Author Archives: Chris
Open Research Online (ORO) – Annual Report 2021/22
Our ORO Annual Report allows us to reflect on the continued use of this important research infrastructure both inside and outside the University.
Downloads. Over 2 million Open Access publications on ORO are downloaded every year from ORO. Downloads come from across the globe increasing the dissemination of OU research. Downloads increase annually as more open access publications are added to ORO.
Deposits. 3,000 publications are are added to ORO annually – these include legacy publications from new staff so this number isn’t a surrogate for current publication rates. Deposit of new publications to ORO is assisted by automated ingest of data from publisher alerts and the Jisc Router aggregation service.
Deposit numbers fluctuate within REF cycles, the total number of active researchers at the OU and (significantly) bulk ingest of legacy content (e.g. digitised theses).
Open Access. Over half the publications added to ORO are made immediately Open Access and this percentage increases as publisher embargoes on accepted versions in the repository expire. We’ve seen Open Access steadily grow over the last 10 years and it is now mainstream practice.
We increasingly see more Gold Open access items being added to ORO as the OU agrees more transitional deals with publishers which allow OU affiliated corresponding authors to publish Open Access at no direct cost to the author.
As well as research publications via traditional routes ORO is a great home for:
- PhD & EdD theses
- PGR Posters from the annual poster competition
- Exemplar student projects
- Reports (those published by the OU can be minted with a Digital Object Identifier in ORO)
Breakdown by STEM, WELS, FASS, FBL & IET can be seen below. The data is also available in an accessible spreadsheet: ORO Infographics Data 2022-09.
The year ahead.
Some highlights for the upcoming year.
ORCID integration. This year the ORO service will be updating the ORCID integration to support addition of items from the ORCID hub to ORO.
EDI work. I’m exploring ways in which both the system and service can be more inclusive. How can the repository be anti-racist.
Data quality. We want to improve the user experience and the discoverabilty of the service. To do this we will benchmark and do systematic quality checking of content and weblinks.
New (and not so new) research collections. Working in partnership with faculty and the University archive i’m wanting to host collections of unpublished research papers (e.g. Departmental Working papers).
Creating a mailbox alert for new items in ORO
If you wish to be kept up to date on new items being added to ORO you can do so by pushing an RSS alert into your Outlook Mailbox. (If you don’t use Outlook you can use services like Blogtrottr to transform RSS alerts into email alerts.)
- Identify the set of items you want to be alerted on. You can choose to be alerted on all new items by department or a subset of items by faculty, or any way you can conduct an advanced search in ORO.
- Go to ORO Advanced Search and enter your search terms. In this example I have selected Item Type : Thesis AND Computing and Communications
- Select “Search”. From the ORO results page go to the Subscribe to these results page. Right click on the RSS 2.0 icon and select “Copy Link Address”.
- Now go to your Inbox in Outlook and navigate to the RSS Subscriptions subfolder.
- Right Click on “RSS Subscriptions” and select “Add a new RSS feed”. The New RSS Feed dialog box will pop up and you can paste the url you copied from ORO. Click “Add”.
- This should return any relevant results and update in real time for new items added to ORO.
PDF Version of instructions: Creating a Mailbox Alert for new Items in ORO [PDF]
Open Research Online (ORO) Update 2020-21
Deposits in 2020-21
There were 3,103 deposits to ORO in the 2020-21 academic year. Importantly, that’s not the same as published research outputs of OU research staff and students in the academic year, which would be around 1,200. The reason the number is greater is because ORO includes:
- PhD theses
- Student projects
- Publications deposited in 2020-21 but published earlier (or later!)
- Items published by current OU staff who were not affiliated to the OU at point of publication
The deposit rates across faculties both reflect the different sizes of the faculties and different practices in scholarly communications across the faculties. Simply put, AHSS disciplines have fewer, longer form single authored research outputs, whilst in STEM disciplines there will tend to be more short form multi-authored papers.
Deposits – 10 year trend data
When you look at the trends, the significant story is the peak in 2019 when the library digitised 1,600 PhD level theses and added them to ORO.
Consistent deposit of items across the years has been supported by our adoption of mediated deposit via Jisc Router and publisher alerts – we no longer rely solely on authors to add their papers to ORO.
ORO continues to receive a significant number of downloads of Open Access content. According to IRStats2 (the native ePrints counter) of downloads ORO received over 2 million downloads of Open Access content last year. But remember many of these will be downloads from web bots, let’s not confuse a download with a human actually reading a paper! Another count from IRUS, that provides more rigorous filtering of bots, provides a more conservative estimate of 880,612 downloads over the same period.
Downloads – 10 year trend data
Not surprisingly, trend data shows an increase in downloads (however you choose to filter them) over time. Inevitably as the repository grows in size, counts of downloads will grow year on year. These are the impressive results of having a repository indexed by Google and Google Scholar.
ORO strives to be a valuable University asset in providing Open Access to the research outputs of OU research staff and students. Last year 52% of items added to ORO were immediately Open Access, these will either be:
Gold Open Access – where the published version is freely available from the publisher and added to ORO,
Green Open Access – a non-final version (often the accepted version), will be available in a repository like ORO.
When looking at Faculty breakdown it’s apparent how Open Access remains contingent on the dominant modes of scholarly communication within academic disciplines. Books and book chapters remain harder to make Open Access than journal articles.
Open Access – 10 year trend data
Nevertheless, ORO trend data show a growing increase in Open Access over time.
The dip in the last 2 years is due to publisher embargoes on Green Open access papers added to ORO. Often, commercial publishers will prescribe embargoes of up to 12 months for STEM and upwards of 24 months for AHSS disciplines. This embargoed content is not counted here as Open Access as it’s not freely available, however once the embargoes end they will count as Open Access (at least for the purposes of these ORO data!)
This upward Open Access trend in ORO deposits has been bolstered by the Open Access mandate on OU PhD theses and the digitisation of legacy theses.
University and Faculty Infographics
All these data (and more!) are available in PDF renditions.
A day in the life: Chris
The picture below was drawn about 5 years ago at a workshop on User Experience Research & Design at Cranfield University facilitated by Andy Priestner.
The task was to draw your working day and then use the drawing as a reflection aid. So, 5 years later, when we were asked to write a blog post about our working day, I thought I’d dig it out.
What does it mean?
The red squares represent long involved pieces of work. They might include:
- Regular reports we generate on Open Access publishing at the OU
- Quality Assurance work on ORO
- Updating and monitoring workflows around ORO
- Discussions with peers from other universities regarding developments to scholarly communications e.g. ORCIDs, Plan-S
- Work based research e.g. how can ORO be more complete and current?
- Designing and delivering training around our offer
- New developments for ORO e.g. digital preservation and expanding the scope of what is included in ORO
The blue flashes are small bits of work like enquiries or requests for information that pop up and need pretty much immediate attention:
- Enquiries from research staff about ORO and Open Access
- Support to library staff using ORO
- Doing stuff my manager tells me to do 😊
The long black lines represent my commute, a 6-mile cycle from Newport Pagnell. The commute topped and tailed my working day – it provided a break between home and office life, a chance to reflect on the working day.
Reflecting on the picture
And that was a useful reflection. 5 years ago, it made me think about:
- Ring fencing time for some of those big tasks
- The importance of the commute
How has that changed?
Well mid-pandemic it’s quite hard to pin down, some days I’m working from home, others I’m in the office. Working from home and working in the office feel very different, so there have to be two pictures. Beside that there is some commonality with 5 years ago, but some big differences too.
The red squares remain, but the substance of them is a bit different – there is less development stuff going on and more operational. I can live with that, but I hope it will change. The squares also spill out across the day – my working hours are interrupted by parenting – so there remain pieces of work that I need to pick up later in the evening when the house is quiet. So those red boxes spill outside of ‘usual’ office hours.
The blue flashes have decreased, my colleagues have picked up a lot of those, thank you guys. That’s helped me finish those big REF red boxes. But again, those flashes may occur in the office or at home.
But that’s where things further diverge:
Where there is a black line it serves as an (albeit imperfect) frame to the day and an important mental break from the mess of home/life working.
Blue squares appear when I’m working from home – these are underlying domestic things that I find really hard to dispel when I’m at home: washing, cooking, home schooling – all these things I know have to get done at some point during the day and distract my working day.
Blue flashes appear – they are those little domestic incidents involving small people that require immediate attention.😬
Reflecting on the new pictures
- The commute is a massive boon to my mental health
- The office allows me to focus on the work
- Life is just more complicated and messy for many of us
I don’t know how I can act on that final reflection, how can it be less complicated or messy at the moment? I don’t know. Maybe, as well as being OK not to be OK, it’s also OK to be messy and OK to be unsure.
Minting Digital Object Identifiers at The Open University
Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are the de facto standard in identifying research publications and data on the web. They work by providing a unique identifier to an object (a research paper or dataset) which does not change even if the url that locates that object changes (e.g. if a journal article changes publishers). DOIs should provide a persistent access point to your paper or data.
DOIs are often minted by academic journals or other academic platforms where research publications and data are published. The Open University already mints DOIs for research data uploaded to its research data repository: Open Research Data Online and now DOIs can be minted from its publications repository: Open Research Online.
Open Research Online (ORO)
DOIs can be issued for any publication where the OU is a publisher (or co-publisher) and a (co-)author is a member of OU staff. We are not issuing DOIs where The Open University is not primarily (or in part) responsible for the publication (e.g. we are not issuing separate DOIs for an accepted version of a paper where a DOI already exists for the published version on the journal website.)
DOIs have been minted to all OU awarded theses in ORO and will be minted for all newly awarded OU theses. DOIs exist for theses either with full text or bibliographic information only. Theses will be minted with DOIs automatically.
Other OU Published materials
Other OU published materials can have DOIs minted on request. We expect research reports published by The Open University to be the other prime use case for DOIs, but we will consider issuing DOIs for any OU published outputs on a case by case basis. Publications can already exist in ORO or be new additions – but they have to be in ORO!
Items already in ORO
To request a DOI for an item already in ORO:
- Click Report Issue / Request Change in an ORO record and in the workflow add a note requesting a DOI in the “Notes to Library Staff”, or
- Contact the Library Research Support mailbox with details
To request a DOI for new items add a note in the “Notes to Library Staff” at point of deposit to indicate a DOI is required. ORO staff will issue a DOI which will be made public when the record is made live in ORO.
Open Research Data Online (ORDO)
One of the major benefits of storing your research data on ORDO is that you receive a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for every output published, giving you a permanent, citeable link. This ensures you get the recognition for all your research materials, whether they support a publication or not, and means your data can be more readily shared and discovered by others.
DOIs are automatically created for every output published on ORDO (with the exception of permanently embargoed items), and there is the option to create a metadata record and link to datasets deposited or published elsewhere that have not been assigned a DOI.
Not ready to share your data just yet? You can even reserve a DOI, meaning you can add the link to article data access statements ahead of publication. For more information and support on using ORDO, visit the Library Research Support webpages.
Research Groups in ORO
Publications in ORO can be tagged with a Research Group – this enables the publications of any research group to be searched for, grouped, and listed on a single webpage in ORO.
Adding a Research Group to a new record
Once a Research Group has been added to ORO it will appear in a drop down list in the deposit workflow in ORO.
If you deposit a publication and know it should be associated with Research Group select that Research Group when creating the record in ORO.
Adding a Research Group to an existing record
If a publication is already ‘live’ in ORO a Research Group can be added by the depositor or an OU co-author by clicking the Submit Changes (Authors/Depositor only) link on the top right of a publication record. This will allow you to edit the live record and a Research Group can be added.
Changes to multiple records (e.g. when a Research Group is first created in ORO or the publications of an author) can be arranged by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I automatically add a Research Group to all publications (new and old) by an author?
No, the way Research Groups are designed in ORO has changed so this cannot occur. Previously Research Groups were associated with an author so all publications by an author were automatically tagged with the associated Research Group. This did not work (especially for inter-disciplinary Research Groups) as the publications record of a single author frequently did not sit neatly within the subject domain of a single Research Group.
The functionality was re-designed so Research Groups must be actively selected for each publication. Whilst this means Research Groups cannot be added automatically to any publication, it does allow any Research Group to be added to any publication regardless of author.
Can I add more than one Research Group to a publication?
Yes, a publication can be associated to more than one Research Group. To do this select the required Research Groups by holding the Ctrl button whilst clicking on multiple Research Groups (PC User).
Using publications tagged with a Research Group to feed another web page
Publications tagged with a Research Group in ORO can dynamically feed another web page e.g. a page on the Research Group website.
One option is to use the “Embed as feed” link from the right-hand menu and follow the instructions.
Note: These use RSS feeds and are therefore restricted to displaying outputs in reverse order of addition to ORO.
How does ORO define a Research Group?
It doesn’t – Research Groups are self-defining. A Research Group can be created in ORO on request, no threshold of what a Research Group constitutes needs to be met before it can be created in ORO. Similarly, ORO does not attempt to hold a definitive list of Research Groups at the OU.
Open Research Online (ORO) – A Well-Connected Repository?
ORO Connected Repository (JPEG file)
ORO (or any institutional repository) can sometime feel like a cottage industry – a lot of work going on at a local level for small gains. However, institutional repositories are increasingly embedded in the wider scholarly communications framework. So, not only are they performing vital services and integrations in their immediate locality, they are also connecting with external services to make an impact at national and international scale.
The local – ORO is connected to other institutional systems to support university services:
- REF – ORO provides a key role to collect publications data and provide a route to Open Access required by the REF Policy.
- Research Publications Showcase – publications data from ORO feeds individual people profile pages, faculty or departmental webpages, postgraduate prospectuses as well as performing its primary role as a platform for Open Access research publications.
- eThesis – all PhD level theses are submitted electronically to ORO reducing the burden of printing and increasing the dissemination of our research by PGRs.
- Student Projects – exemplar research projects at third level and Masters level in FASS are showcased in ORO for prospective students.
The national and international – ORO supports the scholarly communication infrastructure
- Web Indexing – ORO is indexed by Google and Google Scholar which supports the dissemination of OU research publications on a global scale
- ORCID – ORCID IDs are stored in ORO and connected to the central ORCID hub.
- eThesis – ORO is also indexed by EThOS providing the British Library with current metadata of our theses and full text of PhD level theses.
- IRUS – ORO is connected to the UK infrastructure of Institutional Repository Usage Statistics (IRUS) to provide COUNTER compliant metrics.
- Open Access Infrastructure – Open Access publications in ORO are indexed by Open Access Discovery Services (e.g. CORE; unpaywall; Open Access Button).
And under the bonnet – ORO is connected to external services to improve how it works
- Jisc Publications Router – to auto-populate metadata and full text from publishers and aggregators
- CORE Recommender – to identify useful papers for the reader & CORE Discovery – to find full text if it is not held in ORO
- Dimensions and Altmetric – to provide citation and altmetric information for publications archived in ORO
- CrossREF – to aid data entry and RIOXX2 – to aid data interchange
So far in 2019 our well-connected ORO has seen 692,447 downloads of open access publications (as counted by IRUS) and 649,624 users (as counted by Google Analytics).
An ORCID is a 16 digit persistent identifier for researchers and contributors. It’s purpose is to:
(1) disambiguate researchers with like names in any system (e.g. Web of Science, ORO or ORDO)
(2) aid data transfer across systems to stop you re-keying information (e.g. if your ORCID is related to a bunch of publication information in one system simply by adding your ORCID to another system all that information can be automatically pulled across without the need for re-keying). That’s the idea, anyway!
Thanks for reading!
…if you would like to know more – then come along to our re-scheduled training session on
3rd July 10.30-11.30; face to face at Library Seminar Room 1 4th July 10.30-11.30 Library Seminar Room 1, or online via Adobe Connect.
My Learning Centre Registration: Claiming your research publications: ORCIDs at the OU.
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.
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.
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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
(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.