As OER Grows Up, Advocates Stress More Than Just Low Cost | EdSurge News

“Open educational resources hit a turning point in 2018. For the first time ever, the federal government put forward funds to support initiatives around open educational resources, and recent studies show that faculty attitudes towards using and adapting these openly-licensed learning materials are steadily improving….

But fans of OER are increasingly facing a problem. While OER started off as free online textbooks, it still costs money to produce these materials, and professors often need guidance finding which ones are high quality….”

Ways societies are transitioning subscription journals to OA: Interview with Mikael Laakso

“I’d say that the majority of the work that went into the report was a literature review. We were bringing together hundreds of different articles and reports about journals converting to OA. We used that from the outset to get an initial frame for understanding how, why, and when journals have converted to OA. We then approached a sample of stakeholders that we knew had interesting insights and experiences in observing and supporting these journal flips or conversions. We tried to cover most of the key areas that play a role in shaping the larger scholarly publishing landscape, so we got someone from the commercial publishing side, the research funder side, people who have been in positions in journals, and so on….

They are definitely rethinking economic models. For example, in Finland we’ve had an interesting proposal for a consortium model for funding society journals so that the flipped journals would be covered by the consortium of libraries or universities, but so far it’s been hard to get all libraries on board even though they all subscribe to opening science and they are all unified in the struggle against commercial publishers. It’s been difficult to kind of convince them that there needs to be a shift in their cost structure for supporting smaller society journals. I know that Canada is looking to do something similar, to have a consortium for flipping journals….

I personally do not think that author facing APCs are the future. That is not an effective use of time or money, and it puts many parts of the world and people at a disadvantage if they are not grant-funded or part of an academic institution….”


‘A truly exciting time’ | Research Information

Danny Kingsley, deputy director at Cambridge University Library, looks back at her early days at Australian National University – and forward to the many challenges facing librarians…

My PhD looked at why researchers overwhelmingly said that open access was a good idea, yet only 10 to 15 per cent of research was openly available. My findings (spoiler alert) were that disciplinary differences are incredibly important and that whatever solution you offer to the research community will need to be easy to use, not the risk status quo and demonstrate clear improvement to, and greater benefit than, the current system. (I’m not sure we have cracked that, by the way.)…

One of the advantages of working at Cambridge has been that it provides a huge stage: rightly or wrongly, what happens at Cambridge is big news. So we have been able to accelerate progress across the sector by acting openly, transparently and inclusively….

The nine strong open access team [at U of Cambridge] process more than 1,000 articles a month into our institutional repository, and answer thousands of queries from our research community. …

[T]he significant focus on open access and, increasingly, open research, potentially puts the library once more at the heart of the institution….”

Creating ‘fundamental truth’ | Research Information

“I joined Springer Nature a year ago from, which I co-founded and led for 20 years.  During my time there, the company developed from a small start-up to being the largest online retail platform for Dutch speaking consumers around the world…

Some of the very core processes of publishing haven’t changed as much as I would have expected and, coming as I did, from a digital process business, this was surprising.

And the degree of cooperation and coordination is also significantly lower than I expected, leaving many opportunities untapped.

But most worrying is the fact that publishers are not seen as partners by some of our stakeholders, but as ‘the enemy’. This is extremely concerning given that there are many fundamental improvements that would create value for the research ecosystem and for which I can see no alternative other than for big publishers to be leading their implementation and playing a pivotal role in their delivery.

there are things we can and should be leading and implementing, both individually within our publishing houses and collectively as the academic publishing industry to create more value for the research ecosystem as a whole.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Helping researchers make their data, protocols and methods open and access the data sets of others. This has the potential to instigate a fundamental step change in enabling researchers to make use of existing information and build on it for the benefit of scientific advancement; 
  • Improving peer review quality and improved process to save time for all involved, including a vastly reduced time between submission and publication;
  • Driving change in the reputation and recognition models and metrics, for authors, researchers, members of our editorial boards and peer reviewers;
  • Publishing negative results and reproducibility studies at scale; and
  • Making usage easy: rather than fighting illegal use, we should create common standards and user-friendly interfaces that make it easy for every legally entitled user to search, discover, and consume the research information they need to advance discoveries….

Without a doubt the biggest challenge facing scholarly publishers over the next 10 years is need to rebuild trust between the research community (authors, researchers, funders, librarians) and publishers …

A further sentiment I’ve picked up is the negative feeling of dependency; researchers feel they are too dependent on publishers and they don’t like that….”

Could This Search Engine Save Your Life? – The Chronicle of Higher Education

One of the Allen Institute’s priorities is an academically oriented search engine, established in 2015, called Semantic Scholar (slogan: “Cut through the clutter”). The need is great, with more than 34,000 peer-reviewed journals publishing 2.5 million articles a year. “What if a cure for an intractable cancer is hidden within the tedious reports on thousands of clinical studies?,” Etzioni once said.

Although Semantic Scholar has focused so far on computer and biomedical sciences, Etzioni says that the engine will soon push into the social sciences and the humanities as well. The Chronicle spoke with him about information overload, impact factors’ imperfect inevitability, and the promise and perils of AI….”

5 Questions With… Devin Soper | Association of Southeastern Research Libraries

Q.4 If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?

Like many other contributors to this blog series, my first choice would be changing the promotion and tenure process to incentivize faculty to make their work open. Perhaps the best example of this, for me, is the Liège model, where faculty are required to deposit the full text of their works in the institutional repository in order to have them considered for the purposes of internal research evaluation / P&T. If even a few U.S. institutions were able to implement similar policies, I think that belief in the value of institutional OA policies (and the feasibility of Green OA, more generally) would soar as a result.

To vary the conversation a bit, a close second for me would be increased collaboration around big deal cancellations. I’m thinking here about the nationwide cancellations and renegotiations that have taken place in the Netherlands, Germany, and Finland, for instance, where hundreds of universities have banded together to cancel (and later renegotiate) their big deal contracts with Elsevier on the grounds of unsustainable pricing practices, insufficient respect for authors’ rights, and reluctance (if not outright opposition) to advance the cause of open access. In following these developments, I’ve long wished that we could present a similarly united front on these issues here in the U.S., whether at the state, regional, or national level….”

Open Access, the Global South and the Politics of Knowledge Production and Circulation: An Open Insights interview with Leslie Chan

“And 17 years on [since the BOAI], the biggest disappointment has been the institutions of higher education. Rather than actively support their own faculty and researchers with funding for tools and infrastructure for scholarly communication, or engage in collaborative development with peer institutions, universities have largely left researchers to fend for themselves. Institutional repositories, once a pride for some, have been left languishing in most cases. Instead, senior administrators have been contend with out-sourcing not only their knowledge infrastructure to commercial entities, but they also ceded control of the important task of reputation management to commercial firms, who are turning out to be the same entities that control the entire research infrastructure.  …”

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. …”

Open and Shut?: The OA Interviews: Peter Mandler

“To date, much of the public debate [about Plan S] has focussed on the implications for scientists. Yet the impact on Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) scholars looks likely to be more profound.

The implications for HSS journals and learned societies are of particular concern, and there are real fears that the rules that will be applied to journals (including compulsory CC BY) will be extended to books too – a move that is felt would be entirely inappropriate. cOAlition S has yet to issue guidance on this but has said that it plans to do so. To add to the concern, earlier this year it was announced that to be eligible for the 2027 REF long-form scholarly works and monographs will have to be published OA. Monographs are key vehicles for HSS scholars to communicate their research.


What is particularly frustrating for UK-based HSS scholars is that Plan S looks set to rip up the settlement that was reached in the wake of the 2012 Finch Report. Wounds that had begun to heal will be re-opened.


As Peter Mandler, Professor of Modern Cultural History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, puts it in the interview below, “[I]t’s as if we haven’t had the five years of post-Finch arguments! We’re just going to have to have them all over again.”


For a sense of the challenge Plan S poses for HSS scholars please read on….”

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….”