OA Symposium summary-day two

Day two of the UNT OA Symposium was just as great as day one. Here’s my summary of the talking points for the day. Note-I was listening, taking notes, and thinking about how to implement some of this on our campus all at the same time. So, I may have misunderstood some of what the presenters were trying to articulate. I’ve tried to include slides where possible, to help clarify any of my unclear notes. And, the Twitter feed offers a great way to follow the conversation that was happening at the conference: #oa14unt.

University Presses (John Sherer, Ron Chrisman, David Scherer)
John Sherer, UNC Press, @jesherer

One of the problems facing university presses is that there is no opportunity for scale. Commercial publishers can buy each other up, but UNC Press can’t very well buy up Yale University Press. UNC Press derives 80% of their income from monographs. They spend more on marketing than on printing and distribution. In general the university press value proposition has changed as we’ve moved from a culture of information scarcity to information overload.

UNC Press has been fortunate to implement some pilot programs that allow them to test the waters of alternative forms of publishing. That includes working with ETDs – if university presses pour thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into transforming an ETD into a publishable book, then why should they be threatened by the ETD sitting online in a repository? They are also starting to work with short OA monographs. These are monographs that are 30,000 words in length instead of the more traditional 90,000-100,000 words. UNC Press is also trying to lower their price barriers by using a freemium model for some publications. There is definitely an audience who will pay for content even when a free version exists. What’s next? – partnerships with libraries, shedding legacy processes (print first to digital first), building on the role of quality control, and investigating publishing in STEM.

  • Take-away: there is room for university presses to experiment and still excel in their areas of strength

Ron Chrisman, UNT Press

Ron talked about the history of OA with university presses. University presses deal with OA differently than libraries in part because content in institutional repositories is different from the content that most university presses publish. In order to break even, a 300 page book would have a processing charge that no could afford (estimate of $18,000 to publish a book), so the APC model used in STEM journal publishing doesn’t work for monographs. But there is definitely an increase in use with OA books, so university presses need to figure out ways they can integrate OA into their publishing.

UNT Press has digitized some of their backfile and made it freely available online. Some of their books are released OA after a 1-2 year embargo. One book that UNT Press released as OA from the start is War in the Pacific: A Chronology. If this book had been published in print it would have been over 1000 pages – too expensive to produce or purchase. The work was a labor of love by the author who wasn’t looking to make any royalties on sales.

One project Ron pointed to as an alternative publishing model that could work for university presses is Knowledge Unlatched. Knowledge Unlatched allows libraries to pool funds to “unlock” titles. The fee for each library is small, but across all members it adds up to enough to pay for a title to become open access.

  • Take-away: there are ways open access can be worked into the economic model of university presses

David Scherer, Purdue University, @davidascherer

David described the unique arrangement at Purdue University – Purdue University Press and Scholarly Publishing Services: two imprints, one staff, shared infrastructure. Together they publish a wide range of materials: pre/post prints, conference proceedings, technical reports, journals, books, ebooks, and apps. Purdue looks at their repository as more than just an institutional repository; it’s also a publishing platform (they use Digital Commons).

One neat project they worked on involved students working with the archives/special collections unit to write and publish a book about the Purdue class of 1904 called, Little Else Than a Memory. They also work with 22 OA journals developing better models for niche journals and conference proceedings. They’ve been publishing technical reports since 2011 and also publish research data through PURR. And this video is just great – it wasn’t created by the library (or even requested by the library), but rather by the Joint Transportation Research Program. How many units love their library/publisher so much they create a marketing video for them?!

  • Take-away: there can be great advantages gained by having a close relationship between university presses and libraries

Faculty Perspectives on OA (Masood Ashraf Raja, John Nickerson, Sarah Melton)
Dr. Raja, UNT

Dr. Raja was one of the founders of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies, a peer-reviewed, open access, multidisciplinary journal. They have a freemium publishing model; the online version is free and there is a fee for the print version. Some of the challenges they faced included funding to pay for hosting services and ongoing technical support, creating a world-class editorial board, and getting indexed by Web of Knowledge. They have been lucky to have found a group of people who will volunteer their time to work on the journal and develop it into one of the best journals in that field. Moving forward they need to continue to pursue wider indexing and recruiting talented young faculty to work on the journal.

John Nickerson, Emory University 

John is the co-editor of Molecular Vision, an open access journal that started 20 years ago and was one of the first web journals. The motto of Molecular Vision is “published by working scientists for working scientists”. They are one of the top journals in their field and do not have APCs. They believe their OA model has forced some of the other publishers in their field to play nicer. They do evaluate articles for whether they make a valuable contribution to the field and have rejection rates of 65-70%. For this field of study getting indexed in PubMed is critical-if you aren’t in PubMed you don’t exist.

Sarah Melton, Emory University, @southernspaces, @svmelton

Sarah is a PhD candidate at Emory and also an assistant managing editor for Southern Spaces, a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary (HSS), open access journal. Southern Spaces has been publishing for 10 years. They do not have any APCs and authors retain their copyright. They publish about 3 articles per month on a rolling basis (no discrete issues). The journal was originally funded by a Mellon grant, but is now supported by Emory University Libraries. This support is critical for sustainability.They support scholarship beyond text, so many of their “articles” include video, images, or audio.

Student support and training is a big part of Southern Spaces. They can train students in many different areas depending on their interest – metadata, video editing, PHP, scholarly communication in general, etc. Sarah stressed the importance of including students in the actual management of publishing; they have lots of energy and enthusiasm and it’s our responsibility to make sure they have the skills they need to succeed in their careers. Sarah also mentioned that it’s important to have a sunset plan in mind. Not all digital project need to go on forever.

New Models for OA (Susan Skomal, Cyril Oberlander)
Susan Skomal, BioOne

BioOne has launched a new open access journal called Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. Elementa is a pilot project and it needs to return its investment in 4 years. The journal operates on the APC model and has a focus on speedy publication. There are six different knowledge areas in which they publish: Atmospheric Science, Earth & Environmental Science, Ecology, Ocean Science, Sustainability Transitions, and Sustainable Engineering. There has been a big investment in public relations/marketing; it’s a very competitive market. Some of the issues they’ve encountered: taking APCs is not the same as just using PayPal, discoverability is the most important thing – get it indexed everywhere!, and the open source software they use requires more work than they imagined. As much as we complain about journal impact factor, that will be a big determinant of whether Elementa survives.

Cyril Oberlander, SUNY Geneseo, @cyriloberlander
Slides: http://tinyurl.com/oaeconomics

There is a trend in ARL for expenditures on staff going down, while expenditures for library materials are increasing – this is a disturbing trend for the curators of the cultural and scientific record. We can learn some lessons from groups that have successfully curated engagement (read: PBS). One project that SUNY Geneseo has worked on is the Digital Thoreau project. The Digital Thoreau project allows users to compare language across different editions of Thoreau’s work.

An innovative project that SUNY Geneseo has worked on is the Open SUNY Textbooks project. They manage the editorial workflow for textbooks that are then released under a CC-BY-SA-NC license. So far they have published 5 textbooks and plan to publish 25 more over the next 18 months. These books are being used all over the world and have already saved SUNY students over $15,000. Some proposed sources of funding for the project include: student fees ($5/student/semester), foundations, and venture capital. Some funding could also come from selling print on demand and selling certain ereader formats.

Tyler Walters, Virginia Tech, @tywalters1

Libraries and OA publishers are the sustainers of open content, they are producers and publishers of content, they are funders of open content, and they have created many cooperative and pre-funded models to finance open access.

Faculty dissatisfaction with publishing seems to occur in four main areas. Some complain that peer-review is of poor quality, speed of publication is a common complaint, trouble with gaining access to content after it’s published, and restrictions on reuse of content are also pain points. We can use that information to create better systems of publishing. There are many projects going on now that aim to use collaboration as a way to increase access: OpenAIRE, La Referencia, SHARE, and COAR.

I want to thank UNT Libraries and UNT Health Science Center for all their work in putting together this great conference!