27 April 2015

Open Access in Canada: “It’s all about choice”


© Copyright 2014 – Canadian Science Publishing.
“[O]pen access is a worldwide phenomenon. However, the urgency of implementation has greater impetus in some nations because of strong OA mandates from large, centralised funders.” Martin Paul Eve, Open Access and the Humanities, p.5. CC BY-SA 4.0
The OA mandates from large funders that Martin Paul Eve mentions in the quote above no doubt refers, at least in part, to RCUK and Wellcome trust open access mandates that have helped to drive OA in the UK. The pace of change gained even greater urgency after HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) released its open access policy for the next Research Excellence Framework. In many respects the UK can be seen to be leading the way in open access, however there are many international initiatives happening as well. So, over the next couple of weeks we will be sharing some international developments in open access. First up is Canada where there have been recent developments akin to those in the UK with large centralised funders mandating OA for papers resulting from funded research.

In Canada there are three main state sponsored funding bodies:

“The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (“the Agencies”) are federal granting agencies that promote and support research, research training and innovation within Canada. As publicly funded organizations, the Agencies have a fundamental interest in promoting the availability of findings that result from the research they fund, including research publications and data, to the widest possible audience, and at the earliest possible opportunity. Societal advancement is made possible through widespread and barrier-free access to cutting-edge research and knowledge, enabling researchers, scholars, clinicians, policymakers, private sector and not-for-profit organizations and the public to use and build on this knowledge.” Government of Canada, Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications Science.gc.ca*

All grants awarded after May 2015 (and all grants from 1st January 2008 for CIHR funded authors) are required to comply with the harmonised open access policy of the three funders. Grant holders will be required to make peer-reviewed journal articles freely available within 12 months of publication. Authors can choose “green” open access and deposit their accepted manuscript in an online repository, or authors can choose to publish in a journal that offers immediate open access via the “gold” route.

There are similarities between the Canadian funding agencies' OA policy and the RCUK open access policy, but there are divergences as well. One such difference is where RCUK stipulate an embargo of between 6 and 24 months depending on which of the 7 research councils has funded the research, the Canadian OA policy stipulates that only a 12 month embargo is allowed. The two policies differ in their approach to APC payments as well; unlike RCUK who have elected to supply UK institutions with funds to pay for immediate “gold” open access, in the Canadian model the cost of OA publishing can come directly from the grant as an eligible expense.

The Canadian funding agencies' open access policy is predicated on the firm belief that spreading the reach and impact of academic research is beneficial to society, both at home and abroad. Aligning the open access policy of the Agencies with international funding agencies such as RCUK was a principal concern.
“Momentum for open access has been growing as numerous funding agencies and institutions worldwide implement open access policies. The Agencies strongly support open access to research results which promotes the principle of knowledge sharing and mobilization – an essential objective of academia. As research and scholarship become increasingly multi-disciplinary and collaborative, both domestically and internationally, the Agencies are working to facilitate research partnerships by harmonizing domestic policies and aligning with the global movement to open access.” Government of Canada, Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications Science.gc.ca*

The UK is not going it alone, and to paraphrase the Canadian funding agencies, open access is a global movement. Over the next few weeks we will highlight other countries around the world that are actively making commitments to open access.


*Quotations are reproduced from an official work that was published by the Government of Canada. The reproduction has not been produced in affiliation with or with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.

24 April 2015

Our lives in a year of Open Access support

As part of our contribution to the Jisc Pathfinder project Lessons in Open Access Compliance for Higher Education (LOCH), the Library has now published its case study. A year in the life of Open Access support: continuous improvement at University of St Andrews tells the story of our engagement with the University's well-established Lean method to streamline OA processes and how this impacted on team activities. It is hoped that along with our partners' case studies this will help in defining an Open Access support service within higher education institutions that face a range of different challenges. Since publication on 3 April there have been 92 downloads of the study which is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY).

From the Case Study: Mapping the interim state of Open Access at St Andrews, May 2014

20 April 2015

All that glisters is not gold

Chaired by Sir Bob Burgess this independent review covers the first 16 months of RCUK's Open Access policy April 2013-July 2014. Although this seems a bit early, the review panel felt it was necessary to gather a baseline of evidence.  The timing also underpins its conclusion - that it's too early to properly assess many of the policy's impacts, particularly on embargoes and licensing.  This is the first of several reviews within the 5-year transition period. It is also the first since the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee published its September 2013 report criticising RCUK's preference for Gold Open Access.  The panel does not challenge RCUK's Gold preference, instead advocating a mixed Gold/Green model.

Detail from cover: Review of the implementation of the RCUK Policy on Open Access
Licensed under a Creative CommonsAttribution 4.0 International Licence
The thread of limited data collection for an evidence base runs through the report and the panel felt it relied on opinion more than it would have liked. This confirms the health warning in the St Andrews Compliance Data Report:
One particular area of difficulty is actually capturing complete and accurate information about all the publications which arise from Research Council-funded research.
Key recommendations
  • Compliance monitoring - improve data collection, mandate the use of Open Researcher and Contributor IDs (ORCIDs) in grant applications, introduce the possibility of including monographs in a future review.
  • Communication- improve dialogue between RCUK and researchers, publishers and HEIs, promotion of the mixed Green/Gold model and authors' right to choose the most appropriate publication.
  • Embargoes - more evidence to be collected, particularly in relation to reasonable embargo periods for Humanities and Social Sciences publications.
  • Licenses - CC-BY licenses are necessary for compliance and publishers should make authors aware of this default requirement at the point of need.
  • Administrative effort and costs - promotion of best practice sharing between HEIs and encourage use of standard terminology by publishers to avoid confusion around their policies. 
  • Block grant - exploration of using the block grant to incentivise less research-intensive institutions who nevertheless publish high quality research; likewise exploration on whether particular departments and disciplines within HEIs might be disadvantaged in the current allocation.
The RCUK Executive will respond to the recommendations shortly.  The next review will be in 2016. 

Although St Andrews is not listed in Annex C, it did contribute written evidence. St Andrews is already working with Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt on the Jisc LOCH Pathfinder project to establish and promote best practice.

15 April 2015

Quantum Earth and Paperscape: mapping arXiv

Copyright Roberto Salazar & Sebastian Pizarro

Above is a visualisation of Quantum Earth, a continent consisting of research articles in the field of quantum mechanics. The idea was originally conceived by Roberto Salazar after completing his PhD on quantum information at the University of ConcepciĆ³n in Chile. Roberto teamed up with Sebastian Pizarro a digital designer to bring his idea of a quantum mechanics continent to life. The result was a map reminiscent of Tolkein replete with geographic landmarks such as Teleportation Lake and Quantum Engineering Volcano.


We contacted Roberto for his thoughts on open access:
"I think open access publishing is the way that things should be done in science. That being said, I feel that this will happen only if we improve open access tools for finding the right paper for your research. In this sense I believe that Paperscape is a breakthrough in the field and hope that it will be the first of many more. I use it in my daily research and has been of great help in finding the right paper and saving time (I just love it).
Our little contribution with the "Quantum Earth" map, is to give a graphic idea of how to use Paperscape when you already have an insight in the field. Also the purpose is to give positive publicity to this great idea."

Copyright Damien George and Rob Knegjens. Downloaded here

Paperscape is a project developed by Damien George and Rob Knegjens, two post doctoral researchers who wanted to create a tool to visualise the huge volume of papers in the pre-print repository arXiv. Visually, Paperscape resembles a galaxy made up of over a million stars. Each of the 'stars' represent actual research articles in the arXiv repository. The positions of the articles are determined by references to other articles, and in effect the references act as a gravitational force in the Paperscape galaxy, pulling closely related articles together to form clusters. The way the tool structures the articles makes finding new and highly cited articles much easier as well. This is because highly cited articles appear larger and new articles appear brighter.

Posters of the Paperscape galaxy are freely available to download here in various sizes.
The full size Quantum Earth map can be viewed and downloaded here.

13 April 2015

Wellcome peer review report

Copyright Wellcome Trust CC BY 2.0


Copyright Research Information Network
A Wellcome Trust commissioned report centred around the issue of peer review was published last month. The report, conducted by the Research Information Network, sets out a detailed analysis of peer review, the critiques, and the new alternative systems for peer review that have appeared in recent years.

The report defines traditional peer review as 'the process of subjecting an author’s scholarly manuscript to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field’ (p.6) These experts must assess whether the research is of sufficient quality to be included in the journal. Many journals also require reviewers to assess the originality and significance of research, however it is worth noting that some open access mega-journals such as PLOS ONE and Collabra do not require this.

The report details many of the criticisms commonly made of peer review. One criticism is that peer review is not effective at weeding out unsound research. The report makes mention of the fact that retraction rates have increased in recent years, although the volume of retractions is a very small proportion of the 2 million papers published each year globally. Another criticism mentioned in the report is the burden faced by reviewers, the vast majority of whom are unpaid. Research suggests that around 3 million papers are submitted for review each year, and many are submitted and reviewed more than once. This represents a significant burden on reviewers, half of whom spend more than 6 hours on each review (see our recent blog post on the new journal Collabra that compensates reviewers by paying them a proportion of APC income). Other criticisms include potential for bias, expense, delays, and the potential for subversive behaviour.

Given the criticisms and the potential new avenues afforded by new digital technologies there have been many experiments with alternative forms of peer review. To take one example, open review sees both author's and reviewer's names disclosed from the outset (for example BMJ and PeerJ) and is designed to encourage constructive comments and avoid overly harsh reviews. Journals such as Frontiers (see previous blog post here) have expanded on this idea and introduced an interactive communication element to their open review process.

After investigating the various forms of peer-review the report concludes that peer review "remains a bedrock of the scholarly communications system", but reflects that there is likely to be increasing pressure on traditional peer review systems as the rate and volume of scholarly communication increases. It is this continuing pressure that will ensure experimentation with new forms of peer review will continue with cooperation between research and publishing communities:
'[W]e detect a sense in which while publishers will continue to explore new approaches in the ways we have described, they would welcome more guidance from key sections of the research community on the kinds of peer review services they want from publishers, and on the purposes that they should seek to fulfil. Unless the purposes are defined with greater clarity than they are at present, at least some of the current experimentation may prove to be of little point.' Scholarly Communication and Peer Review: The Current Landscape and Future Trends, p.30. CC BY

The full report, Scholarly Communication and Peer Review: The Current Landscape and Future Trends, can be found here.

9 April 2015

Open Access and content mining

We've previously blogged about the British Library Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS) that stores theses metadata and, where possible, the full text of digitised theses. BL Labs now wants to explore EThOS metadata for content mining or analysis of trends and is currently inviting research questions that could be answered using this approach. The move follows on from its project providing data to Virginia Tech to develop algorithms for automated subject tagging of theses.

This is another example of an overlay project underpinned by large-scale data harvesting such as the successful Mechanical Curator project that released one million out of copyright images into the public domain for researcher use and re-use.

ChemSpider is an earlier project that brings together chemical structures from a variety of sources into a free database including data from St Andrews theses. This publishing platform provides opportunities to make good quality data public, re-use and preserve known compound data and related information to advance research, develop services and surface the data on the wider internet.

It's an exciting area of Open Access and Open data and there are likely to be further developments as efforts are made digitising older theses and other sources.


Image captured by the Mechanical Curator project.  No known copyright restrictions.


1 April 2015

Share My Thesis competition - update


Last week the British Library Ethos service announced the winner of the Share My Thesis competition. We posted about the competition back in January, see here for more information.
 
The entrants had to first tweet about why their research is/was important using the #ShareMyThesis hashtag. The 8 shortlisted entrants then had to write a short article to elaborate on their tweet. You can read the winning entries here: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

Although the competition is now closed, the British Library Ethos service still encourages PhD students past and present to use #ShareMyThesis to share their PhD research with a wider audience.