Europe set to miss flagship open access target | THE News

“The European Union is set to miss its target of having all scientific research freely available by 2020, as progress towards open access hits a “plateau” because of deeper problems in how research is assessed. Sixty to 70 per cent of universities reported that less than a fifth of their researchers’ peer-reviewed publications are freely available, depending on the type of open access, according to a survey of more than 300 members of the European University Association. 

Only one in 10 universities said that more than 40 per cent of their research was published as “gold” open access, where there is no delay making it public. In 2016, EU member states’ science and industry ministers, supported by the European Commission, backed a move to full open access in just four years. This latest survey asks members about papers published in 2013, 2014 and 2015, so may not capture all progress made to date. But it still concludes that to hit the 2020 target “will require greater engagement by all of the relevant stakeholders”.

This chimes with an EU progress report released at the end of February which concludes that “100 per cent full open access in 2020 is realistically not achievable in the majority of European countries participating in this exercise in the foreseeable future”. Lidia Borrell-Damian, the EUA’s director for research and innovation, said that “unfortunately [full open access] is very difficult to achieve” and that “we have reached a plateau in which it’s very difficult to move forward”.

Open access had taken off in some subjects – like physics, where the open access arXiv pre-print platform is widely used – in which “traditional indicators” of journal prestige such as impact factors and other measures of citations were “less relevant”, she explained. But in most disciplines, these measures were still crucial for burnishing researchers’ career prospects, she added, making it difficult for authors to switch to less prestigious, lower impact factor open access journals. “As long as it [research assessment] is based on these proxy indicators, it’s impossible to change the game,” Dr Borrell-Damian said. Search our database of more than 3,000 global university jobs

This is backed up by the survey findings. The biggest barrier to publishing in an open access repository was the “high priority given to publishing in conventional journals”, a hindrance cited by more than eight in 10 universities. “Concerns about the quality of open access publications” were also mentioned by nearly 70 per cent of respondents. In some disciplines, to publish open access, “you have to be a believer or activist” and it comes “at the risk of damaging your own career”, Dr Borrell-Damian said.

Echoing a long-standing concern in science, she argued that “we need a whole new system” of research assessment that does not rely so heavily on citations and impact factors. The EU’s flagship Horizon 2020 funding scheme requires grant recipients to publish their findings openly, but this was a far from universal policy for national funding bodies, she added. A spokesman for the EU Council acknowledged that “more efforts will be needed overall to accelerate progress towards full open access for all scientific publications”.”

Puzzling Over Interdisciplinary Publishing | ACRLog

“I’m also finding it challenging to find open access journals that fit my interdisciplinary leanings. At this point I’m tenured and not aiming for another promotion, and I’m even more committed to publishing only in open access journals. Open access coverage is highly variable between fields, still. I’ve become so spoiled by the wide range of OA journals in LIS that I’m somewhat shocked when looking for journals in other disciplines. There are lots of fantastic OA options in LIS, but that’s not always the case in other disciplines.

In recent years I’ve begun to wonder whether the journal itself isn’t somewhat of a dinosaur, at least for interdisciplinary work. I use Twitter plus uploading to my university’s institutional repository as my primary means of self-promotion, hoping that the range of scholars who I follow and am followed by will help my work get to anyone who might be interested in it, both inside and outside LIS. In my own research process I rarely read entire issues of scholarly journals anymore, or even table of contents updates, with a few exceptions (that include those journals I regularly peer review for). A journal can be and represent a disciplinary community, but must it always be? There are multiple means of discovery — our usual library databases, social media, the various search engines — for scholarly articles. Is the journal as container for research still the best model, especially if it can’t easily accommodate research that doesn’t fit neatly into disciplinary categories? …”

Converting the Literature of a Scientific Field to Open Access Through Global Collaboration: the Experience of SCOAP3 in Particle Physics[v1] | Preprints

Kohls, A.; Mele, S. Converting the Literature of a Scientific Field to Open Access Through Global Collaboration: the Experience of SCOAP3 in Particle Physics. Preprints 2018

Abstract: Gigantic particle accelerators, incredibly complex detectors, an antimatter factory and the discovery of the Higgs boson – this is part of what makes CERN famous. Only a few know that CERN also hosts the world largest Open Access initiative: SCOAP3. The Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) started operation in 2014 and has since supported the publication of 19,000 Open Access articles in the field of particle physics, at no direct cost, nor burden, for individual authors worldwide. SCOAP3 is made possible by a 3,000-institute strong partnership, where libraries re-direct funds previously used for subscriptions to ’flip’ articles to ’gold Open Access’. With its recent expansion, the initiative now covers about 90% of the journal literature of the field. This article describes the economic principles of SCOAP3, the collaborative approach of the partnership, and finally summarizes financial results after four years of successful operation.”

Research: Sci-Hub provides access to nearly all scholarly literature | eLife | Daniel Scott Himmelstein et al.

“Abstract: The website Sci-Hub enables users to download PDF versions of scholarly articles, including many articles that are paywalled at their journal’s site. Sci-Hub has grown rapidly since its creation in 2011, but the extent of its coverage was unclear. Here we report that, as of March 2017, Sci-Hub’s database contains 68.9% of the 81.6 million scholarly articles registered with Crossref and 85.1% of articles published in toll access journals. We find that coverage varies by discipline and publisher, and that Sci-Hub preferentially covers popular, paywalled content. For toll access articles, we find that Sci-Hub provides greater coverage than the University of Pennsylvania, a major research university in the United States. Green open access to toll access articles via licit services, on the other hand, remains quite limited. Our interactive browser at allows users to explore these findings in more detail. For the first time, nearly all scholarly literature is available gratis to anyone with an Internet connection, suggesting the toll access business model may become unsustainable.”

Which domains do open-access journals do best in? A 5-year longitudinal study – Yan – 2018 – Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  Although researchers have begun to investigate the difference in scientific impact between closed-access and open-access journals, studies that focus specifically on dynamic and disciplinary differences remain scarce. This study serves to fill this gap by using a large longitudinal dataset to examine these differences. Using CiteScore as a proxy for journal scientific impact, we employ a series of statistical tests to identify the quartile categories and disciplinary areas in which impact trends differ notably between closed- and open-access journals. We find that closed-access journals have a noticeable advantage in social sciences (for example, business and economics), whereas open-access journals perform well in medical and healthcare domains (for example, health profession and nursing). Moreover, we find that after controlling for a journal’s rank and disciplinary differences, there are statistically more closed-access journals in the top 10%, Quartile 1, and Quartile 2 categories as measured by CiteScore; in contrast, more open-access journals in Quartile 4 gained scientific impact from 2011 to 2015. Considering dynamic and disciplinary trends in tandem, we find that more closed-access journals in Social Sciences gained in impact, whereas in biochemistry and medicine, more open-access journals experienced such gains.

Tear Down That Paywall: The Movement to Make Ocean Research Free — Oceans Deeply

“As scientists race to save coral reefs and tackle other crucial marine issues, access to expensive scientific journals has become a roadblock to sharing knowledge, especially for researchers in developing countries….

…Open Communications for The Ocean (OCTO), a Woodinville, Washington-based nonprofit that recently launched a marine science research “repository” called MarXiv. Its goal is to systematically make more marine research freely accessible….”

Anatomy of green open access – Björk – 2013 – Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology

“Abstract: Open access (OA) is free, unrestricted access to electronic versions of scholarly publications. For peer-reviewed journal articles, there are two main routes to OA: publishing in OA journals (gold OA) or archiving of article copies or manuscripts at other web locations (green OA). This study focuses on summarizing and extending current knowledge about green OA. A synthesis of previous studies indicates that green OA coverage of all published journal articles is approximately 12%, with substantial disciplinary variation. Typically, green OA copies become available after considerable time delays, partly caused by publisher-imposed embargo periods, and partly by author tendencies to archive manuscripts only periodically. Although green OA copies should ideally be archived in proper repositories, a large share is stored on home pages and similar locations, with no assurance of long-term preservation. Often such locations contain exact copies of published articles, which may infringe on the publisher’s exclusive rights. The technical foundation for green OA uploading is becoming increasingly solid largely due to the rapid increase in the number of institutional repositories. The number of articles within the scope of OA mandates, which strongly influence the self-archival rate of articles, is nevertheless still low.”

Use of Free Textbooks Is Rising, but Barriers Remain – The Chronicle of Higher Education

“A growing number of professors are replacing the traditional textbook with an openly licensed one, according to a survey released on Tuesday. But their overall numbers remain small — and widespread adoption of the practice could remain out of reach unless key barriers are overcome.”

Peer review: the end of an error?

“It is not easy to have a paper published in the Lancet, so Wakefield’s paper presumably underwent a stringent process of peer review. As a result, it received a very strong endorsement from the scientific community. This gave a huge impetus to anti-vaccination campaigners and may well have led to hundreds of preventable deaths. By contrast, the two mathematics ­preprints were not peer reviewed, but that did not stop the correctness or otherwise of their claims being satisfactorily established.

An obvious objection to that last sentence is that the mathematics preprints were in fact peer-reviewed. They may not have been sent to referees by the editor of a journal, but they certainly were carefully scrutinized by peers of the authors. So to avoid any confusion, let me use the phrase “formal peer review” for the kind that is organized by a journal and “informal peer review” for the less official scrutiny that is carried out whenever an academic reads an article and comes to some sort of judgement on it. My aim here is to question whether we need formal peer review. It goes without saying that peer review in some form is essential, but it is much less obvious that it needs to be organized in the way it usually is today, or even that it needs to be organized at all.

What would the world be like without formal peer review? One can get some idea by looking at what the world is already like for many mathematicians. These days, the arXiv is how we disseminate our work, and the arXiv is how we establish priority. A typical pattern is to post a preprint to the arXiv, wait for feedback from other mathematicians who might be interested, post a revised version of the preprint, and send the revised version to a journal. The time between submitting a paper to a journal and its appearing is often a year or two, so by the time it appears in print, it has already been thoroughly assimilated. Furthermore, looking a paper up on the arXiv is much simpler than grappling with most journal websites, so even after publication it is often the arXiv preprint that is read and not the journal’s formatted version. Thus, in mathematics at least, journals have become almost irrelevant: their main purpose is to provide a stamp of approval, and even then one that gives only an imprecise and unreliable indication of how good a paper actually is….

An alternative system would almost certainly not be perfect, but to insist on perfection, given the imperfections of the current system, is nothing but status quo bias. To guard against this, imagine that an alternative system were fully established and see whether you can mount a convincing argument for switching to what we have now, where all the valuable commentary would be hidden away and we would have to pay large sums of money to read each other’s writings. You would be laughed out of court.”

Six New Preprint Services Join a Growing Community Across Disciplines


“This week, six communities launched preprint services to accelerate dissemination of research. INA-Rxiv, the preprint server of Indonesia; LISSA, an open scholarly platform for library and information science;  MindRxiv, a service for research on mind and contemplative practices; NutriXiv, a preprint service for the nutritional sciences; paleorXiv, a digital archive for Paleontology; and SportRxiv, an open archive for sport and exercise-related research….These new services join AgriXiv (agriculture), BITSS (research methodology), engrXiv (Engineering), LawArXiv (law), PsyArXiv (psychology), SocArXiv (social sciences), Thesis Commons (theses and dissertations), and OSF Preprints (any discipline) in using the free, open-source Open Science Framework (OSF)….The operators of these 14 preprint services illustrate the global growth and diversity of stakeholders invested in accelerating research.  Some of the services are operated by scientific societies (e.g., PsyArXiv), some are operated by research funders (e.g., MindRxiv), some are operated by libraries and library societies (e.g., LawArXiv), and some are operated by grassroots communities of researchers (e.g., SportRxiv, NutriXiv).  All groups are increasing the accessibility and impact of the research done in their community….In addition to hosting preprint services, OSF uses SHARE to aggregate and index over two million search results from preprint providers hosted on other platforms such as arXivbioRXiv, and PeerJ….”