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It is increasingly the case that open access to research outputs includes open access to electronic theses. It can be argued that PhD theses have always been ‘openly accessible’ or ‘published’ in the sense that they are open to the general public for reading. Indeed, this has long been an essential requirement for the work to earn its title. So all that has really changed in the doctoral thesis world is the form of access, i.e. the internet.

This is still a big change, however; and so – quite understandably, I should add – a number of concerns have since arisen. Chief among them is the belief that most publishers and journals consider anything in an e-thesis ‘pre-published’, thereby disqualifying it from consideration for publication.[1] Relatedly, many believe that by depositing their work on an institutional repository, they forfeit intellectual property, again disqualifying consideration.

The fear over intellectual property is, to be sure, a very simple case of misinformation; though it is a serious one at that, as every year it causes unnecessary panic and stress for many students going through the submission process. The intellectual property of an e-thesis, unless expressly stated otherwise, lies with the author/PhD student and a Creative Commons License can be used to that effect.[2] University staff contracts detailing institutional rights over intellectual property apply only to research staff and/or research conducted outside of the PhD.

Regarding the question of ‘pre-publication’, there have been numerous survey-based studies on editorial policy and every single one comes to the same conclusion: publishers and journals, generally speaking, welcome submissions of manuscripts or proposals based on a thesis or a segment of a thesis, on the basis that the published manuscript is likely to be a substantially revised version of the original.[3] The chances of the content of an article or monograph substantially mirroring the PhD from which it is derived, are minimal. Journals and monographs are almost always written in an entirely different style to PhDs. Whereas PhDs are overtly technical, dense and reference/ content-note heavy, journals and monographs are more polemical, concise and accessible. For this reason, most publishers require substantial revision of material derived from a PhD dissertation, regardless of whether an e-thesis is openly accessible or not. As one university press commissioning editor we contacted put it:

We would generally only publish theses that were substantially revised on the basis that a standalone book and a thesis have different jobs to do. On this basis whether or not the original thesis is available on open access is a fairly minor factor in considering a thesis for revision and publication as a book.[4]

Though there are many other factors to consider, this goes some way in explaining why e-theses do not usually preclude publishing opportunities.

In an attempt to provide further and more up-to-date insight into publishing trends and editorial policies regarding the publication of material derived from OAETs, we (Surrey Research Insight) initiated our own survey-based study. We approached hundreds of university and commercial presses (specifically, commissioning editors) focused on monographs, as well as esteemed journals (specifically, journal editors), across all disciplines. Though ongoing, the results gathered thus far vindicate the conclusions of previous studies.

None of this is to say that there can never be a legitimate reason to restrict access to an e-thesis. But it is to say that much of the fear and anxiety over e-theses is ill-founded.

If you have any queries regarding access to or depositing your e-thesis at the University of Surrey please contact: etheses@surrey.ac.uk

 

[1] See, for instance http://theprofessorisin.com/2011/08/24/the-perils-of-publishing-your-dissertation-online/ [Last accessed 10 February 2016].

[2] See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ [Last Accessed 10 February 2016].

[3] Seamans, N. H. (2003) ‘Electronic Theses and Dissertations as Prior Publications: What the Editors Say’, Library Hi Tech, vol. 21(1), doi: 10.1108/07378830310467409; Barnes, T. et al (2012) ‘Electronic Doctoral Theses in the UK: A Sector-wide Survey into Policies, Practice and Barriers to Open Access’, UK Council for Graduate Education, pp. 23-4., available online: file://homes.surrey.ac.uk/home/Electronic%20Doctoral%20Theses%20in%20the%20UK.pdf [Last Accessed 10 February 2016]; University of the West of England (2012) ‘Publisher positions on e-theses and prior publication’, available online: file://homes.surrey.ac.uk/home/publisher-pre-pub-guidance.pdf [Last Accessed 10 February 2016]; and Ramirez, M. L., et al. (2013) ‘Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities?: Findings from a 2011 Survey of Academic Publishers’, College & Research Libraries, vol. 74(4), pp. 368-380.

[4] The respondent requested anonymity.

Every person is unique; but when it comes to names, some of us may be less unique than others.

If, for example, you are called T. Smith, or C. Wang, others will have a hard time identifying you as the author of a particular publication. It is also likely that your name will get mixed up with other authors with similar names, leading to missed citations.

Even if you do have a distinctive name, it is still not guaranteed that others will be able to find and cite your work correctly. It is very common to be inconsistent in how we cite our own names in different publications: typos, spelling variations, and inconsistencies in whether we use middle initials or special characters will all increase uncertainty about our identity. You may ‘know thyself’, but others don’t; not necessarily.

Claiming your identity with ORCID

ORCID, the Open Research Contributor ID, offers you a permanent digital identifier that groups together all variants of your name – or previous names you may have used. By linking your unique ORCID number to all your publications, as well as other contributions like datasets, patents, projects, arts outputs and media stories, you make sure that all your publications and research activities are attributed to you.

Reducing multiple data entries

Entering the same data over and over again in different systems is the bane of a researcher’s existence. ORCID has begun to automate a lot of your admin jobs:  you can use your ORCID ID to link to other systems, including those maintained by some funders and publishers. Major publishers including Wiley, Elsevier, Taylor & Francis and Springer can now integrate ORCID numbers into the manuscript submission process, saving you time completing submission forms.  Funding bodies have also started implementing ORCID, with Research Councils UK ready to integrate with ORCID early this year. ResearchFish has also become an ORCID member, meaning that, once the integration is in place, you should be able to just provide the ORCID to auto-populate publications lists and other reporting information.

Since its launch in 2012, ORCID has been widely adopted. Figshare, SSRN and the Web of Science are among the many services now integrated with ORCID. This allows you to share information between systems, without having to enter the same information again.

How does it work?

Registration is free and takes about half a minute.  To register, visit the ORCID registration page  http://orcid.org/ and enter a few details about yourself. You will then be assigned an ORCID ID, which looks something like this: 0000-0000-1234-5678. The ORCID registry also offers you an ORCID profile, e.g. http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5651-4754, where you can:

  • Add variants of your name and previous affiliations to this ID.
  • Link your ORCID to other publications and other contributions, including data sets and grants.
  • Link your ORCID to other identifiers like ResearcherID and Scopus Author ID.

Your ORCID number and profile is unique, permanent, and belongs to you, not your institution. It follows you throughout your career even if you change affiliations. Using privacy settings, you can choose what information held in your ORCID profile is visible to the public.

Supporting ORCID at Surrey

The University has been looking into ways to implement ORCIDs for all researchers.  In the meantime, we strongly encourage you to register and maintain an ORCID profile directly at http://orcid.org/. Please contact sriopenaccess@surrey.ac.uk if you need more information.

The full benefits of ORCID for researchers and research communication at large become more evident as it is more widely adopted.

In October, Springer announced a new Open Access agreement for UK institutions: Springer Compact. This pilot scheme aims to remove the double payment by institutions to publishers, often referred to as ‘double-dipping’.

Many publishers now offer a ‘hybrid’ OA model, which requires institutions to purchase subscriptions to journals, but then also to pay Article Processing Charges to make individual papers available open access in those same journals. Therefore institutions are paying to make their own research available as open access but then also buying this research again as part of their subscriptions.

Springer Compact seeks to rectify this by combining subscription costs and open access fees into a single annual payment. This radical move will see papers automatically made available via the Gold route if the lead author’s institution subscribes to the journal that the paper is due to be published in. Springer hope that this will allow a far greater amount of research to be made available open access, and will reduce the administration time for processing such requests.

The University of Surrey Library has signed up to the pilot scheme which will run until December 2018. To take advantage of Springer Compact at the University of Surrey:

  • Make sure that the article is to be published in an eligible Open Choice journal
  • Ensure that the corresponding author is at the University of Surrey – use your institutional email address
  • Publish an Original Paper or Review Paper

Once an article has been accepted and recognised as being eligible for Springer Compact, the SRI Open Access team will be asked to verify that the lead author is at the University of Surrey. Once this has been done the paper will be automatically made available open access on publication.

 

Useful links:

‘Open access agreement for UK authors’ http://www.springer.com/gp/open-access/springer-open-choice/for-uk-authors-intro/731990

http://www.surrey.ac.uk/library/research/openaccess/

Please note that IT services will be working on a minor upgrade in Symplectic on Monday 30 November, from 10 am to 11 am.

During this period you will not be able to access Symplectic. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

The blog post, ‘The Scientists encouraging online piracy with a secret codeword’ featured on the BBC this week has raised a number of pertinent points about access to research, and the restrictions imposed under current publishing models. The post discusses how researchers are harnessing social media to locate and illegally distribute copyrighted materials, which may be part of paid subscriptions. As the article states, this approach plays upon the well-known ‘I can haz’ meme, placing the issues of open access firmly within modern social culture. Similarly, the post below was recently spotted on the popular FML website, again highlighting that the issues surrounding open access are becoming embedded in popular culture, and are becoming a source of casual amusement.

FML OA image

However, in spite of the cute cat references the distribution, or pirating of articles in this way poses many legal and moral questions. In contrast, initiatives such as the Open Access Button help users to locate free, and legal, copies of papers via repositories, authors websites and ultimately by contacting the author of each paper. The OA Button is run by student volunteers and is not an ideal solution to such a large problem, but it does emphasise and promote the need to make papers and research available as open access in a fair way, rather than subversively bypassing publishers.

We may hope that the introduction of HEFCE’s open access policy for the next REF in April 2016  may increase the number of articles which are available via open access. Unfortunately this seems to be far more of the ‘stick’ approach, rather than the ‘carrot’ – and many people may not fully understand the positive implications that open access can have when it becomes a mandatory requirement for UK HE institutions.

The publicity that the BBC’s blog has achieved has helped to show that open access remains a key concern among researchers and that they are willing to adopt potentially unethical methods in order to access pay-walled materials.

By making your research available via the SRI Open Access Repository you ensure that your research can be accessed by anyone in a free and legal way.

For open access support please contact sriopenaccess@surrey.ac.uk or consult our updated Open Access webpages www.surrey.ac.uk/library/research/openaccess

References:

The Scientists encouraging online piracy with a secret codeword, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-34572462 [accessed 21/10/2015]

FML http://www.fmylife.com/ [accessed 11/10/2015]

‘About Us’, Open Access Button, https://openaccessbutton.org/about#how [accessed 21/10/2015]

HEFCE policy http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2014/201407/ [accessed 21/10/2015]

The Open Access team (SRI) have arranged a number of events 19 – 25 October to mark International Open Access Week and 10 years of Open Access being supported at Surrey. Staff are invited to attend these events to celebrate the University’s successes, to gain insight to recent policy changes, and to ask about all things Open Access.

Introductory Talk with Professor Michael Kearney, Vice-Chancellor
Tuesday 20 October, 12 -1pm in 40AA03

  • What Open Access means For You and the University – Professor Michael Kearney, Vice-Chancellor
  • How the Library has been Supporting Open Access – Caroline Rock, Director of Library and Learning Support Services
  • HEFCE Open Access Requirements for REF – Jennifer McCafferty, Research and Enterprise Support

The Open Access team (SRI) will also be available to discuss any queries staff may have regarding Open Access.

If you would like to attend the talk, please email sriopenaccess@surrey.ac.uk so the team can get an idea of numbers.

Drop-in Sessions

During the week, the Open Access team will also be running drop-in sessions for each of the faculties:

  • FHMS – Wednesday 21 October, Duke of Kent Foyer, 11am – 1pm.
  • FASS – Thursday 22 October, Entrance of Lakeside Coffee Shop, 11am – 1pm.
  • FEPS – Friday 23 October, 13BB04, 11am – 1pm.

No need to register for these sessions, just turn up!

The Open Access team look forward to seeing you there.

Dear Symplectic users,

As you know, Symplectic upgraded to a new version in July. The new version includes many new features, including:

– a single at-a-glance publications page;

– a workflow that supports REF compliance;

direct access to Symplectic http://symplectic.surrey.ac.uk from off campus, without the need to login via remote access.

Unfortunately, there are still two unresolved issues. IT services are still working with another supplier to update their systems, which has affected how Symplectic is communicating with other University systems. As a result:

  • You will have noticed that staff web pages are not being updated with the latest publications information from Symplectic.
  • Any new staff in your Faculty who joined the University after 6 July do not yet have a Symplectic account.

We have been assured that these issues will be resolved by the 14th of October.

We are sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Best regards

SRI team