Open Science Conference 2019

This week, I attended the International Open Science Conference in Berlin.  I attended this event last year, and found it so inspiring, I was keen to attend again this year.  Open Science, or Open Research, as we tend to refer to it here in Edinburgh is an important development which will fundamentally change the way researchers and those who support them will work over the coming years.

We are in the process of adopting the LERU Roadmap on Open Science and are working with colleagues across the University with the aim of implementing as many of its 41 recommendations as possible.

The programme was comprehensive and there were far too many good ideas to summarise here, so instead I’d like to focus on a number of key take-home messages I came away with in no particular order:

  1. I need to get to grips with the European Open Science Cloud. It’s such a major intiative and I need to get to grips with what it is, how it works, and how it applies in the Edinburgh context (in an increasingly likely post-Brexit world).
  2. I’m very keen to work more closely with our Research Support Office to see what more we can do to ‘hack’ research proposals before they are submitted to make them more open right from the opurset. Thanks to Ivo Grigorov’s FOSTER Open Science CLINIQUE for the inspiration!
  3. Peter Kraker’s powerful presentation highlighted the risks we leave ourselves open to by allowing commercial monopolies to form within the research lifecycle. I’m increasingly worried that we are sleepwalking from a monopolistic market for library subscriptions to an even more dangerous situation with just one or two for-profit companies owning all the tools that are essential to the research endeavour.   We need to do more to make open infrastructure sustainable.  #dontleaveittogoogle

So, from my reams and reams of notes, those are my three key action points to take forward within the University of Edinburgh.

It was really great to hear Eva Mendez re-stress the importance of seeing the transition to open science as a process of manged, complex, cultural change.  I think that is something I and my colleagues already understand very well, but it’s good to have this re-affirmed!  It was also useful to think about how we need a complete picture of vision, skills, incentives, resources and action plans to avoid confusion, anxiety, resistance, frustration and false starts.

I’d highly recommend this conference and would encourage anyone with an interest in Open Research to attend again next year.  #OSC2019

Dominic Tate

University of Edinburgh 2016/17 Gold open access spend analysis

The University of Edinburgh receives two main block grants from Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) to support researchers funded by them to comply with their open access policies. The Library’s Scholarly Communications Team manages these block grants on behalf of the institution. In 2016/17 we spent £1,167,966 to make 697 articles open access via the Gold open access route. In addition, £28,951 was spent on other publication costs, for example page and colour charges.

A summary of the open access charges made to the top 15 publishers is shown in the table and figures below:

Row Labels Count of APC paid Sum of APC paid (£) Ave APC (£)
Elsevier 108 £283,413 £2,624
Wiley 71 £122,685 £1,728
Nature 47 £97,296 £2,070
Springer 107 £70,240 £656
Oxford Journals 28 £56,742 £2,026
Royal Society of Chemistry 49 £51,840 £1,058
BioMed Central 33 £46,295 £1,403
BMJ Publishing Group Ltd 24 £43,650 £1,819
Public Library of Science 29 £43,210 £1,490
Frontiers 16 £24,508 £1,532
American Heart Association 6 £20,693 £3,449
Taylor & Francis 28 £20,605 £736
American Chemical Society 8 £18,278 £2,285
BioScientifica 8 £16,215 £2,027
Royal Society Publishing 9 £15,984 £1,776

Points and trends to note:

  • Our overall spend on open access in 2016/17 was £1,167,966 which bought 697 papers, with an average Article Processing Charge (APC) of £1,676.
  • The open access expenditure is dominated by three large publishers: Elsevier, SpringerNature and Wiley. These 3 publishers account for 53% of our total spend. Note that we have shown SpringerNature as three individual publishers in the table and figure as they have distinct publishing identities – Springer, Nature and BioMedCentral.
  • The top individual publisher (Elsevier) alone accounted for 24% of the total spend, with their APCs 56% more expensive than the average.
  • Generally speaking, we found the highest individual APCs were from US society publishers, like the American Heart Association or American Chemical Society.
  • Best value APCs were from publishers where we have offsetting or national agreements with – for example Taylor & Francis, Springer and Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • 70% of our expenditure is on Hybrid Gold OA  – where journals charge a subscription and APCs – rather than pure Gold OA (30%) where APCs are the only charge.
  • Looking at the whole dataset Hybrid Gold OA is more expensive (£2,075) than pure Gold OA APCs. (£1,581).

Discussion

The University of Edinburgh publishes 6 -7,000 journal articles and conference proceedings per year. In the current market conditions if we were to fully transition to Gold OA then we estimate it would cost in the region of £10M per year. To put this in context Edinburgh University Library spends approximately £4M per year on e-journal subscriptions so this represents a significant uplift on the total cost of publication. I suspect this figure is similar for other research-intensive universities.

At its current scale and intensity, open access as purely delivered by Hybrid Gold OA and Gold OA alone is not likely to happen. Any increase to the total cost of publication is not acceptable.

If we wish to transition to full open access then significant cost mitigation for paid open access needs to occur, and alternative low cost or no cost options need to be investigated and adopted. Some options are described below.

Reducing cost recommendations

  1. Push for offsetting deals : Libraries should be a) requesting offsetting deals, b) pushing for significant discounts, and c) helping publishers adopt transformative business models.

Examples of publishers offering good offsetting schemes are IOP – where an actual rebate is given depending on Gold OA spend – and SAGE Publishing who globally discount the subscription rate of journals where more than 5% of articles are published as Gold OA. SAGE also offer steep open access discounts of 80% for some members of consortia subscriptions. Taylor & Francis are another publisher which significantly reduce APC cost (by 75%) to consortia members. These steep discounts are welcome, but have a fundamental problem in that they rely on privilege. Discounts are not available to all authors as they rely on institutions having a subscription.

Transformative business models such as the UK Springer Compact national agreement, or the Royal Society of Chemistry Read and Publish agreement, are also welcome as they lower transactional barriers for authors to participate in Gold OA. This leads to a greater coverage of open access articles in journal titles, rather than the patchy open access that Hybrid Gold OA delivers. The overall costs are also appreciably lower than the cumulative costs seen with Hybrid Gold OA – look at the difference in our expenditure between Elsevier and Springer for a similar amount of Gold OA articles published.

  1. Support ‘low cost and no cost’ Gold OA : Academic and National Libraries should support open access initiatives that are inclusive and open to scholars who do not have budgets for publishing.

Gold OA does not necessarily equate to paid open access. Many academic or library-led publishing initiatives do not charge Article Processing Charges as the costs are covered through alternative mechanisms. Some examples of innovative academic or library-led publishing activities are described below.

Edinburgh University Library provides an Open Journal Service which is available free of charge to University of Edinburgh students and academics. It provides a hosting platform for academic and student-led groups to create and publish their own Open Access journal. Currently the service has a portfolio of 16 journals and is looking to grow and develop in the coming year.

The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) is a charitable organisation dedicated to publishing open access scholarship with no author-facing article processing charges. The OLH publishing platform supports academic journals from across the humanities disciplines, as well as hosting its own multidisciplinary journal. The University of Edinburgh has opted to support the Open Library of Humanities at a higher rate than required. This additional support will enable the OLH to continue its growth mission to convert subscription journals to a solid, ongoing, open-access model, with no author-facing charges.

  1. Reduce reliance on Hybrid Gold OA : Hybrid Gold OA – where journals charge both subscriptions and Article Processing Charges – is too expensive.

Unfortunately, Hybrid Gold OA which accounts for 70% of our expenditure are significantly more expensive than pure Gold OA costs. It is not uncommon to receive invoices of $5,000 for individual APCs. Our open access block grants are supported either directly by taxpayers money (RCUK), or from charitable organisations (COAF), so it is imperative that anyone managing these funds should be seeking best value for money. I would find it very difficult to explain to someone who has raised money for Cancer Research UK the hard way by running the London Marathon that their sponsorship money has only paid for half an APC. Where research funders policies allow we should be seeking to reduce our reliance on Hybrid Gold OA by utilising alternative mechanisms like Green OA, which we will visit in more detail in tomorrow’s blog post.

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.

University of Edinburgh Further Supports Open Library of Humanities

 

The University of Edinburgh has opted to support the Open Library of Humanities at a higher rate than required. This additional support will enable the OLH to continue its growth mission to convert subscription journals to a solid, ongoing, open-access model, with no author-facing charges.

Theo Andrew, Scholarly Communications Manager at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The OLH is such good value for money. Library budgets are always tight, but we feel that we should be doing more to support academic-led publishing. OLH puts a lot back into the academic community and we are pleased to help with its ongoing sustainability.”

 

Professor Martin Paul Eve, a CEO of the Open Library of Humanities, added: “We are greatly indebted to the University of Edinburgh for its support and flattered by its praise. It is intensely gratifying to see libraries who can, in the face of budgetary difficulty, still find ways to support their core mission: the dissemination of knowledge to all. We understand that not every institution can do this, but when it does happen, it genuinely makes a difference to us in what we can provide.”

OAI10, Geneva, 21-23 June 2017

image courtesy of Elena Giglia (https://www.flickr.com/photos/eg65/35327695980/in/album-72157682640272443/)

The CERN – UNIGE Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication took place at the University of Geneva in June 21st-23rd 2017. Two and a half days of speakers and workshops left us with lots to think about. The emphasis of the conference is innovations in scholarly communication and attracts attendees from across Europe and further afield.

There were seven main sessions;

  • Opening keynote by Jean-Claude Burgelman
  • Technical session
  • Copyright and Licensing session
  • OA transformation session
  • OA outside session
  • Social media session
  • Future of repositories session

For me, one of the of most insightful sessions was the OA outside session,  the experiences of the three speakers with open access really brings home what open access is all about and why it is so important beyond complying with funder’s policies and the next REF exercise. First up ElHassan ElSabry, a PhD candidate, talked about Who needs access to research? an overview of available evidence describing how there is more discussion about OA than actual studies on the benefits of OA. Next up, Dr. Nilam Ashra-McGrat from COMDIS reminding us how privileged we are in our institutions to be able to access so much research through journal subscriptions which non-governmental organization’s (NGO’s) have little or no access to. Her presentation ‘Is open access helping or hindering the international development agenda? Reflections from a consortium of developing country NGOs’ highlighted how many barriers there are to research, even so called ‘free’ research which requires users to register to access it. Finally, on a more positive note Alasdair Rae’s presentation ‘How open access opens doors – reflections on my recent ‘Megaregions of the United States’ paper’ came from a researcher’s perspective and he talked the benefits of open science and how open access opens door, he then talked us through one of his most recent OA papers which was only made possible through the benefits of open science.

Slides, recordings and links from all the presentations can be found online here.

20,000th item in the Edinburgh Research Archive

We are delighted to announce the deposit of the 20,000th item into our institutional repository the Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA). ERA is a digital repository of original research which contains documents written by academic authors based at, or affiliated with, the University of Edinburgh that have sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by the Library, but which are not controlled by commercial publishers. Holdings include full-text digital doctoral theses, masters dissertations, project reports, briefing papers and out-of-print materials.

Our milestone 20,000th item is a PhD thesis written by Susan Ahrens at the Moray House School of Education and was awarded in 2016:

Understanding sport as the expansion of capabilities: the Homeless World Cup and Street Soccer (Scotland)

2016 Homeless World Cup in Glasgow : image courtesy of the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-36819350)

This work investigates the relationship between sport, homelessness and poverty, and considers the way two social enterprises – the Homeless World Cup and Street Soccer (Scotland) – help overcome homelessness and its associated effects.

ORCID is turning into the Yellow Pages

As pointed out to me a number of times the use of ORCID.org IDs is rapidly growing:

Oct 16, 2012: 0
Nov 21, 2014: 1,011,557
March 4, 2016: 2,014,645

(stats via Martin Fenner @mfenner)

Which I don’t need to point out is a good thing. But…..

Screenshot - 09_03_2016 , 12_40_42

After a tip off by @generalising (Andrew Gray) on Twitter – I don’t believe all this growth reflects actual bona fide researchers. Want some proof? Try searching for ‘laywers’ and you’ll see that there are a LOT of spam accounts:

https://orcid.org/orcid-search/quick-search/?searchQuery=lawyers

Screenshot - 09_03_2016 , 12_45_50

Each of the spam accounts looks to be a real business with URLs – something strange  is definitely going on. It’s not just lawyers, but Taxi firms, Pizza restaurants, Plumbers. Try it for yourself. Dry cleaning? Sure ORCID has it covered:Screenshot - 09_03_2016 , 12_57_55ORCID is turning into the Yellow Pages.

If I didn’t know any better then I’d say that ORCID is being used as a link farm for Search Engine Optimisation. Which is not really a good reflection on ORCID.org at all. I’ve pointed out a dozen spam accounts to support@orcid.org, but other than remove these specific accounts they don’t seem to be tackling the underlying problem. I’ve not looked at how prolific the problem is, but just a visual inspection shows that it is very widespread. So how many of those 2 million IDs are genuine? I really don’t know, and unless ORCID care to comment we’ll never find out.

If I was ORCID.org I’d be a bit more bothered about being used like this and made to look unprofessional, but to borrow a brilliant Polish phrase – ‘Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys’.

 

Institutionally Authored Books

performingcivilityThe Scholarly Communications Team estimates that staff at the University of Edinburgh write, edit or contribute to over 500 books annually and the Library aspires to hold two copies of each of these books (one for general loan, one for preservation).  In light of this aspiration, Edinburgh University Library has developed a policy relating to the acquisition of institutionally authored books, which encourages staff to donate two copies to the library, wherever this is possible.

Today we received our first donations under this policy, Performing Civility by Dr Lisa McCormick.  Lisa generously sent two copies to the Scholarly Communications Team, which has checked that there is a record of the research output on PURE.  The print copies have now been sent for cataloguing and should be available very shortly.

Congratulations to Lisa, firstly on her publication and secondly for being the first to donate copies of books under this new policy!

Dominic Tate, Scholarly Communications Manager. 

10,000th open access item added to the Edinburgh Research Archive

PhDs

Thanks to a major digitisation project being undertaken by Library & University Collections we are proud to announce our 10,000th open access item has recently been deposited in the Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA).

ERA is a digital repository of original research produced at The University of Edinburgh. The archive contains documents written by academic authors, based or affiliated with Edinburgh that have sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by the Library, but which are not controlled by any other organisations (for example commercial publishers). Holdings include full-text digital doctoral theses [6150], masters dissertations [950], project reports, briefing papers and out-of-print materials. Current research produced by the University is available from the research portal, which has 101,860 records, of which 28,220 have open access documents attached.

Since 2005 the majority of PhD theses issued by the University have been submitted in a digital format, and around 20 recently completed PhD theses are added each week. Our digitisation activities seek to make accessible older unique content which is only available onsite in the Special Collections reading rooms. The oldest University of Edinburgh thesis archived in ERA was originally published in 1819.

Hybrid open access revenue

fifty-pound-notesPhoto courtesy of Images_of_Money

Over the last few weeks I’ve been preparing and reviewing various compliance and financial reports for funding agencies on their annual open access block grants awarded to our institution. One of the benefits of having sets of large data in front of you is that you start seeing trends and think of mildly* interesting things to do with it.

(* I say mildly because “The best thing to do with your data will be thought of by someone else“, which is one of the many reasons it is important to make your data open.)

Sequentially issued invoices

One of the things I’ve noticed is that one of the larger publishers (Elsevier) issues sequential invoices of the form W1234567 and 12345CV0. If we had enough invoices spread over a reasonable period of time we could estimate what their hybrid open access revenue is during that time period, and potentially extrapolate further. Just to be clear I’ve only picked Elsevier because they are the publisher that we have gathered the most information about open access expenditure due to their large market share.

Invoices issued from the European office

I looked through our admin records and noted invoice # W1274177 was issued on 30 April 2015 whilst invoice # W1300445 was issued on 22 October 2015. During this 175 day period there appears to be 26,268 invoices issued by the publishers European Corporate Office, which works out at about 150 APCs per day for their portfolio of hybrid journals.

Our average APC in 2014/15 (n=65) for this publisher is £2066.81 so their revenue for this period was in the region of £54,290,965, or an APC daily revenue of £310,234.

Invoices issued from the North American office

The publishers also issues invoices of the form 12345CV0 from their North American Corporate Office. Noting that invoice 11795CV1 was issued on 19th May 2015 and invoice 12306CV0 was issued on 15th October 2015 this suggests that 511 APCs were charged over the 149 day period, or around 3 APCs per day.

Using the same average APC (£2066.81) as before this gives us an estimate revenue of £1,056,140 during the time period, or £7,088 per day.

Note that the invoices issued from the regional offices do not reflect the revenue generated in that geographical area.

Global APC revenue

The combined daily APC revenue from the European and North American offices is in the region of £317,322. If we upscale this to a full year we can infer an annual APC revenue in the region of £115,822,530. This sounds like a hell of a lot of money, but put into perspective against the company’s total 2014 revenue of £5,773M (figure from the RELX Group annual report) this represents only 2% of their business income.

Assumptions

These are rough and ready calculations and should be taken with a pinch of salt because I make a number of assumptions including:

  1. The invoices really are sequentially issued
  2. No other types of transactions (e.g. journal subscriptions) are included in the invoicing sequence
  3. We have large enough data set to infer an annual revenue
  4. Daily APC rate is a good enough estimate

UPDATE

Stuart Lawson pointed out on Twitter that this estimate is likely to be on the high side:

Screenshot - 30_10_2015 , 14_38_17