25 August 2017

Requesting permission: reflections and perspectives from the University of St Andrews

[The following was originally published on the UKCoRR blog as guest post, here: http://ukcorr.org/2017/08/22/requesting-permission-reflections-and-perspectives-from-the-university-of-st-andrews/]

In July I attended the UKCoRR Members Day and delivered a presentation on the subject of approaching publishers for permission from the perspective of someone working in open access/repository support. The title of the presentation was ‘Requesting permission: approaching publishers, lessons learned, and the many successes!’ Here’s a link to the presentation in the St Andrews Research Repository: https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/handle/10023/11261

In this blog post I’ll go over some of the points from the presentation that I think struck a chord with the audience, with the overall intention of explaining the rationale behind our processes. Before I begin, I must say that I am very grateful to the other attendees on the day who shared their experiences in the Q&A, as well as after the event. It was really encouraging to hear from so many colleagues who have experienced similar stumbling blocks as we have, and it was especially useful to hear from those who do things differently to us at St Andrews.

I had noticed the issue of publisher permissions popping up on the UKCoRR email list on a number of occasions, often in relation to specific publishers who don’t have a public open access or author self-archiving policy. Additionally, a Google Doc listing publishers and their responses to requests to archive book chapters has been circulated many times, and indeed was the subject of numerous discussions on the Members Day as well. This brings me to the first point from my presentation that I felt was perhaps the most illuminating, and this is the fact that most of our permission requests are actually for articles published in journals and conference proceedings (see figure 1). Perhaps not the most shocking expose on the face of it, but if you factor in REF2021 compliance it is in fact quite significant. This is because 60% of our permissions requests are for outputs potentially in scope for the REF open access policy. So, I argued, having an effective permissions policy can potentially affect an institution’s approach to their REF return and level of exceptions required.
Figure 1 - Item types

Another perhaps less ‘sticky’ and more ‘carroty’ reason for all this comes down to effective curation of our research outputs. Many of the items in our repository are archived on the basis of successful permission requests for print-only publications, and so are often unique as they cannot be found online anywhere else. So, I explained my thoughts about digital preservation and the duty of care we have for this rare part of our collections. Part of this duty of care is ensuring permissions are well thought out, and that ensuing replies are clear and unambiguous. But, as I explained, no matter how careful you may be, I expect that risk management will always play a part in any decision to host third party copyright material online.

So, how do we do it? From the outset I want to state that I don’t believe our process is perfect by any means. And, although we have had an overwhelming amount of success there are caveats, but more on that later!

Figure 2 - Permissions workflow
When we receive a manuscript for archiving we first check SherpaRomeo, an authoritative database of publishers’ and journals’ open access and author self-archiving policies that I’m sure we’re all intimately familiar with. If we come up short we then check the journal/publisher’s website for a policy (if indeed there is a website). If we are still left wanting we’ll then go to the author and ask them to check the publishing contract. This is a very important step as it includes the author in the process and in so doing alerts them to the work required to make things open access. It also has an important educational function as it highlights the importance of retaining rights, including copyright, and the distinction between exclusive and non-exclusive licences for instance. We are also conscious of the close relationship many of our authors have with publishers, so we always try to ensure that we have the author’s prior consent before any permission requests are sent.
Figure 3 - Permissions spreadsheet
Once we have the go ahead to approach a publisher we record the action in a spreadsheet and assign it an ID (see figure 3). Then, when we receive a reply we can easily update the spreadsheet, take any actions on the Pure record (we use Pure as our Current Research Information System by the way!), and importantly we save the email in a folder and rename it according to the ID. We think it is important to track and document these requests in such a way as it creates a convenient audit trail, but it also gives us a way to assess the effectiveness of our process. You may also notice that we can report on the items types too, so for instance we know that 60% of our permission requests relate to outputs that are potentially in scope of the REF2021 open access policy.

The vast majority of responses come back in the form of emails, often but not always from editors of the journals themselves. As I said before these are filed away and retained as proof that permission has been attained. But, a question I posed at the end of my presentation was: does this actually protect our collection? It would seem common sense to suggest that items that are archived on the basis of an email are less protected than items that are archived in response to a signed letter. But is this actually the case? Might both forms of response be equally fallacious if in fact the issuer of the permission response is not vetted for authenticity (whatever that would mean). I don’t have an answer for this, so this is the point at which I ended my presentation and opened the debate to the floor.

My enduring impression from speaking to colleagues on the day was that each institution has a clear understanding of the level of risk they are willing to take, even if it is not enshrined in policy. Generally speaking my colleagues and I in the Open Access team at St Andrews tend to err on the side of caution and risk aversion, but from speaking to colleagues at other institutions my feeling is that we could perhaps afford to be less so. At any rate, the question of how we can protect these unique parts of our collections lingers on I’m afraid, and I suppose ultimately it is always going to be a balancing act between collection growth and collection sustainability.

Kyle Brady
Principal Library Assistant (Scholarly Communications)

3 August 2017

University of St Andrews pledges support for Knowledge Unlatched


The University of St Andrews has joined 50 other institutions in supporting Knowledge Unlatched for it's 2017 pledging period. Knowledge Unlatched is a novel crowd-funding initiative that aims to reduce the individual cost of academic books and journals. Each year institutions pledge money to 'unlatch' a collection of books and journals, and make them freely available with Creative Commons licences. This year's collection consists of 343 academic books, as well as 21 journals. The journals are a mixture of open access, subscription, and hybrid journals, and if a sufficient pledge is attained all will be published open access for three years starting in 2018. The journals are also from a variety of publishers: MDPI, De Gruyter, Sage, and Brill to name a few. You can find out a little more about Brill's contribution to KU in a recent blog post.

Details of the Knowleldge Unlatched 2017 Collection, can be found here: http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org/ku-select-2017/

26 July 2017

Repository marks 10000 milestone with 'rule-breaker'

We are delighted to announce the 10,000th item to appear in St Andrews Research Repository is a paper by Peter Moran, Mike Ritchie and Nathan Bailey from the School of Biology, Centre for Biological Diversity.




The University's repository aims to give to the widest possible access to the research output of our academic community, supporting our open access policy statement:
The value and utility of research outputs increases the more widely available they are to be read and used by others.

The shared effort described in our previous blog post has allowed us to increase visibility of research, and help researchers meet the open access requirements of funders. Authors deposit versions of their research publications into the University's research information system (Pure), to be made open access following any embargo periods in St Andrews Research Repository. Library staff support researchers by checking publisher policies, to make sure we don't breach any copyright rules. The Library also provides support for thesis deposit direct to the repository, as well as support services in other areas of digital research activity.

The support services leave our researchers free to concentrate on their research, and to explore fascinating topics such as the diversity of life. The authors of our 'milestone' StARR paper have provided the following layman's description of their work:

Rule-Breakers: When Females Bear the Costs of Inter-Species Mating 
Why is life on Earth so diverse, with many related but distinct species? Understanding how new species form and are maintained requires us to test why related groups of individuals evolve reproductive isolation: the inability to reproduce with each other. One of the most consistent patterns of reproductive isolation is known as Haldane’s rule. It was coined by the eccentric scientist J.B.S. Haldane in 1922 and predicts that in crosses between different species or populations, if either sex of offspring suffers sterility or mortality it will be the sex carrying different sex chromosomes. The rule’s pervasiveness indicates that sex chromosomes might play a key role in barriers to reproduction between species. However, most research on Haldane’s rule has been conducted in species with conventional sex determination systems, and exceptions to the rule have been largely understudied. We examined a remarkably rare exception to Haldane’s rule in two closely related Australian field crickets, Teleogryllus oceanicus and T. commodus. Contrary to the predictions of Haldane’s Rule, hybrid females were sterile in both cross directions, while hybrid males were relatively fertile. We thought sterility in hybrid females might be caused by incompatibility between X chromosomes from the two different species, but surprisingly, we found no evidence to support such a scenario. Instead our results suggested a more complicated genetic basis to hybrid female sterility. It may be that exceptions to this widespread rule may be more common in systems without dimorphic sex chromosomes, which argues for further study of animals with unusual mechanisms of sex determination.
The authors' accepted manuscript of "A rare exception to Haldane's rule: are X chromosomes key to hybrid incompatibilities?" published in the journal Heredity can be freely accessed from the repository at http://hdl.handle.net/10023/11234

Peter Moran in the field


The lead author completed his PhD in St Andrews, and his thesis is also available in the repository at http://hdl.handle.net/10023/10260

The university's Research Portal also provides links to Data underlying the paper and Projects that funded the work.

24 July 2017

Open Access publisher launches photography competition

The Open Access publisher BMC has launched a photography competition to find inspiring images that represent 'research in progress'. Researchers are invited to submit photographs that reflect innovation, curiosity and integrity in a range of categories.

If you have an unusual way to represent your research area, why not share your unique insight? Details of the competition are available from the BMC blog. Images will need to be made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence, to allow further sharing with proper attribution.


No automatic alt text available.
'Close-up', Jackie Proven, CC-BY

21 July 2017

We now have 10,000 items in our repository!

This week we reached another milestone - 10,000 items in the University of St Andrews Research Repository (or StARR for short if you prefer). That's 10,000 full-texts of research publications, theses and other content types which will be open access and free to download for anyone with an internet connection. In keeping with established library tradition here is how we celebrated the occasion:

From left: Mike Bryce (Open access and repository support), Jen Pritchard (Pure team), Kyle Brady (Open access and repository support)
This milestone represents the shared effort of many teams in the Library as well as across Schools in the University. In the Main Library David Collins and cataloguing colleagues are responsible for uploading University of St Andrews theses to the repository, in the Old Union Diner the Open Access team and Pure team oversee St Andrews research publications, many of which end up going into the repository. In Schools academics and support staff create records in Pure and upload manuscripts for public release, which are then checked and validated by the OA team before ending up in the repository.


This milestone has been very much a team effort, a team that stretches across the whole University, so we wish to thank everyone who helped make this happen.

Watch this space for a follow-up blog post about the StaRR 10,000th item!

23 June 2017

Brill unlatches 20 open access books

The academic publisher Brill has announced that it has now published 20 fully open access books funded under the Knowledge Unlatched scheme. The scheme's vision is to create a sustainable and fair business model to produce free and open access books, by sharing the publishing costs amongst participating members. Institutions who take part in the scheme each pay a fee which goes toward the cost of 'unlatching' books from the traditional publishing model - whereby each institution would have to buy books separately (and perhaps even purchase multiple hard copies). This represents better value for money as well as ensuring those who cannot afford to pay don't have to. The scheme also aims to ensure that those who mainly publish monographs aren't left behind in the move to open access. Brill are just one of 56 publishers who are currently signed up to the scheme, a full list can be found here.
Brill titles in the Knowledge Unlatched collection include:

All titles published through the Knowledge Unlatched  scheme can also be found in the St Andrews Library catalogue

20 June 2017

Your chance to tell us about your use of ORCID

Are you a researcher or research student in St Andrews? Please take part in our 10 minute survey about the use of Open Researcher and Contributor IDs (ORCID):

This survey aims to establish the extent to which researchers at the University of St Andrews are using ORCID identifiers during their work. The survey will collect anonymous data about the awareness and use of ORCID iDs amongst researchers and will only take 5 - 10 minutes to complete.

You will be able to indicate your interest in taking part in a follow-up interview. This is entirely voluntary and does not affect participation in the online survey or its results.

You will also have a chance to win a £100 Amazon voucher by providing your email address at the end of the survey. Again, this is entirely voluntary and will be independent from participation in the voluntary follow-up interviews.

This research is carried out in the context of an MSc project by Eva Borger at the School of Computer Science in collaboration with the University Library. For more information, contact Eva at eb427@st-andrews.ac.uk

To access the survey, follow this link:
https://standrews.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7NIVceZa6cFomTb
Responses will be collected until 14th July 2017.

Ethics approval: CS12882

If you would like help setting up an ORCID ID or linking it to your Pure Profile, you can contact the Pure team at purelive@st-andrews.ac.uk

The Library’s Digital Research division also holds Open Office Hours every Wednesday 2pm-4pm, in the Old Union Diner, Butts Wynd (off North Street) where the team are available for advice regarding Open Access, Research Data Management, Pure, ORCID, Research Computing and Digital Humanities https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/services/researchsupport/

Thank you!

Eva Borger
PhD (Neuroscience) 
MSc Student Management and IT 
University of St Andrews 
School of Computer Science 
ORICD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4965-2969