Archive for the ‘Open Access’ Category

Spotlight on… Open access

January 12, 2015

I feel as if 2015 has got off to a somewhat negative start as regards this blog as I seem to have had to flag up numerous incidences of resource access problems. This does not a happy Electronic Resources Librarian make. So I thought I would maybe provide you all with something more interesting with less “this isn’t working now” which seems to have 2015’s theme so far.

Readers of this blog will know that I have two ‘hats’ here at Bolton, so just for a moment, I will do a swap and have a think about open access, which is very much the key to the University of Bolton Institutional Repository (UBIR). If you’ve walked through the Library, you might spot that the “Spotlight on…” poster concerns open access, detailing the two ways in which authors can engage in open access and the main benefits of open access. There is another, crucial, element to open access that I’ll come to later.

The first question, of course, is “What is open access”. Briefly, the main principle of open access, is that research is free at the point of access. In other words, the only barrier to that research should be technical barriers of accessing the Internet itself. It means that research should not be ‘hidden’ behind access controlled subscriptions, and anyone, anywhere, should be able to access that research. There are two main ways to engage in open access: deposit research in an open access repository such as UBIR, or publish research in open access publications, such as those listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. The former is known as the green route to open access; the latter as the gold route. Here at Bolton, open access is being achieved mainly by the green route.

Both forms of engagement in open access have advantages and disadvantages. The green route relies on having access to a repository, and we are very fortunate at the University of Bolton that this is the case: UBIR accepts all intellectual output of the University of Bolton, from journal articles to book chapters to conference proceedings and post presentations. The gold route, although considered by many to be the future of the open access movement, is more complex, and brings with it concepts that can seem quite alien to anyone who is comfortable with the traditional modes of scholarly communication. The gold route requires authors to submit their work as open access publications, and can often involve the payment of what is known as an APC (Author Pays Charge, or Article Processing Charge). Where that payment comes from can be a cause for concern, and the whole concept of open access publications has led to a lot of debate within academic communities. A number of very specific concerns have been raised, such as concerns over the quality of the publication and the possibility of ‘fake’ publications taking APCs either not publishing the research or publishing it alongside research that is incorrect or ethically questionable. Some are concerned that open access effectively closes the door on traditional modes of scholarly communication, and quality of published research may be affected. All valid concerns, but ones that it is usually possible to allay.

I mentioned earlier that there one very crucial element to open access which means that this method of making research available is not going to go away. You may or may not be aware that HEFCE have made it policy that any research accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 must be made open access if it is to be considered for the next REF exercise. The policy is available in full here and states:

“To be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection.

The requirement applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number. It will not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data. The policy applies to research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016, but we would strongly urge institutions to implement it now.”

If you are in the position of considering submitting to the next REF, now is the time to be thinking about open access, and I’m happy to answer any queries you may have. Just drop the UBIR team a line.

If you want to learn more about open access, including open access at the University of Bolton, take a look at this presentation as well as this poster from the 2014 Research and Innovation Conference, held here at Bolton. Remember, if you want to deposit your work in UBIR, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the UBIR team.

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Open Access Week: What is Open Access?

October 21, 2013

Happy Open Access Week! As I mentioned last week, this week sees return of Open Access Week for the sixth year. The aim of Open Access week is for the global academic and research community to share, learn and enjoy Open Access. For information about Open Access Week, have a look at the Open Access website, which summarises the aims of Open Access Week far better than I ever could:

OA Week is an invaluable chance to connect the global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of policy changes on the local level. Universities, colleges, research institutes, funding agencies, libraries, and think tanks have used Open Access Week as a platform to host faculty votes on campus open-access policies, to issue reports on the societal and economic benefits of Open Access, to commit new funds in support of open-access publication, and more.”

I thought I’d start this week by thinking a little bit about what Open Access (OA) actually is. Although if you’ve never come across OA you might think it is something of mysterious concept, commonly understood meaning of OA is that it facilitates free, immediate access to scholarly output via the Internet. See: simple! OA is typically achieved by uploading material to institutional repositories (such as UBIR here at the University of Bolton), subject repositories or by publishing in OA journals, for example, those indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). In more recent times, it has become possible for authors to pay charges to the journal in which they wish to publish (known as an Author Processing Charge or APC) where the cost of producing a journal article – which is not an insignificant cost – is removed from the reader and passed onto the author. For a very exploration of what OA is, including a discussion of the relationship between research funded by the research councils and OA, see the Open Access Q and A that has been produced by the library at Queen Mary University of London.

So why do we need to worry about OA? At around the time I was undertaking my postgraduate diploma in library and information management, there was a great deal of discussion about a government paper (Scientific publications: free for all?) that delved into the world of paying for scholarly research. A particular focus of this report was the fact that the public was paying for the research indirectly via taxation, but unless they happened to be a member of a subscribing institution, they could not access this research. At this very simple level, this seems an unfair situation, and it had to be changed. At that time, there was also discussion about the need for academics in developing countries to be able to access research. These are still true today. Indeed, a number of research councils now insist that research that has been funded in this way is available to the public i.e., to those who have funded it. It’s also true to say that the handling of OA by publishers – a hugely complicated issue and one for another – has been consolidated by the growing use of APCs to facilitate OA, having previously been wary of OA for fear of financial and indeed academic damage. That said, there is more and more quality academic material available via OA, and knowledge of OA has increased rapidly. I have seen this demonstrated to me very recently when I was asked about APCs by an academic. Not so long ago, I needed to spend a long time explaining OA and almost ‘selling’ the benefits. It seems that these days, many are aware of the benefits, and the issue of how to join in is the pressing question.

So OA seems to be a good thing: research is available free of charge, And it is a good thing. However, the simple concept of OA has been challenged and will continue to be challenged, and tomorrow we will look at some of the issues and pitfalls of OA.

Get ready for Open Access Week!

October 15, 2013

Next week is Open Access Week, a global event that is now entering its sixth year. The aim of Open Access Week is “an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.”. This year, Open Access Week will take place from October 21st to 27th, and at the University of Bolton will be makred by a series of blog posts discussing the various issues surrounding Open Access, and how we at the University of Bolton might get involved. Watch this space!

OAPEN-UK researcher survey now open

March 12, 2012

OAPEN-UK is an important project that aims to look in detail at the future of scholarly open access monographs in the humanities and social sciences. The project, funded by JISC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), commenced in 2010 and will run until 2015, has the following aims:

 

  • Run a pilot for humanities and social sciences monographs.
  • Establish the challenges presented by open access monograph publishing.
  • Gather and evaluate these challenges and suggest how they might be addressed.
  • Analyse usage and sales data and develop an open access monograph publishing business model.
  • Understand the perceptions of open access publishing of authors, readers, researchers and publishers.
  • Explore funding options.
  • Make recommendations on how open access monographs might be moe easliy discoverable.
  • Promote awareness of the issues and challenges surrounding open access monographs publishing.
  • Share the results of the OAPEN-UK project.

 

OAPEN-UK is an extremely important project that could have major implications on the way on which scholarly monographs are made accessible in an open access manner. Now, the team behind OAPEN-UK are looking to seek the opinions of researchers in the humanities and social sciences towards open access publishing. The survey should only take 20 minutes complete, and all completed responses will be entered into a draw to win £100 of Amazon vouchers. The survey is open now and is available here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/oapenukresearcher

OpenAthens up and running

March 1, 2012

The recent problems with OpenAthens have now been resolved, and access to electronic resources should be as expected. As ever, if you encounter any problems, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

OpenAthens update

February 28, 2012

The problems with OpenAthens have yet to be resolved, so users may face difficulties in authenticating to resources off-campus. It would appear that this problem is restricted to staff at the University of Bolton; students appear not be affected. A number of resources are autenticated by IP address on-campus, so OpenAthens is not needed. The problem is due to an issue with a server here at the University of Bolton. It is being looked worked on, but as yet, we do not know when the problem might be resolved.

Again, sincere apologies for the difficulties in accessing resources.