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

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.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 8.36.23 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 8.36.37 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 8.37.44 AM

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

ARC & NHMRC OAWk panel discussion

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

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

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


Summary of the discussion

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

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

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

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

Time points during the recording:

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

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

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

28:48 – Question session begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BIS Report part two – Information & observations

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting arguments for open access

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 6.09.16 PM

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

Amount of research being made available

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does green open access threaten subscriptions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group

Four issues restricting widespread green OA in Australia

Australia is a world leader in many aspects of open access. We have institutional repositories in all universities, funding mandates with the two main funding bodies, statements on or mandates for open access at a large number of institutions and a large research output available in many open access avenues. A summary of centrally supported initiatives in this area is here.

However we can do more. This blog outlines four impediments to the widespread uptake of open access in Australia: a lack of data about what Australian research is available, Copyright transfer agreements, the academic reward system and improved national discovery services. We suggest some solutions for each of these issues.

Issue 1 – Lack of data about what Australian research is available OA.

We collect good data in Australia there is good data about the amount of research being created and published annually. Equally, a considerable amount of Australian research is being made available to the wider community through deposit of research in institutional repositories, subject based repositories (PubMed Central, arXiv , SSRN and the like), through publication in open access journals.

However, this information is not compiled in a way to ascertain:
1. What percentage of current Australian research is available open access.
2. Where Australian research is being made available (institutional or subject-based repositories and open access journals).
3. The disciplinary spread of open access materials – an important indicator of areas needing attention.

Without this information it will be difficult to ascertain the level of impact the ARC and NHMRC policies are having on the availability of open access material from current Australian research. There are three actions that could help inform this area.

Solution 1

First it would be enormously helpful to know the percentage of Australian publications that are available open access.

There have been two definitive studies published on worldwide open access availability. Björk et al’s 2010 study concluded that 21% of research published in 2008 was openly accessible in 2009. Gargouri et al’s 2012 study found 24% of research was openly accessible.

But in these studies the method used to determine which work was available was to search for the items manually across several search platforms. This is clearly very time consuming. A study like this in Australia will require funding.

Solution 2

Second we need an easily accessible summary of the number of full text open access items in institutional repositories across the country. In an attempt to address this, the National Library of Australia aggregates research outputs from all Australian university repositories into Trove, and is working with the sector to improve discoverability and metrics around this collection. One challenge is that some repositories do not specify whether records have an open access full text item attached.

This issue was raised during a poll of repository managers in 2012. The poll found that as at June that year there were about 200,000 open access articles, theses and archive material (which includes images) in Australian university institutional repositories. Currently there is no automated way of obtaining an updated figure.

Solution 3

Third, a compliance monitoring tool needs to be developed to assist the ARC and NHMRC manage their open access policies. Currently all institutional repositories in Australia are implementing a standardised field in their repositories to indicate an item results from funding. But to date there is no indication of how this might be harvested and reported on.

Issue 2 – Copyright transfer agreements

As AOASG has already noted, there is a serious challenge keeping up with copyright agreements as they change. In reality, it is extremely difficult for an individual researcher to remain across all of the nuances of the copyright agreements. There have been studies to demonstrate that doing the copyright checking on behalf of the researcher increases deposits into repositories.

But the broader problem is actually two fold. First researchers often have little understanding of the copyright status of their published work. Many do not read the copyright transfer agreements they sign before publication. In addition, most researchers do not keep a copy of these legal documents. While there is currently some advice for researchers about copyright management, such as this page from the University of Sydney, generally awareness of copyright remains poor amongst the research community.

But before we start wagging our fingers at researchers, let’s consider the second, related issue. The copyright transfer agreements presented to researchers by publishers are often many pages long, written in small font and hard to understand. In addition these agreements are not consistent – they differ between publishers and often titles from the same publisher have different agreements.

Generally publishers ask researchers to assign exclusive copyright to them. But in most cases publishers only need the right of first publication of work, and normally do not need to control how research is used and distributed beyond this. There are options for researchers to negotiate different arrangements with their publishers, but the level of uptake of these in Australia is anecdotally very low.

It is highly unlikely there is any specific action that can force publishers to simplify their copyright transfer agreements. But there are a couple of actions the research community can make to improve the current situation.

Solution 4

It would help to have an Australian version of the SPARC Author Addendum tool which can be attached to copyright transfer agreements. This would need to be supported by a concerted education campaign about what rights researchers have, including training materials.

Solution 5

In addition the many researchers in Australia who work as editors for scholarly journals are in a good position to negotiate these arrangements with their publishers on behalf of their authors. An education campaign aimed at journal editors would assist them in this action.

Issue 3 – The academic reward system

The academic reward system supports the current publishing status quo. Widespread uptake of open access will continue to be a challenge while this is the case. A reliance on a numerical analysis of the number of articles published in journals with high Journal Impact Factors as a proxy for quality assessment is a narrow and limiting system.

There are many issues with the Journal Impact Factor. It also causes challenges for open access is it retains emphasis on a small number of specific journals which are in, the vast majority, subscription based. Yet there is evidence to show that open access & subscription journals of the same age have the same impact, indicating that it is time to look at other methods of assessing quality.

Currently the markers used to assess promotion do not differ much from those used for grant allocation. However, the contribution made by researchers to their academic community reaches far beyond simply their publication output. This includes editing journals and the peer review of papers. As there is currently no quantification of this work, the extent of the problem is unknown, although concerns about work overload have been expressed by the academic community. There are serious implications for the sustainability of scholarly publication in terms of human capital.

Solution 6

We need to move to assessment based on article level metrics rather than the organ of publication. It would be helpful if assessments such as ERA and funding allocation were to embrace new, existing alternative metrics. Examples include: Impact Story, Plum Analytics, PLOS ALM, Altmetrics and Google Scholar.

Solution 7

Institutions could consider recognising the hidden work academics undertake supporting the publication process in their promotion rounds. Recognition of peer review and editing roles as well as those researchers who are also publishing journals by running an open access journal using OJS or the like would add value to these activities and make the scholarly publication system more sustainable.

Issue 4 – Improved national discovery services

This last issue is in some ways, related to the first – knowing more about where the research we are producing is ending up. But it has a broader remit, for example incorporating data as a research outcome. Currently researchers can register their data with Research Data Australia which lists over 87,000 collections from over 23,000 contributing research teams.

We need to move beyond simply collecting research, and start working on ways to link data as research outcomes to reports on research publications.

During 2004 and 2008 the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR) provided assistance and support for the repository community and developed technical solutions relating to interoperability and other repository issues.

APSR was supported by Systemic Infrastructure Initiative (SII) funding [note original post said NCRIS funding – thanks to David Groenewegen for pointing out the error. Amended 16 August]. When this ended, repository manager support was taken over by CAIRSS, financed in 2009-2010 by remainder money from another SII funded project, Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW) . The university library community through CAUL continued to support this project in 2011-2012 and the work has now been folded into the responsibility of another CAUL committee.

But the work APSR did developing country-wide technical solutions has not continued. Currently repositories around the country are being developed and maintained in isolation from one another.

Solution 8

An investment in current institutional repositories to increase functionality and interoperability will assist compliance with mandates (both Australian and international) and usability into the future. It will also enable a resolution of the metadata issue for country-wide harvesting by Trove.

Solution 9

We suggest revisiting support for country-wide technical development of solutions to common problems facing repositories throughout Australia. An example of a project that could be undertaken is the Funders and Authors Compliance Tool developed in the UK – SHERPA/FACT. This assists researchers to comply with open access mandates.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group

Centrally supported open access initiatives in Australia

Australia has a good track record in relation to open access, from hosting one of the first country-wide thesis repositories in the world to supporting the development and management of institutional repositories. While initially much of this work was pioneered by the university libraries, the Australian Government has made significant commitments more recently.

This blog post gives a short rundown of some of the open access initiatives Australia has seen since 2000, starting with the most recent developments – open access mandates from the two main funding bodies.

Funding mandates

In 2012 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) announced its revised policy on the dissemination of research findings, effective 1 July 2012. The Australian Research Council (ARC) released its Open Access Policy on 1 January 2013. Both policies require that any publications arising from a funded research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a 12 month period from the date of publication.

There are two minor differences between the two policies. The NHMRC relates only to journal articles where the ARC encompasses all publication outputs. In addition, the NHMRC mandate affects all publications as of 1 July 2012, but the ARC will only affect the outputs produced from the research funded in 2013. Researchers are also encouraged to make accompanying datasets available open access.

Enabling open access

Both the NHMRC and ARC mandates specifically require deposit of metadata (and ideally full text of the work) into the researchers’ institutional repository. This position takes advantage of the existing infrastructure already in place in Australian institutions.

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

Australian repositories run on software platforms ranging from EPrints, DSpace, ARROW (a VTLS commercial front end to Fedora), to ProQuest Digital Commons (bepress). A full list of repository software platforms for Australian universities is here.

Support for open access in Australia

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

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

Open theses

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

Open data

The Australian Government has made a significant commitment to the development of a successful digital economy underpinned by an open government approach, aimed at providing better access to government held information and also to the outputs of government funded research.

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

Open government

The work of ANDS reflects the broader government position in Australia of making public data publicly available. The Declaration of Open Government  was announced on July 16, 2010. This policy position is in the process of practical implementation across the country, providing access to information about locations of government services, for example. The level of engagement between government areas and different levels of government varies.

Another government initiative has been the Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework (AusGOAL) which has an emphasis on open formats and open access to publicly funded information and provides a framework to facilitate open data from government agencies. In addition to providing information and fora for discussion, it has developed a licence suite that includes the Australian Creative Commons Version 3.0 licences.

Other publicly funded institutions in Australia also share their research through repositories. The Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO) has a Research Publications Repository. In addition, some government departments are making their research available, such as the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Dr Danny Kingsley
Executive Officer
Australian Open Access Support Group