Australasian Libraries Needed to Help Scale Knowledge Unlatched

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

Contact: @KUnlatched

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Open access update May 2014

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

Open Access News

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

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

Open Access Week 2014 theme is Generation Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsevier expenditure – 24 April 2014

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

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

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

Declaration on open access for LIS authors – March 2014

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

Complying with mandates – March 2014

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

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

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

New open access policies – international

Chinese Academy of Sciences Open Access Policy – 16 May 2014

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

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

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

Reports & Research

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

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

British Academy study on OA journals in HASS – April 2014

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

UKSG special issue on OA monographs – April 2014

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

Aligning repositories – March 2014

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

Analysis of deposit rules of 100 largest journals

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

Alternative ways to value journals

Journal Openness Index

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


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

Quality Open Access Market

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

Open Review

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


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

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

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

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

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

An OA publisher’s perspective on CC-BY

As the Director of the University of Adelaide Press, I am participating in the Humanities and Social Sciences session in the OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association) conference in Latvia, Riga later this month.

OASPA was initially set up to group together Open Access journal publishers, and now is keen to include book publishers, in all disciplines.

At present, which is why I am speaking, OASPA require that their members not only have published at least one Open Access book, but also that it is published with a licence that allows the “broadest re-use of published material possible”.

Their preference is the ‘CC-BY’ licence, now required by the United Kingdom funding bodies if they fund research, the European Union, and increasingly other funding bodies around the world.

I do not believe this licence is automatically appropriate for Humanities and Social Sciences which generally publish in books. 

‘Open Access’ as a term was formally adopted in the Budapest Open Access Initiative in December 2001, with the aim of assisting faster advances in Sciences, Medicine and Health. 

Subsequently, the six Creative Commons licences were created, to provide globally coherent copyright licences.

I do not have a quibble with the most open licence of all, the CC-BY licence, when it is used in Sciences, Medicine and Health.  Or for that matter, if any author in the Humanities and Social Sciences wishes to use it.

My quibble is when it is mandated to all of us to use.  I disagree flatly and categorically that when there are six different Creative Commons licences that only one must be used.

The CC-BY licence not only allows all readers the free, open access to the text, and to share it and quote it, but also to adapt it and create what they call, mysteriously, “derivative works”.

There is no requirement for these derivative works to be subjected to the same rigorous peer-reviewing before publishing that the original work had to pass.

It also allows them to commercialise their derivative work, without needing to share the profits with the original author, the only condition being that they attribute the original work.

No one yet has explained what a derivative work is to me, and even in the legal language of the licence itself, it remains a vague term.

This licence is undoubtedly perfect when applied to the results of fast-moving medical research, for example in genetics.

But it could equally allow an unscrupulous publisher to patch together a very good textbook and make a killing, probably selling it back to the same institutions that produced the original scholarly texts.

We already are more than aware of the way institutions are forced to buy back their own research in journal packages, in which they did not pay for the content, indeed charged a fee to publish it, then took ownership of the copyright, and also receive subsequent copyright use payments – like through the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL).

As an author of books myself, I am concerned about a licence allowing someone to take the results of years of original research, largely written in donated time, reword it, change it, and then turn a profit from it.

Of the people I have talked to who insist on the single use of the CC-BY licence, I wonder how many of them have published a book? 

On the other hand, I believe that the Creative Commons licences are essential for Open Access publishing to work efficiently and effectively.  The University of Adelaide Press will be introducing them in future titles, but will allow authors to choose which one suits their work.

John Emerson
Director, University of Adelaide Press

Walking in quicksand – keeping up with copyright agreements

As any repository manager will tell you, one of the biggest headaches for providing open access to research materials is complying with publisher agreements.


Most publishers will allow some form of an article published in their journals to be made open access. There is a very useful site that helps people work out what the conditions are for a given journal or publisher, called Sherpa RoMEO*.

In many institutions the responsibility for copyright checking is taken by the repository manager (rather than requiring the author to do it), and usually the workflow includes some or all of:

  • Checking Sherpa RoMEO for local journals
  • Consulting (and adding to) an internal database
  • Looking at the journal/conference/publisher webpages
  • Locating and consulting at the Copyright Transfer Agreement the author signed
  • Contacting the publisher directly for permission if the OA position is not able to be determined using any of these resources.

One problem repository managers face is that publishers sometimes change their position on open access. Often there is no public announcement from the publisher; especially when the change imposes more restrictions on ‘green’ open access. This is where the blogosphere and discussion lists (such as the CAIRSS List in Australia) are invaluable in keeping practitioners on top of new issues in the area.

Some recent cases where publishers set more restrictions on ‘green’ open access include Springer and IEEE.

[*SHERPA stands for Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and Access, and RoMEO stands for Rights Metadata for Open archiving.]


The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the biggest organisation for these fields. They run many high status conferences and publish the proceedings. Because in this field traditionally authors have been expected to provide camera-ready copy for conference proceedings, it has long been accepted practice for authors to make copies of their work available on their own webpages or in repositories. And until December 2010 IEEE sanctioned that (as long as the repository attached a specific notice).

Then on 1 January 2011 IEEE changed the rules and said people could no longer put up the Published Version. They were still allowed to put up the Submitted Version (preprint) or the Accepted Version (postprint). The policy is on the IEEE website here. While this still allows IEEE works to be made available in compliance with the recent Australian mandates, a recent blog  argues that the re-use restrictions on the Accepted Version of IEEE publications imposed by IEEE means that the works are not open access in compliance with many overseas mandate requirements.


Springer also recently changed their rules. They were previously a fully ‘green’ publisher which meant authors were allowed to make their Accepted Versions available immediately on publication. But this has recently changed.

According to their Self-Archiving Policy: “Authors may self-archive the author’s accepted manuscript of their articles on their own websites. Authors may also deposit this version of the article in any repository, provided it is only made publicly available 12 months after official publication or later. …”

So now there is a 12 month embargo on making the Accepted Version available. It would seem that Springer have altered their position in response to the introduction of the RCUK mandate.

Indeed many other publishers have made announcements in response to that mandate. These range in form across videos from BioMed Central to announcements such as from Oxford University Press to a blog post from SAGE.

There is some argument in discussion lists that the new Springer position is contradictory – that institutional webpages are effectively the author’s website, given the way many repositories are embedded with the staff pages for institutions. This simply indicates the complexity of these agreements and how challenging the interpretation of them can be even for people whose work centres in this area.

And this opens up a new, emerging issue.

Separate publisher agreements

So far this blog has been talking about publisher agreements with authors. But some publisher’s agreements state that if authors are publishing research that results from a funder that has an open access mandate, there are different rules. Two very prominent ones have been Elsevier and Wiley. Generally these different rules require a ‘separate agreement’ between the funder and the publisher. There is more information about separate agreements here.

Follow these links to see the arrangements Wiley and Elsevier have made to manage the RCUK mandate.


Emerald is another publisher which has recently changed its position on open access, in this case only for deposits which are mandated. For these publications Emerald have recently adopted a 24 month embargo. The text on their site says: “if a mandate is in place but funding is not available to pay an APC [article processing charge], you may deposit the post-print of your article into a subject or institutional repository and your funder’s research catalogue 24 months after official publication”.

Emerald say they are prepared to “work in partnership” to “establish Open Access agreements that support mutual interests”. One such agreement is with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) which permits the deposit of an Accepted Version (post print) with only a nine month embargo.

So if an author publishes through Emerald they are subject to one of three possible copyright agreements depending on whether they are researching using funds that have a mandate associated with the funds and whether they are publishing in an IFLA journal.

Library agreements?

To add to the confusion, it appears there is a third form of agreement relating to copyright permissions beyond the copyright transfer agreement the author has signed and any separate agreement that may be in place as a result of a mandate.

It seems that publishers are now approaching libraries directly over the issue of access to publications. That is, they are seeking to sign an agreement directly with the library.

According to discussions online, it seems that there are two types of clauses attached to institutional license agreements – either a new clause in existing contracts at renewal time, or a separate agreement that serves as an addendum to the contract in between renewals. It is unclear whether these agreements would override the copyright transfer agreement the author signed. Having two agreements adds to the confusion and begs the question: which one is binding?

I am not privvy to what is potentially being agreed to in these new clauses. It is almost a moot point. The issue is that if institutions sign these agreements then the waters are further muddied.

Repository managers then potentially have three processes they have to check:

  1. The author’s copyright transfer agreement – using the workflows mentioned above
  2. They need to know if a particular work is the result of a mandate, and if so determine if it is published with a publisher that requires a separate agreement, and establish whether an agreement is in place
  3. They might also need to be on top of the license agreements or extra clauses their library has with individual publishers.

It is complicated and time consuming.


These changing rules have a potentially profound effect on the rate of the uptake of repositories in some institutions. Repository structures and associated workflows vary dramatically. In some cases the institution maintains one repository for both open access materials and reporting publication databases, others have separate repositories for different purposes.

And there can be big variations in the way publications are recruited for the repository.

In the majority of cases there is an allocated repository manager who takes responsibility for checking copyright compliance of deposited items. But some institutions expect their researchers to do this and to indicate that they have done so when they deposit their papers to the repository. This adds a level of almost insurmountable complexity to what some have argued is a simple matter of a ‘few keystrokes’.

While researchers *should* be aware of the conditions of the copyright transfer agreement they have signed with their publisher, in reality many are not. Often they do not even have a copy of what they have signed. While this oversight can be managed through the use of Sherpa RoMEO (if the researcher is, indeed aware of the service), it is unrealistic to expect an individual researcher to also:

  • know whether their institutional library has signed an external agreement,
  • know whether their work is the result of funding that has a mandate associated with it, and
  • know whether their publisher has a special agreement in relation to that mandate.

These changing copyright arrangements mean that the process of making research openly accessible through a repository is becoming less and less able to be undertaken by individuals. By necessity, repository deposit is becoming solely the responsibility of the institution.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group