Open Access Week 2018 – Blogpost #3

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Welcome to the third of our special blogposts for Open Access Week 2018! Today we are thinking about this year’s theme of “designing equitable foundations for open knowledge” and focusing specifically on the issue of wealth.

Wealth

Open Access can operate under a variety of different models, but none of them are without costs. For example, using what is called “Green Open Access” involves making research openly available on repositories and, while there is no immediate cost to researchers, there are costs involved in staffing the repository service and operating the platform itself. An alternative model is “Gold Open Access”, which involves making research openly available on publisher websites and involves payments to the publisher, either from the researchers or from third parties like learned societies who may fund the journal. In both models, the audience is able to access the research for free, but the costs have been shifted elsewhere, which means that having enough money to support the preferred model of Open Access remains an issue.

While the way in which Open Access models currently work may change in the near future as a result of the proposed “Plan S” (a potentially game-changing set of principles produced by Science Europe)1, the issue of how Open Access will be sustainably funded remains a challenging and often contentious topic. With Gold Open Access, publishers have previously been accused of “double-dipping” – by charging for expensive journal subscriptions while also charging researchers to make individual articles open access. Money spent on library subscriptions and article processing charges (for Gold Open Access) continues to increase, putting ever more pressure on institutional budgets trying to support this model of Open Access.2 Green Open Access remains a cheaper route in comparison to Gold Open Access, but has various shortfalls in terms of publisher-imposed embargoes and other restrictions, and also still requires institutions to finance their own repositories.

Debates on how models of Open Access should develop are ongoing and form a fundamental part of the general conversation around a transition to a more open research environment. However, the groups involved in those discussions are usually organisations that are relatively wealthy – well-funded universities in economically-privileged countries, or for-profit publishers – and which often have the loudest voices and the greatest financial clout. This means that there is a risk of overlooking other groups that are less well-off and which may be just as significantly affected by changing costs of Open Access. For example, independent researchers and smaller universities rarely have the funds to support Open Access in the same way as wealthier organisations; similarly, European researchers are privileged in terms of access to national funding for Open Access, which is not the case in many other parts of the world.3

Conclusions?

The costs of Open Access must be fair and sustainable. We do not want to be in a situation where you can only be “open” if you can afford it. The needs and perspectives of less wealthy parts of the global community should not be neglected in the process of forming new models for Open Access, otherwise the research landscape will be biased in favour of economically-privileged groups. At the same time, all stakeholders must address the issue of financial sustainability in a way that is fair and avoids destructive changes to the research ecosystem. For example, publishers provide various important contributions to the research process, such as editorial work and the provision of well-indexed databases, and educational institutions must respect publishers’ need for income in order to sustain these contributions. Likewise, publishers should respect the need for transparency in what they charge for subscriptions and Open Access, and must also recognise the reality of limited and dwindling institutional budgets.

Feel free to share your own thoughts with the community, for example on Twitter (#openaccess https://twitter.com/search?q=%23openaccess), or send us an e-mail at publications@rgu.ac.uk! Also, don’t forget to check out our other activities for Open Access Week at https://www.rgu.ac.uk/open-access.


1 For the official communication on “Plan S”, see the Science Europe website (https://www.scienceeurope.org/coalition-s/ – checked 17.10.2018).

2 See for example an analysis of institutional spending on article processing charges in Germany, Austria and the UK between 2014-2015 (Jahn, N. and Tullney, M. 2016. A study of institutional spending on open access publication fees in Germany. PeerJ, 4, article e2323. Available from: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2323 [checked 17.10.2018]). See on subscriptions the examples of cancelled deals listed by Sparc (https://sparcopen.org/our-work/big-deal-cancellation-tracking/ – checked 17.10.2018)

3 Discussion at the Scottish Higher Education Digital Libraries (SHEDL) “Read and Publish” event, 4th October 2018, University of Dundee.

Open Access Week 2018 – Blogpost #2

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Welcome to the second of our special blogposts for Open Access Week 2018! Today we are thinking about this year’s theme of “designing equitable foundations for open knowledge” and focusing specifically on the issues of Internet access and language.

Internet Access

Open Access is about making research freely available to as many people as possible. Additionally, for many disciplines, research becomes less relevant as it is superseded by later research, which means that speed of communication is vital. It is therefore the existence of the Internet that makes Open Access possible, by providing a platform through which the audience for a single piece of content can equate to billions of people and through which research findings can be rapidly disseminated.

However, it is not easy for everyone to access the Internet. According to various sources, only half of the world’s population are Internet users.1 Many people take Internet access for granted, but the reality is that there are still a significant number of people who effectively cannot reach “open access” content because they do not have reliable Internet access. This is the case even in otherwise highly-developed countries – for example, only 90% of households in the UK have Internet access.2 There are many potential reasons for the limited reach of the Internet, including barriers created by a lack of infrastructure, or social-, cultural-, economic- or political factors. As Open Access becomes an increasingly common element of scholarly communications, we must not overlook those potential audiences for whom Internet access cannot be taken for granted.

Language

English is the most frequently used language for Internet content. Online research outputs are no exception to this – a glance at the Scopus database suggests that at least 85% of all indexed research articles are written in English.3 Over time, the proportion of non-English research may increase, particularly because Open Access can make it easier for people to discover non-English research, resulting in that research getting more frequently read and cited, and therefore making it increasingly viable for researchers to publish in different languages. However, as the research environment becomes ever more open, we must remember that research can be accessed only by people who are able to read the language in which it is written, regardless of how “open” it may be otherwise.

Conclusions?

Privileges that exist within the world of communication must not be ignored. As well as investing in open research, the community should also engage in solutions for spreading Internet accessibility, for example by supporting government initiatives to extend communications infrastructure into remote regions, or other initiatives that aim to overcome less tangible challenges. As for language, perhaps more work could be done to increase the take-up of translation services within scholarly communications, making it possible for people to choose in which language they read openly available research?

Feel free to share your own thoughts with the community, for example on Twitter (#openaccess https://twitter.com/search?q=%23openaccess), or send us an e-mail at publications@rgu.ac.uk! Also, don’t forget to check out our other activities for Open Access Week at https://www.rgu.ac.uk/open-access.


1 Based on information for world Internet usage taken from Internet World Stats (https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm – checked 16.10.2018), Statistica (https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/ – checked 16.10.2018) and the International Telecommunications Union (https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx – checked 16.10.2018)

2 Based on information for UK Internet usage taken from the Office of National Statistics (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/householdcharacteristics/homeinternetandsocialmediausage/bulletins/internetaccesshouseholdsandindividuals/2018 – checked 16.10.2018)

3 Scopus (https://www.scopus.com/ – checked 16.10.2018)

Open Access Week 2018 – Blogpost #1

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Welcome to the first in our week-long series of special blogposts for Open Access Week! Each year, the Open Access community adopts a different theme for Open Access Week, encouraging us to think about specific aspects of open scholarly communication. This year’s theme is “designing equitable foundations for open knowledge” – it asks us to think about individuals and groups that might be negatively affected by the increasingly open nature of research, or whose specific needs and circumstances might be overlooked. Later this week we will look at some aspects of this theme in greater detail.

In addition to these blogposts, we are also doing various other activities across the week to help promote Open Access at RGU. These include a lunchtime pop-up stand that will be giving out free food, and several workshops for PhD students and other researchers in which we will be using games to discuss some important issues associated with research. A full list of our activities is available online: https://www.rgu.ac.uk/open-access.

Finally, Open Access is not just about RGU! There will be many other people and organisations engaging with Open Access Week worldwide. You can check out some of the conversations around Open Access by following the discussions on Twitter (#openaccess – https://twitter.com/search?q=%23openaccess).

We hope to see you at our pop-up stand around campus, or at our workshops!

Resource spotlight: Digimap

Digimap is an online mapping and data delivery service that offers the students and staff at RGU access to a number of map data collections:

Ordnance Survey – OS maps covering the whole of Great Britain and at scales ranging from 1:1250 up to 1:750000.

Historic – historical maps of Great Britain, the originals of which were published between 1846 and 1996.

Geology – geological map data from the British Geological Survey (BGS).

Marine – raster nautical charts and Marine Themes vector data from the UK Hydrographic Office.

Environment – land cover data from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Separate datasets are available for 1990, 2000, 2007 and 2015. Also included are Dudley Stamp’s maps of the 1930’s Land Utilisation Survey of Britain.

Aerial –  high quality aerial photography of Great Britain.

Lidar – lidar data derived from the Environment Agency, showing Digital Terrain Models (DTM) of the bare earth surface and Digital Surface Models (DSM) that show the vegetation canopy.

You can use Digimap to zoom in on your area of interest, print maps in A4 to A0 size, annotate maps, download maps in PDF, PNG or JPG files and download the data for use in GIS and CAD software.

To access Digimap simply follow the link from our database lists:

A-Z list of databases

And please be aware that the first time you access Digimap you will need to register and accept the user licenses for each individual area and that the maps can only be used for academic / education purposes.

Elsevier Scopus, SciVal and Mendeley

Scopus Scival Mendeley

Michaela Kurschildgen and Denis Reidy from Elsevier will be offering a programme of workshops and demonstrations about Scopus, SciVal and Mendeley on Wednesday 24 October 2018, in room 321, Georgina Scott Sutherland Learning Centre.

  • Scopus is a multi-disciplinary research and citation database and a new Library subscription in 2018.
  • SciVal is a research analytics tool that closely integrates with the Scopus database.
  • Mendeley is a versatile reference management, citation capture, writing and collaboration tool.

10.00 – 11.30 Scopus Hands-On Workshop.

11.30 – 11.45 Break.

11.45 – 13.00 Scopus Journal Metrics and SciVal (Benchmarking and Collaboration modules).

14.00 – 15.00 The value of Scopus – this session will cover advance search tips, personalization, analysis tools, citation trends and impact, author profiles and metrics.

15.00 – 15.15 Break.

15.15 – 16.00 Introduction to Mendeley.