Posts Tagged ‘open access’

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.


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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.

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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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ResearchGate and Copyright

ResearchGate is an online network for academic researchers, particularly focused on the sciences. It allows you to connect with colleagues, share research interests, ask questions and provide answers to research problems. The platform also offers the opportunity to upload copies of your papers. Rogers (2015) estimates that by February 2015 around 80% of ResearchGate users had uploaded at least one full text to the site. Whilst this is an excellent way to gain visibility and promote your research, it may lead to problems with the copyright policies of publishers.

If you use ResearchGate, you must take care to check which version of your work you are permitted to upload, and whether it can be uploaded at the time of publication or if an embargo must be applied. It is vital to consult your publishing agreement prior to uploading a text on ResearchGate, as different publishers allow different versions of academic papers to be uploaded to repositories and author websites: the author’s pre-print, the author’s accepted version, or the published version.

If publishers become aware that an incorrect version is being shared or an embargo is not applied then they are likely to issue take down notices or even sue authors for breach of copyright.

To get the most out of ResearchGate without risking a breach of copyright, please read the Copyright Transfer Agreement or licence that you signed to see how you are allowed to share your paper.  You can also check open access policies on the journal’s website, or by using Sherpa Romeo, a site that allows you to search for policies by journal title or ISSN. However, it is important to remember that these are only a guide: your own copyright agreement is the definitive source of information.

Getting help on copyright

The SRI team can give you further advice on copyright. Please note that we do not perform copyright checks on papers that are uploaded in ResearchGate. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are in line with your journal’s policy.

We do, however, monitor the content of the SRI Open Access repository, and offer detailed advice on what can be posted there. Please also note that SRI Open Access supports compliance with the next REF: ResearchGate does not. HEFCE does not consider that you are complying with their Open Access policy if you deposit your papers in websites like ReseachGate or Academia.edu.

Useful links

Surrey Research Insight: The University of Surrey’s Open Access Repository

SRI Open Access: Information about Open Access provided by the University of Surrey’s Open Access Team

Sherpa Romeo: This allows you to easily search for journals to consult their open access posting policies.


Rogers (2015) How do scientists share on academic social networks like ResearchGate? http://blog.sciencebite.com/how-do-scientists-share-on-academic-social-networks-like-researchgate/ [accessed 19/06/2015]

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SRI recently interviewed Dr Christopher Wiley who is Senior Lecturer and Director of Learning and Teaching in the School of Arts. His interview provides a fascinating insight into his broad areas of research – with mentions of Michael Jackson, Les Miserables and Frozen. Read more of Dr Wiley’s work on the SRI open access repository http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/view/creators/Wiley,_C.html or follow him on Twitter @Chris_Wiley

In your chapter ‘Putting the Music Back into Michael Jackson Studies’, you discuss the implications of an audience’s knowledge of an artist’s biography altering their perception of the artist’s work. Could you explain how and why this occurs?

My work on Michael Jackson was borne of my wider interest in musical biography (the subject of my doctoral dissertation), which examines how biographies can reveal much information about the values and preoccupations of the authors who wrote them and the reading communities for which they were produced. In much the same way, it is inevitable that a reader – or listener, or viewer – will bring their pre-existing knowledge of an artist’s biography to bear on their interpretation of that artist’s output. How can we not think of the controversies surrounding Jackson’s fading skin pigmentation when we hear him sing ‘it don’t matter if you’re black or white’, or of those serious allegations (never proven) of child sex crimes when we see children prominent in his music videos? One facet of my research on musical biography investigates the relationship between a subject’s life and their works, and that’s the reason I was drawn to studying Jackson in the first place: it would be difficult to name an artist whose output is more widely consumed, and whose biography (including its highly controversial aspects) is more widely known.

As an academic who researches and teaches music, do you feel a responsibility to bring the focus back to the musical output of artists who may have had a controversial past or led an unconventional lifestyle?

Without wishing to overlook or obfuscate the seriousness of some of the controversies with which artists have been associated, I do believe that researchers have a responsibility to contribute to public discourses according to their disciplinary specialisms – for instance, in my case, shedding some uniquely musicological light on Jackson’s musical output where little previously existed. Given the research-led nature of much university teaching, mine was a study that benefited from being cultivated in the crucible of the classroom; and one of the most thought-provoking challenges I have ever received came from a student who remarked that claims about academia’s social responsibility may be well-meaning, but they are compromised by the extent to which views set forth in scholarly monographs reach widespread public audiences in reality. It was truly heartening to be able to respond that in the new era of open access, academic research is more widely disseminated than ever before – and that my article on Jackson was freely available online. It is even more reassuring to be able to track downloads and confirm that others are indeed engaging with my work!

Your range of research is very broad, covering Music for Television, Musical Theatre, Historical Musicology, and many other subjects. Could you tell us about a particularly innovative or interesting way you have seen music used either by a director or performer during your research?

I’m teaching a class on Musical Theatre at the moment, and several recent examples of innovative or interesting uses of music spring immediately to mind. In the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables, director Tom Hooper opted to record the cast’s singing live during filming wherever possible. While this was by no means the first time ever that live vocals on film had been attempted, the sheer scope of activity of the film’s sound department, coupled to the use of live piano accompaniment on set, meant that Les Misérables broke much new ground. I remember seeing the film at the cinema on the day of the première and thinking that the sense it gave of the actors’ physicality – that the characters onscreen were genuinely singing – could be extraordinarily persuasive. Let’s hope that others will follow Hooper’s lead in future film productions of musical theatre works.

The world of musical film has also recently been taken by storm by Disney’s Frozen, and particularly by the ubiquitous song ‘Let It Go’ – a subject on which I contributed expert comment to an article published last December in The Telegraph. Disney seemed to dominate the arena of film song in the early 1990s and it would be great to think that Frozen might herald a return to the era that saw Disney receive five Academy Awards for Best Original Song in the space of seven years between The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas. Finally, I might mention Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revolutionary adoption of the television talent discovery show format as a means of casting principals for revivals of shows including The Sound of Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver!, The Wizard of Oz, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Some of my thoughts on that fascinating phenomenon are already available on Surrey Research Insight.

Would you be able to tell us what you are currently researching?

You’ve already mentioned the broad-ranging nature of my research activity, so it may not altogether come as a surprise when I say that I’m currently working on two projects in completely different areas! One is an essay on eighteenth-century literature, focussing on aspects of the role played by music the early novels of Samuel Richardson and Frances Burney, together with a glimpse forward to Jane Austen’s works of fiction. The other is a journal article on student evaluation of teaching, which seeks to establish students’ perspectives on the standardised module evaluation surveys that have become prevalent at many UK universities in recent years. In the medium term I’m also preparing a monograph on musical biography, focussing on the original incarnation of the renowned Master Musicians biographical series, so I remain very much active within my primary area of research specialism as well.

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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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