Open Access Category

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University Presses

Ever since the University of Missouri announced on May 24 that it was closing its Press, university presses have been generating quite a bit of discussion.  In the last few days several items of interest have appeared.

On July 6, The Iowa City Press-Citizen interviewed Jim McCoy, the director of The University of Iowa Press, about the future of the UI Press (“University presses seek out new roles and new markets“). McCoy said “we have an incredibly supportive administration who understands that we fill a necessary function. … We bridge the gap between research and teaching.” He also noted that they are very small in terms of people but publish a far higher number of books per staff member each year than other presses. He emphasized the value of working with the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Prairie Lights and The UI Libraries.

Inside Higher Ed published an opinion piece on July 9 by Marshall Poe of Iowa’s history department (“What Can University Presses Do?“). Poe would like to see presses move towards open access publishing and new modes of outreach. This item generated quite a few comments from people familiar with university presses and is worth reading for the responses it has generated.

On July 10, The Chronicle of Higher Education included an interview with Patrick Alexander, the head of the Penn state University Press, by Adeline Koh (“Is Open Access a Moral or a Business Issue? A Conversation with The Pennsylvania State University Press“). This is the 3rd piece Koh has written in her series “Digital Challenges to Academic Publishing”. This interview discusses differences between STEM publishing and humanities publishing

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Predatory Publishers, or “Scaring the Children”

In a recent blog post Kevin Smith of Duke takes up the issue of open access publishers who have been labeled “predatory” for various reasons. Quoting from the post:

In an online age, criteria that are well-established in libraries for avoiding these predatory toll-access journals now must be shared more widely because researchers may unwittingly spend research funds on equally low-quality OA journals. But to call this an open access problem is to blind ourselves to its full scope and is, I fear, often motivated more by the desire to bring OA itself into disrepute, to “scare the children,” as I like to call it, than it is by a desire to protect the entire system of scholarly communications. …The problem we should be addressing is predatory publications, OA and subscription-based, and publishing ethics across the board….

…So I repeat, we should make our decisions about quality on the basis of neutral criteria that can be applied to any business model and not allow the legitimate concern over predatory practices to become a weapon used against only a single publishing option.

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Report calls for accelerating transition to open access publishing in UK

A government commissioned report titled “Accessibility, Sustainability, Excellence: How to Expand Access to Research Publications” calls for Britain “embrace and help accelerate the transition to the open-access publishing of research results.”  We called attention to this expected recommendation in a May 3rd posting. According to reporting in  the Chronicle of Higher Education “[t]he report’s main recommendation is that ‘a clear policy direction should be set towards support for publication in open-access or hybrid journals as the main vehicle for the publication of research, especially when it is publicly funded.’”

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White House petition reaches 25,000 signatures

The White House petition sponsored by Access2Research and calling for open access to all journal articles arising from federally-funded research reached the required 25,000 signature mark on June 3, well ahead of the June 19 deadline.  As of June 11, 26,592 signatures had been received.  White House petitions which reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days receive an official response from the Administration.

The petition calls for the published results of all taxpayer-funded research be posted freely on the internet.  Currently, only articles resulting from research funded by the National Institutes of Health have this requirement.  The NIH Public Access Policy requires that articles be posted to PubMed Central within 12 months of being published.

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University of California, San Francisco, adopts open access “mandate”

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), faculty senate voted unanimously for an open access policy that requires  articles published by its researchers in scholarly journals to be made publicly available in electronic form. UCSF thus joins Harvard, Duke, Kansas and a number of other institutions in mandating such access. See the article by Michael Kelley in Library Journal and the May 23rd statement from UCSF.

As reported in the UCSF statement: “Our primary motivation is to make our research available to anyone who is interested in it, whether they are members of the general public or scientists without costly subscriptions to journals,” said Richard A. Schneider, PhD, chair of the UCSF Academic Senate Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication, who spearheaded the initiative at UCSF. “The decision is a huge step forward in eliminating barriers to scientific research,” he said. “By opening the currently closed system, this policy will fuel innovation and discovery, and give the taxpaying public free access to oversee their investments in research.”

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White House petition calls for open access to federally funded research results

Under the sponsorship of Access2Research a White House petition has been initiated that calls for open access to journal articles published as a result of federally funded research. The Access2Research web site urges:

“Sign the petition to require free access over the Internet to journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. This will require you to create an account at the White House petition website, confirm the account by clicking on a link in your email, and then sign the petition itself. 

25,000 signatures in 30 days gets an official Administration response. We want to hit that number – blow it out of the water – to escalate this issue inside the White House. We believe the idea of requiring free access has support but is stuck. This could well be the event that gets it through.”

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British government announces plans to make publicly funded research reports open access

The British government announced on Wednesday that it would take steps to require open access publication of research based on government funding. The govenment spokesman, as reported by Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education, did not specify how the published research would be made available.  Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, will be advising the government on standards and other matters. The article reports a response by a spokesman from Springer Verlag.

“Throwing its weight behind open access, the British government has declared it wants to make all research paid for with public money freely available online. If it succeeds, the move is likely to have significant consequences for publishers, and will boost the international momentum of the open-access movement. But the government won’t share details about how it will make the plan a reality.”

In reaction the Guardian in a May 9 article observes that a primary mode of financing open access publishing, with article fees paid by the author or author’s institution, is discriminatory and favors those with “deep pockets.” The article points out:

“A major problem with the APC model is that it effectively shifts the costs of academic publishing from the reader to the author and therefore discriminates against those without access to the funds needed to meet these costs. Among those excluded are academics in, for example, the humanities and the social sciences whose research funding typically does not include publication charges, and independent researchers whose only means of paying the APC is from their own pockets. Academics in developing countries in particular face discrimination under APC because of their often very limited access to research funds.”

 

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Harvard Faculty Advisory Council: “Major Periodical Subscriptions Cannot Be Sustained.”

In a statement dated April 17th, Harvard’s Faculty Advisory Council, in a memo to all faculty, stated:

We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. Many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive. This situation is exacerbated by efforts of certain publishers (called “providers”) to acquire, bundle, and increase the pricing on journals.

For the full statement, see http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k77982&tabgroupid=icb.tabgroup143448

The memo goes on to point out that Harvard’s costs for these publishers now approaches $3.75 million. Iowa’s costs for the three largest publishers (presumably the same group, though precisely which are included in the Harvard figure is not clear) is expected to be around $3.2 million in FY2012. While the figure quoted is said to be around 10% of Harvard’s total acquisitions budget, $3.2 million is over 20% of Iowa’s total.

The memo concludes with a strong statement and list of suggested actions, worth quoting at length. Note that DASH is equivalent to our own Iowa Research Online, though unlike Harvard, Iowa does not have an open-access policy (aka “mandate”).

It is untenable for contracts with at least two major providers to continue on the basis identical with past agreements. Costs are now prohibitive. Moreover, some providers bundle many journals as one subscription, with major, high-use journals bundled in with journals consulted far less frequently. Since the Library now must change its subscriptions and since faculty and graduate students are chief users, please consider the following options open to faculty and students (F) and the Library (L), state other options you think viable….

1. Make sure that all of your own papers are accessible by submitting them to DASH in accordance with the faculty-initiated open-access policies (F).

2. Consider submitting articles to open-access journals, or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access (F).

3. If on the editorial board of a journal involved, determine if it can be published as open access material, or independently from publishers that practice pricing described above. If not, consider resigning (F).

4. Contact professional organizations to raise these issues (F).

5. Encourage professional associations to take control of scholarly literature in their field or shift the management of their e-journals to library-friendly organizations (F).

6. Encourage colleagues to consider and to discuss these or other options (F).

7. Sign contracts that unbundle subscriptions and concentrate on higher-use journals (L).

8. Move journals to a sustainable pay per use system, (L).

9. Insist on subscription contracts in which the terms can be made public (L).

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Interview with High Wire Press on digital publishing

The second in a series of interviews by Adeline Koh on scholarly publishing and the digital environment appears in yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Education.  See “The Printing Press of the Digital Environment: A Conversation with Stanford’s Highwire Press.”

From the interview: 

We like to see scholars and authors being bold and experimentative, not just waiting for terms to be given to them. While it’s true that certain structures of academia, such as tenure criteria, may tend to operate conservatively, on the other hand change happens eventually, and we see many signs of impending change, even disruption — for example with online education, education-related startups, altmetrics, and academic social networks (e.g. ResearchGate, Academia.edu, Mendeley).

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Wellcome Trust considering incentives to ensure access to research findings

The New York Times reports that the Wellcome Trust, the 2nd largest private funder of scientific research worldwide, may keep back  parts of grant payments until they make their research results freely available.  According to the Times

“One option reportedly under consideration is to withhold the last installment of a grant until the research is publicly available; another option would be to make grant renewal contingent on open access publication.

The open access movement arose in response to the high subscription fees for scientific journals, which in some cases can amount to thousands of dollars a year. Initiated by scientists, the movement has grown rapidly in recent years, partly because of support from university librarians who saw their acquisitions budget swallowed up by rising subscription costs.”