Friday, 12 February 2016

Open Access to research publications - independent advice and evidence

February is a month of discovery. Not just of gravitational waves but for increased evidence for Open Access, for the costs of publishing monographs and for academic journal markets.

This blog focuses on the highlights of Professor Adam Tickell’s OA report to Jo Johnson (Minister of State for Universities and Science) that has been published today, with the Minister’s response. It also mentions the Costs of Publishing Monographs report from Ithaka and the Academic journal markets report from SCONUL, RLUK, ARMA and Jisc.


Open access to research publications: Independent advice by Professor Adam Tickell [LINK]

(Provost and Vice-Principal, University of Birmingham; Chair of the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group)

This report covers both Open Access and Open Data for UK research publications. Some key moments from the report are quoted here:

"UK universities currently spend an estimated £33m on Open Access charges and, without mitigation, this is estimated to rise to between £40m and £83m by 2020. The total cost of publication to universities is estimated at £168m (or over 11% of the value of QR awarded across the United Kingdom). Non-academic institutions spend a further £127m."

"In order to continue to make progress in the transition to Open Access, and to maintain the UK’s leadership, no major changes to the UK’s approach are recommended. However, some minor changes will be helpful."

"Recommendation: universities should be encouraged to sign-up to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. This requires that metrics are used appropriately in the evaluation of individual researchers in order to remove distortion in the market by privileging certain publication routes. Providers of research metrics have clearly stated the need to use them appropriately and that they should not be employed at a granular level."

"Recommendation: the Research Councils should continue to support Gold Open Access charges"

"Recommendation: Publishers and purchasers need to agree clear service standards around Gold Open Access. The UK Open Access Coordination Group can assist in producing a framework. Ministerial support for this would provide a welcome stimulus to action."

"Recommendation: Flexibility in the UK’s favoured route to Open Access would allow greater freedom of choice for researchers on where and how to publish and, mindful both of the clear need to maintain the UK’s strong leadership in Open Access and of the strong contribution that institutional repositories are making to widening public access, the current UK ‘strong policy preference’ for ‘Gold’ could usefully be inflected as a ‘preference for Gold’."

"Recommendation: Convene an Efficiency Forum sub-group, to be technical and detailed in nature, with a focus on identifying efficiencies and areas for collaboration
in, for example, financial management, policy compliance, and reporting requirements between stakeholders. It will report into the main Coordination group. Membership: Jisc (lead and secretariat); nominated Publishers; nominated institutions; research funders, key infrastructure providers and international representation from Max Planck Digital Library (Germany) and Association of Research Libraries (US and Canada)."

"Recommendation: Convene a Repositories sub-group, to advise as to the best mechanisms to ensure due regard is given to long term curation of digital assets, and to ensure that there is at least one permanent copy of an open access publication. Membership: British Library, Research Libraries UK and SCONUL convene, with appropriate support."

"Recommendation: Convene an Open Access Monographs sub-group to perform an intelligence sharing / monitoring role in the first instance, and to later advise and help drive the progress of any pilots of OA monographs. Membership: an appropriate chair, Jisc, Wellcome Trust, HEFCE, ARMA, British Library and be convened by UUK."



What is Open Access

"At its heart is the principle that research outputs should be available freely, without restrictions on access or reuse, such as cost barriers or onerous copyright constraints.
Open access publishing, by improving access to information and knowledge, promotes:
• the public benefit arising from publicly funded research;
• enhanced transparency, openness and accountability, and public engagement with research;
• closer linkages between research and innovation, with benefits for public policy and services, and for economic growth;
• improved efficiency in the research process itself, through increases in the amount of information that is readily accessible, reductions in the time spent in finding it, and greater use of the latest tools and services to organise, manipulate and analyse it;
• increased returns on the investments made in research, especially the investments from public funds; and • the creation of a new model of scholarly communications."

Open Data

"Open access to research data is a logical evolution of the open science agenda, and both flows from and underpins OA. As the Royal Society argued in 2012,36 large scale data collection and analysis requires effective communication through a more intelligent openness. The UK has already made a number of international commitments on open data in general, e.g. the G8 set out principles that open data should be discoverable, accessible, assessable, intelligible, useable and, where possible, interoperable...
Successful exploitation of these powerful new approaches will come from: (1) a shift away from a research culture where data is viewed as a private preserve; (2) expanding the criteria used to evaluate research to give credit for useful data communication and novel ways of collaborating; (3) the development of common standards for communicating data; (4) mandating intelligent openness for data relevant to published scientific papers; (5) strengthening the cohort of data scientists needed to manage and support the use of digital data; and (6) the development and use of new software tools that simplify the creation and exploitation of datasets."

You can read the positive response from Jo Johnson (Minister of State for Universities and Science) here [LINK]


Also of Note


The Costs of Publishing Monographs - Toward a Transparent Methodology [LINK]

"The study gathered costs of 382 titles published in Fiscal 2014. The data gathered included estimates of staff time, direct expenses (such as the cost of a freelance copyeditor), and press-level overheads (such as legal support or rent). The most important aspects of this study are the focus on developing a definition for the full cost of publishing, and developing cost estimates for staff and non-staff expenses in core press activities—Acquisitions, Manuscript Editorial, Design, Production, and Marketing—in part by having staff estimate their time spent on monographs and on certain activities involved in producing a book. By using the methodology of calculating the component activities of book publishing among twenty presses, we were able to examine the staff time allocations in bottom-up fashion, thereby separating academic monographs fairly cleanly from the presses’ other activities (including journals and trade publishing).

The study focused solely on the costs of producing the first digital copy of a “high quality digital monograph.” As such, the study excluded trade titles, textbooks and databases. It also excluded works in translation, edited volumes and paperback reprints.

This study of 382 titles across 20 university presses from four category types[1] yielded a wide range of costs per title, from a low of $15,140 to a high of $129,909 and the range of costs is wide both within and across groups."

Academic journal markets, their limitations, and the consequences for a transition to open access: a thought piece [LINK]

"UK research, and its wider economy, are not being as well served as they might be by the legacy journals market.  This is no one’s fault; it is a structural issue concerning a market that has evolved organically over many years and has now been asked to support a radical transition to open access.

However, new, more market-based options might be available, which could include incentives for various stakeholders throughout the market to move toward wholly OA journals, rather than hybrids. The use of repositories, in parallel with journal publishing, also increases the availability of UK research to innovators in the wider economy.

In more detail, options could include:

  • Adjustments to the rules governing the use of research funds, to provide market incentives for the development of fully open access journals with transparent pricing.  Such adjustments might include restricting, or placing conditions on, the extent to which research funds could be used to pay open access charges for hybrid journals
  • Encouraging all those directing funds into the market, including universities and research funders, to collaborate closely in negotiations with publishers on the total UK expenditure on journals, and on the services required by the research community in exchange for that expenditure
  • A preference in negotiations with publishers for models that completely shift their journals from the legacy to the OA model, at least for UK authors and readers
  • Further alignment of UK open access policies to make it clear that the use of repositories is a valuable component in the transition to open access, and adoption by universities of approaches to intellectual property that support this route
  • Supporting the development and adoption of indicators that describe a much fuller range of quality dimensions for journals, to enable better signals in a market wherein price is unlikely to be an important signal
  • Ensuring that innovative small and society publishers have effective mechanisms to compete in the UK open access market."

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