Blog Posting on Web of Science, Scopus, and Open Access

Ryan Regier has made an interesting blog posting entitled “Web of Science, Scopus, and Open Access: What they are doing right and what they are doing wrong”. In it he discusses the Web of Science Open Access indicator for locating articles from gold open access journals. However, he points out that while this indicator is in theory a boon for finding OA articles, the fact that Web of Science only indexes a very small proportion of OA articles is a serious weakness. Regier has greater praise for the substantially larger OA coverage of the Scopus database and looks forward to Scopus’s article based OA indicator which is expected to launch in 2016.

Heidelberg Historic Literature – Digitized

heidelberg-2The Heidelberg University Library has an excellent digitization program. Some of the material that it has digitized include sources of the history of Heidelberg University; charters relating to Palatine history; anatomical literature and drawings; books on ancient Egyptian medicine; works on the theory and history of art; rare works from the library’s valuable collection on South Asia (for example the 18th century Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, or The Original Calcutta General Advertiser and the 20th century Himalayan Times); historic maps; and much more. Particularly interesting are the numerous titles from Heidelberg’s extensive collection of incunabula that have been digitized. For more information about Heidelberg’s digitization program see Heidelberg historic literature – digitized.


U.S. Department of Education Launches Open Educational Resources Campaign

There is a growing awareness in the U.S. that the high cost of textbooks is a problem for many higher education students. This problem is manifest at BC also where costly course materials may be affecting many students’ academic performance. To read more about this issue and what BC is doing in addessing it see the Libraries’ affordable course materials guide.

Costly textbooks and other educational materials is a problem not only for students in higher education. K-12 pupils also encounter this difficulty. To help combat the problem the U.S. Department of Education launched a new campaign, #GoOpen, on 29th October. #GoOpen is “a campaign to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials. As part of the campaign, the Department is proposing a new regulation that would require all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department grant funds to have an open license.” In launching the campaign U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said:

“In order to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality learning resources, we are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessible, openly-licensed materials . . . . Districts across the country are transforming learning by using materials that can be constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs.”

Read the U.S. Department of Education’s press release here.

Campus Computing Project Survey: Attitudes to Open Educational Resources

The Campus Computing Project, in collaboration with Inside Higher Education, publishes an annual national survey of senior university administrators regarding their views on critical planning and policy issues that affect American colleges and universities. Among the several topics addressed in the 2015 survey (published today) is the issue of open educational resources (OER). The survey reveals that over four-fifths of the survey participants (representing 417 two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities) agree that affordable educational textbooks and other OER content “’will be an important source for instructional resources in five years’” and will provide “a viable, very low cost alternative to expensive textbooks.” However, Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Survey, while viewing OER materials as a viable substitute for these costly textbooks is concerned “about the absence of infrastructure to support OER – the editors, fact-checkers, instructional designers and others who add value, as well as costs, to the development of commercial textbooks and course materials.” Download the Executive Summary & Graphics.

OA Agreement Between Springer and Jisc

A new open access agreement between Springer and the UK’s Jisc (Joint Information Systems Committee) came into effect today. It is a pilot project (running until December 2018) that will make it easier for UK scholars to publish their articles as open access while keeping in compliance with the OA policies of major funders. The project will also result in universities and other educational institutions saving on their OA publishing costs.

From the 22 October, 2015 press release:

Starting today, researchers in the UK will be able to publish their articles open access in over 1,600 Springer hybrid journals without cost barriers or administrative barriers. The Springer Compact agreement is a pilot that combines open access publishing and subscription access in one annual fee and will run from October 2015 until December 2018.

The transformative agreement between Springer and Jisc, a charity which provides digital solutions for UK education and research, will make it easier for UK researchers to publish open access and ensure that that all articles published comply with HEFCE’s Research Excellence Framework, RCUK’s open access policy and other major funders such as the Charity Open Access Fund. At the same time, for institutions, the total cost and administrative burden of open access publishing and continuing access to the 2,000 Springer subscription journals are significantly reduced.

Open Access a Top Priority for the EU

EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas and Sander Dekker, the Dutch Secretary of State for Education, Culture and Science, have called on scientific publishers to adapt their business models to new realities. They specifically urged publishers to get serious about open access, a priority of both the European Commission as well as of Dutch universities.

Carlos Moedas:

Europe generates more scientific output than any other region in the world. In parallel, there is a revolution happening in the way science works. Every part of the scientific method is nowadays becoming an open, collaborative and participative process. Can publishers afford to stay out of that trend? I believe that much effort needs to be done by the main publishers to adjust their business models to the realities of the 21st century.

Sander Dekker:

I support the initiative of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) to join forces towards Open Access in research. Dutch universities already show the importance of organising themselves in the negotiations with publishers. That way they can successfully stand their ground towards publishers. In addition, Dutch universities are even prepared to not sign new contracts, if needed. The fact that all LERU members now let go of the old subscription-based models with big deals and clearly choose for models based on Open Access, perfectly fits with the Dutch Open Science policy. In this policy, results of publicly funded research must be available free of charge for everyone. This will be a priority during the Dutch Presidency of the EU in the first semester of 2016.

The full joint statement of 12 October, 2015.

APS: Open Access Could Mean Authors Pay to Publish

Michael Lubell and Mark Elsesser, both employees of the American Physical Society (APS), recently published a provocative article in APS News, “Open Access Could Mean Authors Pay to Publish”. Declaring that APS has long been a supporter of OA, as evidenced by a number of important initiatives undertaken by the Society, they also point out that OA is not free. There is a real monetary cost to peer review, composition, archiving and other essential publishing activities. They go on to assert that as mandates proliferate the “time to free access” will inevitably shrink both domestically and internationally and that APS, as well as other scientific publishers, will be obliged to consider other strategies to pay for its OA initiatives. One of these strategies will very likely be the “author pays” model, a model that the authors point out is associated with a number of serious challenges. They argue cogently:

Unless they have access to other sources of revenue, authors will have to use their research grant money, institutional funds or cash from their own pockets to cover the cost of publication (which may be in excess of two thousand dollars per article). Moreover, a change to an author-pays model would especially harm researchers with small grants or no grants at all. And if federal science budgets remain fixed, the amount of money available for conducting research would decline.

Nevertheless, Lubell and Elsesser  acknowledge that the APS might be forced to adopt “author-pays.” They quote APS CEO Kate Kirby: “As an international publisher, in the short term APS will have to provide mechanisms that satisfy the patchwork of open access mandates across the globe. As a membership organization that advocates for physics and physicists, in the long term APS will have to remain attentive to the impact of ‘author pays’ on scientific research budgets.”

Monitoring the Transition to Open Access

Monitoring the Transition to Open Access is a recently published report commissioned by Universities UK Open Access Co-ordination Group to highlight distinct trends about and provide dependable indicators to the transition to open access in the UK.

The main trends and indicators include: OA options available to authors; accessibility; usage; financial sustainability for universities; financial sustainability for learned societies.

The report is quite long (103 pages). However, there’s a 4 page overview of the report’s background, key findings, and proposed next steps provided as one of Universities UK Open Access factsheet series:

Particularly interesting are the following general findings of the report:

• There has been strong growth in both the
availability of OA options for authors, and in
their take-up.
• UK authors are ahead of world averages,
particularly in their take-up of the OA option in
hybrid journals, and in their posting of articles
on websites, repositories and other online
• Take-up of OA publishing models means that
universities’ expenditure on article processing
charges (APCs) has increased too, and it now
represents a significant proportion of their total
expenditure on journals.
• It is too early to assess the extent of any
impact of OA on the finances of learned

Pew Report: “Libraries at the Crossroads”

The Pew Research Center very recently published Libraries at the Crossroads. This publication reports the findings “from a nationally representative telephone survey of 2,004 Americans ages 16 and older, conducted from March 17-April 12, 2015.” The results reveal complex developments in the library world. Complementing traditional forms of library usage are new services, resources and programs. At the same time, there are signs that the number of Americans visiting libraries have edged downwards over the past three years. Some findings from the report:

Many Americans say they want public libraries to:

–support local education;
–serve special constituents such as veterans, active-duty military personnel and immigrants;
–help local businesses, job seekers and those upgrading their work skills;
–embrace new technologies such as 3-D printers and provide services to help patrons learn about high-tech gadgetry.

Additionally, two-thirds of Americans (65%) ages 16 and older say that closing their local public library would have a major impact on their community. Low-income Americans, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely than others to say that a library closing would impact their lives and communities.

AP and British Movietone Release One Million Minutes of Historic Videos

Recently the Associated Press and British Movietone, two of the world’s largest newsreel archives, uploaded over one million minutes of digitized film footage to YouTube. This incorporates about 550,000 video stories dating from 1895 to the present day. Alwyn Lindsey, AP’s director of international archive said: “The AP archive footage, combined with the British Movietone collection, creates an incredible visual journey of the people and events that have shaped our history.” Among this massive treasure trove of newsreels one may view footage of the Titanic leaving Belfast Lough in 1912; the bombing of Pearl Harbor; V E Day in London, 1945; futuristic and outlandish fashions for brides from 1966; broadcast of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, 1990; as well as thousands of other news stories, both serious and light. One may search for footage through Youtube itself or through the Associated Press and British Movietone own YouTube channels.