The Dust Still Hasn’t Settled. Reading the Results from Science Europe and Global Research Council Surveys

Last month Science Europe published a survey report on Open Access Publishing Policies in its Member Organisations. Based on two surveys conducted in 2012 and 2014 respectively it casts light on the progress – or lack thereof – in the implementation of #OA across the disciplines.
The data for the report is based exclusively on information provided by Research Funding Organisations and Research Performing Organizations who participated in both surveys. While methodologically this is a sound decision, it considerably limits the representative value of the exercise. A glance at the participants shows that most information was culled from (Western) Europe. With the exception of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, Eastern Europe is absent from the survey. Considering that the 2014 survey was of global scope, the reach of the results shrinks even more.
Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction. Considering the ongoing fluctuation of the publishing landscape, the breakneck speed of technical developments, and the recent political upheavals that may yet play a role in the further pursuit of transnational open access to research, it is helpful and encouraging to see the first steps toward an overview coming from the very organisations who, in my opinion, hold the key to the success of the transition.
The report conveys a sense of direction and awareness of pressing issues, such as supporting new initiatives or establishing technical standards, which are crucial in the steps ahead. On the other hand, it also becomes clear that the mills do grind very slowly indeed: there is little more than encouragement and suggestion – we are still a far cry from a pan-European (leave alone international) Open Access Policy with bite.

Twitter Open Access Report – 5 March 2015

Open Belgium held a 1-day conference on 23 February! Keep an eye on the #openbelgium15 hashtag for blog posts, presentations, and videos.

The CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (OAI9) is open for registration! The program can be found here, the registration page is here. Those unable to attend can follow it on Twitter via #OAI9.
Source: @ahacker

The University of Tromsø has made four short videos promoting open access for their academic staff.
Source: @UiThelsefak

The Asian Development Bank keeps its development research in an open access repository, here.
Source: @ADB_HQ

The Publishing Research Consortium has put out a legal guide to open access licensing in science communication. Read it here.
Source: @ALPSP

Glyn Moody (@glynmoody) argues that academics who worry about making their work available for commercial re-use via a CC-BY license are looking at it the wrong way in What Open Access Can Learn from Open Source.
Source: @oatp

In looking for new financial models for open access publishing, it’s important to look at all of the costs involved, so as not to repeat the shortcomings of the current models. Kevin Smith, director of Duke University’s Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communication, has some thoughts on this here.

Brian Martin offers a helpful overview of OA publishing models and the reasons behind some people’s resistance to adopting them, here. Like many others, though, his article ignores some aspects of publishing that are not generally done by volunteers, such as copy-editing, markup, formatting, and hosting.
Source: @oatp

The labor that traditional publishers don’t pay for, the writing, refereeing, and editing, also has value. Relying on volunteers may not be sustainable in the long term, as this Obituary for an Open Access Journal may demonstrate.
Source: @KUnlatched

Speaking of costs, @figshare has a chart on APCs in the UK in 2014, here
Source: @figshare

…and the Wellcome Trust has published data on how much it spent on APCs in 2013-2014. Lots of details and analysis here.
Source: @Protohedgehog

The Sociological Review has a £1.2m surplus. Martin Eve has some questions on the ethics of this, here.
Source: @martin_eve

Leuven University Press’s first open access book is a success! 669 downloads in 61 countries, more here.
Source: @eacorrao

The Scholarly Kitchen (@scholarlykitchn) has an article on the factors involved in converting a journal to Open Access, here.
Source: @dstokes01 will feature a monthly column on open source and the humanities in the digital age. The first installment is here.
Source: @KUnlatched

James DeVaney of the University of Michigan asks, “Why are we motivated to write the history of MOOCs so soon? This level of impatience seems at odds with the typical longevity of experimentation with teaching and learning.” See his answer here.
Source: @culturehacker

@SPARC_NA announces the theme of its 2015 International Open Access Week: “Open for Collaboration”. Details here.
Source: @Protohedgehog

The Dutch Parliament has declared open access to scientific articles an inalienable right for authors. More here (in Dutch).
Source: @KurtDeBelder

A study in PLOS One looks at why researchers hesitate to share data, and advocates for better incentives. Read here.
Source: @Protohedgehog

Not news, but certainly useful for those just getting into academic writing: a comprehensive template for writing a journal article, pdf here.
Source: @ANU_RSAT 

The shares tips to use in MOOCs, here.
Source: @ayeshaasifkhan

Twitter Open Access Report – 19 February 2015

BC Campus will sponsor a series of open webinars for Open Education Week. Details here.
Source: @openeducationwk

Addressing the challenges of education in Africa through MOOCs. Andile Ngcaba (@andile_ngcaba), a South African businessman and ICT leader, talks about the possibilities that MOOCs offer for education, and why it’s a good idea to proceed with implementation even before the infrastructure is in place. Watch here.
Source: @paulbacharach

The European University Association looks at policy developments in open access and their relevance for research publications. The report shows “a clear trend towards the creation and consolidation of frameworks for the open sharing of publicly funded research results.” Download the .pdf here.
Source: @eacorrao

The Confederation of Open Access Repositories announces the publication of its COAR Roadmap: Future Directions for Repository Interoperability. Download the .pdf here.
Source: @SPARC_EU

The Open Science Initiative Working Group has published a report, “Mapping the Future of Scholarly Publishing”. You can download the .pdf here.
Source: @Paperity

The MOOC Hype Fades, in 3 Charts. A survey of academic leaders indicates that their faith in MOOCs’ sustainability and utility is falling. More here.
Source: @Nathan_Bee

Martin Paul Eve (@martin_eve) proposes the development of financing schemes for APCs, read here.
Source: @copeland_sugar

Law professor Kiichi Fujiwara of the University of Tokyo reflects on MOOCs, their strengths and limitations in transcending boundaries. More here.
Source: @paulbacharach

A textbook is made available for free for the participants of a particular MOOC. Perhaps this is a good transitional step for academic publishers who are wary of the changes heralded by the open access movement. More here.
Source: @Nathan_Bee

Getting Your Writing Back: Some tips on getting on with it for those to whom it doesn’t necessarily come easy, here.
Source: @DrMagennis

Coursera adds corporate partners to MOOC sequences. The MOOC provider will work with companies like Google, Shazam, and Instagram to develop capstone projects for certain Specializations. More here, see also here.
Source: @ayeshaasifkhan

The 10th International Digital Curation Conference, held last week in London, has a Storify here.
Source: @digitalcuration

At the Washington Post, Arthur Camins ruminates on the purpose of education today: is it about the search for truth, or the search for a decent job, and why can’t it be both? Read here.
Source: @jordosh

The Openbelgium15 conference will take place next week. You can follow the livestream here.
Source: @OKFN

Science Set Free: 10 takeaways from the OpenAIRE2020 launch. Read here.
Source: @OpenAIRE_eu

A new forum on research and scholarly publishing will launch at this year’s London Book Fair in April. Facilitated by Toby Green, Head of Publishing at OECD, and Alicia Wise, Director of Access and Policy at Elsevier, the forum will look at how best to adapt to the disappearance of physical barriers to disseminating information, what different cultures and markets can learn from each other, and how best to evaluate and fund research. More here.
Source: @LondonBookFair

The Elsevier boycott appears to be gaining momentum. The Cost of Knowledge boycott page is here (source: @Protohedgehog), and here, in an FAZ interview, the director of the University of Leipzig Library says that so far they’ve saved money by in dropping their Elsevier subscriptions and paying per article.

Open Access and the Research Excellence Framework: Strange bedfellows yoked together by HEFCE. Richard Poynder has some concerns about making OA compliance compulsory in the UK. Read here.
Source: @RickyPo

Twitter Open Access Report – 6 February 2015

Interviews with Martin Paul Eve and John Willinsky. The keynote speakers for this year’s Library Publishing Forum offer their thoughts on open access in the humanities and social sciences. Read here.
Source: @RickyPo

An interview with EdX CEO Anant Agarwal. “We are trying to really revolutionize the world of education. Large numbers of people around the world do not have access to a quality education, and at the same time, education itself has not dramatically improved in quality or in efficiency in a long time. Our aim is to increase access to learning to people all over the world.” More here.
Source: @College_Experts

New peer-reviewed open-access journal on citizen science published by Ubiquity Press. “The Citizen Science Association is delighted to announce the launch of its new flagship journal, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice. The journal will provide a central space for cross-disciplinary scholarly exchanges that are aimed at advancing the field of citizen science.” More here.
Source: @BLugger

The PSP 2015 Conference runs from 4-6 February 2015. Program here, follow at #psp2015

Call for Papers, Open Access Tage 2015. Die 9. Open Access Tage finden am 7. Und 8. Spetember 2015 in Zürich statt. Mehr hier.
Quelle: @dbeucke

Open Education Week 2015’s call for participation deadline is next Tuesday, 10 February. More here.
Source: @oeconsortium

The Confederation of Open Access Repositories has issued a statement on embargo periods in open access publishing, asserting that, while they may be useful in facilitating the transition to open access publishing, they still stifle innovation and should be kept as brief as possible, and phased out as soon as is reasonable. More here.
Source: @OpenAccessMKD

Open access must be open at both ends. The value of making publicly funded research available to the public should be clear to anyone. But Jonathan Foster argues that the increasingly popular gold open access, requiring as it does a fee paid to publishers by the author, may have a negative impact on the quality of published research, where journals may feel compelled to publish papers by anyone who can pay, regardless of quality; conversely, they may have to reject good work by scholars who can’t afford the fees. If gold open access is the way of the future, then a fair funding process will need to be developed. More here.
Source: @oatp

Publisher consolidation: who benefits? “A long-term hope of many OA advocates is that competition will help to moderate prices for Article Processing Charges (APCs). While there is some evidence that this is happening, it is also clear that the APC market is deeply dysfunctional – with APCs for OA in hybrid journals being significantly higher that those for pure OA journals from born-digital publishers.” More here.
Source: @RLUK_David

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s open access policy, effective from 1 January 2015. Any publications funded by the Foundation, as well as the data on which they are based, will be made available to the public. The policy indicates a preference for green open access and sets a two-year transition period to phase out embargoes. More here, and a similar statement from the Ford Foundation here.
Sources: @SPARC_EU, @lessig

The Norwegian Research Council is setting up a funding scheme for APCs in OA journals, sending a clear message in support of gold open access and against hybrid journals. An adequate peer review process is a prerequisite for inclusion in the scheme, and the journal must be listed in the DOAJ, which means hybrid journals are disqualified. More here.
Source: @digitalsci

Check out OAPEN’s repository of Open Access academic books here.
Source: @eacorrao

25,000 Early Modern English Books are now available as Open Access Texts. More here.
Source: @SPARC_EU

Harvard University provides writing guides for Psychology, Art History, East Asian Studies, and other disciplines, free to download here.
Source: @DalhousieESL

New MOOC for teachers and coaches focuses on learning differences in students. “The Spring 2015 Learning Differences MOOC begins February 9, and is intended primarily for teachers and teacher-coaches. Participants can learn about working memory, student motivation and executive function, and pick modules based on the grades or subject matter they teach.” More here.
Source: @educationweek

EdX offers an academic writing MOOC in partnership with the U.S. Department of State. ColWri.2.2x, Principles of Written English, was developed for English language learners and will focus on English grammar and essay writing. More here.
Source: @Nathan_Bee

The Universidad Autónoma de Madrid is offering its first MOOCs later this month, with offerings in app development, Spanish history, organic chemistry, and medical ethics. More here.
Source: @OpenEduEU

NASA’s Physical Science Informatics Database is now open to the public. “Though population of all data in the repository is not yet complete, new physical science data is being added daily as we work to complete data sets for previously flown experiments in the areas of Combustion Science, Complex Fluids, Fluid Physics, Fundamental Physics and Materials Science.” More here.
Source: @oatp

U.S. President Obama’s new budget as it pertains to Open Access, here.
Source @hjoseph

Summaries of Pasteur40A’s country case studies on open access can be found here. Pasteur40A’s February newsletter is here.
Source: @KUnlatched, @SPARC_EU

Open access at Elsevier – 2014 in retrospect and a look at 2015. “Key themes for 2014 were again collaboration and steady progress on both gold and green open access. These trends, unsurprisingly, are set to continue in 2015 and are part of broader activities to accelerate open science, including open research data.” More here.
Source: @RickyPo

Universität Leipzig bricht Verhandlungen mit Wissenschaftsverlag Elsevier ab. “Wir sahen uns zum wiederholten Male damit konfrontiert, dass eine Reduzierung des Angebots mit einer deutlichen Preissteigerung einhergehen sollte.”, sagt Prof. Dr. Beate Schücking, Rektorin der Universität Leipzig. Mehr hier.
Source: @KUnlatched

The VSNU Newsletter is out, with updates on the universities’ negotiations with Springer and Elsevier. Read here (pdf).
Source: @RickyPo

Twitter Open Access Report – 23 January 2015

Doing Away with Traditional Publishing? “The primary role of traditional journals is to provide peer review and for that you don’t need a physical journal–you just need an editorial board and an editorial process,” says Gershman. More here.
Source: @HuffPostEdu

Four Pillars to Modernize Copyright in the EU. C4C has launched a manifesto to address the current model’s outdated framework, lack of consistency across the EU, excessive copyright durations, and insufficient implementation. More here.
Source: @ayeshaasifkhan

Academic Publishing in Europe held their 2015 Conference, Web25: The Road Ahead, in Berlin this week. Follow at #ape2015

The OpCit project is completed. SPARC Europe has taken over maintenance of the Open Access Citation Advantage list. More here.
Source: @MarkHahnel

Dutch universities consider boycotting Elsevier over Open Access. The Union of Dutch Universities (VSNU) is in negotiations with Elsevier to publish papers by researchers at Dutch universities without a paywall and without raising the author fees. More here.
Source: @RickyPo

HEFCE will develop a shared service to support open access compliance in the next Research Excellence Framework. Press release here@martin_eve’s thoughts here.
Source: @HEFCE

Project RECODE releases the findings on its studies on open access to research data with new policy recommendations to counter the “lack of a coherent open data ecosystem” and the “lack of attention to the specificity of research practice, processes and data collections.” More here.
Source: @OpenAccessEC

The Swedish Research Council proposes that artistic works and scientific publications, as well as the data on which they are based, should be publicly available if they result from publicly funded research. More here.
Source: @RickyPo

Full report on Knowledge Unlatched’s Proof-of-Concept Pilot is now available. “The experiment established that authors, librarians, publishers and research funding agencies can work together in powerful new ways to enable open access; that doing so is cost effective; and that a global library consortium model has the potential dramatically to widen access to the knowledge and ideas contained in book-length scholarly works.” More here.
Source: @oatp

University of California Press formally launches two new open access publishing programs. Collabra will be a journal focusing on life and biomedical sciences, ecology and environmental science, and social and behavioral sciences. Luminos will putlbish monographs. More here.
Source: @OA_Network

Are Swiss universities paying publishers too much? Former librarian Christian Gutknecht is suing the University of Geneva to force them to reveal how much they pay in subscription fees to the major academic publishers. More here.
Source: @tullney

Infographic on the current state of Creative Commons license use, here.
Source:  @creativecommons

Palgrave Macmillan launches an open access online journal. Palgrave Communications will publish peer-reviewed articles in the humanities, social sciences, and business. More here.
Source: @mjgbakker


In Defense of the Edited Book

In his post “3 simple distinctions your government should eliminate from its research financing system“, Curt Rice recently wrote about the merits of publishing essays in anthologies and called for their equal recognition by funding instruments vis-a-vis those published in journals. He writes:

I still think it’s a lot harder to get published in a good journal than in a good book. But I’m far less certain that it’s just as hard to get published in a bad journal as in a good book, even if the weighting system the government has adopted would make you think so.

The gist of the post lies, as the title suggests, not in the nature of the anthology or edited volume, but in the counting policies for research output that funding bodies devise. However, it is uncommon to find such clear support for a genre that has become somewhat of a step-child in the family of academic writings.

The situation of the edited volume is grim: As Rice shows, funding bodies, in their recently found penchant for accountability, don’t treat the academic input into making such books very favourably. Furthermore, the submission policies of many traditional trade publishers and prestigious UPs clearly signal: we don’t even look at edited volumes. Harvard is the first example that comes to mind. Even academics themselves who frequently publish in such collections or edit them are often dismissive of these products. As one high-profile professor once put it to me as I showed him a couple of newly printed examples: “no one reads these things anyway.”

Over time, such negative attitudes will inevitably be reflected in the quality of the books themselves.That is a great shame because a well-edited volume is ideally suited to thoroughly investigate a subject from a variety of viewpoints, be they disciplinary, methodological or theoretical. This can be a great enrichment to any field or a discussion across academic disciplines. But, as Rice rightly points out, if funding bodies and other instruments of academic score-keeping do not appreciate the work that is needed to make such a book “good”, why should anybody bother?

Take, for example, introductions. Rice writes:

Contributions to anthologies earn points. Unless they’re entitled “Introduction.”

It is common for editors to write introductory chapters to their volumes. These introductions position the subsequent chapters and argue for a conceptual perspective motivating the book. Introductions are works of scholarship and they convey research results.

As the system currently stands, an introduction that is actually entitled “Introduction” does not get points. By now, most of us have learned to give our introductions different titles, and we thereby collect points.

How could it come to this?  How can it be that the collection of “points” determines the direction of academic work? Moreover, how can it be that in this “game” that allots “points” the writing of “introductions” is not deemed score-worthy? The heart and soul of any “good” edited volume is the introduction: it provides the conceptual framework, the methodological parameters, and demonstrates the congruence of the contributions. An introduction is to the edited volume what a conductor is to an orchestra – it unifies the contributors and shapes the output of the ensemble.

Academic communication is often likened to an ongoing conversation. The edited volume is an excellent forum where scholars can conduct such a conversation on a specific topic. The question is how it can be rehabilitated?

As an unwanted step-child of the publishing industry, it is relatively unencumbered by the ubiquitous and persistent craving for some prestigious UP stamp on the front cover. That makes it a perfect genre to explore the possibilities of open access book-publishing. And since it is not a monological but inherently dialogical form, it would lend it self readily to new forms of open review and composition. We already know that much of the needed yet often neglected exchange among contributors and editors can happen online – Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Gary Hall are boldly showing the way. What needs to happen now is – as usual – the necessary persuading  a wider editor- and authorship to invest their time and writing in Open Access edited volumes . Oh and we must remind the score-keeping purse-holders that this genre is not just worth their “points” but a crucial part of the communicative landscape in the academy.

On the Cost of Open Access Publishing

The recent discussion “The future of open access research and publishing” on the Guardian Higher Education forum (#HElivechat and @GdnHigherEd) touched on a few familiar points. The first was, unsurprisingly in light of Science‘s recent “sting” kafuffle, peer-review and how it can and must be improved.

However, once the discussion went on to “gold” vs. “green” some feathers, including mine, got not exactly ruffled but at least mildly tousled. There still is a significant lack of clarity within the community about what responsibilities come with the different paths of open access publishing and this lack breeds  misconceptions, which can turn out to be counterproductive. One of them, which refuses to go away, is the notion that “open access publishing” will lower costs of production. Continue reading