Briefing Papers Online

We have recently released 4 briefing papers about Open Access that are now available on our website and also here on our blog.

The briefing papers cover the following topics:

  • Open Access: In Support of Research
  • Open Access: Beyond the Numbers
  • Open Access: Embedding Repositories
  • “Gold” Open Access Publishing

If you are interested in receiving paper copies please do contact me.

EPSRC support for Open Data

EPSRC has implemented a policy framework from 1st May that directly speaks to the development of Open Data systems. The announcement highlights two principles:

” . . . firstly, that publicly funded research data should generally be made as widely and freely available as possible in a timely and responsible manner; and, secondly, that the research process should not be damaged by the inappropriate release of such data.”

There are seven key principles in all, which includes a phrase relating to impact:

“Sharing research data is an important contributor to the impact of publicly funded research . . . “

Organisations have as much a part to play as the individual researcher. The EPSRC expects that:

“Research organisations will ensure that appropriately structured metadata describing the research data they hold is published (normally within 12 months of the data being generated) and made freely accessible on the internet; in each case the metadata must be sufficient to allow others to understand what research data exists, why, when and how it was generated, and how to access it. . .  “

Other expectations address an organisation’s responsibilities for digital curation, security and resourcing.

This goes to support the development of the more general Open Scholarship agenda and is another reminder that Open Access is about far more than a digital free-to-use library of off-prints.  Will the other research councils follow suit?

Bill

Mendeley in WIRED

There is an interesting article on the innovative and rapidly growing Mendeley system in the latest (June 2011) issue of WIRED, which gives some background to the hopes and vision of the senior Mendeley team.

Principle investor Stefan Glaenzer: “We are aiming to make Mendeley the biggest knowledge database on the planet [. . . ] In 19 months we have collected over 67 million articles. It took Thomson Reuters 49 years to come up with 40 million.”

Victor Henning, cofounder and CEO, is noted as explaining that the productivity/collaborative component of Mendeley will be monetised, the unique data aggregation will be monetised, Mendeley will be turned into a content distribution platform and targeted advertising will be introduced for Mendeley’s users.

They seem to have established the user base to support this: a claimed 800,000 users uploading seven million research articles (presumably full-text in comparison with the quoted 67 million articles, presumably of bibliographic details).

What is less clear is what monetization routes may be built, or indeed recognised, for the producers and copyright holders of the content which to be distributed, or whether the service itself is repayment enough for the value-added exploitation. Previously, academic authors, and by extension their employing institutions and the funders of their research, have been content to allow commercial exploitation of research articles by publishers. This realisation has helped to bolster arguments for open access, so will future commercial exploitation systems find it as easy to be accepted?

One of the key issues of course, is that traditional publishers have sought to exclusively exploit the material – the basis of subscription-model journals – while Mendeley and others are only using what has been given to them on a freely-reusable basis. This means that they are free to re-use it as they will, make money or not – and if anyone else comes up with a compelling service, then they can get hold of the information too and good luck to them.

Interestingly, as we know from the traditional model, once research dissemination habits have been formed, they tend to become embedded and resistant to change. In this situation, the first to establish a widely used and valued system built on top of freely reusable articles might establish a firm position. Might this happen with Mendeley? Could it be that Mendeley has been in the right place at the right time – as well as giving a service that academics truly value – to become a future dominant underpinning service for research dissemination and re-use?

Bill

Gold mining


Gold pan saloon

I’ve just had a look (be it brief) at the recent report “Heading for the open road: Costs and benefits of transitions in scholarly communications“, commissioned by the Research Information Network (RIN), JISC, Research Libraries UK (RLUK), the Publishing Research Consortium (PRC) and the Wellcome Trust, with contributions from many other (including publishers).

Although I was very much looking forward to this report, I was a bit disappointed that “Gold” ended up being the model that came out on top. I haven’t read the full report, so I can’t actually attempt to poke holes in the analysis, and I will have to take a look at the numbers they present in more detail when I have time. I was a bit concerned about comments that were made about not undermining the publication system – isn’t this to some extent part of the whole point of open access? I thought we were unhappy with the current publication system? Maybe not?

It is fantastic that OA is gaining momentum, and publishers are realising the role they can play (and money they can make), but following the “gold” route will likely leave the scholarly communication system in the hands of for-profit publishers. Isn’t that why the system is currebtly not working for us, and libraries are struggling to pay the bills? Do we really want publishers to have all the power?

I still would like to see some additional modelling on possible outcomes, say :

  • If some percentage (20%, 50%?) of libraries cancelled all subscriptions next week – what  would happen to publishers, how would they change?
  • If 50% of article were put into repositories next week – how would the scholarly communication system change?
  • What would collapse of the system actually mean?

Perhaps these ideas (and the modelling) are unrealistic, but it would at least be interesting to actually model some potential outcomes. I am fairly confident we would find a way to continue distributing and sharing research outputs, even if publishers disappeared (and I am sure they wouldn’t, they would just have to figure out a new business model).

Image credit: Close to Spectacular

RCS reports now online

One of the things we do in the RCS project is to write regular reports on issues in research comunication – largely about open access, but including thoughts on other developments like social networking/bibliographhic management websites. These reports are now available on our website – just press the “reports” button above.

There are three reports – and we have also produced two-page (and glossier) discussion papers that are summaries of the main points of each.

The first summary report talks about “the power of open access” to free and potentially transform scholarly communication.

The second is about open access and institutional benefit.

The third looks at ways in which open access can add value to scholarly communication.

The fourth is about some of the issues raised by sharing research on social networking sites.

Please read, comment and use the material as you wish.

Innovation Takeaway – Lessons from the Information Environment

On Thursday of last week I was at the JISC Information Environment 2009-11 Programme Meeting at Conference Aston in Birmingham. Links to relevant resources for the day can be found here with extensive notes from the day (I think mostly written by Andy McGregor) here.

A review of the programme in the form of a list of questions was also created: “27 questions the work of the IE programme can answer.”

It was an interesting day filled with review of some of the INF11 projects, but it also included a few more general talks about things within this area of work. Interesting bits from my perspective:

David Millard’s talk on Managing Learning Resources was quite interesting – He spoke of managing teaching and learning resources, and I of course I couldn’t help but draw parallels with publication repositories. He described how at Southampton they looked to YouTube and Flickr for inspiration, and tried to see the learning resources repository more as hosting than archiving. This tactic (should) lead to greater use – though I don’t remember him reporting on actual usage statistics. I do think part of the reason take-up of institutional publication repositories has been so low is that academics do not see them as adding a lot of value – if they want to they keep a copy of their work they do – and publishing already provides them with an outlet to share. So how can we make depositing in a repository useful on an everyday level?  I do think many repositories that have had success have the ability to populate individual’s institutional homepages – something many academics may find useful. Integration with other systems within the institution also seems to support use. Still there is more that can be done in this area – we need to think from the academic’s perspective as opposed to the repository’s or the library’s.

Joss Winn started off an interesting session on “Benefiting from Local Innovation”. His notes are on his blog here. They give an idea of some of the cool things they are doing at Lincoln. I think most of us that attended the session were wishing we had a similar group working at our instution.

I also attended a session on “Benefiting from Open” which had four speakers covering Open Data, Open Education Resources, Open Access and Open Source. Key things that came up in discussion included the need for embedding within institutions, licensing, and the need for cultural change before this “openness” is widely adopted.

Do take a look at the notes and the JISC INF11 webpage if you are interested in learning more about this programme – and what the future could potentially hold for it.

Words from the UK Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG)

Members of the UK Open Access Implementation Group (see the member list here) respond to the following questions:

  • How is Open Access important to the UK economy and society?
  • Why is Open Access important to your organisation?
  • What is the risk if Open Access doesn’t happen in the way you want?
  • What do you hope the Open Access Implementation Group will achieve?

Take a look at these – all between 1 and 3 mins each – worth watching.

 

 

 

Call for retention of authors’ rights

The high-ranking JISC Open Access Implementation Group has released a strongly worded statement in support of authors’ retention of publishing rights.

This seems to relate to recent moves by some publishers to try to limit institutional archiving of materials by asking for separate agreements to be reached between the publisher and individual institutions.

Elsevier, in particular, has begun to try to restrict its previously permissive policy allowing authors to archive their own final versions, by saying that if an institution has a systematic deposit mandate for its staff, that authors should no longer be allowed to archive their work. See the 1,800 words of their policy guidance which they expect authors  to understand and comply with.

This is being done on the basis that Elsevier will still allow authors to archive their work if it is done on a voluntary basis: but if there is a mandate, they will seek to prohibit it.  So authors can if they want to:  but not if they are told to!

Such efforts seem to try to amend policies that have been put in place by funders or institutions “upstream” of the author’s final production of an article for publication and make adherence to these policies a matter of post-hoc negotiation.

In the case of Elsevier, the publisher seems to be seeking to make independent agreements with individual institutions, rather than more open collective agreements: a point raised in the OAIG statement.  Rumours of negotiations with individual institutions so far seem to suggest that Elsevier is seeking to track usage of authors’ articles from institutional repositories and asking institutions, as a condition of allowing archiving, to give them reports of detailed monitoring and use of institutions’ own institutional systems.

Will institutions agree to third-party monitoring of their own internal systems, if that is really what is truly being requested? It will be interesting to see what finally results from any negotiations if any are actually concluded.  The OAIG statement calls for institutions:

” . . . not to enter into one-to-one negotiations with publishers on self-archiving rights for their staff, and instead to rely on publicly declared rights as shown on the Sherpa-RoMEO website.”

Bill

 

Links between open data

In another move towards more open exploration of university data, Southampton University have recently released a site which allows experiment and mashup with some of their administrative data.  This follows Tim Berners-Lee’s ideas on Linked Data and presents RDF structured data. There is an interesting piece from The Register IT-blog on the initiative which links the approach to work with the Ordnance Survey.

This takes its place in a range of current experiments and acts as one pole of an approach using structured data. The other pole is exemplified by the previously reported competition to use the heterogeneous collection of information available through Mendeley. The tension between usage of large sets of information with basic (if any) metadata and far smaller restricted sets with structure that allows wider experiment exists as a basic question in information management. The debate will doubtless continue.

Bill

Industrial taskforce urges opening access

A major report by the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) is urging universities to open access to their knowledge and intellectual property to support and boost UK manufacuring capacity.

The reports assesses the UK’s current position in manufacturing – Britain is still the sixth largest manufacturer in the world by output, with manufacturing contributing £131 billion to GDP (13.5%), 75% of business research and development (R&D), 50% of UK exports and ten percent of total employment.

Given the conventional wisdom that the eighties finished off UK manufacturing, this is cheering to read.  However, the UK currently only ranks 17th in competitativeness and is forecast to slide.  The report identifies greater access to innovative IP and cutting edge research as essential to halt this decline.

From their release:  Simon Bradley, vice-president of EADS, said to gain greater access to universities’ knowledge, ideas and creativity was vital for manufacturing: “Our Taskforce has found that the simple act of universities opening their vast knowledge banks and providing free access to their intellectual property would have the single biggest impact on accelerating the capability and growth of smart manufacturing in the country.”

This is where open access to articles and data cuts into the “real world” and benefits can be seen outside the research community.

Some sceptical publishers continue to argue against Green OA and for locking down copyright on the grounds of (unproven) economic impacts on their business. Open Access journals, while developing, are still far from the norm: “hybrid” journals continue to charge high fees on top of their continuing subscription costs. The response from much of the publishing world has been to see open access as an additional profit line, or as something to allow by exception, rather than a recognition of a different and new way of working and of OA as playing a part in a far larger working environment.

This report highlights that there is an economic world outside the publishing industry too, and one which is crying out for the benefits of OA.

Given the potential for open access to research to benefit this wider economic picture, as well as collaborative developments between research institutes and industry,  restrictive arguments become increasingly untenable. If funders want OA, researchers want OA, institutions want OA and industry wants OA, why are some publisher’s contracts still stopping this from happening?

Bill

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.