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Showing posts from 2019

Happy World Oceans Day 2019!

Saturday the 8th of June is World Oceans Day. With the health of the world's oceans in sharper focus than ever this year, WOD2019 looks to be the biggest yet, with hundreds of events happening in every corner of the world. The WOD website lists over 100 events in the UK alone, including beach cleaning, fund-raising events, and in Dundee they created a 'human wave' consisting of 'blue' people to show support for creating ocean sanctuaries - sections of protected oceans.

The University of St Andrews has long maintained a strong commitment to Marine Science, building the Gatty laboratory in 1896 - you can read more about the history of the lab here - The University has also invested over £16m in a new Scottish Oceans Institute Gatty laboratory, due to be completed this year.

To mark the day we have looked through the extensive St Andrews Research Repository, and have picked out a paper that highlight…

Plan S revised guidelines released

Following an extensive consultation exercise, the group of funders known as cOAlition S has released revised implementation guidelines for Plan S. Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was unveiled in September 2018, and is committed to "making full and immediate Open Access a reality". The revised Plan S guidelines retain the fundamental principles as originally announced, but in order to provide more time for researchers and publishers to adapt to the changes under Plan S, the timeline has been extended by one year to 2021.

We fully support the aims of Plan S, and welcome the new guidelines which have taken around 600 responses into account. A full account of the rationale behind the changes can be found at:

Plan S will still require all scholarly articles that result from research funded by members of cOAlition S to be made openly available upon publication, with three possible routes:

St Andrews 7th in the world for Open Access

For the first time this year the CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019, which offers insights into scientific performance of nearly 1000 major universities worldwide, has included open access indicators. St Andrews achieved 81.6% open access for the set of publications measured in 2014-2017, which ranks us 7th in the world, top in Scotland and 4th in the UK for the proportion of publications that are open access (OA). We are delighted to see the volume of work (an astonising 4518 publications!) now available to a wide audience, including readers beyond those academics who would have subscription access.

The OA status is determined by a service called Unpaywall, and distonguises betweene three types of OA, primarily Gold (in fully OA journals), Hybrid (OA article in a subscription journal), and Green (author version in a repository). 79% of St Andrews OA publications are Green OA, which reflects our strong institutional commitment to make our research available to everyone by depositing all articl…

A Scottish Open Access Press - Survey

More than ever before academics are expected to publish their research results Open Access. The UK funding councils under the UKRI umbrella have had an open access policy since 2013 (see related blog post for the latest update on this). The 4 national UK funding bodies too have advocated for greater open access, most notably in the requirements for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF2021). Other funders, such as Wellcome Trust, the COAF charity funders, as well as the European Research Council and other international funders, all require researchers to publish open access. Many universities too have established open access policies of their own, including the University of St Andrews.

Given this environment SCURL (Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries) are scoping the possibility for a shared Scottish Open Access Press, to assist Scottish researchers in meeting these open access requirements.

SCURL have prepared a short survey, to help establish the viab…

The Great Science Publishing Scandal

For centuries academic journals have been the custodians of scientific knowledge. But in the past few decades this has become increasingly contentious, as publishers continue to boast high profit margins, and their customers, largely academic libraries, continue to face squeezed budgets. Some libraries have cancelled subscriptions, some countries have been in deadlocked negotiations with publishers for months and even years, and many researchers have resorted to illegal means to access research.

But how did it get this way? And is there anything that can be done? In the BBC Radio 4 programme 'The Great Science Publishing Scandal' Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, discusses the history leading up to the current crisis, and looks at the ways in which academia can change to redress the balance of power in academic publishing. One such change advocated by professor Cobb is to break the link between prestige journals and academic promotion, and an…

UKRI Open Access Review

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) recently released a statement giving more details about the upcoming Open Access review. UKRI encompasses the 7 research funding councils formerly under the RCUK umbrella, as well as Research England and Innovate UK. The statement confirmed that UKRI will retain it's commitment for open access going forward, stating that:

"sharing new knowledge has benefits for researchers, the wider higher education sector, businesses and others." (UKRI,

The update also confirms that the new open access policy will align policies across the various funding councils, as currently Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have different terms. The new policy will also provide the opportunity to align more closely with the next Research Excellence Framework after 2021. But they go on to clarify that the next REF policy will have it's ow…

Charlie Chaplin and Pixar's WALL-E

It’s Charlie Chaplin’s birthday! So we are highlighting an article in our institutional repository that focuses on the slapstick comedy tradition of the silent era and specifically how the themes of Fordism and industrialisation are also reflected in the 2008 Pixar film WALL-E.

In the article Paul Flaig discusses how Chaplin, Keaton, Floyd and other comics at the time used slapstick comedy to satirise Fordist manufacturing – division of labour, assembly lines, use of industrial machinery. The 1936 classic Modern Times is a prime example of this -

"[S]lapstick comedy was tied to the rise of modern labor in terms of both Taylorist theory and Fordist practice. Comic heroes ranging from live action comedians Chaplin or Keaton to animated animals Felix or Mickey worked against work through the playful excesses of their obediences and transgressions within an increasingly rationalized, industrial world. The digital a…

Europe PMC Plus is getting an upgrade

In a recent blog post Europe PMC announced that their Europe PMC Plus system will soon be getting an upgrade.

PMC Plus is the interface used by Principal Investigators to upload manuscripts to the Europe PMC repository. After the upgrade the system promises to be much simpler, with just three things needed to complete a submission - citation details, submission files, and funding information.

"The new submission system offers an updated design, clearer workflows, and new features, including an improved preview of submitted files, the ability to view submitted files and processed web versions side by side, and improved communication tools, which simplify creating and reviewing manuscript submissions." (Europe PMC blog -
The new system will be released on 01/05/2019.

To find out more, and to see previews of the new interface, read the full announcement below which is also hosted on Figshare.

Screening of Paywall - the business of scholarship

We are planning a screening of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, on April 25th 2019 in the Byre Theatre, followed by a panel session chaired by Katie Stevenson.
The movie is a documentary which focuses on the need for open access to research and science, and questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, a substantial proportion of this from public funding (tax payers). It examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with large academic publishers, such as Elsevier; a profit margin often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies e.g. Apple, Facebook and Google. 

This will be an excellent opportunity for everyone to hear about and debate these issues and what steps we can take as individuals, an organisation and a sector, in response. The panel will also consider developments since the Paywall documentary was made, including Plan S, an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018.

World Poetry Day: Marion Angus (1865-1946)

To mark World Poetry Day we're highlighting a PhD thesis in the University's Research Repository.   The thesis, by Aimée Y Chalmers, delves into the life and works of the Scottish novelist and poet Marion Angus (1865-1946).

Aimée introduces the first part of the thesis as a "fuller biographical account of the life of Marion Angus than is available elsewhere. In addition, in ‘The Work of Marion Angus’, I anthologise examples of her prose and poetry, and gather together a range of contemporary opinions. My research in this regard resulted in the tracing, for the first time, how her use of the Scots language developed, and how her attitude to it changed over time." Aimée Y Chalmers. CCBY.

Aimée further remarks that:
“[t]here is something ephemeral about her poetry. A passionate lover of nature, she paints strong images of natural phenomena: hills, tumbling burns, twisted trees, flowers.
Yet these images fade quickly, leaving only a…

16,000 items now in St Andrews Research Repository

Today the St Andrews Research Repository reached another Milestone - 16,000 items!

The 16,000th item was: 'Of decolonial imaginings in Black Panther', by Muneerah Razak.

'Of decolonial imaginings in Black Panther' was recently published in the student led journal The St Andrews Africa Summit Review (Otherwise called The SAASUM Review), which is published on the Library's Open Journals System platform. The journal publishes all articles with a CC BY Licence so all content is free to read, download, and share, so long as the author is given proper attribution. The Library also agrees to archive the journal in the Institutional Repository as a backup service, but also to further promote the journal via aggregators such as the CORE database and other indexing services.

The SAASUM Review began publishing on OJS in 2017 as an extension to the annual St Andrews Africa Summit, which had it's inaugural meeting in 2013. Since 2017 the journal has published 5 volumes, wit…

Fed up with publisher paywalls? Here are some tools that can help!

Publisher paywalls are an enduring phenomenon in scholarly publishing, and one that frustrates the research of the those without subscriptions and who cannot afford to pay the often unpalatable fees for access.

Luckily there are tools out there that can help. Rather than actually bypassing the paywall, the below services offer users an alternative product, often an earlier version held in a repository (like our own). These earlier versions are usually author accepted manuscripts that are near identical in their academic content to the final published version, but just lack branding, formatting, and final pagination.
The OA Button (available for most browsers) The Button's current incarnation allows users to find alternative open access versions at the touch of a button, and if there are no alternative versions available the Button will contact the author and request that they deposit the article in a repository. There are extensions for all the main Web browsers, and the Button is …

Library satisfaction survey - have your say

The University Library is currently running a survey to find our what you think about our services.

The survey should only take around 5 minutes to complete, and you could win a £200 Amazon gift card.

Questions are grouped under: enquiries, support and outreach; access to resources; spaces, and if you are a research postgraduate or academic staff you will get additional questions about research support.

Researchers - please tell us how satisfied you are with:
The support provided to help you achieve Open Access and comply with funders' policies for publicationsThe advice and guidance offered on copyright and licensing in relation to your publicationsThe support provided to help you manage your research dataThe support provided to develop research software and/or websites for research projectsThe support offered to help you create and edit your profile in PureThe training courses provided through CAPOD (Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development) on any of the…

Tickell still positive but admits much remains to be done

We previously posted in March 2016 about Adam Tickell's advice to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills on Open Access to research (OA).  Following the end of the UK Research and Innovation 5-year transition period Professor Tickell, Independent Chair of the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group, has now reported again to the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy with a refreshed evidence base .

Completed in  June 2018 but not released until February this year in many ways the report anticipates yet is superseded by the international effort of cOAlition S -  the Plan S initiative launched September 2018. UKRI is a leading member of the cOAlition S group of research funders.
Key finding Following the 5-year transition period that ended in April 2018 the hoped-for transformation of the scholarly publications landscape from reader pays to author pays hasn't happened.

Funding available for fully Open Access publishing

As we approach Semester 2 we thought it would be a good opportunity to remind St Andrews authors who choose fully Open Access (OA) journals of funds available to support their publishing.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) block grant If you're funded in whole or in part by any of the 7 UK Research Councils and your chosen journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals ( you can access the block grant to pay the article processing charge (APC).

Wellcome Trust and the Charities Open Access Fund (COAF) COAF funds fully OA publication and, until January 2020, continues to support OA in subscription journals (hybrid publication).
COAF will only pay for Open Access and won't pay other publication charges.

Library Open Access Fund Since 2013 this fund has been made available to St Andrews authors who don't have any other source of funds and who choose fully OA journals. 

Provided the submitting or corresponding author is a member of staff, the journ…

14th Berlin Open Access Conference

Last month the 14th Berlin Open Access Conference was held, with the title ‘Aligning strategies to enable Open Access’. Over 170 participants from 37 countries and 5 continents attended the event, and delegates came from a range of organisations including universities, libraries, research funders, and government agencies. This diverse spectrum and the resulting consensus on the conference outcomes clearly shows the strength of the current drive for Open Access. The international appeal of the event is a clear sign too that the concerns around subscription pricing and the slow progress to open access are global and international.

“As it became clear from statements made by representatives from Japan, the United States, South Africa and others, that readiness to adopt this approach is now extending beyond Europe, where it originated, and is currently being adopted in several countries; in particular, this was emphasized in a bold statement from China, the nation with the largest share o…