International disparities in open access practices in the Earth Sciences

Abstract:  Background: Open access (OA) implies free and unrestricted access to and re-use of research articles. Recently, OA publishing has seen a new wave of interest, debate, and practices surrounding that mode of publishing.

Objectives: To provide an overview of publication practices and to compare them among six countries across the world to stimulate further debate and to raise awareness about OA to facilitate decision-making on further development of OA practices in earth sciences.

Methods: The number of OA articles, their distribution among the six countries, and top ten journals publishing OA articles were identified using two databases, namely Scopus and the Web of Science, based mainly on the data for 2018.

Results: In 2018, only 24%–31% of the total number of articles indexed by either of the databases were OA articles. Six of the top ten earth sciences journals that publish OA articles were fully OA journals and four were hybrid journals. Fully OA journals were mostly published by emerging publishers and their article processing charges ranged from $1000 to $2200.

Conclusions: The rise in OA publishing has potential implications for researchers and tends to shift article-processing charges from organizations to individuals. Until the earth sciences community decides to move away from journal-based criteria to evaluate researchers, it is likely that such high costs will continue to maintain financial inequities within this research community, especially to the disadvantage of researchers from the least developed countries. However, earth scientists, by opting for legal self- archiving of their publications, could help to promote equitable and sustainable access to, and wider dissemination of, their work.

Mapping for a sustainable world

“Open access is a major step towards achieving the SDGs by being able to monitor progress and build collective understanding. Because the SDG datasets and the cartographic guidance in this book are openly available, more people than ever before can make maps in support of an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable future….

However, maps both historically and currently are part of the problem, contributing to the global inequities the SDGs seek to dissolve and thus reinforcing dominant power structures. Questions on who can make and access maps—as well as the knowledge to make and access these maps—persist. In this book, we attempt to open this knowledge on cartographic design too often paywalled behind expensive textbooks or university courses. While opening this knowledge is one step towards democratizing cartography, it is not enough to confront the SDGs. We call on the global community of cartographers to continue developing and sharing open data, maps, and mapping technologies to better the world….”

The need for free and open data in Earth observation activities – SpaceNews

“The evolving quality and quantity of Earth observation data enables an ever-increasingly profound knowledge of the climate crisis, enhancing the efficacy of mitigation strategies as well as the management of risk and natural or human-made disasters. Access to satellite imagery offers a unique and game-changing advantage compared to data collected in situ: the capacity to build data sets with decades worth of observations while providing constant, up-to-date, and reliable information.

The environmental emergency, while having severe global effects, will not affect all states equally. Poorer, less developed countries are expected to face severe challenges directly related to climate change, and will experience the large majority of climate-induced human mobility, be it internally displaced people or climate migrants. Open Data policies promoting free and open access to Earth observation data and information are an important tool to guarantee access to satellite imagery to those states which do not yet possess the capabilities for independent access to space. This is especially true for data related to the causes and effects of climate emergencies, such as the Essential Climate Variables identified by the Global Climate Observing System. Open Data principles not only greatly enhance the mitigation strategies of less-developed countries, but would significantly further their risk and disaster management….”

Canadian Health Geographers Share Virus Risk Maps with Public Before Publishers – SPARC

“As Valorie Crooks and her research team were developing maps to show COVID-19 risks in neighborhoods across British Columbia, she knew the information was too urgent to wait on an academic journal to disseminate.

Instead, the geography professor from Simon Fraser University in Canada took the data she and her research colleagues, which included patient partners, gathered to create an interactive website with the maps that they shared publicly.

“The need for information right now is so critical, that it just does not align with the timelines of scientific publishing,” Crooks says. “So, we went for a public leap of faith and shared our maps.”

The response has been substantial from both the media and the public. The open access strategy has prompted feedback from the public that’s helped researchers refine their work and provided useful information to policymakers as they respond to the crisis….”

Why we need to think about ethics when using satellite data for development | Devex

“To avoid these dynamics, Allan says it’s vital that stakeholders think carefully about who controls the collection of data, what platforms are being used to store and organize the data collected — and if those platforms are proprietary, or open-sourced — and what will happen to the data after the project is complete.

“The problem with proprietary data is that each NGO might be mapping different things, and they aren’t necessarily sharing that data,” Allan said. “So you might have Oxfam mapping one type of water source, but ignoring WaterAid, who may be mapping another, potentially leading to false resource reports.”

Another issue with proprietary data is that after the project is complete, it often becomes inaccessible to anyone except the NGO and donors, he said.

“The data is not only getting wasted, but it’s also potentially insecure, through lack of sustained ownership,” he said. “One way to get around this issue is to make data open-source, available in the public space, accountable to — and also update-able by — local communities.” …”

The SHRUG; Development Data Lab

“The Socioeconomic High-resolution Rural-Urban Geographic Platform for India (SHRUG) is a geographic platform that facilitates data sharing between researchers working on India. It is an open access repository currently comprising dozens of datasets covering India’s 500,000 villages and 8000 towns using a set of a common geographic identifiers that span 25 years….”

Special Collection on Open Collaboration Across Geosciences – Eos

“Researchers from all geoscience disciplines are invited to collaborate on a special collection that describes experiences, ideas, and lessons learned about engaging in science following ICON-FAIR principles (integrated, coordinated, open, networked – findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable)….”


Open Source Infrastructure Engineer: Pangeo Project | 2i2c

We are looking for an Open Source Infrastructure Engineer who will help shape the future of data-intensive scientific research and make a big impact on important problems shaping society. This engineer will lead the development and operation of cloud-based infrastructure, focusing on the Pangeo Project – a community platform for big data geoscience.

Location: Anywhere – this is a fully-remote position.
Position: Full-time
Salary: $110,000-130,000 + benefits