FNRS Open Access Management and Policy Conference Writeup

Brussels, 28th of September: The FNRS has done an excellent job bringing together international speakers for an overdue day on Open Access Policy in Belgium. Unfortunately, the percentage of Flemish (dutch speaking) attendees was low, so hopefully this blog contributes in the dissemination of the top notch content. In case you want immediate access to the content in detail, following links are useful:

Full Programme

Webcast home: videos for all of the talks

Overall, the day brought together different stakeholders, ranging from librarians, researchers, policy makers and publishers. This blog is based on the public conference notes, including personal interpretation on my part. Note that you are reading a blog written by an Open Access advocate, so although our objective is to paint a readable summary of the day, some bias might apply here. Only some of the talks are listed here. Both the conference notes, and the video clips, contain more content.

@mire, as a provider of institutional repository services, has a clear stake in the establishment of Institutional Repositories as an enabler of Open Access.

 

Opening Address - Bernard Rentier

 

 Rentier opened the conference by clearing up a few things. He indicated that open access should not be regarded as a religion, conviction or movement lead by a few guru's. According to him it all comes down on common sense.

 

The open access landscape today is the result of two simultaneous evolutions:

1. The world wide web enabled electronic publishing. Progress in the state of the art here make it more and more interesting as a medium for scientific communication.

2. Ever growing publication costs

 

Due to the timely encounter of both these evolutions, you can now have more images, appendices in your work, as you are less confined in the usage of space. Video, raw data, sound, are also within reach.

 

Liquid publication (not explained in detail but illustrated as a promising trend)

 

Two misconceptions created a camp of non-believers within the research community:

1. If it's available online for free, it must be junk.

2. There is no good quality peer review in open access.

 

Both are simply not true and its a pity that these were the grounds that caused wars between scientists who wanted to advance open access, and those that wanted to preserve the old model.

 

Currently, these groups have given room to eachother and there seems a fragile balance between both parties, who are at least talking to eachother today.

 

As a final interesting tidbit, Rentier indicated that scientific institutions produce 2 things: diploma's and publications. Although these institutions have a pretty good grip on keeping track of the diploma's, he stated that most institutions do a lousy job on tracking publication output at the moment.

 

Why “Green” Open Access self-archiving mandates must become before “Gold” Open Access publishing - Stevan Harnad - Université du Québec, CND / University of Southampton, UK/EOS

Presenter Bio

Slides

If you are new to Open Access or if you never heard a talk by Stevan Harnad before, take half an hour to watch the recording of this talk, you won't be sorry.

 

Basically, he gave the same presentation twice in this one session. First without and then with the aid of his slides, as he indicated they might distract people from the essence.

 

In short, he adviced the audience to focus on one specific goal, the green Open Access to scholarly communication. By avoiding over-reaching the community can get to significant results faster.

 

So what does he consider "Green Open Access" and what are examples of over-reaching?

 

Green Open Access has nothing to do with "Open Access Publishing". It can peacefully co-exist with any publishing model, be it a traditional one, or an open access one. Regardless of the medium by which the publication was published originally, Green Open Access is enabling free, online access to the publication on the initiative of the author (or his/her institution), through institutional repositories.

 

There is squemischness around the word "mandate". For example, the new Princeton Policy doesn't contain the word mandate even once.

However, there is an implicit Open Access mandate, inherently part of publishing: "Publish or Perish". By the very nature of publishing, an author benefits by having his or her results communicated as widely as possible.

 

This brings us back to over-reaching. The community shouldn't over reach in terms of scope/domain. Scholarly communication, scientific articles, that's what we should be going for. It's premature to start the crusade for books, software, video, … Opposed to scholarly communication, it's much more likely that this content HAS been created with a profit goal in the first place. So we shouldn't see this as the same ballpark.

 

So again, the scope of Green Open Access should be

  • 2,5 Million Articles
  • Published yearly
  • In 25000 peer reviewed journals.

Another form of over-reaching is aiming for Gold Open Access. This has less in common with Green Open Access than some people might think. The decision to go for Green OA is entirely in the hands of the researcher. Gold Open Access is the name for the publishing model in which subscription fees are replaced by Author Processing Charges (APC's), or to put it bluntly, author pays, not the reader. One of the reasons why we shouldn't be going there yet, is that there is no money to fund this. Ultimately, if Green OA is able to bring costs down for publishers and institutions, the freed up money could be spent on Gold OA. But the current situation, in which Gold OA Author Processing Charges are imposed ON TOP of what institutions are already paying for subscriptions, is unsustainable according to Harnad.

 

The last form of over-reaching he wanted to advise against, at least for now, is pushing for Libre Open Access, which goes beyond Green (or Gratis) Open Access. The subtle difference is that Libre Open Access advocates for certain further re-use rights, on top of the right to access the publication. Again, the community is advised to be pragmatic and not reach for Libre Open Access … yet.

 

There is more content to be found in the public conference notes, but do check out the video if you have the time.

 

About negative aspects of the open access system - Jacques Reisse

 

Presenter Bio

Slides

Jacques Reisse had some serious considerations with the wild growth of Open Access publishers and journals (cfr Gold Open Access Model). The current appraisal systems, built on measures like impact factor and h-index will not reward you when publishing in novel journals that don't have an impact factor yet. Of course, this is unrelated to the benefits of Green Open Access, which can co-exist with any medium of peer reviewed publication.

 

Not sure anymore why, but he brought up this interesting paper:

Metadata Mega Mess in Google Scholar

 

Reisse also indicated that we should be careful using download statistics. When researchers provide attractive keywords, downloads can go sky high. Download doesn't mean "read", and certainly doesn't mean "cited".

 

As a last consideration, he indicated that publishers still have a vital role to play to control the ever growing ocean of information. My personal view on this is that this reality is something that everyone needs to deal with on a daily basis, not only researchers. Which doesn't take away that publishers are in a very good position to provide added value in this space that currently can't be found elsewhere.

 

Elsevier vision for universal access - Alicia Wise

Presenter Bio

Slides

Wise indicated that the Publishers have been on the cutting edge, with investments in digitization efforts. This amount is estimated to be around 2 billion USD since 2000 as an overarching investment by the whole journal publishing industry.

 

The Universal Access vision of Elsevier can be summarized as: "A world in which everyone has immediate access to all information they need, while preserving quality."

 

According to recent survey results, Wise illustrated that 93% of surveyed researchers are happy with access to research in scholarly journals. However, the percentage gets worse for other types of information, especially datasets, market research and doctoral theses. Other stakeholders (SME, large corporations, non-corporate, university college) have other satisfaction levels on access.

 

Elsevier doesn't believe that one single model (open access) is the answers to all situations. Other models that might apply are:

  • Free at point of use
  • Information philanthropy
  • Transactions (pay per view)
  • Subscriptions
  • Lending & Rental operations

Elsevier does not oppose voluntary Green Open Access on the initiative of individual authors but is concerned about the introduction of mandates with overly short embargo periods.

 

Finally, she introduced the DeepDyve pilot, a content aggregation platform over multiple publishers that operates on a pay per use basis.

 

There is more content to be found in the public conference notes. Alternatively, you can watch the video.

 

Access to scientific information. The role of the EU - Carl-Christian Buhr

Presenter Bio

Slides

 

Buhr works in the cabinet of european commissioner Neelie Kroes.

 

Although the Commission is highly in favor of open access, it only has power to recommend, as it has no authority to regulate on the area of scientific research.

 

For me this was the most striking point in the talk. Gold OA costs are reimbursable for any publication output, related to FP7 projects. This reimbursement is not limited to the 20% of FP7 projects that are covered by the Open Access Pilot.

However, these costs have to be included within the running time of the project. This is troublesome, as publishing often takes place after the actual project.

 

There is more content to be found in the public conference notes. Alternatively, you can watch the video.

 

SCOAP3: Open Access Publishing in  High-Energy Physics - Salvatore Mele

 

Salvatore Mele: Presenter Bio

Download the slides

 

SCOAP3 stands for the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing (in particle physics). This consortium has the audacious goal of converting a whole discipline to Open Access. In order to do this, they are looking to pool together €10M in order to ensure free access to around 5000-7000 High Energy Physics publication per year. Currently, the consortium has pledges for already 8 out of the 10 million and has launched a request for proposal towards the publishers.

 

Mele also made a strong case against embargo's in Open Access. To illustrate the benefits of embargo-free open access, he pointed out the recent neutrino findings from CERN. Already 24 hours after release, there were several "citations" (non peer reviewed) by authors in the field which lead to rapid scientific development.

 

There is more content to be found in the public conference notes. Alternatively, you can watch the video.

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