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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announce new Open Access policy

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.

 

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Reflections from a librarian on the tenure clock

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.

 

 

 

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Open Access in Geography

Earlier this year, , 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

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New Political Science Journal is Open Access

This post from the London School of Economics and Political Science announces the launch of Research & Politics (R&P), a new Open Access Journal.

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.”

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Creating a New Model for the Scholarly Monograph

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

 

 

 

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Appeals Court Rules on Georgia State’s E-Reserves Case: Back to Lower Court

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.”

Read more:

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.

There is a thorough and smart analysis of the ruling from Nancy Sims of the University of Minnesota found here. – See more at: http://blogs.library.duke.edu/scholcomm/#sthash.IEno3aYH.dpuf
There is a thorough and smart analysis of the ruling from Nancy Sims of the University of Minnesota found here. – See more at: http://blogs.library.duke.edu/scholcomm/#sthash.IEno3aYH.dpuf
There is a thorough and smart analysis of the ruling from Nancy Sims of the University of Minnesota found here. – See more at: http://blogs.library.duke.edu/scholcomm/#sthash.IEno3aYH.dpuf
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Open Access Week video available online

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.

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Paperity Aggregates All Open Access Articles. Finally!

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.

Paperity:

  • 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.

Check it out!

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The importance of open access medical literature, by James Amos, MD

James Amos, MD, Department of Psychiatry at The University of Iowa, continues our celebration of Open Access Week with a guest post on the importance of free access to medical articles for patients and their families.

The importance of open access medical literature

James Amos, MD

As a consulting psychiatrist, I teach medical students and residents, I really appreciate open access medical literature. We have a weekly case conference called Clinical Problems in Consultation Psychiatry, a practical way to teach the Practice-Based Learning & Improvement Core Competency.

This helps develop the habit of reflecting on and analyzing one’s practice performance; locating and applying scientific evidence to  the care of patients; critically appraising the medical literature; using the computer to support learning and patient care, and facilitating the education of other health care professionals.

Recurring topics are delirium and dementia. Our recommendations for patients, families, and colleagues depend on free, easy access to studies and reviews.

A poignant reminder was a recent CNN article about a man struggling to cope with early state Alzheimer’s disease. He said, “All we really are is our thoughts…” Ironically, mindfulness research tells us the opposite might be true. A paper in the Directory of Open Access Journals reviews the growing research literature on the role of mindfulness in moderating the suffering of those with dementia [1].

  1. Marciniak, R., et al. (2014). “Effect of meditation on cognitive functions in context of aging and neurodegenerative diseases.” Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8.
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The changing landscape of publishing: are we witnessing a revolution in information flow through open access? by Bernd Fritzsch

Open Access Week 2014 begins today, and we’ll be running posts by guest bloggers on open access and contemporary scholarship. Today’s post comes from Bernd Fritzsch, Chair and Professor in the Department of Biology, and panelist in last month’s Open Access and the Public Good discussion.

The changing landscape of publishing: are we witnessing a revolution in information flow through open access?

Bernd Fritzsch

I am old enough to remember the ‘good old days’ when we went through the ‘Current Contents’ every week to find out what had been published journal by journal. Once you had identified a paper of interest, you needed to request a reprint, which you received maybe several weeks to several months later. You had to keep track of what reprints you requested, what you received and archive all of that in an ever increasing collection of reprints.

This started to change with the introduction of online journals—a new concept following the introduction of the world-wide web. Now, once you had identified a paper of interest you could possibly download a PDF of the entire article or at least see its abstract for a better assessment of fit for your interest.   That was around 2000. In the last 14 years this concept of online, open access journals is increasingly pitched against the traditional journals. These novel ideas for access can potentially solve the biggest problem of the past—the unequal flow of scientific information—by providing easy access for everyone.

One major difference between open access and ‘traditional’ journals is the basic business model. Traditional journals rely, at least to some extent, on subscriptions to make a profit. How much a given journal profits from subscriptions is variable and the data is hard to come by. Given the high cost of subscriptions, budget-strapped libraries are faced with deciding which journal subscriptions are the most useful for their audience. The citation impact factor was developed by ISI initially to give libraries an idea of which journals are highly cited and read, helping them determine which journals they need to hold. Of course, once the idea of ‘impact factor’ was established for journals, the same system was used to rank authors. In essence, publishing in a prestigious journal with a high impact factor that is found in every library and many individual labs, was one way of making sure that a given scientific insight was widely disseminated. Journals, in turn, were interested in acquiring the highest impact factor to be widely subscribed. The problem with this business model is that the tax payer pays at least twice: first to finance the research that drives the lab of the author and subsequently to finance the library subscriptions. NIH has argued that this is an undue support and these arguments have changed the business model: now, papers, whose research was funded by NIH, have to be made available free to the public within one year. The authors, however, pay nothing in most cases, but have to sign over the copyright of data generated in most cases by public funding to a for profit organization. The problem with this model is that not every journal is easily accessible. In many cases one can only access abstracts unless a given University has a subscription that allows online access. Given that most researchers have their ‘reprint collections’ on their hard drive or the ‘cloud’ as PDF files, the possibility of accessing a given PDF instantly is becoming the rate limiting factor for information dissemination.

Since 2000 a different business of publishing is gaining ground: open access journals such as BMC journals, PloS journals and, more recently, eLife. These journals have no printed copies and thus no subscriptions by individuals or libraries to finance their costs. Upon acceptance of a paper, the author pays a fee to allow online access for all potential readers. The importance of this new business model is that data are immediately available for all to see and download as PDF to build up your own computer based library. Unfortunately, payments have to be made by the author, but the author typically retains the rights for his/her data. Of course, once the power of the internet become apparent to traditional publishers, most have added online access to their journals, in addition to the traditional paper journal (although this is sometimes at additional expenses to the author).  Of course, impact factors of the new exclusive online journals are next to irrelevant for libraries (they do not need to subscribe to them) and are now only used to gauge the ability of a given set of authors to move a paper into a higher impact journal, allegedly being seen by more people, a questionable argument at a time of all access search engines.

Indeed, the very perception of a high impact journal carrying more weight because it is more being widely read is becoming debatable. At a time when several online journals provide statistics for each paper such as views per months, number of downloads of PDFs, number of citations including links to citations etc., other metrics that are easily accessible to evaluate ‘impact’ are moving into the forefront. Instead of ‘guessing’ the possible impact of a given article based on the ‘impact factor’ of a journal, one can now see the impact unfolding in real time for every article in these journals or for every author across journals. This allows every author to compare the impact development of their papers published in a low as compared to a high impact journal. In fact, only time can tell how a publication will fare: some papers will be cited frequently early and phase out, others will start with few citations and last. In addition, several online indices exist (Scopus, Google Scholar) that measure the real time impacts of any given paper from any journal. I recently looked at this data for papers I had published in the same year in high impact journals (Nature, for example) and low impact journals. I discovered that it did not matter where I had published my research: over a 25 year period the quality of the paper seems to equalize, at least for my sample, the impact factor difference of the journals; both papers were nearly equally cited. In my area of expertise, one of the most cited papers by T Dobzhansky (1708 times) is in a journal with an impact factor of around 0.4, highlighting my point namely that highly cited papers can appear in ‘low impact’ journals. Moreover, since the h-index was invented nearly 10 years ago, it is now possible to calculate for every author the total citation impact of her/his publication record as a measure of the life time impact. This measure is becoming more widely accepted. In many countries tenure and promotion decisions are partly based on not only the numbers of papers published and the impact factor of the journal, but increasingly the cumulative impact of a given faculty through the h-index.

Having a clearer understanding of what the changes in publication landscapes imply, one can begin to ask questions about the future success of the traditional versus the open access models, in particular in the context of faculty promotion. In my opinion, h-index is here to stay as a measure of overall citation frequency of papers of a given author. Modifications to correct for academic age, such as the m-index, combined with overall citation frequencies (provided by Google Scholar or Scopus) can provide a reasonable measure of how many people found the work of a given author useful for their own work and thus cite it. Variations of these measures can look into position of a given a faculty in the list of authors (middle name in a 20 people assembly of authors or first name in small set of authors). However, this will not change the basic usefulness of existing quantifications of a given author’s impact, they will only fine tune the results.

How will all of this affect frequency of reading of a given publication? Because it is now possible to search across all publications in seconds followed by the direct access not only of an abstract but the entire article information flow will speed up and help to develop a given idea. My expectation is that the traditional publication approach will disappear over time and most papers will go on line proportional to the phasing out of senior scientist used to the traditional model. My guess is that the revolution in disseminating information that started with typesetting by Gutenberg in 1450 (in China already around 1000) will soon be replaced by all electronic media. In addition, I expect that journal articles will transform into online fora of open discussions of the content of journals, not just consumption. ELife has already developed some of these novel publishing ideas such as the publication of the peer-review along with the article and the author’s rebuttal letter–things that are kept top secret by traditional journals. In addition, anybody can comment on the paper and such comments will become a permanent record. Combined, open access and open communication will help stamp out scientific fraud. The quality of the review process along with the publication of the name of the reviewer will ensure that anybody who cannot repeat the work can immediately interact with the authors via the online fora. This will change publication as we know it from a static process forming a one-way street of information flow (author to journal to library) into a dynamic process that will turn the scientific community into an intellectual village of worldwide openly communicating individuals. Clearly, ranking of universities such as QS University relies for 20% of the total ranking on citations per faculty, requiring that faculty should make sure that all their citations are properly credited to them. Easy ways to do this is through Google Scholar profile (or Scopus or Web of Science profiles).

I believe that the essential stumbling block for these new models of truly free communications, data, and idea exchange will be how to finance these forward looking endeavors that are transforming our publication landscape. Nearly 500 years after printing helped the public to gain access to scriptures, restricted before to the knowledgeable few, online open access publications could become the next step forward in free information flow, provided the financial models can be resolved. Other online features such as Facebook or Twitter will help to drive the free communication enterprise even further into accessibility by everyone.

Further reading:

http://www.nature.com/news/open-access-the-true-cost-of-science-publishing-1.12676

https://twitter.com/elife

http://theconversation.com/schekmans-luxury-journal-boycott-doesnt-go-far-enough-21145