Universities should commit to opening up their research to everyone (opinion)

“Since the novel coronavirus struck, scientific research has been shared, and built upon, at an unprecedented pace. An open and deeply collaborative academic enterprise has emerged, with scientists from around the world sharing data and working together to map the SARS-CoV-2 genome and develop the first vaccines.

During normal times — when we’re not in a pandemic — much of the taxpayer-funded research that universities conduct is locked away by publishers, out of reach for all but those who can afford costly subscriptions. This year, given the dire need to fight a deadly disease, publishers temporarily lifted the paywalls that normally shut out this important knowledge from public view….

The COVID-19 crisis inspired a global collaboration that has led to a scientific renaissance — and we must not revert to our old ways. Imagine the progress that could be made if the international research community worked together to develop treatments for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Climate change, educational equity and racial justice could all be studied through a more expansive and inclusive lens.

Years from now, we will look back at this pandemic as a historic time of incredible challenges, disruption and anguish. But I hope we will also remember it as an inflection point — the end of restricting knowledge to a privileged few and the dawn of a new era in scientific progress.”

Open and Shut?: Unbundling the Big Deal: An interview with SUNY’s Shannon Pritting

“Nevertheless, many libraries did sign big deals. And many later regretted it, not least because, having done so, they felt they had no choice but to keep renewing the contract, even as the cost kept going up and devoured more and more of their budget. 

Libraries felt trapped, conscious that if they did not renew they would have to go back to subscribing to individual journals at list price, which would mean being able to afford access to fewer journals, and fearful that when they discovered that journals they wanted were no longer available, faculty would revolt.

Over time, however, a greater willingness to think the unthinkable emerged, and some libraries began to cancel their big deals. And when they did so the sky did not fall in – which allowed other libraries to take heart.

The list maintained here suggests that libraries began cancelling their big deals as long ago as 2008, but the number doing so has been accelerating in the last few years. What has really focussed minds are the recent decisions by both the University of California and MIT to walk away from their negotiations with Elsevier rather than renew their big deals.

But it is not necessary to walk away completely in the way UC and MIT have done. Instead, libraries can “unbundle” their Big Deal by replacing the large package of several thousand journals they are subscribed to with a small à la carte bundle of a few hundred journals, and in the process save themselves a great deal of money.

What is helping libraries to make the decision to unbundle is the knowledge that more and more research is becoming available on an open access basis. In addition, new tools like Unsub are available to advise them on which journals they can cancel without too great an impact, and which journals are essential and so should be retained….

So how is a decision to unbundle made, and what are the issues and implications of making the decision? To get a clearer picture I spoke recently by email with Shannon Pritting, Shared Library Services Platform Project Director at SUNY. In April, SUNY replaced its Big Deal of 2,200 journals with Elsevier with a “little deal” of just 248 journals. By doing so, it says, it has saved about $7 million….”


Trade policy response to COVID-19 examined in Committee report – News from Parliament – UK Parliament

“[The unanimously adopted report from the International Trade Committee] also recommends the Government consider adjusting intellectual property provisions to allow for compulsory licensing of therapeutic drugs or vaccines against COVID-19, as a means of ensuring they can be made available as quickly, widely and cheaply as possible..”

Europe PMC: unlocking the potential of COVID-19 preprints | European Bioinformatics Institute


Europe PMC is now indexing full-text preprints related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as the underlying data
The project will make COVID-19 scientific literature available as fast as possible in a single repository, in a format that allows text mining
Researchers and healthcare professionals will be able to access and reuse preprints more easily, accelerating research into better treatments or a vaccine….”

Building an Open Access repository in Eritrea with limited resources – Open Repositories 2021

“A huge part of Eritrean Archival collections date back to the colonial time and armed struggle. All research outputs, records, reports, theses and other work is still not automated and captured. Instead, a huge amount is produced in  physical paper and forgotten in shelves far from the reach for scholars. Hence, this poster is expected to share the know-hows on how such complex data production can become a reality as an Open Repository and contribute to the democratization of knowledge to the citizens of the country.”

Crafting an OER network in Ghana using IndieWeb building blocks – Open Repositories 2021

“Many students are unable to finish their first degrees due to the high cost of higher education in Ghana. Many universities in Ghana lacks access to rich online educational materials to provide an alternative learning module for students who can not afford the standard university education.

This poster focuses on how we are using IndieWeb building blocks to help students and educators to create Open Educational resources. Our program provides free personal websites to students and educators to curate and create OERs on their own websites, the community then write or remix these resources to develop collections of community-approved OER….”

Measuring the impact of institutional repositories in selected Zimbabwean State Universities – Open Repositories 2021

“There is a dearth of empirical evidence in Africa to support the assertion that IRs have made research output easily accessible, visible and citable as acknowledged by some scholars. The study assessed the extent to which archived content is cited by publications indexed in Scopus. Five IRs in Zimbabwean state universities were analysed. Scopus cited references search facility was used to mine for documents citing IR content from 2014 to 2018. Results from Scopus searches were exported into text files then transported to excel workbooks for filtering and analysis. The impact of an IR was analysed from two perspectives; cited and citing documents characteristics. Results show that on average 8.6 documents per year were cited for all IRs combined within the 5 year period selected for the study. The most cited document types were thesis and dissertations followed by research articles. The University of Zimbabwe IR was found to be the most influential, with 34 citers affiliated in 12 countries. A new measure of IR research impact based on Scopus was put forward.”

How Internet Archive and controlled digital lending can help course reserves this fall – Internet Archive Blogs

“I host regular webinars about the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, helping librarians and others understand how controlled digital lending works, and how their library can make their print collections available to users online. The question of how to safely handle course reserves is clearly among the top priorities for academic librarians as they approach fall semester, just a few short weeks away. At nearly every webinar session since early March, and certainly every session this summer, librarians have raised the question of how controlled digital lending can work for course reserves.  

We’re getting such a large number of inquiries on this topic that I thought it would be helpful to outline how Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program and controlled digital lending can help your library with course reserves this fall, and where we may have limitations in supporting your full suite of needs….”

How to make open science work | Science|Business

“As open science gains momentum, universities must maintain their academic independence by arming themselves against possible takeover of critical infrastructure, research information and data by private parties.

If universities simply make their data generally available to everyone without any conditions,  commercial entities could collect that data, enrich it and build services around the data, and then make universities pay to use those services.

We subscribe to the idea that collaboration and transparency advance science. We also believe that the results of publicly funded research should be generally available. That goes for research data too. But legal issues and sovereignty issues prevent universities from sharing their data unconditionally….”

Open Access in Africa, Institutional Repository Development and Open Science Challenges | Open Research Community

“In Africa, despite the presence of regional frameworks for the promotion of Open Access and Open Research, such as LIBSENSE comprising local and international stakeholders, e.g., the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), National Institute of Informatics (Japan), and OpenAIRE, their outcomes include networking workshops, regional surveys and policy and metadata guidelines. This could be due to a lack of national Open Access policies, the insufficient development of institutional repositories and below par funding and expertise levels in individual countries….

Nevertheless, Côte d’Ivoire has successfully launched a country-level Open Access repository, in Ethiopia university and government ecosystems have managed to implement effective Open Access policies for repositories, journals and infrastructures and other African countries, such as Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda, have finalized their national policies for data and repository management. Yet, in this region, the progress of Open Science is likely to be slowed by language barriers, such as the prevalence of Arabic in North Africa and French in Western and Central Africa….”

OA Switchboard initiative: progress report July 2020 – OASPA

“Delivering the Minimum Viable Product (MVP)  for the OA Switchboard initiative is almost a reality. With August around the corner, there will be a solution available to streamline the neutral exchange of OA related publication-level information between funders, institutions and publishers. This offers the potential to provide a breakthrough in the transformation of the market to enable Open Access as the predominant model of publication.

The MVP has been shaped throughout the 2020 project, overseen by OASPA and the Steering Committee, in close collaboration with representatives of all stakeholder groups. To this end, numerous individual and group meetings have taken place, open to anybody who wants to contribute to this industry-wide intermediary solution, that aims to provide standards, infrastructure, and back office services. Every month we’ve provided an update or report to ensure full transparency and allow everybody to participate. It has been amazing to experience how so many people, with such a variety of interests and representing a wide range of stakeholders, selflessly have shared their time and expertise to collaborate towards essential open source OA infrastructure – for the greater good of progress in scholarly communication….”

scite and Rockefeller University Press Sign Indexing Agreement and Implement Smart Citations | by scite | scite | Jul, 2020 | Medium

“scite, an award-winning platform for discovering and evaluating scientific articles, and Rockefeller University Press (RUP), a leading publisher in the life sciences have partnered to improve how research articles are discovered and evaluated.

With this partnership, all relevant articles published in the Journal of Cell Biology (JCB), the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), and the Journal of General Physiology (JGP) will display Smart Citations from scite. Smart Citations allow researchers to see how a scientific paper has been cited by providing the context of the citation and indicating whether it provides supporting or disputing evidence for the cited claim….”

A Legal Deep Dive on Mexico’s Disastrous New Copyright Law

“Mexico has just adopted a terrible new copyright law, thanks to pressure from the United States (and specifically from the copyright maximalists that hold outsized influence on US foreign policy).

This law closely resembles the Digital Millennium Copyright Act enacted in the US 1998, with a few differences that make it much, much worse….”