Reflections on the OAR Conference 2013

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

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

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

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

Global and National Open Access Developments

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

  • The current publishing model is not sustainable.

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

  • The public remain depressingly confused about open access.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Chinese publishers are increasingly ambitious in the international market.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video of presentations from Day One

Open Data, Open Innovation and Open Access Publishing

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

  • Having a mandate alone is not enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video of presentations from Day Two

Open Access Publishing – feature article

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


The full report is downloadable as a pdf here 

Open Access Publishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC & NHMRC OAWk panel discussion

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

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

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


Summary of the discussion

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

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

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

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

Time points during the recording:

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

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

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

28:48 – Question session begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case study: Implementing DSpace at Ballarat Heath Services

This blog by Gemma Siemensma, Library Manager at Ballarat Health Services describes the thinking and processes behind the introduction of their DSpace repository, the Ballarat Health Services Digital Repository.

Ballarat Health Services (BHS) is the major hospital for western Victoria. Located an hour west of Melbourne it is the principal referral centre for the Grampians region, which extends from Bacchus Marsh to the South Australian border, covering a catchment of 48,000 square kilometres, and providing services to almost 250,000 people.

Why a digital repository?

There were two reasons why we decided to head down the repository path:

  1. The BHS Library kept hardcopy folders of research publications. There was no access or knowledge of what hospital staff had produced except the occasional mention in an Annual Report. Using an Endnote library was not an option as the organisation doesn’t license it.
  2. Piles and piles of “historical stuff” was dumped in the library. People didn’t want to throw out anything of value so they kindly gave it to us. We had no idea what we had and were often asked if we had old photos etc. that were of past staff or old buildings.

I liked the idea of a repository as I could chase the copyright for researchers and make the items freely and publicly available. A repository was clearly in line with my organisation’s values as it would allow staff to be recognised as researchers and enhance the research reputation of the organisation.

Where I started…

It didn’t take me long to realise that I needed to go down the repository path. I had explored the functionality of our existing catalogue but it wouldn’t suffice. I spoke with several vendors to hear about their products and had a bit of a play with these online. For me (and my miniscule budget) the costs were extremely prohibitive. I also spoke to repository staff at universities to garner their ideas and opinions (thanks to staff at the University of Ballarat and Swinburne University of Technology whom I pestered on several occasions).

I put a call out to the aliaHEALTH e-list to see what other hospitals were doing. There were few responses however one did mention that they were heading in the same direction and were looking at using DSpace which could be hosted externally by Prosentient Systems based in Sydney. Hospital IT Departments can be restrictive and Prosentient could provide the support and training I would require. I also read lots and lots about different repositories and played around with them to see if they would suit our needs.


We decided to use DSpace for a variety of reasons. It was a lot cheaper than other systems and Peninsula Health were also looking to head down this path so we figured we could work in tandem. DSpace (through Prosentient Systems) would come configured and hosted and they would look after the technical side. These are skills that no one is our library (EFT of 3.2) possessed at a high end level. This included helping us set up an IT sub-domain; configuring the site; Handle registration; Google analytic set up; indexing on Trove; training; and helping to test, re-test and tweak the system. It also included on-going support and maintenance which we pay for annually. We had worked with Prosentient before (they look after Gratisnet ILL system for health libraries) so we were confident in their abilities to help us. DSpace was also very popular with universities so for me it had credibility and lots of support out there which I could tap into when required.

What’s included?

Our repository is divided into two sections:

  1. Research – this contains published journal articles, books, book chapters, conference papers and theses. We chase copyright from publishers for all completed works. We are yet to chase authors for pre-publication versions as we are still getting a feel for how this all works. This is something we hope to do more of in 2014. We currently sit at about 20% of full text research but expect this to rise.
  2. Historical content – so far this includes Annual Reports from BHS. These have been scanned and indexed in Trove. In the future we aim to add in newspapers articles, photographs, internal reports and recordings.


Before beginning the repository it was put to both the BHS & St John of God Human Research and Ethics Committee (HREC) and the BHS Research Advisory Committee to garner support. Both were keen to see the repository implemented as it highlighted what research was undertaken within BHS and the region. The repository was also added to organisation wide policies. This included the “Rules for Publication/Presentation” policy as well as embedding it in HREC documentation. Each year BHS hold a Research Symposium and I am asked to speak about where we are up to and encourage people to deposit works into the repository. I also promote the repository in the internal staff newsletter. There is also the possibility for external promotion in the local newspaper in relation to the historical documents. The historical components also open up opportunities to work with local historical groups, the research room at the local public library and other local archives.


The BHS Digital Repository has just ticked over its first birthday. In that time we have managed to add just over 400 items. Three-quarters of these relate to research and we have many more to add. The researchers we worked closely with in the initial stages of the project are very keen to alert us to new publications and we are finding that when we approach staff about publications they are happy to give us a list of all their work for inclusion.

Library value

In its vision to provide excellence in health care, BHS is strongly committed to the values of research, continuing education and collaboration with other service providers and is committed to sharing its knowledge and experiences to build a better health system. The BHS Library supports these values through a number of library initiatives (literature searching; database training; electronic journals and books etc.)

Over the last three years, the majority of health libraries have remained static or experienced a decrease in their budget, staff hours and space. As a manager I know that I need the library to add value to the organisation for them to recognise that we are a resource worth keeping. I feel that implementing a repository has done this. Not only has it shown us that we have transferable skills, but it has opened up professional visibility for both the organisation and the library. We communicate more widely across the organisation and in doing so are promoting the library and showing staff that we are more than just books. When we talk to researchers it puts the library in their head space and they approach us more frequently for help. It’s a win-win situation.

Gemma Siemensma
Library Manager

This is a version of a paper being presented at the 10th HLi conference: #vital on October 18th 2013

BIS Report part two – Information & observations

The BIS report Open Access: Fifth Report of Session 2013–14 was heavily researched and offers a wide-ranging insight into the current state of open access. This blog cherry picks some of the useful aspects of the report with additional commentary if relevant.

This blog is the second of two looking at the BIS Report. The other – “BIS Report part one: Finding & implications” – is available here.

The blog covers under the headings: Supporting arguments for open access, Amount of research being made available, and Does green open access threaten subscriptions?

We would like to note that the AOASG has had some (indirect) input to the BIS report. The report referred to “reports of a UK publisher in social sciences switching from a zero embargo policy to require a 24 month embargo, citing its accordance with the recent change to UK open access policy” (par 46).

That evidence was the Richard Poynder article ‘Emerald’s green starts to fade‘ which in turn was triggered by the AOASG blog ‘Walking in quicksand keeping up with copyright agreements’  Heady days indeed.

Supporting arguments for open access

The report contains some useful information that could be employed in various discussions around open access.

The first was the statement that public funds are used three times in the research process:
• “to pay the academics who conduct the research
• to pay the salaries of the academics who conduct the peer review process, and finally
• to pay for access to this research through institutional journal subscriptions, which is the dominant business model in the scholarly publishing market”. (par 12)

There is also a very useful graph comparing the growth of serials expenditure mapped against the consumer price index from 1986 – 2010:

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 6.09.16 PM

Given the concern that the money being invested by the government in research is being diverted into publisher profits, the report notes the increase in Elsevier’s profit margin, which was 34% at the time of the original 2004 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Report on open access. It was 37% by the time of this BIS report. (par 15)

Amount of research being made available

There were some interesting facts and figures relating to the percentage of work available open access in the UK.

The first fact was that compared to a worldwide average of 20% of research available open access, “the proportion of the UK’s total annual research output that was available through open access in 2012 was about 40%” (par 20).

COMMENT: This is excellent for the UK. We do not have comparative information in Australia, although we are working on a method for determining this. Currently there is information collected that indicates the total number of items that are available, but this does not answer the question: ‘what percentage of work published in the previous year is available in a repository open access the following year’.

Even more illuminating was the fact that “Green currently provides seven-eighths of the 40% of the UK’s research outputs that are open access” (par 22).

COMMENT: This is very interesting. We have known for a while that more research is being made available open access thro ugh green rather than gold open access – the 2010 Bjork study concluded 11.9% of research is available through green as opposed to 8.5% via gold That study showed that of the work being made available open access 58% was through green open access.

The BIS report is stating that 87.5% of UK research is being made available in this manner. It also states that the Committee: “received strong evidence that Green is dominant internationally, with the latest data showing that Green accounts for about 75% of all open access worldwide” (par 33). This is a dramatic and impressive endorsement for the efficiency of green open access.

Note the UK numbers are dwarfed by the “University of Liège in Belgium (collecting 83% of its annual outputs in its OA repository)” (par26). This is because the university has directly aligned open access to their promotion system. The report noted that compliance with mandates is higher if it is “a condition of funding compliance and if deposit is linked to institutional performance evaluation, research grant applications and research assessment” (par 26).

Does green open access threaten subscriptions?

Far from threatening subscriptions, it might be the case that having work in a repository acts as a promotional tool for the subscription journal: “The €4 million EU funded PEER (Publishing and the Ecology of European Research) project (2012) showed that traffic to journal websites increased when articles were made available through a publicly accessible repository, possibly because interest grew as articles were disseminated more widely” (par 44).

The BIS report noted that “there is no available evidence base to indicate that short or even zero embargoes cause cancellation of subscriptions” (par 44).

COMMENT: Indeed, the only ‘evidence’ to support the claim that immediate green open access threatens the ‘sustainability’ (read: profit) of commercial publishers comes in the form of the exceptionally questionable ALPSP survey sent out early last year to librarians . Heather Morrison wrote a piece on the methodological flaws with that survey

And yet, when questioned earlier this year by Richard Poynder, this is what Springer referred to as their ‘evidence’.

There are, however currently two clear opportunities for the industry to collect some actual evidence either way (as opposed to opinions on a badly expressed hypothetical):

1. Taylor & Francis have decided to indefinitely expand their trial of immediate green permissions to articles in their Library & Information Science journals. If they were to run a comparison of those titles against the titles in, say , three other disciplinary areas over two to three years they would be able to ascertain if this decision has made any difference to their subscription patterns.
2. Earlier this year (21 March) SAGE changed their policy to immediate green open access – again this offers a clean comparison between their subscription levels prior to and after the implementation of this policy.

If it is the case that immediate green open access disrupts subscriptions then we can have that conversation when the evidence presents itself. Until then we are boxing at shadows.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group

Shall we sing in CHORUS or just SHARE? Responses to the US OA policy

Well things certainly have been moving in the land of the free since the Obama administration announced its Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research policy  in February.

In short, the policy requires that within 12 months US Federal agencies that spend over $100 million in research and development have to have a plan to “support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government”. (For a more detailed analysis of that policy see this previous blog.)

In the last couple of weeks two opposing ‘solutions’ have been proposed for the implementation of the policy.

In the publishing corner…

A coalition of subscription based journal publishers has suggested a system called CHORUS – which stands for Clearing House for the Open Research of the United States. The proposal is for a “framework for a possible public-private partnership to increase public access to peer-reviewed publications that report on federally-funded research”.

The plan is to create a domain called where publishers can deposit the metadata about papers that have relevant funding. When a user wants to find research they can look via CHORUS or through the funding agency site, and then view the paper through a link back to the publishers site.

While this sounds reasonable the immediate questions that leap out is why would this not be searchable through search engines, and what embargo periods are being held on the full text of publications? The limited amount of information available on the proposal does not seem to address these questions.

The Association of American Publishers released their explanation of the proposal ‘Understanding CHORUS’ on 5 June. There is not a great deal of other information available, although The Chronicle published a news story about it.

The Scholarly Kitchen blog – run by the Society for Scholarly Publishing – put up a post on 4 June 2013 with some further details. According to the post the CHORUS group represents a broad-based group of scholarly publishers, both commercial and not-for-profit There are 11 members on the steering group and many signatory organisations. The blog states the group collectively publishes the vast majority of the articles reporting on federally-funded research.

The time frame is fast, with plans including:

  • High-level System Architecture — Friday, June 14
  • Technical Specifications — Friday, July 26
  • Initial Proof-of-Concept — Friday, August 30

On this blog there is the comment that CHORUS is:

a much more modern and sensible response to the demand for access to published papers after a reasonable embargo period, as it doesn’t require an expensive and duplicative secondary repository like PubMed Central. Instead, it uses networked technologies in the way they were intended to be used, leveraging the Internet and the infrastructure of scientific publishing without diverting taxpayer dollars from research budgets.

Not surprisingly the comment coming from commercial publishers about diverting taxpayer dollars from research budgets has attracted some criticism, not least from Stevan Harnad in his commentary “Yet another Trojan Horse from the publishing industry” :

And, without any sense of the irony, the publisher lobby (which already consumes so much of the scarce funds available for research) is attempting to do this under the pretext of saving “precious research funds” for research!

Harnad’s main argument against this proposal is that it represents an attempt to take the power to provide open access out of the hands of researchers so that publishers gain control over both the timetable and the infrastructure for providing open access.

Mike Eisen in his blog on the topic points out that taxpayers will end up paying for the service anyway:

publishers will without a doubt try to fold the costs of creating and maintaining the system into their subscription/site license charges – the routinely ask libraries to pay for all of their “value added” services. Thus not only would potential savings never materialize, the government would end up paying the costs of CHORUS indirectly.

Harnad notes that this is a continuation from previous activities by publishers to counter the open access movement, not least the 2007 creation of PRISM (the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine)  which grew from the American Association of Publishers employing a public relations expert to “counter messages from groups such as the Public Library of Science (PLoS)”

In the university corner….

Three days after the Scholarly Kitchen blog, the development paper for a proposal called SHARE was released from a group of university and library organisations.

The paper for SHARE (the SHared Access Research Ecosystem) states the White House directive ‘provides a compelling reason to integrate higher education’s investments to date into a system of cross-institutional digital repositories’. The plan is to federate existing university-based digital repositories, obviating the need for central repositories.

The Chronicle published a story on the proposal on the same day.

The SHARE system would draw on the metadata and repository knowledge already in place in the institutional community, such as using ORCID numbers to identify researchers. There would be a requirement that all items added to the system include the correct metadata like: the award identifier, PI number and the repository in which it sits.

This type of normalisation of metadata is something repository managers have already addressed in Australia, in response to the development of Trove at the National Library of Australia which pulls information in from all Australian institutional repositories. Also more recently here, there has been agreement about the metadata field to be used to identify research from a grant to comply with the NHMRC and the ARC policies.

In the SHARE proposal, existing repositories, including subject based repositories, would work together to ensure metadata matching to become a ‘linked node’ in the system. The US has a different university system to Australia with a mixture of private and state-funded institutions. But every state has one or more state-funded universities and most of these already have repositories in place. Other universities without repositories would use the repository of their relevant state university.

A significant challenge in the proposal, as it reads, is the affirmation that for the White House policy to succeed, federal agencies will need universities to require of their Principal Investigators; “sufficient copyright licensing licensed to enable permanent archiving, access, and reuse of publication”. While sounding simple, in practicality, this means altering university open access and intellectual property policies, and running a substantial educational campaign amongst researchers. This is no small feat.

The timeframe the SHARE proposal puts forward is in phases, with requirement and capabilities developed within 12-18 months, and the supporting software completed within another six months. So there is a two-year minimum period after initiation of implementation before the system would be operational. It is also possible that given the policy issues, it could take longer to eventuate in reality.

There has been less discussion about the SHARE proposal on open access lists, but this is hardly surprising as more energy on these lists will be directed towards criticism of the publishers’ proposal.

So which one will win?

Despite the two proposals emerging within days of one another, the sophistication of both proposals indicates that they have been in development from some time.

Indeed, the CHROUS proposal would have required lead-time to negotiate ‘buy-in’ from the different publishers. On the other hand, the SHARE proposal includes a complex flow chart on page 4 which appears to be the equivalent to the ‘High-level System Architecture’ the CHROUS proposal states would be ready on Friday 14 June. According to a post on the LibLicense discussion list, SHARE was developed without awareness of CHORUS, so it is not an intentional ‘counterattack’.

There are glaring differences between the two proposals. SHARE envisions text and data mining as part of the system, two capabilities missing from the CHORUS proposal. SHARE also provides searching through Google rather than requiring the user to go to the system to find materials as CHORUS seems to be proposing. But as Peter Suber points out: “CHORUS sweetens the deal by proposing OA to the published versions of articles, rather than to the final versions of the author’s peer-reviewed manuscripts”.

So which will be adopted? As one commentator said CHORUS will work because publishers have experience setting up this kind of system, whereas SHARE does not have a good track record in this area. They suggest that.

A cynical publisher might say: Let’s fight for CHORUS, but let’s make sure SHARE wins. Then we (the publishers) have the best of all worlds: the costs of the service will not be ours to bear, the system will work haphazardly and pose little threat to library subscriptions, and the blame will lie with others.

This is an area to watch.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group

Journal editors take note – you have the power

Some interesting news has come across my desk today, both as an open access advocate and someone who is based in a library.

The editorial board from the Journal of Library Administration has resigned in protest of the restrictive licensing policy imposed by its publisher Taylor & Francis (T&F). Brian Mathews includes the text of the resignation in his blog here

They might not be aware of it, but the editorial board are following in the footsteps of other editorial boards. A webpage put together by the Open Access Directory called Journal declarations of independence  lists examples of “the resignation of editors from a journal in order to launch a comparable journal with a friendlier publisher”. There are 20 journals listed on the pages, with the timeline running from 1989 to 2008.

What is a licensing policy?

For those people new to open access, a quick explainer. This is referring to the restrictions the publisher is imposing on what an author can do with copies of their published work. T&F say on their author pages that authors who have published work in a T&F journal are limited in what they can do with copies of the work:

  • Authors are not allowed to deposit the Publisher’s Version

This is fine – the publisher does manage the peer review process and provide the electronic distribution platform. They also have investment in the layout and design of the page and the manufacture of the downloadable pdf. Most publishers do not allow the Published Version to be made available.

  • Authors are allowed to put a copy of the Submitted Version (this is the version sent to the journal for peer review) into their institution’s web-based repository. In some disciplines this is called the pre-print. T&F rather confusingly call this the ‘Author’s Original Manuscript’.

So far so good – it seems quite generous. But in many disciplines, sharing the Submitted Version is inappropriate because it may contain errors which could reflect badly on the author, or even in some instances be dangerous to be made public without correction.

  • Authors are allowed to put a copy of the Accepted Version (the author’s post-peer reviewed and corrected version) into the institutional repository. T&F call this the ‘Author’s Accepted Manuscript’.

Again this seems generous. But the author can only do this “twelve (12) months after the publication of the Version of Scholarly Record in science, engineering, behavioral science, and medicine; and eighteen (18) months after first publication for arts, social science, and humanities journals, in digital or print form”.

Bear in mind the peer review and amendment process can take many months and there is often a long delay between an article’s acceptance and publication. This means the work is only able to be made open access two to five (or more) years after the original research was done.

This is what the Journal of Library Administration editors were originally protesting about, and then they took exception to the suggestion by T&F that authors could take up the open access ‘option’ for a fee USD$2995 per article. This amount is far beyond the reach of most H&SS scholars.

The lure of the commercial publisher

Talking to stressed, overworked editors it is easy to see why allowing a commercial publisher to take over the responsibility of publishing their journal is attractive.

But there is a catch. For a start, in the conversations I have had to date with journal editors who have ‘sold’ their title to a commercial publisher, it seems there is no exchange of money for ‘goodwill’ in the way there would be for the sale of any other business.

In addition, when a commercial publisher owns a journal title, it means they impose their own copyright transfer agreements – which determine what the authors are able to do with their work. This is often more restrictive than what the independent editorial team was allowing.

But the most dramatic difference to operations when a previously independent journal is bought by a commercial publisher is the amount they charge for subscriptions. For example, the Journal of Australian Studies  has a subscription which comes as part of the membership to the International Australian Studies Association (InASA). Members receive other benefits such as discounts to conferences. It costs AUD105 each year.

But if you consult the journal’s page on the T&F website  the online subscription is USD781 and the Print & Online subscription is USD893.

It is not that T&F are the only ones, mind you. The Journal of Religious History  is published by Wiley. Members of the Religious History Association can join for AUD45, and receive the print and online version of the journal. But subscriptions through Wiley range from USD593 for an institutional Print & Online subscription, to USD76 for a personal Print & Online subscription.

And when you start looking at Wiley’s permissions they are even more restrictive than T&F. Again the author can archive the Submitted Version, but for the Accepted Version there is an embargo of 0-24 months ‘depending on the journal’ and even then written permission from the publisher is required (good luck with that).

So what can journal editors do?

For a start remember that you are crucial to the success of a journal. Publishers rely on their editors absolutely to produce journals, which means you come into negotiations from a position of strength.

So if you are an editor of an independent journal and are considering ‘selling’ your journal to a commercial publisher the issues worth consideration include:

  • What are the restrictions the publisher will place on the re-use of the work published in the journal? Do they align with your current (or intended future) position? Are they prepared to negotiate these with you?
  • What will the subscription cost be to the journal? Does that mean some readers will not be able to afford subscriptions?

If you are the editor of a journal that is currently being published by a commercial publisher:

  1. Check out the restrictions imposed on your authors by looking the journal up in Sherpa/Romeo
  2. If those restrictions do not meet with the philosophy of the dissemination of your journal, consider contacting the publisher to request a less restrictive permissions policy

There is evidence that this has worked in the past. On 1 November 2011, T&F announced a two year pilot for Library and Information Science Journals, meaning that authors published in 35 library and information science journals have the right to deposit their Accepted Version into their institutional repository.

It seems that library journals have a reasonable track record on this front. In March this year- Emerald Group Publishing Limited announced a ‘special partnership’ with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Under this agreement, papers that have their origins in an IFLA conference or project and are published in one of Emerald’s LIS journals can become open access nine months after publication.

Moving your journal to an online open access platform

If you are the editor of an independent journal and you are considering moving online, some questions to consider include:

  • Who is your readership and how do they read the journal? In some cases the journal is read in lunchrooms in hospitals for example, so the printed version is necessary
  • Can the journal go exclusively online and assist readers by providing an emailed alert for each issue?

There are many tools to assist journal editors manage the publication process. The Open Journal System (OJS) was developed by the Public Knowledge Project, and is an open source (free to download) program to manage journals.

Australian universities host many open access journals (listed here) with a considerable portion published using OJS. Most of these journals are run with some subsidy from the institution, and do not charge authors article processing charges. From the researcher’s perspective they are ‘free to publish, free to read’.

In addition, the National Library of Australia runs the Open Publish program which hosts many open access journals.

If you have questions about this and want to know more please leave a reply to this post.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group