Archive for the ‘Open Access news’ Category

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



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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


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]

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According to Cogent OA, an open access scholarly publisher which is backed by Taylor and Francis, there can be freedom on Article Processing Charges (APC) and they are setting a trend.

Cogent have announced a new trial for APC payments called ‘Freedom APCs’. This new model offers an increased flexibility for authors to ‘choose’ the amount that they pay for APC.  The aim of this new trial model is to explore how the APC amount selected by an author relates to their “career stage, subject area and location etc” in order to remove barriers from open access publishing. The trial model will also act as a research project with the global OA community to influence decisions about the affordability of APC payments, and encourage wider discussion about open access pricings.

Under their new model, Cogent OA requests authors to investigate all funding opportunities for their work, including “their funding agency, institution or company” and to then decide on the price that they feel they are able to pay – although they are keen to state that the amount selected is ultimately the decision of the author.

In Cogent OA’s press release Bryan Vickery, the Director of Cogent OA, said that

We wanted to go further than an all-or-nothing waiver program, and really evaluate what authors are able or willing to pay. We appreciate that not all researchers are the same. Some are established in their careers and well-funded, others are just starting out, or working in regions of the world with limited financial resources.

The ‘Freedom APC’ model launched on the 30th March 2015, and an initial analysis of the data collected will be made available in 2016.


‘Under embargo until Monday 30th March 14:00(GMT) – Cogent OA launches Freedom APCs’ http://news.cision.com/taylor—francis/r/under-embargo-until-monday-30th-march-14-00-gmt—cogent-oa-launches-freedom-apcs,c9746553 [accessed 01/04/2015]

‘What are Freedom APCs?’ http://cogentoa.tandfonline.com/page/aboutCogentOA/authors/apcs [accessed 01/04/2015]

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Last week the Wellcome Trust has published information highlighting how much money it has contributed towards article processing charges (APC) in the 2013-14 year. The details indicate that around £4.7 million was spent on making 2556 articles open access, with an average APC payment costing £1837. The data goes further to compare the number of articles published in fully open access journals or hybrid journals, i.e. journals which require a subscription but offer paid open access for single papers.

Robert Kiley’s analysis (See table below) emphasises that there is a continued preference for papers to be published in the traditional hybrid journals, rather than the fully open access journals. He implies that this trend may prove difficult to break due to the pressures on many academics to ensure that their work is published in high impact journals.

Wellcome Table 2

The Wellcome Trust’s blog also explores the problems of the significant difference between individual APC costs in fully open access journals and those which are subscription based. Wellcome’s data shows that the average APC payment in Elsevier journals was £2930, which is £1816 higher than the average cost in PLOS, a fully open access publisher. This may seem troubling as hybrid publishers are simultaneously generating income through subscriptions. The blog notes with interest that FWF, the Austrian Science Fund, has recently imposed a price cap on the APC of hybrid articles, as an attempt to control the ineffectiveness of the hybrid market. We can only wait to see if this is enough to influence both the author’s view towards open access publishing and the publisher’s own prices.

Additionally, Kilney discusses that it can be difficult to monitor whether publishers are complying properly with the Wellcome Guidelines, noting that 13% of APC papers were not available on PubMed Central, although some of these may be made available once the final, published version is produced. He estimates that this equates to around £480,000 of funded APC money! Therefore, Kilney states that in the future this compliance to deposit OA papers in PMC must be addressed as a priority.

I feel that the Wellcome Trust’s report is particularly useful in clearly exposing the discrepancies in APC costs across publishers, and the apparent differences in author attitude and behaviour towards fully open access and hybrid journals, which will hopefully influence a fairer system of funded open access publishing in the future. Similarly, it is useful in identifying the possible issues around compliance and depositing which will need focusing on in the future.



FWF, New Policy for Open Access and Publication Costs, < https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/news-and-media-relations/news/detail/nid/20141219-2097/> [accessed 04/03/2015]

Robert Kiley, The Reckoning: An Analysis of Wellcome Trust Open Access Spend 2013-14, <http://blog.wellcome.ac.uk/2015/03/03/the-reckoning-an-analysis-of-wellcome-trust-open-access-spend-2013-14/>[accessed 04/03/2015]


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The open access biomedical journal PeerJ first gained attention in late 2012 for offering academics extremely low publishing fees. Now, one year later, the Times Higher Education reports that the journal seems well positioned to offer a sustainable alternative to traditional academic publishing models.

PeerJ’s model represents a departure from traditional models in that academics pay a one-off fee to become lifetime members. They can choose from the basic model, which permits them to publish one article per year for life for a one-off fee of $99 (£59), to a more comprehensive model which permits unlimited posting for life at $299. These costs represent a significant reduction on normal gold open access publishing fees, which typically range from between $1,350 to $2,900 for publishing in PLoS, to $5,000 in some Elsevier titles.

The journal has also been helped on its path to sustainability by gaining support from some prominent Universities in the UK and US who have taken out subscriptions for its individually designed and costed ‘institutional plans’.
The journal has been attracting praise for the quality, speed and transparency of its peer-review and editorial process, its formatting and the advent of a preprint server which allows researchers to submit early versions of articles for comment and review.

There are still some concerns that the need for all co-authors of an article to be members of PeerJ in order to publish would mean that, according to Kent Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Scholarly Kitchen blog on academic publishing, publishing here might ultimately be “unlikely in practice to work out much cheaper for researchers and was likely to become more administratively complex”.

There are also concerns that the influence of prestige on author’s publication decisions means that, according to PeerJ’s co-founder, Dr. Binfield, journal publishing is “not a terribly price-sensitive market”.
Whilst these concerns remain, Dr Binfield seems persuaded that the lifetime membership model represents an opportunity for significant long-term cost reductions, and another important step in the move towards open access.
Read more about the Peer J project

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In a briefing commissioned by Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), Alma Swan highlights the benefits that open access has for researchers, their institutions, and society at large.

The briefing revisits the benefits that open access has for the visibility, usage, and citation impact of research publications; benefits that are the more immediate the earlier a paper is freely accessible.  These benefits, in turn, stretch beyond the individual researcher: by placing their publications in open access repositories like Surrey Research Insight Open Access, Universities develop a strong web presence, visible outside the academic world. This helps forge relationships between the University and business and industrial partners, thus contributing to the knowledge economy.

If open access is widely adopted by institutions, Alma Swan concludes, this will have large economic benefits, not only for institutions but also for whole countries. By freeing knowledge and widening our concept of the research community, the UK could enjoy savings of around 400 million a year.

Also see Houghton et al. (2009) on the economic implications  of open access.

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Researchers can comply with RCs’ mandate following two paths: the Gold Open Access path and the Green Open Access option.  Gold Open Access involves a fee that authors or their funders must pay to publishers to make their papers open access immediately after publication.  Green Open Access means that authors can post their publications in an institutional repository, such as Surrey Research Insight Open Access, and there is no fee involved.  To follow this path, always keep your final, peer-reviewed, accepted version and upload it via Surrey Research Insight Publications Database.  Most publishers allow authors to post the author’s version in an institutional repository rather than the typeset and formated version.

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