Recently I attended a one-day conference organised by UK Serials Group (UKSG) on Open Access Realities. The conference aimed to explore how publishers, libraries and their partners have been reacting to global policy developments and working towards Open Access implementation. The day evolved around three key thinking points:
- What are the implications, strategically and operationally, of introducing new mandates and business models?
Damian Pattinson, PLOS ONE, in his talk demonstrated Article Level Metrics(ALM) Reports, which PLOS ONE are introducing as a way of responding to HEFCE and funder’s emphasis on demonstrating wider research impact. The challenge for publishers then lies in learning to place less emphasis on the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), which was described as a marketing gift for journals. I thought the ALM Reporting tool was smart and effective, and demonstrated the extent to which OA empowers authors to see the impact of their research beyond the academic community. There was scepticism though from Michael Jubb, Research Information Network, during the panel Q&A session that academics do not take Open Access and ALM into account when choosing where to publish - that the JIF still reins higher than OA. Representatives from the University of Birmingham – Adam Tickell and Jill Russell – highlighted well for me that a top-down and bottom-up approach is required to bring about cultural change in academic publishing.
- What have been the challenges – and surprises – so far?
Two of the major challenges from the Library’s point of view were identified: one being that librarians can advocate and facilitate OA, but the decision on where to publish lies with the researcher, another major challenge lies in balancing commitments between OA support and Big Deals. Jill Russell spoke of the ways in which UoB are addressing the first challenge through advocacy, making the message known that the library supports OA via green and gold routes, welcoming OA enquiries and monitoring the amount of OA materials in their institutional repository. Jill has found that by encouraging more grey literature into their repository, the levels of both green and gold OA deposits are rising. Lars Bjornshauge, SPARC Europe and DOAJ, suggested libraries take a bolder approach to the second challenge; pushing forward the OA agenda by reallocating budgets and other resources to consortia-based models.
- What existing strengths have proved useful, and what skills or knowledge gaps have emerged?
Caroline Edwards, Open Library of Humanities (OLH) acknowledged how useful strong relationships across the sector have been in initiating the OLH, a PLOS ONE-style mega-journal for the humanities. The OLH model takes a DIY approach to Open Access publishing, financed through library partnerships and not Article Processing Charges (APCs). A significant knowledge gap emerging from the panel Q&A was identified in author’s knowledge of licencing. Both the DIY approach and Gold OA model has put added emphasis on authors to understand and select the relevant Creative Commons licence for their work. Suggestions from the audience were to put onus on the library and funders to provide this training and support.
I came away from the day with feelings of anticipation for the changing landscape that will continue in OA publishing, and the broadening role that the library will play in supporting the OA movement. Things I will be looking out for include the result of the HEFCE consultation on OA in reference to REF2020, RIN’s report on the second Finch Committee meeting (published here since writing) and recommendations from the Open Data User Group to the Cabinet Office. On the home-front I’m encouraged to increase our support of grey literature in LSE Research Online, continue our work to capture data on OA publications resulting from RCUK funded research at LSE and enhance our IR Stats package and Altmetrics measurements. I predict we can contribute well to the bottom-up approach of OA advocacy.
This year’s Online Information conference (19-20 November) covered many useful and interesting topic. However there was a resounding shared message, which was most evident form keynote speakers, Mark Stevenson and Jacob Morgan: think more like engineers and less like politicians, in other words – do not shy away from change and innovation. If you have an idea, whatever your role or responsibility in the organisation, try it out and see what happens, learn from mistakes then try again. These were inspiring words to be backed up by the variety of talks that unfolded throughout the two days.
It is difficult to summarise a two-day conference into half a blog post, so I thought I’d highlight some key points and messages from three of the tracks I attended. To ensure I haven’t missed or misinterpreted anything, all the lecture slides will be available on the Online Information 2013 website at a later date.
NEW FRONTIERS IN INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
- Ellyssa Kroski, The New York Law Institute
Library patrons are changing their information seeking behaviours – away from browsing to borrow single or multiple books, which we assume they will go away, read entirely and bring back – and towards a Do It Yourself culture, where users will share, review, list and interact with information on their own devices. Libraries have already begun adapting to this new information seeking behaviour by implementing new resource discovery systems, eBooks, online training courses, etc. But as this new behaviour is much more open and transparent than before, libraries must take steps further to interact with patrons online, at the point at which they are seeking information. Some good examples were provided on Ellyssa's presentation slides.
INFORMATION ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANY DEVICE
- David Nicholas, CIBER Research and Theresa Regli, Real Story Group
Results from studies by David and colleagues at CIBER Research shows that the young generation are mixing scholarly with social behaviours – they are hopping between resources and scanning information. A controversial suggestion to publishers in the audience was that they would make more money by giving away PDFs for free and charging for abstracts! Another controversial statement, this time to librarians, was that researchers see libraries as providing a subset of information they need not a whole set, and so, what relevance do libraries have for researchers now? A second question he posed was, ‘are mobile devices making us stupid?’ in other words, are future generations losing the skill of deep critical thinking and evaluation? In my opinion these are not so much questions, but challenges to us as information professionals. Theresa provided some helpful examples from the commercial sector on how to use technology to go out and meet users in their new social/research space, her slides on the Online Information 2013 website will be worth a look at.
EMERGING BUSINESS MODELS FOR EBOOKS AND PUBLISHING
- Max Espley, Royal Society of Chemistry and Lucy Montgomery, Knowledge Unlatched
Open Access developments have posed well documented challenges to royal and learned societies as non-profit publishers (see examples here and here). The RSC have launched their own Gold Open Access initiative, RSC Gold for Gold. The initiative works whereby institutions, for a subscription, receive voucher codes to pay for Gold Open Access articles. One article costs the equivalent of £1600 in vouchers, there is also a bulk buy option for those who don’t wish to subscribe to the premium package. It’s early days for the initiative, and as yet there are no plans in the pipeline to convert their journals to Gold, making this is a hybrid OA model at risk of ‘double-dipping’ (institutions will be still be subscribing to the journal as well paying for Gold OA vouchers). But I don’t want to be critical here, Max also described how RSC support green open access and have developed a chemical sciences repository (currently still in BETA) for peer-reviewed accepted manuscripts. Gold for Gold is an initiative that highlights the overarching message of Online 13 – embrace change and try something new. It will be interesting to see if this model is successful enough to allow the RSC to convert their journals to Gold OA, releasing libraries from journal subscription costs. Lucy Montgomery introduced another bold OA initiative, this time for Open Access books. Knowledge Unlatched is a global initiative, similar to Hoopla mentioned above, whereby libraries sign up to pay a Title Fee to participating publishers. The books are then fully downloadable and Open Access via OAPEN Library. The project is in the pilot stage and they are currently looking at sustainable ways of running the model, beyond grants and funding applications.
I and others at the conference also tweeted lots over the two days, see #online13 for highlights. I’d recommend too looking at slides of Andrew Cox’s talk on Research Data Management at The University of Sheffield and Arthur Weiss’s slides on Google versus the rest. My tweets on these two talks are available here.