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 (

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 (

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 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:

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 at all. I’ve pointed out a dozen spam accounts to, 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 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


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.


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


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

Screenshot - 30_10_2015 , 14_38_17

Open Access in Scottish Universities Video

The JISC-funded Enhancing Repository Infrastructure in Scotland (ERIS) was left with some money underspent. University of Edinburgh’s proposal on how use the remaining money to the best possible effect for Scottish HEIs was the Open Access Toolkit for Scotland (OATS). The main objective was to produce a video which included interviews with well-regarded, pro-open access academics from a range of universities in Scotland.

Over several weeks in February, March and April – myself, the filmmaker Marie Liden and her cameraman Nick – met and interviewed Open Access enthusiast academics from Strathclyde University, St Andrews University, Stirling University and the Scottish Agricultural College. In total we interviewed 11 academics and librarians and recorded over 240 minutes of footage out of which, after editing and post-production, only 17 were used for the final video (which is still a wee bit too long). The film was presented at the Repository Fringe Conference (30 & 31 July @ Informatics Forum) and the feedback was very encouraging.

“Producing” a (short) film for the first time was quite a steep learning curve and I started to enjoy it only towards the end. Undoubtedly, we had our fair share of ‘strange’ moments like when we were interviewing one researcher in this beautiful, old meeting room, but where it was impossible to move at all since even shifting your body weight from one leg to the other would make the floor squeak and ruin the shoot!

See the video at Open Access in Scottish Universities


Eugen Stoica – Scholarly Communications Team

Open Access in the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

My name is Anna Krzak, and I am an Open Access Research Publications Administrator for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. I have been in this role since March this year. Previously, I worked as an Open Access Publications Assistant (also for MVM) so I am not entirely new to the University and its Open Access (OA) project. I have been assisting academics within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine with the RCUK OA policy implementation since April last year but, since I used to work mostly from home, I should introduce myself properly now.

The main purpose of my new role is to gather Open Access full text versions of research papers and the accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts and to upload the files to the Institutional Repository. As part of that, I ensure that the licensing terms and conditions are adhered to, including any embargo periods, and that any licenses or set phrases are acknowledged in PURE. In addition, I often advise academic staff on research funders’ Open Access policies and relevant Open Access options. If necessary, I consult the publishers in regard to their often unclear self-archiving policies (this is probably my least favourite bit..). As such, my role combines both theoretical and practical aspects of the OA implementation project that’s currently being undertaken throughout the University.

As the RCUK OA policy has been in force since April 2013, I thought it would be a good idea to evaluate the progress of its implementation in my College:

Please note that the collected evidence refers only to peer-reviewed research articles (including review articles) and conference proceedings that were submitted for publication after 1 April 2013 and that acknowledge the RCUK funding (as per the RCUK OA policy).

RCUK Compliance for the reporting period 1/04/13 – 4/06/14:

Approximately 224 research outputs have been identified, of which 192 have open access documents available to the general public. This means an 85% open access compliance rate (as of 4th June 2014).

All outputs All Open Access Gold/Gratis OA Green OA
         223      191      164            27

However, a more detailed analysis of the RCUK requirements for OA has revealed few secondary problems:

  • Licensing: Although the majority of all OA articles have been published under the CC-BY and CC-BY-NC licence (as required by the RCUK), in approximately 18 cases the articles were published under the CC-BY-NC-SA or CC-BY-NC-ND licences
  • Length of embargo periods: In 18 out of 27 cases the embargo periods were 12 months and longer
  • Self-archiving issues: In several cases journals didn’t offer any green options

If we take these points into consideration, the compliance rate for the specified period stands at approximately 67%, as compared to the required 45%. Overall, it’s quite a good result for MVM.

I’m afraid that my introduction has come across all too serious. However, in a face-to-face conversation you may find out that I am not really that bad 😉

-Anna Krzak, Open Access Research Publications Administrator, MVM

Confusing Green Open Access policies

Elsevier’s Green Open Access policy on self-archiving is so confusing even the Elsevier Customer Service department don’t know what it is.

A few weeks ago one of my colleagues was trying to find out whether they could self-archive a paper published in an Elsevier journal in our institutional repository. The normal procedure is to check the SHERPA RoMEO database, followed by looking at the journal’s webpages. In this particular case there was no information from either sources:

Screenshot - 25_04_2014 , 11_49_48

Given the lack of information my colleague took the reasonable step of contacting Elsevier via their ‘Help & Contact’ web form on 7th April 2014 to ask what is the self-archiving policy for the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. The following response was received (names have been pixelated to preserve anonymity):


The same response was sent again on 16th and 22nd April. Finally my colleague received the following email asking why they wanted to know:ElsevierEmail4

So far it has taken 12 working days to not answer a simple question.

If Elsevier’s customer support staff don’t know what the Green Open Access policy of one of their own journals is then how is an academic author supposed to find out?

As it turns out the journal in question has a 12 month embargo period. After digging round the Elsevier webpages we found the information is buried in a link to a PDF.

The length of embargo periods is a contentious area. Most reasonable people would agree that a period of exclusivity is required for publishers to reap some financial benefit from their subscription-based business model. The majority of UK based funders of research (Research Councils and Charities) recognise this and typically implement a 6 month time period in their open access policies to accommodate any journal embargo periods. It is telling to note that many hybrid publishers have increased journal embargos to periods longer than those recommended by research funders. This in effect forces many researchers to choose paid for open access services offered by publishers.


After more than 3 weeks the enquiry was finally passed to the correct Customer Support Team who provided a full satisfactory response on 30 April 2014:

Please accept my apologies that your original enquiry dated 7th April has just been brought to the attention of the Open Access Customer Support Team. I believe that your enquiry was regarding an explanation as to ‘s self-archiving policy for The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and the relevant embargo period, but to date you have yet to receive a full response. I would like to provide you with the following information.Elsevier

The process in which an Author can share their research by self-archiving a draft copy to a repository or website, is referred to as Green Open Access. The following link will provide you with full information and clear instructions as this approach to Open Access The website also provides clear details of ’s journal specific posting policy Elsevier and confirms that the embargo period for this journal title is 12 months.