Focusing upstream: supporting scholarly communication by academics

Abstract:  This article discusses the broad and complex funder open access (OA) policy environment in the UK and describes some of the challenges libraries face in providing frictionless services to support academic compliance. It offers a view on the actions of publishers in this policy environment, as well as outlining how strategic discussions have moved beyond the library to include the whole institution. Finally, it outlines the work being undertaken at Imperial College London to develop a new OA policy and licence which could support academics and institutions with compliance and HEFCE Research Excellence Framework eligibility in a single step. 

Correcting the record on the Harvard OA license

“Yesterday at the Scholarly Kitchen, Karin Wulf and Simon Newman posted some objections to the UK Scholarly Communications License, which is based on the Harvard OA license.

In the process they characterized the Harvard OA license and OA policies, sometimes correctly and sometimes incorrectly.

I posted a comment which is still undergoing moderation. I’m posting a copy here in case my comment is rejected, abridged, or delayed. …”

Survey on Research norms for sharing and Sci-Hub

“The objective of this survey is to examine practices with respect to access and use of research publications and Sci-Hub.
Your answers will help us to better understand norms on gathering and sharing of publications and publicly funded research.

The following questions are aimed at academics, researchers and students from different disciplines.
The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete….”

The Czech Republic National Strategy of Open Access to Scientific Information and Data : OpenAIRE blog

The strategy includes open access to publications and data (Data Management Plans) requirements for publicly funded research projects. Interoperable and OpenAIRE compatible open access e-Infrastructure will be built. And awareness raising and educational activities will be conducted.

The UK Scholarly Communications Licence – supporting academics with open access | Zenodo

“To address these issues, a group of research organisations in the UK is working to implement a solution that ensures authors can make their work open access, meet funder requirements and always retain the right to reuse their own outputs – but without having to change the publishing process as it currently exists. The initiative is called the UK Scholarly Communications Licence (UK-SCL) and was started by Chris Banks and Torsten Reimer at Imperial College London. At the heart of the UK-SCL is a licence agreement between a research organisation and their staff: authors grant the organisation a non-exclusive licence to make the manuscript of a scholarly article publicly available under a Creative Commons licence that allows non-commercial reuse (CC BY NC). This arrangement pre-dates any contract authors might sign with a publisher, which allows the host organisation to license the rights back to the author after they signed the copyright transfer agreement. This process ensures that academics can retain rights and do not have to negotiate with the publisher. To be legally binding, publishers must be notified – but this is something research institutions working with sector bodies will undertake jointly, so that authors have no additional work….”

Ling OA

Open Access publishing is often said to be the future of academic journals, but the actual move from a subscription model to an Open Access model is not easily achieved. Several international linguistics journals are currently moving from their traditional publisher to a new open access publisher, moving their entire editorial staff, authors, and peer reviewers from the traditional subscription model to Fair Open Access.

LingOA facilitates this radical move by paying for the Article Processing charges of the articles published in these journals during the next five years. The journals Glossa, Laboratory Phonology, and Journal of Portuguese Linguistics will be published (online only) by Ubiquity Press, but LingOA will work with any publisher who complies with the above Fair Open Access conditions. To ensure long-term sustainability, LingOA has partnered with the Open Library of Humanities. OLH, whose platform is also provided by Ubiquity Press, will guarantee the continued publication of the journals associated with LingOA after the first five years through its consortial library funding model. OLH is a charitable organisation dedicated to publishing Open Access scholarship with no author-facing APCs ( This will provide long-term sustainability for Fair Open Access journals, ensuring that no researcher will ever have to pay for APCs out of their own pocket.

The Open Access publisher has to comply with the following conditions, a.k.a. the Fair Open Access Principles: …”

Open Access publishing in Serbia and Western Balkan Open Science Working Group : OpenAIRE blog

“Supporting Open Access journal editors and publishers in Serbia and participating in the Western Balkan Working Group on Open Science….SCIndeks is the central hub of the integrated system of quality-controlled scientific publishing in Serbia. The SCIndeks team developed guides and templates to help editorial boards of Serbian Open Access journals to comply with the “new” DOAJ inclusion criteriaon publication policy and licensing. New functionalities in editor services were implemented and SCIndeks submitted DOAJ application forms for 49 Open Access journals. 35 of them have already been accepted by DOAJ in the past two months. OpenAIRE collaborates with SCIndeks on the non-APC FP7 Open Access Publishing Pilot project.

A comprehensive study “Open Access Journals in Serbia: Policies and Practices” by Milica Ševkuši?, Zorica Jankovi? and Aleksandra Kužet has been recently published and includes good practice advice and policy and licensing templates that could be of great help to journal editors. This study is the result of the EIFL funded project “Revisiting Open Access Journal Policies and Practices in Serbia”, implemented by the Serbian Library Consortium for Coordinated Acquisition – KoBSON. Also see Milica Ševkuši?’s article “Defining the Editorial Policies of Open Access Journals in Serbia and the Role of Librarians in This Process” in ?ITALIŠTE: the scientific journal on theory and practice of librarianship.

Open access, Open Research Data and Open Science are on the agenda of the Western Balkan Regional Working Group on Open Science that met in Brussels on July, 6th, 2017. It mapped the existing e-infrastructure and made plans for further development in the Western Balkan economies, in order to support Open Science e-infrastructure in the region. The meeting outlined the strategic context of Open Science in Europe and the key role of the e-infrastructure development in the European Union and the Western Balkans. OpenAIRE NOAD in Serbia Biljana Kosanovic participated in the meeting and is a member of the Western Balkan Regional Working Group on Open Science….”

Fair Open Access Alliance

“We are a group of scholars and librarians aiming to help transform the conventions of scholarly publishing, and return control of the publication process to the scholarly community.

The Fair Open Access Alliance is an overarching organization (formally a Stichting – non profit foundation – in the Netherlands) aimed at coordinating efforts toward sustainable open access scholarly publishing, following the principles of Fair Open Access. Member organizations include

  • LingOA (facilitating conversion to fair open access of journals in linguistics)
  • MathOA (facilitating conversion to fair open access of journals in mathematics)
  • PsyOA (facilitating conversion to fair open access of journals in psychology)
  • Open Library of Humanities (dedicated to publishing open access scholarship with no author-facing article processing charges)
  • Center for Open Science (aiming to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of scholarly research)
  • Independent OA journals who have signed up to the Fair Open Access principles (to be listed “soon”)….”

Sci-Hub’s cache of pirated papers is so big, subscription journals are doomed, data analyst suggests

There is no doubt that Sci-Hub, the infamous—and, according to a U.S. court, illegal—online repository of pirated research papers, is enormously popular. (See Science’s investigation last year of who is downloading papers from Sci-Hub.) But just how enormous is its repository? That is the question biodata scientist Daniel Himmelstein at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues recently set out to answer, after an assist from Sci-Hub.

Their findings, published in a preprint on the PeerJ journal site on 20 July, indicate that Sci-Hub can instantly provide access to more than two-thirds of all scholarly articles, an amount that Himmelstein says is “even higher” than he anticipated. For research papers protected by a paywall, the study found Sci-Hub’s reach is greater still, with instant access to 85% of all papers published in subscription journals. For some major publishers, such as Elsevier, more than 97% of their catalog of journal articles is being stored on Sci-Hub’s servers—meaning they can be accessed there for free.

Given that Sci-Hub has access to almost every paper a scientist would ever want to read, and can quickly obtain requested papers it doesn’t have, could the website truly topple traditional publishing? In a chat with ScienceInsider, Himmelstein concludes that the results of his study could mark “the beginning of the end” for paywalled research. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. …”


MathOA is an organization modelled on LingOA, aimed at facilitating and accelerating the switch to open access publishing in mathematics (broadly interpreted), using the principles of what we call Fair Open Access (more details). To this end, we investigate publishers, obtain guaranteed funding, offer legal help, and generally try to simplify the job of editors in switching their existing subscription journal to a modern, community-controlled OA platform. We have substantial practical experience in running  journals and converting them to open access. MathOA is a member of the Fair Open Access Alliance….”

Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics flips to Fair Open Access

“At the end of June 2017, the four editors-in-chief of the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics

informed Springer that they will not renew their contracts, which terminate on 31 December 2017.

Nearly all of the editorial board members will also resign, to form the editorial board of a new

journal that will be called Algebraic Combinatorics, run according to Fair Open Access Principles.

The new journal Algebraic Combinatorics will be up and running very shortly, with interim editorsin-chief

Satoshi Murai and Vic Reiner. The transition to Fair Open Access is supported by the

organisation Mathematics in Open Access (MathOA)….”

Notes from a roundtable on open data at the White House : Sunlight Foundation

“Yesterday, I was invited to represent Sunlight at a roundtable on open data hosted by the White House Office of Management and Budget that affirmed the Trump administration’s support for the ongoing public disclosure of public records to the public online. According to OMB, the Trump administration is doubling down on that goal through its IT modernization efforts.

The half-day event, held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in DC, convened administration officials, career civil servants from across the government, entrepreneurs, representatives of large American companies, technologists, nonprofits and advocates to answer that question, discussing how structuring and releasing public information can lead to better economic outcomes for the public. The roundtable was the 13th such event facilitated by the Center for Open Data Enterprise over the past several years, going back to the Obama administration.”

Missing the Target: The UK Scholarly Communications License – The Scholarly Kitchen

“There are any number of issues to be addressed in the premises of the UK Scholarly Communications License, among them the longstanding and keen interest of higher education in acquiring intellectual property rights to the work of their researchers. But we want to focus here on some of the implications for our discipline, history, as illustrative. History research is published in journals, but it is very much a book discipline. The publishing systems for each are themselves distinctive. History journals are mostly published by non-profit organizations, often university presses, and require intensive editorial work. Because the formulation of text in argument is the primary research output, derivative use is not as applicable or desirable as it might be for other fields. That is, we produce essays with interpretive arguments, not data or experimental findings. Additionally, institutional publication of scholarly articles raises all kinds of issues related to intellectual property and third-party rights. Scholars across the arts and humanities regularly cite or use in their articles third-party sources (including privately and institutionally owned manuscripts and printed works, poetry, literature music, art etc.). It is extremely unlikely that the rights holders of such materials will abandon their third-party rights and allow libraries to publish their materials. The result will be an administrative burden for libraries and academics, and create potential legal problems too. Historical organizations have devised a variety of ways to increase the reach of these outputs. And for these reasons and more, historians have strongly advocated for flexible approaches to Open Access. Many convenings have resulted in the development of Green OA to recognize the diversity of needs and practices of disciplines and fields, primarily but not only in HSS.”