Open Access Scotland Group meeting

Photo by @hblanchett : https://twitter.com/hblanchett/status/1110843583320473600

On 27th March the Scholarly Communications Team at the University of Edinburgh were delighted to host the 6th regular meeting of the Open Access Scotland Group at the impressive Paterson’s Land building (pictured above).

The Group aims to provide a voice for open access in Scotland, allow the sharing of best practice, facilitate opportunities for networking between stakeholders, and lobby on behalf of Scottish organisations. It is an open group and comprises members from Scottish HE institutions and other allied organisations, like academic publishers, software vendors, local and national government agencies and research funders. The group also has honorary members from Iceland and Northern Ireland.

The event on 27th March was attended by 40 people representing over 20 organisations.

Photo by @hblanchett

The first speaker was Pauline Ward who gave a well received talk on Open Science Approaches – including the fantastic Research Data Service at the University of Edinburgh.

During the main session we had a facilitated discussion around issues such as the use of research notebooks, how to do open access for Practise-led Research, and updates on Plan S, UK-SCL and Jisc Support.

The draft notes from the event are available online here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/19OZEX6QajIl-LNgUrGsY-Fdk7LSGUUhvfp0GM2Jubg4

If you are interested in Open Access and are based in Scotland then I would heartily recommend joining up to the Open Access Scotland Group. The next meeting is pencilled in for September and will probably be hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

PubMed LinkOut for Pure users

Instructions for Pure users on how to find data to join PubMed LinkOut

PubMed LinkOut is a service where you can send data to NCBI which will allow them to link PubMed records directly to your institutional repository:

PubMed LinkOut

Whilst the benefits for repository owners are obvious – e.g. massively increasing the visibility of your open access content – not many repositories are actually doing this. At the time of writing, in the UK there are only 4 other repositories in the LinkOut programme: University of Strathclyde, Imperial College London, the White Rose consortium & the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Currently there are no other institutions that use Pure so I thought I would investigate and create some instructions.

This blog post will help Pure administrators find URLs to full‐text open access items that have a PMID, but not a PMCID which can be used to send to NCBI.

Step 1: find Pure records that have a PMID, and also have open access full-text.

Note: Pure only holds PMIDs for records that have been imported from PubMed. Unfortunately, PMC IDs are not stored like other identifiers like ISBNs or DOIs. Set up a new report with the following filters:

  • Organisation Unit – include all underlying subunits
  • Source: select value is PubMed
  • Electronic version(s) of this work: Accepted author manuscript/Submitted manuscript

Recommended values for data table:

  • Electronic versions(s) of this work > DOI
  • System info > Source-ID
  • System info > UUID
  • System info > ID
  • Add access version of this item > Open Access embargo date

This report will pull all records from Pure that have been imported from PubMed, and will show the Pure ID/DOI/PMID/UUID and OA embargo date. The UUID will be used to generate a stable URL to the item page in the portal. Export the report as an Excel spreadsheet.

Step 2: Find out which Pure records with PMIDs also have PMCIDs

If a paper has a PMC ID then it will have an open access version in PubMed Central and the LinkOut won’t be interested in including that record. You can use the online PMCID – PMID – Manuscript ID – DOI Converter to find out if the items in the Pure report have PMC IDs:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/pmctopmid/

Cut/paste PMIDs into the box, select CSV result format and convert 100 records at a time. Any more will likely to produce an error.

Ignoring the results with PMCIDs, cut/paste the remaining PMIDs (Identifier not found in PMC) into a new column in the Pure report spreadsheet.

Step 3: Identify the Pure records which can be included in PubMed LinkOut.

So far we have a list of records in Pure that have a PMID (which may or may not have PMCIDs), and a list of PMIDs that have been checked to make sure they don’t have PMC IDs. What we need to do now is merge the data. There are a number of different ways to do this in Excel, but I chose to use the conditional formatting function to highlight duplicate PMIDs in Pure that are on the ‘not in PMC list’ we created. Filtering by colour will then give you a list of records which can be included in the PubMed LinkOut programme. I chose to remove the items which are currently under an embargo which can be identified from the Open Access embargo date, and removed using a filter.

All that is remaining to do is to tidy up the records and add the stable URL. This can be done by taking the UUID-4 value from the Pure report and concatenating with the handle server ID for Pure, for example:

Handle + UUID-4 = URL , e.g:

http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11820/e22c7edc-9533-4ad3-ae44-3f706dd7682c

Now you have a list of URLs of items in Pure that have PMIDs – but crucially not PMCIDs – which you can submit to the LinkOut Programme. You can download a printable PDF version of these instructions here:

Pure PubMed LinkOut instructions

 

 

Open Access update

The University of Edinburgh is a strong supporter of open access (OA), and in 2018, researchers at Edinburgh published over 7,000 peer reviewed research outputs, of which over 5,181 (74%) are openly available from the University’s research portal (www.research.ed.ac.uk). As a large and diverse organisation there is naturally a large variation in the way in which we make our research openly available. From our total of 5,181 open access research outputs we find that 2,959 outputs (or 57%) are published as Gold OA – where the publisher makes the version-of-record open sometimes for a fee – and 2,222 (or 43%) are available as Green OA – where the author makes their accepted manuscript open from our Institutional or Subject Repositories for free.

Over the last 5 years the University has spent in the region of £5 million with publishers to make around 2,800 papers Gold OA.  The majority of these papers were published as ‘hybrid OA’ in subscription journals where the publisher charges subscription fees to access the closed content, and also charges an open access fee to make individual papers open access. This practice of charging twice is called ‘double-dipping’ as large research intensive institutions have not seen their subscription costs lowered in proportion to their open access expenditure.

Over the last 5 years we have seen a period of significant consolidation of the open access publishing market with just three companies responsible for publishing 51% of Edinburgh’s journal articles, whilst receiving 57% of the money available for open access. The bulk of the University of Edinburgh’s RCUK block grants have been spent on ‘Hybrid OA’ journals as shown in the diagram below. Only 3 out of the 10 most popular publishers are purely Gold OA and don’t charge subscriptions :

Block chart showing the top 10 publishers

Block chart showing the top 10 publishers who received funds from the RCUK open access block grant during 2013-2018. The number in the top left of each box is the total number of Gold OA papers published, the number in the middle of the box is the total expenditure and the name of the publisher is in the bottom left of the box.

Research funders like UKRI and the Wellcome Trust previously supported this ‘hybrid-OA’ model, but they no longer believe that it supports a transition to full OA which is their aim. To precipitate a change in the publisher’s behaviour and to increase the adoption of open access, a number of important European research funders, co-ordinated by Science Europe, developed Plan S.

Plan S update

Plan S requires that, from 2020, scientific publications that result from research funded by public money must be published in compliant Open Access journals, and specifically states that ‘hybrid OA’ journals won’t be supported. As it currently stands, Plan S will be hugely disruptive as researchers will potentially not be able to publish in their journal of choice.

In order to understand the impact of how Plan S will affect our research staff, departments and the broader academic community, Library & University Collections carried out a wide ranging consultation exercise. The Scholarly Communications Team held a series of eight open meetings, during the period 23rd – 30th January 2019, which were attended by over 260 staff. As far as we are aware this was the largest consultation held by a HE institution.

Based on feedback gathered at these meetings, the University has submitted a balance response to that is supportive of Plan S and the time frames set down, but also reflects the concerns raised about risks to international collaboration – specifically co-publishing work with collaborators in non-Plan S regions of the world. The response, and more general information about Plan S, can be read in full on our web pages:

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/research-support/publish-research/open-access/plan-s

UKRI will decide how to apply the principles of Plan S once it has concluded an ongoing review of its own open-access policies, which is not likely to be completed until next autumn. The current Open Access policy is firmly in place until 31st March 2020 and it would be improbable for UKRI to change terms and conditions of grant awards midway through the year. We can therefore expect UKRI to adopt Plan S from 1 April 2020.

 

Open Access Week at the University of Edinburgh

Every week is open access week at the University of Edinburgh. From April 2016 – June 2018 the University of Edinburgh has made 11,793 research outputs open access. This represents 89% of the research published that could be submitted to the REF2020 exercise.

During the period Sept-2017 to Sept-2018 over 774,535 research outputs were downloaded from the Edinburgh Research Explorer. This equates to nearly 65,000 downloads per month.

The five most popular papers written by University of Edinburgh authors are listed below:

Title Author(s) ItemURL Total downloads
Personality Structure in the Domestic Cat , Scottish Wildcat , Clouded Leopard, Snow Leopard and African Lion: A Comparative Study Gartner, Marieke Cassia; Powell, David M.; Weiss, Alexander http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11820/fd973849-7ae1-48a8-833c-d4da8a7c9de3 27,846
Tubby’s dub style :The live art of record production Williams, Sean http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11820/510f47ca-8881-4691-a6a6-23dd5fcea473 10,782
Predicting loss given default (LGD) for residential mortgage loans:A two-stage model and empirical evidence for UK bank data Leow, M.; Mues, C. http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11820/485b5935-f0cc-4944-ab93-4abb2511e7fc 5,673
There’s no madness in my method: Explaining how your research findings are built on firm foundations Saunders, Mark N. K.; Rojon, Celine http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11820/43a5d933-01fb-46f7-a2ec-a6691f157c6b 5,585
The past, present and future of China’s automotive industry: a value chain perspective Oliver, N.; Holweg, Matthias; Luo, Jianxi http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11820/26a252cc-4c3d-437f-a645-a086f5e70303 4,958

 

3 things we can do to make open access better

Open access is being pulled and pushed in different directions by groups who each have their own intentions and motivations:

  • Research funders want to maximize their investment and – by holding the purse-strings – are the change instigators accelerating the pace of adoption of open access. Some are more proactive than others pushing scholarly communication towards Gold OA in certain subject disciplines, whilst other funders are less active preferring change to be more organic.
  • Publishers, as gate-keepers of the scholarly written record, influence how open access happens through innovation (developing new business models and products), control of intellectual property (open licensing or imposing journal embargoes) and controlling the spiraling costs. Some publishers are profit-driven and seek the highest returns that the market can burden. Others are more motivated by the academic community
  • Libraries are change agents who can help to enable open access in institutions, for example through implementing repository platforms and offering support services and expertise. Their motivations to be involved are many; Library core values are well-aligned with open scholarship, they have a strong interest in and are well-placed to ensure institutional funds are efficiently allocated, and there is a drive to enhance their relevance through redefining roles within research institutions.
  • Academics. It is easily to fall in to the trap that academics are passive actors in all of this. It feels like the silent majority go along with the status quo as research is their prime concern, and scholarly communication is a side-show with which they have little interest in how it works. Because publishing is increasingly being outsourced they lack a sense of agency or ownership. However, some researchers are driven to innovate and change their scholarly communication practices.

The interaction of each of these players in the scholarly communication game has led to the development of a system driven by interlocking policies, platforms and processes, which we have shown over the course of the last few blog posts, is unnecessarily complex, expensive, inefficient and increasingly at risk of being not fit for purpose.

What steps should libraries be doing to improve scholarly communication?

1. Remove complexity

The problem with Green OA is – it’s not immediate (journals embargoes are far too long), it’s not compliant with all funders policies and it’s unnecessary complexity (checking and matching funders policies and journal embargoes) is inefficient and has many hidden costs.

Help your institution to adopt the UK-Scholarly Communications Licence and most of these problems are diminished. [Read more here]

2. Reduce OA publishing costs

Hybrid OA Gold is the most popular and expensive route for paid open access. A side effect of lowering embargoes is that authors can comply with their research funders open access policies via Green OA.

Where possible, stop paying Hybrid OA costs, and use the open access block grants for pure Gold OA only. [Read more here]

3. Innovate and nurture academic-led publishing

Academic and National Libraries should support academic-led publishing and open access initiatives that are inclusive and open to scholars who do not have budgets for publishing.

Help your staff and students set up their own open access journals using software like Open Journal Systems. Support initiatives like the Open Library of Humanities by becoming a supporter member, and if you are from a larger institution then you should offer to support at a higher rate. [Read more here]

Academic-led publishing

Our last #openaccess week blog post finished with the observation that publishers are increasingly becoming in control of scholarly infrastructure, and that it is now more important than ever for academics to retain control over their research and publishing activities. To help with this we made the recommendation that Academic and National Libraries should support ‘low cost and no cost’ Gold OA  – meaning open access initiatives that are inclusive and open to scholars who do not have budgets for publishing. To paraphrase Martin Eve who could articulate this better than I could ever hope to:

“….the economics of the humanities are different. The majority of research in the humanities remains unfunded except through institutional time. For this reason, Article Processing Charges are not a palatable option for these disciplines.“

Compared against STEM subjects and the lifesciences, commercial publishers have not made much headway with Gold OA in the arts and humanities disciplines. Partly in response, I believe in recent years this has led to lots of academic-led publishing initiatives being set up. You can read more in this excellent paper by Adema & Stone:

The surge in New University Presses and Academic-Led Publishing: an overview of a changing publishing ecology in the UK

Open Library of Humanities

One of my favourite initiatives in the humanities is the Open Library of Humanities. It is funded through a model of library partnership subsidies which collectively funds the platform and its array of journals. A large number of libraries and institutions worldwide already support the OLH, which makes for a sustainable, safe platform.

The annual cost for supporting libraries is less than one Gold OA article processing charge which is excellent value for money – if you had £1000 would you prefer to provide open access to one article or for a whole suite of journals? If your institution hasn’t already signed up – you can check here (https://www.openlibhums.org/plugins/supporters/) – then I would wholeheartedly recommend that you sign up to be a supporting member. In fact, if you are from a larger institution then you should offer to support at a higher rate (which is STILL cheaper than one Hybrid Gold OA publishing fee):

University of Edinburgh further supports OLH

Edinburgh University Library Open Journals

Edinburgh University Library supports the publication of academic and student-led open access journals by providing a journal hosting service using the Open Journal Systems software. The Open Journal service is available to University of Edinburgh students and academics and is provided free of charge.

http://journals.ed.ac.uk/

The Library helps with the initial set up of all new journals and provides ongoing support. We:

  1. Provide the service free of charge on the condition that journals requirements can be met without additional cost or time to the Library.
  2. Provide advice and support to help editorial teams set up their journal and training on using OJS
  3. Provide limited customisation of the new journal according to the design brief supplied by the journal editorial team. Provide initial training and documentation and ongoing support
  4. Provide training (as required) for new publishing staff
  5. Consult with experts in the Library to offer copyright advice
  6. Set up a Google Analytics account for each journal. Please note, the Library may make appropriate use of the statistical data
  7. Manage (and pay for) Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) which use the Library’s DOI prefix: 10.2218
  8. Apply  for an ISSN on behalf of the journal
  9. On publication, apply to DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals).

Currently there are 16 journals on the platform and we are looking to grow the service over the new two years.

UK Scholarly Communications Licence (UK-SCL)

In the first blog post in this series we set out the position that – whilst Gold OA is an important component of future scholarly communications – Hybrid Gold OA as it currently stands is too expensive to be adopted sector wide, and we recommend alternative paths to openness, like Green OA. The second post in the series highlighted a successful implementation of Green OA in a large research-intensive institution. However, we pointed out a number of problems with Green OA – it’s not immediate  (journals embargoes are far too long), it’s not compliant with all funders policies and it’s unnecessary complexity (checking and matching funders policies and journal embargoes) is inefficient and has many hidden costs. In this third blog post of the series we are going to introduce a potential solution to these problems – the UK-Scholarly Communications Licence (UK-SCL).

Motivation and policy

The UK-SCL is an attempt to fix the problems of Green OA and provide a one-step deposit action by which researchers can comply with multiple funder policies. It is a model open access policy with a standard set of actions which can easily be adopted by UK HE Institutions. If adopted institutions will:

  • Make accepted manuscripts of scholarly articles of its staff available online
    1. on or shortly after the date of first publication, be it online or in any other medium
    2. with a Creative Commons licence that allows non-commercial reuse as long as the authors are fully credited (CC BY NC 4.0)
  • Allow authors and publishers to request a temporary waiver for applying this right for up to 12 months for AHSS and 6 months for STEM (aligned to REF panels).
  • Where a paper is co-authored with external co-authors, the institution will:
    1. Automatically sub-licence this right to all co-authors credited on the paper and to their host institutions.
    2. Not apply the licence if a co-author (who is not based at an institution with a UK-SCL-based model policy) objects.
    3. Honour waiver requests granted by other institutions which have adopted the UK-SCL model policy.
  • Where an output is available immediately on publication with a CC-BY licence, the accepted manuscript will remain on closed deposit.

Implications

If we adopted the policy today what would happen? Well, immediately it would enable institutions and researchers to comply with sixteen research funders by deposit in institutional repositories without further action. This simplification – of messages we give to authors, and to our processes – will lead to efficiency savings in staff time and cost.

Long journal embargoes would be a thing of the past and research could be legally shared without having to resort to methods where copyright is infringed, for example by using Sci Hub or uploading papers to ResearchGate.

Researchers funded by the RCUK wouldn’t be beholden to pay for Hybrid Gold OA anymore. The authors can make their own choice whether they want to pay the APCs or not. If they think it is good value for money they can pay to have their research published, but if they think the APC is too expensive they can also choose to go green.

Response

We have immediately seen a push back from the Publishers Association who seem to have three main concerns:

  1. Cancellations to journal subscriptions because embargoes are removed/lowered
  2. Loss of income from Hybrid Gold OA charges.
  3. Loss of control in the scholarly communication process

In my experience the first point is a complete red herring. The fear from publishers is that because something is available for free then their product won’t be bought. What is not being mentioned is that a lot of this content is already available for free – via SciHub, or #icanhazPDF, or other illegal sharing methods – and subscriptions have not dropped. Additionally, a number of significant academic publishers (including the Royal Society, Cambridge University Press, Emerald and SAGE) already have zero month embargoes for selected titles and they are not affected by cancellations.

The loss of income from Hybrid Gold OA charges is a legitimate concern and to be honest publishers should be worried about this. The thing is, over the last 5 years Hybrid Gold OA has been a bonus to many publishers. It is an additional income stream on top of subscription charges. The total cost of publication has risen something like 25% in the last five years directly due to Hybrid Gold OA. The behaviour we have seen from many commercial academic publishers is that it is their unalienable right to extract as much profit from the open access block grants given to UK universities.  As an administrator of one of these funds I am well aware that the block grants are given to us from charitable organisations, and taxpayers money, via the government. We have to make sure that these funds are used responsibly and that we receive maximum value for money. I would like to see the open access block grants used only for pure Gold OA charges and to stop paying unnecessary Hybrid Gold OA charges.

The final point about loss of control in the scholarly communications process comes at a time where many large academic publishers are aggressively diversifying from their traditional publishing activities. Their aim is to be an integral part of the entire research process – from the inception of research via lab notebooks, pre-print servers and academic social networks, through to its conclusion via research data management, repository platforms, and research information management. I am not against paying for useful services, however when researchers are prevented from sharing their work because profit is more important, then something has clearly gone wrong with the system. It is now more important than ever for academics to retain control over their own research and publishing and this topic will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post – academic-led publishing.

Green open access and REF compliance

Yesterday’s blog post suggested that our reliance on Hybrid Gold Open Access to meet research funder’s open access requirements was too expensive and libraries should be supporting alternative pathways. In terms of pure numbers the main way the University of Edinburgh is making access to it’s research open is via Green Open Access (OA) – where the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) version of the research output is deposited in a repository and made available as soon as publishers copyright policies allow.

Since we started compiling monthly reports in 1st April 2016 we have made 6266 journal articles and conference proceedings open access which equates to around 92% of the University’s total output.

The University of Edinburgh has always had a preference for Green OA because there are no upfront costs for authors so everyone can participate without requiring access to large research budgets. But since the REF2021 open access requirements were published, Green OA has become even more important. The HEFCE policy states that, to be eligible for submission to the next REF, authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts must be deposited in a repository. The University of Edinburgh has adopted this policy and provided the infrastructure and support for all it’s researchers to make their research Green OA. The programme which was adopted to facilitate open access in the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine is described in more detail in the following paper:

Large scale implementation of open access: A case study at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

The results of the open access implementation plan have been extremely successful and we can report a 92% adoption rate for Green OA. The Scholarly Communications Team prepares monthly reports using data from our repository to identify the current level of compliance with the REF open access policy. These monthly reports indicate the numbers of in-scope research outputs (journal articles and conference proceedings with ISSNs) and whether they meet the requirements for the next REF, as per our repository’s compliance-checker functionality.

The figure and table below show the growth in the percentage of research outputs made open access since April 2016 and also a more detailed breakdown by subject area. The reporting period is a rolling window three months behind the current date.

1 April 2016 – 31 May 2017 Number of papers Indicative compliance
Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Business School 123 out of 126 97.62%
Divinity, School of 22 out of 22 100%
Economics, School of 21 out of 21 100%
Edinburgh College of Art 111 out of 118 94.07%
Health in Social Science, School of 118 out of 125 94.40%
History, Classics and Archaeology, School of 86 out of 88 97.73%
Law, School 102 out of 104 98.08%
Literatures, Languages and Cultures, School of 59 out of 61 96.72%
Moray House School of Education 155 out of 160 96.88%
Philosophy, Psychology and Language Science, School of 402 out of 405 99.26%
Social and Political Science, School of 181 out of 191 94.76%
Medicine & Veterinary Medicine
Clinical Sciences, Deanery of 1183 out of 1387 85.29%
Biomedical Sciences, Deanery of 214 out of 239 89.54%
Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, Deanery of 794 out of 910 87.25%
Veterinary Studies, Royal (Dick) School of 550 out of 573 95.99%
Edinburgh Medical School 672 out of 732 91.80%
Centre for Medical Education 7 out of 8 87.50%
Science & Engineering
Biological Sciences, School of 407 out of 455 89.45%
Chemistry, School of 203 out of 231 87.88%
Engineering, School of 373 out of 385 96.88%
GeoSciences, School of 354 out of 373 94.91%
Informatics, School of 366 out of 376 97.34%
Mathematics, School of 135 out of 135 100%
Physics and Astronomy, School of 340 out of 380 89.47%
Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre 6 out of 7 85.71%

Problems

Despite a hugely successful Green OA implementation programme at the University of Edinburgh there are a number of significant outstanding problems. To my mind the main issues are that Green OA is:

Not immediate. Most publishers (but not all) require an embargo period of between 12-36 months before the AAM can be made open access. Not only are long embargo periods are hugely detrimental for scholarly communication, but I believe they are unnecessary. Many academic publishers insist on long embargo periods to protect journal subscription revenue from cancellations. However, a number of academic publishers (including the Royal Society, Cambridge University Press, Emerald and SAGE) have zero month embargoes for selected titles are they are not unduly affected by cancellations.

Not compliant with all research funders policies. Unfortunately, these long embargo periods are not compliant with all research funders policies (e.g. RCUK) which means that many researchers are forced to pay Hybrid OA fees for their publications. As we discussed yesterday Hybrid OA accounts for 70% of our open access expenditure. In the UK researchers are faced by a myriad of different funders policies (e.g. HEFCE, RCUK, Horizon 2020) which currently require different routes to open access.

Not cost-free. If you factor in hidden costs – such a repository platform fees and staff costs for mediated deposits/copyright checking – Green OA is more expensive than you would initially imagine. Whilst gathering data for a recent HEFCE open access questionnaire we estimated that we have around eleven full time equivalent staff distributed across the entire University working on open access implementation. If you aggregate all these costs then the cost per paper to deliver Green OA is somewhere in the region of £45 which I think is too expensive (but put in context this is still pretty good value for money as our average Gold OA costs are £1,676 per paper).

In summary, Green OA is a step in the right direction but still does not answer all of the problems that we currently face. What we can do to alleviate the issues of long embargo periods, harmonising research funders policies and simplifying processes and thereby lowering costs is the topic of tomorrows blog post – the UK Scholarly Communications Licence.

Open Access week: 23-29th October

For Open Access week we have a series of blog posts lined up to be published every day. We’ll start by describing the current state of play of open access here at Edinburgh, before moving on to highlight some of the innovative projects and initiatives we are involved in to develop and promote scholarly communication. We will round off the week by sharing our long-term strategy to support our academics to make their research open. Our blog-posting schedule will look something like this:

Monday : University of Edinburgh 2016/17 Gold open access spend analysis.
Tuesday : University of Edinburgh Green open access and REF compliance.
Wednesday : Implementing the UK-Scholarly Communications Licence (UK-SCL)
Thursday : Academic-led publishing supported by the Library and other actors.
Friday : The University of Edinburgh’s longer-term strategy for open access.

Managing publisher’s open access memberships with Trello

Screenshot - 14_06_2016 , 16_18_06

As more and more publishers have started to offer open access institutional memberships we have started to struggle with the effective management of the various schemes. We are currently signed up to 12 active deals and are scoping half a dozen more. All of the memberships are at different stages of maturity leading to a fairly complex situation if you are trying to stay on top of things.

Currently this work is all carried out by one member of the Scholarly Communications Team; however, we are trying to move towards a more transparent decision making and management process which is available to the whole team and other associated staff members.

After reading an interesting post about the use of Trello within Libraries we decided to try out this project management tool for managing our open access membership schemes. I won’t go into detail about about Trello, as this is covered by the blog post linked above, but I will talk about how we are using the tool for this specific purpose.

Screenshot - 14_06_2016 , 16_35_12

Each project you wish to manage with Trello gets assigned it’s own board which you can keep private to an individual or share with a team. In the screenshot above you can see that I have 3 private boards and am sharing 2 boards with the Scholarly Communications Team. Looking in more detail at the OA Prepay membership board (screenshot below) you can see that we have created 4 vertical columns, known as lists, each populated with a number of cards. You can assign tasks to cards, but in this case we have chosen to allocate them to publishers membership deals. If you want to you can even assign cards to be monitored by specific people within the team, but we have not yet opted to do this.

Screenshot - 15_06_2016 , 10_50_29

The lists are a way to keep the cards organised – for example each list could represent a workflow step. If you like the ‘Getting Things Done‘ methodology you could have To Do, Doing and Done lists.

When looking at publishers’ open access membership deals there are a number of tasks that need to be carried out which can be arranged into 4 general groups:

  1. Evaluating the initial offering
  2. Sign-up procedures
  3. Day-to-day administration and usage monitoring
  4.  Renewal/ deactivation decision making

We decided to use 4 lists to represent the workflow of moving from evaluating new publisher deals, through completing the sign up procedures and monitoring usage, finishing with renewal/deactivation processes:

Scoping -> Current Memberships <-> Action required ->Dropped memberships

Each new potential open access membership deal would be given a new card (see below for an example). The card is firstly populated with a brief description of the membership. We then add a Label (to enable filtering by publisher), a Checklist of to-do items, and a Due Date when a decision is needed. It is possible to add attachments to the card, for example the offer documents or contracts, but we have decided not to do this. Instead we show the file path where the documents are saved on shared network drives accessible only to the team. We don’t trust giving a third party our business documents in case of a data breach.

Screenshot - 15_06_2016 , 10_59_19

Once the checklist items have been worked through, if successful and the membership was activated, the card would move over right to the Current Membership list. If unsuccessful we would place at the bottom of the Scoping list with a sticker indicating this (a big red thumbs down).

Screenshot - 15_06_2016 , 11_43_21

Once on the Current memberships list (2) the cards are ordered by dates, with the membership deals that are ending first placed at the top. Any member of the Scholarly Communications Team can then see which deals are active, when the membership runs out, find out details of the deal including costs, sales rep contact details and links to other documentation. This is preferable to having all the membership knowledge retained by one member of the team.

Screenshot - 15_06_2016 , 13_05_36

Towards the end of the membership period the cards are moved over to the Action Required list (3) to indicate that a renewal or deactivation decision is needed to be made. If renewed the card is placed back into the Current Memberships list with details updated and the Due Date reset (4). If the renewal is rejected then the card is passed right to the Dropped Membership list (5), with the decision details recorded so they can be revisited at a later date if the renewal is questioned.

In summary, the workflow we present here might not work for every institution however we have found Trello to be a very useful tool to manage the process of managing open access membership schemes within a team setting. It’s main benefits are that it is highly visual and thus easy to use with minimal training, very adaptable to fit different circumstances and the basic version is free.