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 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
• 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
This announcement was posted yesterday by Nicole Allen of SPARC:
Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the hiring of the first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort to expand Open Educational Resources (OER) in K-12 schools. This announcement marks a critical step for ED and the Obama Administration toward leveraging OER as a solution at a time when improving educational access, opportunity and affordability is at the forefront of the nation’s mind.
This exciting announcement is part of the growing momentum within the Obama Administration to support OER and public access to publicly funded resources. Last month SPARC and 100 other organizations signed a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are released to the public as OER.
There are currently 3276 academic peer-reviewed books from 110 publishers in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB). DOAB is a service of OAPEN Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to Open Access publishing of academic books based at the National Library in The Hague.
“The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books. Academic publishers are invited to provide metadata of their Open Access books to DOAB. Metadata will be harvestable in order to maximize dissemination, visibility and impact. Aggregators can integrate the records in their commercial services and libraries can integrate the directory into their online catalogues, helping scholars and students to discover the books. The directory is open to all publishers who publish academic, peer reviewed books in Open Access”
In order to have their books indexed in DOAB publishers must meet the requirements for both Open Access and peer review. DOAB’s monographs cover a broad range of subjects and disciplinary areas. To browse subjects covered click here.
In June 2015 the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) produced a second version of the document Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing. As the numbers of “predatory” and spurious journals proliferate, this document may be helpful in assessing journal quality and in identifying journals that engage in unethical practices. The principles or evaluative criteria number sixteen: 1. Peer review process; 2. Governing Body; 3. Editorial team/contact information; 4. Author fees; 5. Copyright; 6. Process for identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct; 7. Ownership and management; 8. Web site; 9. Name of journal; 10. Conflicts of interest; 11. Access; 12. Revenue sources; 13. Advertising; 14. Publishing schedule; 15. Archiving; 16. Direct marketing.
Also particularly useful is BC Libraries’ guide Open Access Quality Indicators. These quality indicators are intended to provide guidance in evaluating publication venues or in responding to invitations to serve as an editor or reviewer.
Earlier this month Oxford’s Bodleian Library launched its new Digital.Bodleian website. This site includes over 100,000 images and covers a wonderfully diverse group of topics, e.g. medieval maps; botanical watercolors; 18th and 19th century children’s board games; Victorian playbills, handbills, postcards and posters; Greek and Hebrew manuscripts; Conservative Party election posters; paintings from 19th-century Calcutta; and much more.
There are few restrictions on the use of the digital images, once the use is non-commercial. From the press release:
Digital.Bodleian . . . allows users to download images for non-commercial use, make private notes and annotations, leave public comments on images and share images on social media. The resource is particularly suited to educational use as all images are available under an open license allowing for use in presentations, on virtual learning environments and on other non-commercial platforms.
In a new article, Amplifying the Impact of Open Access: Wikipedia and the Diffusion of Science, the authors analyze Wikipedia citations for presence of high impact journal articles and open access articles. Their conclusion:
We found that across languages, a journal’s academic status (impact factor) routinely predicts its appearance on Wikipedia. We also demonstrated, for the first time, that a journal’s accessibility (open access policy) generally increases probability of referencing on Wikipedia as well, albeit less consistently than its impact factor. The odds that an open access journal is referenced on the English Wikipedia are about 47% higher compared to closed access, paywall journals. More over, of closed access journals, those with high impact factors are also significantly more likely to appear in the English Wikipedia. Therefore, editors of the English Wikipedia act as “bootleggers” of high quality science by distilling and distributing otherwise closed access knowledge to a broad public audience, free of charge. Moreover, the English Wikipedia, as a platform, acts as an “amplifier” for the (already freely available) open access literature by preferentially broadcasting its findings to millions. There is a trade-off between academic status and accessibility evident on Wikipedias around the world.
Cambridge University Press yesterday announced a new policy intended to prevent “double-dipping”, that is charging both authors and subscribers for Open Access journal content. The practice of double-dipping is disliked by many proponents and practitioners of OA who contend that publishers should not be paid twice, i.e. by the subscriptions paid by the university/college libraries as well as by authors who pay for their articles to be OA.
From CUP’s press release of 6 July, 2015:
Matthew Day, Head of Open and Data Publishing at Cambridge University Press, said; ‘We believe that double-dipping is wrong and we want to be clear about how we are preventing it.’
The new policy discounts 2016 subscription prices for journals that have received Open Access (OA) Article Processing Charges (APCs) from authors in the last full journal volume (that is, in 2014). If the fraction of OA articles in a journal was at least 5 per cent and the income from APCs was at least £5,000, then the Press is discounting renewed subscriptions by the lower of the percentage OA or the percentage APC income. All Open Access articles are included, except those in supplements published in addition to a volume’s subscription content. Subscribers already receiving a substantial discount on a journal’s subscription price, via a consortium package for example, will not receive an additional discount on their collection access fee as a result of these changes.
Mandy Hill, Managing Director of Academic, at Cambridge University Press, said; ‘We’ve previously had an anti-double-dipping policy in place, but this new policy is stronger and more transparent. It is an important part of how we serve the needs of the academic community.’
Elsevier announced new article self-archiving policies, in many ways more restrictive, under the promising banner: “Unleashing the power of academic sharing.”
Many have since read the fine print and there has been angry backlash. Library Journal has a good analysis of the back and forth, in case you missed it as it unfolded.
Heather Joseph cuts to the heart of the matter:
“For us, the embargo period and the licensing issues are elements of the policy that are visible problems. But the revision of the policy itself was a troublesome move to our community…. The investment that we’ve made in repositories over the last decade is an important way for us to ensure that the academic community is asserting control over its own [intellectual property]. We’re producing these articles, we’re surfacing these ideas, and we’d like to have a say in how and when we share them with people.”
University College London (UCL) has announced the launch of UCL Press, the UK’s first fully Open Access university press. The primary focus of the press will be scholarly monographs, textbooks and journals. Three inaugural monographs have just been published: Temptation in the Archives by Lisa Jardine,Treasures from UCL by Gillian Furlong and The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: Characters and Collections by Alice Stevenson. All of UCL Press’s titles are freely available to download in open access digital editions.
From the 27 May press release: “The founding ethos of UCL Press builds upon UCL’s wider commitment to communicating and engaging with the world. Open Access ensures academic research is accessible to everyone, as all publications are freely available online with no payment restrictions.”