23 July 2015

St Andrews University joins Open Library of the Humanities

Last month the University of St Andrews joined the Open Library of the Humanities - an open access mega-journal and book publisher (see previous post on OLH here). Dr. Martin Paul Eve, a founder and director of OLH, welcomed St Andrews:
“It is wonderful that the University of St Andrews has joined the OLH LPS [Library Partnership Subsidy] programme. With the help of institutions like St Andrews, we can build a way for OA to work in the humanities that is sensitive to the different environment within which these fields operate.” 
John MacColl, University Librarian and Director of Library Services, added:
“St Andrews has a track record of supporting innovative Open Access platforms such as Peer J, Open Book Publishers and Knowledge Unlatched. This latest membership offers many opportunities for humanities researchers in St Andrews and beyond to make their work Open Access free of charge”
The University of St Andrews is now part of an international consortium of over 80 other institutions that financially supports OLH through membership fees. These fees cover the cost of publication and ensure that there are no author facing charges (APCs). The reason for this type of publishing system is that many researchers feel that the regular “gold” open access system, where authors have to pay APCs, is geared more towards researchers in STEM disciplines, where there is often more money available to cover such charges. For many in humanities disciplines, these charges can present a barrier to open access publication. OLH is seeking to redress this imbalance by offering an alternative publishing system that is tailored specifically to the academic landscape of the humanities.

OLH is directed by Dr Martin Paul Eve and Dr Caroline Edwards of Birkbeck, University of London. Initially, the platform was given start-up support by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Last month Birkbeck awarded OLH a further three-year grant of $741,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Dr Eve had this to say:
“The successful conclusion of our previous planning grant, awarded by the Foundation in 2014, has shown us that there is substantial appetite among libraries, journals and authors for a new model to achieve open access.
“By lowering costs for the international library community, while maintaining peer-review standards and professional publishing practices (such as digital preservation), the OLH offers a new and viable route to open, online publication in the humanities.” Birkbeck, University of London.

Open Library of the Humanities is set to launch in September 2015, with an initial 7 journals.

10 July 2015

Open Data: Wiley to partner with Figshare

In recent years it has become increasingly important for researchers to publish the data underlying research. A search of Sherpa/Juliet (a search engine that compiles funder mandates and policies relating to open access) confirms this, revealing that there are 41 funders that require open access to research data, with a further 18 that encourage it.



The academic publisher Wiley has decided to take a proactive step to help authors meet the data requirements of their funders. Wiley is looking to support authors by integrating data sharing into the existing publication workflow. They are doing this by partnering with Figshare; a cloud based repository for academic research outputs, including data.

The new service offered by Wiley is currently being piloted by a number of journals and will be rolled out over the coming months. Wiley are also expected to release data citation and sharing policies during this time.

26 June 2015

LIBER 2015 paper wins award

The emerging role of institutional CRIS in facilitating Open Scholarship, was recognised by the LIBER Conference Programme Committee with the Innovation Award given to the 3 most innovative and relevant papers submitted to the conference.

St Andrews, together with Aberdeen, was the first UK University to introduce a CRIS (Current Research Information Information System) and, along with other UK HEIs is active in the use of the CRIS to facilitate Open Access and Research Data Management to meet the demands of funder compliance, promote Open Scholarship as a desirable and viable option to researchers and to benefit the wider research community.
The University Library recently appointed Anna Clements Assistant Director to head up the new Digital Research Division, bringing together Open Access, Research Data Management, Digital Humanities and Research Computing, reflecting its importance to the Library and the University.

Anna, who co-authored the paper with Jackie Proven, said "This award recognises the hard work at St Andrews as a champion for the use of innovative systems to support many areas of research information management, including Open Access and Research Data Management. The CRIS has demonstrated how it can respond to the changing policy landscape and benefit researchers and management alike by reducing the burden of data collection and processes for compliance, but the much more exciting part is that it is now beginning to facilitate Open Scholarship itself."


12 June 2015

New open access data repository for autism research

Stanford University has announced a new and ambitious project to establish the world’s largest collaborative open access repository for data on autism. The project is called The Hartwell Research Technology Initiative, or iHART for short. The project goal is to provide the research community with a centralised repository for biomedical data on autism. It is hoped that the increased access to data will enable greater collaboration across research centres and institutions, and will lead to new techniques for intervention and detection.

The iHART project is funded by a $9 million grant from the Hartwell Foundation - a charitable organisation that grants awards for biomedical research to help children. iHART will be led by Dennis Wall, a specialist in autism spectrum disorder and Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The repository will have an integrated portal that will enable researchers to draw on a variety of data types, ‘including phenotypes, proteomics, metabolomics, genomics, measurements and imaging of brain activity, information on the gut microbiome, blood-based biomarkers, physician narratives, diagnostic test results and treatment protocols.’ (Stanford Medicine news centre). Through the portal users will also be able to integrate their own data.

See the press release here: http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2015/06/9-million-grant-to-establish-open-access-autism-database.html

5 June 2015

Open Access in Estonia: the Information Society

Estonia is very advanced in e-government infrastructure compared to the UK. You can't fail to be impressed by its e-Resident initiative.  In 2007 it introduced a Mobile-ID for mobile phones that permits secure authentication and digital signatures. With a population of only about 1.5M the effects of government initiatives are seen quickly and data privacy is legally protected, including access to medical records which are owned by patients. It's fair to say that in this context Open Access and Open Data could be seen as a natural progression. The University of Tartu is leading in open scholarship - sixty-percent of Estonia's successfully defended doctoral theses are generated at Tartu annually. It also has six Centres of Research Excellence of which two are European Commission Centres of Excellence.

"In Estonia, anyone can go to a state forest and extract birch sap from a birch tree. "
Slide 12 from Estonian ICT Demo Center (2014) Estonian information society presentation slideshow
In 2012 it began participating in an 8-month project under the auspices of the EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) Open Access and Open Data in Estonia Project. The project lead was the University of Tartu Library (UTL).  Its main outcomes were:

  • Introducing policy change to the Estonian Research Council and the possibility of a national Open Access policy.
  • Minting digital object identifers (DOs). UTL has joined DataCite and is now minting its own digital object identifiers (DOIs) for research data sets.  St Andrews has been able to do this since April this year.
  • Training researchers in self-archiving resulting in a significant increase in deposit of accepted manuscripts into UTL's repository.
  • Publishing journals Open Access using the open journal system (OJS) platform.
  • Publishing monographs Open Access.  Tartu currently has 17 Open Access monographs on OAPEN.
  • A network of credible champions has been established to advocate Open Access among their peers.
These outcomes broadly reflect institutional experience in the UK although the UK seems much more advanced in metadata and standards.

Unlike the UK, there is no downward pressure from government on Open Access. Instead, UTL engaged with the Estonian Research Council to introduce its Open Access requirement for publicly-funded research.  However, there is no national Open Access mandate at this stage. Gold route publication is preferred. Deposit into institutional repositories is a precondition of research evaluation which is similar to Hefce's Open Access requirement commencing 1 April 2016. Researchers are permitted to use their research grants to pay publication costs which mirrors the position in Canada, China and the USA. But there are no supporting central funds such as the Research Councils UK block grant.

The Estonian government is committed to supporting the infrastructure of a modern information society. It will be interesting to see how it meets the socio-technical challenges imposed by copyright and publisher policies to give its citizens free access to its publicly-funded research - not just having the internet but seeing the content.

29 May 2015

Collabra is now open for submissions

Copyright Collabra 2015
The open access journal Collabra is now open for submissions. Collabra is a fully open access mega-journal covering three main fields of study: Ecology & Environmental Sciences, Life and Biomedical Sciences, and Social and Behavioural Sciences. We have blogged about Collabra previously, so if you are interested in finding out more check out our previous post here.

Here's a quick summary of Collabra:
  • It has a relatively low APC (Article Processing Charge) of $875 USD
  • Collabra gives reviewers the option of receiving payment for their reviews
  • Collabra can waive the APC charge for those unable to pay
  • It offers optional open peer-review
  • Use of article-level metrics to track downloads, pageviews, and social-media sharing
  • Post-publication commenting on articles. 
Collabra has partnered with the platform provider Ubiquity Press - an open access publisher who provide a variety of journal hosting services (as well as book publishing). By entering into such a partnership, journals can share infrastructure which can enable greater efficiency and sustainability.

We are also delighted to report that University of St Andrews academic Akira O'Connor from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience has joined the Social and Behavioural Sciences editorial team at Collabra.

To submit an article to Collabra or to find out more visit the website.

22 May 2015

Open Access in the Netherlands: Solid citizens

Despite its small size the Netherlands is punching above its weight in Open Access practice and advocacy, driven by a strong sense of social justice.  As early as 2009 The National Library of the Netherlands was involved with the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) in a pilot project looking at long-term preservation of electronic journal collections.  The Hague is home to the Ligue des BibliothĂ©ques EuropĂ©ennes de Recherche (LIBER- Association of European Research Libraries). LIBER is currently coordinating the development of the EC FP7 Gold Open Access Pilot to pay article processing charges (APCs) for research papers up to 2 years beyond the life of the grant.  In April work translating the SHERPA/RoMEO interface into Dutch was completed and released while the translation of the publisher policies continues.  There is a national website for Open Access supported by Utrecht University Library.  Sander Dekker (pictured), the Dutch State Secretary Department of Education, Culture and Science is an enthusiastic supporter who favours international cooperation. Amsterdam is hosting the 7th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing.

Credit: Image from Saskia Franken, Towards Open Access in the Netherlands, Oslo, April 21 2015

Amsterdam is also the headquarters of the publishing behemoth Elsevier that dominates the medical and scientific publishing market. Elsevier recently caused controversy by unexpectedly changing its sharing and hosting policy, and is able to use its considerable resources as a major Dutch taxpayer to lobby for industry interests. Particularly controversial was its decision to reinstate embargoes for voluntary deposit of accepted manuscripts into institutional repositories like Research@StAndrews:FullText. It also introduced a policy to apply the most restrictive Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC-ND) to accepted manuscripts against the spirit of many funder mandates and sitting uncomfortably alongside an embargo period. A statement has already been signed by many international organizations against the policy.

It's therefore not surprising that the Dutch have been most active negotiating with publishers on immediate Gold Open Access.  This aligns with the UK Research Councils' preference for Gold, but the Dutch have not been so quick to flash their credit cards.  They've done a lot of work on progressive publication offsetting models. This approach has helped institutions negotiate reduced APCs, subscriptions and institutional costs and introduce a more streamlined publishing experience for authors with less bureaucracy. The Springer Agreement concluded in December last year is a good example that was subsequently taken forward by the Jisc/Springer  model in the UK in March.

The Association of universities in the Netherlands (VNSU) and the Dutch Government are leading a heroic stand-off with Elsevier on Open Access and subscription fees.  Elsevier agreed to automatically extend institutions' access to its bundle of 2,200 journals when talks reached an impasse last year.  It remains to be seen how and whether the balance of researcher v. Elsevier interests can be resolved in the Netherlands and beyond.