First titles Knowledge Unlatched Pilot Collection now available

March 2014 – OAPEN is pleased to announce that the first 17 titles of the Knowledge Unlatched Pilot Collection are now available in Open Access through the OAPEN Library. View all available titles here.
Knowledge Unlatched announced recently that not only has it reached its goal of attracting 200 libraries to become charter members and participate in its pilot project – it exceeded that number by nearly 50%. 296 libraries joined from 24 countries. Its Pilot Collection of 28 new books from 13 recognised scholarly publishers will now become Open Access. 

Navigating the Complexities of Open Access

Join us on an exciting  e-discussion  “Navigating the Complexities of Open Access” which will take place over two sessions as follows:

Tuesday 25th March:  facilitated session midday GMT to 14.00 (GMT)

The first session will explore your different experiences of Open Access in different contexts and will be led by facilitators with experience in working on open access issues and our coordinators based in Africa and Asia.

Wednesday 26th March: facilitated session midday GMT to 14.00 (GMT)

The second session will further explore the issues arising from the first day and will explore these in more depth.


To join our discussion you will need to become a member of Chat Literacy by clicking on the link below and following the onscreen instructions:

Please invite others to join the e-discussion, by forwarding the URL above to them and inviting them to join us.

The Wellcome Trust’s Deep Pockets

All this potential research money wasted ? utterly wasted ? on Fools Gold. Some Reflection from Wellcome Would be Welcome.

Falk Reckling: If Green OA would really work (Fools Green?), we would not need such compromises, but some of them could work:

There’s no “Fools Green” just foolish OA policy (or non-policy). Green OA works perfectly well when it is effectively mandated (as it is by FRS in Belgium, U Liège, U Minho and others; see ROARMAP).

FWF, for example, fails to (1) mandate immediate institutional deposit, irrespective of publisher embargo on OA, and fails to (2) make research evaluation and funding contingent on immediate institutional deposit, as the effective Green OA mandates do. This effectively makes compliance with the FWF “mandate” completely contingent on publisher policy. OeAW does much the same.

It may seem more sensible to pay for Fools Gold than to think, pay attention to the empirical evidence, and design an effective policy, but in fact it’s a regrettable and needless waste of time and money.

Optimizing the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) Open Access Mandate: I & II

Gargouri, Y, Lariviere, V, Gingras, Y, Brody, T, Carr, L and Harnad, S (2012) Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Ineffectiveness. In, Open Access Week 2012

Gargouri, Y, Larivière, V & Harnad, S (2013) Ten-year Analysis of University of Minho Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate (in E Rodrigues, A Swan & AA Baptista, Eds. Uma Década de Acesso Aberto e na UMinho no Mundo.

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Falk Reckling: Stevan, I personally appreciate your efforts very much, always inspiring, but how to install a Green OA if most of the institutions in Austria have no repository and if a lot of researchers like to prefer to deposit the version of record ? That is the reason our OA policy offers equal options, see:

Falk, my suggestions:

(1) Mandate (i.e., require) institutional repository deposit of the refereed final draft immediately upon acceptance as a condition for research evaluation or FWF funding. (The FWF mandate will be backed up by a very similar EU Horizon2020 mandate.)

(2) If the fundee’s institution does not yet have a repository, recommend OpenDepot as the provisional locus of deposit until the institution has a repository of its own.

Researchers will deposit, and institutions will create repositories and verify compliance, just as in every other country with an effective Green OA policy.

According to OpenDoar, Austria already has 9 institutional repositories (plus two disciplinary ones).

Falk Reckling: just have a look at that these repositories

Of course those repositories are mostly empty! That’s the point! They will not fill until FWF and OeAW (and then the institutions themselves) adopt effective mandates. It is circular to say that there’s no point to upgrade our Green OA mandates to make them effective because the repositories are empty! The empty repositories are the reason the mandates need to be upgraded. And the upgrade to immediate institutional deposit as a condition of evaluation and funding works. (Try it and you will see.) And I did say that institutional repositories would be created in response to effective Green OA mandates…

New report sets out options for fostering transparent and competitive market for open access publishing

12 March 2014 – The report identifies options through which funders can help ensure that the rapidly growing open access market delivers high-quality services and value for money for the research community.

In 2013, a consortium of partner funders – Jisc, Research Libraries UK, Research Councils UK, the Wellcome Trust, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics – came together to commission a study to examine the rapidly developing market for open access article processing charges (APCs).

Boom Juridische uitgevers lanceert open access-platform voor advocaten

Persbericht, donderdag 13-03-2014 – Het eerste juridische open access-platform speciaal vóór en door advocaten is een feit: Open Access Advocate (OAA) van Boom Juridische uitgevers is live. Het is een unieke manier van juridisch publiceren die in Nederland en elders in Europa nog niet eerder is toegepast. 

Open Access Advocate (OAA) biedt advocaten de mogelijkheid hun artikelen te publiceren op een voor iedereen gratis toegankelijk platform. Dit kunnen zowel nieuwe als reeds elders gepubliceerde artikelen zijn. Bij nieuwe artikelen bieden we de auteur tevens editing, peer review en uitgebreide promotie. Daarnaast draagt onze advisory board bij aan de blijvende vernieuwing van dit platform en de hoge kwaliteit van artikelen.

Actual and potential open access to scientific output in a specific country. A case study in Argentina.

This work shows that “There are extremely favourable conditions for Argentina to include a significant share (69%) of its scientific production in Scopus, freely available through OA. This production is published in journals that adhere to some form of OA, in a ratio of 25% for the golden route (“real open access”) and 44% for the green route (“potential access”). In a comparisonof this 25% for the golden route to the 8.5% encountered by Björk et al. (2010) on an article-per-article basis verification at a world level, the figures for Argentina triple; this represents a considerably positive difference for
the country. The reasons may be found in a Latin American trend towards the golden route, such as pointed out by Miguel et al. (2011) or, alternatively, they may lie in the fact that we have assumed that all articles are free, which has not been verified (some OA journals in SciELO and RedALyC are subject to embargo periods from 6 months to 1 year). Another study should be carried out to confirm or contradict these findings.

The results provide useful knowledge for repository mana- gers at academic and research institutions to promote the green route. At the same time, authors should be made aware of the possibility of providing legal open access through self-archiving their post-prints. Unawareness of permissions granted by publishers is one of the main obs- tacles for authors’ self-archiving practices (Swan; Brown, 2005). Increasing the number of articles (above all, the final publisher’s version) with self-archiving permissions should be negotiated with publishers.”

Today at Elseviergate; more potholes and “bumps” on the “shared journey”; please help us find paywalled OpenAccess Elsevier

It’s easy (if tedious) to find paywalled Open Access articles in Elsevier journals. You go to Robert Kiley’s excellent spreadsheet (curated by Michelle Brook and others) , find publisher = Elsevier , search for the title and go to the journal pages. Here I show how

Wellcome Trust has apparently paid 2797 GBP in APCs for this article (it’s just over 1 page long – actually an editorial)

23932517 Elsevier Current Opinion Microbiology The asexual cycle of apicomplexan parasites: new findings that raise new questions. £2,979.00

Search for “The asexual cycle of apicomplexan parasites: new findings that raise new questions.” in Google. Yes, you can get it in PubMed and EuropePMC for free. But go to the Elsevier site (normally Science Direct) – where many people would land – and…

What did they get for their money?




I am waiting for an official statement from Elsevier – not a random comment on my blog about Javascript and marketing FUD such as “share our journey” on “our bumpy road” . A statement that can convince Robert Kiley that Elsevier is competent and committed to Open Access.

I did that on Friday.

Now Elsevier are aware of my investigations , so I looked today and found something different.




I have two hypotheses:

  • The Director of Access and Policy and the VP of Products spent their weekend trying to patch up the potholes on their “bumpy road”. (translation – the underinvestment and incompetence of their system). If so they’ve made a terribly botched job of the change. See below.
  • The Elsevier system isn’t stable. It’s clearly broken – there is no indication that that Elsevier systems give the same result on different sites, different days, etc.

Take your pick. It’s clear that Wellcome haven’t got value for money (nearly 3000 GBP). Here’s what’s still wrong.

  • The article isn’t labelled Open Access
  • The article has no licence
  • The article doesn’t acknowledge Wellcome Trust funding
  • The article is still (C) Elsevier All rights Reserved
  • The Table of Contents for the issue doesn’t say “Open Access”
  • Elsevier haven’t made a public apology to the author and Wellcome for stopping the world reading this article.

I’ll note that this is a 1-page editorial. It’s almost certainly not formally peer-reviewed. It’s morally scandalous that Elsevier have the brass neck to charge 3000 quid for it. But, as everyone tells me the purpose of publishing is to make money, not communicate science.

Oh, and I predict a message from Elsevier of the form “thanks for informing us, please keep these coming” .  I’m certainly informing my Parliamentary representatives (Julian Huppert, David Willetts and Vince Cable) and asking what parliament is going to do about Elsevier’s misselling and misdelivering. And with your help I expect to keep them coming


TIP: University libraries- why don’t you mail all academics and ask them to check whether their APC-paid articles are visible and CC-licenced.


Quantumplation of Wellcome Trust spreadsheet and Wiley-Blackwell Licences

I am working very closely with Michelle Brook on OKFN science and the Content Mine. Yesterday she spent much of it hacking the splendid Wellcome Trust spreadsheet of how much WT has spent on Open Access APCs and  with which publisher. It’s a splendid document, but no more than a responsible organisation should provide. There’s about 2400 entries with an average spend of 2000-3000 GBP and top of ca 6000 GBP (guess who?).

The spreadsheet is large and complex and so, in true OKFN spirit, Michelle is leading us in a datathon. It’s now in a Google spreadsheet which means that lots of us can share it. I’ve worked with communal docs before but not spreadsheets. There’s often about 5-10 people logged in, with 2-3 actively editing. That seems to mean that the spreadsheet can jump around – sorting on publisher, or title or … The attendees are all animals, starting with Anonymous Aardvark, and doubtless Anonymous Kangaroo. Haven’t yet worked out how to show my real name…

Anyway it’s been valuable – if stultifying boring – for me. I’ve been going through the Elsevier entries, scraping the titles and Googling them. I correct a few minor errors. But mainly I want to see if the paper is behind a paywall. It’s boring because most aren’t and the frequency of mispaywalling seems to be ca. 1% (I can’t be sure because Elsevier may be tweaking the papers right now). [But that’s a completely unacceptable frequency and I’ll show how much it costs the world.].

Michelle’s blog is Quantumplations and in here latest post she is puzzled by Wiley-Blackwell’s licences.

Every Wiley-Blackwell article I’ve looked at so far makes the statement: “Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.” (For an example, see the image below).

This is junk from WB.

CC-BY allows any use – it only requires attribution. You can use it for sun-beds, baby milk, tobacco and alcohol. You can build bombs with it.

I have three possible explanations (these are on the OKFN mailing lists) – I am not saying which

  • Incompetence. WB don’t understand licences. That’s inexcusable as their whole business is built on licensing material that scholars have given them. They should understand licences.
  • Indifference. “Doesn’t matter whether we get it right. Who cares? The libraries and funders will keep paying us.”
  • Deliberate. It actually helps WB business in some way to give misinformation. See “Elseviergate” for discussion.

What is clear is that the standard of business practice in TollAccess scholarly publishing is appalling. If they built aircraft they would fall out of the sky. If they made electric goods people would get electrocuted. If they ran banks people would lose money.

But, hey, it’s only Scholarly Publishing. No-one minds if publishers foul up. It doesn’t cost anyone – it’s only public money – and we can mend it when MLB and PMR complain.

Well it DOES cost and I’ll show why in a later post.



Elsevier’s Junk Science

Some years ago Elsevier  led a PR campaign, PRISM, to discredit Open Access. They paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a PR “expert” Dezenhall whose speciality is dirtying people and organisations. He told them that they should promote Open access as “Junk Science” and (see  Peter Suber)) Dezenhall also advised the AAP “to focus on simple messages, such as “Public access equals government censorship’”

Elsevier are even now trying to push through the FIRST act in the US, another zombie reprise of PIPA, SOPA, RWA, etc.

This is the company which leads the scholarly publishing market in terms of revenue.

Here an article which has hit the twitterati and has shocked the scientists I talk to

Volume 75, Issue 3, 4 January 2012, Pages 914–920

Cover image

Harry Belafonte and the secret proteome of coconut milk

Proteomics is the science of discovering and identifying proteins in samples, usually via chromatography and mass spectrometry. It has nothing to do with Harry Belafonte (a singer) and even less to do with the picture below which is included in the paper.


Scholarly publishing is about reporting science in a way that can be repeated and used at the basis of more science. This degrades the message .

I have used the image without permission as it’s fair use and fair comment.


Friday at Elseviergate: I reply to their “journey” explanation and give another example of serious failure

Elsevier’s VP of Product Management, Platform and Content (VPPMPC) and Director of Access and Policy  (DoAP) have published a statement “Open access – the systems journey” about their misselling of rights. They say nothing about the continuing problem of APC-paid articles wrongly behind firewalls. On reading this you might be tempted to have some sympathy for Elsevier. That’s where the captured or oppressed are tempted to bond with their oppressors. The fact that Elsevier staff are publicly visible supports the Syndrome – that’s why I refer to them by their formal position.

Elsevier deserve no sympathy. Quite the opposite – I have asked David Willetts whether there is a case for formal legal or government action.  I have asserted, and stand by:

Closed access means people die.

Remember that when you feel this doesn’t matter or it’s all a game. It isn’t. I know people who, if academic colleagues did not have access to the closed literature would have died. Every paper behind a paywall adds up. Papers which are wrongly paywalled are morally inexcusable.

Elsevier were alerted to problems TWO YEARS ago. I re-exposed serious problems SEVEN MONTHS ago. Elsevier have not fixed them. You may get the impression that they are simply buying time. But NOW is the time that you should be angry.

So here’s today’s offering from Wellcome’s spreadsheet. Wellcome paid 2262 GBP to Elsevier so that the world could see potentially valuable medical advances

PMC3477630; Clinical Radiology; Chest radiographic patterns in 75 adolescents with vertically acquired HIV infection.


I can’t read it. It’s behind a paywall. I assume it has pictures of X-Rays. But I expect it’s of value to doctors in Africa with AIDS patients – maybe they have an Xray that they’d like to compare. Maybe it’s got a recipe for taking better pictures. I don’t know.

Because it’s behind a paywall. And, assuming this isn’t a fault in Wellcome’s spreadsheet, that is MORALLY, ETHICALLY and LEGALLY unacceptable.



Please get angry. Check your APC papers published with Elsevier. If they aren’t visible mail me.

Here’s a little joke for Friday but it has a serious message. Content mining could be useful if you have sufficient software


Content mining isn’t easy but it can be done by experts and this post will give another indication of the power. Here are two small chunks of English; each of them has something hidden which a natural language engine might, if properly constructed, bring to light in milliseconds. Do not look them up on Google as it will reveal the secret. Here’s the first; it’s slightly shortened:

In an age of imitation, I can claim no special merit for this slight attempt at doing what is known to be so easy.

The following is accidental, but it has become a classic

Hence no force, however great, can stretch a cord, however fine, into a horizontal line which is accurately straight

And this is a special Friday for it bears upon the subject. When you feel you’ve solved the problem  try to answer in the spirit of the way the joke was written.

Gentle credit for Wiley’s RightsLink page; pity they promote CC-NC


I follow the #openaccess announcements on Twitter – to check licences, etc. Here’s one from Wiley and I’ve gone to the Rightslink page



Unlike Elsevier, where the Rightslink is often badly constructed, this is clear. It’s CC-BY, no weasel words, no attempt to link to a pricing sheet , no declaration that you have to mail the publisher, no statement that the publishers’ permission is required.

However it’s a pity that Wiley are even offering CC-NC. I thought that two years ago they were completely CC-BY. That’s the honest thing to do. You get paid a large amount of money for Open Access – you give the appropriate return.

[Sorry about the fuzziness – my wordpress is blurring pictures – have to find out why.


Today at Elseviergate: Are Elsevier are dishonouring their contract with Wellcome Trust? “Open Access” behind paywall

The Wellcome Trust is one of the most valuable organisations in Open Access. It’s blazed a trail of clarity through the Open Access jungle. Very simply:

  • WT require their grantees to publish Gold CC-BY Open Access
  • They provide money to make sure it happens.
  • They have a clear transparent record of they spend.

It’s a model that all funders should emulate.

So, yesterday, Robert Kiley announced a spreadsheet of Open Access spending. A heroic effort. Every paper is listed with the publisher, the title and the details. Here’s an excellent review: . Cameron Neylon has tidied up the spreadsheet

Neylon, Cameron (2014): Wellcome Trust Article Processing Charges by Article 2012/13. figshare.

and some of the OKFN have also contributed volunteer labour.

What follows is not contrived. I really did pick the first article in the spread sheet.

So I go to the first record (PMC ID, Publisher, Journal, Title, APC paid by Wellcome)

“PMC3378987,  Elsevier,  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Parent support and parent mediated behaviours are associated with children’s sugary beverage consumption”, £2,379.54

I put the title into Google (most people do this rather than using publisher searches) and get:




Let’s zoom in:


How strange … I thought this was a list of Open Access papers. That you didn’t have to pay for.

Since I haven’t got the contract between WT and Elsevier I shan’t cast any aspersions. Maybe Wellcome got the details wrong? Maybe they are happy for Elsevier to charge for Open Access?

Or, just possibly, Elsevier have got some explaining to do.

UPDATE: Jan Velterop has tweeted that it’s available at as “Open Access funded by Wellcome Trust”. Of course it’s claimed by Elsevier as :”Copyright © 2012 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.”.

So Robert Kiley thought he was paying for everyone to be able to read the article in the journal. He wasn’t. He was paying for the article to be put behind an Elsevier paywall.

So I invite the “Director of Access and Policy” at Elsevier to explain. And it’s NOT satisfactory to say “Oh you can get it for free at Science Direct”. Most people will look in the journal. And many haven’t a clue about ScienceDirect.



Nieuwe leermodellen ontstaan door open en online onderwijs

18 maart 2014 – Tijdens het symposium Open en Online Education op 11 maart 2014 werd duidelijk dat open en online onderwijs aan het begin staat van een lange interessante weg. Nieuwe leermethoden ontstaan bijna als vanzelf door experimenten in het Nederlandse hoger onderwijs. Dat zowel open als online onderwijs ‘here to stay’ zijn, stond voor alle aanwezigen vast.

Of de ontwikkelingen rondom open en online onderwijs disruptive zijn of een aanvulling vormen op het bestaande campusonderwijs was een van de vragen die tijdens het symposium ruimschoots aan bod kwam. Samenwerking in het vormgeven van de open en online leermiddelen, maar ook in de verwerking van de opgedane kennis is broodnodig, aldus meerdere sprekers en deelnemers.

Confused by “Open Access”? Danny Kingsley + AOASG give excellent Australian overview of OA; but which OA is actually valuable?

If you are confused by “Open Access” you are in good company. So am I. It’s horrendous. Here Danny Kingsley and the  Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) have created an excellent series of blog posts on Open Access. They are readable and authoritative. After it you will be less confused and more authoritative. But it will still be horrendous. My comments below.

The latest in the series on Payment for Publication from the Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) has gone live today. 

The membership model explores the different options publishers are offering in the form of discounts on article processing charges. These range from the well established model of membership to an open access publisher, through to some membership options now offered for hybrid publishing. Membership to open access repositories, and the ways learned societies are offering discounts are explored. The page looks at potential issues with these membership options and discusses some ways publishers are addressing double dipping by tying discounts to article processing charges to subscriptions.


This page is part of the Payment for Publication series which also includes:

‘Cost of Hybrid’ –

‘Addressing the double dipping charge’ – 

‘Do OA funds support hybrid?’ –

‘Not all hybrid is equal’ –


Regards ,Danny

Dr Danny Kingsley Executive Officer, Australian Open Access Support Group

There is no simple picture coming out of this. You may take the view that it’s the start of a worldwide revolution (albeit 10 years old) that is unstoppable. Or you may think “What a mess and what a set of unprincipled profiteers the traditional scholarly publishing industry is”.  There are at least 20 major publishers and they all make their own rules, many of which are inconsistent and inoperable. Danny highlights the likelihood that many publishers make a clear profit of > USD 1000 from “hybrid Open Access” where all the publisher has to do is remove the paper from behind the paywall and label it. (I have shown that Elsevier frequently cannot even do this, but they still bank the markup).

The only real challenge to this mess comes from funders such as Wellcome Trust and national science funders. Universities ands their libraries (who pay subscription charges) have done almost nothing that can be seen.

So is Open Access valuable?

The gut reaction is “of course”. What a stupid question!

But actually it is much less clear. I shall analyse this over the next fews blog posts, but taking a wider view.

Closed Access (or recently Broken Access) is of course massively negative. The opportunity costs are huge. The industry is grossly inefficient and makes massive, unjustified, profits. Increasingly it adds little tangible value, and most of that – highly questionable – is branding for authors.

But some of the costs also apply to OA. Here are some questions:

  • is OA part of the Digital Enlightenment or is it actually cementing outdated principles and institutions? Is it inclusive? Is it disruptive?
  • what are the true costs – which include opportunity costs – of OA to set against the benefits? And what actually are the benefits and for whom?
  • Does OA have any idea of an endgame? Or are we headed for a permanent mess?

I hope this provokes discussion. I believe that OA suffers from having very little Open discussion to balance the authoritarianism and bureaucracy of the practice.