Confused about copyright? Assessing Researchers’ Comprehension of Copyright Transfer Agreements

Abstract. Academic authors’ confusion about copyright and publisher policy is often cited as a challenge to their effective sharing of their own published research, from having a chilling effect on self-archiving in institutional and subject repositories, to leading to the posting of versions of articles on social networking sites in contravention of publisher policy and beyond. This study seeks to determine the extent to which authors understand the terms of these policies as expressed in publishers’ copyright transfer agreements (CTAs), taking into account such factors as the authors’ disciplines and publishing experience, as well as the wording and structure of these agreements. METHODS We distributed an online survey experiment to corresponding authors of academic research articles indexed in the Scopus database. Participants were randomly assigned to read one of two copyright transfer agreements and were subsequently asked to answer a series of questions about these agreements to determine their level of comprehension. The survey was sent to 3,154 participants, with 122 responding, representing a 4% response rate. Basic demographic information as well as information about participants’ previous publishing experience was also collected. We analyzed the survey data using Ordinary Least Squared (OLS) regressions and probit regressions. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Participants demonstrated a low rate of understanding of the terms of the CTAs they were asked to read. Participants averaged a score of 33% on the survey, indicating a low comprehension level of author rights. This figure did not vary significantly, regardless of the respondents’ discipline, time in academia, level of experience with publishing, or whether or not they had published previously with the publisher whose CTA they were administered. Results also indicated that participants did equally poorly on the survey regardless of which of the two CTAs they received. However, academic authors do appear to have a greater chance of understanding a CTA when a specific activity is explicitly outlined in the text of the agreement.  

Barriers, incentives, and benefits of the open educational resources (OER) movement: An exploration into instructor perspectives | Henderson | First Monday

Abstract:  Open educational resource (OER) barriers, incentives, and benefits are at the forefront of educator and institution interests as global use of OER evolves. Research into OER use, perceptions, costs, and outcomes is becoming more prevalent; however, it is still in its infancy. Understanding barriers to full adoption, administration, and acceptance of OER is paramount to fully supporting its growth and success in education worldwide. The purpose of this research was to replicate and extend Kursun, Cagiltay, and Can’s (2014) Turkish study to include international participants. Kursun, et al. surveyed OpenCourseWare (OCW) faculty on their perceptions of OER barriers, incentives, and benefits. Through replication, these findings provide a glimpse into the reality of the international educators’ perceptions of barriers, incentives, and benefits of OER use to assist in the creation of practical solutions and actions for both policy makers and educators alike. The results of this replication study indicate that barriers to OER include institutional policy, lack of incentives, and a need for more support and education in the creating, using, and sharing of instructional materials. A major benefit to OER identified by educators is the continued collegial atmosphere of sharing and lifelong learning.

Investigation of challenges in academic institutional repositories | A survey of academic librarians | Library Hi Tech | Ahead of Print



The purpose of this paper is to explore the breadth of the challenges and issues facing institutional repositories in academic libraries, based on a survey of academic librarians. Particularly, this study covers the challenges and barriers related to data management facing institutional repositories.


The study uses a survey method to identify the relative significance of major challenges facing institutional repositories across six dimensions, including: data, metadata, technological requirements, user needs, ethical concerns and administrative challenges.


The results of the survey reveal that academic librarians identify limited resources, including insufficient budget and staff, as the major factor preventing the development and/or deployment of services in institutional repositories. The study also highlights crucial challenges in different dimensions of institutional repositories, including the sheer amount of data, institutional support for metadata creation and the sensitivity of data.


This study is one of a few studies that comprehensively identified the variety of challenges that institutional repositories face in operating academic libraries with a focus on data management in institutional repositories. In this study, 37 types of challenges were identified in six dimensions of institutional repositories. More importantly, the significance of those challenges was assessed from the perspective of academic librarians involved in institutional repository services….”

The post-journal academic publishing landscape – ArcheoThoughts

“As I have argued before, the post-journal academic world is here. We no longer have to build it. The post-journal era of academic publishing does not involve a radical change in the way we do our work, and it doesn’t involve a rejection of academic principles. On the contrary, it is an affirmation of those principles. It allows us to do more of what we have done in the past, and it allows us to do it better and more openly. Without journals, we can get more eyes on our scholarship to evaluate it and to drive our work and the work of others forward, and we can get our results and our thoughts out faster to those who need them.

The post-journal world is a natural evolution of the journal world, which itself was an evolution of the salon-science world. Each transition has allowed an increase in the number of participants in the scholarly process, an acceleration of our work, and an increase in the number of people who have access to its benefits. Journals reach more people than can fit in a salon, and blogs reach more people than can subscribe to journals. More, more useful, and timelier critique can come from a blog post than from a journal article or from a salon presentation….

The post-journal academic publishing landscape allows more diverse types of publication. The expense and the competition now involved in securing a slot in a respected peer-reviewed journal all but precludes several classes of publications that would otherwise be very important:

It is now next to impossible to publish a small interesting, and useful result. It must be part of a larger work which justifies the monopolization of a valuable slot.

Journals are notoriously uninterested in negative results. Yet, these are often very informative, and critically, they are often encountered by graduate students working as part of larger teams. Allowing the publishing of negative results overwhelmingly helps grad students who are starting to establish their academic credentials.

Replication studies are dangerously difficult to publish in traditional journals. …”

Biting the hand that feeds – the obfuscation of publishers | Unlocking Research

Let’s not pull any punches here. We are unimpressed. Late last week HEFCE published a blog: Are UK universities on track to meet open access requirements? In the blog HEFCE identified the key issues in meeting OA requirements as:

  • The complexity of the OA environment
  • Resource constraints
  • Cultural resistance to OA
  • Inadequate technical infrastructure.

Right. So the deliberate obstruction to Open Access by the academic publishing industry doesn’t factor at all?…”

Sluggish data sharing hampers reproducibility effort : Nature News & Comment

An initiative that aims to validate the findings of key cancer papers is being slowed by an unexpected hurdle — problems accessing data from the original studies.

The Reproducibility Initiative: Cancer Biology consortium aims to repeat experiments from 50 highly-cited studies published in 2010–12 in journals such as NatureCell and Science, to see how easy it is to reproduce their findings. Although these journals require authors to share their data on request, it has taken two months on average to get the data for each paper, said William Gunn, a co-leader of the project, at the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 3 June.

For one paper, securing the necessary data took a year. And the authors of four other papers have stopped communicating with the project altogether. In those instances, the journals that published the studies are stepping in to remind researchers of their responsibilities….”

Looking for equality in open access | Crick

“I believe that science should always be equal, inclusive and open. That’s why I’m one of the Crick’s new Open Advocates: a group for raising awareness and helping scientists here to do open and collaborative science, and help make it the norm for scientific research.

At the Crick, we’re privileged to have access to the kind of funding we need to do ground-breaking research. Through core funding and grant money, we have the materials we need to conduct our work.

This means it’s relatively easy for us to access the research of others via the institute’s journal subscriptions, and we can ensure that our research is published openly by paying the article processing charges necessary to ensure that research is open from the minute it’s published. 

But other scientists don’t have the resources that we have….”

Impact of Social Sciences – Do we need to “fail fast” to achieve open access?

“Progress to open access has stalled. After two decades of trying, the proportion of born-free articles is stuck at 20%. Kicking off the Impact Blog’s Open Access Week coverage, Toby Green suggests the solution to our financially unsustainable scholarly publishing system may lie in rethinking traditional processes using internet-era norms. Embracing the principle of “fail fast”, all papers should first be published as freely available preprints to test whether they “succeed” or “fail”, with journals then competing to invite authors to publish. This would reduce the costs of the expensive, straining peer review system while ensuring all papers are available to all readers….”

Bernard Rentier on Open Access: From Where? How? For What? And Where To? | Eurodoc

“The major drawback of the development of OA is that, anticipating a reduction in profits if it prevails, the major publishers are now reversing the system and require a payment for publishing rather than for reading, through ‘article processing charges’ (APCs). Building on their prestige, they persuade researchers to publish in their journals, thus ensuring a monopoly on high-end scientific publishing. Worse still, publishers offer so-called ‘hybrid’ formulas, which allows them to keep selling their journals to readers while at the same time asking researchers to pay APCs for immediate free access to their articles, hence winning on both fronts. The cost of APCs has increased just as it has done for journal subscriptions over the past decades. In some cases, it has even increased by 30% yearly! Today, the struggle is less to provide free immediate access to knowledge in the least favoured countries but to prevent a situation where only wealthy researchers can afford to publish. This would be a highly discriminatory development which, after sight has been restored to a majority of the scientific community, deprives it of its voice. In addition, APC-OA stimulates predatory publishing.

The only way to counter this shift is to create publicly-run and free-access online publishing platforms, thus going back to the original ‘golden path’. Neither complicated nor new. Alongside ArXiv, other new publication platforms have also emerged in a variety of fields.

It remains for the scientific community worldwide to adhere to the new progressive principles of Open Science. In particular, the criteria for research assessment and the evaluation of researchers should no longer be based on an anti-scientific proxy: the publishers’ prestige….”

Rice: KD is undermining Plan S

[KD = Kunnskapsdepartementets = Ministry of Education and Research.]

“One criticism of Plan S is that there aren’t enough good open access journals to publish in. Traditional journals have spent years building strong reputations. The prestige researchers acquire when their work is published in these journals is massively reinforced by the career system we have built – in hiring decisions, grant awarding processes, performance reviews and so on. Open access journals are so new that they haven’t yet achieved the same level of visibility. Why should we be forced to sacrifice these benefits for a political agenda?

In Norway, we have an official registration system for research publications, a key element of which is the classification of journals as either Level 1 (intended to cover about 80% of publications by Norwegian researchers) or Level 2 (intended to cover the best 20%). Some critiques of Plan S claim that the government is speaking out of both sides of its mouth, since we have economic incentives to publish in Level 2 journals at the same time as we soon can publish only in Open Access journals, almost none of which are at Level 2….”