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Wellcome Trust OA policy and DORA webinar – summary and links

Kirsty17 December 2020

On Wednesday 16th December the UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship hosted a webinar focussing on the forthcoming Wellcome Trust Open Access policy, with particular reference to DORA, as well as how we are making progress towards fully being able to meet its terms.

Our first speaker was David Carr from the Wellcome trust who talked about the development of the Open Access focussed teams inside Wellcome Trust before outlining the new policy in full and describing in detail the elements which are distinct from the previous policy as shown in the image below.

David then moved on to describing the background to Wellcome’s commitment to responsible research evaluation, and the decision to include DORA in the new policy. He also described the feedback and redrafting process that it went through thanks to the feedback from the community.

Following on from David, we had a talk from Dr Ralitsa Madsen, who shared her experiences as a junior researcher around the issue of research evaluation and especially its relationship with transparency and Open Science.  She has worked with Chris Chambers of the UKRN to develop a policy template for funders to try and encourage more adoption, but also make it easier for them to adopt, by providing a ready-made solution!

We then turned to the Library Services contingent of the webinar speakers, starting out with Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost for Library Services and the Office for Open Science and Scholarship. Paul walked us through the development of the UCL responsible metrics policy and the ways that it is being implemented in HR, recruitment and promotions processes.

Catherine Sharp, Head of Open Access Services followed up with a whistle-stop tour of the changes that have been made to the Open Access processes in order to support academic staff to meet the terms of the new policy, including numerous transformative arrangements with different publishers.

At the end of the webinar we had one remaining question which we put to David after the session:

What do ‘appropriate sanctions’ look like?

David’s response: There’s actually no change on this – the sanctions are actually already in place, and will remain as are when the new policy comes into effect in January.

Essentially we monitor compliance at end-of-grant reporting stage and when researchers apply for new funding.  If a researcher has non-compliant papers, then we will not activate new grants or funding renewals until any non-compliant Wellcome papers have been made open access.  Where papers reported in an end of grant report are not compliant, we will also not accept any new grant applications from that researcher until this has been resolved.  In extreme cases, we also have the option to suspend funding to a whole organisation.  See: https://wellcome.org/grant-funding/guidance/open-access-guidance/complying-with-our-open-access-policy

The recording is available below and also on MediaCentral.

Announcement: UCL Open Science Conference 2021

Kirsty11 December 2020

As part of our Focus on Open Science programme, the team in the UCL Office for Open Science & Scholarship is pleased to announce their Spring conference, taking place on the afternoons of the 26th and 27th April 2021.

We invite responses to a call for papers, open until 28th Feb 2021. We welcome applications for lightning talks across a number of themes related to the 8 pillars of Open Science. The aim of the Open Science events is to add to a global community of practice in Open Science activity so please do share your insights into and use of Open Science policy and practice with the wider scholarly community.

The call for papers is open to all interested parties, both inside UCL and from the wider community, but priority will be given to internal applications from UCL members and we particularly welcome applications from Research Students and Early Career Researchers.

Our themes are as follows:

  • The future of Open Science
  • Technical solutions
  • FAIR Data
  • Reproducibility and Transparency
  • Citizen Science
  • Responsible metrics

Call for papers closes: Feb 28 2021.

Successful papers notified: week beginning 15th March 2021

Introduction to Citizen Science at UCL event – a discussion

Kirsty3 December 2020

During Open Access Week 2020 we hosted a webinar called Introduction to Citizen Science at UCL. Although the week has been summarised and information shared on this blog before, the session was so interesting that it deserves another look.

Speakers:

  • Prof Muki Haklay – History and development of Citizen Science at UCL
  • Rosie Brigham – Monument Monitor Project
  • Mayssa Jallad – Institute for Global Prosperity and the RELIEF Project
  • Prof Kate Jones – Bat Detective Project
  • Danielle Purkiss – Big Compost Experiment project

I was particularly interested in the growth of Citizen Science described in Muki’s part of the session, especially the wide variety of techniques that have grown out of developments in technology, as well as so many more people having access to the internet and mobile technology.

The growth and expansion of Citizen Science has led to the gradual development of the different definitions outlined in the image below (taken from the session).

Citizen Science gets divided into three broad categories, with a fair amount of crossover. The first is the least technological, and the most long-standing (possibly even predating the coining of the phrase ‘Citizen Science’), called ‘Long running Citizen Science’. These projects involve using members of the public in long term activities like weather observation, local archaeology, or surveying local ecological areas. Muki talked about Open Air Laboratories, and Prof Kate Jones’s lightning talk also touched on this by describing how a long running bat survey has been extended to use new technology.

The Community Science category mostly comprises science taking place in the community. This includes projects involving sensing in communities, such as noise or air pollution, even creating affordable DIY sensing kits or tools like Bento Lab, a cheap kit that makes it possible to do PCR testing at home. It also includes training based experiences, giving communities the chance to develop skills while taking part in projects.

The final category is the biggest. It’s this one that, in my opinion, has grown the fastest in recent years due to the rapid expansion of technology and the interconnected world we live in. These projects are very varied. For example, social media has facilitated projects like Monument Monitor, and tools like Zooniverse enable projects like Bat Detective to get members of the public to join in and enable research on a much larger scale. The sky is seriously the limit! Anyone can join in and get involved with some amazing research, and despite the name of the site, it’s not just animal related!

During the session we had a great Q&A discussion. Not a lot of it made it to the recording because our speakers had so much to share about their projects – so here’s a summary:

Muki highlighted an online Citizen Science course that’s run by the team at ExCiteS. It’s a self-paced course, and completely free! It’s even being revamped right now, with a new version due for release in January.

Rosie discussed choosing Scotland as the location for her Monument Monitor project, funding that came from Historic Environment Scotland and her plans to make the software Open Source. This will enable other heritage institutions to build on the work she has begun in Scotland.

Mayssa discussed recruiting Citizen Scientists in the Relief project, with the help of local initiatives or NGOs. The Citizen Scientists are from diverse nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds, reflecting the communities in the area. There was also an interesting conversation about the term ‘Citizen Science’ itself, and Mayssa had an interesting point on this, and shared that her participants are not all citizens in Lebanon, some are Syrian or Palestinian, and in fact they translate Citizen Scientist to ‘Local Researcher’ in Arabic.

She also shared some of the challenges brought about by COVID-19, including the need to limit in-person workshops by moving the first phase of research online. After this first stage, when fieldwork began, it was important to give workshop and survey participants frequent reminders about health measures and social distancing. Events that had already been organized were transformed into webinars, or divided up into more events with smaller groups to allow for health measures.

We finished the session with a question about the benefits of Citizen Science projects. Participants get to learn new skills, while small scale projects can broaden their scope and become part of a larger goal, for example preventing biodiversity loss. It was also clear that a number of projects, including the Bat Monitor and Big Compost Project, allow people to satisfy their curiosity about what is in their own back garden!

This event was recorded and it and all of the slides are available on MediaCentral

Case study: Disseminating early research findings to influence decision makers

Nazlin Bhimani6 November 2020

A classroom in Uganda

Photograph by Dr Simone Datzberger

Recently a researcher asked for our advice on the best way to disseminate her preliminary findings from a cross-disciplinary research project on COVID-19. She wanted to ensure policy makers in East Africa had immediate access to the findings so that they could make informed decisions. The researcher was aware that traditional models of publishing were not appropriate, not simply because of the length of time it generally takes for an article to be peer-reviewed and published, but because the findings would, most likely, be inaccessible to her intended audience in a subscription-based journal.

The Research Support and Open Access team advised the researcher to take a two-pronged approach which would require her to: (1) upload the working paper with the preliminary findings in a subject-specific open-access preprint service; and (2) to publicise the research findings in an online platform that is both credible and open access. We suggested she use SocArXiv and publish a summary of her findings in The Conversation Africa, which has a special section on COVID-19. The Conversation has several country-specific editions for Australia, Canada English, Canada French, France, Global Perspectives, Indonesia, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States, and is a useful vehicle to get academic research read by decision makers and the members of the public. We also suggested that the researcher publicise the research on the IOE London Blog.

What are ‘working papers’ & ‘preprint services’?

UCL’s Institute of Education has a long-standing tradition of publishing working papers to signal work-in-progress, share initial findings, and elicit feedback from other researchers working in the same area. The preprint service used thus far at the IOE is RePEc (Research Papers in Economics), which includes papers in education and the related social sciences). RePEc is indexed by the database publisher EBSCO (in EconLit) and by Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search. Commercial platforms such as ResearchGate also trawl through RePEc and index content. Until it was purchased by Elsevier in May 2016, the Social Science Research Network or SSRN was the other popular preprint repository used by IOE researchers although its content is indexed mainly for its conference proceedings. The sale of SSRN to Elsevier resulted in a fallout between authors and the publisher, and this resulted in SocArXiv entering the scene. SocArXiv is an open access, open source preprint server for the social sciences which accepts text files, data and code. It is the brainchild of the non-profit Centre for Open Science (COS) whose mission is to increase openness, integrity and reproducibility of research – values that are shared by UCL and are promoted on this blog and by the newly formed Office of Open Science and Scholarship (for more information see also the Pillars of Open Science). In the spirit of openness, most papers on SocArXiv use the creative commons license CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NonDerivatives 4.0 International, which safeguards the rights of the author. As papers on SocArXiv are automatically assigned Digital Object Identifiers (DOI), they discoverable on the web, particularly as Scholar indexes SocArXiv content.

What are the benefits of using preprint servers?

Whilst research repositories such as UCL Discovery are curtailed by publisher policies on what research can be made open access, this is not always the case for papers submitted on preprint subject repositories. Without wanting to repeat what my colleague Patrycja Barczymska has already written in her post on preprints I can confirm that in addition to signalling the research findings and eliciting feedback, other benefits to depositing in preprint servers include the enhanced discoverability as most will automatically generate DOIs at the time a paper is uploaded, the possibility of obtaining early citations and the alternative metrics that indicate interest (e.g. the number of downloads, mentions, etc.)  that services such as SocArXiv provide. Researchers can also list open-access working papers in funding applications.

Does uploading a working paper in a pre-print server hinder the publication of the final paper?

Researchers are concerned, and rightly so, that publishers may not publish their final research output if preliminary findings are deposited in preprint servers as working papers. However, more often than not, working papers are exactly that – work in progress. They are not the final article that gets submitted for publication.  It is also likely that the preliminary findings and conclusions in the working paper will be somewhat different from the final version of the paper. It is worth knowing that some of the key social sciences publishers, such as SageSpringer, and Taylor and Francis / Routledge and Wiley, explicitly state that they will accept content that has been deposited on a preprint server, as long as it is a non-commercial preprint service. In other words, researchers must not upload the working papers on platforms such as academia.edu and ResearchGate.

These ‘preprint-friendly’ publishers simply ask that the author informs them of the existence of a preprint and provides the DOI of the working paper at the time of submitting their article. Some ask that authors update the preprint to include the bibliographic details, including the new DOI, when their article is published, and that authors add a statement requesting readers to cite the published article rather than the preprint publication. Although a definitive list of individual journal policies does not exist, submission guidelines generally clarify issues related to preprints. Researchers may want to use the Sherpa Romeo service (and Sherpa Juliet for key funder policies) to obtain additional information.

More than a success story

The above case demonstrates how preliminary research findings can be shared expeditiously and in an open environment to aid the decision-making process.  It also demonstrates that open-access subject-specific preprint services can be beneficial to promoting both the research and the researcher, and that there is now wider acceptance among publishers that the traditional models of publishing are not always viable. This is especially true where cutting-edge research is required as in the case of research on COVID-19.

Office for Open Science & Scholarship Launch week – summary, links and thanks!

Kirsty29 October 2020

Last week, 19-23rd October, saw the launch of the new Office for Open Science and Scholarship, coinciding with International Open Access Week. What a week it was!

As well as launching our Office Newsletter, the many and varied events we held last week were a huge undertaking for all involved. This post reflects the information shared in each session; it comes with huge thanks to everyone who took part and helped out behind the scenes with promotion and organisation.


The week started with the official launch of the Office – Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost for Library Services, and Head of the Office for Open Science and Scholarship, opened the first session with an overview of the development of the Office, and the current status of Open Science at UCL. This was followed by lightning talks highlighting just some of the teams that are linked to the Office and available for supporting researchers in a number of aspects of Open Science.

  • Lara Speicher from UCL Press gave an overview of the work of the Press since its launch, and its current work publishing Open Access books, monographs and journals:
    uclpress.co.uk
  • Catherine Sharp from the Open Access Team outlined the service and policy support that her team provides. She also described UCL’s new range of transformative publisher agreements and new web pages on open access funding:
    ucl.ac.uk/library/open-access
  • James Houghton from the Research Data Management (RDM) Team talked about the RDM Team’s responsibilities and areas of support, including Data Management Planning, FAIR Data, and the UCL Research Data Repository:
    ucl.ac.uk/library/research-support/research-data-management
  • Andrew Gray from the Bibliometrics Team discussed the origins of responsible metrics and the principles behind the new Bibliometrics Policy recently launched at UCL:
    ucl.ac.uk/library/research-support/bibliometrics
  • Grace Gottlieb from OVPR discussed definitions and the importance of Research Transparency, Integrity and Reproducibility and introduced the support and training available, as well as the institutional contacts for the UK Reproducibility Network:
    ucl.ac.uk/research/integrity

This event was recorded and it and all of the slides are available on MediaCentral.

Later that afternoon, our colleagues in Research IT Services, led by David Perez-Suarez, kicked off UCL’s first ever ReproHack. This is a hands-on reproducibility hackathon where participants attempted to reproduce the results of a research paper from published code and data. The outcomes were then collated and shared with the group. These outcomes will also be fed back to the paper’s authors. David is going to be writing us a guest blog post about this event – so watch this space!

Tuesday saw the first of our sessions with the different teams, starting with a training session with the Bibliometrics Team entitled ‘Introduction to InCites’- a metrics tool that UCL subscribes to. This tool can be used to compare research output across different institutions, analyse publication data for UCL at department and faculty levels, and understand activity in a research field as a whole. This session was not recorded but there is a full range of Bibliometrics training including an InCites session available on the bibliometrics website. The Open Access Team also hosted an afternoon drop in session for UCL researchers in which they discussed transformative agreements, open access funding and the importance of UCL’s Bibliometrics Policy in freeing researchers to publish in a wider range of journals.

Wednesday was another exciting day, giving us the second of our three webinars of the week – this one focused on Citizen Science. This session began with an overview of the history and development of Citizen Science at UCL by Professor Muki Haklay, and included a wide range of examples of how the principles of Citizen Science can be used in practice. This was followed up by a series of lightning talks where colleagues from across the university shared their projects and experiences of working on vastly different Citizen Science projects:

  • First, Rosie Brigham shared with us the details of her PhD study, Monument Monitor. This project invites visitors to historic sites to share photographs of their visits using social media in order to monitor structural and visitor-related changes to the monuments.
  • Mayssa Jallad gave us an overview of the work of the Institute for Global Prosperity and the RELIEF Project that trains local people as Citizen Scientists in neighbourhoods in Hamra (Beirut) and Mina (Lebanon).
  • Kate Jones followed up with a completely different project, truly highlighting the variety of applications of Citizen Science. The Bat Detective Project used volunteers to collect and then later identify audio recordings of bat sonar, which was used to train a machine learning algorithm for the next stage of the project.
  • Danielle Purkiss was our final speaker, talking about the Big Compost Experiment, which is a truly massive undertaking, with numerous participants all contributing to a research experiment looking at compostable and biodegradable plastics in their own back gardens!

This event was recorded and it and all of the slides are available on MediaCentral

Wednesday afternoon and Thursday were dedicated to drop in sessions from both the UCL Press and Research Data Management teams. The teams had some good conversations with researchers. The UCL Press Q&A focused on prospective authors, and commissioning editors were available to answer questions about the benefits of publishing Open Access. The RDM Team was available to discuss data management planning and answer questions about managing, publishing and archiving all kinds of data and supporting evidence from research.

These sessions were not recorded but the teams are both available to answer questions by email. The RDM team also has FAQs and training available online.

Friday gave us our third and final webinar, this time hosted by UCL Press and entitled ‘Author Experiences of Publishing Open Access books’. This session featured in-depth interviews of two authors who have published with UCL Press, Prof Eleanor Robson and Prof Bob Shiel. Their publications with the press were distinctly different but both were able to share insights from the process and give a brilliant behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the press. The entire discussion provided a really positive look at the importance of Open Access presses, and challenged lots of this misconceptions people have about them.

This event was recorded and is available on MediaCentral.

We’re delighted that so many colleagues from inside the university and from around the world were able to join us at these events. We’re also looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on how the Office for Open Science and Scholarship can support researchers, colleagues and students here at UCL. All of your feedback will be used to develop the next events that we plan, so please do get in touch with us here by commenting below, by email, or on Twitter.

Office for Open Science & Scholarship Newsletter – October 2020

Kirsty26 October 2020

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Open Science and Scholarship Newsletter! This newsletter will be coming to you termly with updates across the 8 Pillars of Open Science, with contributions from colleagues across the university. If you would like to get involved, give feedback or write something for a future issue, please get in touch using the details at the end of the newsletter.

The development of the Office for Open Science and Scholarship has been an exciting adventure during a time when making research open has been shown to be increasingly important. The newsletter will be just a part of the communication from this new office. We also have the Open@UCL blog, which you can sign up to for updates, we have included some highlights from the last few months below, and also our twitter account for you to follow!

Go to the newsletter on Sway, or view it below. We recommend clicking the ‘full screen’ button.

Open Access Week: Finding and using Open Access resources

Kirsty23 October 2020

With all of the focus this week having been on the why and the how of making research Open Access, in our last post this Open Access Week we want to turn the tables and help you with finding open access content and deciding whether you can trust it. In other words:

What use is it for others to make things Open if you can’t get the benefits of using them?! What use is being able to find them if you don’t know whether they’re trustworthy?

The following tools and techniques will help you find verified Open Access content and check that it’s of good quality. Spoiler alert: scroll down to find the one simple tool that surpasses all others!

Finding Reliable Open Access Content

There are a number of helpful registries that collate and verify Open Access content:

  • Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) lists over 30,000 Academic peer-reviewed books from 404 publishers. All publishers in DOAB are screened for their peer review procedures and licensing policies.
  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a registry of over 12,000 journals that fulfil a stringent list of conditions for open access, transparency, preservation and reuse. Being listed in the Directory is a positive sign that the journal is of good quality, as they have made recognised commitments to longevity and maintenance of their content.
  • COnnecting REpositories (CORE) lists content from university, research institute and public institution repositories from all over the world. To find out more about how UCL supports Open Access and what goes into our repository, have a look at Tuesday’s blog post! Repositories can also get an additional level of accreditation with CoreTrustSeal.
  • The Registry of Research Data Repositories, better known as Re3data, is a great place to go to find out what data repositories are available. These repositories cover a wide range of subject areas and specialisms, and you should easily be able to identify a suitable repository to find what you need.

Open Access content is also listed on a number sites that pull from these sources. For example, books from our own UCL Press can be found on UCL Explore but also on databases like JStor.

But there is a simpler way!

Back in March we wrote a post about a tool called Open Access Button. It’s worth another mention in Open Access Week. It’s a browser extension that can look for openly available versions of exactly which articles and books you want, in all of the sources above! It will even send requests for an Open version of something if one isn’t available.

Assessing Open Access Publications

What if you haven’t been using the sources we’ve mentioned? We all know that there is a lot of bad information out there on the internet. Fake news has taught us to always check and verify information before using it, and academic information is no different. A common concern for researchers preparing to share their data or publications is whether the journals and platforms are trustworthy. We’ve discussed that in posts earlier in the week. It is the same when using content – the first question you need to ask is: can I trust this?

There are checklists available which can help you determine if a source of information is reliable. These work equally well on any sort of information, Open Access or otherwise. UCL Library Services recommends a couple of checklists and have a lot of guidance on finding and assessing information on LibGuides. One technique that is popular is called the CRAAP test:

  • C: Currency: When was the source published? Is it appropriate in the context to use older material, or is it important that it is current?
  • R: Relevance: Is the information relevant to your studies or research? And is it at the right academic level?
  • A: Authority: Who is the author and/or publisher? Are they a trustworthy source?
  • A: Accuracy: Where does the information come from? Is there evidence? Can it be verified?
  • P: Purpose: Why was the information produced? Is the purpose clear and are there any biases?

CRAAP test – Information on the CRAAP test from the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico, who developed the tool.

Assessing Open Access Data

The best way to analyse Open Access data, aside from the above technique which also applies, is to look at both the reference in any papers that cite it, and the associated documents provided. Look for a ReadMe file or examine the Data Management Plan if one is provided: you’re looking for a good description of how the data was generated and processed. These files should have all of the information you need to know if you wanted to reproduce the data yourself.

And finally…

With that, we’ve come full circle – from making your research Open, to finding and using others’ Open research. From UCL’s new Office for Open Science and Scholarship, officially launched in Open Access Week 2020, happy Open Access Weekend!

Open Access Week: Policies to free your research

Kirsty22 October 2020

What’s new in Open Access?

2020 has been a bumper year in open access. There have been policy developments, new opportunities for Gold open access and more open access outputs than ever – and there’s even more to come in 2021. This week we’ve launched completely updated funding and REF sections of our website to support authors with all these changes, and there will be more new guidance soon. For now, though, we’d like to share a roundup of what’s been going on in open access recently, and to make a special request to SLMS researchers (scroll to the bottom) for advice on a new transformative agreement for PLOS journals.

Policies: Wellcome and Rights Retention

We’ve been talking about Plan S for a couple of years now, since it was announced in September 2018. Now, though, we’re preparing for the first Plan S policy to come into effect. Wellcome Trust-funded research papers submitted from New Year’s Day 2021 need to be made open access as soon as they’re published. 

If you have Wellcome funding, this won’t be news to you. Read on, though, for something that is completely new: Rights Retention, allowing you to publish in any journal and make your papers open access straight away.

As a reminder, from 2021 Wellcome authors can publish in:

  1. fully open access journals or platforms (such as Wellcome Open Research).
  2. subscription journals that allow them to make their final accepted manuscript open access in Europe PubMed Central at the time of publication.
  3. subscription journals that are included in UCL’s transformative agreements – more on these below.

Wellcome will provide a Journal Checker Tool (coming shortly) to help authors work out where and how to publish. We’ll support Wellcome researchers with our new Wellcome webpages, payments for journals in categories 1 and 3 above, and advice on individual papers and journals. The big change, though, is…

Rights Retention

This might not sound exciting, but it could be a hugely important shift that’ll enable researchers to keep control of their work, and make it open access when it’s published. The Wellcome is the first funder to adopt it. Here’s how it works.

  1. A Plan S funder like Wellcome changes its grant conditions to include a new provision that grantholders automatically grant a CC BY public copyright licence to their accepted manuscripts.
  2. The funder notifies key publishers (Wellcome has contacted 150 publishers) asking them to allow all authors to make their manuscripts available on publication with a CC BY licence. Even if a publisher doesn’t do that, the letter gives them notice of the funder’s open access requirements. This means that the CC BY licence on the accepted manuscript takes legal precedence over any later licence to publish or copyright transfer agreement that an author signs.
  3. The funder requires authors to include a statement in all submissions that notifies the publisher about the funding. Here’s the statement that Wellcome authors must now use:

Wellcome statement required on submissionThis allows Wellcome authors to publish in any journal, even if it’s not a fully open access journal and there’s no transformative agreement. There’s more information about this on the Wellcome’s webpages, and on Plan S’s Rights Retention page.

Other open access and open data policies

Other funders’ open access policies are likely to change in the near future. We’re expecting a new UKRI open access policy next year, and a new REF policy after that. Cancer Research UK has said that it’ll require immediate open access from January 2022. Plan S members, including the EC as part of Horizon Europe, are implementing Rights Retention. So stay up to date with your funder’s requirements – there’s a tool called Sherpa Juliet that helps with this – and check our webpages for all the latest information.

Both funding agencies and publishers also have open data policies setting out expectations, and in many cases requirements, for researchers. It’s a good idea to be aware of these when submitting a paper, or a grant proposal. These policies have the general theme of ensuring that when research is published all of the raw data which underpins the main results and conclusions is made available to as great an extent as possible.  Funding agencies and publishers want to ensure that data is open in order to maintain high standards of reproducibility and transparency. Open data allows published results to be confirmed and tested by others, a much more stringent check of research quality than can realistically be offered by the peer review process. For a publisher this can also help to uphold their reputation and avoid scandals or high-profile retractions. Funding agencies also have an interest in ensuring maximum return on their investment, and encourage data sharing partly so that the output of the research they funded can be re-used as widely as possible by other researchers and beyond academia.

When you publish with a particular journal or submit a funding application to a particular agency always check their specific policies carefully to avoid any problems or delays. Information on funding agency policies is available on our webpages.

Transformative agreements

We’ve written about them before, but we make no apology for repeating ourselves. These new agreements are designed to help with the transition to full open access that funders want. UCL’s agreements currently cover just over 5,000 journals; they enable all, or most, research papers in those journals with a UCL corresponding author to be made open access on publication.

In these agreements, upfront payments fund publishing as well as access to content, helping universities and publishers move away from the old subscription model. The rub is that most agreements still cost more than subscriptions did, but funders are supporting them for a transitional period. We’re currently assessing new agreements for 2021. Can we afford these agreements long-term? Will they lead to journals becoming fully open access? We’ll see.

SLMS researchers: can you help us to help you?

By and large, researchers like the opportunities for open access publishing that transformative agreements provide. However, the agreements tend to favour traditional subscription publishers. The latest development, though, is a new model that might redress the balance a bit: PLOS’s Community Action Model for publishing in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology. This is a collective, potentially more sustainable way of funding two highly-selective open access journals without individual open access payments (APCs). We need to decide whether to be part of it, and we need your help. If you publish in biomedicine or medicine, please tell us: if we support this new model, and guarantee funding to publish in PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, would you be more likely to submit there? Get in touch with us to tell us your view, or to find out more.

Open Access Week: Open Data – the future treasures of the past

Kirsty21 October 2020

Here at UCL you are very often told 

Of the benefits associated with publishing via green or gold, 

But what of Research Data and saving them for later? 

What is this new thing you have stumbled across?  

Preserving research outputs and protecting them against loss. 

 

It’s Open Data of course!  

They’re freely available online  

To download and unwind  

With good quality metadata assigned.    

Open data are nestled within Open Science and Scholarship 

without barriers rooted in design.  

 

Open data with DOIs so FAIR,  

The trophies of your commitment to access and to share 

So enhancthe potential for reuse  

and reduce wasted efforts  

of those who seek to uncover new knowledgenew inference,  

Let us discover.   

 

So what is the issue? Where is the harm? 

What is the problem? Why the alarm? 

 

Too expensive they said 

Too much time they said 

Little reward for my efforts and for any of the dread.  

How are we to ascend the ladder? 

For making our data openwe’re not getting any gladder.  

  

Research Integrity, Transparency and Reproducibility 

these are your prized rewards. 

Repurpose and explore,   

To maximise the return, just what is in store?  

So take down the university wall  

Bring in the citizens,  

Address the balance so all stand equally as tall. 

 

Now, with help and support and cups of on-screen tea at the ready,  

The Research Data Management team are on-hand to keep you steady! 

We cheer those pursuing a place for research data  

in need of archiving and preserving and just plain keeping safe. 

We can talk for hours about the research data lifecycle and all that it can entail, 

open data – we shall prevail! 

Here’s to the UCL Research Data policy 

and to all those wishing to make their funders smile,  

With the UCL Research Data Repository, we can help you do it in style! 

 

So to all my fellow disruptive thinkers,  

now is the time for us all to give open data a trial  

and catch up to those who have been open a while. 

Embrace open practices and make fast  

open data – the future treasures of the past.   

By Dr Christiana McMahon | Research Data Support Officer 

Open Access Week: Why open access? Journals and articles

Kirsty20 October 2020

The open access landscape is ever-changing, and these days it seems as if authors, open access experts, funders and publishers spend a lot of time talking about policies. There’s good reason for that: they’re complicated, and right now lots of them are changing. Since Plan S was announced, funders have begun to introduce policies that’ll help make sure that research is open access as soon as it’s published. We’re going to talk more about policy developments on Thursday, but today we want to go back to basics and ask…

Why open access?

Funders want outputs to be open access on publication. More and more authors are thinking about open access options early on in the publication process – before they submit. They’re telling us that they consider which fully open access journals and journals in UCL’s transformative agreements are suitable, and failing that whether their journal will allow them to make their manuscript open access as soon as it’s published. Why are these changes happening?

Open access advocates, and many authors, have known for a while about the many advantages to making outputs open access, beyond compliance with funders’ policies. The citation-and-visibility advantage is one of the best-established findings in the scholarly communication literature. Open access papers receive more views than their closed counterparts, and they’re cited more often. It’s as simple as that. This applies to all types of open access, whether Gold (open access on publication) or Green – and even where a paper is made open access as long as 12 months after publication, as this recent preprint demonstrates.

This year, though, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in interest in open access, not only in the academic community but from people in all walks of life – and that’s because open access is so vital to combating, or at least helping us to live with, COVID-19. Open access accelerates the rate at which the shared knowledge can be applied, and that’s particularly important in any global health emergency. Previous crises like Ebola in 2014-15, and Zika in 2015-17, highlighted the role of preprints and immediate open access in rapidly developing fields. The WHO in September 2015 announced that timely and transparent pre-publication sharing of data and results during public health emergencies must become the norm across the world.

The new Wellcome open access policy covers preprints in public health emergencies like the current one. Preprints allow data and academic analysis about COVID-19 to be disseminated quickly, without delays caused by reviews and resubmission, and so they allow academics and public health experts to read, develop and challenge the data. Of course, preprints need to be treated with caution, particularly with journalists and politicians being wont to seize on any data that’ll make a headline.

It’s no accident that one of the first things that publishers did in lockdown was to respond to the Wellcome Trust’s call to make temporary changes to their policies to make COVID-19 outputs open access. This has significant health benefits and can impact policies, and we wrote about it here. UCL also launched its COVID-19 research platform that brings together all UCL’s research on the pandemic into one place. The platform currently holds over 700 outputs.

Academics in the Global South are in some ways ahead of the open access game. Access gaps exist between institutions, because of the huge cost of subscriptions. They’re worse still in the Global South. As Peter Suber demonstrates in his 2012 monograph on open access, in 2008, Harvard subscribed to 98,900 serials and Yale to 73,900. At the same time, the best- funded research library in India, at the Indian Institute of Science, subscribed to 10,600. Thus, open access also reduces global inequity and empowers the world’s poorest people to transform their own lives.

As COVID is showing, it’s not just academics and policy-makers who benefit from open access. Open access allows research to be read also by journalists, citizen scientists, patients, health advocates, local government, medical professionals, prospective students – and everyone who needs it.

Why isn’t everything open access by now?

Academic promotion and advancement relies on publications. That’s also how we assess quality, and funding – as part of the REF exercise, and in applications for funding. We know that in the past there’s been too much of an emphasis on where you publish, and not enough on what you publish. That’s gradually changing. UCL has recently launched its new bibliometrics policy, to help academics move away from traditional metrics. It is an important step in supporting the use of Open Science and Scholarship across UCL. This new focus will help researchers to conduct their research in the way that is best for them, and best for the wider research community. Related to this, open access is now part of the promotion process at UCL and is required in applications for research posts.

There’s a long way to go before these new principles, and open access itself, become embedded across disciplines. We haven’t talked much about non-journal outputs, but our colleagues in UCL Press will attest that they’re even more challenging. The landscape is changing, though, and we’re excited to be a part of that change.

Tune in for the rest of the week, especially on Thursday when we’ll talk about how Plan S’s Rights Retention Strategy could give researchers the power to disseminate their research widely, effectively and quickly.