Along with the positive aspects of open access publishing, there are some negatives too: work, time and, of course, money. Rose Eveleth, in her article “Free Access to Science Research Doesn’t Benefit Everyone” (The Atlantic, 22 December 2014) notes that it’s often graduate students and early career professionals who deal with the problems. Read the article here.
On Tuesday Nature published a news item with the following headline, “Nature Makes All Articles Free to View”, which from the headline alone sounded pretty good. Upon further inspection it looked like Nature had created a new form of access, that has been coined “Beggar Access” (see Bonnie Swoger’s blog post). Two days later the Nature news article was corrected, and the title now reads “Nature promotes read-only sharing by subscribers” (see the corrected Nature news post here), which is a more realistic depiction of the new program. Comments from others, skeptical of the program, have now been included in the article. See excerpts from the corrected Nature news post below.
Annette Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Science and Education, says that under the policy, subscribers can share any paper they have access to through a link to a read-only version of the paper’s PDF that can be viewed through a web browser. For institutional subscribers, that means every paper dating back to the journal’s foundation in 1869, while personal subscribers get access from 1997 on.
Initial reactions to the policy have been mixed. Some note that it is far from allowing full open access to papers. “To me, this smacks of public relations, not open access,” says John Wilbanks, a strong advocate of open-access publishing in science and a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri
Peter Suber, director of the Office for Scholarly Communication at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says that the programme is a step forward by providing immediate free online access, in contrast to Nature‘s self-archiving open access policy, which still requires a six-month embargo. But, he notes, if authors prefer to share links rather than actually deposit their manuscripts in an online repository, the programme could be a step backward, because repositories host copies independently from the publisher, and those copies can be printed or saved and are generally more reusable than a screen-only file.
In a recent post to its Impatient Optimists Blog, the Gates Foundation states “…we are adopting an Open Access (OA) policy to enable the unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded by the foundation, including any underlying data sets. ”
The Foundation went into further detail in an email to SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition):
“Our new Open Access Policy goes into effect on January 1, 2015 We are really excited to make the research we fund more accessible to our grantees and researchers, policy makers, and to governments around the world. Our new Open Access Policy enables the unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed, published research, including underlying datasets. We join many other institutions in the Open Access movement, such as the Research Councils UK, the Wellcome Trust, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization. We believe this policy will help accelerate identifying solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.”
” As noted, the policy goes into effect on January 1, 2015, but will be fully implemented over a two-year period, at which time all peer-reviewed published research, and underlying data sets resulting from foundation funded research will be immediately available upon publication. The implications are as follows:
For all agreements that are currently signed, there is no change.
For all new agreements, signed after January 1, 2015, the Open Access Policy will apply.
This policy will be implemented over a transition period over a two year period to allow for new standards around immediate access and data repositories to be adopted and developed. We will focus on developing a process that minimizes operational impact.
The Gates Foundation has an asset trust endowment of $42.3 billion. Total 2013 grant payments were $3.6 billion (source: Foundation Facts)
Insider Higher Ed has a lengthy analysis of the announcement.
Meredith Farkas has a popular feature in American Libraries magazine in which she often talks about technology and libraries. She is also a faculty librarian at Portland Community College in Oregon. In a post from last year, she highlights that most of her scholarly research is publicly available:
“But, you know what? You can find all of my writing (other than what’s on this blog) in PDXScholar, our institutional repository (IR). Want to read my peer-reviewed articles? My American Libraries columns from the past few years? The book chapters I’ve written since 2008? They’re all in there. My most recently article, co-authored with Lisa Hinchliffe and applying a management model to building a culture of assessment where librarians have faculty status, is in an open access journal.
Throughout her blog post she talks about making the effort to have a copy of her work available to the general public.
I just made a small amount of effort to make my scholarship open to all. I don’t expect anyone to jeopardize tenure to make stuff more open [emphasise mine], but it does disappoint me that people in our profession won’t ask a publisher for permission or even take the time to put something in their IR that could benefit so many. Mostly I just don’t understand why one wouldn’t if they could.
With some effort, one may publicly share work, and have a strong chance at tenure too.
Earlier this year, Elizabeth Yates , Liaison/Scholarly Communication Librarian at Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada, lead a presentation called “Shifting Ground: Scholarly Communication in Geography.” It was at the Canadian Association of Geographers meeting in May. Among the highlights include a discussion on Open Access issues, guidelines for picking journals to publish your work, the problems with metrics to measure scholarly impact, and negotiating your copyright. She her Slides and transcript
Here is a snapshot of what the journal intends to do in Political Science
“The recently launched journal Research and Politics (R&P) has been established to aid political scientists in fully utilizing the internet as a platform to accelerate the impact of their research without sacrificing the rigorous reviewing practices of a leading journal. R&P publishes short, accessible articles of 4,000 words (along with research notes of just 2,000 words), which focus on new findings or insights with a clarification of how the author got to these results. Elsewhere, like in the natural and medical sciences, short and focused articles have become the norm. Within political science successful blogs, like the Monkey Cage or the LSE blogs, show that is possible to present research findings in a meaningful and accessible way, often in less than 2,000 words, and that this enhances widespread readership.”
Among their goals is “to add to our repertoire of tools available to political scientists in order to disseminate their findings. R&P’s openness, format and speed to publication will appeal to those wishing to publish cutting edge analyses of current events and debates, predictions about upcoming elections, or evidence-based analyses of new crisis situations. Although accusations of political science being out of touch with the real-world are surely overblown, the time lags in conventional publishing and the limited accessibility of articles can undermine researchers’ attempts to maximise the impact of their work. The internet, in this way, can help to change academic communication and its impact on policy-makers and others.”
The mission of Knowledge Unlatched (KU) is to explore and change the current system for publishing scholarly books. By working together, libraries can create a sustainable route to open access for the scholarly monograph and secure long-term cost savings. Scholars, students, higher education institutions, and the public benefit. And authors benefit because their books are available to anyone in the world who has access to the internet (and access=citations=impact).
The University of Iowa Libraries is a charter member of KU, whereby we supported the publication of a pilot collection of 28 scholarly titles, published by a variety of established publishers. Since March (in merely 8 months), the books in the collection have been downloaded nearly 13,000 times, and readers in at least 139 countries have been accessing the titles via HathiTrust or OAPEN, trusted digital repositories that archive content in perpetuity.
Some additional, and amazing, statistics on the usage of these 28 titles:
- Total number of downloads: 12,763
- Mean average number of downloads per week: 1,064
- Mean average number of downloads per book/week: 40
- Mean average number of downloads=473 per book
Last week a federal appeals court reversed the a judge’s decision from May 2012 that ruled in favor of Georgia State University, whose library wanted to be able to make freely available as much copyrighted material as possible via electronic reserves. This is actually not bad news for libraries, as attested to by several copyright experts. Kevin Smith, scholarly communications officer at Duke, points out in a recent blog post:
- The court agreed that potential copyright violations should be addressed on an “item by item” basis, which allows universities to make individualized fair use decisions.
- The court agreed that when evaluating whether e-reserve copying counts as fair use, it should be relevant that university libraries are nonprofit, educational institutions and are not making money off of course reserves.
- The court rejected the lower court’s 10% or one chapter rule. The appellate judges instead advocated for “a more flexible approach that takes into account the amount appropriate for the pedagogical purpose.”
- The court agreed that if a publisher had not made it possible for libraries to license excerpts of a copyrighted work, then libraries do not harm the market for the publisher’s products by copying the desired excerpts and making them freely available.
Smith concludes that the publishers in the case have lost big for what were fighting for, that is to “radically change the landscape.”
Ga. State’s Loss in ‘E-Reserves’ Case Might Actually Be a Win for Librarians, Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 20, 2014
Nancy Sims, of University of Minnesota, has an astute analysis of the case.
You can now watch the UI’s Open Access Week 2014 panel discussion “Open Access and the Public Good” via Iowa Research Online. Professor Russell Ganim (Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) moderates a conversation between the Honorable James Leach (Law), Professor Christina Bohannan (Law), and Professor Bernd Fritzsch (Biology). Among the topics are how research in the Humanities and Sciences is financed and conducted and who has the right to access its results.
Paperity, just launched this week, is the first multi-disciplinary aggregator of all peer-reviewed published open access articles and papers. Yes, that’s right, it aggregates not just the abstracts, but the full-text of the articles. Right now Paperity includes over 160,000 articles from 2,000 scholarly journals, and growing. The goal of the team is to cover 100% of Open Access literature in 3 years from now.
- gives readers easy and unconstrained access to thousands of journals from hundreds of disciplines, in one central location;
- helps authors reach their target audience and disseminate discoveries more efficiently;
- raises exposure of journals, helps editors and publishers boost readership and encourage new submissions.