Tag Archives: publication

Dash Project Receives Funding!

We are happy to announce the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has funded our project to improve the user interface and functionality of our Dash tool! You can read the full grant text at http://escholarship.org/uc/item/2mw6v93b.

More about Dash

Dash is a University of California project to create a platform that allows researchers to easily describe, deposit and share their research data publicly. Currently the Dash platform is connected to the UC3 Merritt Digital Repository; however, we have plans to make the platform compatible with other repositories using protocols during our Sloan-funded work. The Dash project is open-source; read more on our GitHub site. We encourage community discussion and contribution via GitHub Issues.

Currently there are five instances of the Dash tool available:

We plan to launch the new DataONE Dash instance in two weeks; this tool will replace the existing DataUp tool and allow anyone to deposit data into the DataONE infrastructure via the ONEShare repository using their Google credentials. Along with the release of DataONE Dash, we will release Dash 1.1 for the live sites listed above. There will be improvements to the user interface and experience.

The Newly Funded Sloan Project

Problem Statement

Researchers are not archiving and sharing their data in sustainable ways. Often data sharing involves using commercially owned solutions, posting data on personal websites, or submitting data alongside articles as supplemental material. A better option for data archiving is community repositories, which are owned and operated by trusted organizations (i.e., institutional or disciplinary repositories). Although disciplinary repositories are often known and used by researchers in the relevant field, institutional repositories are less well known as a place to archive and share data.

Why aren’t researchers using institutional repositories?

First, the repositories are often not set up for self-service operation by individual researchers who wish to deposit a single dataset without assistance. Second, many (or perhaps most) institutional repositories were created with publications in mind, rather than datasets, which may in part account for their less-than-ideal functionality. Third, user interfaces for the repositories are often poorly designed and do not take into account the user’s experience (or inexperience) and expectations. Because more of our activities are conducted on the Internet, we are exposed to many high-quality, commercial-grade user interfaces in the course of a workday. Correspondingly, researchers have expectations for clean, simple interfaces that can be learned quickly, with minimal need for contacting repository administrators.

Our Solution

We propose to address the three issues above with Dash, a well-designed, user friendly data curation platform that can be layered on top of existing community repositories. Rather than creating a new repository or rebuilding community repositories from the ground up, Dash will provide a way for organizations to allow self-service deposit of datasets via a simple, intuitive interface that is designed with individual researchers in mind. Researchers will be able to document, preserve, and publicly share their own data with minimal support required from repository staff, as well as be able to find, retrieve, and reuse data made available by others.

Three Phases of Work

  1. Requirements gathering: Before the design process begins, we will build requirements for researchers via interviews and surveys
  2. Design work: Based on surveys and interviews with researchers (Phase 1), we will develop requirements for a researcher-focused user interface that is visually appealing and easy to use.
  3. Technical work: Dash will be an added-value data sharing platform that integrates with any repository that supports community protocols (e.g., SWORD (Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit).

The dash is a critical component of any good ascii art. By reddit user Haleljacob

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Feedback Wanted: Publishers & Data Access

This post is co-authored with Jennifer Lin, PLOS

Short Version: We need your help!

We have generated a set of recommendations for publishers to help increase access to data in partnership with libraries, funders, information technologists, and other stakeholders. Please read and comment on the report (Google Doc), and help us to identify concrete action items for each of the recommendations here (EtherPad).

Background and Impetus

The recent governmental policies addressing access to research data from publicly funded research across the US, UK, and EU reflect the growing need for us to revisit the way that research outputs are handled. These recent policies have implications for many different stakeholders (institutions, funders, researchers) who will need to consider the best mechanisms for preserving and providing access to the outputs of government-funded research.

The infrastructure for providing access to data is largely still being architected and built. In this context, PLOS and the UC Curation Center hosted a set of leaders in data stewardship issues for an evening of brainstorming to re-envision data access and academic publishing. A diverse group of individuals from institutions, repositories, and infrastructure development collectively explored the question:

What should publishers do to promote the work of libraries and IRs in advancing data access and availability?

We collected the themes and suggestions from that evening in a report: The Role of Publishers in Access to Data. The report contains a collective call to action from this group for publishers to participate as informed stakeholders in building the new data ecosystem. It also enumerates a list of high-level recommendations for how to effect social and technical change as critical actors in the research ecosystem.

We welcome the community to comment on this report. Furthermore, the high-level recommendations need concrete details for implementation. How will they be realized? What specific policies and technologies are required for this? We have created an open forum for the community to contribute their ideas. We will then incorporate the catalog of listings into a final report for publication. Please participate in this collective discussion with your thoughts and feedback by April 24, 2014.

We need suggestions! Feedback! Comments! From Flickr by Hash Milhan

We need suggestions! Feedback! Comments! From Flickr by Hash Milhan


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UC Open Access: How to Comply

Free access to UC research is almost as good as free hugs! From Flickr by mhauri

Free access to UC research is almost as good as free hugs! From Flickr by mhauri

My last two blog posts have been about the new open access policy that applies to the entire University of California system. For big open science nerds like myself, this is exciting progress and deserves much ado. For the on-the-ground researcher at a UC, knee-deep in grants and lecture preparation, the ado could probably be skipped in lieu of a straightforward explanation of how to comply with the procedure. So here goes.

Who & When:

  • 1 November 2013: Faculty at UC Irvine, UCLA, and UCSF
  • 1 November 2014: Faculty at UC Berkeley, UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Riverside

Note: The policy applies only to ladder-rank faculty members. Of course, graduate students and postdocs should strongly consider participating as well.

To comply, faculty members have two options:

Option 1: Out-of-the-box open access

. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Publishing in an open access-only journal (see examples here). Some have fees and others do not.
  2. Publishing with a more traditional publisher, but paying a fee to ensure the manuscript is publicly available. These are article-processing charges (APCs) and vary widely depending on the journal. For example, Elsevier’s Ecological Informatics charges $2,500, while Nature charges $5,200.

Learn more about different journals’ fees and policies: Directory of Open Access Journals: www.doaj.org

Option 2: Deposit your final manuscript in an open access repository.

In this scenario, you can publish in whatever journal you prefer – regardless of its openness. Once the manuscript is published, you take action to make a version of the article freely and openly available.

As UC faculty (or any UC researcher, including grad students and postdocs), you can comply via Option 2 above by depositing your publications in UC’s eScholarship open access repository. The CDL Access & Publishing Group is currently perfecting a user-friendly, efficient workflow for managing article deposits into eScholarship. The new workflow will be available as of November 1stLearn more.

Does this still sound like too much work? Good news! The Publishing Group is also working on a harvesting tool that will automate deposit into eScholarship. Stay tuned – the estimated release of this tool is June 2014.

An Addendum: Are you not a UC affiliate? Don’t fret! You can find your own version of eScholarship (i.e., an open access repository) by going to OpenDOAR. Also see my full blog post about making your publications open access.


Academic libraries must pay exorbitant fees to provide their patrons (researchers) with access to scholarly publications.  The very patrons who need these publications are the ones who provide the content in the form of research articles.  Essentially, the researchers are paying for their own work, by proxy via their institution’s library.

What if you don’t have access? Individuals without institutional affiliations (e.g., between jobs), or who are affiliated with institutions that have no/a poorly funded library (e.g., in 2nd or 3rd world countries), depend on open access articles for keeping up with the scholarly literature. The need for OA isn’t limited to jobless or international folks, though. For proof, one only has to notice that the Twitter community has developed a hash tag around this, #Icanhazpdf (Hat tip to the Lolcats phenomenon). Basically, you tweet the name of the article you can’t access and add the hashtag in hopes that someone out in the Twittersphere can help you out and send it to you.

Special thanks to Catherine Mitchell from the CDL Publishing & Access Group for help on this post.

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A Closer Look at the New UC Open Access Policy

The UC is opening up their research locker.  From Flickr by sam.d

The UC is opening up their research locker. From Flickr by sam.d

Last week, the University of California announced a new Open Access Policy. Here I will explore the policy in a bit more detail.  The gist of the policy is this: research articles authored by UC faculty will be made available to the public at no charge.

I’m sure most of this blog’s readers are familiar with paywalls and the nuances of scholarly publishing, but for those that aren’t – if you don’t have a license to get content from particular journals (via your institution’s library, for example) then you may pay upwards of $100 per article. For example, if I publish an amazing article in Nature (and don’t pay the $5,200 fee to make my article open access), my mom can’t get a copy of the article to hang on her fridge without either (1) getting a copy from someone with access, or (2) paying a big fee. Considering that my mom pays taxes that fund the NSF which funded my work, this is rather strange.

The UC policy is trying to change that. The idea is that faculty at the UC will grant a license to the UC prior to any contractual arrangement with publishers. The faculty member then has the right to make their research will be widely and publicly available, re-use it for various purposes, or modify it for future research publications – regardless of the publisher’s wishes for locking down the work.

Faculty will continue to publish their work in the most appropriate journal (open access or not). The big change is that now they can also place a copy of the publication in UC’s open access repository, eScholarship, which is freely accessible to anyone. To re-emphasize: This policy does NOT require that faculty publish in particular journals or pay “Article Processing Charges” to ensure their article is open access.

From the policy’s FAQ  page:

Faculty are strongly encouraged to continue to publish as normal, in the most appropriate and prestigious journals. Faculty are not required to pay to publish articles or pay to deposit them in an open-access repository under this policy, unless they choose to do so.

How faculty can comply (from the FAQ page):

By passing the policy on July 24, 2013, UC faculty members have committed themselves to making their scholarly articles available to the public by granting a license to UC and depositing a copy of their publications in eScholarship, UC’s open access repository. The policy automatically grants UC a license to make any scholarly articles available in an open access repository. UC will not do so, however, until an author takes the action of depositing an article in UC’s eScholarship repository or confirms the availability of the article in another open access venue – i.e., a repository (such as PubMed Central, ArXiv or SSRN) or an open access journal.

The California Digital Library and the campus libraries will assist faculty by providing a streamlined deposit system into eScholarship and an automated ‘harvesting’ tool in order to ease the process of depositing articles, is expected to be in place by June 2014.

And now, the downside. Michael Eisen, co-founder of the open access journal PLOS, points out the potential downside of the new policy in his blog post:

This policy has a major, major hole – an optional faculty opt-out. This is there because enough faculty wanted the right to publish their works in ways that were incompatible with the policy that the policy would not have passed without the provision.  Unfortunately, this means that the policy is completely toothless.

Eisen goes on to say

…because of the opt out, this is a largely symbolic gesture – a minor event in the history of open access, not the watershed event that some people are making it out to be.

Although I agree with Eisen that the opt-out clause significantly weakens the strength of this policy, I still believe this move on the UC’s part represents a major step forward in the battle to reclaim our scholarly work from some publishers. Perhaps it isn’t “watershed” but it’s certainly exciting, and it’s stimulating conversations about open science and accessibility to research.

Read more on the new policy and related topics:

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UC Faculty Senate Passes #OA Policy

Big news! I just got this email regarding the new Open Access Policy for the University of California System. I’ll write a full blog post next week but wanted to share this as soon as possible. (emphasis is mine)

The Academic Senate of the University of California has passed an Open Access Policy, ensuring that future research articles authored by faculty at all 10 campuses of UC will be made available to the public at no charge. “The Academic Council’s adoption of this policy on July 24, 2013, came after a six-year process culminating in two years of formal review and revision,” said Robert Powell, chair of the Academic Council. “Council’s intent is to make these articles widely—and freely— available in order to advance research everywhere.”  Articles will be available to the public without charge via eScholarship (UC’s open access repository) in tandem with their publication in scholarly journals.  Open access benefits researchers, educational institutions, businesses, research funders and the public by accelerating the pace of research, discovery and innovation and contributing to the mission of advancing knowledge and encouraging new ideas and services.

Chris Kelty, Associate Professor of Information Studies, UCLA, and chair of the UC University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC), explains, “This policy will cover more faculty and more research than ever before, and it sends a powerful message that faculty want open access and they want it on terms that benefit the public and the future of research.”

The policy covers more than 8,000 UC faculty at all 10 campuses of the University of California, and as many as 40,000 publications a year. 

It follows more than 175 other universities who have adopted similar so-called “green” open access policies.  By granting a license to the University of California prior to any contractual arrangement with publishers, faculty members can now make their research widely and publicly available, re-use it for various purposes, or modify it for future research publications.  Previously, publishers had sole control of the distribution of these articles.  All research publications covered by the policy will continue to be subjected to rigorous peer review; they will still appear in the most prestigious journals across all fields; and they will continue to meet UC’s standards of high quality.  Learn more about the policy and its implementation here: http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/openaccesspolicy/

UC is the largest public research university in the world and its faculty members receive roughly 8% of all research funding in the U.S.

With this policy UC Faculty make a commitment to the public accessibility of research, especially, but not only, research paid for with public funding by the people of California and the United States.  This initiative is in line with the recently announced White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directive requiring “each Federal Agency with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to results of the research funded by the Federal Government.” The new UC Policy also follows a similar policy passed in 2012 by the Academic Senate at the University of California, San Francisco, which is a health sciences campus.

“The UC Systemwide adoption of an Open Access (OA) Policy represents a major leap forward for the global OA movement and a well-deserved return to taxpayers who will now finally be able to see first-hand the published byproducts of their deeply appreciated investments in research” said Richard A. Schneider, Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and chair of the Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication at UCSF.   “The ten UC campuses generate around 2-3% of all the peer-reviewed articles published in the world every year, and this policy will make many of those articles freely  available to anyone who is interested anywhere, whether they are colleagues, students, or members of the general public”

The adoption of this policy across the UC system also signals to scholarly publishers that open access, in terms defined by faculty and not by publishers, must be part of any future scholarly publishing system.  The faculty remains committed to working with publishers to transform the publishing landscape in ways that are sustainable and beneficial to both the University and the public.

More information: http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/openaccesspolicy/


University of California, Berkeley campus, 1901. Contributed to Calisphere by the Berkeley Public Library.

University of California, Berkeley campus, 1901. Contributed to Calisphere by the Berkeley Public Library.

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Impact Factors: A Broken System

From Flickr by The Official CTBTO Photostream

How big is your impact? Sedan Plowshare Crater, 1962. From Flickr by The Official CTBTO Photostream

If you are a researcher, you are very familiar with the concept of a journal’s Impact Factor (IF). Basically, it’s a way to grade journal quality. From Wikipedia:

The impact factor (IF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in the journal. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed to be more important than those with lower ones.

The IF was devised in the 1970s as a tool for research libraries to judge the relative merits of journals when allocating their subscription budgets. However it is now being used as a way to evaluate the merits of individual scientists– something for which it was never intended to be used.  As Björn Brembs puts it, “…scientific careers are made and broken by the editors at high-ranking journals.”

In his great post, “Sick of Impact Factors“, Stephen Curry says that the real problem started when impact factors began to be applied to papers and people.

I can’t trace the precise origin of the growth but it has become a cancer that can no longer be ignored. The malady seems to particularly afflict researchers in science, technology and medicine who, astonishingly for a group that prizes its intelligence, have acquired a dependency on a valuation system that is grounded in falsity. We spend our lives fretting about how high an impact factor we can attach to our published research because it has become such an important determinant in the award of the grants and promotions needed to advance a career. We submit to time-wasting and demoralising rounds of manuscript rejection, retarding the progress of science in the chase for a false measure of prestige.

Curry isn’t alone. Just last week Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief of Science, wrote  a compelling editorial about Impact Factor distortions. Alberts’ editorial was inspired by the recently released San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). I think this is one of the more important declarations/manifestoes peppering the internet right now, and has the potential to really change the way scholarly publishing is approached by researchers.

DORA was created by a group of editors and publishers who met up at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in 2012. Basically, it lays out all the problems with impact factors and provides a set of general recommendations for different stakeholders (funders, institutions, publishers, researchers, etc.). The goal of DORA is to improve “the way in which the quality of research output is evaluated”.  Read more on the DORA website and sign the declaration (I did!).

An alternative to IF?

If most of us can agree that impact factors are not a great way to assess researchers or their work, then what’s the alternative? Curry thinks the solution lies in Web 2.0 (quoted from this post):

…we need to find ways to attach to each piece of work the value that the scientific community places on it though use and citation. The rate of accrual of citations remains rather sluggish, even in today’s wired world, so attempts are being made to capture the internet buzz that greets each new publication…

That’s right, skeptical scientists: he’s talking about buzz on the internet as a way to assess impact. Read more about “alternative metrics” in my blog post on the subject: The Future of Metrics in Science.  Also check out the list of altmetrics-related tools at altmetrics.org. The great thing about altmetrics is that they don’t rely solely on citation counts, plus they are capable of taking other research products into account (like blog posts and datasets).

Other good reads on this subject:

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Libraries & the Future of Scholarly Communication at #BTPDF2

Let's hope this doesn't become the uniform of academic librarians.

Let’s hope this doesn’t become the uniform of academic librarians. From allposters.com

Last week I attended the Beyond the PDF 2 Meeting, sponsored by FORCE11.  For those unaware of BTPDF2, it’s a spinoff event from the Beyond the PDF meeting, which took place in San Diego a few years back. BTPDF2 was a meeting of the minds for digital scholarship, with representatives from publishing, libraries, academia, software development, and everything in between. The room was full of heavy hitters and passionate advocates, with participant ages ranging from 19 to 70. The energy in the room was palpable, and was amplified by the amazing meeting space in Amsterdam.

There are plenty of ways to find out what happened at BTPDF2 (see a list of links below). In this post, I want to focus on the outcomes relevant to the stakeholders dear to my heart: librarians. Here I provide three observations related to libraries and the BTPDF2 meeting.

1. Missing Librarians

Lukas Koster, who works at the Library of the University of Amsterdam, wrote a terrific blog post about this topic titled Beyond the Library, where he summarized one of my first observations:

…any big changes in the way that scholarly communication is being carried out in the near and far future definitely affects the role of academic libraries… So I was surprised to see that the library representation at the conference was so low compared to researchers, publishers, students and tech/tools people.

There are many explanations possible for the dearth of librarians at BTPDF2; travel costs inevitably rises to the top. But what concerns me is that there wasn’t much action on the Twitter feed from the libraries, and almost every conversation I had wherein librarians were brought up, colleagues would say something to the effect of “Where are the librarians?” They were not only referring to the lack of librarians in Amsterdam; they were also asking the bigger question: Why haven’t libraries stepped up?

2. Librarians as both panacea and scapegoat

In discussions of stakeholder responsibilities and who should be leading the charge, librarians were mentioned repeatedly. They are at the center of the campus (sometimes physically as well as metaphorically), and can therefore facilitate discussions among IT, researchers, publishers, and administrators. The role of librarians has changed, regardless of the opinions of the librarians themselves. Publishers in attendance were among the most vocal in touting the library’s role in the future of scholarly communication: this is the community with which publishers primarily interact, and they clearly believed that it was the library’s responsibility to convey the needs of the researchers and their institutions.

But what about the actual handling of digital objects, creation of metadata, et cetera? During one discussion involving who should take on what responsibility in this space, one attendee said “Libraries are good at storing data. That’s what they do.” I think this would be news to many librarians.

3. Libraries are not promoting themselves

One prominent startup developer made a statement while on stage: while he was a researcher, he (1) never went to the library, (2) didn’t know about the institutional repository available to him, (3) wasn’t aware the library could help him with data, and (4) assumed librarians’ primary role was to “ensure researchers had access to online journals”, which he accessed daily. He then went on to state that libraries should be running themselves more like businesses: determine what services are needed and the most cost-effective way to deliver them.

I wish I could say I disagree with him, or that he does not represent the majority of researchers; I can’t. I would have made those same statements 3 years ago, before I started working with DataONE. Even more upsetting? Some librarians are not willing to swallow this information and rectify the situation. As one example, a senior librarian who shall go unnamed once said to me “No one is coming to me and asking for help with data or any of this stuff. Until they do, I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing for years”. Ouch. That’s a short path to irrelevance.

Next week I’ll post a bit more about other outcomes from BTPDF2, but suffice it to say that libraries have some work to do…

BTPDF2 Link Roundup:

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Collecting Journal Data Policies: JoRD

My last two posts have related to IDCC 2013; that makes this post three in a row. Apparently IDCC is a gift that just keeps giving (albeit a rather short post in this case).

Today the topic is the JoRD project, funded by JISC. JoRD stands for Journal Research Data; the JoRD Policy Bank is basically a project to collect and summarize data policies for a range of academic journals.

From the JISC project website, this project aims to

provide researchers, managers of research data and other stakeholders with an easy source of reference to understand and comply with Research Data policies.

How to go about this? The project’s objectives (cribbed and edited from the project site):

  1. Identify and consult with stakeholders; develop stakeholder requirements
  2. Investigate the current state of data sharing policies within journals
  3. Deliver recommendations on a central service to summarize journal research data policies and provide a reference for guidance and information on journal policies.

I’m most interested in #2: what are journals saying about data sharing? To tackle this, project members are collecting information about data sharing policies on the the top 100 and bottom 100 Science Journals, and the top 100 and bottom 100 Social Science Journals. Based on the stated journal policies about data sharing, they fill out an extensive spreadsheet. I’m anxious to see the final outcome of this data collection – my hunch is that most journals “encourage” or “recommend” data sharing, but do not mandate it.

I think of the JoRD Policy Bank as having two major benefits:

Educating Researchers. As  you may be aware, many researchers are a bit slow to jump on the data sharing bandwagon.  This is the case despite the fact that all signs point to future requirements for sharing at the time of publication (see my post about it, Thanks in Advance for Sharing Your Data). Once researchers come to terms with the fact that soon data sharing will not be optional, they will need to know how to comply. Enter JoRD Policy Bank!

Encouraging Publishers. The focus on stakeholder needs and requirements suggests that the outcomes of this project will provide guidance to publishers about how to proceed in their requirements surrounding data sharing. There might be a bit of peer pressure, as well: Journals don’t want to seem behind the times when it comes to data sharing, lest their credibility be threatened.

In general, the JoRD website is chock full of information about data sharing policies, open data, and data citation. Check it out!

C'mon researchers! Jump on the data sharing band wagon! From purlem.com

C’mon researchers! Jump on the data sharing band wagon! From purlem.com

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Researchers! Make Your Previous Work OA

For the last two weeks, I’ve been posting on Open Stuff, including Open Access and Open Data, Open Science, Open Notebooks, etc etc. I’m continuing the thread this week with a discussion of how researchers can make most, if not all, of their publications open.

Need a PDF that’s not OA? Use #Icanhazpdf. Still no luck? Console yourself with Lolcats. From icanhas.cheezburger.com

Why am I devoting a whole post to this? First, because it’s really important. Individuals without institutional affiliations (e.g., between jobs), or who are affiliated with institutions that have no/a poorly funded library (e.g., in 2nd or 3rd world countries), depend on open access articles for keeping up with the scholarly literature. The need for OA isn’t limited to jobless or international folks, though. For proof, one only has to notice that the Twitter community has developed a hash tag around this, #Icanhazpdf (Hat tip to the Lolcats phenomenon). Basically, you tweet the name of the article you can’t access and add the hashtag in hopes that someone out in the Twittersphere can help you out and send it to you.

Academic libraries must pay exhorbidant fees to provide their patrons (researchers) with access to scholarly publications.  The very patrons that need these publications are the ones that provide the content in the form of research articles.  Essentially, the researchers are paying for their own work, by proxy via their institution’s library.

In response to this, many institutions are enacting Open Access policies. The goal here is to encourage (or mandate) that their faculty provide post-print copies of all publications to an open access institutional repository. MIT  and Harvard were among the first to enact such policies. Closer to home, UC San Francisco Academic Senate signed off on an open access policy in May of this year. The policy will go up for a UC-wide vote in December, which would mean all University of California researchers would be required to place their publications in an open access institutional repository.

If you remember from two weeks back, one path to OA is “Green”, i.e. when you put a publication in an OA repository.  The publication may or may not have been originally published in an OA journal. How does this work, you ask? Let me demonstrate, using a researcher at the University of California as an example.

Let’s call our hypothetical researcher Jane. She has published three journal articles while working as a postdoc at UC Santa Cruz. The journals in which she published were were Conservation Genetics, Nature, and Ecology. None of these journals is, by default, an open access journal.  Jane wants to be sure her colleagues in Microneseia can access her articles, despite not being affiliated with a major library at an academic institution. What to do? (note: this workflow is based on eScholarship’s instructions for authors)

First, Jane should check her rights to the work.  An easy way to do this is to check SHERPA/RoMEO, a free resource for helping researchers navigate the copyright policies of journals. They provide you with a brief overview of the journal’s policy and what authors are allowed to do with their work. Here’s what she found:

Conservation Genetics:





So Jane can make her Conservation Genetics and Nature articles OA by archiving a post-print version, as long as it’s not the publisher’s version/PDF.  For Ecology, she can post the publisher’s version so long as she acknowledges their copyright.

Now Jane can find a repository to place her journal articles. The repository should be open and make the articles freely available to anyone, anywhere. Jane checks out this list of repostories available from OpenDOAR and finds that the UC system has an open repository available to all UC researchers called eScholarship (housed at CDL!). She follows the easy steps on the eScholarship website and submits her three articles. She receives URLs, which she then emails to her colleagues in Micronesia.  And voila! Jane has participated in Open Access! Her scholarly works are now publicly available, and she has managed to ensure that anyone, anywhere can access her work.

Researchers: follow these steps to make your work available.

  1. Find out that status of your works’ copyright (use SHERPA/RoMEO)
  2. Identify an appropriate OA repository available to you (use OpenDOAR)
  3. Deposit your works and start sharing

To prevent future confusion about copyright, check out the SPARC author addendum generator: it helps you generate an addendum that you can attach to your signed author agreements, thereby ensuring some of your rights.

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Three Cheers for Open Access!


Open Access has two flavors (green and gold), but the concept of “open” has many more: open science, open source, open knowledge… From Flickr by aquarian librarian.

If you weren’t aware, this week is Open Access Week.  The word open gets used quite a bit these days… like open notebooks, open science, open source, open content, open access, open data, open government, open repositories, and open knowledge. If you are not sure what all the hoopla is about, read on. Note: I will talk about “Open Stuff” for the next couple of blog posts, so stay tuned.

Let’s start with the honorary “Open” for the week: open access.  This phrase is used to describe “content”, which is a rather ambiguous phrase used to indicate it could be just about anything digital… like pictures, data, articles, blog posts, etc. etc. Open access content has three basic characteristics:

  1. Digital
  2. Free
  3. Online

That means there are no price or permission barriers, the full content is available, and it is made available immediately. Although Open Access content can be anything that fitst the criteria above, the phrase is most frequently used to describe academic journals.

It might surprise some to learn that Open Access as a way of publishing is compatible with copyright, peer review, revenue, quality, indexing, and prestige.  If the journal is open access, there may be little or none of the following: printing, price negotiations for institutional subscriptions, site licenses, user authentication, access blocking.

Open access comes in two basic flavors: Green and Gold.

  • Gold OA refers to peer reviewed, open access journals. Examples include PLOS and Ecosphere. Sometimes authors are charged, but often fees are waived if their home institution has a subscription to the journal.
  • Green OA refers to open access repositories, traditionally with no peer review, that are institutional or discipline-specific. Examples include PubMed Central and MIT’s DSpace repository. Basically, these repositories are able to house articles for authors that may or may not be published in OA journals. This is known as “post-print archiving”, and is explicitly allowed by about 60% of journals and allowed by almost all others upon request.

Researchers: in case you weren’t paying attention, you can post-print archive ALL of your publications with an OA archive, which makes them open access! Why aren’t all researchers doing this already? Probably because they either don’t know they can (I didn’t until recently), or they don’t know what repositories are available to them to do this. If it’s the latter, here are a few suggestions:

  • Talk to your friendly institutional librarian.  They know all kinds of things (read my blog post about libraries being under-utilized), including whether your institution has a relationship with any repositories.
  • Check out OpenDOAR, the OA repositories list. It’s a complete list of “Green OA” repositories with over 2000 listings.

In honor of Open Access week, I challenge you to make at least one of your previously published articles open access. Go forth and open!

You might be wondering… why are some people against open access? What are the down sides? 

Not surprisingly, most of the folks that aren’t big fans of OA are traditional scholarly publishers.  They contend that publishers play an important gatekeeper role, keeping out the riffraff articles that will drag down the journal’s reputation.  Traditional journals also have a strong record of facilitating peer review, editing articles, and indexing them with various services.  The Association of American Publishers (AAP) is leading the charge against OA requirements for publicly funded research, and in 2011 they helped sponsor a bill put before congress called the Research Works Act.  Wikipedia sums up the bill nicely:

The bill contains provisions to prohibit open-access mandates for federally funded research and effectively revert the NIH’s Public Access Policy that requires taxpayer-funded research to be freely accessible online.

Needless to say, this bill would have severely restricted all kinds of open access progress that has been made in the last decade.  In response to this bill, an online petition was initiated called The Cost of Knowledge, which focused on the business practices of the academic publisher Elsevier.  It was signed by more than 10,000 scholars, who were calling for lower prices for journals and promotion of increased open access to information. The bill did not pass, and hopefully it or some new version of it never will.

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