Category Archives: Open Access

New Podcast – Copyright and your Thesis

You may remember earlier in the year that we created some guidance for Postgraduate Researchers for including third-party copyright works in their thesis. You can now find out more in our new copyright podcast which covers the basics of copyright: what it is, what works it protects, and why and how to seek permission to include copyrighted materials in your thesis.

Between the online guide and the new podcast, we’re confident you’ll get to grips with copyright in no time!

Still got questions? We’re always happy to help. Contact us at: library-research-support@open.ac.uk

 

 

 

Plan S – a primer

What is Plan S?

Plan S is a radical proposal regarding open access (OA) to research publications.

It was created by cOAlition S, a group of research funders co-ordinated by Science Europe. It includes UKRI (UK Research and Innovation), Wellcome, the European Research Council (ERC), the European Commission and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

What does Plan S propose?

The crux of Plan S is that peer-reviewed research publications resulting from grants that the coalition allocate:

“must be fully and immediately open and cannot be monetised in any way”

cOAlition S believe they have a duty of care towards research as a whole. Thus they favour OA because it helps research function more efficiently and have greater impact on society. They feel there is no justification for keeping research publications behind paywalls and that progress towards OA needs accelerating.

More specifically, Plan S requires that all peer-reviewed research publications funded via calls posted from 1st January 2021 must be:

  • Published in an OA journal where the content is OA immediately (gold OA)

OR

OR

  • Published in an OA repository where the content is OA immediately (green OA with no embargo)
      • At The OU, authors could comply by depositing their work in ORO, as long as the work meets all other Plan S requirements

Making research data and other outputs OA is encouraged and a statement clarifying policy regarding monographs and book chapters is expected by the end of 2021.

Other headlines include:

  • Publication in hybrid journals (i.e. subscription-based journals that charge a fee to make articles OA) will not be supported…
    • …unless the journal moves towards becoming fully OA within a defined timeframe under a “transformative arrangement”
  • Authors or their institutions must retain copyright
    • CC-BY is the preferred license
  • Publishers should charge reasonable fees for OA and make the structure of these fees transparent
    • Funders may even standardise and cap the fees they pay
  • A commitment to the responsible evaluation of research when allocating funds
    • The coalition states it will judge research on its own merit and not on things like the journal it was published in or metrics such as Journal Impact Factor
  • Compliance with Plan S will be monitored and non-compliance will be sanctioned

However, the devil is in the detail – there are a lot of elements to Plan S and we recommend reading it yourself to see which aspects might impact you.

What are people saying about Plan S?

There have been a LOT of reactions to Plan S and these are, predicatably, mixed. Some of the themes I have noticed are:

  • Many people support the aims of Plan S
  • There is concern it is too STEM-focused and will negatively affect AHSS researchers
  • There is concern regarding some of the implementation detail
    • e.g. the technical specifications regarding publications, OA repositories and other OA platforms
  • Some believe it will impinge academic freedom
    • i.e. to choose where and how to publish
  • There is concern about the effects it will have on smaller publishers and learned societies
  • The timescale is too ambitious
  • We have been here before
    • There have been statements, reports and policies made in the past which did not push through the radical change anticipated

 

What is next for Plan S?

There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the detail and implementation of Plan S, so all concerned will need to keep a watching brief.

UKRI Article Processing Charges and Gold Open Access at the OU

The UKRI block grant is now in it’s 6th year.  The grant pays for Open Access Article Processing Charges for articles and conference proceedings that are the result of a UKRI funding body grant. (1)

There is nothing particularly unique about the OU spend – it’s relatively small & STEM focused.  It appears to share most of the characteristics identified in sector wide reports such as the Jisc Article processing charges and subscriptions report in 2016.  Nevertheless, I wanted to make the data available and provide some comments on both the UKRI spend and Gold Open Access publishing at the OU more generally.  I hope it can support discussions at the OU about Open Access publishing in the context of continuing funder mandates and the ferment surrounding the announcement, and planned implementation, of Plan S.

Number of APCs

After the first year, which appears to be a bit of an outlier with setting up processes, communicating the grant and gradual take up of the grant, we have been paying around 40 APCs a year.

Before we go any further, let’s put that into context by looking at the total number of research outputs published by OU affiliated staff.  According to Web of Science data, between the years 2013 and 2017, OU affiliated staff published between 1,000 and 1,400 papers a year. (2)  So we are talking about a small percentage of OU authored papers here – probably less than 5% in any year.

Annual Expenditure

After the first year, the annual cost of the UKRI APC payments falls between £80,000 -£90,000.  This year (2018-19) UKRI awarded the OU £68,740.95 – so, this year, we may not have enough to cover all requests.

Average Cost

The average cost of an APC across the 5 years is £1,859.  APCs tend to cluster around the £2,000 mark with a few outliers in excess of £3,000, these tend to be APCs from small US based Society publishers.  In comparison, the Jisc Article processing charges and subscriptions report calculated an average APC of £1,745 in 2014-15, so we are in the same ball park.

However, the 3 papers in the £3,600 band are to Nature Publishing Group for papers in Nature Communications.  A piece in the Times Higher reports that some publishers have been quite explicit about increasing the price of APCs for their more prestigious journals:

“APCs are paid not just to cover processing costs but to buy standing for a researcher’s article (if accepted). This is not new: other traditional publishers such as Elsevier, but even pure open access publishers such as PLoS and Frontiers, tier their market and ask higher APCs for their more selective journals.” (3)

An increasing cost?

Average costs don’t indicate a massive rise in the average APCs here at the OU – the average in 2013-14 was £1,700 and in 2017-18 it was £1,839 – that’s a rise of 8% over 5 years.  Not as significant as the 6% over 2 years identified by the Jisc report, but ours is a small dataset and the averages are easily skewed by a couple of expensive or more moderate payments.

The publishers

So who is getting what?  Our figures are dominated by Elsevier and Wiley: Elsevier are getting £141,699 (39%) and Wiley £72,046 (20%) – no other publisher gets more than 5% of the total expenditure.

We do need to unpick this a bit:

  • Some publishers are offering discounts (offsetting deals) alongside existing subscription deals – Taylor and Francis and SAGE are the noticeable examples in this data – those discounts mean both of these publishers are not as significant in the APC expenditure data.
  • Elsevier has no offsetting deal in place.  What is paid to Elsevier in APCs is in addition to the full subscription costs.  Nature and PLOS (direct competitors of Elsevier) report that the failure of Elsevier to incorporate offsetting deals has, in part, led to German and Swedish university consortia refusing to accept new publishing agreements.
  • Wiley has an offsetting deal which is linked to the management of a pre-pay account.  At point of writing, due to the low level of APC payments the OU Library makes, we have no pre-pay account with any publisher.  If we had a pre-pay account with Wiley the APC expenditure would not have been so high.
  • Springer currently has a model where APCs are incorporated into a total cost of readership – APCs for OU corresponding authors should be £0.  The expenditure referred to above was paid before this model was introduced.

Average APC by publisher

The average cost of an APC varies wildly, but you can see which publishers are the more expensive against an average spend.

The Gold Open Access gap

Not only does the UKRI block grant account for a small fraction of total research outputs being published by OU affiliated staff.  It also accounts for a small fraction of the total research outputs being published Gold Open Access.

Of the 1,516  journal articles published in 2017 added to Open Research Online (ORO) 363 have been flagged as Gold Open Access. (4)  So, if only around 40 of those were funded by the UKRI block grant, what about all the others?

  1. Some of these papers will be funded by other institutions’ UKRI block grant.  If the lead author is not based at the OU then we wouldn’t normally expect to fund the paper.  Additionally, lead authors at other HEIs may have access to central internal funds.
  2. Gold Open Access papers are being funded locally – by departments, schools or faculties – at the OU.  We know this anecdotally but what is scary is we don’t know the total cost of this across the University.  The OU already pays publishers large subscription fees to read the scholarly literature.  We are now paying them again to publish our own research Open Access.  We shouldn’t continue to pay publishers the same subscription fees when we’ve already paid for some of that scholarly literature to be Open Access. This is the concept known as double dipping.  As a university, if we don’t know how much in total we are paying on APCs then we can’t use it to drive fair prices to access the scholarly literature.
  3. Some Gold Open Access journals do not charge APCs – stand up, for example, our own Journal of Interactive Media in Education, Open Arts Journal and International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology. (5)

So, it seems to me, the funding of Gold Open Access is disparate; it’s both local and central; planned and ad-hoc; pragmatic and idealistic.  By which I mean it has different motivations: from simply publishing OA so you meet funder requirements to publishing OA with the wider aspiration to do Open Research.  I suspect those different motivations have created the disparate picture of Open Access publishing we see across the OU.

Notes on data.

This data does not include any non-APC payments e.g. colour page charges or submission fees.  This data does include VAT and foreign currency charges as it has been next to impossible to remove them from all relevant payments.  This data also excludes payment from the UKRI block grant made to support the Open Access publication of the conference proceedings of the Listening Experience Conference 2017.

Data can be accessed at UKRI Data

Notes

(1) Details as to how the grant is applied at the OU can be found on the UK Research and Innovation / Research Councils UK Open Access Policy

(2) 2013 – 1,073 outputs, 2014 – 1,115 outputs, 2015 – 1,250 outputs, 2016 – 1,312 outputs & 2017 – 1,220 outputs.  These are only those research outputs indexed by WoS – the actual number will be significantly more.

(3) Bianca Kramer & Jeroen Bosman. Linking impact factor to ‘open access’ charges creates more inequality in academic publishing (Times Higher Education, May 16, 2018)

(4) You’ll note that the ORO figure is greater than the WoS figure.  There are good reasons why I’d expect ORO to count more outputs than WoS.  Firstly, people add items retrospectively to ORO  (they weren’t at the OU at point of publication)  Secondly, we want ORO to capture everything OU affiliated staff publish – not just what is considered worthy of being indexed by WoS (or Scopus for that matter!)

(5) These journals will (in part at least) be funded by institutional resources.

Copyright and your thesis: new guidance for conquering copyright confusion

We are pleased to announce the release of a new guidance document entitled ‘copyright and your thesis’ (OU log-in required), designed to help postgraduate research students understand their copyright responsibilities during thesis production.

Copyright law can be confusing, but for anyone wanting to use third-party material in their thesis, it’s really important to get to grips with.

The Open University has been making postgraduate research theses publicly available online since 2010, via the Open University’s repository Open Research Online (ORO) as well as via the British Library EThOS service.

Along with a whole host of benefits, this online publication has created a new set of copyright responsibilities, making it particularly important for students to understand their obligations when it comes to using other people’s work in their thesis.

This practical guide helps users understand why, when, and how to obtain copyright permission, and what do if permission is not given.

We’ve done all the hard work for you and even included some handy templates for seeking permission from the copyright holder, so it couldn’t be simpler!

 

What is a post-print and where do I get it? Guidance on what can be added to repositories and where to find it

The people behind the Open Access discovery tool Open Access button have recently published 2 useful guides.

The first Pre-prints, post-prints, and publisher’s PDF explained offers some guidance  on how to identify:

  • Pre-prints (or Submitted Versions)
  • Post-prints (or Accepted Author Manuscripts)
  • Published Versions (or Versions of Record)

The second Direct2AAM: How tos helping authors find AAMs intends to help authors retrieve Author Accepted Manuscripts from publisher manuscript systems.

The guides are useful whether you are using an institutional repository like ORO, a subject repository or an academic social networking site like ResearchGate or Academia.edu.  Super useful to both authors and repository administrators… thank you OA Button people!!!

#ThesisThursday at The Open University

So Dan Weinbren quotes Steven Rose the OU’s first professor of biology in his history of the OU. (1)   It’s not just true of research in general but also postgraduate research: The Open University is a destination for PhD students.  And that’s a nice entry point to this post – which is our contribution to #ThesisThursday – a wider campaign highlighting Open Access to postgraduate theses via the network of UK Higher Education repositories.

Postgraduate Research and The Open University

Provision for postgraduate student research was written into the Open University Charter (1969) and the first PhD thesis was awarded by the University as early as 1972 (2). Over 3,500 theses have been awarded for studies directly undertaken at the OU and over 2,000 awarded for theses studied at an Affiliated Research Centre (3).

The breadth of postgraduate research conducted at the Open University is astonishing – of course this isn’t unique – but it’s worth stating:  The Open University does multi-disciplinary teaching and research.  A record of all theses can currently be found in the library catalogue, you can search them from the thesis search.

However, these records were created for the print theses, and those theses continue to sit on the shelves in the library here at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes.  Readership is limited by the fact they are print artifacts.

Increasing access to Open University postgraduate research

The Open University institutional repository (ORO) is home for a significant subset of that total number of theses.  Currently we have over 1,200 theses awarded by the OU in ORO – PhD, EdD, MPhil and MRes.  Our aim is to have a record of all Open University awarded theses recorded in ORO and, wherever possible, provide access to the full text online. We are doing this in 3 ways:

  • All newly awarded theses are added to ORO at point of award.
  • Where a legacy thesis has been digitised by The British Library via its EThOS scheme – we are also adding it to ORO.
  • Where a legacy thesis has yet to be digitised we are undertaking a systematic scheme of digitisation – expect to see results early in 2019.

Making the full text available online means a reader doesn’t have to visit the building to read the the print thesis, all they need is an internet connection.

Measuring the impact

Which is all very well – but is it worth it?  What kind of readership do PhD level theses get.  Well, the numbers are clear.  There are thousands of downloads of theses from ORO every month – we’re closing in on half a million downloads in total!

And these downloads are global, access is not restricted to those readers that can get to Milton Keynes!  Downloads of theses in 2017 came from 188 countries and territories.

In case you are wondering, the most popular thesis in ORO has been downloaded over 15,000 times (Bailey, Keith Alan (1995). The metamorphosis of Battersea, 1800-1914 : a building history.) (4)

 …and back to the OU

Sometimes in your day to day work at OU HQ in MK, you are reminded of the remarkable ethos of the institution.  As I was checking a legacy thesis earlier in the week, I couldn’t help but read the acknowledgement, here’s how it started…

A remarkable understated testament, not only to the determination of one particular OU student, but also to the opportunities the OU provides: #thesisthursday OU style.

References

(1) Weinbren, Dan. (2014) The Open University: A History, p.110.

(2) ibid., p.110.

(3) “The Open University’s Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) programme enables leading research institutes, who do not have their own degree awarding powers, to provide doctoral training with our support.”   http://www.open.ac.uk/research/degrees/affiliate-centres

(4) All data from: http://oro.open.ac.uk/cgi/stats/report/

A roundup of free online training

There have been a few new, free online training resources for researchers released lately, so we thought with summer here it would be worth a roundup.

From a focus on working with data and data management to a broader range looking at different aspects of working openly, there should be something for everyone.

  • Data Tree is a new free online data management training course, funded by NERC. It’s especially aimed at PhD students and early career researchers in the environmental sciences, but useful for anyone who wants to learn new data skills. It includes ways to engage and share data with business, policymakers, media and the wider public.
  • FOSTER Plus is a 2-year, EU-funded project, carried out by 11 partners across 6 countries, with the aim of developing Open Science. Their draft Open Science training courses have just been released for use and public consultation, so early users have a chance to shape their development. Courses include What is Open Science?, Open Science and InnovationData Protection and Ethics, and Open Access Publishing.
  • We posted about the UK Data Service’s data skills modules back in May, but if you didn’t have time then, take a look now. They have introductory sessions on Survey Data, Longitudinal Data and Aggregate data.
  • We also posted before about the CESSDA ERIC Data Management course which takes you through each step of the research process working with data, from planning to publishing.

If you get a chance to work through any of these and have feedback that you’d like to share, please let us know so we can pass it on. Get in touch at library-research-support@open.ac.uk

 

 

 

Open Access and ORO – not just about mandates!

The biggest challenge facing  Institutional Repositories like ORO is not meeting the REF Open Access policy, although that is important!  Rather it is demonstrating their long term value to the research community they serve.  Take the case of the discussion paper authored by Dr Lesley Baillie:

Baillie, Lesley (2017). An exploration of the 6Cs as a set of values for nursing practice. British Journal of Nursing, 26(10) pp. 558–563.

  • This paper has been downloaded over 7,000 times by users from over 90 countries and territories since deposit in June 2017.
  • Making the paper Open Access in ORO has increased downloads by 409%.(1)
  • The version in ORO is not behind a paywall – this increases the readership to professionals and practitioners not affiliated to a university
  • When institutional repositories are indexed by Google and Google Scholar they are great platforms to make papers discoverable and accessible on a global scale.

Lesley comments “Certainly I think the open access is undoubtedly enabling healthcare professionals, including nurses, to easily access literature that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.”

Deposit in an institutional repository like ORO can be massively beneficial in the dissemination of research papers of the community it serves.

ORO Case Study PDF

(1) Based on publisher downloads of 1,458 and ORO downloads of 7,427 – data accessed 2018/05/04

 

Event for authors and researchers – Explore open access books

Springer Nature is holding a multidisciplinary event on Monday 23 April in London during Academic Book Week, exploring how open access books can help authors make the most out of their research. The event is open to all researchers and authors of scholarly works.

The half-day event will cover:

– Why should academics publish an open access book?

– How can authors track the impact of their book?

– What is the future of open access book funding?

– Author case studies showcasing OA book authors’ experiences.

Confirmed speakers include:

– Prof. Owen Davies, History Department, University of Hertfordshire

– Dr. Roseli Pellens, Macroecology, Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité, Paris

– Hannah Hope, Open Research Co-ordinator, Wellcome Trust.

*Update – further speakers have been confirmed*

  • Prof. Maureen Mackintosh, Economics, The Open University
  • Tim Britton, Managing Director Open Research, Springer Nature
  • Ros Pyne, Head of Policy & Development Open Research, Springer Nature
  • Martijn Roelandse, Head of Publishing Innovation, Springer Nature

Registration is now open:

https://www.springernature.com/gp/open-research/about/news-events/all-news/academic-book-week18/15499472