Project Close and Wrap-up

The JISC funded Research Communications Strategy (RCS) project has now come to a close and we are wrapping up. The final outputs of the project are available here.

These outputs include consultancy reports on the following topics:
• Chemists and Economists knowledge, beliefs and behaviours surrounding OA (Data Analysis of survey results)
• Further Exploration of the Views of Chemists and Economists
• Social Networking Sites and their role in Scholarly Communication
• Open Science (including filmed interview clips with advocates and practitioners available on our YouTube Channel)

Watch our video below to hear a few word from us on the project.





Please feel free to use the resources we have created to your benefit.
We would also appreciate any feedback you would be willing to provide.

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Author Attitudes, Beliefs, Behaviours

I recently looked over another paper on author attitudes towards Open Access. This was InTech’s which was published last month, and is available here. From this report, the work we have done through the RCS project, discussions I have had, and other papers I have read, there are two things that have now become clear to me (perhaps I am a little late coming to these conclusions, but I haven’t been working in this area as long as many others have).

  1. Impact Factor and its influence is not something we can ignore – for many academics the most important thing is the journal name and the impact that is associated with it. This is currently a major barrier to 1) getting academics to publish in new journals (i.e. OA journals), and 2) getting the publishing system to change (high impact journals have no need to change their business model as publishing in them is highly desired).
    • The argument to this is of course self-archiving and repositories – but we have to be aware that many high impact journals do not allow immediate self-archiving. I did a quick analysis using the top ten journals with the highest impact factor (ISI Impact factor – from Wikipedia) and only 3/10 allowed post-print archiving (according to RoMEO). If you use the top ten journals with the highest combined impact factor (ISI impact factor and PageRank – from Wikipedia) it is a bit better with 5/10 allowing post-print archiving. And is you use ScienceWatch’s top ten most-cited journals, 7/10 allow post-print archiving, which is actually pretty good.
    • My point is, this issue unfortunatley is not instantly solved by self-archiving. Instead we may need to change how academics are evaluated, tenured, promoted, etc. My feeling is that this system is not changing anytime soon…what would it change to?
  2.  Academics don’t really have a clue about what Open Access really is. I have posted on this topic before here. They don’t know that there are multiple ways to make their work OA, and that OA can actually benefit them. They are also mostly unaware of funder and institutional mandates, and they often have no clue that repositories even exist at their institution, for their use.
    • How can we expect academics to make their work OA if they don’t even know what it is?
    • So, what is to be done about this? Who should be responsible for advocating and informing academics? Should this occur at the institutional level, national level, or worldwide?

For more on author attitude, beliefs, behaviours see the following (I have not read all of these – but they are all sitting in a stack on my desk :))

Morris, Sally &  Thorn, Sue. (2009). Learned society members and open access. Learned Publishing 22 (3) p. 221-39 http://uksg.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,14,21;journal,8,71;linkingpublicationresults,1:107730,1

Kim, Jihyun. (2010). Faculty Self-Archiving: Motivations and Barriers. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 61(9), 1909-1922. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asi.21336/abstract

Stone, Graham. (2010). Report on the University Repository Survey, October-November 2010. Research report http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/9257/

Park, Ji-Hong & Qin, Jian (2007). Exploring the Willingness of Scholars to Accept Open Access: A grounded Theory Approach. Journal of Scholarly Publishing. http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/c97213218720314m/

 Theodorou, Roxana. (201). OA Repositories: the Researchers’ Point of View. Journal of Electronic Publishing, 13(3).http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0013.304

Allen, James. (2005). Interdisciplinary differences in attitudes towards deposit in institutional repositories http://en.scientificcommons.org/2075479

Moore, Gale. (2011). Survey of University of Toronto Faculty Awareness, Attitudes and practices regarding Scholarly Communication: A Preliminary Report. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/26446/3/Preliminary_Report.pdf

Image credit: Steve Rhodes

JISC Collections event – hybrid pricing

Last week (25th May 2011),  JISC Collections held an interesting workshop in London for various stakeholders in the area of Hybrid OA journals – publishers, funders, librarians – which looked at some of the issues in their pricing, sustainability and growth.

One of the observations from publishers was that there is now a general acceptance in the publishing community that Open Access was here to stay and that, as publishers, they had to accommodate OA approaches within their business models. This is now being more widely reflected and does represent a change over the last few years and is a positive move.

One major question was whether Hybrid OA journals – subscription journals that charge additional fees for OA articles – were a transition model or an option which would remain as a part of a future publishing landscape and used against a larger subscription base.

Discussion touched on, but did not explore, the idea of what transition actually means. Transition to what? One view, perhaps the most common in the community, is that hybrid journals are a transition between Journal X being subscription-only, moving to funding from a mix of OA fees and subscriptions, before emerging as a completely OA journal. This was the model that was discussed when hybrid publication was first mooted and introduced.

Since then, developments in other models of research communication have introduced another transition possibility. This second and more radical view is that these could be transition models in allowing Journal X to remain operational as a half-way house in the medium term – but that the future state might be an OA future without Journal X at all. Models such at PLoS One and Scientific Reports, both discussed, might show the way towards a different style of dissemination.

Another significant discussion area was pricing. Some publishers at the event made a case as to why a ten percent rise in OA articles and fees would not mean a ten percent reduction in subscription costs for a hybrid journal. This lack of transparent linkage between rise in additional OA fees and reduction in subscription costs has led to suspicions of “double-dipping“. Although one publisher was of the opinion that the idea of “double-dipping” was promoted by and limited to librarians, experience at the CRC shows this is a fairly common unprompted reaction from academic authors to the idea of hybrid publication. This remains as a credibility issue for publishers that they realise that they have to address, probably by some form of transparent linkage between pre-payment and post-payment levels.

There seems to be an area of difficulty for publishers in scoping hybrid models and balancing percentage increases in fees against decreases in subscription rates. For one thing, it was said that the articles in a journal may only be a part of the costs: that editorial pieces might represent a substantial part of the cost. It would be interesting to see if readers’ perceptions of value in different forms of content reflected the costs of that content:  would editorial content sell as a separate piece for example, allowing closer correspondence between OA fee rise and subscription fall? Of course, it is possible that academic concerns about pricing for a journal already reflect just this issue.

Another issue is that every factor is fluid and linked. The number of articles submitted may change; the number sent for peer review may change; the number published per year or per issue may change; the number of open access fee-paid articles may change; the number of subscriptions may change. And each factor probably depends on the others and overall also relate to variables in the subscription costs and OA article charges.

Of course, this is what any commercial business is about, balancing supply, demand, production costs, price points etc. However, this is also taking place against a changing landscape. Publishers admit that, as a business, they are balancing fee and subscription levels with the view of maximising sustainable profit and they have to measure their models against their existing margin. But what if the world has changed, through technology offering possible alternatives and the financial crisis cutting available revenues, so that scholarly communication cannot or will not support past profit levels? Where is the fixed ground against which publishers can measure new models?

Is it up to customers to offer some fixed level and underwrite commercial experiment, or for the commercial organisation to gamble and create an offering which it hopes will be both sustainable and acceptable to its customers? Normal customer/ business relations may not apply when customers have no wish to risk the sustainability of a journal.

From clarity from publishers to clarity from other stakeholders. The final point from the day that I will touch on is the repeated concern throughout discussions that there is a difficulty for authors in paying open access and hybrid charges. In spite of funding agencies making money available, there is still confusion for authors as to whether the money exists, let alone how to access it. This is an area that the RCS has highlighted before, bringing together research support offices, libraries, repository and open access advisers, publishers and funders. Our survey of chemists and economists, full results forthcoming, shows that one of authors’ primary blocks to use of open access is the expense of publishing and one of the identified chief drivers that would support change would be institutional support for payments.

Funders are in favour and can supply the money; institutions are in favour and will facilitate if there is a clear process; open access advocates exist in institutions to advise; authors would value the support and information. This is an issue which *can* be solved, but we do need joint action to bring clarity for everyone involved: without this, growth in open access publication in general, let alone hybrid journals, could stall for lack of a clear, usable process.

Bill

Future of Scholarly Communications Roundtable

New videos have been released by JISC documenting a roundtable debate on the future of scholalry communications. These videos provide a good summary of the issues and provide some very interesting insight and discussion.

The 8 videos are available on the JISCmedia youtube channel.

1. Changing Scholarly Communications Landscape and Future Models.
2. Dynamics Of Transition to Open Access.


3. Problems and challenges of Gold Open Access.
4. The Hybrid Journal path to Gold Open Access?


5. The mixed economy approach: Here today, gone tomorrow? Or is it here to stay?
6. The advantages of electronic-only journals & data in an Open Access world.
7. Identifying roles and ownership in respect to Digital Preservation.
8. Electronic technologies in the Arts & Humanities and other disciplines.

Ministerial announcement on Open Access development

In a further display of the high-level attention that open access now routinely attracts, David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, announced on 24th May a joint commitment from RCUK and HEFCE to ensure they make general open access a reality.

RCUK and HEFCE have released a statement setting out the principles of their future joint work:

‘Research Councils UK and HEFCE have a shared commitment to maintaining and improving the capacity of the UK research base to undertake research activity of world leading quality, and to ensuring that significant outputs from this activity are made available as widely as possible both within and beyond the research community. Open access to published research supports this commitment and, if widely implemented, can benefit the research base, higher education, and the UK economy and society more broadly. To achieve this, open access needs to be implemented with clear licensing agreements, sustainable business models, and working with the grain of established research cultures and practices.

‘HEFCE and the Research Councils will work together and with other interested bodies to support a managed transition to open access over the medium term, and welcome the work of the UK Open Access Implementation Group in support of this aim.’

Bill

4th Report: Open Access – the View from the Academy

The fourth RCS report in now available online. See the Reports link above or view from the CRC website.

This report describes the attitudes of academics and research support staff towards Open Access, including what may dissuade them from adopting it and what might persuade them of its value. It looks at the following questions:
• What do researchers and support staff think about Open Access?
• Is there an alternative they might prefer?
• How might future OA advocacy be addressed?

A two-page discussion paper of this report will be available soon (within the week).

Yale plans opens access to millions of images

"Turn your Copper into Silver now before your Eyes"

"Turn your Copper into Silver now before your Eyes"

In an exciting addition to open collections in the humanities, Yale has opened access to over 250,000 images from its collection and plans of opening millions more.

From the release:

“The goal of the new policy is to make high quality digital images of Yale’s vast cultural heritage collections in the public domain openly and freely available.”

“Scholars, artists and other individuals around the world will enjoy free access to online images of millions of objects housed in Yale’s museums, archives, and libraries thanks to a new “Open Access” policy that the University announced today. Yale is the first Ivy League university to make its collections accessible in this fashion, and already more than 250,000 images are available through a newly developed collective catalog.”

This seems to be based on access to digital representations of work  that are already in the public domain, rather than automatic open access to newly created materials from Yale, but given the subject matter, this is still an enormous amount of material.

This is a significant move because of the sheer scale of Yale’s collections and the comprehensive nature of the policy. This clearly positions the institution in a position which sees open access as the natural approach to its collections, rather than seeing open access as applying to specific collections which are somehow different.

Having said this, looking through the service, the re-use rights for material are not actually specified beyond being “open access”, and:

“The ability to publish images directly from our online catalogues without charge will encourage the increased use of our collections for scholarship, a benefit to which we look forward with the greatest excitement.”

. . . so I trust I am permitted to use the picture from the collection as the header to this post: it illustrates an eighteenth century London street cry:  “Turn your Copper into Silver now before your Eyes” . . .

Bill