17 October 2017

'The history of scientific publishing' - an interview with Aileen Fyfe

As a primer to this month's event, detailed here is a recent blog post, we thought it would be a good idea to share an interview with Aileen Fyfe originally posted on the PLOS BLOGS Network in April 2016. In the interview Aileen Fyfe offers an in depth explanation of her research into the history of academic publishing, peer-review, and editorial processes, by examining how these phenomena first emerged over 350 years ago in the world's oldest journal - Philosophical Transactions.

Copyright Jen Laloup. Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0. Originally published here: http://blogs.plos.org/plospodcasts/2016/04/18/the-history-of-scientific-publishing-an-interview-with-aileen-fyfe/.

12 October 2017

Untangling Academic Publishing: Scottish launch for OA Week

St Andrews University Library is delighted to host the Scottish Launch of Untangling Academic Publishing during Open Access Week - the event is open to all, discussion encouraged!

>Please contact libraryoffice@st-andrews.ac.uk if you wish to attend.

Untangling Academic Publishing: Launch and Discussion about the past and future of academic publishing

A University Library event for Open Access Week

Tuesday 24 October, 16.00-18.30 - Arts Lecture Theatre (No.31 on the map)

Presentation: Professor Aileen Fyfe, School of History, lead author of the briefing paper ‘Untangling Academic Publishing’, will explain some of the biggest changes in academic publishing over the last 60 years.

Panel Discussion: the talk will be followed by a discussion of possible futures.
Professor Fyfe will be in conversation with Professor Stephen Curry,  Imperial College London and Professor Martin Kretschmer, University of Glasgow.

Presentation and panel discussion will be followed by a wine reception.


Fyfe et al. Briefing paper. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.546100

Untangling academic publishing: a history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research. Fyfe, A, Coate, K, Curry, S, Lawson, S, Moxham, N & Rostvik, CM. (2017). http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.546100

This free event is open to all members of the University, wider academic community and to the public.

Please RSVP to libraryoffice@st-andrews.ac.uk by Wednesday, 18th October if you wish to attend. 

3 October 2017

We now have over 50,000 research outputs in Pure!

In this post we look behind the scenes into how we capture publications in order to achieve Open Access...

Celebratory tiramisu
Yes, the pudding is correct, we now have over 50,000 publications records in Pure!

At the University of St Andrews we use Pure as our Current Research Information System (CRIS). Pure has been our CRIS since 2010, replacing an in-house system. Since its first installation Pure has undergone many iterations, improvements, and even changed ownership! It has many functions, including capturing publications, impacts, datasets, activities, as well as providing reporting functions, such as for funders' open access policies and the Research Excellence Framework. It also integrates with other university systems, such as the HR database, meaning that it provides up to the minute evidence of the research activities of current staff, while also maintaining an historic record for previous staff as well. Pure feeds the St Andrews Research Portal, http://risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk/portal/, which is the public front end for the system, as well as providing data used to populate researcher profiles in staff webpages. It also links to our University repository (STaRR), so when the open access team has validated a publication record in Pure which has full text attached it will be sent to the repository for public open access.

Research staff,  PhD students, and certain support staff have access to Pure, and the majority of research publications are uploaded by this subset of users. However, many may be surprised to learn  that since 2016 over 40% of publications records in Pure were created by the Library on behalf of authors, and 26% were created by just one member of our team - Kirsty. Kirsty uses multiple online sources to import publications records, each of which has its own unique process. Below Kirsty gives us a little snippet of this work:
"The aim of this part of my workflow is to capture research papers which have not already been added to Pure by the researcher or support staff. Having accumulated various methods of capturing University of St Andrews affiliated papers, one particular source I would like to mention is Scopus. I receive weekly notifications via an RSS feed and email alert of new(ish) St Andrews research papers. Since January 2016, 265 journal articles were imported via Scopus, and of this 135 were imported by myself. Also Scopus manages to detect papers from a variety of disciplines – not just the Sciences! It is an extremely useful tool in helping maintain a successful compliance rating for the University, and especially with regards to meeting funders’ requirements." (Kirsty Knowles, Senior Library Assistant (Open Access))
The Pure team also deserve an honourable mention here, as they look after the day-to-day running of the system, as well as creating many records on behalf of staff, often at the beginning of an academic's move to St Andrews.

"The Pure team can assist new members of staff in adding their publications, by importing from a compatible file format, or manually adding publications if that is not available. Please contact me, Norman Stewart, on purelive@st-andrews.ac.uk if you would like assistance. I work closely with the Open Access team, forwarding any potential Open Access publication candidates to them for prompt addition to the system." (Norm Stewart, Pure System Administrator)

Norm Stewart, Pure System Administrator, and the tiramisu
The 50,000 milestone represents only the Research Outputs (publications) recorded in Pure. Additional records cover Activities, Datasets and other content.

25 August 2017

Requesting permission: reflections and perspectives from the University of St Andrews

[The following was originally published on the UKCoRR blog as guest post, here: http://ukcorr.org/2017/08/22/requesting-permission-reflections-and-perspectives-from-the-university-of-st-andrews/]

In July I attended the UKCoRR Members Day and delivered a presentation on the subject of approaching publishers for permission from the perspective of someone working in open access/repository support. The title of the presentation was ‘Requesting permission: approaching publishers, lessons learned, and the many successes!’ Here’s a link to the presentation in the St Andrews Research Repository: https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/handle/10023/11261

In this blog post I’ll go over some of the points from the presentation that I think struck a chord with the audience, with the overall intention of explaining the rationale behind our processes. Before I begin, I must say that I am very grateful to the other attendees on the day who shared their experiences in the Q&A, as well as after the event. It was really encouraging to hear from so many colleagues who have experienced similar stumbling blocks as we have, and it was especially useful to hear from those who do things differently to us at St Andrews.

I had noticed the issue of publisher permissions popping up on the UKCoRR email list on a number of occasions, often in relation to specific publishers who don’t have a public open access or author self-archiving policy. Additionally, a Google Doc listing publishers and their responses to requests to archive book chapters has been circulated many times, and indeed was the subject of numerous discussions on the Members Day as well. This brings me to the first point from my presentation that I felt was perhaps the most illuminating, and this is the fact that most of our permission requests are actually for articles published in journals and conference proceedings (see figure 1). Perhaps not the most shocking expose on the face of it, but if you factor in REF2021 compliance it is in fact quite significant. This is because 60% of our permissions requests are for outputs potentially in scope for the REF open access policy. So, I argued, having an effective permissions policy can potentially affect an institution’s approach to their REF return and level of exceptions required.
Figure 1 - Item types

Another perhaps less ‘sticky’ and more ‘carroty’ reason for all this comes down to effective curation of our research outputs. Many of the items in our repository are archived on the basis of successful permission requests for print-only publications, and so are often unique as they cannot be found online anywhere else. So, I explained my thoughts about digital preservation and the duty of care we have for this rare part of our collections. Part of this duty of care is ensuring permissions are well thought out, and that ensuing replies are clear and unambiguous. But, as I explained, no matter how careful you may be, I expect that risk management will always play a part in any decision to host third party copyright material online.

So, how do we do it? From the outset I want to state that I don’t believe our process is perfect by any means. And, although we have had an overwhelming amount of success there are caveats, but more on that later!

Figure 2 - Permissions workflow
When we receive a manuscript for archiving we first check SherpaRomeo, an authoritative database of publishers’ and journals’ open access and author self-archiving policies that I’m sure we’re all intimately familiar with. If we come up short we then check the journal/publisher’s website for a policy (if indeed there is a website). If we are still left wanting we’ll then go to the author and ask them to check the publishing contract. This is a very important step as it includes the author in the process and in so doing alerts them to the work required to make things open access. It also has an important educational function as it highlights the importance of retaining rights, including copyright, and the distinction between exclusive and non-exclusive licences for instance. We are also conscious of the close relationship many of our authors have with publishers, so we always try to ensure that we have the author’s prior consent before any permission requests are sent.
Figure 3 - Permissions spreadsheet
Once we have the go ahead to approach a publisher we record the action in a spreadsheet and assign it an ID (see figure 3). Then, when we receive a reply we can easily update the spreadsheet, take any actions on the Pure record (we use Pure as our Current Research Information System by the way!), and importantly we save the email in a folder and rename it according to the ID. We think it is important to track and document these requests in such a way as it creates a convenient audit trail, but it also gives us a way to assess the effectiveness of our process. You may also notice that we can report on the items types too, so for instance we know that 60% of our permission requests relate to outputs that are potentially in scope of the REF2021 open access policy.

The vast majority of responses come back in the form of emails, often but not always from editors of the journals themselves. As I said before these are filed away and retained as proof that permission has been attained. But, a question I posed at the end of my presentation was: does this actually protect our collection? It would seem common sense to suggest that items that are archived on the basis of an email are less protected than items that are archived in response to a signed letter. But is this actually the case? Might both forms of response be equally fallacious if in fact the issuer of the permission response is not vetted for authenticity (whatever that would mean). I don’t have an answer for this, so this is the point at which I ended my presentation and opened the debate to the floor.

My enduring impression from speaking to colleagues on the day was that each institution has a clear understanding of the level of risk they are willing to take, even if it is not enshrined in policy. Generally speaking my colleagues and I in the Open Access team at St Andrews tend to err on the side of caution and risk aversion, but from speaking to colleagues at other institutions my feeling is that we could perhaps afford to be less so. At any rate, the question of how we can protect these unique parts of our collections lingers on I’m afraid, and I suppose ultimately it is always going to be a balancing act between collection growth and collection sustainability.

Kyle Brady
Principal Library Assistant (Scholarly Communications)

3 August 2017

University of St Andrews pledges support for Knowledge Unlatched


The University of St Andrews has joined 50 other institutions in supporting Knowledge Unlatched for it's 2017 pledging period. Knowledge Unlatched is a novel crowd-funding initiative that aims to reduce the individual cost of academic books and journals. Each year institutions pledge money to 'unlatch' a collection of books and journals, and make them freely available with Creative Commons licences. This year's collection consists of 343 academic books, as well as 21 journals. The journals are a mixture of open access, subscription, and hybrid journals, and if a sufficient pledge is attained all will be published open access for three years starting in 2018. The journals are also from a variety of publishers: MDPI, De Gruyter, Sage, and Brill to name a few. You can find out a little more about Brill's contribution to KU in a recent blog post.

Details of the Knowleldge Unlatched 2017 Collection, can be found here: http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org/ku-select-2017/

26 July 2017

Repository marks 10000 milestone with 'rule-breaker'

We are delighted to announce the 10,000th item to appear in St Andrews Research Repository is a paper by Peter Moran, Mike Ritchie and Nathan Bailey from the School of Biology, Centre for Biological Diversity.




The University's repository aims to give to the widest possible access to the research output of our academic community, supporting our open access policy statement:
The value and utility of research outputs increases the more widely available they are to be read and used by others.

The shared effort described in our previous blog post has allowed us to increase visibility of research, and help researchers meet the open access requirements of funders. Authors deposit versions of their research publications into the University's research information system (Pure), to be made open access following any embargo periods in St Andrews Research Repository. Library staff support researchers by checking publisher policies, to make sure we don't breach any copyright rules. The Library also provides support for thesis deposit direct to the repository, as well as support services in other areas of digital research activity.

The support services leave our researchers free to concentrate on their research, and to explore fascinating topics such as the diversity of life. The authors of our 'milestone' StARR paper have provided the following layman's description of their work:

Rule-Breakers: When Females Bear the Costs of Inter-Species Mating 
Why is life on Earth so diverse, with many related but distinct species? Understanding how new species form and are maintained requires us to test why related groups of individuals evolve reproductive isolation: the inability to reproduce with each other. One of the most consistent patterns of reproductive isolation is known as Haldane’s rule. It was coined by the eccentric scientist J.B.S. Haldane in 1922 and predicts that in crosses between different species or populations, if either sex of offspring suffers sterility or mortality it will be the sex carrying different sex chromosomes. The rule’s pervasiveness indicates that sex chromosomes might play a key role in barriers to reproduction between species. However, most research on Haldane’s rule has been conducted in species with conventional sex determination systems, and exceptions to the rule have been largely understudied. We examined a remarkably rare exception to Haldane’s rule in two closely related Australian field crickets, Teleogryllus oceanicus and T. commodus. Contrary to the predictions of Haldane’s Rule, hybrid females were sterile in both cross directions, while hybrid males were relatively fertile. We thought sterility in hybrid females might be caused by incompatibility between X chromosomes from the two different species, but surprisingly, we found no evidence to support such a scenario. Instead our results suggested a more complicated genetic basis to hybrid female sterility. It may be that exceptions to this widespread rule may be more common in systems without dimorphic sex chromosomes, which argues for further study of animals with unusual mechanisms of sex determination.
The authors' accepted manuscript of "A rare exception to Haldane's rule: are X chromosomes key to hybrid incompatibilities?" published in the journal Heredity can be freely accessed from the repository at http://hdl.handle.net/10023/11234

Peter Moran in the field


The lead author completed his PhD in St Andrews, and his thesis is also available in the repository at http://hdl.handle.net/10023/10260

The university's Research Portal also provides links to Data underlying the paper and Projects that funded the work.

24 July 2017

Open Access publisher launches photography competition

The Open Access publisher BMC has launched a photography competition to find inspiring images that represent 'research in progress'. Researchers are invited to submit photographs that reflect innovation, curiosity and integrity in a range of categories.

If you have an unusual way to represent your research area, why not share your unique insight? Details of the competition are available from the BMC blog. Images will need to be made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence, to allow further sharing with proper attribution.


No automatic alt text available.
'Close-up', Jackie Proven, CC-BY