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July 19, 2012

Blogging over at Research Support

Writing about Guest post by Yvonne Budden: Metadata and Online Discoverability from Library Research Support

Follow the link above to see my blog over on the main Library Research Support blogon metadata, what it is, what it's used for and why you should care!

It's all about dissemination.

April 25, 2012

RSP Webinar – Advocacy on implementing funders' mandates

Writing about web page

[This post was written at the time of the webinar, 27 March 2012, but a glitch (technical term) means that it didn't go live until now.]

In light of some of the continued discussions on various boards and forums about the future of Open Access and the impact of funders mandates on things like Elsevier's policies and the recently shelved Research Works Act, it was interesting to hear Scott Lapinski from Harvard University speak about his experiences.

Some highlights of his talk included:

  • Grants aren't always where you think they are! Harvard found NIH grants all over the University not just in the Medical School.
  • Challenges included; high number of researchers, researchers not being based on campus, issues of corresponding author vs grant holder, version issues, what to do about the 'non-compliance' letters and the coordinating messages to the range of people who need to be involved.
  • Support and advice came from the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communicationwhich has a dialogue will all disciplines and monitors all scholarly communications issues.
  • Range of advocacy options were discussed, from meetings and seminars to drop-ins in the linked hospitals as well as advocacy through new web tools for submission and management.
  • Scott also recommended getting in touch with researchers you know are non-compliant, stating that you might get a better reaction from a letter saying 'something might be wrong here, but the Library can help', rather than waiting for the letter saying 'you have been non-compliant and now your grants are in danger'.

All of which may be useful preparation as RCUK funders look to revise their mandates and strat tracking compliance more closely. Although this piece in the THE makes for further interesting reading on this topic.

[Update]Since this was written Harvard's push for open access has continued with this memorandum to faculty staff on journal pricing.

August 09, 2011

SHERPA RoMEO and Publishers – RSP Event

Writing about web page

Thankfully I'm new enough to the whole repository busy that I've never had to try to manage or populate an open access repository without the help of SHERPA's RoMEO service and I hope I'll never have to try! So an event presenting a number of new developments and the chance to engage with Publishers representatives was too good to miss out on!

The event itself gave two really clear messages: we are all on the same side and clarity is everything. The clarity message was raised again and again, all the various players in this community need clarity and consistency in who says what, what means what and what we can do with what (to badly paraphrase Bill Hubbard). Another message that came from both RoMEO and representatives of the Repository community (Enlighten Team Leader Marie Cairney) was that at the end of the day, as much as we care about Open Access, we don't mind being told 'no' as long as it's clear that that is what you are saying.

Some highlights from the sessions:

  • "Change is coming" was the title of the latter part of Bill Hubbard's (Centre for Research Communication) presentation and highlighted the many areas (peer-review, end of the Big-Deal (?), social research tools (Mendeley etc.), demands for free access, cross-discipline research, possibility of institutions taking more control of the intellectual property produced by the institution and more) where we might be seeing change that affect the way we work in the next ten years. No doubt there will be others we haven't thought of yet.
  • Azhar Hussain (SHERPA Services) continued the theme of opportunity by highlighting some interesting statistics for RoMEO. The service currently stands at 998 publishers covering 18,000+ journals and bringing in nearly 20,000 visits a month. Also highlighted was the growth of usage from within CRIS systems, something RoMEO is tracking closely.
  • Mark Simon from Maney Publishing spoke about the reasons behind the companies decision to 'go green' as well as highlighting the fact that for Maney, as they broadly publish for learned societies, the copyright of published work often does not rest with Maney itself, but with the Society. Mark also highlighted the cost of their 'Gold OA' options (STM journals $2000, Humanities journals $800, Some tropical medicine journals $500) stating that the cost disparity was due to the cost of STM journals to produce and the fact that more people want to publish in STM journals.
  • Marie Cairney (Enlighten, Glasgow University) spoke about some of the recent developments to Enlighten, including using the 'Supportworks' software to better track enquiries and embargoes. She also highlighted the changes to publisher policies over the years that have caused problems for her team, most of us can guess which ones she mentioned! Marie's final message was that the more clarity we can get on policy matters, the more deposits we can get.
  • Jane Smith (SHERPA Services) spoke on a similar subject and touched on many of the common pitfalls that can occur when contacting Publishers to clarify policy. These included, no online policy, no single point of contact, two contradictory responses from different parts of the company and more. Jane ended with a plea for the publishers to let RoMEO know when their policy changes so they can get the information out as quickly as possible and for copyright agreements/policies to be written in clear English.
  • Emily Hall from Emerald was up next. One point clearly highlighted from the outset was that Emerald was a 'green' publisher (it couldn't really have been any other colour!). Emily also spoke about the decision not to offer 'Gold OA' options (not felt to be good for the publisher or work for the discipline they mostly publish) and touched on issues with filesharing. (Trivia: Emerald's most pirated book 'Airport Design and Control 2nd Ed.') Emily did mention that Emerald haven't been able to 'see' the content in Mendeley (as of this morning listing more than 100 million papers) yet but they are looking for a way to do this. One thing that came out of the discussion at the end of the talk was an idea for publishers to return versions to authors with coversheets clearly indicating what they can and can't do with that version.
  • Peter Millington (SHERPA Services) finished the presentations with a demonstration of a new policy creator tool developed to be used with RoMEO. This tool, based on the repositories policy tool created as part of the OpenDOAR suite of tools, would allow publishers to codify their policies into standardised language as a way of helping people to read and understand the policy of their publisher/journal. I for one hope publisher's start using this tool as standard. The prototype version of the tool is available now and can be found here.

The breakout session that followed the presentations asked us to consider four questions (and some of our answers):

  1. How can RoMEO help Publishers? (Track changes to policy, Visual flag for publishers to use on their websites to indicate the 'colour' of the journal, act as a central broker for enquiries so one service has a direct contact to the publisher that can be accessed by all creating a RoMEO Knowledge Base of all the enquiries for all repositories to use)
  2. How can Publishers help RoMEO? (Nominate a single point of contact, create a page for Repository Staff similar to their pages for 'Librarians', ways to identify academics (see previous blog post), clarity of policy)
  3. What message do Publishers have for Repository Administrators? (Thank you for the work done checking copyrights, don't be scared to talk to us, always reference and link back to the published item.)
  4. What message do Repository Administrators have for Publishers? (Clarity (please!), make it clear what is OA content on your website, educate individuals on copyright, communicate with us!)

A full run down of the answers to those four questions can be found at the link above.

The final panel discussion raised interesting questions that we didn't really find answers for! Issues on multimedia items in the repository; including datasets in the repository or finding ways to link the dataset repository to an outputs repository - DOI's for datasets (see the British Library's project on this topic); and the matter of what to do in the case of corrects and/or retractions being issued by publishers. The last one at least gave me some food for thought!

The event was another valuable day from the RSP featuring lively discussions on current situations and challenges facing the repository community and an invaluable opportunity to meet and have frank discussion with the Publishing Industry representatives. I think both groups got a lot out of the day along with the realisation that we have a lot more in common than might seem obvious at first glance.

December 14, 2009

What does repository deposit mean?

Follow-up to Theses and early draft deposit in repositories: is that publication? from WRAP repository blog

Last week I attended a meeting with some publishers and it seems to me that there is considerable potential for confusion amongst those not involved in repository management, about what repository deposit actually means. The two main areas of confusion seem to be:

1) Not all content in all repositories is necessarily open access. Some repositories have metadata-only records along with some records which also have full text items available on open access. Some also have full text items that are locked such that only repository staff and the author can see them, or such that only members of the institution can see them. Some repositories add a "request a copy" button to their records so that those who can't see the locked full text can request it from the author. Sometimes the locked access is in order to meet a publisher's requirement or sometimes it is because the author prefers that requests are sent to him/herself so that s/he can know who is reading his/her work.

Publishers' agreements with authors and their information about what can and can't be done usually refer to whether repository deposit is allowed or not. I suspect that more of them would allow repository deposit if the article were locked to be accessible only within the institution or only to the author and repository staff.

2) Just because an item is available on open access, that does not mean that it is available for further copying by anyone! Publishers might also be more inclined to allow repository deposit and open access availability if they knew that allowing this is not granting permission for others to on-copy from the repository. Some repositories do also ask authors to grant a Creative Commons (CC) licence for the use of the article they deposit, and when this is the case then the article will also be available for further copying. Authors can do this when it is clear that they own the copyright themselves. Those repositories which do use the CC licence don't all expect every single item they hold to be deposited with such a licence, although perhaps that would be an ideal scenario. WRAP isn't one of those repositories which asks authors to sign a CC licence, for now. It would just be another hurdle to deposit and our main aim is to make the works available without subscription barrier.

Publishers' agreements with authors who have paid for their article to be made available on open access on the publishers' site do not state that repository deposit is also allowed, although it seems that (some, at least) do expect that to be the case without their stating it. Perhaps their agreements with the authors do grant copyright back to the authors and that's why they expect it, but it's not always clear to repository managers that this is the case.

We don't put open access articles into the WRAP repository unless permission is expressly granted by the publisher or clearly owned and granted by the author. Open access seems to have been conflated with waiving of copyright, but copyright still exists in open access works. BioMed Central are very clear that their open access articles can be further copied, and they state how, etc, so they're an example of how open access should be handled by publishers, in my opinion. This is another reason that I wouldn't consider deposit in WRAP to be a form of publication. WRAP has no copyright owndership over the works it holds: that still rests with the rights owners.

For WRAP, we are clear that we want full text, to be made available on open access for all journal articles and for as many PhD theses as possible. We don't have metadata-only records for journal articles but we do for theses, and we also allow theses to be deposited but locked to repository staff only. The works in WRAP are not made available with any particular licence and rights owners would still need to be consulted before further copying could be done.

It seems to me that there are so many different flavours of repository, all with ever so slightly different aims and purposes and so we're all doing slightly different things with them. No wonder there is so much potential for confusion! In any case, I was very glad to begin speaking to publishers as I did last week with some representatives from the Highwire publishers, in my role as Chair of the UK Council of Research Repositories.

October 05, 2009

Theses and early draft deposit in repositories: is that publication?

Does repository deposit of a work constitute publication and as such jeopardise the chances of publication by a more prestigious/established/profitable method and another agent?

It's not really a question that I can answer yet. I am certain that repository deposit ought not to cause any problems with regard to publication elsewhere, and I have not come across evidence to prove that it would cause a problem except in one particular instance that I investigated and which I describe below. But I'd like to gather more evidence on the topic because I can't prove that it isn't a problem either!

I do not usually like authors to deposit unpublished papers to WRAP. Part of my reason for that is that we want the highest quality content we can get: if the article has been accepted for publication, then that is some measure of quality. PhD theses are obviously of high quality and a separate case in their own right from this point of view: these are added to WRAP.

Quality issues aside, if an author were to write a paper with the intention of submitting it to a journal but wanted to make it available on OA as soon as possible through repository deposit (never happened yet although we've had some that have been accepted and are forthcoming), I would advise that author to look at the journal publisher's copyright agreement that s/he would be asked to sign. I know of at least one publisher who would consider repository deposit of the paper to constitute a prior publication, thus preventing the author from being able to sign the copyright form stating that it had not previously been published elsewhere: this was the British Psychological Society, who I investigated over a year ago.

Inability to sign the standard copyright form might mean that the work could never be published in that journal or by that publisher, but alternatively the form might be amended. I expect that the publisher's position would depend upon the precise circumstances. 

It occurs to me that the matter of an early version of a paper is probably different than that of a thesis from which a book or article might be published: after all, the content would have to be substantially re-written from a thesis, whilst different versions of papers might be very similar, so a publisher might be more concerned about repository deposit of papers but not as worried about thesis deposit.

Of course, our students can opt out of their thesis being made available in WRAP, even though they do have to submit it. So, if a student was hoping to be published and was unsure of the publisher's policy then s/he could always embargo the repository version from being made available anyway.

This is a big issue, and one that needs more thought and investigation, I believe. Because I would like to be able to advise students to allow repository availability of their theses, knowing more about how publishers would react.

July 16, 2009

Open Access issues

Writing about web page

Today, I got an e-mail from someone associated with this organisation. I looked into it and it's a mildly interesting story!

The organisation appears to be affiliated with an open access journal in the field of Neuroscience. This journal does charge a subscription fee and although they make content available on open access, they have to make something available for that fee (see their page at: So although the publishers are supporters of Open Access, they are also locking stuff down!

Meanwhile, this "Friends" organisation is another way in which the costs of open access publishing could be met. I like the website because it seems to me to exemplify the issues and concerns around open access publishing in general, within the context of a discipline. Perhaps the Neuroscience community will be very aware of the need for open access and the context of publishers' concerns...

May 26, 2009

IR impact

Writing about web page

Do open access repositories impact on the number of readers of a paper? I believe that they do: I believe that they bring more visitors to a paper through making it more accessible and visible on the web. All the activity I have been recording and analysing definitely implies an impact of some kind. But what is that impact? And is the impact for the good of the institution (who pay for it!) and of the academic community (who add content to it)?

I have tagged this post "ROI" which stands for "return-on-investment". There are many ways that an IR can be valuable to its institution, but one that is particularly important to Warwick, given the nature of our repository and concerns of our management, is a demonstration that repository deposit will raise citations. This is not an easy thing to prove...

But what made me ask the question I began with, is the impact on the academic community at large. The concerns of academic authors matter hugely to advocacy work and amongst their many concerns is one for their publishers. Academics want to be sure that their existing communication model will continue without damage, i.e. that their publishers will continue to support academic journals.

The "version of record" (i.e. the published version) is enormously important to academic researchers, and I think that is why there are relatively few visitors to WRAP reading our pdf files. It is also why I think that publishers and authors need not be concerned that open access repository deposit will destroy the existing journal publishing system.

What I need to be able to prove is that WRAP will bring more visitors to authors' work, and that it will not detract from visitors to the version of record.

A recent posting to the jisc-repositories list describes the lack of impact on inter-library loan requests, of open access IR availability. ILL is just one of the existing routes to the version of record, but this is a potentially significant piece of evidence because it suggests that repository visits are indeed extra to the existing ways in which people come across authors' work - according to the summary posted to the jisc-repositories list, anyway. I'm not sure how relevant the findings are, because the study was carried out at nine or so US Universities, and I have not read the actual publication. But it sounds promising. The publication referenced in the posting is:

Primary Research Group has published Profiles of Best Practices in Academic
Library Interlibrary Loan, ISBN # 1-57440-122-X

May 18, 2009

Paying open access publication fees

Writing about web page

I've been reading the RIN publication about paying for open access publication charges. The appendix has some sensible recommendations for authors, institutions, funders and publishers. The appendix also has a very clear and helpful description of the University of Nottingham's central open access fund, which notably mentions that the first part of their institutional policy is to encourage repository deposit.

The weakness of the publication, in my view, is that it does only deal with one way to comply with funders' requirements - that of paying for open access publishing, as opposed to repository deposit. This is stated early on, but I don't know that the message about the two possible routes is reaching authors/researchers very clearly. Or senior HEI staff: repositories are not mentioned in the summary recommendation for HEIs in this booklet.

I don't think it's helpful to separate out the advice to authors about securing funding for open access publishing, without first explaining that they can also meet the requirement by publishing in the traditional way and also depositing a version in an open access repository. I suppose I would say that: I'm a repository manager!

I'm not sure how funders are communicating the message about their requirements to their researchers. I'm not sure what researchers understand about those requirements, but I do believe that when authors are aware of open access, they nearly always think of paying to publish or entirely free journals, rather than repository deposit of early versions. I'm not sure why that is. In some disciplines/with some journals, there is never an author's own version created, after peer review, and authors do not want to share their earliest versions that lack the polished rigour that the peer review process adds to their work. So perhaps they are just more comfortable with the concept of paying to publish the final version in an open access way.

Why should an author choose to pay for open access publication? There are a few reasons that occur to me straight away:

1) The journal that the author wishes to publish in is funded entirely by open access author fees, so it is the only way to get the work published in the most appropriate journal. Or if the publisher does not allow repository deposit of any version of the work without a fee being paid. Authors should be able to choose the best channel for communicating their research regardless of what funding model the publisher applies.

2) The publisher will ensure that the funder is informed of the researchers' compliance with the requirement. That is a service worth paying for: open access publishers who keep PubMed updated with Wellcome Trust funded articles are performing such a service. Publishers can only do that for authors if the authors inform them of their funding details, though: do authors know that this is a part of what they are paying for?

3) The article should be made available on open access immediately, without any embargo period because there is so much interest in the work it describes.

Should an author have to pay for open access publishing in order to meet a funder mandate? I don't think so, but are funders saying that authors should choose to publish only in journals which support open access repository deposit or at least offer an author-pays model of open access publishing? This booklet makes me think that funder mandates are creating a world where fees for open access publishing must be met!

How are funders communicating their message to authors? How will funders be measuring compliance? How will funders define the outputs from the work they have funded? I don't think this message is reaching researchers all that clearly, and the suspicion that was apparent in a recent THES article is the result of a lot of confusion, I believe.

Repository managers are trying to get the message out about repository deposit, and to use the funders' mandates as a part of their message. Are funders expecting us to do this? Are we getting the message right?

Each institution will no doubt have a different type of repository with a different way of depositing, so no doubt it is appropriate that this part of the message be delivered at institutional level.

I believe that guidance should also be provided for repository managers, to complement this publication, and that future work on this topic should build in the repository deposit part of the open access message at HEI level, just as the University of Nottingham case study describes.

I know what advice and support I believe that we (repository staff) should be giving to our researchers/authors. We should explain that authors should make themselves aware of the specifics of their funders' requirement (& help them to do that) and that they should consider direct repository deposit as a route to open access publishing & therefore meeting a funder requirement. We (the institutional repository) should be supporting them in making that deposit, in the appropriate repository/ies (a weak point, I believe: I don't know of any IR depositing works in PubMed on authors' behalf, for instance... ), and then authors can consider paying for open access publishing as a separate matter... and seek funding accordingly.

July 08, 2008

Negotiating with publishers

There's a very interesting example on the lis-copyseek jiscmail list that a law academic has posted, of a letter he has sent to explain that he wishes to retain copyright in his post print and not to sign the agreement as sent by his publisher.

Publishers' copyright transfer agreements and licences to publish are bamboozling. There are plenty of examples on their websites. It is very difficult to work out whether, as an author, you are retaining the right to do all the things you might want to do with your own article. Like sharing it with colleagues, re-publishing the content elsewhere, putting your own version into your institutional repository.

So, there are some tactics that academics can try, to retain these rights:

1) Ignore any such agreements unless and until chased to respond. The publisher might publish your article without you needing to sign the agreement!

2) When chased, explain that you do not wish to sign their form, but would like your work to be published without that requirement. If the agreement is still an issue, seek clarification on anything that is not plainly stated. Write back with your own agreement rather than using their form (as with the example sent to lis-copyseek).

3) If you must use their form, read it and amend it as you see fit.

4) Or else offer to withdraw your article from their journal. Charles Oppenheim of Loughborough did this with Elsevier and his work was published anyway.

It would be great if all authors were aware of what rights they were signing away, and chose to negotiate with publishers rather than signing whatever they are sent without ever keeping even a record for themselves of what they have signed... but perhaps such advice is likely to be for the keen few only.

Copyright law is complicated to understand, publishers don't make it any clearer, and I'm quite sure that academics have other concerns that are more pressing on their time than entering into such negotiations, which will require them to be clued up about their rights in order to stand their ground. Not least of which is boosting their number of publications and citations...

April 16, 2008

A central open access fund

Writing about web page

Some interesting information on how other Universities are handling the fact that Open Access publishing is not always free to the author, and yet the author's funding runs out long before that research article is ready for publication. We've been investigating our options at Warwick, as to how we can support our academics to publish through the author-pays arrangements available to them.

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