The Downside of Open-Access Publishing

Over the past couple of years, many people involved in scientific research and publishing have received increasing numbers of emails with invitations to submit papers to newly established journals, join their editorial boards, or even apply to serve as their editors-in-chief. Personally, I have been alternately amused and annoyed by these messages. A glance at the journal’s name or the associated website has told me that these simply are not serious publications. But the establishment of new journals and publishers at a rapidly increasing pace should be taken seriously, since it affects the scientific record as a whole.

The Internet has profoundly and permanently changed the ways in which information can be disseminated and discussed. And since scientific publishing is precisely about getting new findings out to researchers and readers for discussion, the Internet has changed scientific publishing considerably, mostly for the better — and will continue to do so. Distribution costs can be very low if a journal chooses to publish only online, for instance, but there are still high costs involved for proper peer review and editorial quality control. The introduction, a decade ago, of an open-access model in which authors pay to have their work published offered an alternative way of financing this quality control. But it also opened up opportunities to charge authors a fee to publish their papers with little or no quality control.
Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, who is interested in scholarly open-access publishing, calls its more questionable incarnations “predatory.”1 “Predatory, open-access publishers,” he writes on his blog, Scholarly Open Access (http://scholarlyoa.com), “are those that unprofessionally exploit the author-pays model of open-access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit. Typically, these publishers spam professional email lists, broadly soliciting article submissions for the clear purpose of gaining additional income. Operating essentially as vanity presses, these publishers typically have a low article acceptance threshold, with a false-front or non-existent peer review process. Unlike professional publishing operations, whether subscription-based or ethically-sound open access, these predatory publishers add little value to scholarship, pay little attention to digital preservation, and operate using fly-by-night, unsustainable business models.”
Beall is not the first person to ask whether the author-pays model can be exploited. Ever since it was introduced, questions have been raised about the possibility that publishers would be tempted to lower their editorial standards to attract authors who would be happy to see their work published quickly and without too much scrutiny. But Beall has now compiled a list of publishers and journals that he finds questionable and is encouraging discussion in the scientific community about these entities and the criteria that one might use to identify them.2
Whether it’s fair to classify all these journals and publishers as “predatory” is an open question — several shades of gray may be distinguishable. Some of the publishers are intentionally misleading, naming nonexistent people as their editors and editorial board members and claiming ownership of articles that they have plagiarized from other publications. Other journals and publishers on Beall’s list may be real, though it’s obvious that the people running them are not very professional, and some of the publications may have been created simply because it seemed like a clever business scheme to collect author fees of several hundred dollars apiece to post papers in a journal-like layout at a fraction of the traditional price. Viewed in some lights, such enterprises may not be unethical: thousands of researchers worldwide need to publish, and not all of them can do so in the highest-ranked journals. But it is surely problematic for journals and publishers to pretend to be something they aren’t, misleading authors, readers, and the scientific community at large.
Most of the new open-access journals state that they are international, scientific, or scholarly peer-reviewed journals and offer quick turnaround times. Some of them also cover very broad subject areas — for example, the Academic Research Publishing Agency publishes the International Journal of Research and Reviews in Applied Sciences (www.arpapress.com) and encourages submissions from a wide range of scientific fields. It is difficult to imagine how a single journal could manage to properly validate papers that are so varied.
Until recently, “international, scientific, peer-reviewed journal” has had a fairly specific meaning to the scientific community and society at large: it has meant a journal that checks submitted papers for scientific quality, but also for relevance and interest to its readers, and also ensures that it contains new findings that may advance science. These features render a journal trustworthy and worthy of readers’ time and money. Many observers were therefore understandably disturbed when the journal publisher Elsevier admitted in 2009 that it had published six “fake journals” funded by pharmaceutical companies — in Elsevier’s own words, “sponsored article compilation publications . . . that were made to look like journals and lacked the proper disclosures.” The company had intentionally exploited the word “journal” to give the impression that these publications were honest and reliable.
Of course, the terms “international,” “scientific,” “peer-reviewed,” “journal,” “article,” “editor,” and “publisher” do not have copyrighted or patented definitions and can have varied meanings, especially in the Internet age. Must an article be different from a submitted paper? Isn’t everything published online automatically international? Is there anything wrong with a situation in which the editor and publisher are just one person who has set up a website where researchers can submit their papers and pay a fee to have them laid out in a professional way and made available to all interested parties? Isn’t it a good thing that this vast number of new publishers and journals will make it possible to get all research — whatever its quality level — into the public domain? Perhaps. But describing a simple online-posting service as “an international, scientific, peer-reviewed journal” leads authors and readers to believe that they are submitting to or reading something they aren’t.
We must recognize that no publication or financing model is, in itself, morally superior to others or can guarantee high quality. Various models can produce high-quality content, and all are vulnerable to exploitation. It might make the most sense to concern ourselves less with the publication or financing model used and more with ensuring transparency about a publication’s content and editorial processes. And perhaps we should insist that not all these enterprises can be called “scientific journals.” As a reader, I do not want to spend my time reading vast quantities of low-quality research and would be willing to pay for someone to do the sort of filtering for quality, relevance, and novelty that journal editors have traditionally done. As a researcher, by contrast, I might see it as a waste of time to seek a journal that would publish my research and might be willing to spend money to make it available to other researchers and the public. It would be fair to everyone, though, to be explicit about the fact that these are very different types of publications. With greater transparency, the questionable or predatory publishers who are using either author-pays or subscription models would also be easier to spot — and avoid.

The Downside of Open-Access Publishing

Over the past couple of years, many people involved in scientific research and publishing have received increasing numbers of emails with invitations to submit papers to newly established journals, join their editorial boards, or even apply to serve as their editors-in-chief. Personally, I have been alternately amused and annoyed by these messages. A glance at the journal’s name or the associated website has told me that these simply are not serious publications. But the establishment of new journals and publishers at a rapidly increasing pace should be taken seriously, since it affects the scientific record as a whole.

The Internet has profoundly and permanently changed the ways in which information can be disseminated and discussed. And since scientific publishing is precisely about getting new findings out to researchers and readers for discussion, the Internet has changed scientific publishing considerably, mostly for the better — and will continue to do so. Distribution costs can be very low if a journal chooses to publish only online, for instance, but there are still high costs involved for proper peer review and editorial quality control. The introduction, a decade ago, of an open-access model in which authors pay to have their work published offered an alternative way of financing this quality control. But it also opened up opportunities to charge authors a fee to publish their papers with little or no quality control.
Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, who is interested in scholarly open-access publishing, calls its more questionable incarnations “predatory.”1 “Predatory, open-access publishers,” he writes on his blog, Scholarly Open Access (http://scholarlyoa.com), “are those that unprofessionally exploit the author-pays model of open-access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit. Typically, these publishers spam professional email lists, broadly soliciting article submissions for the clear purpose of gaining additional income. Operating essentially as vanity presses, these publishers typically have a low article acceptance threshold, with a false-front or non-existent peer review process. Unlike professional publishing operations, whether subscription-based or ethically-sound open access, these predatory publishers add little value to scholarship, pay little attention to digital preservation, and operate using fly-by-night, unsustainable business models.”
Beall is not the first person to ask whether the author-pays model can be exploited. Ever since it was introduced, questions have been raised about the possibility that publishers would be tempted to lower their editorial standards to attract authors who would be happy to see their work published quickly and without too much scrutiny. But Beall has now compiled a list of publishers and journals that he finds questionable and is encouraging discussion in the scientific community about these entities and the criteria that one might use to identify them.2
Whether it’s fair to classify all these journals and publishers as “predatory” is an open question — several shades of gray may be distinguishable. Some of the publishers are intentionally misleading, naming nonexistent people as their editors and editorial board members and claiming ownership of articles that they have plagiarized from other publications. Other journals and publishers on Beall’s list may be real, though it’s obvious that the people running them are not very professional, and some of the publications may have been created simply because it seemed like a clever business scheme to collect author fees of several hundred dollars apiece to post papers in a journal-like layout at a fraction of the traditional price. Viewed in some lights, such enterprises may not be unethical: thousands of researchers worldwide need to publish, and not all of them can do so in the highest-ranked journals. But it is surely problematic for journals and publishers to pretend to be something they aren’t, misleading authors, readers, and the scientific community at large.
Most of the new open-access journals state that they are international, scientific, or scholarly peer-reviewed journals and offer quick turnaround times. Some of them also cover very broad subject areas — for example, the Academic Research Publishing Agency publishes the International Journal of Research and Reviews in Applied Sciences (www.arpapress.com) and encourages submissions from a wide range of scientific fields. It is difficult to imagine how a single journal could manage to properly validate papers that are so varied.
Until recently, “international, scientific, peer-reviewed journal” has had a fairly specific meaning to the scientific community and society at large: it has meant a journal that checks submitted papers for scientific quality, but also for relevance and interest to its readers, and also ensures that it contains new findings that may advance science. These features render a journal trustworthy and worthy of readers’ time and money. Many observers were therefore understandably disturbed when the journal publisher Elsevier admitted in 2009 that it had published six “fake journals” funded by pharmaceutical companies — in Elsevier’s own words, “sponsored article compilation publications . . . that were made to look like journals and lacked the proper disclosures.” The company had intentionally exploited the word “journal” to give the impression that these publications were honest and reliable.
Of course, the terms “international,” “scientific,” “peer-reviewed,” “journal,” “article,” “editor,” and “publisher” do not have copyrighted or patented definitions and can have varied meanings, especially in the Internet age. Must an article be different from a submitted paper? Isn’t everything published online automatically international? Is there anything wrong with a situation in which the editor and publisher are just one person who has set up a website where researchers can submit their papers and pay a fee to have them laid out in a professional way and made available to all interested parties? Isn’t it a good thing that this vast number of new publishers and journals will make it possible to get all research — whatever its quality level — into the public domain? Perhaps. But describing a simple online-posting service as “an international, scientific, peer-reviewed journal” leads authors and readers to believe that they are submitting to or reading something they aren’t.
We must recognize that no publication or financing model is, in itself, morally superior to others or can guarantee high quality. Various models can produce high-quality content, and all are vulnerable to exploitation. It might make the most sense to concern ourselves less with the publication or financing model used and more with ensuring transparency about a publication’s content and editorial processes. And perhaps we should insist that not all these enterprises can be called “scientific journals.” As a reader, I do not want to spend my time reading vast quantities of low-quality research and would be willing to pay for someone to do the sort of filtering for quality, relevance, and novelty that journal editors have traditionally done. As a researcher, by contrast, I might see it as a waste of time to seek a journal that would publish my research and might be willing to spend money to make it available to other researchers and the public. It would be fair to everyone, though, to be explicit about the fact that these are very different types of publications. With greater transparency, the questionable or predatory publishers who are using either author-pays or subscription models would also be easier to spot — and avoid.

Creative Commons and the Openness of Open Access

The Internet has inspired multiple movements toward greater openness — most prominently, open access, open data, open science, and open educational resources. None of these is based on the belief that there should be such a thing as a free lunch, but each recognizes that the Internet changes the economics of publication and digital-resource sharing so that changes can feasibly be made to traditional practices that are in some ways “closed,” requiring payment for access to information or prohibiting myriad reuses of accessible information. The quality of “openness” applies to both the terms of access and the terms of use. Advocates in each movement — and I am one, serving on the boards of directors of two organizations promoting open access, Creative Commons and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) — share an understanding that an open resource is freely accessible over the Internet. Opinions vary about the terms of use necessary for a resource to be open.

Copyright law supplies the baseline terms of use for almost all information on the Internet. These terms can be altered if the copyright owner grants a license or permission to do something that would otherwise infringe copyright. Traditionally, copyright owners granted licenses to specific persons or entities. More recently, copyright owners seeking to grant permission to everyone have issued public licenses broadening the range of permitted uses, subject to certain conditions. Creative Commons licenses are the most widely used of these public licenses for all kinds of copyrighted works except software, for which free and open-source licenses are most common.
Within the open-access context, debate focuses on whether an article is “open” when it, like this one, is freely accessible over the Internet but still subject to the standard restrictions imposed by copyright law. The question also applies to most articles posted in PubMed Central under the Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health or in institutional repositories under most university policies, such as that recently adopted by the University of California, San Francisco.1 The three major declarations of purpose for the open-access movement (the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities) say no: openness requires making the literature freely accessible under liberal terms that permit nearly all reuses so long as the author receives credit for the work when it’s republished or adapted.2
The rationale for seeking open terms of both access and use is as follows. Free access provides the literature to at least five overlapping audiences: researchers who happen upon open-access research articles while browsing the Web rather than a password-protected database; researchers at institutions that cannot afford the subscription prices for the growing literature; researchers in disciplines other than that of a journal’s intended audience, who would not otherwise subscribe; patients, their families, students, and other members of the public with an interest in the information but without the means to subscribe; and researchers’ computers running text-mining software to analyze the literature. In addition, granting readers full reuse rights unleashes the full range of human creativity for translating, combining, analyzing, adapting, and preserving the scientific record, whereas traditional copyright arrangements in scientific publishing increasingly inhibit scholarly communication.
The argument for open licensing must be understood in the context of the baseline terms of use provided by copyright law. Copyright applies to works of authorship. One does not have to do anything to “get” a copyright. It attaches automatically when a work is created and stays intact even if a work is published without the copyright symbol (©). Copyright does not apply to the ideas or facts in the covered work, however, but only to the author’s expression of these.
Copyright law gives the copyright owner the exclusive rights to make and publicly distribute copies of the work, to publicly perform or display the work, and to prepare adaptations of it. Granted initially to the author or authors of a work, these rights can be assigned or exclusively licensed to a publisher or other content distributor if that is done in writing. After authors sign away these rights, they, too, must seek permission or a license from the publisher if they wish to make or distribute copies of their article, unless doing so would be considered fair use. Fair use permits certain uses that have positive social benefit, such as use in research or education, and that do not unduly interfere with the copyright owner’s ability to receive economic benefits from publishing or licensing the work.
Copyright’s terms do not restrict all uses of an article. In addition to fair use, uses of facts such as scientific data are not covered by copyright except to the extent that an author has exercised minimal creativity in their selection or arrangement. This minimal-creativity standard might prevent republication of some tables or figures, but copyright doesn’t restrict the reuse of the underlying data if they’re arranged in a different format or a conceptually new figure.
For a wide range of creators, educators, and researchers who care primarily about broad distribution of their work, copyright’s standard terms are inappropriate because they prevent reuses that these authors wish not simply to permit but to encourage, such as translation into other languages. Creative Commons is an organization that has responded by producing a suite of six copyright licenses that offer standardized terms of sharing to permit a range of uses beyond fair use, subject to certain conditions.3 The four conditions are combined into six permutations reflecting the types of copyright restrictions that people who otherwise choose to share their works for free might like to retain (see tableTable 1Creative Commons Licenses.). The licenses, designed to allow all uses except those prohibited by a specified condition, have been adopted by a variety of institutional and individual copyright owners.
All Creative Commons licenses require that users who republish or reuse a work in a way that would otherwise infringe copyright give attribution as directed by the copyright owner. That’s the only condition included in the Creative Commons Attribution license — the only Creative Commons license meeting the definition of “open access” endorsed by the Budapest, Bethesda, and Berlin declarations. This license is used by leading open-access publishers such as PLOS and BioMed Central, recommended by the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, and adopted by the World Bank for its internally published research. Commercial science publishers that have launched publications funded by article-processing charges also use Creative Commons licenses, but they either use a more restrictive license or offer authors choices. The Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports, for example, allows authors to choose from three Creative Commons licenses, including the Attribution license.
Other adopters of Creative Commons licenses impose additional conditions on users. Two of these conditions, called ShareAlike and NoDerivatives, concern adaptations of the licensed work. The Wikipedia community, for example, has adopted the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, which requires both attribution and that any adaptations be licensed under the same license. MIT OpenCourseWare, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, adopted the license with the Attribution and ShareAlike conditions but added a NonCommercial condition, prohibiting commercial uses. The various creators of the online educational materials in the University of Michigan Medical School’s Open Michigan database have adopted nearly the full suite of Creative Commons licenses.4 The broad adoption of these licenses reflects a belief that a work is not “open” until it’s freely accessible on the Internet and under a public license offering more liberal terms of use than copyright law provides. Though options offered by Creative Commons licenses address the needs of copyright owners in various contexts, in the open-access context, the Attribution license in my opinion remains the gold standard.

Creative Commons and the Openness of Open Access

The Internet has inspired multiple movements toward greater openness — most prominently, open access, open data, open science, and open educational resources. None of these is based on the belief that there should be such a thing as a free lunch, but each recognizes that the Internet changes the economics of publication and digital-resource sharing so that changes can feasibly be made to traditional practices that are in some ways “closed,” requiring payment for access to information or prohibiting myriad reuses of accessible information. The quality of “openness” applies to both the terms of access and the terms of use. Advocates in each movement — and I am one, serving on the boards of directors of two organizations promoting open access, Creative Commons and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) — share an understanding that an open resource is freely accessible over the Internet. Opinions vary about the terms of use necessary for a resource to be open.

Copyright law supplies the baseline terms of use for almost all information on the Internet. These terms can be altered if the copyright owner grants a license or permission to do something that would otherwise infringe copyright. Traditionally, copyright owners granted licenses to specific persons or entities. More recently, copyright owners seeking to grant permission to everyone have issued public licenses broadening the range of permitted uses, subject to certain conditions. Creative Commons licenses are the most widely used of these public licenses for all kinds of copyrighted works except software, for which free and open-source licenses are most common.
Within the open-access context, debate focuses on whether an article is “open” when it, like this one, is freely accessible over the Internet but still subject to the standard restrictions imposed by copyright law. The question also applies to most articles posted in PubMed Central under the Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health or in institutional repositories under most university policies, such as that recently adopted by the University of California, San Francisco.1 The three major declarations of purpose for the open-access movement (the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities) say no: openness requires making the literature freely accessible under liberal terms that permit nearly all reuses so long as the author receives credit for the work when it’s republished or adapted.2
The rationale for seeking open terms of both access and use is as follows. Free access provides the literature to at least five overlapping audiences: researchers who happen upon open-access research articles while browsing the Web rather than a password-protected database; researchers at institutions that cannot afford the subscription prices for the growing literature; researchers in disciplines other than that of a journal’s intended audience, who would not otherwise subscribe; patients, their families, students, and other members of the public with an interest in the information but without the means to subscribe; and researchers’ computers running text-mining software to analyze the literature. In addition, granting readers full reuse rights unleashes the full range of human creativity for translating, combining, analyzing, adapting, and preserving the scientific record, whereas traditional copyright arrangements in scientific publishing increasingly inhibit scholarly communication.
The argument for open licensing must be understood in the context of the baseline terms of use provided by copyright law. Copyright applies to works of authorship. One does not have to do anything to “get” a copyright. It attaches automatically when a work is created and stays intact even if a work is published without the copyright symbol (©). Copyright does not apply to the ideas or facts in the covered work, however, but only to the author’s expression of these.
Copyright law gives the copyright owner the exclusive rights to make and publicly distribute copies of the work, to publicly perform or display the work, and to prepare adaptations of it. Granted initially to the author or authors of a work, these rights can be assigned or exclusively licensed to a publisher or other content distributor if that is done in writing. After authors sign away these rights, they, too, must seek permission or a license from the publisher if they wish to make or distribute copies of their article, unless doing so would be considered fair use. Fair use permits certain uses that have positive social benefit, such as use in research or education, and that do not unduly interfere with the copyright owner’s ability to receive economic benefits from publishing or licensing the work.
Copyright’s terms do not restrict all uses of an article. In addition to fair use, uses of facts such as scientific data are not covered by copyright except to the extent that an author has exercised minimal creativity in their selection or arrangement. This minimal-creativity standard might prevent republication of some tables or figures, but copyright doesn’t restrict the reuse of the underlying data if they’re arranged in a different format or a conceptually new figure.
For a wide range of creators, educators, and researchers who care primarily about broad distribution of their work, copyright’s standard terms are inappropriate because they prevent reuses that these authors wish not simply to permit but to encourage, such as translation into other languages. Creative Commons is an organization that has responded by producing a suite of six copyright licenses that offer standardized terms of sharing to permit a range of uses beyond fair use, subject to certain conditions.3 The four conditions are combined into six permutations reflecting the types of copyright restrictions that people who otherwise choose to share their works for free might like to retain (see tableTable 1Creative Commons Licenses.). The licenses, designed to allow all uses except those prohibited by a specified condition, have been adopted by a variety of institutional and individual copyright owners.
All Creative Commons licenses require that users who republish or reuse a work in a way that would otherwise infringe copyright give attribution as directed by the copyright owner. That’s the only condition included in the Creative Commons Attribution license — the only Creative Commons license meeting the definition of “open access” endorsed by the Budapest, Bethesda, and Berlin declarations. This license is used by leading open-access publishers such as PLOS and BioMed Central, recommended by the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, and adopted by the World Bank for its internally published research. Commercial science publishers that have launched publications funded by article-processing charges also use Creative Commons licenses, but they either use a more restrictive license or offer authors choices. The Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports, for example, allows authors to choose from three Creative Commons licenses, including the Attribution license.
Other adopters of Creative Commons licenses impose additional conditions on users. Two of these conditions, called ShareAlike and NoDerivatives, concern adaptations of the licensed work. The Wikipedia community, for example, has adopted the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, which requires both attribution and that any adaptations be licensed under the same license. MIT OpenCourseWare, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, adopted the license with the Attribution and ShareAlike conditions but added a NonCommercial condition, prohibiting commercial uses. The various creators of the online educational materials in the University of Michigan Medical School’s Open Michigan database have adopted nearly the full suite of Creative Commons licenses.4 The broad adoption of these licenses reflects a belief that a work is not “open” until it’s freely accessible on the Internet and under a public license offering more liberal terms of use than copyright law provides. Though options offered by Creative Commons licenses address the needs of copyright owners in various contexts, in the open-access context, the Attribution license in my opinion remains the gold standard.

For the Sake of Inquiry and Knowledge — The Inevitability of Open Access

It’s difficult to have a measured conversation about open access — the term widely used to refer to unrestricted online access to articles published in scholarly journals. People who believe that free and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed journal articles will undermine the viability of scholarly journal publishing disagree sharply with those who believe that only open access can expedite research advances and ensure the availability of that same scholarly literature. Arguments for and against open access tend to focus on implementation details, ignoring the powerful motivations underlying the phenomenon.

The open-access movement cannot be appreciated without an understanding of the complex and interdependent system that produces, evaluates, and distributes scholarly research results. For the past 60 years, five stakeholder communities have contributed to the system that enables the production of peer-reviewed research literature. In the simplest terms: funding agencies and foundations provide funds to conduct research; universities and other research organizations host the intellects who conduct the research, maintain the research facilities, and educate and train future researchers; authors, with no expectation of monetary compensation, write research articles describing their research findings; publishers accept contributed research papers on condition of copyright transfer, facilitate the editorial process, and manage the production and distribution processes needed for disseminating the articles; and libraries use institutional funds to purchase, organize, and preserve this publisher output and make it available for current and future research and teaching.
In a system this interdependent, destabilization at any one point perturbs critically important relationships. The advent of the Internet and digital formats was just such a disruption. Initially greeted with enthusiasm on all sides, the transition to digital formats and network distribution channels did not play out as all the stakeholders anticipated or would have liked. As publishers introduced restrictive contractual business models, raised prices (often disproportionally), experimented with digital rights management, and advocated for federal legislation favorable to their own business interests, other stakeholders became concerned about balance in the system and began to look for alternatives.
Authors in this system write to have impact, not for royalties. A distribution system that controls and constrains access to articles is anathema to researchers who seek wide influence rather than remuneration. Alternative options, which could fulfill the promise of the Internet as a tool for open and compatible digital publishing, gained early support in discussions. In 2002, the Declaration of the Budapest Open Access Initiative1 was the first formal call to action, followed the next year by both the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing2 and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.3 The central concept of each of these calls to action was simple: peer-reviewed research articles, donated for publication by authors with no expectation of compensation, should be available online, free, and with the smallest possible number of usage restrictions.
A vision of open access to research results is not new. In July 1945, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, Vannevar Bush, then director of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development, described just such an environment in his essay “As We May Think.” A staunch advocate of federal support for research in the physical and medical sciences, Bush challenged his fellow scientists and engineers to turn their postwar attention to the task of “making more accessible [the] bewildering store of knowledge.” Bush’s firm belief, which is still shared by academic authors, was that “a record if it is to be useful to science must be continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted.”
The extent to which access to knowledge is constrained and controlled by publishers’ business models is at the heart of the discontent researchers have for the current journal-publishing system. Peter Suber, a leading advocate of open access, articulates the view from the academy as follows: The “problem is that we donate time, labor, and public money to create new knowledge and then hand control over the results to businesses that believe, correctly or incorrectly, that their revenue and survival depend on limiting access to that knowledge.”4 Today, as in 1945, barriers to access to current and past knowledge are viewed by researchers as profoundly at odds with the advancement of knowledge.
Yet producing high-quality peer-reviewed articles has a cost. The fact that faculty members and researchers donate to publishers the ownership of their research articles — as well as their time and effort as reviewers — does not mean that there are no expenses associated with the production of high-quality publications. For all its known flaws, no one wants to destroy peer-reviewed publication. But the nonpublisher stakeholders in the scholarly communication system can no longer support the prices and access constraints desired by traditional publishers.
Discontent with the system extends well beyond authors. Government agencies have good reason to want the research they fund with taxpayer money to be broadly accessible and rapidly built upon; indeed, some would argue that public funders have an ethical imperative to demand open access. Charitable foundations similarly want to share the fruits of their investments in research and, like governments, need to be able to assess the impact and effectiveness of their funding. Recent policy decisions by Research Councils UK and the European Union5 demonstrate a broad and compelling international interest in increasing access to publicly funded research results.
Over the past decade, researchers, research institutions, and funding entities have been experimenting with channels of scholarly communication that serve as alternatives to traditional publishing. Many academic disciplines now utilize large open-access databases (such as arXiv and SSRN, the Social Science Research Network) to share research articles in the pre–peer-review stage. Hundreds of academic institutions and funding agencies now host open repositories of post–peer-reviewed articles that have been authored by grantees or members of their communities. Search engines, which are increasingly popular avenues to scholarly content, facilitate discovery and document use.
These and other experiments and alternatives to traditional publishing are leading the way to a digital, Internet-based, more open publishing system for peer-reviewed journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org) lists more than 8000 open-access journals, many of which are highly regarded according to conventional metrics of excellence. Emerging business models include publication fees paid by authors once an article has been accepted for publication, direct support from research grants, and contributions from research institutions willing to contribute financially to publication systems for more openly accessible articles.
Research culture is far from monolithic. Systems that underpin scholarly communication will migrate to open access by fits and starts as discipline-appropriate options emerge. Meanwhile, experiments will be run, start-ups will flourish or perish, and new communication tools will emerge, because, as the Bethesda Open Access Statement puts it, “an old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds.”
There is no doubt that the public interests vested in funding agencies, universities, libraries, and authors, together with the power and reach of the Internet, have created a compelling and necessary momentum for open access. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be inexpensive, but it is only a matter of time.
Listen to an interview with Dr. Martin Frank and Prof. Michael Carroll on traditional and open-access scientific publishing.

For the Sake of Inquiry and Knowledge — The Inevitability of Open Access

It’s difficult to have a measured conversation about open access — the term widely used to refer to unrestricted online access to articles published in scholarly journals. People who believe that free and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed journal articles will undermine the viability of scholarly journal publishing disagree sharply with those who believe that only open access can expedite research advances and ensure the availability of that same scholarly literature. Arguments for and against open access tend to focus on implementation details, ignoring the powerful motivations underlying the phenomenon.

The open-access movement cannot be appreciated without an understanding of the complex and interdependent system that produces, evaluates, and distributes scholarly research results. For the past 60 years, five stakeholder communities have contributed to the system that enables the production of peer-reviewed research literature. In the simplest terms: funding agencies and foundations provide funds to conduct research; universities and other research organizations host the intellects who conduct the research, maintain the research facilities, and educate and train future researchers; authors, with no expectation of monetary compensation, write research articles describing their research findings; publishers accept contributed research papers on condition of copyright transfer, facilitate the editorial process, and manage the production and distribution processes needed for disseminating the articles; and libraries use institutional funds to purchase, organize, and preserve this publisher output and make it available for current and future research and teaching.
In a system this interdependent, destabilization at any one point perturbs critically important relationships. The advent of the Internet and digital formats was just such a disruption. Initially greeted with enthusiasm on all sides, the transition to digital formats and network distribution channels did not play out as all the stakeholders anticipated or would have liked. As publishers introduced restrictive contractual business models, raised prices (often disproportionally), experimented with digital rights management, and advocated for federal legislation favorable to their own business interests, other stakeholders became concerned about balance in the system and began to look for alternatives.
Authors in this system write to have impact, not for royalties. A distribution system that controls and constrains access to articles is anathema to researchers who seek wide influence rather than remuneration. Alternative options, which could fulfill the promise of the Internet as a tool for open and compatible digital publishing, gained early support in discussions. In 2002, the Declaration of the Budapest Open Access Initiative1 was the first formal call to action, followed the next year by both the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing2 and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.3 The central concept of each of these calls to action was simple: peer-reviewed research articles, donated for publication by authors with no expectation of compensation, should be available online, free, and with the smallest possible number of usage restrictions.
A vision of open access to research results is not new. In July 1945, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, Vannevar Bush, then director of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development, described just such an environment in his essay “As We May Think.” A staunch advocate of federal support for research in the physical and medical sciences, Bush challenged his fellow scientists and engineers to turn their postwar attention to the task of “making more accessible [the] bewildering store of knowledge.” Bush’s firm belief, which is still shared by academic authors, was that “a record if it is to be useful to science must be continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted.”
The extent to which access to knowledge is constrained and controlled by publishers’ business models is at the heart of the discontent researchers have for the current journal-publishing system. Peter Suber, a leading advocate of open access, articulates the view from the academy as follows: The “problem is that we donate time, labor, and public money to create new knowledge and then hand control over the results to businesses that believe, correctly or incorrectly, that their revenue and survival depend on limiting access to that knowledge.”4 Today, as in 1945, barriers to access to current and past knowledge are viewed by researchers as profoundly at odds with the advancement of knowledge.
Yet producing high-quality peer-reviewed articles has a cost. The fact that faculty members and researchers donate to publishers the ownership of their research articles — as well as their time and effort as reviewers — does not mean that there are no expenses associated with the production of high-quality publications. For all its known flaws, no one wants to destroy peer-reviewed publication. But the nonpublisher stakeholders in the scholarly communication system can no longer support the prices and access constraints desired by traditional publishers.
Discontent with the system extends well beyond authors. Government agencies have good reason to want the research they fund with taxpayer money to be broadly accessible and rapidly built upon; indeed, some would argue that public funders have an ethical imperative to demand open access. Charitable foundations similarly want to share the fruits of their investments in research and, like governments, need to be able to assess the impact and effectiveness of their funding. Recent policy decisions by Research Councils UK and the European Union5 demonstrate a broad and compelling international interest in increasing access to publicly funded research results.
Over the past decade, researchers, research institutions, and funding entities have been experimenting with channels of scholarly communication that serve as alternatives to traditional publishing. Many academic disciplines now utilize large open-access databases (such as arXiv and SSRN, the Social Science Research Network) to share research articles in the pre–peer-review stage. Hundreds of academic institutions and funding agencies now host open repositories of post–peer-reviewed articles that have been authored by grantees or members of their communities. Search engines, which are increasingly popular avenues to scholarly content, facilitate discovery and document use.
These and other experiments and alternatives to traditional publishing are leading the way to a digital, Internet-based, more open publishing system for peer-reviewed journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org) lists more than 8000 open-access journals, many of which are highly regarded according to conventional metrics of excellence. Emerging business models include publication fees paid by authors once an article has been accepted for publication, direct support from research grants, and contributions from research institutions willing to contribute financially to publication systems for more openly accessible articles.
Research culture is far from monolithic. Systems that underpin scholarly communication will migrate to open access by fits and starts as discipline-appropriate options emerge. Meanwhile, experiments will be run, start-ups will flourish or perish, and new communication tools will emerge, because, as the Bethesda Open Access Statement puts it, “an old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds.”
There is no doubt that the public interests vested in funding agencies, universities, libraries, and authors, together with the power and reach of the Internet, have created a compelling and necessary momentum for open access. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be inexpensive, but it is only a matter of time.
Listen to an interview with Dr. Martin Frank and Prof. Michael Carroll on traditional and open-access scientific publishing.

Analysis of funder Open Access policies around the world

We have analysed 51 mandatory funder polices listed in the ROARMAP registry (http://roarmap.eprints.org) according to which routes to OA the policy specifies. The results at 10 February 2013 are shown below.
Green (repository-based) OA required
Gold (journals) required where available
Either Green or Gold routes satisfy policy requirements
36
1
14
Funders permitting Gold OA article processing fees to be paid from research grant, or by a request to the funder = 20
Green (repository-based) Open Access required: 36 funders
Argentina Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva
Australia Australian Research Council
Australia National Health and Medical Research Council
Belgium FWO (Flanders Research Office)
Canada Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Canada National Research Council
Canada International Development Research Centre
China National Science Library Chinese Academy of Sciences
Denmark Council for Independent Research, the Danish National Research Foundation, the Danish Council for Strategic Research, the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation, and the Council for Technology and Innovation (joint policy)
European Union European Research Council
EU Member States EUR-OCEANS Consortium on Ocean Ecosystem Analysis
France Agence Nationale de la Recherche
France INSERM
France INRIA
France IFREMER
Ireland Science Foundation Ireland
Ireland Health Research Board
Ireland Irish Research Council
Italy Telethon
Norway Norwegian Research Council
Spain Government of the Principality of Asturias
Spain Madrid Autonomous Community
Spain General State Administration
Ukraine Parliament of Ukraine
UK Arthritis Research UK
UK British Heart Foundation
UK Cancer Research UK
UK Chief Scientist Office Scotland
UK Department of Health
UK Dunhill Medical Trust
UK Multiple Sclerosis Society
UK Wellcome Trust
USA National Institutes of Health
USA Howard Hughes Medical Institute
USA Autism Speaks
USA Institute of Education Sciences
Gold (journal-based) Open Access required: 1 funder
UK Research Councils UK
Either Green or Gold routes satisfy policy requirements: 14 funders
Austria FWF (Fonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung)
Canada Ontario Institute of Cancer Research
Canada Fonds de recherche du Québec
Canada Canadian Health Services Research Foundation
Canada Heart and Stroke Foundation
European Union European Commission
EU Member States CERN
Hungary Academy of Sciences
Hungary Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA)
Iceland Rannis
India Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
Sweden Swedish research Council Formas
Sweden Swedish Research Council Vetenskapradet
Switzerland Swiss National Science Foundation
The list will be updated as new policies are implemented.  Further analysis of policy requirements is also to be undertaken. Examples of future analyses include policy effectiveness and the kind of deposit requirements specified by Green policies.

Analysis of funder Open Access policies around the world

We have analysed 51 mandatory funder polices listed in the ROARMAP registry (http://roarmap.eprints.org) according to which routes to OA the policy specifies. The results at 10 February 2013 are shown below.
Green (repository-based) OA required
Gold (journals) required where available
Either Green or Gold routes satisfy policy requirements
36
1
14
Funders permitting Gold OA article processing fees to be paid from research grant, or by a request to the funder = 20
Green (repository-based) Open Access required: 36 funders
Argentina Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva
Australia Australian Research Council
Australia National Health and Medical Research Council
Belgium FWO (Flanders Research Office)
Canada Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Canada National Research Council
Canada International Development Research Centre
China National Science Library Chinese Academy of Sciences
Denmark Council for Independent Research, the Danish National Research Foundation, the Danish Council for Strategic Research, the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation, and the Council for Technology and Innovation (joint policy)
European Union European Research Council
EU Member States EUR-OCEANS Consortium on Ocean Ecosystem Analysis
France Agence Nationale de la Recherche
France INSERM
France INRIA
France IFREMER
Ireland Science Foundation Ireland
Ireland Health Research Board
Ireland Irish Research Council
Italy Telethon
Norway Norwegian Research Council
Spain Government of the Principality of Asturias
Spain Madrid Autonomous Community
Spain General State Administration
Ukraine Parliament of Ukraine
UK Arthritis Research UK
UK British Heart Foundation
UK Cancer Research UK
UK Chief Scientist Office Scotland
UK Department of Health
UK Dunhill Medical Trust
UK Multiple Sclerosis Society
UK Wellcome Trust
USA National Institutes of Health
USA Howard Hughes Medical Institute
USA Autism Speaks
USA Institute of Education Sciences
Gold (journal-based) Open Access required: 1 funder
UK Research Councils UK
Either Green or Gold routes satisfy policy requirements: 14 funders
Austria FWF (Fonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung)
Canada Ontario Institute of Cancer Research
Canada Fonds de recherche du Québec
Canada Canadian Health Services Research Foundation
Canada Heart and Stroke Foundation
European Union European Commission
EU Member States CERN
Hungary Academy of Sciences
Hungary Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA)
Iceland Rannis
India Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
Sweden Swedish research Council Formas
Sweden Swedish Research Council Vetenskapradet
Switzerland Swiss National Science Foundation
The list will be updated as new policies are implemented.  Further analysis of policy requirements is also to be undertaken. Examples of future analyses include policy effectiveness and the kind of deposit requirements specified by Green policies.

Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers or Beall’s Predatory Business at the expenses of Publishers

We have received this email:

To whom it may concern

I was surprised when one of our editors told me that the name of Ashdin Publishing is found in the list of “Beall’s List: Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers” (http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/) and I was surprised because of the following reasons:

  1. The author did not just mention the criteria for determining predatory open-access publishers, but he insisted on mentioning the full names and details of the publishers as well.
  2. Some of these criteria, for determining predatory open-access publishers, can be applied on a huge number of publishers (include some of the large and famous ones), but he did not mention any of them.
  3. Some of the publishers names are removed from this list without saying the reasons for this removal.
After I received the e-mail below, I am not any more surprised. Now, I am sure that the author, irrespective the good reasons he may has for preparing this list, wants to blackmail small publishers to pay him. 
I invite all of you to read what people say commenting on his article (http://www.nature.com/news/predatory-publishers-are-corrupting-open-access-1.11385):

Dr Gillian Dooley (Special Collections Librarian at Flinders University):

Jeffrey Beall’s list is not accurate to believe. There are a lot of personal biases of Jeffrey Beall. Hindawi still uses heavy spam emailing. Versita Open still uses heavy spam emailing. But these two publishers have been removed in Jeffrey Beall’s list recently. There is no reason given by Jeffrey Beall why they were removed. Jeffrey Beall is naive in his analysis. I think some other reliable blog should be created to discuss more fruitfully these issues. His blog has become useless.

Mark Robinson (Acting Editor, Stanford Magazine):

It is a real shame that Jeffrey Beall using Nature.com’s blog to promote his predatory work. Jeffrey Beall just simply confusing us to promote his academic terrorism. His list is fully questionable. His surveying method is not scientific. If he is a real scientist then he must do everything in standard way without any dispute. He wanted to be famous but he does not have the right to destroy any company name or brand without proper allegation. If we support Jeffrey Beall’s work then we are also a part of his criminal activity. Please avoid Jeffrey Beall’s fraudulent and criminal activity.

Now a days anyone can open a blog and start doing things like Jeffrey Beall which is harmful for science and open access journals. Nature should also be very alert from Jeffrey Beall who is now using Nature’s reputation to broadcast his bribery and unethical business model.

Now, I invite all of you in order to take all precautions and not being misled by this blackmailer.

Ashry A. Aly
Director
Ashdin Publishing
http://www.ashdin.com

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Open Access Publishing
Date: Mon, 03 Dec 2012 17:39:18 +0000
From: Jeffrey Beall 
To: info@ashdin.com
I maintain list of predatory open access publishers in my blog
http://scholarlyoa.com

Your publisher name is also included in 2012 edition of my predatory open
access publishers list. My recent article in Nature journal can be read
below

http://www.nature.com/news/predatory-publishers-are-corrupting-open-access-1.11385

I can consider re-evaluating your journals for 2013 edition of my list. It
takes a lot my time and resources. The fee for re-evaluation of your
publisher is USD 5000. If your publisher name is not in my list, it will
increase trustworthiness to your journals and it will draw more article
submissions. In case you like re-evaluation for your journals, you can
contact me.

Cordially
Jeffrey Beall



Open Access — What Do Authors Really Want?

There’s no doubt that open access (OA) is becoming more and more popular with authors. A recent article by Mikael Laakso and Bo-Christer Björk, published in BioMedCentral Medicine,found that in 2011 around 340,000 articles were published in just over 6,700 OA journals (defined as those included in the Directory of Open Access Journals) – approximately 17% of the total papers published in 2011. Of these, about half (166,700) were published as gold OA articles — journals requiring the payment of an article publication charge (APC).
So what do authors themselves think about OA? Does it affect where they choose to publish? What are their reasons for publishing – or not publishing – in an OA journal? The results of a recent Wiley survey provide some interesting answers.
In May 2012, we contacted more than 100,000 of our journal authors asking for feedback on their attitude to OA publishing (defined as where the author, their institution, or funding body pays a fee to ensure that the article is made free for all to read, download, and share online). Of the 10,600 who responded, about one-third have already published at least one OA article, while nearly 80% believe that OA is growing in their field (note, proportionately more researchers from the biological sciences responded than from any other field).
Inevitably, there are significant variations by subject discipline. Over half of all responding authors who have already published in an OA journal work in health-related or biological sciences; conversely, only 12% work in the social sciences. The top three barriers to OA publishing are:
  1. A dearth of high-profile titles (especially true in areas such as social sciences)
  2.    Lack of funding
  3. Concerns over quality.
Professional research experience also appears to impact an author’s decision to publish OA – researchers with five or more years experience are significantly more likely to have published an OA article than those with less (83% versus 17%). Geographical location may also play a part, with half of all OA authors coming from the US, the UK, China, Germany, or Australia – with the exception of China, all countries where there has been pro-OA lobbying for some time.
OA is not currently a significant factor in where authors choose to publish – in fact it doesn’t even make the Top 10. Instead, authors cite factors such as subject area/scope of the journal, impact factor (IF), society affiliation, international authorship/readership, and production quality (e.g., editing, quality of figures, etc. as their main influences.
In response to the question, “I would publish in an OA journal if . . .,” respondents cited quality and profile issues as their main requirements (IF, rigorous peer review process, high production values, well-respected editorial board, well-regarded by peers), while value-added services such as speed of publication and article-level metrics are currently considered much less important. Conversely, the main reasons for not publishing in an OA journal are around concerns about profile, quality, and lack of funding, which is cited by 44% as a factor.
Funding seems to be a key issue, with only 18% of authors receiving full funding for article publication.  Additionally, young researchers are nearly twice as likely not to have funding as their older colleagues; somewhat counter-intuitively, however, they don’t see this as any more of a barrier to publishing OA.  Presumably OA will rapidly move up the ranks as a factor in where researchers choose to publish as funder mandates start to kick in – the introduction of the RCUK mandate on April 1, 2013, and corresponding increase in APC funding for articles arising from UK funded research, should be a good indicator.
Overall, the results are encouraging for the future of gold OA publishing. A continuing commitment on the part of publishers and societies to publish high quality, high IF journals through a strong and sustainable peer review process looks likely to attract increasing numbers of authors to publish in OA journals. And there are also opportunities to launch new high-quality OA journals in disciplines where these don’t currently exist – as long as the funding is available to support them.
But there’s the rub. If gold OA is to succeed as a means of providing immediate public access to research articles, then authors across all disciplines need better access to APC funding. While the UK government has already committed to finding some additional funds for APCs following publication of the Finch Group report, it is still not clear how much will be available. And in Brussels, there seems to be little likelihood of much additional funding for gold OA in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 budget. Let’s hope that, in order to achieve the “significant social and economic benefits” of making research outputs freely available that the RCUK hopes for, they and other funding bodies will be prepared to put their money where their mouth is.
Published at The Scholarly Kitchen

Open Access — What Do Authors Really Want?

There’s no doubt that open access (OA) is becoming more and more popular with authors. A recent article by Mikael Laakso and Bo-Christer Björk, published in BioMedCentral Medicine,found that in 2011 around 340,000 articles were published in just over 6,700 OA journals (defined as those included in the Directory of Open Access Journals) – approximately 17% of the total papers published in 2011. Of these, about half (166,700) were published as gold OA articles — journals requiring the payment of an article publication charge (APC).
So what do authors themselves think about OA? Does it affect where they choose to publish? What are their reasons for publishing – or not publishing – in an OA journal? The results of a recent Wiley survey provide some interesting answers.
In May 2012, we contacted more than 100,000 of our journal authors asking for feedback on their attitude to OA publishing (defined as where the author, their institution, or funding body pays a fee to ensure that the article is made free for all to read, download, and share online). Of the 10,600 who responded, about one-third have already published at least one OA article, while nearly 80% believe that OA is growing in their field (note, proportionately more researchers from the biological sciences responded than from any other field).
Inevitably, there are significant variations by subject discipline. Over half of all responding authors who have already published in an OA journal work in health-related or biological sciences; conversely, only 12% work in the social sciences. The top three barriers to OA publishing are:
  1. A dearth of high-profile titles (especially true in areas such as social sciences)
  2.    Lack of funding
  3. Concerns over quality.
Professional research experience also appears to impact an author’s decision to publish OA – researchers with five or more years experience are significantly more likely to have published an OA article than those with less (83% versus 17%). Geographical location may also play a part, with half of all OA authors coming from the US, the UK, China, Germany, or Australia – with the exception of China, all countries where there has been pro-OA lobbying for some time.
OA is not currently a significant factor in where authors choose to publish – in fact it doesn’t even make the Top 10. Instead, authors cite factors such as subject area/scope of the journal, impact factor (IF), society affiliation, international authorship/readership, and production quality (e.g., editing, quality of figures, etc. as their main influences.
In response to the question, “I would publish in an OA journal if . . .,” respondents cited quality and profile issues as their main requirements (IF, rigorous peer review process, high production values, well-respected editorial board, well-regarded by peers), while value-added services such as speed of publication and article-level metrics are currently considered much less important. Conversely, the main reasons for not publishing in an OA journal are around concerns about profile, quality, and lack of funding, which is cited by 44% as a factor.
Funding seems to be a key issue, with only 18% of authors receiving full funding for article publication.  Additionally, young researchers are nearly twice as likely not to have funding as their older colleagues; somewhat counter-intuitively, however, they don’t see this as any more of a barrier to publishing OA.  Presumably OA will rapidly move up the ranks as a factor in where researchers choose to publish as funder mandates start to kick in – the introduction of the RCUK mandate on April 1, 2013, and corresponding increase in APC funding for articles arising from UK funded research, should be a good indicator.
Overall, the results are encouraging for the future of gold OA publishing. A continuing commitment on the part of publishers and societies to publish high quality, high IF journals through a strong and sustainable peer review process looks likely to attract increasing numbers of authors to publish in OA journals. And there are also opportunities to launch new high-quality OA journals in disciplines where these don’t currently exist – as long as the funding is available to support them.
But there’s the rub. If gold OA is to succeed as a means of providing immediate public access to research articles, then authors across all disciplines need better access to APC funding. While the UK government has already committed to finding some additional funds for APCs following publication of the Finch Group report, it is still not clear how much will be available. And in Brussels, there seems to be little likelihood of much additional funding for gold OA in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 budget. Let’s hope that, in order to achieve the “significant social and economic benefits” of making research outputs freely available that the RCUK hopes for, they and other funding bodies will be prepared to put their money where their mouth is.
Published at The Scholarly Kitchen

Big changes to Open Access mandates

This year has seen huge changes made in the arguments for and against Open Access. The Wellcome Trust, one of the biggest funders of biomedical research in the UK, announced it would be enforcing its mandate for Gold Open Access (where research is freely available from the publisher; the model used by iMedPub more strictly. The Finch Report, commissioned by the British government’s Science Minister recommended a move to Gold Open Access (OA), although there were some concerns over how this will be funded. Finally, the UK Research Councils introduced stricter conditions on making research available either through author-pays OA or by depositing in online repositories (known as Green OA).
This is all very UK-centric, but the same trends are emerging throughout the world, with petitions plaguing the White House and European funders mandating some form of Open Access by 2016. The UK’s Department for International Development has announced it will fund OA for the research it funds internationally, with the International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, pointing out, 2the most groundbreaking research is of no use to anyone if it sits on a shelf gathering dust”.
iMedPub’s policy is to ensure that all publications in all journals comply with these Open Access mandates, through deposition in PubMed Central, free online access without restriction, and the freedom for anyone to use and reuse the published data, subject to correct attribution, thanks to Creative Commons licensing. Your Journal Development Editor can provide more information on how this applies to your journal and authors.