More publisher take-down notices

The American Society of Civil Engineers has hired a firm called Digimarc to police the uploading of publisher PDF versions of their articles on personal or university websites. The take-down notices have gone out to many universities around the world. For more information:

General information:

Information about these take-down notices from the University of California:

While it’s sad to see a publisher attacking the very people who keep their journals in business, this is a perfect example of why faculty/researchers should be aware of their rights when publishing any of their work.

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

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!


OA Symposium summary-day one

Day one of the 2014 UNT OA Symposium was jam-packed with amazing speakers. 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. The Twitter feed offers a great way to follow the conversation that was happening during the conference: #oa14unt

Business Models for Open Access
Peter Binfield, PeerJ, @p_binfield

One effect of the subscription model is the bucketing and bundling of information at the journal level. This business model means that publishers need to create departments to handle copyright, sales, legal issues, etc. It also creates inefficiencies in the editorial model – it’s not unusual to reject 7/10 submitted articles. If you add up all journals, that is millions of hours that are wasted on peer review for articles that get rejected. The subscription model also leads to a natural tendency to maximize profits.

In the OA /APC model, the author becomes the customer (and the producer). Unbundling + unbucketing + APC per publication = mega journal. In a mega journal the editorial criteria is whether or not the article deserves to join the literature; impact isn’t considered. This means it becomes okay to publish negative results. In the PeerJ model, authors pay a one time fee for a membership that allows them to publish with PeerJ.

Peter envisions a future in which journals don’t exist anymore – rather services around publishing exist: peer review, evaluation, marketing/promotion, archiving, and registration. In this future prices will come down and features will increase to meet the demands of the customers.

  • Takeaway: business models do affect the way you do business

Young Scholars and the OA Career Arc
Nick Shockey, Right to Research Coalition, @r2rc

The Right to Research Coalition started in 2009 and is an international alliance of student organizations that promote OA. Students are very familiar with frustrations that exist with paywalls-there are Facebook pages that help students “share” papers and #icanhazPDF to assist with accessing full text.

Some student success stories: The OA Button is a tool that allows you to indicate when you’ve hit a paywall – it’s a global map of frustration. The creators are currently working on a code that would email the corresponding author when someone hit a paywall and ask them to share a URL where the article could be freely accessed so other people don’t hit paywalls (and also send an email). One student group added price-tags to print journals to indicate which journals were overpriced. The GSE at Stanford successfully got themselves added to the institutional OA policy. Jack Andraka-Google him.

Suggestions for including students: engage with them, partner with them and put them at the core of what you are doing, support graduate students and ECRs with publication in OA journals, and reform research assessment.

  • Take-away: the power of the student voice

Erin McKiernan, NIPH, @emckiernan13

Erin works at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico. Researchers at NIPH study Chagas disease, cholera, dengue fever, HIV, influenza and many other disease that are critically important to public health. But, they only have access to 139 journals-with 51 only available in print. Erin gets the majority of her access via tools like #IcanhazPDF. She has made a personal pledge not to edit, review, or work for a closed access journal. She will publish only in open access journals and will pull her name from a paper if her collaborators refuse to be open.

Erin spent some time refuting OA myths. There is a citation advantage for OA articles and data. There are lots of OA journals with high impact factors. The retraction rate is highest among high impact factor subscription journals. Being open doesn’t have to break the bank – there are many low-cost or free options.

How can ECRs be more open? – make a list of OA journals in their field, discuss OA upfront with collaborators, document altmetrics, blog about your science, be active on social media, and discuss OA with their mentor.

  • Take-away: don’t lock up your research! And there doesn’t have to be a conflict between being open and being successful.

Salvatore Mele, SCOAP3, CERN

CERN is a scientific facility built around international collaboration. They have hosted 10,000 visiting scientists from 113 countries. A recent article about the discovery of the Higgs Boson had 2899 authors! Many of the scientists at CERN study high energy physics (HEP). There is a long history of sharing articles in the physics community. was established in 1991, and 97% of HEP articles are in arXiv.

In fact, arXiv is so well established in the HEP community that 9/10 scientists use arXiv for access to articles, even when a journal version exists. So why even have journals?Journals offer quality assurance and authenticity through the process of peer review. So, HEP scientists decided to try to switch from paying for content to paying for the peer-review service that their field really values – the journal articles become open access under this plan. The plan to make this switch is called SCOAP3. The SCOAP3 website does a good job of explaining how it works, so I’m just going to point you there:

The SCOAP3 project took quite some time to get going (in part because it’s the first plan of its kind) and only started publishing articles with this business plan in January of 2014, but there have been over 1600 articles published so far. You can search those articles in the SCOAP3 Repository. All articles have a CC-BY license and the metadata has is CC0. They are currently working on easy ways of populating other repositories with this content. One great thing that has been discovered about this project is that there does not seem to be a desire to free-load (meaning not contributing financially to the project). Universities and countries seem to want to be involved in the project.

  • Take-away: SCOAP3 has proven that a complex international partnership to change scholarly communication and improve access to scientific research is possible.

Publishing & Preserving OA Content (Kate Wittenberg, Sarah Lippincott, and Kevin Hawkins)
Sarah Lippincott, Library Publishing Coalition (LPC), @LibPubCoalition

The LPC is a two-year project with 60 library partners to build a community of practice for library publishing. Library publishing offers an alternative to traditional publishing. They can publish materials that don’t “fit” elsewhere (grey literature), and they can complement existing publishing platforms. The challenges are to position the services, mature and scale the services, raise visibility of the library as publisher, and figure out a way to sustain those services.

Kate Wittenberg, Portico

Portico is a two sided business with financial support from both publishers and libraries – 244 publisher partners and 917 library partners. They offer a dark archive for preserving content and only make that content publicly available if a trigger event happens (a publisher goes out of business or a prolonged technical problem prevents traditional access to content). So far there have been 10 triggered journal titles. Portico is looking into giving publishers the option of publishing open access.

The goals of digital preservation are usability, authenticity, discoverability, and accessibility. Portico has been certified as a trustworthy repository by the Center for Research Libraries. Challenges for digital preservation include new forms of content and the exponential growth of data.

Kevin Hawkins, UNT Libraries and recently Michigan Publishing, @KevinSHawkins
Since Kevin just recently started at UNT, his talk referred to his experience at Michigan Publishing.

There is a lot of back and forth between innovation and sustainability. Michigan Publishing had a policy that whatever you publish with them becomes part of their collection. Preservation of these items at scale is easy if the content is homogenous, but becomes difficult when you are dealing with multiple content types.

Michigan Publishing is in the process of trying to articulate requirements (these are a work in progress and may have changed since Kevin left). Fundamentally the work needs to be a text that can be read from start to finish. Any embedded media needs to be open, non-proprietary and in a format that doesn’t require a browser plug-in. But, if you can’t meet those requirements then you may submit a self-contained, standards-compliant website that can be hosted, and if file formats are not accessible they will need a transcript. For open access content, they are planning on the freemium model-meaning basic content is free, but if you want add-ons or special formats there is a cost.

The three speakers generated quite a lively discussion about what libraries should be doing regarding preservation. Some of the comments included: if we don’t preserve this who will, what are the priorities for preservation, libraries can’t dictate the terms of innovation, if people are being creative we need to figure out how to work with them, and what’s considered publication can be a squishy concept. Everyone seemed to agree that this was a hard conversation and one we need to have.

  • Take-away: we should be something; something is better than nothing, or put another way, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Advances in Scholarly Communication
Rebecca Kennison and Lisa Norberg, K | N Consultants, @KNConsultants

Rebecca and Lisa presented their white paper and addressed some of the issues that had been brought up about the plan. Their proposal is to develop a scholarly communication infrastructure for humanities and social sciences that would convert subscription journals and books to open access. They propose creating partnerships among scholarly societies, research libraries, and other institutional partners to encourage institutionally supported publishing and preservation, and to develop a sustainable funding model to support infrastructure.

The funding model includes annual or multi-year fees paid by all institutions (not libraries). The fee would be based on the number of students and full-time faculty. Even though some of the numbers seem quite high for large research universities, it’s still probably less than is currently being spent on the literature. That money goes toward a central fund. Institutions and societies then apply for funds through a grant process. Since one of the goals of the plan is sustainability, those grants are open-ended but do require ongoing oversight. The plan is intentionally incremental; right now they are looking for commitments of 10% of the total fee for a university.

  • Take-away: Sharing the products of scholarship is the responsibility of all institutions of higher learning. This is an audacious plan, but that’s what is needed.

Mark Hahnel, figshare, @figshare

Mark gave a very engaging talk over dinner. Since it was dinner, I wasn’t taking notes, but I’ll try to summarize a couple high points. Publishers are making a lot of money off open access, mostly through APCs, but still not close to what they are making through traditional subscriptions. They (publishers) have obviously figured out a way of OA publishing that authors can use. If we don’t like what publishers are doing, then we need to do it better. And, the future is not going to be PDFs of articles made freely available. The future is going to be all the products of scholarship being shared, cue figshare.

Day two summary:

Why OA is important

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know that we think that open access is an important issue. Too many important scholarly works are locked up behind paywalls where only those with subscriptions may access them. This means a lot of people outside of large research universities run into charges that can be more than $40 per article to read full-text. Watch this interview between NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins and 16 year-old inventor, Jack Andraka, to see what we could accomplish if everyone had access to the information they need.