10 things to know about OA in Ibero-America

In September, Elea Giménez Toledo (CSIC) & Juan Felipe Córdoba Restrepo (ASEUC) presented the findings of the first research on the publication of open access books in Ibero-America, conducted over a two year period by numerous organisations.

Their survey covered most central and South American countries, from mexico to Argentina and Chile.

This is what they discovered:

  1. While the development of open access journals in Latin America has been remarkable, the same cannot be stated in the case of books.
  2. The development of open access books is strongly unbalanced and there are few university presses firmly supporting the model.
  3. Around 60% of the publishers participating in the study do publish in open access, although in different degrees and with different intensity.
  4. There is a lack of detailed knowledge of what OA involves as well as the opportunities and threats for the book publishing sector.
  5. Mistrust by the publishers towards the publication of their monographs or edited volumes in OA.
  6. Low coverage of Ibero-American university publishers by international directories such as DOAB, Open Edition Books or even Scielo Books due to the lack of strategy by publishers, the insufficient use of Creative Commons licenses and lack of information on their manuscript selection processes.
  7. Editors from university presses believe that subsidies by their universities or others will remain active and that sales will provide a source of income, but they are not confident on?—?or are not considering- more innovative funding models.
  8. BPCs do not seem particularly viable for Ibero-American countries in this moment. The editors place the payment of BPCs as the less effective path for the sustainability of the model and research funds are scarce and not enough for covering these charges.
  9. Collaboration among funding agencies, academic publishers and university libraries is required for addressing the big issue of funding of open access books.
  10. There is a lack of clear policies, publishers training and –importantly- authors training and there is a lack of collective action in order to make the publication of open access books in Spanish and Portuguese a powerful, visible and competitive reality.
  11. Although a majority of Spanish universities and a part of the Latin American ones have signed OA declarations , institutional policies or specific regulations are not sufficiently developed. A greater impulse is required for publishing open access books, foreseeing specific policies and resources. Designing a joint strategy of open access to knowledge in Ibero-American academic books is a necessary action for the strengthening of the academic book in Spanish and Portuguese.

The report also highlighted four “hopeful signs” for the future.

  1. Social commitment of publishers and institutions regarding OA
  2. Outstanding of some institutions in the publication of open access books (see the map)
  3. Development of Scielo Books
  4. Interest and commitment of publishers associations and CERLALC for boosting the academic book in Spanish and Portuguese (including open access publishing) and all the underlying issues: culture, values and relevant topics for the region


Open Access – Open for Everyone

What is Open Access all about? Given the amount of words expended on the topic (including this post) it seems that nobody can provide a simple answer, but the old Higher Education Funding Council for England had a go – it stated that “open access is about making the products of research freely accessible to all” That last word is the most important, perhaps.

When we were looking at the starting the project that is now Ingenta Open, I had a meeting with Prof Alejandro Madrigal, a leading scientist in the field of stem cell transplantation and for twenty years the Scientific Director at Anthony Nolan Trust. He told me the story of Shirley Nolan, Anthony’s mother.

In 1971, Anthony was born with a rare condition – Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, for which the only cure was a bone marrow transplant. But no one in his family was a match; no transplant using bone marrow from an unrelated donor had ever succeeded. There was no system to find matching unrelated donors, either.

His mother, Shirley Nolan, was not a medical expert. She taught drama and had no more than a basic school-level scientific education. But, determined to find a way to fight her young son’s illness, she bought and studied as many medical journals as she could afford or lay her hands on. This of course was pre-Google, pre-internet, and “citizen science” research was an exhaustive process. Eventually her persistence and study led her to establish a register of bone marrow donors in 1974: in the words of transplant expert Professor John Goldman, “She was really the first person in the world to think that we needed a structured organisation to collect data that could be made available for people suffering from leukaemia and other illnesses on a voluntary basis.”

Open Access must surely be about supporting all those with a non-academic interest in the sciences and humanities, as well as those professionally engaged in funded academic research. When building Ingenta Open we wanted to create an interface that was clean, approachable and intuitively usable by all, from professors to citizen-scientists, and a dataset that made as much OA content, from as many sources as possible, available in one place for free, for everyone.

The latest version was relaunched only a couple of weeks ago, at the Frankfurt Book Fair – our contribution to open access week.

Let’s develop a culture of sharing! ESAC Initiative becomes an information-sharing hub for OA negotiators

Dear Colleagues,

As anticipated at the ICOLC meeting in London and the OA2020 Transformation Lab in Prague, I am very pleased to announce the re-launch of the ESAC Initiative and website (http://esac-initiative.org/) with a number of extremely valuable crowd-sourced tools and resources related to transitional license models (ie Offsetting, Read & Publish, etc.). With more and more library consortia and individual institutions now incorporating transformative agreements into their open access strategies, in alignment with the mission of the Open Access 2020 Initiative, many have expressed the urgent need for more information-sharing on the transformative mechanisms and practical aspects of these kinds of agreements.

While ESAC was originally established to develop library-driven (and not publisher-driven) standards and workflows for the growing open access publishing market, which is based on article-level charges rather than journal-level or package-level fees, ESAC has now expanded its focus to fill a vital role in the open access landscape, offering a place for institutions to share best practice, lessons learned and recommendations related to transformative agreements to increase the understanding of their scope and power to effect large-scale and lasting change in scholarly publishing. Areas of focus for ESAC now include data gathering, visualization and information sharing as a basis for negotiation strategy; license models, terms and publisher compliance; as well as open access publishing cost monitoring and control.

Some of the resources now online include:

OA Market Watch

ESAC is now aggregating data and relevant information on a number of the largest subscription publishers to help the community understand their current position in the scholarly publishing market and better assess their performance in transitioning from a subscription-based publishing model to open access.

Publisher Fact Sheets

For institutions and consortia who are just beginning to create a licensing strategy to accelerate the transition to open access and for those who are already negotiating transformative agreements, ESAC’s Publisher Fact Sheets provide a summary of the characteristics, performance and lessons learned from the agreements negotiated with some of the largest subscription publishers. The Publisher Fact Sheet relative to Springer Nature is now online!

ESAC Resources

The ESAC website has also been augmented with a section featuring resources relative to transformative agreements such as terms and workflow checklists, an online tool for sharing information and best practice, and, coming soon, recommendations from the ESAC Data Working Group on gathering and analysing different kinds of publication data in order to formulate a negotiation strategy.

By sharing the knowledge gained as we take steps to remove our financial support of the paywall system, converting our subscription budgets into funds to support open access publishing, our individual efforts will all be more successful and, collectively, more impactful. If you are negotiating transformative agreements and have data and information to share to make the ESAC tools more comprehensive and effective, please share http://esac-initiative.org/share/.

ESAC is coordinated by the Max Planck Digital Library on behalf of and in collaboration with the global academic and research library community. Please explore http://esac-initiative.org and, if you have any questions, would like more information, or want to get involved, please sign up for our listserv https://listsrv.mpdl.mpg.de/mailman/listinfo/esac-offsetting-list or contact me directly.

Happy Open Access Week!

Kai Geschuhn

Fulda University Open Access Guideline Published

Take into account the positions of all interest groups

The presidium of Fulda University of Applied Sciences adopted its Open Access Guideline on 24 October 2018 after approval by the senate on 11 June 2018. In addition, the president of the university, Prof. Dr. Karim Khakzar, signs the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. The resolution is the result of numerous presentations and discussions in various committees and with several departments in order to take into account the positions of all interest groups.

Increasing the visibility of our high-quality applied research

As a strong research university with its own right to award doctorates, Fulda University of Applied Sciences actively promotes the idea of Open Access. “The university welcomes the fact that its scientists publish their publications through Open Access,” said vice-president Prof. Dr. Steven Lambeck in response to today’s announcement. “We are thus increasing the visibility of our high-quality applied research on the Internet and contributing to interdisciplinary approaches to societal challenges”.

Further information:

OA on the Horizon: Europe’s plan

Anne Kempen, Business Development Manager

As part of Open Access Week, we are running a series on the state of Open Access around the world. Today’s entry comes to us from Anne Kempen, who looks at Open Access in Europe.

What is the state of Open Access books in Europe today? What are the key challenges as of today?

Even though with Horizon2020, ratified by the European Council in 2010, the EU has taken a clear position in favour of Open Access, the European landscape is still scattered and approaches to realize OA often end at national borders. National funders, private funders, university libraries, national science ministries and in Germany the federal states: Everyone has their own OA policies and visions. That makes the situation for authors and publishers difficult. They lack a clear partner and need to negotiate terms with each institution individually. Funding for OA books is still hard to obtain, with the exception of Austria and Switzerland, where authors can benefit from funding of national research organizations. The newly launched COAlition S between major research funders in the EU might resolve these national differences but it remains to be seen if they can agree on a policy that is better than the lowest common denominator.

Another challenge in Germany is that the institutional community is used to the established frameworks of the OA journal world, especially the payment of article processing charges (APCs). It is quite common that universities fund APCs for articles authored by their faculty members. However, this system can’t be transmitted so easily into the OA book world. Publishing an OA book requires higher financial support, something that might overstrain budgets of single institutions on the long run. Furthermore, the installment of universities as funders for book processing charges doesn’t give credit to the fact that publications are often the result of cross institutional and international research groups. A consortium or crowdfunding model might be the answer. That is why we are experimenting with those new business models in different projects.

What are the challenges for OA books in the future?

Book publishing needs to assume the real advantages of digital publishing. That starts with the bread and butter of enriching an eBook with high quality metadata. This is a field where books can learn from journals, where we already have a better uptake of standards such as DOIs, ORCIDs and FundRef identifiers.

There is a second field where books can learn from journals: The importance of usage statistics. At this early stage, most funders do ask about services included in OA book publishing, such as copyediting, optimization of graphics or the production of a print book. The questions on how the eBook is distributed and the measurement of the impact of the book comes after. However, both aspects are equally important.

With the question on eBook distribution and usage measurement, we are touching upon a third challenge: As OA books can be shared widely and are, in most cases, hosted on several platforms, we need to make sure that data about a book, such as download numbers, are harmonized across these platforms and can be reported together. We also need to work on better metrics that reflect the unique characteristics of a book.

What would you change first for making OA a reality in Europe?

If I had a magic wand I would first tip it on every university library’s bank account and provide them with a decent OA budget of which a good part is dedicated to OA books. This way they would have the chance to experiment with Open Access and gather experience in the field. I would love to see if they come to the conclusion that a cross-institutional funding of OA books is the best solution. In any case it would be great if authors didn’t have to worry anymore about funding for their OA book.

What does this year’s theme, “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge” mean for Europe?

There is, of course, the EU and European perspective on the topic, which brings us back to my initial observation that the OA market in Europe is still a very national one. We need to overcome these national solutions and reflect what is already a reality for every author: Research is international, so should be OA solutions.

“International” doesn’t stop a country borders and it neither stops at European borders. The European discussion often doesn’t take into account that institutions in other regions of the world don’t have the funds to support their authors with the same financial means. We should be careful not to establish structures that do only work for western nations with a high research and development spending. Here again, a crowdfunding or cross-institutional business model would help to design equitable foundations.

Open Science Panama Declaration: Latin America going beyond Open Access

Last Monday October 22nd a group of advocates and civil Society organizations, called by Fundación Karisma, met
at Panama City to discuss the role of Open Science in Latin America’s development. Among the participants there
were a variety of activists and researchers on digital rights, citizen science, open access, free software and open
education from at least eleven countries. Our main goal: to elaborate the ‘Panama Declaration’ which purpose is to
disseminate the relevance of the role of science as a catalyzer of democracy, freedom and social justice, especially in
the current historical moment where marginalization, discrimination, racism and even fascism are increasing in this
part of the world.

In recent years some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have started to design open science policies,
going beyond open access, since we have reached some important achievements in this matter. However, we see
that is urgent to encourage the pluralism and polyphony of voices necessary to design more congruent science
policies to reduce inequalities and gaps in terms of how knowledge is produced, disseminated, recognized and
appropriated. We want more science and we want it open. We want more science and we want it based on broad,
equitable and meaningful citizen participation.

The Declaration is focused on the idea that open science is a concept that includes not only the development of more
infrastructure, interoperable systems, open access publications or open research data projects. Moreover, open
science implies a cultural change, especially when it comes to the relationship between scientific and academic
community and society. For instance, we believe that we need to create a network of regional laboratories that allows
the creation of an agenda of open science collaborative projects, among other critical points.
The Panama Declaration is not finished yet. The document –available here– will be open to comments from the
community until December 14th. We encourage people to participate in this initiative to boost truly meaningful open
science policies to reduce asymmetries between countries.

Photo: Fundación Karisma

Lights, Camera, Open Access!

Open Access will be more than just text.

Arwen Armbrecht, Digital Communications Manager

The future of academic publishing is undeniably digital. The e-revolution of the past decade has changed the landscape of information sharing. The next leap forward is already gaining momentum.

Open Access will ensure, for the first time in history, that academic research is available to everyone, everywhere in a free and open exchange of ideas.

The OA model of freely available academic books and articles is, however, only the beginning of what will be possible. Researchers and academics will no longer be restricted to simply sharing texts, but also consult a much larger pool of input on a given text by way of interactive charts, comments sections and, perhaps most importantly, video.

Video, in an Open Access environment, has the potential to change the academic landscape in two very exciting ways. Within the academic community, video could potentially accompany traditional “abstracts”. The amount of information that can be packed into a short video summary far outweighs what can be written down in the average abstract, offering academics a more efferent way of presenting their work.

As is often the case, the digital revolution for the general public is already well ahead on this idea. Video services such as TED Talks and Big Think have demonstrated the overwhelming demand from the public for academic insight. As commercial ventures, however, those services have often fallen into the trap of needing to remain on “popular” subjects and have, at times, been criticised for over-simplifying academic research and conclusions.

Open Access video could offer a powerful alternative.

It is true that OA will be no safe haven from the now omnipresent demand of the almighty “click-rate.” Nevertheless, the core audience of OA video will always be “for academics by academics.” The demand from academics for accuracy and clarity will ensure that a much higher quality benchmark is maintained.

Furthermore, OA video is designed to replicate the structure of a research paper. In other words, the general public will be experiencing an academic paper without even knowing it.

The result will be a new video library covering a vastly wider range of subjects which remain faithful to the research they represent. It is a win-win whereby academics will be communicating for academics, while at the same time bringing new ideas and insights to the entire population of Youtube and beyond.

How Change Happens is two years old this week, and Open Access has played a big part in getting people to read it

First published on the From Poverty to Power blog

This week is International Open Access Week. It is also two years since we published How Change Happens (How Time Flies….), so here’s a summary of what’s happened since.

From a publishing point of view, the most interesting aspect of HCH was that it was open access from day 1. In return for Oxfam waiving its royalties, Oxford University Press agreed for it to be freely downloadable as a pdf, and readable online on Google Books.

For Oxfam, this is great – the book has been downloaded in over 130 countries, whereas book sales are inevitably more concentrated in the richer economies with functioning distribution systems.

What’s interesting is that based on their experiences with other books, OUP believes the sales figures have if anything been helped – enough people have read it online or on a pdf, and then decided to buy it, to outweigh the numbers who went in the opposite direction and stuck to reading it for free. I asked my Adam Swallow for a quote, and here’s what he sent me:

‘Open Access works best – in terms of achieving mass readership — when it is backed by an institute or author with a great social media presence. There is a loss of print sales for some titles, however others see almost no reduction, and in HCH and a few other titles we see solid and ongoing sales. Open Access really is in keeping with our mission of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.’


Here are the numbers:

Headline figures: in the first two years, How Change Happens has had approximately 70,000 readers. That’s an approximate figure – there could be double counting (someone downloads the pdf, then buys the book) or undercounting (someone downloads pdf and circulates by email).

Of these roughly 8,700 bought printed copies and ebooks, 17,300 downloaded the pdf and 43,000 read it online (a tidy 1:2:5 ratio, if you’re into that kind of thing – for every copy sold, two people download the pdf and five people read it online).

Printed Copies

Hardbacks sold by OUP:                                                                                            3881

Paperbacks sold by OUP (first published, May 2018):                                               1105

Paperbacks distributed by Oxfam:                                                                              2649

Electronic Downloads

Ebooks (OUP):                                                                                                             1114

Oxfam pdf downloads:                                                                                                13397

OUP pdf downloads:                                                                                                    3353

Online Visits

Unique Visitors to OUP ‘Oxford Scholarship Online Usage’:                                     10149

Google Book Visits:                                                                                                    34033

Total Number of Readers in First Two Years                                                         69681

If you compare these to the first year stats, the shift in the second year has been towards open access – of the 30,000 new readers in year two, only about 2.000 paid for the book. I suspect a lot of those are students reading bits of HCH as parts of their course reading.

Other points to note:

Translations are appearing later this year in Chinese and are already out in Spanish (in Mexico). Another is under way into Arabic (in Yemen)

An audiobook is available – only 60 sold so far.

Spin-offs: the book is the course text for the new Make Change Happen MOOC co-designed by Oxfam and the Open University, and for a London School of Economics module on its International Development Masters programme

Rip offs and Copy Cats: at least two other books called How Change Happens have been announced in that time. I reviewed one (totally impartially, of course), by Leslie Crutchfield, here. The other, by Cass Sunstein, (the Nudge guy) comes out next April. Hopefully a few people will get confused and accidentally buy mine instead….

I’d be very interested in any other news of how the book has been adapted or adopted

International archaeology journals available online

Two major academic archaeology journals are now accessible online:

Since more than 100 years the internationally active and established archaeological research institute Römisch-Germanische Kommission des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts (RGK) in Frankfurt a.M., Germany, publishes two peer reviewed academic journals: GERMANIA and Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission. Both are published not only has high-quality hardback volumes, but also all new contributions are going online in open access – without a “moving wall”, immediately upon publication of the printed volume. All contributions are provided with a doi adress (Digi­tal Object Identifyer).

Each contribution is accessible individually via the Propylaeum platform:



Bericht der RGK:


Both journals stand for free access to facts and scientific knowledge – in digital form and as comprehensibly and effortlessly as possible.Therefore also older volumes are continuously retro-digitised and made available online – until all content is accessible in open access!

RGK – international academic communication since 1902


Welcome to HARVEST!

Introducing HARVEST 

Holistic Access to Research on Vegetables, Economies, Societies, and Technology

HARVEST is the World Vegetable Center’s open access document and data archive.

WorldVeg mobilizes resources from the public and private sector to realize the potential of vegetables for healthier lives and more resilient livelihoods. WorldVeg’s improved varieties, production and postharvest methods help farmers increase vegetable harvests, raise incomes in poor rural and urban households, create jobs, and provide healthier, more nutritious diets for families and communities.

Part of our mission is to widely share our research and knowledge. HARVEST helps us do just that. It is built on the TIND platform. HARVEST features more than 50,000 records, many with freely downloadable journal articles, datasets, training manuals, videos, and more. 

Have a look — if you like HARVEST, please share the link with your network: https://worldveg.tind.io

Maureen Mecozzi
Director, Communications
World Vegetable Center