Open access roundup – Winter 2017-18

Each month, the Research Publications Team will aim to provide a roundup of open access and scholarly communications news. In addition, we’ll highlight any tips, tricks and tools we’ve come across that help to make disseminating, finding and using open access content easier. Here’s our bumper roundup for Winter 2017-18 from Argula Rublack and Dominic Walker.


Monitoring the transition to open access 

In December the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group published their report on the major trends that have emerged since UK research funders established policies to promote open access. The findings are promising: more than half of UK-authored articles are made publicly accessible within 12 months and 37% of UK output is freely available immediately on publication through open access publishing. The possibilities for publishing open access are rising and open access articles are generally downloaded from publishers’ sites more than those which are not open access. 


OpenCon 2017 

OpenCon 2017, an annual meeting to learn about Open Access, Open Education and Open Data, took place on 11-13 November in Berlin, Germany. You can now catch up with all the panels, workshops, presentations, unconference sessions and its ‘do-a-thon’ with the freely available recorded content on their website.  


UCL launches open access megajournal 

UCL Press is taking steps to break with the tradition of commercial publishing and subscription journals with the announcement of the launch of its new open access megajournal in January. The journal aims to slash lengthy publication times, put the university’s research online free of charge and to openly publish peer reviewers’ comments to improve transparency. UCL Press has already successfully published 50 open access research monographs with 650,000 downloads worldwide and hopes the megajournal will continue this upward trend. 


Swiss National Science Foundation announces new open access policies 

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has committed to implementing Open Access for all its funded publications as of 2020. According to SNSF the result of research are public property, as they are financed by public funds, and therefore should be made freely and immediately accessible. For this purpose, new policies were introduced that require its grant holders to publish research results in Open Access publications. Authors need to publish via the Gold Open Access route or the Green Open Access route with an embargo period no longer than 6 months.  


Updated Elsevier embargo periods  

Good news: in December 2017 Elsevier updated their embargo periods for UK-based authors and reduced those of some journals which previously had a 18 month embargo period to 12 months. For a complete overview, have a look at this list: 


Negotiations between Elsevier and German universities continue 

Elsevier continues to provide access to its content to German universities in an effort to uphold negotiations after last year’s boycott over the increase in subscription prices. The German consortium, Projekt Deal, is now trying to reach a nationwide licensing agreement for the whole of Elsevier’s electronic journals. In addition Project Deal wants to ensure that all papers authored by German researchers are made open access and that costs are only incurred upon publication. Compromises have already been reached in Finland and South Korea. We will keep you updated on the further developments.  

It’s been estimated that German universities are saving 10 million Euros a year on journal subscription fees. With Dutch, French, Swiss and Austrian universities about to negotiate their contracts with Elsevier, it will be interesting to see what results from these discussions and the precendent Germany has set. 


The woman behind Sci-Hub  

Does the name Alexandra Elbakyan mean anything to you? She is the creator of Sci-Hub, a digital repository containing free copies of millions of scientific articles, which has drawn criticism from the traditional science publishing industry. Read more about her and how Sci-Hub works here:  


Hybrid OA Journal Monitor 

The open source dashboard Hybrid OA Journal Monitor ( uses data from 3,035 different journals by 36 publishers to visualize the increase in uptake of hybrid open access from 2013 to 2017. The number of articles using the CC BY license has greatly increased since 2013. 


The rising costs of open access  

The LSE Impact Blog published a piece highlighting the rising costs associated with the increasing adoption open access publishing. APCs (Author Processing Charges) paid by a sample of ten institutions rose by 16% between 2012 and 2016, while the consumer price index (CPI) rose by about 5%. The authors offer some suggestions are offered about what can be done to change this towards the end. 


Papers from the Munin conference on scholarly publishing now available 

The papers from the 12th Munin conference on scholarly publishing, which took place at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, 22-23 November 2017, are now freely available for you to read up on: 


A survey on open peer review 

Back in December 2017 PLoS published an article on the attitudes and experience amongst editors, authors and reviewers involved in open peer review. In the spirit of openness the survey is a freely available open access publication and can be found here: 


Open access monographs for REF 2027 

Whereas the current REF 2021 open access policy only applies to journal articles and conference proceedings, the next REF (2027?) will see monographs be brought under the policy. However, it’s yet to be decided what form this may take – whether self-archiving of an entire manuscript (or simply a chapter) will be sufficient, or whether gold will be expected (unlikely, given that the extent of monograph open access and coverage of monograph OA mandates has lagged well behind that of journal articles). There are many discussions to be had with publishers before HEFCE presses ahead with OA for monographs.  


A criticism of the success of OA 

An interesting paper, reviewing the success of the open access movement in under-mining massive for-profit publishers has been published. It concludes that there is much to do until the predictions of OA advocates are realised. 


Where are we with responsible metrics? 

This blog post, from the LSE Impact Blog, reviews how far we have come in promoting “responsible metrics”. More and more universities have signed up to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which commits universities to not using only journal-based metrics (like Impact Factor) in promotion, hiring and funding decisions. Using appropriate article-level metrics (not only citation data) is as important in determining a scientist’s success – i.e. what someone has published is more important that where they have published. The blog post shows that the UK HE sector has not come very far in delivering responsible metrics in practice, with the vast majority of universities having no policy on the use of research metrics. Moreover, funders and other bodies need to better engage with discussions on metrics to ensure the DORA principles are realised. 


What is text mining? 

The FOSTER consortium has published a 101 on text mining, reviewing what it is, what you can use it for, and how to do it.

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