Open Access for Early Career Researchers


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My talk for the University of Bath Open Access Week session; 23rd October 2013.

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  • Great slides, Ross! Information and research should be accessible to a broad audience, not only scholars. Open access provides part of the solution, but not all of it. Scientific papers are not always easily understandable. People/layman usually end up reading only figures from scientific publications. To better advocate science communications to the public, we need more science journalists and educators to inform the public. Of course scientists should do their part too - but no one has the time and no one gets much credit by doing outreach. Besides OP, Wikipedia is a great source for transmitting knowledge. However, it has received little attention from the scientific community.

    A quick question: do you have data on how much profit OP publishers have made, especially in comparisons with traditional publishers? PLoS published >13,000 articles in 2011. Publication fee per article is $1350, and that would give us a total of 17 million. Not a small number.

    A new journal, PeerJ, almost offers free OP. Check it out.
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Open Access for Early Career Researchers

  1. 1. Open Access for Early Career Researchers by Ross Mounce @rmounce
  2. 2. A bit about myself... I’m a biologist - my views on OA reflect this * Vocal advocate for open science (not just access!) * Awarded Panton Fellowship 2012-13 * Ede & Ravenscroft Prize finalist 2012 * Submitted PhD @UniOfBath Oct 2013 * On Organising Committee for upcoming OA event: * Gave a talk at OA week 2012 @UniofBath too:
  3. 3. Why do I care about OA? The abundance of paywalls seriously obstructs my ability to do rigorous research. I believe charitably and publicly-funded research should be available to all, to read and re-use, at no extra cost. I want my research to be read and re-used by others, rather than locked-away behind a paywall.
  4. 4. Scholarly publishing is broken The past & present The future of decoupled publishing “ Today’s journals are the best scholarly communication system possible using 17th century technology ” “ Online journals are essentially paper journals, delivered by faster horses ” @jasonpriem doi:10.1038/495437a Recommend Read: Priem, J. and Hemminger, B. M. 2012. Decoupling the scholarly journal Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience
  5. 5. Legacy publishers have a monopoly When articles are published the publisher often takes the copyright of the work. After this, no-one else can publish copies of it, not even the author(s)! N.B. Don’t sign away your copyright! Journals do not need to take away your ©
  6. 6. Excessive profiteering Annual Profit Margins for 2010: Elsevier 36% | Springer 33.9% | Wiley 42% What normal companies tend to make (2010): British Gas 9% | BT 10% | BP -1.2% | Amazon 3.4% | eBay 19.7% Nestle 17.3% | IBM 14.9% | Vodafone 19.4% | Apple 21.5% Academic publishing is not a regulated market. It’s worth billions annually. They charge whatever they can get away with, hence institutions like UCL pay over £1,000,000 per year to rent access to (just) Elsevier content. Sources: , Wikinvest,
  7. 7. Excessive profiteering (2) 5 page article $113 !!! Source: (still available at that price, Bath has no access)
  8. 8. Legacy Publishers Prevent Text Mining Many standard institutional access agreements explicitly prevent text & data mining of scholarly content: "Schedule 1.2(a) General Terms and Conditions RESTRICTIONS ON USAGE OF THE LICENSED PRODUCTS/ INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS GTC1 Subscriber shall not use spider or web-crawling or other software programs, routines, robots or other mechanized devices to continuously and automatically search and index any content accessed online under this Agreement. " ELSEVIER * Bulk downloading content can result in access being cut-off * When permission is sought, negotiations can take months Further information: (An invited talk I gave at the European Commission, Brussels)
  9. 9. How can one have ‘too much’ content? I’ve had my access to at least one publisher (BioOne) cut-off before. My 'crime' – downloading more than 25 PDFs in 5 minutes. The paywall system and its rate limitations create artificial obstacles for researchers. In contrast, OA publishers have no problem with you downloading all their content. Many even actively facilitate this. I have all of PLoS on a USB stick.
  10. 10. Myth-busting (1) the cost of OA ‘gold’ open access simply means journal-mediated OA Most OA journals do not charge (APC’s) to publish with them* Cost-Free (for Authors) AMNH Bulletin Have Fee Waivers Low cost, High quality *Source: Solomon, D. J. and Björk, B.-C. 2012. A study of open access journals using article processing charges. J Am Soc Inf Sci Tec 63:1485-1495.
  11. 11. Myth-busting (2) ‘Predatory Publishers’ - not a real problem Scammy publishers exist & their numbers are on the rise. But would you submit your work to a website like this? I get email scams everyday - I ignore and delete them. Problem solved. ‘Journals’ like these should not tarnish the reputation of others Comic sans?
  12. 12. Myth-busting (3) “Only academics need access to research” Why provide open access to everyone? What good could come from that, eh? Some of the legacy publishers have even suggested harm could come from greater access to research: “We need to be careful with [access to] this very, very high-level information” John Jarvis, 2004-03-01 (MD, Wiley Europe) See for more examples in support of OA from GP’s, policy-makers, small businesses, patients, independent researchers, artists, retired researchers... There are significant, well-evidenced benefits from wider access to research e.g. Jack Andraka
  13. 13. Emerging solutions for the Humanities I’m from a science background, where open access is now uncontroversial and an inevitable* end-point. The question here is no longer ‘if’ but ‘when’. The awareness and adoption of OA in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) is in an early stage of development - seize these opportunities! (Switching to OA from 2014) punctum books ✶ brooklyn, ny * Lewis, D. W. 2012. The inevitability of open access. College & Research Libraries 73:493-506. Jha, A. 2012 Open access to research is inevitable, says Nature editor-in-chief http://www.theguardian. com/science/2012/jun/08/open-access-research-inevitable-nature-editor Shieber, S. 2012. The inevitability of open access.
  14. 14. Specific advice for early career researchers Advice will vary greatly between disciplines and labs. There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there. e.g. ‘Publishing: Open to possibilities’ (Nature, 2013) My opinion: If you have faith in your own work, then you can publish it wherever* Now, and in the future, article-level metrics & altmetrics will be used to assess research The usage of Journal Impact Factor for research assessment is “statistically illiterate” ( no, really - read any paper on this subject. See also DORA ) So if you’re forward-thinking you may want to choose a suitable open access journal (Remember, in future people may well judge you on where/how you publish) * but obviously avoid scammy journals, journals without article DOI’s, journals no-one reads etc...
  15. 15. Last slide… If all else fails, make sure you self-archive the full-text of your work with OPUS This is the ‘green’ open access route - OPUS is our ‘institutional repository’ Even if you publish in a non-OA venue your work may at some point later be allowed to be made freely accessible via OPUS (sometimes with a delay of months to years). University of Bath mandates that all researchers deposit a full-text copy of their published works from 1st June 2011 onwards. (I thoroughly support this policy) N.B. Self-archived copies aren’t always found by people looking for your work and often impose legal restrictions on re-use. So I prefer OA journals, given a choice. But practically-speaking a mixed strategy of self-archiving & OA journals works well. Either ‘route’ to open access is better than none at all!