Europe’s open-access drive escalates as university stand-offs spread

“Sweden is latest country to hold out on journal subscriptions, while negotiators share tactics to broker new deals with publishers.

Bold efforts to push academic publishing towards an open-access model are gaining steam. Negotiators from libraries and university consortia across Europe are sharing tactics on how to broker new kinds of contracts that could see more articles appear outside paywalls. And inspired by the results of a stand-off in Germany, they increasingly declare that if they don’t like what publishers offer, they will refuse to pay for journal access at all. On 16 May, a Swedish consortium became the latest to say that it wouldn’t renew its contract, with publishing giant Elsevier. Under the new contracts, termed ‘read and publish’ deals, libraries still pay subscriptions for access to paywalled articles, but their researchers can also publish under open-access terms so that anyone can read their work for free. Advocates say such agreements could accelerate the progress of the open-access movement. Despite decades of campaigning for research papers to be published openly — on the grounds that the fruits of publicly funded research should be available for all to read — scholarly publishing’s dominant business model remains to publish articles behind paywalls and collect subscriptions from libraries (see ‘Growth of open access’). But if many large library consortia strike read-and-publish deals, the proportion of open-access articles could surge….”

Poynder On Point: Ten Years After

“The open access (OA) movement has had some big wins this year: In July [2004], a cross-party group of British politicians called on the U.K. government to make all publicly funded research accessible to everyone “free of charge, online.” That same month, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations recommended that all NIH-funded research be made freely available 6 months after publication. But where did the OA movement come from, and where is it taking us? …”

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”.”

Peter Suber reports how Openness advances | petermr’s blog

“Peter Suber is one of my role models as one of the clearest and therefore most compelling advocate of Openness. He collects almost comprehensive information if what is happening and reports it in a compellingly simple clear manner. He is one of those people whose prose is a joy to read. Where others’ thinking is muddled (or deliberately obfuscated) he cuts it apart clinically and compellingly….

He’s written a review of 2010, (long but compelling) and there are countless examples of organizations and people bringing in Open ideas, requirements, practices, content, tools. The involvement of governments is particularly welcome. This is mainly an account of the positive, though he also notes neutral (e.g. hybrid OA is stagnant at best [PMR – I never liked it anyway]) and some retrograde practices or vacillation of some organizations.

Without a denominator (or the true-negatives) it’s difficult to give absolute numbers to the growth in OA. For example how many governments did nothing. How many Universities don’t care about Openness (at least enough to spend money). And IMO Universities are the primary problem in much of this – publishers have built a 10-billion dollar market on the apathy of vice-chancellors and it’s now going to be hard to pull it back….”

Taylor & Francis scraps extra charges after university protests | The Bookseller

“Taylor & Francis has backtracked over plans to charge extra for access to older research papers online, after more than 110 universities signed a letter of protest.

The latest renewal of UK universities’ deal with the publisher, which is yet to be signed, only covers papers published in the last 20 years, reported Times Higher Education. Research released before this would have to be bought in a separate package by university.

The 20-year span of papers included in the main deal would have moved forward in time with each year. This would mean the archive would increase and costs would escalate further as researchers attempted to access papers from 1997 onwards, described by academics as the beginning of the born digital record. 

In an open letter dated 13th February, head librarians from more than 110 UK and Irish institutions, as well as representatives from Research Libraries UK, the Society of College, National and University Libraries (Sconul), and the Irish Universities Association, urged Taylor & Francis to drop the extra charges.

“A “moving wall” approach for non-subscribed titles within the journal package will increase administration activities and costs substantially for libraries and for Taylor & Francis, impose direct additional licensing costs, and create confusion and annoyance for your customers and our reader communities,” the letter reads….”

Analytical Support for Bibliometrics Indicators: Open access availability of scientific publications

“In recent years, the level of availability has reached a tipping point, whereby at least half of the articles published become available in open access within 12 to 18 months of their publication….This report compares established commercial databases—namely, the Web of Science and Scopus—with a bibliographic database that has been produced with the goal of facilitating the retrieval of gold and green2 open access articles published in peer-reviewed journals. In addition to examining the strengths and limitations of large-scale measurement, this report performs a number of measures, particularly at the country and academic-field levels. It also examines the question of whether articles available in open access are more highly cited that those available strictly with a subscription….The evidence presented in this report shows that at least two-thirds of the articles published between 2011 and 2014 and having at least one U.S. author can be downloaded for free as of August 2016. In the case of Brazil, the proportion reaches 75%. More broadly, the vast majority of the large scholarly publishing countries have more than 50% of their articles published from 2010 to 2014 freely available for download in gold and/or green gratis open access. Examining the availability of articles by domains of scholarly activity shows that health sciences has the most articles available for free (at least 59% of the articles published in 2014 could be read for free in 2016), followed by the natural sciences (55%), applied sciences (47%), economic and social sciences (44%), and arts and humanities (24%)….Whereas current data suggests that gold OA is prevalent in health sciences, green dominates the natural sciences, applied sciences, and economic and social sciences. In the humanities, green and gold are more or less on the same level. …There is evidence that articles available in green OA are overall the most highly cited….”

BOAI: leading the charge on open access publishing

“Now celebrating its 15th anniversary, at the turn of the millennium the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) put forward a seminal statement defining ‘open access’ as the free online availability of peer reviewed research. Despite little support for the BOAI initially, open access publishing is now commonplace and an estimated 28% of scientific literature is now predicted to be published in this way. In our interview with Melissa Hagemann, Senior Program Manager of the Open Society Foundations, and co-organiser of the meeting in Budapest, we talk about the history of the movement and the challenges it still faces today….”

REF 2021 Decisions on staff and outputs

“37. Evidence gathered through a recent survey on open access (OA) shows that, for over 80 per cent of outputs in the scope of the policy, either the outputs met the REF policy requirements in the first year (1 April 2016 to 1 April 2017), or an exception to the policy requirement is known to have applied. This reflects significant progress toward the policy intent to increase substantially the proportion of research that is made available open access in the UK.

38. The funding bodies have carefully considered the evidence gathered in the survey relating to the policy’s deposit requirements. We wish to continue building on the progress achieved to date and to maintain the momentum towards developing new tools to implement deposit as soon after the point of acceptance as possible. We therefore confirm the implementation of the REF OA policy as previously set out. The policy will require outputs to be deposited as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, and no later than three months after this date (as given in the acceptance letter or email from the publication to the author) from 1 April 2018.

39. Taking account of some of the practical concerns raised through the survey in relation to deposit on acceptance, we will introduce a deposit exception in to the policy from 1 April 2018. This exception will allow outputs unable to meet this deposit timescale, to remain compliant if they are deposited up to three months after the date of publication. The exception will read: ‘The output was not deposited within three months of acceptance date, but was deposited within three months of the earliest date of publication.’ This exception will remain in place for the rest of the REF 2021 publication period.

40. Further detail on the evidence assessed to make this decision is based at Annex B. The REF OA policy has been updated to include the additional exception. A full report of the UKwide survey on the delivery of funders’ open access policies will be published early in 2018….”

The onward march of open science | The Horizons Tracker

“The increasingly open and transparent nature of academic research is something I’ve touched upon many times on this blog in recent years.  Further evidence of this general trend has emerged via the launch of MNI Open Research, a new platform for the publication of neuroscience research.

The platform aims to facilitate open and transparent peer-review, with all of the data used in the studies published, including null results, so that other researchers can avoid duplication, and also test the replicability of research.”