Identifying publishing outlets that follow best practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Macquarie University is a member of AOASG.




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

17 May 2016: in this month’s newsletter

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


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

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

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

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

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

Responses are invited by June 3, 2016.

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

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

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

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

What’s new in OA & scholarly publishing globally

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

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

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

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

Meetings on open scholarship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book publishing

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

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

Want more OA news?

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

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

Upcoming events in OA & scholarly publishing

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

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

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

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

OA week is back!

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

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

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

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

Recent writing & resources on OA

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

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

UK Open access: review of implementation of the RCUK policy

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.31.55 pmOpening up access to research outputs is undoubtedly vital to achieve optimal return on public investment in research, increase national benefit from research, increase international visibility and future research collaboration.

The UK has taken a difference approach to open access than that of most other nations. The April 2013 policy of the seven UK funding councils under the umbrella term Research Councils UK  (RCUK), follow the recommendations of the 2012 Finch report to the UK Government. The policy has been the subject of much scrutiny because it was a policy position based on the gold model which required funding – it is funded primarily by block grants to UK institutions to pay article processing charges – APCs. As Richard Poynder has noted the Finch Report “ignited a firestorm of protest, not least because it estimated that its recommendations would cost the UK research community an additional £50-60 million a year”.

The Research Councils UK have now published an independent report on the first 16 months of the implementation of their OA policy – one that adds a remarkable amount of data.

Care is taken by the authors of the report to state that it is not a review of the policy, nor to enter into a debate about green versus gold access. The scene is set by the existing policy, although the figures do, in themselves, raise issues about the approach the UK has taken to open access. On a positive the reports says “One common factor amongst all stakeholder groups was a general acceptance and welcome given to the concept of open access.”

The headline figure is significant – £UK16.9 million was spent from the UK Open Access fund in 2013/14. While the early concerns about reaching around half a million pounds has not been reached, it is a very significant expenditure. It should be noted that the limit on costs is affected by a wide variety of factors including organisational capabilities.

Studying slightly over half of the institutions funded through the Fund (55 of 107), the report identifies that implementation of the policy occurred without a streamlined cost-effective monitoring or data collection process. Parallel systems for gold and green access appear to have caused complexities and confusion. The report notes “it is apparent that larger, more distributed organisations have been unable to fully track publications that have been made open access through the deposit of author final manuscripts in repositories”.

The data on the actual APC costs is revealing:

  • Maximum average  APC is £UK3,710
  • Minimum average publisher APC is £UK72
  • Median average publisher APC is £UK1,393

Perhaps the most interesting figure is the number of publishers who received revenue from the fund:

  • 80% of papers were from 14 publishers
  • 90% were from 24 publishers

Who are the largest recipients of APCs (ie publishers)? The report lists the largest recipients in a very useful appendix – Elsevier and Wiley are by far the largest and only two fully open access publishers, PLOS and BMC, are in the top 10:


Clearly with the concentration of publishing in the hands of such a small number of publishers any change in payment policy and practice of fewer than 10 of them for example would have an extremely strong impact on the system.

Written and oral evidence to the review panel found that academics were “’confused’ and ‘disengaged’” in relation to the policy. There was especial confusion over the licenses required. This raises the question of the role of RCUK and other research bodies  and institutions in communicating the policy and the transparency of OA on impact. Danny Kingsley in her blog post on the report notes that the report’s comment that the RCUK preference for gold is a barrier to implementation is anecdotally found at Cambridge University.

Four major areas raised by the report are very important for future developments in OA.

The first is undoubtedly the cost and who receives the funds. The £UK16.9 million has been paid to publishers for many in addition to the revenue received through traditional processes such as library subscriptions and author payments. Double dipping has been the subject of considerable debate by RLUK and others it is notable that (as in Wellcome’s report) and the highest APCs were for hybrid journal articles. The fundamental question raise by librarians has been around whether it is sustainable to increase revenue to a fundamentally small number of publishers.

Second, the sustainability of the existing model. There are signs that publishers may be open to approaching funding of scholarly publishing differently. The Jisc project on the total cost of ownership seeks to develop models where payments to publishers are negotiated on the basis of reducing subscriptions to balance the open access payments. Springer and Jisc have announced a new arrangement to implement a model that takes account of the open access payments.

Third, the issue of embargoes is central to future developments of green and gold access. The report note the continuing concerns of humanities and social sciences researchers about short (i.e. 6 or 12 month) embargoes. A discussion of continued long embargoes is included in the report as well as in the HEFCE commissioned report on monographs and open access. The argument from scholarly societies is around ensuring continued revenue from journal publishing – based on the assumption that primary revenue model in some areas will continue to be based on subscriptions. The report notes that the “panel feels that there is not enough information available at this early stage to come to an evidence-based conclusion on the issue of embargoes and, therefore, its recommendation is to ensure that continued attention is given to the matter in subsequent reviews”

Fourth, it is clear that there is substantial administrative burden associated with the policy implementation and compliance monitoring – for researchers, institutions and the funders involved. The report recommends further thinking in this area, but specifically suggests that RCUK should mandate the use of ORCiD identifiers (something that has just been supported by Australia’s NHMRC and ARC)

This is a must read for all interested in OA and its costs. As the reports says “the conversation on the need for an accelerated transition to open access is no longer one reserved to librarians and open science advocates, but has matured into an international collaboration” Whether the policy is a success or failure will depend upon your views – the costs are significant, however achieving access to 10,066 publications via fully gold open access in the first year (as well as 4,410 publications via the green route also reported in the review) is an important step forward in open access.

Roxanne Missingham, University Librarian (Chief Scholarly Information Services), The Australian National University, Canberra

Virginia Barbour, Executive Officer, AOASG

Published April 21, 2015

Open access update March 2014

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

International open access news

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers – 25 February 2014

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

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

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

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

Data availability statement for PLOS articles – 3 February 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Elsevier sends take down notices to and universities – December 2013

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

Reports and Research

Major report on article processing charges – 12 March 2014

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

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

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

Journal usage half-life – 18 December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Australian open access news

University of Wollongong OA policy

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

Open Access Policy requirements spelt out in ARC funding rules

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

Copyright report tabled

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

Wraps of 2013

2013 the year that was science & technology

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

AOASG in 2013: That was the year that was

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

Open access 2013: A year of gaining momentum

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

New open access policies – international

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

Italy requires OA for young researchers – 23 January 2014

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

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

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

Joint Research Centre adopts open access policy – 6 January 2014

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

Upcoming events

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

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

AOASG news

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

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

Website –

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

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

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

Twitter – @openaccess_oz

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

Feedback from AOASG followers

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

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

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 Champion 2013 – Open Journal Project

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

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

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


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

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

Increasing academic engagement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing the message in the community

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

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

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

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

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

Future plans

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

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

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

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

Accessibility is more than making the paper OA


Proponents of open access generally agree that there are many benefits to open access, but discussions about the processes involved in achieving open access often stop at making the published research available. But what happens when the issues of accessibility are considered?

A remarkable project is underway in Australia, spearheaded by the Australian chapter of a not-for-profit international development organisation, Engineers Without Borders (EWB). The Open Journal Project aims to explore and promote techniques to make academic information genuinely open and accessible – with a focus on groups that are often excluded from access to this type of information.

EWB is a volunteer organisation, sending volunteers overseas to a local non government organisation to work on the ground on a project. The Open Journal Project considers the needs of individuals and practitioners in other countries.

“The Project doesn’t finish the day you press publish – that’s when it starts,” explained Julian O’Shea, who is the Director of the EWB Institute, the education, research and training section of EWB, and is heading up the Project.

“We are thinking about what we can do to make the work more accessible.”

The EWB Institute is based in Melbourne, and is publishing a peer-reviewed journal as a pilot and case study in their work. The Journal of Humanitarian Engineering (JHE) is piloting innovations in open access, including multi-language access, developing country access, low-bandwidth websites, and disability-accessible content.

“We want to pilot innovations and share our experiences with doing this,” explained Julian. “We want to work out what is world’s best practice, do it and live it and show it is not too hard.”

The problem

The EWB has noticed that practitioners overseas are under-served by the current publishing process. As an example, Julian stated that the leading university in Cambodia does not have access to the largest database in the field of engineering.

The idea for the focus of the journal began because the group saw there were very few that focused on experience, drawing on outcomes from developments and disseminating that information.

“The aim of the journal is not to be published or cited, but to provide outcomes in communities,” explained Julian. “This is different to other research organisations as a metric of success. It gives us a different angle or lens.”

The group wanted to encourage this as a field of research in academia. They were not sure what level of interest there would be in the journal because from a purely technical point of view they are not publishing innovative technologies. Rather, the focus is on new ways of applying this technology.

“We have been surprised and pleased that the journal has been really positively responded to,” said Julian.

Open access

The journal is published open access, with no cost to the author or to the reader. It uses an open source program called Open Journal Systems to run the administration of the peer review and publication. All papers in the journal are available under a CC-BY 3.0 license.

“We have had no negative feedback at all from people wanting to publish in the journal,” said Julian. “People doing this kind of research don’t have any issue with making their work freely available.”

Accessibility – language issues

Academic papers can be difficult to read even for people within a field. They can become impenetrable to researchers in parallel fields. This problem is further exacerbated in an international environment, working with practitioners on the ground who may not have any tertiary education.

There are several issues with language. The first is the problem of making the technical reports understandable to the lay person. Often the papers in this area are very technical, including many equations, and can reach 300 pages.

To solve this problem authors in the JHE are required to submit a two page plain summary about the paper with the formal paper. This means a project manager on the ground can make a decision about applying the technology or approach and then pass the full paper on to the technical manager.

But many of these projects are in countries where English is not the primary language. The Project addresses this by making the reports available in the language of the country it is targeted towards. The Project translates the plain language guides into both the local language of most importance and into other general languages.

The Project called on goodwill to obtain the translations. They sent articles out to the world, asking for volunteers to translate the papers. This had a good response from universities, companies or simply people to help out on the website.

The Project now has an approved translator list. The first time an article is translated it is sent to a native speaker to approve it and once this is done the translator can go onto the list. The quality of translations has been very high, said Julian, with only one that had to be sent back.

To date the plain language summaries have been translated into Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Hindi, Chinese, Spanish, Danish, Khmer and French. The number of languages is growing.

Accessibility – distribution

Another consideration is bandwidth. In many countries the internet connection is through a mobile telephone which prevents the download of large documents. The Project decided to produce the journal on a low bandwidth, and this opened up new issues.

“Generally the journal system distributes through pdfs,” explained Julian. “The problem is it is all or nothing – if the download cuts out at 90% you get nothing.” So the Project looked at releasing html versions of the papers. This has reduced the size of the website to 4.3KB and the journal articles are about 18KB. “We can put about 80 journals onto a floppy disk,” he said.

The Project also has plans to further improve the distribution to remote areas. “We haven’t done it yet but we will have a system that says ‘here’s a postcard, send it to us and we will send the paper to you by donkey’”, said Julian.

Accessibility – inclusion

With a philosophy of sharing research, it was important to the project to provide versions of the papers in an accessible format for people with disabilities.

The choice of publishing html versions of papers assists people with vision impairment, as they translate better using text-to-talk programs than pdfs.  In addition, the project is being proactive about embedding helpful metadata within the document such as describing images.

The Project has used the guidelines for Vision Australia to release a large print edition of the papers. “The first one took about couple of minutes – after that it was very simple,” said Julian. “That is what we are trying to show in this project, to meet a need for some people can be solved in literally two minutes.” The team has also produced Braille editions of the plain language guides.

Future plans

The project hopes to share their experience and inspire others. “We are doing this through the case study approach,” said Julian.  “This is my goal – to be able to communicate better. I am an author – what can I do? I am a publisher – what can I do?”

The Open Journal Project is hoping to formally launch later this year. Meanwhile, Volume 2 issue 1 is about to be released.

Twitter handle – @OpenJournal

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