A few moons ago, just before Easter, Claudie Paye (@naponaps) of the fine blog on Napoleon, Naps, sent us a #bestblog “Stöckchen” (little stick, baton) via Twitter. This is an appeal to answer some questions about our blog and, once we are done, to pass the baton on to other bloggers. The point of this tag-like game is to better connect bloggers. Although we are ridiculously late with our answer, we are delighted to be part of this initiative and will gladly participate – albeit in English, which is our working language, and not in the original German. I took the liberty of translating the questions.

So here goes:

1. Wer bloggt denn hier? Who blogs here?
ZB: This blog is run by Andrea Hacker, who holds the position of Managing Editor at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at the University of Heidelberg.  In this role, she produces a book-series with Springer, as well as the open-access (gold) journal Transcultural Studies. She is a founding member of the Open Access Tool Alliance, regularly teaches EAP courses to PhD candidates and Post docs, and is currently building a pilot open-access (gold) book series with Heidelberg’s University Library and in cooperation with PKP. One of Andrea’s assistants, Zara Barlas (@z_barlas), also contributes to the blog with regular “Open Access Twitter Reports”.

AH: Zara is much too modest here – she is knee-deep in this blog as well as our other open undertaking: a MOOC on Academic Writing. Stay tuned!

2. Wie und wann ist das Blog entstanden? Was ist die Idee dahinter? When and how did the blog start? What is the idea behind it?
The blog started in November 2013 to do two things: it offers me (AH) a place to formulate ideas and reflect on developments in academia’s open movement. This includes impressions from our own open projects, but also from conferences, conversations and, of course, online readings about open access, funding policies,MOOCs, open data, open science, e-learning, e-publishing, self-publishing, and bibliometrics.

The blog’s second function lies in the collection of our Open Access Twitter reports, which Zara has been collating and preparing for quite some time now.  These reports offer a quick overview of the most pertinent Open Access developments that were reflected on Twitter over the course of a couple of weeks. The entire archive is available unter the tab “OA Twitter Report Archive”.

3. Die drei wichtigsten Grundfähigkeiten, die Du/Sie im Laufe des Studiums bzw. der Promotion erworben hast/haben? What are the three most important skills you acquired during graduate school?
AH: The trick is not to know everything, but knowing where to look it up. Horseback riding. Polish.

4. Lohnt es sich seine Forschungsdaten parallel/nach der Publikation der Dissertation zu veröffentlichen? Is it sensible to publish research data during or after the publication of the dissertation?
Yes! Provability is key to assess research results. Too often we have to take someone’s word and cannot check back to the data to verify what they say. But it depends of course what our dissertation is supposed to do: if you want to publish it in Open Access – perfect: link your data to it and enjoy the full benefit of distribution on a global scale. If (unfortunately) you want to revise it into a book with a trade-publisher or loot it for articles in “prestigious” (read: pay-walled) journals, then perhaps you will be of a different opinion..

5. Rezensionswesen gestern morgen? Whither  book-reviews? Book reviews yesterday tomorrow?
As with the rest of academia, there are great new digital possibilities for book- and journal reviews. We are now seeing a rise in online platforms such as or Blogs are also growing as a platform for academic reviews, a prime example of which can be seen at  LSE Review of Books. Reviews will probably continue to flourish in this direction and may even morph into different forms.

6. Warum nutzt Du/nutzen Sie (nicht) akademische soziale Netzwerke (ResearchGate,, …)? Why do you (or don’t you) use academic social networks such as ResearchGate or
Academic social networks are useful tools to connect with researchers everywhere who pursue topics and interests similar to your own. In addition, has the benefit of acting as a platform that enables its users to open up and share their own published works, although there have been some controversies regarding copyright issues! Despite its benefits, academic social networks are greatly limited; the number of registered users on such sites are minuscule compared to other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is particularly important for the academic world, with cases of tweeted academic works receiving more hits than those that have not been tweeted, and tweets being proven as reliable predictors of citations. With over 200 million users the micro-blogging platform, with its hashtag craze, can be immensely useful for academics  and offers a much larger reach than or ResearchGate, with their 8 million and 4 million users respectively. It depends on your preference: the smaller circle or the massive communication environment. Either way: we are really into it!

7. Ändert sich zurzeit die Wissenschaftskommunikation wirklich nachhaltig? Are the current changes in academic communication really a long-term development?
It depends on what is meant by “long-term” and “current changes”. In the last few decades, academic communication has been so dynamic that it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly is current; we have new means of communications from one day to the next. However, the shift in academic communication from the analogue to the digital world, and the growing usage of blogging and social networks certainly seem to be something progressive and ongoing. With the snap of a finger (or the clink of a light bulb in some genius’s mind) we will have our next big wave of academic communication through some new software or hardware, but it would almost certainly continue be something digital and something global.

8. Eine interessante Initiative aus dem Bereich „Science Marketing“? What would be an example of an interesting initiative from the area of “Science Marketing”?
We are stumped and have no ideas.

9. Eine ausgefallene Initiative im Bereich „Bookmarketing“? What would be an example of an extravagant initiative in the area of book marketing?
The temptation to be silly is great but we won’t. Make sure people know about your work – look after your meta-data, spread the news on the networks, go after your publisher to do their job.

10. Generation Praktikum, Generation „Gefällt mir“: zu pessimistisch, zu skeptisch? Was kommt danach? Generation internship, Generation “Like” – is this too pessimistic, too sceptical?
We do not have internships at the editorial office and we don’t want them either. People should get paid for their work! As for the “Like”, “Thumbs up”, “+”, or “favourite” function: it is a very fast and simple way to get a sense of how something is received. This can pay off, for example, on MOOCs. The full potential for this instant digital voting system is still far off and it will be fascinating to see how if can be used in an academic context.


The way the game goes, we now formulate our own ten questions and pass on the baton to some other blogs we like. So here goes:

I encourage the following bloggers to answer the questions below:

@ernestopriego for; @martin_eve for; @openaccessarch for; @zbarlas for; and @tolstoysays for

1. Who blogs here and how did the blog come about?

2. What are the main issues informing the blog?

3. Is the blog post as a genre helpful for developing larger research projects?

4. Freedom of information is always good – so let’s play at augury: whither transparency and openness? (or you can flip it: whither profitability and privacy?)

5. What are the aesthetic considerations for your blog?

6. How do you keep abreast of all the information that is relevant to your project? Can you?

7. Where do you see the most productive and promising developments in academic networking? How do blogs fit into this?

8. Could the growing concern regards surveillance affect the debate of open information?

9. What are the three most important skills you acquired during graduate school?

10. What are you reading at the moment?

So what happens next? If you are so inclined, please

  •  answer these questions – feel free to tweak them
  • include the Best Blog Award-image and link it to the person’s blog post that gave you the award.
  • come up with or recycle ten questions and pass on the best blog “Stöckchen” to up to ten other bloggers.
  • have fun 🙂


Beyond the Great Firewall: Gold Open Access Journals in China

The discussions about academic publishing and Open Access, which my team and I follow, take place, to a large extent, on social media networks: Twitter in particular, but also the blogosphere is where the latest developments are often first mentioned, spread, and deliberated. Much of this discourse is carried out in English or other European languages.  This may explain why it has been so tricky for those of us lacking the linguistic skills to learn about Open Access in China.

I had the chance to get a personal impression of the developments beyond the great firewall, i.e. beyond my limited reach on Twitter, Blogger, et al., when I participated in the first Sino-German Training Workshop on Open Access Publishing in Beijing (March 12-13, 2014).

Hosted by the Chinese-Deutsches Zentrum für Wissenschaftsförderung (Sino-German Center for Research Promotion) and superbly organized by members of the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences under the leadership of its director Zhang Xiaolin, an 11-strong German delegation came together with an 11-strong Chinese delegation and about half a dozen representatives of the publishing industry to introduce, discuss, and exchange information about Open Access gold publishing across academic disciplines. The lecture hall was filled with an audience of about seventy or eighty Chinese editors, librarians, publishers, and students.

Panels discussed hosting, networks and tools, the perspectives of commercial publishers, setting up and managing open access publishing funds, transitioning from subscription to open access models, and re-use and licensing. A collection of most slideshows (some in English, others bi-lingual) can be found here, except the excellent presentation on issues of licensing by one of the organizers, Alan Ku (Ku Liping), which can be found here (replete with a cover shot of the Chinese edition of the book on Creative Commons licenses by James Baker, Martin Eve, and Ernesto Priego)

In his keynote lecture, Professor Zhang offered a comprehensive overview of open access strategies, practices, and challenges in China (See here for an article by him on this issue published in UKSG’s Insights). One of his most pressing questions, which also resurfaced throughout the two days, was “Who will pay for this?” The quest for sensible business models and long-term sustainability is as urgent in China as it is in the West. Another highlight in Zhang’s keynote was the rapid and steady increase of papers, citations, and funding (as % of GDP). China is by now the world’s third most quoted and the second most productive R&D country i.t.o. publications. Zhang also pointed to certain problems, particularly the danger of cyclicality: things that are published in China being also quoted in China and thus skewing the mterics. On the other hand,  the number of publications based on international collaborations have been rising steadily over the last 10 years from 8000 to 30000.

Behind this boost and indeed the considerable number of Open Access journals across China is the staunch support of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the National Science Library.  CAS announced its pursuit of Open Access in in the wake of Berlin 8 back in 2010 and continuously expanded their portfolio of Open Access journals. The 2012 move to join SCOAP3, so Zhang, had a transformative effect in the STM community. There is also the strong consortium of the National Science and Technology Digital Library (NSTL) which, as part of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, has been playing a key role in securing China’s access to international science publications since 2008 and now is a crucial supporter of China’s open access developments.

Obviously, not all open access gold endeavors coming out of China are part of CAS’ and NSTL’s infrastructure.  Yingkuan Wang, who is managing editor of IJABE, the International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, showed how a mixture of Author Processing Fees (which can be waived on request), conference organization, and advertisement keeps his journal afloat.

IJABE is running on OJS, which is also what most of the German journal projects presented at the workshop are using. Surprisingly, the Chinese audience and the rest of the Chinese delegates were not really familiar with the platform. When asked how many people in the room know about OJS, only one hand went up.  There was a very lively discussion session at the end of the workshop where the many pros and few cons of OJS were debated by those using the platform on a daily basis (and yes, I may be partial).  Perhaps it was enough to sway some of the Chinese editors in the room to give it a try. At the same time, it was highly interesting to see some of the latest alternatives that Chinese coders are developing.

China’s efforts to participate, organize, and further open access developments in publishing are impressive. Behind it stands a strong competitiveness for excellence and prestige in the global R&D environment.  Index factors, altmetrics, and other indicators of reception and reuse of Chinese research publications play a very big a role. Commercial publishers such as BioMedCentral know this and are already deeply involved in the Chinese research market – or so I gathered from the presentation/pitch in Chinese given by BMC’s Danqing Wang. While this push into traditional research outlets is unsurprising, it is vital that non-for-profit publishing outfits foster and expand their collaborations with Chinese open access initiatives to help curb overpriced APFs and other pitfalls that come with the territory.  I found it reassuring that the Chinese colleagues are as acutely aware of them as we are and just as interested in avoiding them.

I would have loved to tweet about this highly inspiring and interesting event but the great firewall made that impossible.  For the purposes of a productive exchange with open access colleagues in China, I will have to engage in good old fashioned e-mail correspondence, skyping, and hopefully personal contact. We will definitely continue talking!