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  1. 1. Serials Review 39 (2013) 1–2 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Serials Review journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/serrev Editorial Progress Toward Open Access Metadata There is a growing challenge regarding Open Access (OA) and it has nothing to do with its acceptance; in fact it is the exact opposite. The developing problem with OA relates to its increasing ubiquity. As more organizations adopt some form of OA option, model, or mandate, the way OA fits into the complex world of information management services becomes an important problem to address. In addition, the “flavors” or “colors” of OA, i.e., how it fits on the spectrum of openness, need clarification and consensus. Finally, how OA status is communicated to the wider community—both human and machine— needs to be addressed. These were latent issues when the number of open access publications was modest, and for the most part those early OA journals were completely open. As the number of hybrid models has expanded in anticipation of the increasing scope of funder mandates, it is now time to begin to formalize an article-level metadata environment that communicates this information about accessibility and use. According to the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies (ROARMAP) (http://roarmap.eprints.org/), there are presently 54 funding organizations that mandate some form of OA publication as a condition of a grant—with an additional 10 funders considering some type of mandate, including several significant government agencies. In addition to these funding mandates, 163 institutions worldwide have adopted a mandate, and several dozen more have departmental-level mandates. Many traditional (i.e., subscriptionbased) publishers are moving beyond limited experimentation with different OA options to full implementation of hybrid models. The SHERPA/RoMEO (http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/) site provides a list of more than 100 publishers who offer hybrid OA services along with details of those plans (University of Nottingham, 2013). It is likely that these numbers will grow organically over time, or they could increase rapidly if the UK or US Federal government adopts large-scale OA mandates. While the number of authors choosing OA publication in hybrid environments is currently modest, as the reach of these mandates grows, the amount of content available in hybrid publications will likely grow as well. This fall saw the launch of three related projects trying to bring some order to the community of OA. One initiative by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), SPARC, and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) is called the Open Access Spectrum (http://www.plos.org/about/open-access/howopenisit/). A second initiative launched by Jisc in the UK is entitled Vocabularies for Open Access (V4OA) (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/aboutus/howjiscworks/ committees/workinggroups/palsmetadatagroup/v4oa.aspx). A model for distributing article level information that launched last year and has gained some traction is the CrossMark system by CrossRef. Finally, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) launched a consensus initiative in its community to define Open Access Metadata and Indicators. 0098-7913/$ – see front matter © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.serrev.2013.02.001 In October, PLOS, SPARC, and OASPA collaborated on the publication of an Open Access Spectrum guide that according to the publishers “identifies the core components of OA and how they are implemented across the spectrum between ‘Open Access’ and ‘Closed Access’” (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition and Public Library of Science, 2012). The goal of releasing this guide is to highlight attention to the broader questions of “how open” content is, not simply that it is available via open access. These questions include attributes related to access, copyright ownership, reuse, sharing, republication, and machine interactivity. Common vocabulary is a first step in standardization and this guide takes a step in that direction. A secondary aim of the producers of this guide is to advance the discussion about publisher's policies regarding OA and to draw distinctions between the variations in them. A second project, recently launched by Jisc, is Vocabularies for Open Access (V4OA). Similar to the OA Spectrum document, this project aims to “achieve a consensus among the main stakeholder groups on suitable vocabularies to provide greater clarity about the meaning of key terms for humans and machines” related to OA (Jisc, 2013). This initiative will feed into a larger UK repository metadata guidelines project (the RIOXX project (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/ programmes/di_researchmanagement/repositories/rioxx.aspx)) that Jisc is also undertaking. Envisioned is a core metadata terminology that will enhance systems interoperability and facilitate collection management for commercial, compliance, and reporting purposes. This project is expected to report out its findings in mid to late 2013. In January 2013, the NISO membership approved a new initiative to develop standardized metadata and access indicators on Open Access status. No standardized bibliographic metadata currently provides information on whether a specific article is openly accessible (i.e., can be read by any user who can get to the journal Web site over the Internet) and what re-use rights might be available to readers. Additionally, there is no standard way that hybrid journals indicate which articles are open access and which aren't. Developing article-level metadata and indicators is not without its challenges. The sheer scale of metadata management at the journal level has itself proven difficult, despite more than a decade of work by several suppliers in the community. Metadata describing access at the article level increases this problem by several orders of magnitude per year. Expression of rights information is another area of work that has proven problematic for nearly a decade both from a system and a cultural perspective. This issue is compounded because some publishers find value in obtaining and managing re-use rights of content that is available for free reading. Finally, there are supplier branding and marketing concerns around logos and those communications interests that will need to be respected. The benefits of having standardized OA metadata and indicators should have a positive impact on the variety of organizational
  2. 2. 2 Editorial participants in the scholarly communications chain. Funders who have implemented OA policies would have a mechanism to determine if a specific article or researcher is compliant with their policies. Publishers of hybrid journals would benefit by having a simple mechanism for signaling the OA status of the articles published under that model. Authors would more easily be able to determine whether their selected distribution option is being respected and be able to document their compliance with funder requirements. Readers could more easily ascertain if they can read an article from search results and more easily adhere to the terms that publishers have established. The many aggregators and discovery service providers will enjoy an improved mechanism to programmatically collect and surface to users OA articles that are available in the community. The project launched by NISO will focus initially on metadata elements that describe the readership rights associated with an OA article. Specifically, the NISO Working Group will determine the optimal mechanisms to describe and transmit the right, if any, an arbitrary user has to access a specific article from any Internet connection point. Recommendations will include a means for distribution and aggregation of this metadata in machine-readable form. The group will consider whether existing bibliographic metadata distribution systems can store and transmit this information. The group will also consider the feasibility of incorporating information on re-use rights and the feasibility of reaching agreement on transmission of that data. Those interested in participating in this effort should contact the NISO Office. Finally, CrossRef released its CrossMark (http://www.crossref.org/ crossmark/index.html) service last spring, which could also add to the structure of providing article-level information to the community. The CrossMark system, which is an identification service from CrossRef (http://www.crossref.org/), is designed to provide signals to researchers that publishers are committed to maintaining their scholarly content by providing item-level metadata. CrossMark data could include provenance information or information on access. As a functioning system providing article level data, the CrossMark system could provide a vehicle for exposing any agreed upon descriptions or access data that might be the result of the NISO consensus process. The introduction of Open Access has been fraught with contention, posturing, and argument. However, as OA has moved into broader acceptance, it has become time to address the systemic questions that arise in an environment where hybrid OA content begins to flourish within traditional subscription-based access models. This should not be as fraught with political concerns as previous discussions, since these activities turn on how best to implement a hybrid OA model, not whether or not to implement one. Once a publisher or author chooses OA as a distribution model, in order for that model to function properly in a hybrid environment, the systems that aggregate content and provide discovery services rely on standardized metadata, definitions, and indicators. At the moment in the ever-expanding open access environment, all three of these are lacking. For all those who are investing in the distribution of OA content, including funders who provide the resources, authors who choose OA as a distribution model and publishers who build systems to allow it are missing an opportunity if they fail to expose open access status. Just providing or selecting OA distribution options does not adequately serve the end goal of getting the content into the virtual hands of as many readers as possible. In our digital environment, widespread access requires metadata to facilitate discovery and delivery of OA content. To prevent more complex problems in the future, we should begin now to develop the metadata infrastructure necessary for article-level access data. References Jisc (2013). Vocabularies for Open Access (V4OA). Retrieved from. http://www.jisc.ac. uk/aboutus/howjiscworks/committees/workinggroups/palsmetadatagroup/v4oa. aspx# Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition and Public Library of Science (2012). How open is it?: Open Access Spectrum [guide]. Retrieved from. http://www.plos.org/ wp-content/uploads/2012/10/OAS_English_web.pdf University of Nottingham (2013). Publishers with paid options for Open Access. SHERPA/ RoMEO (Retrieved from http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/PaidOA.html) Todd Carpenter National Information Standards Organization (NISO), 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 302, Baltimore, MD 21211, USA Tel.: +1 301 654 2512. E-mail address: tcarpenter@niso.org.