AOASG Director Ginny Barbour discusses Open Access with Michael Lester from Radio Northern Beaches on Innovation Talk
Academic-Led Publishing Day is a global digital event to foster discussions about how members of the scholarly community can develop and support academic-led publishing initiatives. Academic-Led publishing refers to scholarly publishing initiatives wherein one or more academic organisations control decisions pertaining to copyright, distribution, and publishing infrastructure.
Its aim is to create an open dialogue about academic-led publishing programs and funding models – both current and potential – and to raise awareness about the roles and capabilities of different stakeholders in this space.
How to get involved
Join the Public Forum for scholarly publishing reform towards Fair Open Access
Follow updates from the Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) and volunteer to help tag relevant news items. Click “About” at the top of the page to learn how to get involved!
Show public support for Fair Open Access Principles
Learn how to launch and support academic-led journals.
Sign public statement against author-facing charges by journals
Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) is hosting a free webinar on February 7th at 3pm GMT – while it’s not a sleep friendly time for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere – presenters include world experts at the forefront of publishing initiatives that promote Open Access and Open Scholarship at institutions:
Paul Ayris – Chief Executive UCL Press
Kathleen Shearer – Executive Director of Confederation of Open Access Repositories
Charles Watkinson – Director, University of Michigan Press).
Catriona MacCallum Director of Open Science, Hindawi
Claire Redhead – Executive Director, OASPA (will chair the discussion).
Full details and information on how to register for the webinar can be found here.
This blog post has been reproduced with permission from Tohatoha Chief Executive Mandy Henk
Wikipedia aims to make a free and accessible summary of all human knowledge and is therefore one of the most well known open access efforts. The cumulative efforts of its volunteer writers (Wikipedians) has resulted in it dwarfing all previous encyclopedias in scope and depth. Additional collaborations with members of the open access community are taking this further. Many of these ideas are globally relevant, however a number of initiatives exist in Australia and New Zealand. A pair of recent papers in Science and JECH make the case that there has never been a better time to help shape the world’s most-read information source.
An open access encyclopedia
A few decades ago, an encyclopedia was a luxury that few could afford. Now, all with Internet access have free access to an encyclopedia larger than could fit in most homes, if printed. Wikipedia is extensively used by the general public, as well as doctors, medical students, lawmakers, and educators.
Indeed, it’s the primary free information source in many countries, especially for biomedical content. For example, during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the rapid updating and translation of relevant Wikipedia into more than 115 languages lead to these articles being read nearly 100 million times that year. Access to Wikipedia without data charges is also available in over 50 countries via the Wikipedia Zero project, covering more than 300 million people. The offline medical Wikipedia app and Internet-in-a-box initiatives offer greater accessibility to those with limited connectivity. With over half of the world’s population not online, and many more with only intermittent access, these efforts are critical.
Wikipedia and the open access movement strengthen each other
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and therefore can only summarise existing knowledge. It therefore depends on citing reliable and verifiable reference sources to support its statements. Since it is editable by anyone, it is particularly important that anyone be able to cross-check the stated ‘facts’. Indeed, Wikipedia is the 6th highest referrer of DOI links (the unique hyperlinks assigned to academic articles).
However, most Wikipedia readers (and many of its writers) do not have access to paywalled articles. How then can references be checked? Some journals provide access to Wikipedians through the Wikipedia Resource Library. This allows details within paywalled sources to be duly summarised and distributed, but it’s an imperfect solution. Readers wanting to check a source or read deeper into a subject hit the wall, and images can’t be easily replicated. Wikipedia articles commonly cite open access articles, however there are often no open access alternatives to paywalled articles. Currently, there is no perfect solution for which sources to cite, but any efforts that strengthen open access benefit the encyclopedia.
What can be done to help?
Any advances in the open access movement aid Wikipedia, as well as more targeted efforts.
On an individual level, teaching people how to directly edit Wikipedia enables them to get involved on the ground-level. There are widespread Australian examples, including universities, conferences, libraries, and societies across the country. Similar events in New Zealand have been hosted by Royal Society Te Apārangi and Whanganui museum. The editing interface has been updated to be as easy to use as a Word document. People may contribute for a specific event (an edit-a-thon), or become regular contributors. The writer community organises itself into groups called ‘WikiProjects’ with shared topic interests. Efforts include adding or improving text, copy-editing, reviewing new edits, and adding images or other media.
Encouraging professional bodies to formally recognise Wikipedia editing as a service to the academic community and wider world will help legitimize it as a worthwhile use of time by busy professionals. Greater involvement by subject experts can improve Wikipedia’s quality. As yet, no Australian or New Zealand funding body formally recognises Wikipedia editing for grant or fellowship applications.
We also strongly support the expansion of dual-publishing of peer reviewed articles by academic journals (e.g. by PLOS, Gene, and Wiki.J.Med). This process creates a citable ‘version of record’ in the journal (providing academic credit for the authors) and the content is then used to create or overhaul the relevant Wikipedia pages. Through Wikipedia, health professionals can massively impact public health literacy (even obscure Wikipedia pages usually get hundreds or thousands of views per day). Academics similarly gain a public impact that is matched by few other platforms. In return, the encyclopedia benefits from the accurate and expert-reviewed information and the journal gains greater exposure.
Larger groups and organisations can also be mobilised to contribute to Wikipedia as an open access outlet. For example, Blausen Medical and Osmosis.org have contributed galleries of open access images and videos, which are used to illustrate the encyclopedia. Institutions such as the Cochrane, Cancer research UK, and Consumer Reports have teamed up with experienced Wikipedians and trained their members to add information and references to relevant Wikipedia articles. Journals can also be encouraged to release their back-catalogues under open access licenses, unlocking vital sources. Studies at Australia’s Monash University also recommended integrating Wikipedia editing into university courses, and several universities, such as the University of Sydney, do just this. Even database services can integrate their data into Wikipedia’s structured knowledge database, WikiData (e.g. on genes and RNA families).
The big picture
Although the recent articles in Science and JECH focused on the biomedical field, these are examples of a much wider phenomenon. For instance, there have been several ongoing collaborations between Galleries, Libraries and Museums around the world to add their knowledge to Wikipedia under open access licenses.
Wikipedia also has the potential to be a knowledge access platform for the 4 billion people who are not currently online. Its open license allows people to translate, build upon, and distribute its content in new and innovative ways with no requirements beyond attribution and releasing what they create under a similar license.
Wikipedia and the open access movement are already intertwined. Open access publishing provides information needed for growing, improving and updating Wikipedia. Meanwhile, Wikipedians search, summarise and combine that vast sea of information into free articles. Each benefits from the strengths of the other, and can be helped by specific collaboration efforts.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation that hosts Wikipedia, is currently formulating its strategy through to 2030 and has identified collaboration with the wider knowledge ecosystem as one of its key themes.
Shafee, Thomas; Masukume, Gwinyai; Kipersztok, Lisa; Das, Diptanshu; Häggström, Mikael; Heilman, James (2017-10-29). “The evolution of Wikipedia’s medical content: past, present and future”. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 71 (10). doi:10.1136/jech-2016-208601.
This work is licensed by AOASG under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
All authors have contributed to Wikipedia articles, are current participants in WikiProject Medicine, and are on the editorial board of WikiJournal of Medicine. Thomas Shafee is on the editorial board of PLOS Genetics. James Heilman is a former and current member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees. The authors do not receive financial compensation for their contributions to these projects.
Follow the authors on Twitter:
Luqman Hayes, Scholarly Communications Team Leader, Auckland University of Technology
The scholarly communication/open access discourse is not short on voices, which makes writing anything on the topic a somewhat fraught exercise.
It seems at times as though no amount of strong argument, lobbying and initiative is able to shift the discussion to a more transformative position offering viable, sustainable alternatives in the face of the status quo.
So why add another voice? Especially if it is to tell the story of setting up an open access journal publishing service at a university. This is not new, right? But what if the process of doing so revealed another way of considering the concept of open access?
In October 2016 Auckland University of Technology (AUT) launched its journal hosting service with two peer-reviewed titles edited by AUT academics. The decision to do so had been in response to calls from academics within the University to provide such a hosting. Those calls led to a feasibility study by the Library in 2014, some University funds and a project which set out with fairly modest objectives and a narrow focus (You can read the full story here.)
Tuwhera (opening up)
Perhaps it was the thinking around the naming of the platform which enabled the aperture of those aims to broaden. Tuwhera is a te reo Māori word which can be translated as a stative verb (be open) or the modified noun forms (open, opening up). In choosing a Māori word for our service we wanted to acknowledge the Treaty of Waitangi as well as to consider that the work we do and the way in which we do it can have a bicultural aspect to it.
Mindful of tokenism, we consulted with Māori members of academic staff at AUT around the naming of the service and when we launched, we did so with significant Māori elements or tikanga, as part of the ceremony, such as waiata (song) and karakia (blessing or prayer) to celebrate and bless Tuwhera.
The launch was held around the time of Open Access Week in 2016 when events and conversations taking place catalysed some of those wider possibilities: using Tuwhera for lay summaries of new and ongoing research or for launching entirely new publications to expose scholarship unique to the Pacific region not being disseminated elsewhere.
The definition of what we understood Tuwhera to be evolved. Our criteria for selecting journals was fast becoming outdated and we were presented with the opportunity of reconfiguring the platform so as to incubate new publications and offer new and non-traditional publishing opportunities to emerging and early career researchers alongside their more established peers. Tuwhera was taking on a kind of whānau (family) role, being a support and a guide and providing a home. An open home, if you will.
It seemed as though there were lessons here from the Māori concepts underpinning our work, an insight which was echoed elsewhere, such as by Mal Booth in a blog post on ‘Revolutionising Scholarly Publishing’ in which he made similar observations about learning from indigenous approaches to sharing knowledge.
Such concepts in the context of Aotearoa might include Mātauranga Maori (Māori knowledge) – a complex and “open” system of knowing the world passed on through the layering of stories, wisdom and narratives and expressed via elements such as whakapapa (genealogy), kōrero (discussion), waiata (song) and whakatauki (proverbs).
Further evidence of how looking to indigenous worldviews might influence the scholarly communication environment can be found in Chris Cormack’s 2015 talk at Open Source Open Society on the application of Marae-based consensus building in developing free software as part of creating a commons-based future. Cormack cites several of the underlying principles of the marae (or Māori meeting house) and refers to a range of whakatauki which may usefully guide us away from the perspective of knowledge as residing with the individual.
As a team we have sought to bring shared values into the way in which we work, such as the African term Ubuntu (a person is a person through other people) which has similarities to the Maori concept of mana tangata- to be a person is not to stand alone but to be one with one’s people.
Might such a philosophical reassessment of the largely meritocratic, individualistic values and motivations which currently drive academic output help to shape a sustainable, culturally relevant, holistic and communitarian scholarly communication landscape?
The answer may be all of ours to discover, as the whakatauki states:
Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive
You can hear more about Tuwhera and the influence of te Ao Maori (Maori worldview) on our work by listening to my webinar presentation from 15th August 2017.
By Sandra Fry
The world’s greatest scientific collaboration comes to Brisbane, Australia today with the opening of the Hadron Collider exhibit at the Queensland Museum.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest, most powerful particle accelerator ever built, consisting of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets which sits in a tunnel 100 metres underground at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland.
The project was dubbed the biggest science experiment of all time, and has involved thousands of scientists funded by hundreds of universities and governments around the world.
One of the most significant outcomes of the collaboration has been the very deliberate focus on ensuring the findings are available freely and openly. The sciences have been leading the movement towards Open Access (OA) and an increasing number of Australian research organisations including universities, the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council policies have OA policies. The Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) advocates on behalf of its member universities who are based in Australia and New Zealand and its affiliates to promote OA through collaboration and raising awareness.
One of the biggest discoveries to come from the LHC was in 2012 with the discovery of Higgs boson elementary particle – it was last remaining particle from the Standard Model of particle physics to be observed. Australian Professor Geoffrey Taylor (pictured below) is a director and chief investigator at the Centre of excellence in Particle Physics (CoEEP) at the University of Melbourne. He was heavily involved in the Higgs boson discovery along with many other Australian scientists and said it came after decades of inquiry around across the globe.
“It was a very fundamental discovery, and it was a component of the Standard Model which was missing, but through this building of the Large Hadron Collider scope, its higher energies, higher intensities, we were capable of discovering the Hicks and we did.
“So that was a massive step forward for understanding the fundamental basis of the universe, and what particles are made of and what their basic interactions are.”
Professor Taylor said this LHC exhibition presents science on industrial scale, and that has benefits in the community.
“First of all it drives this collaboration for ventures in science and engineering, but on the other side of the coin, it involves major industrialisation and commercial involvement, and knowledge transfer.”
He said there is a large amount of technology which comes out of this research which is all publicly funded.
“Something like two or three times the turnover of what it would cost…. which I think it’s important for the public to know, it’s not just a drain … it generates growth.”
Much of the research being extracted from experiments using the LHC is made available around the globe via Open Access initiatives.
According to Dr Salvatore Mele, from CERN (pictured below), research in the field of physics has always been openly available.
“For more than half a century, researchers mailed each other hard copies of preprints, preliminary articles they had submitted for publication” Dr Mele said, and now there are repositories like arXiv.org, all around the work hosting millions of Open Access articles and preprints.
“Thanks to our Open Access initiative SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics), most of the articles in the field are also Open Access in their final peer-reviewed published version.
Dr Mele said that by aligning the mission of researchers, libraries, funding agencies and publishers it is possible to remove access barriers.
“Just imagine if all medical research was available to any single medical worker anywhere in the world,” he said.
Dr Mele said the impact of these scientific discoveries being available freely and openly has enormous impact on the research community.
“We have a way to measure how often these ‘preprints’, preliminary articles in our field, cite each other. This means that by being openly and freely available,ideas can spread before being formally published: we see that these citations happen up to one year before the day in which articles are published.
“Open Access accelerates science!” he said.
“Another way to measure impact is how often scientific articles are downloaded. While you cannot be sure this means someone has read them and got an idea – that of course cannot happen if you do not read the articles. We have been amazed to see that journals that SCOAP3 has made openly accessible on publisher web sites are downloaded twice as much as before.” Five Australian universities are part of the consortium that supports SCOAP3, including two in Queensland, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Griffith University, as well as ANU, The University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia.
Dr Mele said the research community should not only share their work with peers in other disciplines, they should engage with libraries and funding agencies to support Open Access as part of the investment in research.
There is increasing pressure by funding agencies at national and international levels to embrace Open Access, Dr Mele said.
“Large charities, such as the Wellcome Trust and now the Gates Foundation, have been instrumental in moving this agenda and raise awareness in important areas in the life sciences and medical research, among others.
“In Europe, governments have agreed in the importance of Open Access in particular and Open Science in general: in May this year ministers of the European Union Member states concluded that Open Access should become the default for scientific publishing.
He said there are no negatives in making research open to everyone for free.
“In some fields there is hesitation about using them [open access journals], their reputation, and how to pay for them. In our field we see that research published in Open Access journals is downloaded twice as much as before, and by virtue of the fact that authors do not need to pay for this service, there are neither barriers nor hesitations,” Dr Mele said.
The Hadron Collider: Step Inside the World’s Greatest Experiment opens at the Queensland Museum & Sciencentre on December 9.
Over the past year, the AOASG has changed its focus and its name from being purely Australian and focused on support (Australian Open Access Support Group) to being Australasian and with more of an emphasis on strategy (Australasian Open Access Strategy Group). As publishing changes globally, especially the move to a more open publishing world, the role of supporting infrastructure and standards such as licenses from Creative Commons becomes even more strategically important.
We already work with Creative Commons in a number of ways. Last year we collaborated with Creative Commons Australia on the production of a resource “Know your rights” to explain what the licenses mean for users. Together, we run regular online meet ups in Australia and New Zealand thus supporting communities of practices in both places.
However, Creative Commons’ work in areas outside the remit of AOASG – such as the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums (GLAM) and schools provides a welcome opportunity to reach out beyond the boundaries of traditional scholarly publishing. In return, we hope that the affiliation of Creative Commons Australia and Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand with AOASG will reinforce the importance of licenses within the academic publishing community.
We look forward to more collaborations across the three organisations in future.
AOASG response to Productivity Commission Issues Paper on Data Availability and Use
Prepared by Dr Virginia Barbour, Executive Director, AOASG, on behalf of the AOASG; July 2016
The Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG)  exists to advocate, collaborate, raise awareness and lead and build capacity for open access in Australia and New Zealand. The AOASG is supported by ten Australian and eight New Zealand Institutions.
The AOASG welcomes the Productivity Commission inquiry into data availability and use. The inquiry is timely both nationally and globally. We limit our response to the general sections and paragraphs 1 and 4 under the scope of the inquiry.
We especially note and agree that this inquiry should consider domestic and international best practices and the measures adopted internationally to encourage sharing and linking of both public and private data.
Paragraph entitled: Open Data
Open data has most usefully been characterised as having the four characteristics denoted by the acronym: FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. This terminology is more useful than the term “open”, which can be interpreted in many different ways. As the developers of the FAIR principles note: “FAIR Principles put specific emphasis on enhancing the ability of machines to automatically find and use the data, in addition to supporting its reuse by individuals.” The move to more open data is part of the drive for more open scholarship generally, that has been highlighted by a number of global initiatives recently including the Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science, an initiative of the Dutch Government, during their chairing of the EU in Jan-June 2016.
Box 1 Paragraph entitled: Why does data matter?
Data are also critical in ensuring the reproducibility of the academic literature. Without data to back up published research findings, research is based on trust at best. There are many examples now of researchers being unable to reproduce previously published research findings and where the data behind published papers have been found to be unavailable or uninterpretable. Furthermore, there are many cases where lack of data availability has been linked to fraud in research and publishing. There is now an increasing global consensus that in order to better ensure the integrity of research and to prevent research fraud and improve its investigation, researchers should be willing to make the data that underpins academic papers available. Such data should be in a format that allows their interrogation, provided that appropriate processes are in place to ensure the protection of sensitive data. The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) has provided guidance on handling sensitive data, including those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. As data become more open it is essential such guidance remains current.
As well as the principles noted above, there is also increasing infrastructure in place directed at increasing the sharing of these data. National examples, with well-established policies, tools and processes in place include ANDS and its many tools including its portal, Research Data Australia. International repositories for academic data include long established publicly supported ones such as GenBank and non-profit and commercially used ones such as Dryad and Figshare, respectively. Many Australian institutions also have their own data repositories which are linked to Research Data Australia.
Box 2 Paragraph entitled: Insufficient dataset linkage?
Poor, or absent, linkage between published research and the underlying data is one of the most important reasons leading to poor reproducibility in much of the academic literature, especially in some areas of science and medicine. It has also been well established that URLs cited in papers decay very dramatically after publication, having a half-life of at best 4.7 years after publication in one study—which reinforces the need for the development of a secure culture of archiving, not merely linkage to temporary websites for example.
Paragraph entitled: Benefits of increasing data availability and use
As noted above, one clear benefit of increasing data availability would be to increase the reliability of the published literature. This in turn leads to increased efficiency of research. The issue of lack of data leading to waste in research is mentioned in the campaign by the Reward Alliance, one of whose key recommendations is “Make publicly available the full protocols, analysis plans or sequence of analytical choices, and raw data for all designed and undertaken biomedical research”.
Paragraph entitled: More recently the Australian Government…
We very much welcome the Australian Government’s stated commitment to open data. Of particular importance is the requirement for a Creative Commons license, which fulfils the “R” i.e. reusable part of a FAIR framework for data. Guidance will be required to ensure which license is the most appropriate one for specific contexts and recommendations on developing such guidance would be important in ensuring data is optimally re-useable.
Question: What benefits would the community derive from increasing the availability and use of public sector data?
See comments above which relate to the reliability of the academic literature and increased efficiency that would accrue through better access to and reliability of data associated with publications. Of note, many academic journals also now recognise the importance of such data sharing including, for example, the PLOS journals.
However, currently there are few accepted processes for citing data, though the Research Data Alliance and Force11, two international organisations, both have groups that have worked on citation practices.
One crucial element of improving data accessibility is to ensure that academics who generate the data for others to use are given appropriate credit for it. Systems to reward such behaviour need to be developed and supported by institutions and funders of research.
Question: How should the costs associated with making more public sector data widely available be funded?
Question: Is availability of skilled labour an issue in areas such as data science or other data‑specific occupations? Is there a role for government in improving the skills base in this area?
There is unquestionably a lack of comfort among many academics in the curation of data associated with their work. There is a need for skills in data management and analysis, especially of complex datasets, to be incorporated into the training of early career researchers. Programmes such as Data Carpentry have been successful in peer to peer training of researchers, though clearly could be scaled up further.
 ‘Article Metrics – The FAIR Guiding Principles for Scientific Data Management and Stewardship : Scientific Data’ <http://www.nature.com/articles/sdata201618/metrics> [accessed 18 July 2016].
 NL EU 2016, Amsterdam Call for Action on Open ScienceNL <https://wiki.surfnet.nl/display/OSCFA/Amsterdam+Call+for+Action+on+Open+Science>.
 ‘Cases | Committee on Publication Ethics: COPE’ <http://publicationethics.org/cases/?f%5B0%5D=im_field_classifications%3A757> [accessed 27 July 2016].
 ANDS, ‘Ethics, Consent and Data Sharing’, ANDS <http://www.ands.org.au/guides/ethics-consent-and-data-sharing> [accessed 27 July 2016].
 P. Habibzadeh, ‘Decay of References to Web Sites in Articles Published in General Medical Journals: Mainstream vs Small Journals’, Applied Clinical Informatics, 4.4 (2013), 455–64 <http://dx.doi.org/10.4338/ACI-2013-07-RA-0055>.
 ‘Key Recommendations | Research Waste’ <http://researchwaste.net/about/recommendations/> [accessed 18 July 2016].
 ‘PLOS Data Availability’ <http://journals.plos.org/plosone/s/data-availability> [accessed 18 July 2016].
 ‘Research Data Alliance Data Citation Working Group’, RDA, 2013 <https://rd-alliance.org/groups/data-citation-wg.html> [accessed 18 July 2016].
 ‘Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles – FINAL | FORCE11’ <https://www.force11.org/group/joint-declaration-data-citation-principles-final> [accessed 18 July 2016].
 Australian Government Department of Industry and Science, ‘Australian Scheme for Higher Education Repositories (ASHER) and the Implementation Assistance Program (IAP)’ <http://www.industry.gov.au/science/ResearchInfrastructure/Pages/ASHERandIAP.aspx> [accessed 27 July 2016].
Andy Pleffer provides advice on deciding where to publish, based on Macquarie University’s approach
There 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:
- On each occasion you are looking to publish your research, each outlet you consider should be evaluated on its own merits.
- There is no single criterion that will always reliably indicate high or low quality.
- Informed decisions occur when a series of tried and trusted criteria cumulate to reveal either a net positive or negative result.
At Macquarie University, we determined that the overarching theme uniting these three principles is due diligence. By providing enough guiding information on concerns in the current publishing landscape, we aim to enable researchers in developing your own sense of quality and, ultimately, empowering you to become self-sufficient in critiquing potential outlets for your scholarly research.We aim for advice that is:
- focused on the big picture
- simple to understand
- adaptable to different contexts (or disciplines), and
- experiential, in that its value builds through repeated application.
As a researcher, selecting appropriate venues is an investment in your own currency. When you have invested many months or years thoroughly researching and writing your scholarly work, the end goal should be to maximise the return on your investment: to gain exposure, engagement and influence with your research. The most successful investments are built on a wise strategy, and a wise research publication strategy is informed by a sound understanding of best practice.
We call this “strategic publishing”. Designed in consultation with academics and senior administrators, these guidelines address four key themes in best practice publishing: relevance, reputation, visibility and validity. In summary, your chosen outlet must be:
- relevant to your field of research to guarantee it will target an appropriate audience
- considered reputable to those in your research community
- visible and easy to access for your research to be read, and
- characterised by ethical and valid publishing practices.
Underpinned by evidence, this approach is characterised by investigating and responding to checklists of tried and trusted criteria in order to determine a net result—one that can be compared and contrasted across myriad outlets. Other great resources that resonate and harmonise with this method include the Think Check Submit checklist, the SHERPA/RoMEO database of copyright and self-archiving policies, and the joint peak body initiative on Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.
Times change. Individual outlets and publishers come and go: some change hands; some change policies. Places are exchanged on editorial boards, while metrics and rankings designed to gauge quality publication outlets are only applicable to specified time periods.
Do not risk the currency of your research on complacency or guesswork. Have a well-defined publishing strategy, monitor its impact and adapt it as necessary. By doing your due diligence and associating your work with outlets that follow best practice approaches to publishing, you will be placing yourself in a much better position to grow the reach of your research.
Dr Andy Pleffer manages research data projects and develops resources for researchers at Macquarie University, Sydney.
Macquarie University is a member of AOASG.
AOASG response to Productivity Commission Intellectual Property Arrangements, Draft report
Prepared by Dr Virginia Barbour, Executive Director, on behalf of the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group, (AOASG), June 2, 2016
The AOASG (https://aoasg.org.au/) welcomes the Productivity Commission report. We limit our response to Chapter 15: IP and Public Institutions, though we note the comment on p4 that “Open access repositories can further assist in the dissemination of ideas generated through publicly‑funded initiatives.”, which we agree with for all outputs of research.
We particularly welcome:
DRAFT Recommendation 15.1
“All Australian, and State and Territory Governments should implement an open access policy for publicly‑funded research”
We also believe there is an opportunity with this report to bring some clarity to the issues surrounding copyright and license as applied to research outputs.
Paragraph entitled “Key points”
The dissemination of research findings does not have to be limited by IP applied on the work that it reports.
We agree that journals remain an important mechanism of dissemination, but they are now just one part of a rapidly evolving ecosystem of publishing and the same issues apply to all outlets for dissemination of research, and which include not just research articles but also data, code, software, etc.
Copyright per se does not limit dissemination – it is the retention of copyright, coupled with restrictive licenses as applied by subscription publishers that limit dissemination. We feel it is essential to separate out these two issues.
Paragraph beginning “The key relevant questions for this inquiry relate to:
- where the IP system frustrates the achievement of the underlying goal for public funding
- changes to the IP system that would accentuate the benefits of such public funding.
For scholarly publishing we already have the tools to hand to ensure that authors retain rights to and get credit for their work while allowing for maximum dissemination. The two tools required are proper application of copyright in conjunction with Creative Commons Licenses.
However, the current inconsistent and largely publisher-driven application of these tools does “frustrate the achievement of the underlying goal for public funding”.
This is to be expected when publishers are operating under a subscription model. In this situation the long term practice has been to require the transfer of copyright to journals, and also require that restrictive licenses agreements are signed.
However, restriction of author rights is not now limited to subscription publications. For articles that are apparently open access, Elsevier, for example, requires that authors grant Elsevier an exclusive license (https://www.elsevier.com/about/company-information/policies/copyright) to publish for article published under a CC BY license (intended to be the most liberal of the licenses). This is direct contradiction of both the spirit and the letter of the Creative Commons license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Furthermore, a number of publishers are seeking to assert rights over earlier versions of articles, an area where they have no jurisdiction. Rights being asserted include requirements for citation of articles to which a preprint may relate http://media.wiley.com/assets/7320/85/eOAA-CC-BY_sample_2015.pdf). This is an example of a meaningless and probably unenforceable requirement, but which may nonetheless have a stifling effect on authors seeking to share research before formal publication.
Paragraph beginning “A major mechanism for diffusion of ideas is through academic journals”
The models of dissemination of scholarly outputs are changing very substantially and though journals remain at the core, as above we note that there are other important mechanisms now such as preprint servers, repositories (for data as well as for research manuscripts) etc. Despite the diverse array of outputs and their routes of dissemination the issue in relation to IP are largely the same.
- Copyright needs to remain with the generators of the work (if work is not owned by the Government or is otherwise in the public domain);
- Generators of work must be credited for that work;
- Licenses applied to the work should maximize its discoverability, dissemination and reuse.
Copyright does not per se limit reuse, but it will do if coupled with restrictive licenses. For example, an author may retain copyright but grant an exclusive license to a journal which could then restrict reuse (see above); conversely an author may assign copyright to another body (e.g. their institution) but if that is coupled with a non-exclusive license that allows reuse, dissemination is not impeded.
We therefore suggest that the Commission separates out the issues of copyright and licenses and makes the following recommendations
- Authors (or their institutions) should retain copyright to research outputs.
- Outputs should be licensed under the most appropriate, usually the least restrictive, internationally accepted license from Creative Commons, preferably CC BY.
- Publisher-specific licenses, even supposedly “open access” ones such as those from Elsevier (https://www.elsevier.com/about/company-information/policies/open-access-licenses/elsevier-user-license), should not be supported as they lead to further confusion.
- These terms should apply to all research outputs wherever they are stored and wherever they are in the lifecycle of the research including but not limited to; preprint, author’s accepted manuscript, published article, data etc.
Page beginning Copyright for publically funded research
We believe copyright over research articles should not be mixed up with IP rights over the subject of the research itself. In particular, copyright itself, whether held by authors or publishers, does not limit the visibility or accessibility or reusability of articles or associated data. What does limit accessibility and reusability is the license associated with those works (see above) and which was previously most commonly denoted as “All rights reserved”
With the technology now available to us, the role of copyright has changed. As Jan Velterop said in 2005, (http://www.budapestopenaccessinitiative.org/pdf/open_access_publishing_and_scholarly_societies.pdf) “copyright can [now] be used for what it is meant to in science, not to make the articles artificially scarce and in the process restrict their distribution, but instead, to ensure that their potential for maximum possible dissemination can be realised”
Paragraph beginning “universities and some publishers”
The fact that universities are able to provide access to journals may be seamless, but it is at great cost. In fact the vast majority of research journals require a subscription. In 2014, Australian universities paid AUD 221 million (data from the Council of Australian University Librarians, CAUL) for access to electronic journals. While it is true that open access journals are increasing, currently they remain in the minority and the proportion of work that is fully open access is around 12-15%, though many more articles are free to access at some point.
Paragraph beginning “Recognising that further incentives”
This is indeed a hugely active area of policy development globally. It is clear that there is a number of different approaches to open access, with some countries favouring it via journals primarily (e.g. the UK and most recently the Netherlands) and others such as the US and Australia approaching it via the route of repositories – usually institutional. What is currently unclear, however, is the copyright and license status of much of the material within institutional repositories and this has led to difficulties in promoting seamless dissemination via these venues.
Paragraph beginning “A similar trend”
We agree that there is no one policy now covering all publicly funded research and we therefore support Recommendation 15.1 on page 409. We particularly welcome the insightful comment on page 409 that precedes it: “It is important when crafting policy in relation to open access to delineate exactly what is meant by the term” As noted above, the interchangeable use of phrases open access and free access, without clear indication of what these terms mean with regard to copyright and licenses has led to much confusion among authors in particular. We would urge caution therefore in the use of these terms, including in this recommendation. We do not recommend the development of different policies at national, state and territory levels. Rather, we believe the opportunity should be taken to craft one overarching policy that is applicable nationally.
Paragraph beginning “encouragement of different ways”
We welcome the recognition that new models of publishing will need to be supported and that funds must be allocated for this purpose as the transition occurs. However, a fundamental aim of a transition to new publishing models must be that costs are lowered. Schimmer and colleagues (https://www.mpg.de/9202262/area-wide-transition-open-access) have modelled this (via the “flipping” of journals from subscription to open access for three countries, including Germany. Whether this can be replicated elsewhere remains to be seen. It is not yet clear the flipping projects will reduce costs over a sustained period if pricing decisions remain in the hands of the established vendors. What will be crucially important is the encouragement of a diversity of publishing models from a variety of players, not just the five large publishers (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0127502) who currently dominate scholarly publishing.
Furthermore, such innovation and openness should be specifically rewarded – not just “treated neutrally” as on the bottom of page 408.