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RSP event: Scholarly Communications: New Developments in Open Access

Laura and I attended the Repositories Support Project (RSP) event Scholarly Communications: New Developments in Open Access last Friday. It was held in the spectacular surroundings of RIBA’s Portland Place building, which gave proceedings a suitable air of grandeur. The event had a first-class line-up of speakers, and was really excellent- the RSP should be congratulated for the event’s high quality and depth of content. A Storify archive of the event’s Tweets is worth taking a look at, if you’re into the whole micro-blogging thing. What follows are my thoughts about the sessions, and as ever they are partial and impressionistic, so apologies in advance for any errors or mistakes in emphasis.

Where next with Open Access – keynote presentation – Martin Hall, Chair of Open Access Implementation Group and Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford. Professor Hall was the biggest scoop for the event- not only is a he a VC, but is also a member of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, AKA the Finch Committee. He was therefore perfectly placed to deliver the keynote, which took a very high-level view of open access (OA) developments in light of the work of the Finch Committee and other developments such as the Elsevier boycott and the recent Whitehouse petition. His vision was one of a slow transition towards full Gold OA predicated on a market in Article Processing Charges (APCs), with a mixed economy (subscription journals, Gold OA journals and Green OA repositories) in the intervening period. He noted two particular possible victims of “collateral damage” in this change:

  • Learned Societies, who often rely on journal subscription charges to fund their activities and operate on very tight margins. The withdrawal of these subs could have a disastrous effect.
  • Independent researchers, who would not have access to institutional funds for APCs (though of course these people are currently in the opposite position- able to publish in journals, but having to rely on the c. 20% of openly accessible articles)

He offered no solutions to these snags, but at least they are being considered. His final remark was heartening for those of us plugging away with institutional repositories: legislative and academics’ attitudinal changes are likely to result in heightened interest in all forms of repositories during this change. I would add to this (as [namedrop alert] Bill Hubbard said to me during a break between sessions) that the emphasis on OA during the next REF cycle is likely to be another driver for interest in repositories.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) at 10 – recommendations for the next ten years of scholarly communications – Alma Swan, Director of European Advocacy, SPARC and Key Perspectives. This presentation was by another very prominent OA advocate, Alma Swan, who had recently participated in updating the BOAI, work which must have been extremely challenging given the stakeholders involved. A few particular points of interest arose from her presentation:

  • For green repositories, gratis OA is better than no OA at all; Libre OA is better than gratis OA. Ideally green OA content should be licensed as CC-BY for full libre re-use. I agree with this (though the distinction is not uncontroversial), the question for us becomes how to license then flag our repository content as Libre, i.e. CC-BY. There are also implications for text- and data-mining of green repository content if this shift is not implemented.
  • BOAI 2012 will make explicit recommendation of use of “Alternative metrics” to assess impact, for example the Altmetric service, or green repositories’  native download and access path statistics.
  • She noted one (in my view) telling statistic regarding access to PubMed Central. This was that 40% of people accessing this site can be defined as “citizens” as opposed to researchers or governmental people, which I think gives the lie to arguments that people do not need (or cannot make sense of) open scholarly research.

I’m now looking forward to the publication of the new version of the BOAI, which should provide yet more impetus toward OA.

Next up were some sessions about some projects and services, which in the interest of keeping this post to a vaguely manageable length I’ll just summarise here:

  • OAPEN-UK – collecting evidence on scholarly monograph publishing – Caren Milloy, Head of Projects JISC Collections. An introduction to the OAPEN-UK project, which is doing some interesting work collating attitudes towards the tricky prospect of archiving books and book chapters.
  • Building campus-based OA journal capacity: SAS Open Journals – Peter Webster, School of Advanced Study. A look at the School of Advanced Studies’  impressive integration of the Open Journals System with an Eprints repository, SAS Space, to provide in-house journal publishing services- see for example Amicus Curiae, a fully open access in-house journal. This is work we need to start looking at here at City.
  • Encouraging data publication – the JISC Managing Research Data Programme – Simon Hodson, JISC Programme Manager – Managing Research Data. An overview of this JISC programme, which is looking into data curation. Data curation is at a tangent to OA as understood as access to research articles, but is just as important. Again, it’s an area we need to start looking at here at City.
  • Figshare and open science – Mark Hahnel, Product Manager, Figshare.An overview of the excellent Figshare service, essentially a Mendeley for research data. As someone said on Twitter, one of the challenges posed by Figshare for repositories is how nice it looks, about a million times better than most repository interfaces.
  • Frontiers – Online community-based peer review, publishing and research networking. – Graeme Moffat, Frontiers. Frontiers is a new open access journals platform. There are some fascinating innovations with the platform, most notably the (nearly) open peer review process, which utilises a web forum to exchange feedback about submitted articles.

Using social media to disseminate research outputs – Melissa Terras, Reader in Electronic Communications in the Department of Information studies and Co-Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at UCL. The final presentation of the day came from Melissa Terras, who talked about her experiences of Tweeting and blogging about research papers placed in her institution’s repository, UCL Discovery. You can read a full account of her experiments here (and it’s well worth reading in full), but what’s worth noting for the purposes of this post were the hundreds of extra downloads her papers received, merely by virtue of using social media to tell people about them. She also used her slot to make a plea for repository managers to understand academics’ attitudes with regard to self-archiving. Academics are essentially forward-looking, and when a paper is written it is generally considered to be over and done with. This makes retrospective appeals for academics to trawl their hard drives pretty onerous. I think the implication is that it’s incumbent on repository managers to make deposit as simple as possible, and to not get too hung up on back-runs of papers.

All in all an excellent event. RSP will have to do well to top this one, I’m looking forward to seeing if they can do it!

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6 Responses

  1. […] and can be viewed online. In addition, two excellent blog posts, one from Stuart Lawson and another one from Neil Steward provide more details about the speakers’ points. For a quick look on the […]

  2. jwbaker says:

    Melissa’s desire to drive home the forward-facing nature of academics certainly struck a chord with me as well (in particular given that I blend working on a repository with being an early-career academic). And your comment ‘I think the implication is that it’s incumbent on repository managers to make deposit as simple as possible’ interestingly also ties in with an earlier post she’d written complaining of the ‘black-box service provision’ of UCL Discovery – http://melissaterras.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/on-thumb-twiddling.html.

    All of which amounts to a tough balancing act for Repository Staff – we want good data on our IRs, but we don’t want our IRs to be seen as a timesink; we want to encourage full-text open access deposits to our IRs, but we are wary of the copyright implications of handing over to depositors full control of deposits to our IRs .

    Anyway. Excellent post. Helps draw together my disparate notes nicely.

    ————–

    James Baker
    http://kar.kent.ac.uk/

    • Thanks for the comment James! I remember reading that post a while back, I think to Discovery’s credit they sorted out the issues Melissa was having pretty quickly.

      I always think it’s tricky to make it clear what the repository service is actually trying to do (in our case open access, but also research outputs management and reporting), without getting bogged down in technicalities and sidetracks (copyright, versioning and systems interaction between CRIS and repository are all favourites here). So yes, it’s a real challenge!

  3. […] RSP event: Scholarly Communications: New Developments in Open Access « City Open Access. Share this:FacebookEmailPrint This entry was posted in Future of the University, Open Access, Science and technology ramifications. Bookmark the permalink. ← How Does “Big Data” Change the Research Landscape for the Humanities and Social Sciences? — Council on Library and Information Resources […]

  4. […] openly accessible research equals lots of downloads and hence wide dissemination of research (and see here for a fuller account of a previous version of this presentation). You can view Dr Terras’ presentation […]

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