Open access advocates undertake reviews
A survey of universities within the European Union by the European University Association has highlighted the challenges involved in achieving the aim of making all EU-funded scientific research freely available by 2020. It found that researchers, particularly those in the early stages of their careers, were less aware of open access rules and policies than librarians and institutional leaders, and that institutions often lacked both mandatory policies on open access and monitoring mechanisms to measure compliance. Calling for ‘greater engagement by all of the relevant stakeholders’, the survey authors urged universities and funders to change their assessment practices and to provide incentives for researchers to engage in open science practices.
One funder already encouraging its researchers in that direction is Wellcome, which has announced that it will be undertaking a full review of its open access policy. The policy has been modified several times since its introduction in 2005, responding to developments within the scholarly communications sector, but this will be the first full review, and is intended to support three additional objectives: to support transition to a full open access world; to be clear and straightforward; and to ensure that the costs of implementation are fair and proportionate. This last point may well have implications for scholarly publishers, since in a post announcing the review, Wellcome draws attention to the rising costs of delivering its open access policy, and in particular the significantly higher costs of APCs for hybrid journals. The review will last six months, and its outcome will be announced before the end of the year.
In other open access news, publisher Peter Lang has announced plans to convert eleven of its subscription journals to open access, using Ingenta’s new open access platform IngentaOpen. And the Copyright Clearance Center has launched a new integrated workflow solution, the OA Agreement Manager, which aims to simplify the processing of open access articles across publishers, institutions, and funders.
Taylor & Francis drops plans for rolling paywall
Taylor & Francis has abandoned plans to move older research papers out of its main subscription deal and into a separate chargeable package, following a negative reaction from customers, including an open letter led by the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) and signed by more than a hundred members of the academic library community. Responding to the letter in a post on the T&F website, communications manager Laura Montgomery defended the decision – explaining that providing ‘courtesy access’ to titles more than twenty years old created an on-going and increasing liability that would be ‘unsustainable in the long term’ – but said that the publisher had no desire to create ‘inconvenience and interruption’ for its customers, with whom it had enjoyed ‘long-standing positive relationships’ and that the policy would therefore be dropped.
Hat-trick of announcements from IOP Publishing
It’s been a busy month for IOP Publishing, the publishing arm of the Institute of Physics, which has made three announcements. Firstly, after a successful year-long pilot on two of its journals, its double-blind peer review programme, in which neither author nor reviewer knows the other’s identity, will be extended. It will now become a permanent feature at the trialling journals, Materials Research Express and Biomedical Physics and Engineering Express, and will available to authors also on a forthcoming journal in the Express series. Secondly, a new pilot agreement with the Max Planck Society will enable institutions to offset the cost of article processing charges for their authors against their journal licensing fees. And finally, the publisher has also launched three new open access journals in the fields of Energy, Materials, and Photonics.
Kudos has launched a new dissemination management toolkit for research groups, university departments and REF Units of Assessment, which will help groups to plan, implement, and report on outreach activities; a six-month preview programme starts this month. Springer Nature, recently reported by Reuters to be preparing a listing on the Frankfurt stock market that would value it at more than €7bn, has announced the launch of a pilot project to explore the possibilities of blockchain technologies to support the peer review process. The pilot will be managed by Digital Science and carried out in partnership with Katalysis. Meanwhile, Digital Science company Figshare has announced a partnership with open science platform Frontiers that will increase the range of supplementary data that can be included with articles and enhance the discovery, visualisation, citation, and sharing of research outputs.
Alastair Horne is a PhD student
at the British Library and Bath Spa University