Research Fortnight reveals problems tracking open access compliance in universities

By Jean A Harris, on 12 June 2014

Following an FOI request by Research Fortnight to the 84 institutions that received RCUK funding, it appears that there are challenges in recording just what has been made open access.


The difficulties arise with the wide variety of means for making outputs open access. The easiest route to check is via the block grant, which is often centrally administered by the university, but there is also the green open access route and research funding from funders outside RCUK.

Institutions are unclear about what data they are required to collect and are looking for guidance. A policy review panel, chaired by former University of Leicester vice-chancellor Bob Burgess, will make the decision at its meeting on 27th June and RCUK will then approach the institutions for this data.

JISC webinar on Open Access good practice

By Jean A Harris, on 5 June 2014

Jisc Open Access Implementation Community has held its first webinar on the HEFCE requirements for Open Access for future research assessments and what the community will need to do in order to comply.
Attendees were able to question representatives from HEFCE and Jisc and there is a very useful list of questions and answers arising from the session.

A new model for Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences?

By Jean A Harris, on 15 May 2014

A new white paper A Scalable and Sustainable Approach to Open Access Publishing and Archiving for Humanities and Social Sciences was published in April in the US.

It discusses a new model of open access for the Humanities and Social Sciences that “encourages partnerships among scholarly societies, research libraries, and other institutional partners (e.g.,collaborative e-archives and university presses) who share a common mission to support the creation and distribution of research and scholarship to improve society and to help solve the world’s most challenging problems”.

The plan is to convert the traditional publishing models to OA. Funding would come through a subscription levied on higher education institutions and those institutions benefiting from the research, on a sliding scale, to form a central fund. Institutions and scholarly societies would then apply to this, as partners, through a competitive grant process.

The funding would give “direct support for the distribution, access, and long-term archival preservation infrastructure of the partnerships”. Grants would be open-ended to ensure sustainability and would be subject to strict guidelines.

The hope is that the model will be adopted by all countries that support OA.

Open Access and the amateur scientist

By Jean A Harris, on 8 May 2014

Richard Price, founder of Academia.edu, writing in Times Higher Education, argues that not only does Open Access allow amateur scientists to engage with the latest research, it could also allow them to contribute directly to scientific knowledge.

In this way some of the most unusual ideas such as a replacement for forceps delivery, suggested by a car mechanic, are being tested. The idea came to the mechanic, a father of 5, after watching a YouTube video on removing a cork from a wine bottle.

Richard cites the example of the Odone’s who educated themselves in neuroscience through the NIH Library to try to find a cure for their son Lorenzo’s debilitating disease. This led to the creation of Lorenzo’s oil which has been found to be effective if taken before the symptoms appear.

He concludes that although some of the ideas may be outlandish, some may prove to be significant and greater Open Access will encourage this.

UCL Discovery outage, Friday 9th May 2014 between 0500 – 1200

By Erica D McLaren, on 7 May 2014

In order to repair the problems with the download statistics, a scheduled outage will take place on Friday 9th May 2014 between 0500 and 1200.

During this time, deposits will not be possible between RPS and UCL Discovery; the mandatory deposit of e-theses and deposit agreement forms can be done before or after the outage or can be sent or by alternative means. Please email discovery@ucl.ac.uk for assistance.

Disruption to download statistics

By Erica D McLaren, on 7 May 2014

Recent essential maintenance on the UCL Discovery database caused unforeseen disruption to the display of download statistics. Since being alerted to the problem, we have been working with ISD to resolve the issue; a scheduled outage on Friday 9th May 2014 between 0500 and 1200 will take place to bring the statistics back online.

Please note that downloads are still being recorded by UCL Discovery and will be included in record statistics once they have been refreshed. Please send any questions on this matter to discovery@ucl.ac.uk.

ROAD: the Directory of Open Access scholarly Resources

By Jean A Harris, on 1 May 2014

The ISSN International Centre has launched a new tool ROAD: the Directory of Open Access scholarly Resources which will help academics searching for quality open access titles to publish their research in.

ROAD provides free access to a subset of the ISSN Register which covers scholarly open access resources allocated an ISSN. It does not cover hybrid journals.

ROAD bibliographic records cover journals, conference proceedings, monographic series (from 2014) and academic repositories. These records show associated abstracting and indexing databases, registries and journals indicators.

Their long term aims include: developing the classification per subject and providing statistical information on open access publication by the research community.

Open Access policy in the post 2014 REF

By Erica D McLaren, on 9 April 2014

HEFCE have set out their open access policy for the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). To be eligible for REF submission, the author’s final peer-reviewed manuscript of journal articles and conference proceedings must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. Credit will also be given in the research environment component for other research outputs made open access.

In preparation for the REF, UCL encourages authors to deposit copies of all research in UCL Discovery, in compliance with UCL’s existing Publications Policy. If you are choosing paid open access, the Open Access Team will deposit your published article in UCL Discovery; contact open-access@ucl.ac.uk to arrange payment. Otherwise, deposit your final manuscript with UCL Discovery via RPS.

HEFCE’s announcement can be viewed on the HEFCE website.

Article Processing Charges- a new report on the developing market

By Jean A Harris, on 21 March 2014

A new report -Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges- has just been published.

It was commissioned by a consortium of funders including JISC, Research Libraries UK, Research Councils UK, the Wellcome Trust, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics

Professors Bo-Christer Björk (Hanken School of Economics,Finland) and David Solomon (Michigan State University), were asked “to analyse this market, and to develop policy options through which funders could help ensure that the market will deliver value for money for the research community” (Wellcome 2014).

Their report covers both full open access journals and hybrid journals, which host open access articles in a subscription journal. They cite a 2012 study which showed that open access articles in hybrid journal cost significantly more to publish and conclude that the hybrid journals market is “highly dysfunctional”.

Graham Taylor, an independent consultant writing in Wiley Exchanges , comments that, “The hybrid market is immature but evidence of failure is premature”.

It is hoped that the three combined scenarios suggested by the authors will pave the way “for discussion and debate on how researchers, institutions and funders can work together to ensure the open access market is competitive and delivers high-quality services for the research community” (Wellcome, 2014).

PeerJ- the new model for a biomedical open access journal to rival Plos One?

By Jean A Harris, on 13 March 2014

PeerJ prides itself on its low cost publishing model. The aim of its founders was to slash the costs that academic institutions incurred for publishing research. Initially the price was $99 for one article a year although this has now risen to $199 for the right to publish 2 papers a year and $299 for unlimited publishing rights.

One year since its inception, the journal has received plaudits for its publishing platform and its excellent customer service.

PeerJ also offers a preprints service. This allows researchers to upload early versions onto a free server for comment. Although there was scepticism initially, over 200 papers have been uploaded.

Interviewed in Times Higher Education , Dr Jason Hoyt, the co-founder, was asked about Plos One and commented that it was not necessarily a rival as there was still plenty of room for challengers to the traditional publishing model. PeerJ has survived the first year and there are no plans to increase prices.

Twenty well known institutions, including UCL, have now bought into payment plans so increasing sustainability.