Opens Roundup (May)

To help navigate the content in this issue of the roundup, here’s an index of the topics covered with links to the items below:



and thanks to Adrian Aldcroft and Allison Hawxhurst for tips and links.


US: House Committee Amends FIRST ACT to reduce embargo length

May 22: The US FIRST ACT (which we discussed previously on PLOS OPENs) has been amended to reduce the embargo period for articles from 24 to 12 months. This is definitely an improvement over the draconian embargo periods the act initially stipulated (up to three years in some cases) but still falls short. SPARC (main link),  PLOS and EFF all support the stronger Open Access Language ( e.g. around reuse) in the White House Directive and the bipartisan, bicameral Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) act. [Back]


UK: Connecting knowledge to power: the future of digital democracy in the UK

May 22:Wikimedia UK and Demos are encouraging participation in an attempt to crowdsource a submission to a call for evidence on digital democracy from the Speaker of the House of Commons.” What is digital democracy you might ask – see this article from Wired for context. [Back]

Mexico: Open access and repository legislation in Mexico

May 21: More landmark legislation (text in Spanish) in South America that mandates all research funded by the Mexican Government to be deposited into Open Access Repositories. This puts it in line with the national mandates of Peru and Argentina. [Back]

Chinese agencies announce open-access policies

May 19 : Two of the major Chinese research funders (the National Science Foundation and the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) have mandated that all their researchers deposit their papers into online repositories and make them publicly available within 12 months of publication. While largely a repository-based legislation, funds will also be made available to grantees to cover Article Processing Charges to make articles immediately available. Richard van Noorden outlines the implications of this important legislation in Nature (main link). [Back]

Europe: European Research Council signs deal with Elsevier

May: Elsevier has agreed to make all the ERC funded papers they publish immediately available in return for an Article Processing Fee (APC), paid for by the council. Unfortunately, however, the policy on the Elsevier websites stipulates that articles will only be deposited in a repository (Europe PubMedCentral) or made available to reuse with an attribution-only licence ( CC BY) if requested by the author. If the authors don’t make the requests, the articles will be archived within Elsevier’s own portal, Science Direct, under more restrictive licences that prohibit some or all reuse. [Back]

Global: Major International Associations Underscore Their Support for Immediate Open Access to Research Articles

May 14:  LIBER (the Association of European Research Libraries), COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) and others including, interestingly, the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have co-signed a statement that makes a commitment to reduce and eliminate embargo periods: “We consider the use of embargo periods as an acceptable transitional mechanism to help facilitate a wholesale shift towards Open Access. However, embargo periods dilute the benefits of open access policies and we believe that, if they are adopted, they should be no more than 6 months for the life and physical sciences, 12 months for social sciences and humanities.  We further believe that mechanisms for reducing – or eliminating – embargo periods should be included in any Open Access policy.” [Back]


His life is Open Access and Open Data: meet Mark Thorley of RCUK

June 02: Wiley’s Fiona Murphy interviews Mark Thorley from the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (and chair of RCUK Research Outputs Network) about the shift to open access and the future of publishing. [Back]

USF Professor creates OA textbook for students

May 30: A University of South Florida Professor has created an open access textbook for the social sciences under the remit of the University’s textbook affordability project. [Back]

Dinosaurs go Open Access

May 30: Andy Farke, an Academic Editor for PLOS ONE shows that 42% of new Dinosaur species in 2013 were described in free-to-read journals & almost half of these were fully Open Access in PLOS ONE. [Back]

Frederick Friend, 1941-2014

May 30: Very sad news about the death of Fred Friend, a librarian and leading proponent of Open Access. Fred provided a huge amount of support and encouragement to the UK wing of PLOS in 2003 (Mark Patterson and me) when PLOS first got off the ground, helping to navigate some of the policy landscape. For more on Fred’s background and views, see the 2013  in-depth interview with Richard Poynder. [Back]

Copyright Clearance Center Launches RightsLink for Open Access

May  28: The copyright clearance centre now offers a service to handle processing fees (APCs) for open access articles between publishers and authors at institutions. The service will be integrated with Aries Systems’ Editorial Manager. Such 3rd party intermediaries are beginning to compete for the role of managing APCs. [Back]

Watchmen creator Alan Moore announces open-access indie comics app

May 28: A bit of an aside but is OA publishing spreading to mainstream comics (although Open Access to the scholarship about comics isn’t new – see The Comics Grid[Back]

EDP Open survey reveals Learned society attitudes towards Open Access

May 27: Depressing survey of 33 unnamed learned societies conducted by Publisher EDP about what societies think of open access – focusing only on what they might lose and the need to retain their existing revenue rather than the new opportunities that Open Access offers their members and the benefits to science and the wider public of opening up research. But, as Peter Suber notes, the survey doesn’t cite the Societies and Open Access Research (SOAR) project which is cataloguing the many societies that are actively publishing new OA journals. “..SOAR identifies 868 societies publishing 827 full (non-hybrid) OA journals. It names the societies, names the journals, and provides links to facilitate confirmation. Read the EDP report to see what 33 society publishers said about OA in a survey. But consult the SOAR catalog to see how 868 society publishers have already embraced OA in practice.” [Back]

The Dawn of Open Access to Phylogenetic Data

23 May: Preprint paper by Andrew F. Magee, Michael R. May, Brian R. Moore showing that ~60% of phylogenetic studies are effectively lost to science because the data are unavailable. These results support the conclusions of related studies (e.g. in PLOS Biology) but interestingly, they also show that “data are more likely to be deposited in online archives and/or shared upon request when: (1) the publishing journal has a strong data-sharing policy; (2) the publishing journal has a higher impact factor, and; (3) the data are requested from faculty rather than students.” [Back]

Institute of Physics launches ‘offsetting’ scheme to cut cost of open access

23 May: IOP Publishing has introduced a scheme whereby authors publishing in their hybrid journals can offset the cost of Article Processing Charges with their libraries subscription cost of the journal. The scheme has a ‘sliding scale’ such that an increasing proportion of savings will be passed onto subscribers as OA uptake increases. The first initiative of its kind, it came about after discussion between  IOP, Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the UK’s Russell Group of universities (the 24 leading research institutes). [Back]

Royal Society Open Science now open

22 May: Over on the Guardian blog, Grrrlscientist plugs the new interdisciplinary open access journal launched by the Royal Society. This is not only another endorsement of open access by a significant learned society but also an endorsement of the PLOS ONE model it explicitly follows (e.g. ensuring that there is a place to publish negative results and that peer review is not based on subjective measures of importance or impact). [Back]

Growth of Fully OA Journals Using a CC-BY License

May 21: OASPA has released the number of articles published by some of its members that are fully CC BY and within fully OA journals. A total of 399,854 articles were published from 2000-20103, with 120,972 published in 2013 alone.  The growth of hybrid publishing and the fact that some of the larger members (e.g. Wiley) did not release their data means this is an underestimate. [Back]

Wellcome Trust – funding opportunities for (Open Access) researchers based outside of the UK

May 20: Two less well known facts about the Wellcome Trust pointed out by Witold Kieńć at OpenScience are 1) that they fund research not just in the sciences but also in the medical humanities and 2) that funds are available to researchers outside the UK (in North Africa, parts of Asia and Eastern Europe). But like their UK grantees, all the research outputs must be made Open Access either through a repository or via an OA journal. [Back]

The cost of scientific publishing: update and call for action

May 16: Stimulated by Tim Gower’s post (also covered by PLOS Opens), Tom Olijhoek from the Open Access Working Group summarises the flurry of activity and discussions around the cost of publishing on the open access list of the Open Knowledge Foundation. His aim is to encourage others to help fill out a google spreadsheet tracking the cost of publishing of many different publishers. He covers fair use – or the lack of it – for educational purposes, the cost of subscription versus OA publishing, and open Data. If you get hold of relevant data you can add it into a spreadsheet on GoogleDocs or report it on their WIKI. [Back]

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

May 15: Jean Harris from UCL flags a white paper published in April by Rebecca Kennison (who was PLOS employee No. 1 way back then!) and Lisa Norberg. Disclaimer: I haven’t read the 69 page report in full. Quoting from the report, Harris notes that the model “encourages partnerships among scholarly societies, research libraries, and other institutional partners (e.g.,collaborative e-archives and university presses) who share a common mission to support the creation and distribution of research and scholarship to improve society and to help solve the world’s most challenging problems”. Carl Straumsheim provides much more background on the report at Inside Higher Ed. [Back]

Global-level data sets may be more highly cited than most journal articles

May 15: Chris Belter on the LSE blog about his analysis (in PLOS ONE) of the impact of data sets curated by the US National Oceanographic Data Center, showing that the data sets are cited more often than most journal articles. “One data set in particular, the World Ocean Atlas and World Ocean Database, has been cited or referenced in over 8,500 journal articles since it was first released in 1982. To put that into perspective, this data set has a citation count over six times higher than any single journal article in oceanography from 1982 to the present.” [Back]

The Embargoes Don’t Work: The British Academy provides the best evidence yet

May 14: For those that missed it, Cameron pulls apart the evidence from the British Academy report on Open Access to come to the opposite conclusion from the report itself. “To my mind the British Academy report shows pretty strongly that embargoes don’t help. They offer essentially no business benefit while reducing the focus on the one thing that matters – creating the value that should differentiate scholarly communications from just slapping something up on the web.” See also the response to the BA report on Open Access by HEFCE’s Ben Johnston (HEFCE commissioned the report): “the very idea of the open academy challenges the assumptions and motivations of some scholars, and open access is perhaps resisted so vociferously precisely because it is seen as disruptive to these. In my view, academics must move beyond this resistance: they have so much to gain from greater openness, and so much to lose by staying closed off from the world.” [Back]

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