Panelists Discuss Open Science in OASPA Webinar – OASPA

“Danny [Kingsley] opened the webinar by contending that irrespective of teaching or research quality within academia, the only thing that seems to count in research is the publication of novel results in high-impact journals. This, she explained, has contributed to cultural problems in academia of ‘star researchers’ and imbalances of power within the academy, but when it comes to science in particular, further challenges arise in the publication of these of research outputs in the way of reproducibility, integrity, replicability, and irreproducibility. Open science, she argued, offers researchers the chance to be rewarded for their research outputs at any stage of the research cycle, including the data on which publications are based. In order for open science to be embraced, institutions must play along; Danny’s own university, the University of Cambridge, has launched a pilot in which researchers and librarians work together ‘completely openly’ on open science initiatives, and after consulting the research community found that the benefits of open research are not always obvious, and rarely rewarded. Moving to a culture of open research, contended Danny, requires a robust infrastructure in place within the institution to support moves towards openness.

Chris [Jackson], a geologist working at Imperial College London and a passionate advocate of open science, began by pointing out the reasons why scientists might want to make their research open access: to improve their ‘H-indexes’ (one of the metrics scientists are measured by); to signal to their community that they’re engaged with their research enough to promote it; and to be innovative into the future. But the fear for many scientific researchers, he explained, is that not enough of one’s peers are engaged in open access; that one will experience a ‘time sink’ in learning all the relevant infrastructure and language necessary to actually publish research open access; that publishing open access will be too expensive not just in the Global South, but in some parts of the Global North too; and that being measured for one’s ‘openness’ isn’t yet appropriate for a CV entry. Not all funders of the academy, he continued, have a moral obligation when it comes to funding research; large corporations, he argued, are unlikely to pay extra open access costs. Practical solutions to make research more open, Chris argued, may lie in opportunities to publish preprints – including his own collaborative efforts on EarthArXiv – to demonstrate how research is conducted, and the life it has prior to final publication.

Finally, Eva [Méndez] spoke from a range of her different ‘hats’ as a librarian, researcher, and policy-maker to illustrate her analogy of open science behaving as a ‘mushroom’ rather than an ‘umbrella’: research integrity, research infrastructures, the academic reward system, and altmetrics comprise the roots of open science, all which lay the foundation for the movements of open access, open data, open peer review, and so on. The Open Science Policy Platform, which Eva works on, is working to systematically change science by asking researchers, librarians, and anyone else working within the research process, to ask themselves what they can do for open science. Eva also called for ‘cool metadata’, in which metadata does not exists simply for information retrieval, but is open and accessible in order that it can work to establish relationships between users and outcomes of research.

OASPA Member Spotlight: African Minds

In 2000, I set up a company that offered publishing services to research NGOs in South Africa. These NGOs wanted to publish their research, and we offered them design, editing, typesetting and print management services. We encouraged our clients to use print-on-demand and we set up distribution channels for their publications. By 2008, we realised that some of the NGOs wanted a publisher rather than a service provider. So we began by setting up African Minds, first as an imprint and, by 2012, as separate legal entity in the form of non-profit, public benefit trust, with a board of trustees and an editorial board.

All our books are open access with no embargo periods, and we also sell printed books; the two aren’t mutually exclusive. We explore all available dissemination channels to increase access to knowledge.  

We did some research on university presses in Africa and found that at one university over 60% of the books authored by academics at that institution over a 3-year period were published by a predatory publisher. We believe that our emphasis on working closely with authors and on being transparent contributes positively to growing the African knowledge base. We are a small team, but we try our best to deepen authors’ understanding of the publishing process by being responsive and accessible. And by placing the emphasis on access rather than on sales….

We aren’t reliant on income from book sales, so we don’t face the same challenges that commercial publishers do. Our overheads are low, and we have no permanent staff. We donate a much of our free time to running African Minds although this is beginning to change as the number of publications increases. All publishing costs are covered by the publication fees which, in turn, are paid from authors’ research funds. Although I should note that not all our titles incur publication fees. We are mindful of the fact that academics from some universities in Africa, and in some disciplines, struggle to secure research funding. In such cases, African Minds waives all publication fees. The forthcoming title, African Markets in Nairobi by Mary Njeri Kinyanjui is an example of such a title. …”

OASPA Member Spotlight: The University of Huddersfield Press – OASPA

Why is it important for the Press to be open access, and how do you ensure your business model is sustainable?

Open access has always been important to us because researchers want their work to be read, shared and used, and open access is the best way to maximise this.

From the beginning we ensured all our journals were open access, but our books were originally print only. We soon realised, though, that it made sense for us to move to an entirely open access model, particularly when considering the increasing importance of open access in REF assessments. Making our platform open access gave researchers a really important space to publish their open access monographs and articles, without the prohibitively high costs of many gold open access options from commercial publishers.

As for sustainability, we operate a two-prong business model: we support researchers to access available funding by providing information and finance breakdowns for research bids, and if researchers can’t access funding, we have a centrally-funded production budget to support several books a year.


What is your experience working on open access initiatives in a university environment?

My background before working at the Press was in commercial publishing, and then marketing and communication within Research and Enterprise at the University of Huddersfield. It’s just me working at the Press, currently, and I do that three days a week. In January 2019 we are appointing a student assistant to get involved with journal submissions and marketing activities.

We dedicate a lot of time to individual projects here, which is really important. We offer writing sessions and publishing support sessions for postgraduates, and career support. So the work is intensive; big publishers don’t do it because it’s not scalable within their model, but it works amazingly well for us and our scholarly community.

When I started in this position a few years ago, university staff were still finding out about open access publishing, but with the open access team within the library, and the increased activities of the Press, there’s now lots of knowledge about it in all parts of the university, which is great….”

Spotlight on the OASPA Board: Xenia van Edig – OASPA

Copernicus Publications has endorsed a number of statements recently, including the Enabling FAIR Data Commitment Statement and an open letter on the publication of peer review reports initiated by ASAPbio. Why are publishers like yourselves increasingly advocating for open data and open peer review?

Copernicus Publications was one of the pioneers of open peer review; we’ve been using our interactive public peer review since 2001, and we want others to get onboard too. Half of our journals operate with open peer review now. Transparency in publishing is incredibly important, especially for readers; they can be far more informed of editors’ impressions when assessing the quality of manuscripts with open peer review.

Our data policy at Copernicus has been in place for several years and was updated in 2015 in order to include the FORCE11 data citation principles. Recently,  we did a rewrite of it when we signed the Enabling FAIR Data Commitment Statement in the Earth, Space, and Environmental Sciences. We are committed to enabling reproducibility in science; science isn’t just about great articles, but also about sharing data, code, and other underlying material and research outputs. The whole process needs to be transparent to enable opportunities for new findings and knowledge to be shared and created.


What have been some particular highlights for you in your time working in open access?

In general, it’s great to work for a research-friendly publisher which also often positively resonates in the library community. Within my work for Copernicus Publications I would like to highlight two aspects:

People in the industry often say that it’s difficult or even impossible to convince learned societies to transform their journals from subscription into open access. Besides being involved in the launch of numerous new society-owned open-access journals, I’ve been taking part in the conversion of multiple society-owned subscription journals: Fossil RecordGeographica Helvetica, the Journal of Micropaleontology. I think it is great to have such successful examples….”

Panelists Discuss the Economics and Sustainability of Open Access in OASPA Webinar – OASPA

Opening the webinar with the perspective of a mixed-model publisher, Liz Ferguson argued that sustainability in open access publishing requires a mix of models depending on need, and that, at least in the short-term, open access means greater economic unpredictability and diversity in scholarly publishing. Liz doesn’t believe a wholesale flip to open access is on the cards in the near future, but that the migration of content from subscription to open access means subscription publishing is under more pressure on a global scale, and so publishers are required to continually adapt to this changing environment. Market forces, rather than regulations, she argued, are a better way to shape the contemporary publishing market. Capping of APCs might, she warned, unintentionally cause innovation to be constrained. Complexity will continue to prevail in finding solutions to open access, not least due to the differing attitudes of funders and publisher customers. While successful experimental models such as those of the Open Library of Humanities and Annual Reviews are exciting to watch unfold, in Liz’s opinion it’s challenging to see how such models would be scalable for larger publishers. It’s likely, she continued, that we will move from a flat, predictable market to one in which the rate and impact of change is very difficult to predict.

Describing the publishing industry as based on individual contributions in which ‘not every article is equal’, Claudio Aspesi considered the consequences of many published articles going unread under a subscription model. The is little economic justification for a subscription model, he argued, when an open access model logically enables a wide readership of published articles. The real question, he continued, is which economic model of open access should prevail. Gold open access is a difficult economic model for subscription publishers to transition to, he argued, since transitioning to open access under this model may involve declining costs. As a result, subscription publishers can be seen to favour hybrid solutions and oppose APC caps. Green open access, in contrast, can be effective if embargo periods are scrapped; the NIH and Royal Society have found the impact of green open access solutions on subscription publishing has been negligible. Moreover, funding bodies have a huge role to play in deciding how knowledge is disseminated; they could encourage experimentation in alternative business models. While the publishing industry may not profit as much in the future with more open access models as it currently does under subscription models, the scholarly communication landscape should count itself lucky it has a viable future-oriented model in open access.

Finally, Rupert Gatti reflected that much of the discussion around economics and sustainability in publishing centres around how current models can be sustained rather than newer models innovated. As can be seen from new groups like the Radical Open Access Collective, he argued, we have a diverse and increasingly radical publishing environment. New, experimental models such as those of Open Humanities Press are oriented to the missions of universities rather than larger publishers. We have also recently seen the emergence of large-scale digital publishing platforms for both journals and books, he continued, which has fundamentally changed the business model of publishers. We’re seeing publishers wanting to ‘lock in’ the use of their platforms through ’cradle to grave’ models that cater for initial research collaborations through to publishing final articles, and controlling the types of interactions users have with these platforms. We need to prioritise the need for openness and transparency while creating new platforms; open source software and modular code is not enough, since creating a truly open open research platform will depend heavily on who controls interoperability of platforms and code, and how. A progressive open access infrastructure will need funding, be run by bottom-up communities, and have diversity within management….”

OASPA Member Spotlight: The Internet Policy Review – OASPA

“[Q] Why did the Internet Policy Review decide to adopt an open access publishing model for your journal? Can you talk a bit about your understanding of open access that informs your vision for publishing?

[A] How could we not make our content open access? We’re a non-profit journal and we publish in the public interest. This means we need to make all of our research articles, op-eds, news articles, and special issue articles accessible to the public at no cost. It also means we require no APCs (article processing charges). For us, it’s important to make the way we talk about research in the journal as accessible as possible so that we’re not just speaking to ourselves. As Christina Riesenweber pointed out in one of our Q&A articles, it’s not just about making the text itself available to the public; it’s about making sure lots of people can make sense of the content….”

Member Collaborations Blossom in OASPA – OASPA

“OASPA has seen an exciting recent blossoming of inter-membership collaborations, partnerships, and instances of members working alongside each other in support of common goals. In honour of Open Access Week, which celebrates the global open access community annually and runs from October 22-28th this year, we are highlighting these inspiring instances of collaborative efforts of our members in their work to find new solutions to making research openly accessible for all….”

OASPA Webinar: The Economics and Sustainability of Open Access – OASPA

“OASPA is pleased to announce our first webinar in our new Open Science Webinar Series: The Economics and Sustainability of Open Access.

Date: Thursday 25th October 2018
Time: 1.30pm BST (other timezones: 5.30am PDT, 7.30am CDT, 8.30am EDT, 9.30am BRT, 1.30pm CET, 1.30pm WAT, 2.30pm SAST, 6.00pm IST, 11.30pm AEDT).

This webinar is free and open to the public. Link to registration page: …”

OASPA Turns 10 – OASPA

“OASPA celebrated our 10th anniversary yesterday, marking ten years of representing the interests of open access journal and book publishers globally.

Founded on October 14th, 2008, OASPA has now spent a decade striving to fulfill our mission to develop and disseminate solutions that advance open access, preserve the integrity of scholarship, and promote best practice, supporting the transition to a world in which open access becomes the predominant model of publication for scholarly outputs and ensuring a diverse, vibrant, and healthy open access market that supports a wide variety of innovative solutions and business models….”

Spotlight on the OASPA Board: Caroline Sutton – OASPA

“In the fourth of a series of interviews highlighting the important contributions of the Board, OASPA’s Events and Communications Coordinator, Leyla Williams, talked to Caroline Sutton, Head of Open Scholarship Development at Taylor & Francis. Caroline was OASPA’s first President of the Board in 2008….”