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Join us for a Twitter debate: Open Access Books: The authors’ side of the story

Alison Fox21 June 2018

Hashtag: #OAauthors

Date: 27th June 2018 

Time: 14:00 – 15:00 BST

Open Access monograph publishing has been steadily gathering momentum over the last few years. Funder policies are being introduced to promote an increase in OA publishing, new OA publishers and university presses are being set up, and publishers around the world are escalating their OA output. As a result, scholarly content is now becoming readily accessible to an extremely diverse global audience, able to reach some of the most isolated and impoverished areas of the world.

Yet we rarely hear from academics and researchers about their experiences with publishing Open Access monographs. Why do authors choose to publish via OA? What are the main benefits they’ve witnessed? And how does publishing OA books and monographs differ from publishing traditionally?

In this compelling Twitter debate, host Alastair Horne will welcome a distinguished panel of academic authors from around the world and explore what it is like to publish their books via Open Access. Whether you are a researcher considering your publication options, a publisher wanting to know more about the academic’s perspective on OA, or an institution weighing up the pros and cons of OA publishing models, this session will provide a great insight into academic authors’ current attitudes towards OA.

Confirmed participants include:

  • Dr Paul Breen (University of Westminster), author of Developing Educators for The Digital Age (University of Westminster Press); @CharltonMen
  • Professor Owen Davies (University of Hertfordshire), author of Executing Magic in the Modern Era: Criminal Bodies and the Gallows in Popular Medicine (Palgrave); @odavies9
  • Professor Christian Fuchs (University of Westminster); author of Critical Theory of Communication (University of Westminster Press); @fuchschristian
  • Dr Haidy Geismar (UCL), author of Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age (UCL Press); (@haidygeismar)
  • Professor Bob Sheil (UCL), editor of Fabricate (UCL Press); @bobsheil
  • Professor Laura Vaughan (UCL), editor of Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street (UCL Press) and author of the forthcoming book Mapping Society: The Spatial Dimensions of Social Cartography (UCL Press); @urban_formation


The Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris13 June 2018

Open Science is launched

12 June saw the launch of an important paper on Open Science in Brussels. This was Open Science and its role in universities: a roadmap for cultural change, which can be found here. As chair of the Editorial Group which wrote the paper, I worked with 3 colleagues from LERU (League of European Research Universities) – Dr Ignasi Labastida (University of Barcelona), Katrien Maes (LERU) and Alea López de San Román (LERU).

The paper looks at the opportunity for cultural change in universities to enable Open Science, and how that change can be introduced with the support of all stakeholders in the academic community. Open Science represents a fundamental shift in how research, teaching, learning and support activities are undertaken at institutional level. It is a global agenda, but one which is particularly being promoted by the European Commission. It will form one of the main pillars of the new European framework programme Horizon Europe.

The launch began with a presentation which I made on LERU’s understanding of how Open Science makes a difference at university level, using the 8 pillars of Open Science as defined by the European Commission. Whilst this list of issues is not an exhaustive list of themes covered by the topic of Open Science, it does represent a good starting point for any investigations:

  • Future of Scholarly Communication
  • EOSC (European Open Science Cloud)
  • FAIR data
  • Skills
  • Research Integrity
  • Rewards
  • Altmetrics
  • Citizen Science

I then described the opportunities and challenges that Open Science brings in each of these areas. In Scholarly Communication, I cited the work of UCL Press as an example of the transformative changes that institutional Open Access publishing can deliver. In the area of Citizen Science, I described the importance for universities of re-engaging with Society in order to enable the results of teaching and research to help solve the challenges which we all face.

Open peer review of the LERU paper

Following the presentation of the paper, we had a session of Open Peer review where 4 panel members commented on the paper – one senior official from the European Commission, one representative of a university association, one research funding organization and one publisher. Everyone was unanimous in agreeing with the main conclusions of the paper. One of the comments was that this was one of the best papers written on the impact of Open Science in a university setting. The LERU Secretary General was also fulsome in his praise for the ideas in the paper, as revealed by his tweet after the event:

A fantastic lead author and speaker @ucylpay, a fantastic panel @evamen @BurgelmanJean @Researchkuster @StefEurope, a fantastic paper and a fantastic audience ! Great launch event this morning @Alea_LdSR @katrien_maes @ignasi @BartValkenaers ! Thanks all ! @bertvanderzwaan

But now the work really begins, because the Editorial Group has been commissioned to construct an Open Science Toolkit to support universities in acting on all the 41 Recommendations which the paper contains.

In the 15th century, the invention of moveable type printing in the West revolutionized the way ideas were disseminated across Europe. In the 21st century, Open Science has the potential to do the same at a global level. Open Science is an area where UCL is taking a lead at a European level, and UCL Library Services is making an outstanding contribution in embedding Open Science approaches across the university.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)



Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris22 May 2018

UCL Press celebrates 1 million downloads

21 May 2018 was a very special day for UCL Press, because this is when we officially celebrated 1 million downloads of our research monographs, textbooks and journals.

The Press was founded in 2015 and has now been in production for 3 years. It is a tremendous achievement to have reached the magical figure of 1 million downloads so quickly. Initially, I thought that it would be a result if we achieved 10,000 downloads any time soon. How wrong can you be? The festive party for UCL Press was attended by senior members of the university, UCL academics, our authors, UCL students, and honoured guests. It was held in the North Cloisters on a sunny, warm Spring evening.

There were three speakers at the event. Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research), congratulated the Press on achieving its remarkable impact figures and pointed out that UCL Press titles were now downloaded in 222 countries and territories. This includes North Korea, where UCL Press titles even there have been downloaded 15 times.

The second speaker was Georgina Brewis. Georgina has just revised The World of UCL, which is UCL’s institutional history.

As Georgina explained, she did more than add an extra chapter to bring the history up to date. She rigorously pruned the number of images in the book, many of which are from UCL Special Collections, and ensured that UCL’s commitment to equality and diversity are reflected in the earlier materials in the book. Beautifully designed and produced, the new institutional history of UCL is a worthy addition to the UCL Press stable.

Finally, I was able to complete the trio of speeches with a few words of my own.

At the present rate of download (90,000 per month), we will reach 2 million downloads this time next year. So, certainly time for another party. I also recounted a story about the European Commission, who were represented at the latest meeting of LERU Rectors. On Saturday, I was present with the Provost in Edinburgh to seek acceptance by the 23 Rectors of LERU (League of European Research Universities) of the new LERU Roadmap for Open Science. Lessons from UCL Press figure largely in this Roadmap. Open Access publishing performed by an institutional Press has the power to transform the way research outputs are stored, disseminated and used by all those in Society with an enquiring mind.

So congratulations to UCL Press colleagues, to our authors and to everyone in UCL who helps to make the Press such a fantastic success. Let’s look to the next 1 million downloads, coming your way soon…

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris9 March 2018

The role of libraries in Open Science

One of the new responsibilities of my role as Pro-Vice-Provost is to steer the introduction of Open Science principles and practices into UCL. Open Science is a European term, and it covers all academic disciplines, including Arts, Humanities and all the Social Sciences. In the UK, we would more easily talk about Open Scholarship.

Burghley House, Lincolnshire

Open Science is the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible at all levels of an enquiring society (definition from the FOSTER project).

I am often asked what the role of libraries is in this new movement. So I have tried to answer this in a jointly-authored article which was first given as a Conference presentation in the 2017 LIBER Conference (Association of European Research Libraries), which took place in Patras in Greece:

Paul Ayris and Tiberius Ignat, ‘Defining the role of libraries in the Open Science landscape: a reflection on current European practice’, in De Gruyter’s Open Information Science, vol. 2 (1), at DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1515/opis-2018-0001.

The piece has lots of UCL examples and covers areas such as Open Access, Open Access publishing, Research Data Management, the European Open Science Cloud and Citizen Science. The paper ends by suggesting a 4-step test through which libraries can assess their engagement in Open Science.

Later this academic year, I am planning a 1-day Workshop on Open Science for academic and academic support colleagues across the whole of UCL. Please watch this space for more details, if you want to join us.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris17 January 2018

UCL Press Megajournal platform

16 January 2018 saw the soft launch of the UCL Press megajournal platform to an audience of 55-60 people in the JZ Young Lecture Theatre.

What is a megajournal and why is UCL Press launching a megajournal platform? Essentially, a megajournal is a platform where cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary work can be brought together and where the outputs are characterised by openness – of peer review (where the reviewers’ reports are available for scrutiny), of readership (when the final output is freely available for sharing and re-use), of scope (where, for example, underlying research data can be made available alongside the published output), and of evaluation (where responsible metrics are used to help evaluate the quality of the outputs).

If that is the ‘what’, then why is UCL Press taking this road? The megajournal platform looks very unlike traditional journals. The reason is this – there is a growing acceptance that the future of scholarship is best served by the Open Access and Open Science agendas. What is the best mechanism to achieve this transition to full Open Access? Research funders have started establishing their own Open Science platforms and research-intensive universities like UCL can do the same. This has the power to change the culture in academic publishing by bringing publication and dissemination back into the academy.

It was these questions and potential solutions that the Megajournal platform launch sought to celebrate and investigate. Three external speakers set the scene – Robert Kiley, who talked about the Wellcome Trust’s Open Research platform; Stephanie Dawson from Science Open, which is the company selected by UCL to deliver its Megajournal platform; and Dr Catriona MacCallum from Hindawi. The plenary session concluded with a presentation by Ian Caswell of UCL Press, announcing the broad details of the planned UCL Press provision, which will work initially with the environmental science research domain in UCL to create an environmental science Megajournal.

The Town Hall meeting ended with a Question and Answer session with the speakers plus Paul Ayris as CEO of UCL Press, which was chaired by Professor David Price (Vice-Provost, Research). This session showed very lively engagement in Open Science by the audience of 55-60 attenders – journalists, commercial publishers and academics.

The UCL Press Megajournal platform will be formally launched in the autumn of 2018 to co-incide with Open Access week. It is an important development in the Press’s mission to change the pattern of scholarly publishing in the academic community as Open approaches gain momentum in a global move towards Open Science.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris17 October 2017

European Commission’s Open Science Policy Platform

On Friday 13 October, I attended the European Commission’s Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP) in the Kultuurikatel (Creative Hub) in Tallinn, Estonia.Culture Hub The Presidency of the Union is currently held by Estonia and the theme of the meeting was to discuss how Europe can embrace Open Science (Open Scholarship). Open Science is the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible to all levels of an inquiring Society, amateur or professional (Wikipedia). I was there as the representative of LERU (League of European Research Universities), of which UCL is a member.

The agenda covered three Reports from Working Groups of the Platform, which commented on fuller reports from High Level Expert Groups. The three Reports were on Rewards, Skills and New Metrics. A substantial part of my role as Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services) is to seek to embed Open Science (Open Scholarship) approaches across the whole University. The three Reports were generally accepted. I hope that they will be published soon on the Commission’s OSPP website.

FlagsThere are a number of high level issues which I will be taking forward in UCL in the wake of the discussions on Friday. Two are particularly relevant to the Library. First is Skills. The Skills Report identifies what new skills and knowledge are required from all colleagues in UCL to engage with Open Science (Open Scholarship). Two immediate deliverables from this will be (a) further engagement with the UCL Doctoral School and (b) the organisation of Open Science (Open Scholarship) Workshops in UCL to advocate for Open Science approaches.

The second area of immediate interest to the Library is the Report on New Metrics. This document looks at how we identify success in an Open Science (Open Scholarship) world and what measures can be used to document that success. This has immediate interest for the UCL Bibliometrics Working Group, which is drawing up a Bibliometrics Policy for UCL with plenty of examples of good practice.

The OSPP will be producing further Reports in the coming months and I look forward to seeing these, particularly the Report on the future of Scholarly Publishing – as UCL is seen as a European leader in this field. Open Science (Open Scholarship) represents a real change in culture in how universities work, collaborate, share, engage with Society and are transparent in their activities. It will be an important journey in the coming months and years. Open Science (Open Scholarship) is already embedded in the forthcoming revision of UCL’s Research Strategy and will, I am sure, be an important part of the new Library Strategy.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Text Mining: the role for libraries?

ucyldva2 October 2017

Text Mining: the role for libraries?

Time: 14:00 – 16:30

Date: 23/11/2017

Location: Room 417, DMS Watson Science Library

Text mining – also known as Text Data Mining, Text analytics and Distant Reading – refers to a broad range of processes for extracting information from text. This includes visualization of a single text, finding patterns in large corpora and topic modelling.

Text Mining presents exciting opportunities for researchers across all disciplines.  The expanding volume of literature, the growing interdisciplinary nature of research and the ever-decreasing cost of computing power makes text mining an increasingly powerful tool for researchers. However, despite the potential benefits, the use of text mining in research is still limited.

There are a number of reasons for this; legal barriers, difficulty accessing materials and a lack of knowledge on potential tools and techniques are some of the major ones. Is there a role for libraries to play in overcoming these barriers?

The Research Data Management team have been working with colleagues from the library and Research IT services on a session exploring the potential role libraries could play in supporting Text Mining.

The session will provide:

– an introduction to (potential) uses of text mining in research (Daniel van Strien)

– an outline of some of the legal issues surrounding text mining (Chris Holland Copyright Support Officer at UCL)

– examples of some of the research being done using text mining approaches by UCL researchers in collaboration with Software Developers from Research IT services (Tom Couch, RITs and Raquel Alegre, Research Software Development Group)

The session will allow time for discussion around the potential role of libraries in supporting text mining and present some options for further activities.

If you would like to attend please send an email to d.strien@ucl.ac.uk

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris28 September 2017

Openness as a feature of Global Universities

On 27 September, I spoke as a panellist in Brussels at an event organised by the European University Association and Digital Europe.

Brando Benifei, MEP

The theme was Openness as a feature of Global Universities. One of the panellists was Brando Benifei MEP (pictured here), an Italian Member of the European Parliament, who spoke eloquently on the power for good that Universities were in Society.

I spoke as a member of the panel immediately after the MEP, and my topic was Open Science. I took this to include Open Access to publications; Open Research Data; transparency in the use of bibliometrics, including the use of alternative (or new) metrics; a recognition of Openness in career and promotion criteria; and Citizen Science.

These were the main points I made, which were extremely well received by the audience:

  • Open Science is a new paradigm for how research (in all subject areas) is conducted and disseminated;
  • Openness and transparency are good for research, as they allow opinion and findings to be tested, debated and validated;
  • Truth knows no national boundaries. It cannot be confined behind national or regional borders.  This is important because  ‘The research function of universities also makes them the engine of progress in today’s society’ – Dr Gerald Chan speaking at UCL, 14 July 2016;
  • ‘University research is now the most powerful impulse for human progress’. ‘A university is first and foremost a community of scholars teaching, learning and pursuing scholarly inquiries that spring from human curiosity’ – Dr Gerald Chan speaking at UCL, 14 July 2016;
  • UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy:
    • We are London’s Global University – in, of and for London and the wider world. Our mission is to deliver sustainable and globally relevant impact in research, education and enterprise for the benefit of humanity.
    • We look to generate practical impact, not expand our global footprint.
    • We will do this through ‘partnerships of equivalence’, and a small number of strategic ‘anchor’ partnerships, to co-create mutually beneficial solutions. We will support the internationally collaborative creativity and initiative of our individual academics and faculties – see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/global/strategy/.
  • By way of practical example, UCL Press embodies the values of Openness. It is the UK’s first fully Open Access University Press. Established in June 2015, it has published over 50 books and 9 journals. This has resulted in 450,000 downloads in 193 countries;
  • The Why We Post series studying global social media usage has now exceeded 200,000 downloads.

Open Science is a growing phenomenon, where Europe can assert global leadership. In the 15th century, the invention of moveable type printing in the West revolutionized the way new ideas were disseminated across Europe. The Protestants in particular seized on the new technology of the printing press to advocate their views. Such technology changed European Society – and Open Science has the power to do the same in the 21st century.

Paul Ayris


COASP – Conference of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (Lisbon, 20-21 September 2017)

Alison Fox27 September 2017

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

The annual conference organised by OASPA took place in Lisbon this year, and for the first time members of UCL Press were there to present a paper and to attend the conference. Now in its 9th year, COASP presents a key opportunity for publishers and affiliated colleagues – such as librarians, funding agencies, government, academics and higher education communities – to gather and discuss developments in open access for scholarly research.

This year’s conference started with an inspiring talk by Jean-Claude Burgelman, Head of Open Data Policy and Science Cloud for the European Commission, who outlined the Commission’s vision for open access to scholarly research. This included an announcement that the Commission would start to publish articles themselves and would be seeking a partner to provide a journal publishing platform with fast publication times and open peer review, along the lines of that adopted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust (both of whom use the F1000 publishing platform).

Sessions followed on open infrastructure, APCs, research evaluation and assessment and peer review, with speakers including the Head of Scholarly Communications at Cambridge University Library, Danny Kingsley, the Publisher for PLOS, Louise Page, and the Head of Open Research for the Wellcome Trust, Robert Kiley. Interspersed, were panel presentations featuring related initiatives in OA infrastructure, policy and publishing.

The conference and the society are geared towards scientific journals, and there was therefore very little on OA monograph publishing. I was on the only panel discussing OA book publishing, focussing on peer review for OA monographs, along with Anke Beck, CEO of De Gruyter, and Aina Svensson, Head of the Electronic Publishing Centre at Uppsala University Library. Many delegates commented after our presentations on how different peer review is for books than for journals, since it involves considerably more editorial development and discussion, and often makes a significant contribution towards the shaping of the overall book, rather than simply evaluating quality.

Overall, it was an immensely useful couple of days and, as always at conferences, it was also a chance to see our many colleagues and partners in the industry who come from far and wide and who we don’t see very often, and to meet new publishers and hear about other initiatives and practices from around the world. I was particularly interested to meet the university presses of the University of Technology Sydney and Adelaide University, who both have thriving OA book and journal publishing programmes. It was also great to meet the Head of University of Missouri Library’s Open Scholarship and Publishing Services, who have a fantastic open access textbook programme that has seen great success so far, and from which UCL Press’s developing OA textbook programme can draw inspiration.

UCL Press announces new journals platform

Alison Fox19 September 2017

Posted on behalf of Ian Caswell, Journals Manager, UCL Press

UCL Press is pleased to announce a new hosting partnership with ScienceOpen, a platform which will host its open access journal programme. ScienceOpen is an open access indexing platform provider based in Berlin and Boston, which indexes journal abstracts or full text OA articles. The platform, for the first time offered as a white labelled hosting platform, extends UCL Press’s list of dedicated and enhanced content discoverability for its authors, editors and journals. Published as full text XML and metadata (as well as the more traditional PDF), UCL Press journals can link better into search engines and other online scholarly materials and outlets.

Authors, editors, reviewers and readers will be able to make use of post-publication peer review, online commenting, individual article and author metrics (like Altmetric), citation and access tracking, ORCiD integration, and a whole host of other benefits that you can read more about on the ScienceOpen website and blog, here.

Dr Stephanie Dawson, CEO of ScienceOpen, said ‘ScienceOpen’s new hosting service is the logical extension of our commitment to putting research in context. With our advanced technology, we can ensure that UCL Press articles are found by the right researchers and then give those readers the opportunity to interact with the content in a variety of ways. A range of aggregated journal – and article – level metrics then provide enriched usage statistics for the publisher to monitor impact.’

In the coming months, UCL Press plans to experiment with new forms of more transparent peer review and sees the open peer review infrastructure on the ScienceOpen platform as an ideal way to explore post-publication review workflows. All UCL Press journals will be available for continuous peer review – where articles can receive further review and comments after final publication, that are updated using a system of version control (meaning identified revisions and iterations of an article and its reviews) – to encourage collaboration and elicit debate and discussion. Further announcements on this will be made in due course.

Have a look at the journal webpages here!

Contact: Ian Caswell, UCL Press Journals Manager. Email: i.caswell@ucl.ac.uk | @UCLPress