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Open Access Week 2021 – your ideas wanted!

Kirsty12 July 2021

Last year for Open Access Week 2020 we ran a number of sessions and launched the Office for Open Science and Scholarship in style!

This year we want to try and celebrate all of the ways that the principles of Open can be applied across the board so we are currently working on planning sessions for Open Access Week 2021 with the theme Open in Practice. We want to take a broad look at the principles of Open and look at how they apply beyond articles and books, to other types of output like data, software, code or practice research and even the principles of FAIR, and other pillars of Open Science – everything is up for grabs!

We would like to invite ideas from across the UCL community for sessions we could run, guest blog posts, case studies or proposals for events that could be a part of our week.

Please send any comments or ideas to us by emailing the Office for Open Science & Scholarship by 30 July.

Ebooks: Scandal or Market Economics – the Q&A special

Kirsty22 March 2021

After last week’s webinar, there was so much interest in the recording that we hurried to get the post out, leaving us with some of the leftover questions to answer!

As promised, we put some of the unanswered questions to our panellists and here are the answers you have been waiting for!

A couple of simple ones to start off with:

  • Does Ben know if the Dutch library service has done anything since the court judgement to develop a lending service based on digitising their physical stock and avoiding overcharges for e-books?

No, the Dutch Library Association did not utilise the ruling in any way I can see – they simply continued to license eBooks from publishers to my knowledge.

  • Will the #ebooksos google spreadsheet be updated as publishers change their policies/books become available, so the info is always up to date?

The #ebooksos spreadsheet is a resource to collect evidence rather than a record of current practices of the different publishers. Changes to publisher practices and other updates on the campaign activity will be shared on the campaign’s website: https://academicebookinvestigation.org/

There was a really interesting question about existing university presses:

  • (Some) existing University presses follow the same practices as commercial publishers, how easily can these be reformed / transformed? How do we prevent other university presses from following suit and being tempted to commercialise once it becomes successful?

Paul responded – Open Science represents a profound culture change in the way research, teaching and learning are delivered. This is clear from the LERU (League of European Research Universities) paper on Open Science and cultural change at https://www.leru.org/publications/open-science-and-its-role-in-universities-a-roadmap-for-cultural-change. The issue, therefore, is to embed Open Science as part of the ‘new normal’ going forwards. That in itself is a process, not a simple event. But, as progress is made, then current practices will change and embrace Open Science approaches.

And one about authors and copyright:

  • How difficult is it for authors to retain copyright of what is being published or to insist their titles are made available Open Access?

Paul responded – For UCL, our position is that staff and students retain copyright in the works they create. And funders are increasingly asking for Rights Retention by funded authors, which would trump any signing away of copyright in the published version to a publisher. This is Open Science in practice.

Charles Oppenheim also commented in the session – retention of copyright and instead granting the publisher a licence is all down to the author negotiating with the publisher. The author should also seek equivalent royalties to print sales for ebook sales. Insisting that the book be made OA is again down to the author negotiating with the publisher. The key point is that the author should be prepared to walk away if the publisher won’t play ball. I think there is a role for librarians and scholarly communications folk to advise and encourage academics.

Finally, you had a number of questions for Paul about UCL Press & eTextbook publishing:

  • Paul, now UCL Press is five years old, what would you say are the pros and cons so far?

Pros: Huge impact of UCL research across the world as a result of OA availability; the availability of high quality research to the general public, free at point of use; the ability of the published outputs disseminated as OA to influence strategy and policy decisions by decision makers across the world.

Challenge: Winning support from more authors to publish OA monographs and textbooks; establishing a viable financial model.

  • What impact has publishing an OA textbook vs an OA monograph had on staffing? Are you able to achieve this with the existing team – or will you take on additional staff to oversee this activity? Do the two different types of publishing co-exist or are they likely to remain separate?

UCL Press will need to increase its staffing complement in order to build a textbook list. All UCL teaching is based in our research insights. In that sense, research feeds teaching. However, in terms of publishing outputs, the routes are different.

  • Given the costs of producing a higher-end textbook with a courseware platform can be in the region of $0.5-3m, where would we as a sector prioritise development? Which disciplines, which titles to replace, and would it be as open textbooks, or as OERs?

The position taken by the Press is that we will start by identifying e-textbooks currently in use in the university and commission academics to write their own, which the Press will publish as OA. AS to format, we are looking at a range of options, and these will be informed by our interactions with academics.

  • What is the size of the problem? If we took for example a community (i.e. scaled up from UCL) based OER based route how many textbooks would we need to produce? How much would that cost? Are there particular priority areas we should concentrate on? Indeed do we even need ‘textbooks’ but rather appropriate e content

Each university will wish to teach individual subjects in their own way, built around the insights and expertise of their academic body. It is certainly not the case that ‘one size fits all’. A consortial publishing model would need to be flexible enough to accommodate this multi-layered approach in identifying titles to publish. And yes, outputs do not need to be simply textbooks. We will consider a range of outputs as our insights in the Press grow.

So I hope that answered some of the most pressing questions you had!

Ebooks: Scandal or Market Economics webinar – summary and links

Kirsty17 March 2021

On Monday 15th March, the UCL Office for Open Science & Scholarship hosted a webinar in conjunction with Copyright4Knowledge that aimed to examine the acute difficulties for higher education and public libraries caused by publishers’ pricing and licensing practices and discuss some possible solutions.

For the session we had over 600 attendees from countries across the globe including UK, Switzerland, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Spain, USA, and the Netherlands. This level of interest highlights the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to a head issues surrounding the online provision of learning resources, not just in the UK, but globally.

In the session we played host to three expert speakers who have written up their experiences for a new article on the LSE Impact blog. Below you can access the individual slide decks for each speaker, and at the bottom of this brief discussion you can access a list of cited resources and a few shared in the chat, plus the full recording of the session.

The discussion in the chat was very active, with attendees sharing their own experiences and comments in support of the points that the speakers were making. The audience shared their own experiences of troubles caused by ebooks, with issues such as only half of the books in a key series being available in an ebook format, multiple examples of academics needing to rewrite module reading lists either to use books that the library already had or give several options for librarians to try locate since many were not easily available. In one instance an academic was told that she couldn’t use her own book in a course because it wasn’t available to buy as an ebook!

There were also a number of examples where the ebook version was not up to the same standards of a paper book, with chapters missing, or being presented as one long file that takes up to 5 minutes to download which would be particularly detrimental to students with poor internet or studying abroad in countries with less effective internet infrastructure. It was also noted several times that DRM on ebooks actually decreases accessibility of some content by preventing screenreaders from working properly.

One of the most commonly asked questions from the audience was what individuals or different groups could do to support the campaign. There are links below to resources, the open letter and a template letter to your MP, all of which were mentioned by Johanna but the biggest message was to talk about the issues and raise awareness of the issues that exist in the ebooks market as many people are still unaware there is a problem. Paul added that the environment now is similar to before the big push on Open Access journals and articles over the last 10/15 years, and hopefully we will see similar progress on this issue.

Another big question was on whether other bodies such as SCONUL, JISC and RLUK should contribute and start to develop their own OA book platforms, and this was something that was unanimously supported by the panel, with one notable addition – that one size may not fit all. Paul Ayris encouraged that a number of consortia working on the problem may be beneficial with the phrase ‘let 1000 flowers bloom’ and learn which models work.

To round off the discussion there were questions about what challenges the anticipated change to UKRI policy to include OA books will bring for academics and institutions, large and small. The concern among the panel was that the UK doesn’t have the infrastructure to deliver OA monographs and that until we have had enough time for the 1000 flowers to bloom, there isn’t really a path to take! Johanna also raised the issue of the mounting cost that has been seen in association with OA articles and noted that we need to be careful the same issue is avoided when it comes to OA books.

Resources

Take action

The recording is available below or also on UCL MediaCentral.

RPS and the REF open access policy training sessions in February and March

Patrycja4 February 2019

Booking is now open for training on RPS and the REF open access policy in February and March. Last term’s training sessions were very popular, and feedback received was extremely positive: all respondents found sessions very useful (65%) and useful (35%).

All UCL authors are required to maintain a list of their publications in UCL’s Research Publication Service (RPS). To comply with the REF open access policy, they must also upload the final accepted manuscript version of their research articles and conference proceedings to RPS. This needs to be done no later than three months after first online publication. The Open Access Team review the manuscript and make it open access through UCL Discovery, UCL’s open access repository.

Our training sessions will explain the REF open access policy and what to do to comply with its requirements. They will also show you how to, in RPS:

  • set up name-based search settings
  • use all the advantages of RPS’s automated claiming tool (including linking RPS to your ORCID ID)
  • record a publication
  • upload a file

The sessions will be a good opportunity to ask questions about RPS and the REF open access policy, and they are open to all UCL staff and interested research students. New members of staff, and anyone who is unsure about any of the features mentioned above, are strongly encouraged to attend. Regular reports on compliance with the REF open access policy, and on academics’ use of RPS, are sent to Faculty Deans and Heads of Department. 

Upcoming sessions

Thursday, 14th February, 11:00 – 12:00
Foster Court, room 235

Thursday, 14th March, 11:00 – 12:00
Engineering Front Building, room 104

To book, and if you have any questions, please email: open-access@ucl.ac.uk
Also let us know if you would like to organise group training or drop-in sessions in your department.

Open Access Week starts here!

Catherine Sharp22 October 2018