fairly niche proposal, with small numbers of open access publishers in operation and ad hoc networks of repositories. Now it’s a truly global movement. Thousands of open access articles are freely available either through publishing in open access journals, or via the many open institutional repositories globally.

There were 32.4 million accesses of content from Australian academic research repositories in 2014. But compared with the pace of change in the online newspaper or music industry, the adoption of open access to academic research is slow. Why? A few factors come into play.


Read more: Your questions answered on open access


Commercial agendas

One fundamental problem is that universities pay vast sums of money to support academic publishing through subscriptions. Most of this goes into the bank accounts of a small number of commercial publishers who have a powerful interest in not supporting wholesale change in business models.

This handful of publishers has been systematically buying up smaller publishers and journals, creating an oligopoly. They have now moved into ways of collecting revenues for open access via article processing charges (APCs) – payment for publication once a research paper has passed peer review.

APCs are levied by many, but not all, open access publishers (including not-for-profit ones). However, the highest APCs are seen at commercial publishers especially in their journals that are not fully open access – so-called hybrid journals, where costs can be up to US$5,000 per article.

Different definitions

Different descriptors of open access can be confusing.

Research made open in a journal is referred to as “gold”, and in an institutional repository it is “green”. Work made open illegally has been called “black”. But open access is also often used as a synonym for just free access of a static version of a paper PDF, with no right to reuse.

True open access takes the form of a fully digitally interoperable article, electronically marked with rich metadata that indicates who wrote it, and with a licence that allows use and reuse. Such papers can be used in teaching, included seamlessly in other academic work, and much more – all with clear attribution and credit to the original author.

These ideas have been consolidated into the “F.A.I.R.” principles to describe research that is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. A statement laying out these principles for Australian research was developed last year.


Read more: Bored reading science? Let’s change how scientists write


Leadership matters

The importance of strong leadership in pushing the case for open access is evident in the Netherlands. Dutch science minister Sander Dekker has taken on open access as a cause, which has resulted in a national plan for open science.

In Australia, open access policies are predominantly repository-based at the two big funders: the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

An overall national position would be immensely valuable. Positive first steps were made towards this when the Productivity Commission made a recommendation for national and states open access policies in the 2016 Inquiry into Intellectual Policy Arrangements. In August 2017 the federal government accepted this recommendation.

A vision and a pathway

Even if all the above issues were dealt with, open access will continue to advance piecemeal, unless we have a long-term clarification of what we’re aiming for and how to get there.

It’s important to note that increasing open access is not the end goal in itself. We need open access in order to fulfil other urgent priorities such as maximising collaboration, improving global health, and reducing poverty, and this is the theme of this year’s open access week.

It’s worth noting here that caution may be needed around open access to sensitive data, for example relating to patients or threatened species, or some commercial work.

An effective open access scholarly ecosystem requires a collaborative, long-term commitment to policies and infrastructure by key players. Examples of how this can take place were detailed this week by a publisher and COAR, the global repository association.

The ConversationIn 2017 it’s high time to look beyond narrow definitions of open access. Let’s focus on infrastructure planning and building for the next decade, where research outputs are available not just for reading, but also for effective application.

Virginia Barbour, Director, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Open access medical content and the world’s largest encyclopedia

Authors & Wikipedians: Thomas Shafee, Diptanshu Das, James Heilman & Gwinyai Masukume

Wikipedia aims to make a free and accessible summary of all human knowledge and is therefore one of the most well known open access efforts. The cumulative efforts of its volunteer writers (Wikipedians) has resulted in it dwarfing all previous encyclopedias in scope and depth. Additional collaborations with members of the open access community are taking this further. Many of these ideas are globally relevant, however a number of initiatives exist in Australia and New Zealand. A pair of recent papers in Science and JECH make the case that there has never been a better time to help shape the world’s most-read information source.

An open access encyclopedia

A few decades ago, an encyclopedia was a luxury that few could afford. Now, all with Internet access have free access to an encyclopedia larger than could fit in most homes, if printed. Wikipedia is extensively used by the general public, as well as doctors, medical students, lawmakers, and educators.

Indeed, it’s the primary free information source in many countries, especially for biomedical content. For example, during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the rapid updating and translation of relevant Wikipedia into more than 115 languages lead to these articles being read nearly 100 million times that year. Access to Wikipedia without data charges is also available in over 50 countries via the Wikipedia Zero project, covering more than 300 million people. The offline medical Wikipedia app and Internet-in-a-box initiatives offer greater accessibility to those with limited connectivity. With over half of the world’s population not online, and many more with only intermittent access, these efforts are critical.

Wikipedia and the open access movement strengthen each other

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and therefore can only summarise existing knowledge. It therefore depends on citing reliable and verifiable reference sources to support its statements. Since it is editable by anyone, it is particularly important that anyone be able to cross-check the stated ‘facts’. Indeed, Wikipedia is the 6th highest referrer of DOI links (the unique hyperlinks assigned to academic articles).

However, most Wikipedia readers (and many of its writers) do not have access to paywalled articles. How then can references be checked? Some journals provide access to Wikipedians through the Wikipedia Resource Library. This allows details within paywalled sources to be duly summarised and distributed, but it’s an imperfect solution. Readers wanting to check a source or read deeper into a subject hit the wall, and images can’t be easily replicated. Wikipedia articles commonly cite open access articles, however there are often no open access alternatives to paywalled articles. Currently, there is no perfect solution for which sources to cite, but any efforts that strengthen open access benefit the encyclopedia.

What can be done to help?

Any advances in the open access movement aid Wikipedia, as well as more targeted efforts.

On an individual level, teaching people how to directly edit Wikipedia enables them to get involved on the ground-level. There are widespread Australian examples, including universities, conferences, libraries, and  societies across the country. Similar events in New Zealand have been hosted by Royal Society Te Apārangi and Whanganui museum. The editing interface has been updated to be as easy to use as a Word document. People may contribute for a specific event (an edit-a-thon), or become regular contributors. The writer community organises itself into groups  called ‘WikiProjects’ with shared topic interests. Efforts include adding or improving text, copy-editing, reviewing new edits, and adding images or other media.

Encouraging professional bodies to formally recognise Wikipedia editing as a service to the academic community and wider world will help legitimize it as a worthwhile use of time by busy professionals. Greater involvement by subject experts can improve Wikipedia’s quality. As yet, no Australian or New Zealand funding body formally recognises Wikipedia editing for grant or fellowship applications.

We also strongly support the expansion of dual-publishing of peer reviewed articles by academic journals (e.g. by PLOS, Gene, and Wiki.J.Med). This process creates a citable ‘version of record’ in the journal (providing academic credit for the authors) and the content is then used to create or overhaul the relevant Wikipedia pages. Through Wikipedia, health professionals can massively impact public health literacy (even obscure Wikipedia pages usually get hundreds or thousands of views per day). Academics similarly gain a public impact that is matched by few other platforms. In return, the encyclopedia benefits from the accurate and expert-reviewed information and the journal gains greater exposure.

Larger groups and organisations can also be mobilised to contribute to Wikipedia as an open access outlet. For example, Blausen Medical and Osmosis.org have contributed galleries of open access images and videos, which are used to illustrate the encyclopedia. Institutions such as the Cochrane, Cancer research UK, and Consumer Reports have teamed up with experienced Wikipedians and trained their members to add information and references to relevant Wikipedia articles. Journals can also be encouraged to release their back-catalogues under open access licenses, unlocking vital sources. Studies at Australia’s Monash University also recommended integrating Wikipedia editing into university courses, and several universities, such as the University of Sydney, do just this.  Even database services can integrate their data into Wikipedia’s structured knowledge database, WikiData (e.g. on genes and RNA families).

By Marcos Vinicius de Paulo (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

The big picture

Although the recent articles in Science and JECH focused on the biomedical field, these are examples of a much wider phenomenon. For instance, there have been several ongoing collaborations between Galleries, Libraries and Museums around the world to add their knowledge to Wikipedia under open access licenses.

Wikipedia also has the potential to be a knowledge access platform for the 4 billion people who are not currently online. Its open license allows people to translate, build upon, and distribute its content in new and innovative ways with no requirements beyond attribution and releasing what they create under a similar license.

Wikipedia and the open access movement are already intertwined. Open access publishing provides information needed for growing, improving and updating Wikipedia. Meanwhile, Wikipedians search, summarise and combine that vast sea of information into free articles. Each benefits from the strengths of the other, and can be helped by specific collaboration efforts.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation that hosts Wikipedia, is currently formulating its strategy through to 2030 and has identified collaboration with the wider knowledge ecosystem as one of its key themes.

References:

Shafee, Thomas; Masukume, Gwinyai; Kipersztok, Lisa; Das, Diptanshu; Häggström, Mikael; Heilman, James (2017-10-29). “The evolution of Wikipedia’s medical content: past, present and future”. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 71 (10). doi:10.1136/jech-2016-208601.

Shafee, Thomas; Mietchen, Daniel; Su, Andrew I. (2017-08-11). “Academics can help shape Wikipedia”. Science. 357 (6351): 557–558. doi:10.1126/science.aao0462.

Lead image (white books):   Michael Mandiberg (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons

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

Competing interests:

All authors have contributed to Wikipedia articles, are current participants in WikiProject Medicine, and are on the editorial board of WikiJournal of Medicine. Thomas Shafee is on the editorial board of PLOS Genetics. James Heilman is a former and current member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees. The authors do not receive financial compensation for their contributions to these projects.

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Gwinyai Masukume
James Heilman
Diptanshu Das

Tuwhera whakaahua: can indigenous perspectives help to transform scholarly communication?

Luqman Hayes, Scholarly Communications Team Leader, Auckland University of Technology

Luqman-Hayes-webinar#5
Luqman Hayes

The scholarly communication/open access discourse is not short on voices, which makes writing anything on the topic a somewhat fraught exercise.

It seems at times as though no amount of strong argument, lobbying and initiative is able to shift the discussion to a more transformative position offering viable, sustainable alternatives in the face of the status quo.

So why add another voice? Especially if it is to tell the story of setting up an open access journal publishing service at a university. This is not new, right? But what if the process of doing so revealed another way of considering the concept of open access?

Horopaki (context)

In October 2016 Auckland University of Technology (AUT) launched its journal hosting service with two peer-reviewed titles edited by AUT academics. The decision to do so had been in response to calls from academics within the University to provide such a hosting. Those calls led to a feasibility study by the Library in 2014, some University funds and a project which set out with fairly modest objectives and a narrow focus (You can read the full story here.)

Tuwhera (opening up)

Perhaps it was the thinking around the naming of the platform which enabled the aperture of those aims to broaden. Tuwhera is a te reo Māori word which can be translated as a stative verb (be open) or the modified noun forms (open, opening up). In choosing a Māori word for our service we wanted to acknowledge the Treaty of Waitangi as well as to consider that the work we do and the way in which we do it can have a bicultural aspect to it.

Mindful of tokenism, we consulted with Māori members of academic staff at AUT around the naming of the service and when we launched, we did so with significant Māori elements or tikanga, as part of the ceremony, such as waiata (song) and karakia (blessing or prayer) to celebrate and bless Tuwhera.

The launch was held around the time of Open Access Week in 2016 when events and conversations taking place catalysed some of those wider possibilities: using Tuwhera for lay summaries of new and ongoing research or for launching entirely new publications to expose scholarship unique to the Pacific region not being disseminated elsewhere.

The definition of what we understood Tuwhera to be evolved. Our criteria for selecting journals was fast becoming outdated and we were presented with the opportunity of reconfiguring the platform so as to incubate new publications and offer new and non-traditional publishing opportunities to emerging and early career researchers alongside their more established peers. Tuwhera was taking on a kind of whānau (family) role, being a support and a guide and providing a home. An open home, if you will.

Akoranga (learnings)

It seemed as though there were lessons here from the Māori concepts underpinning our work, an insight which was echoed elsewhere, such as by Mal Booth in a blog post on ‘Revolutionising Scholarly Publishing’ in which he made similar observations about learning from indigenous approaches to sharing knowledge.

Such concepts in the context of Aotearoa might include Mātauranga Maori (Māori knowledge) – a complex and “open” system of knowing the world passed on through the layering of stories, wisdom and narratives and expressed via elements such as whakapapa (genealogy), kōrero (discussion), waiata (song) and whakatauki (proverbs).

Further evidence of how looking to indigenous worldviews might influence the scholarly communication environment can be found in Chris Cormack’s 2015 talk at Open Source Open Society on the application of Marae-based consensus building in developing free software as part of creating a commons-based future. Cormack cites several of the underlying principles of the marae (or Māori meeting house) and refers to a range of whakatauki which may usefully guide us away from the perspective of knowledge as residing with the individual.

Whakaahua (transformation)

As a team we have sought to bring shared values into the way in which we work, such as the African term Ubuntu (a person is a person through other people) which has similarities to the Maori concept of mana tangata- to be a person is not to stand alone but to be one with one’s people.

Might such a philosophical reassessment of the largely meritocratic, individualistic values and motivations which currently drive academic output help to shape a sustainable, culturally relevant, holistic and communitarian scholarly communication landscape?

The answer may be all of ours to discover, as the whakatauki states:

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive

You can hear more about Tuwhera and the influence of te Ao Maori (Maori worldview) on our work by listening to my webinar presentation from 15th August 2017.