You are browsing the archive for Michelle Brook.

The cost of academic publishing

- April 24, 2014 in Comment, cost, Open Access, publishing, Russell Group, uk

UPDATE 28 April 2014: Imperial have released their subscription data - £1,340,213. This takes the Russell Group to a total of £15.7 million in subscription fees to Elsevier alone with data related to four universities still outstanding.   What could the UK academic community do with £14.5 million? That is the same as the yearly tuition fees for over 1600 undergraduates paying £9,000 fees. And that is what just 19 Universities in the UK are spending in total during a single year on journal subscriptions to a single publisher.   The act of publishing research has an intrinsic cost, and I don’t know anyone who claims otherwise. However, the key questions we as an academic community should be asking is how much this publishing process costs, and if we are receiving value for money. But we can’t answer these questions. Because we don’t know how much academic publishing costs. Historically, the costs of scientific research publication have been covered through subscriptions to academic journals in which the research has been published. Alternative business models are beginning to develop, but the majority of research around the world is still published in journals to which subscriptions are required. Individual academics are largely protected from the costs of access to these journals. Libraries at universities are largely responsible for managing institution wide access to journals, and through JISC negotiate these subscription costs. And then libraries are not allowed to tell anyone what these costs are. Libraries are placed under huge amounts of pressure not to release this data, and in the case of Elsevier, they are explicitly forbidden to by non-disclosure agreements in the contracts they have to sign. Today, Tim Gowers has released data showing that 19 Russell Group Universities alone spend over £14.4 million (excluding VAT) on subscriptions to journals published by Elsevier alone. Without a doubt you should read his blog post which has far more detail and background; but the headline figures are:  



















King’s College London




London School of Economics

Not released data






Not released data




Not released data

Queen Mary University of London

Not released data

Queen’s Universty Belfast












*Joined the Russell Group two years ago. **Information obtained by Sean Williams. Data taken from Tim Gowers blog post found here   This data, acquired through Freedom of Information requests, has focussed upon the Russell Group, but excludes data from Imperial College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, Nottingham, Oxford, and Queen Mary University of London who declined to release their data. And many of these of these are unlikely to be be small spenders. This means that the total figure for the Russell Group will be significantly higher than the £14.4 million stated above. Non-disclosure clauses, included by Elsevier within the contracts have previously prevented libraries from releasing this data, and even from discussing the figures with other libraries or academics within their own University, and the release of this data is likely to cause much comment among libraries and academics. There are large differences between different institutions – for instance Exeter is paying roughly a sixth of the costs being paid by University College London, with UCL spending £1,381,380 (that’s the yearly fees from 150 undergraduates). As Tim mentions in his in-depth analysis, it’s interesting to note that the institutions paying the lowest fees are those institutions who have only recently joined the Russell Group. While a bound physical copy was the only means of communicating written research over a distance, and was a huge development in 1665 with the publication of the first scientific journal, the ‘Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society’, the idea of journal subscriptions in return for access to academic research is understandable. There were large infrastructure costs involved. However, the Internet has created opportunity for significantly reduced distribution costs. Distributing ‘copies’ of digital work costs very little once initial costs have been covered, and given that this is the way many academics access research within the University, there is no justifiable reason why publishers should charge such widely different access fees to universities. Journal subscriptions are not the only cost to Universities for publishing research. As a transition towards open access is made, author processing charges (APCs) are common; especially in the UK where the Research Councils, Wellcome Trust and other funders have mandated that academics make their research freely and openly available at point of publication. However, this APC data is also not available, which means we can’t see how much money is flowing to publishers. And is is especially important in the case of many high profile and prestigious journals which are what are termed ‘hybrid journals’. These are journals in which some articles are freely available to read after receipt of an APC, but a subscription is still required to read the remainder. No data is currently made available that shows how much UK academics are paying to publish in an open access fashion, either in pure open access journals, or these ‘hybrid journals’. However, data released last month shows that in 2012-2013 alone, the Wellcome Trust alone spent over £1 million on articles published in Elsevier journals – of which nearly 95% was in journals to which an academic library had to also pay a subscription. And yet this is only a small piece of the picture; we still don’t know how much is being spent on APCs by other public funded research streams such as from the Research Councils or HEFCE. In a time of decreasing research funding from Government (given UK inflation rates the flat-line research budget results in a real terms cut), and increased onus on students as a source of income, what is an acceptable cost for publication of research? Be that cost met through journal subscriptions or an open access business model. And to whom should we be paying that money? These conversations are rarely had; partly through lack of information, and partly through the disinterest of many academics. And traditional publishers such as Elsevier benefit significantly and exploit the disinterest of many academics in this space. They take work largely funded by the taxpayer, carried out within publicly funded institutions, and then sell it back to this institution, and every other willing/able institution around the world. And then actively work to prevent libraries from releasing information that may begin to establish a competitive market in this space. To an advantage of many millions of pounds a year. Elsevier alone is charging £14.4 million to 19 universities in the UK – and will be gaining literally millions more from the other 100 universities in the country. They are also gaining millions of pounds in APCs. And that’s just one publisher. There are countless other traditional publishers to whom academic libraries pay subscriptions; Wiley, Oxford University Press, Nature Publishing Group, and Springer just to name a few. And none of this data is out there. No-one knows how much money is being drained from the academic university budgets (either from research grants, or indirect money received through HEFCE grants or student tuition fees) to the financial benefit of these for-profit publishers. We need to get a full picture of the costs of academic publishing – both the costs incurred through journal subscriptions and through APCs. While the focus of Tim’s work has been Elsevier, I’ve submitted Freedom of Information requests to Russell Group Universities asking for journal subscription data for Wiley, Oxford University Press and Springer, and I’ll be making this data available if/when it is released. I will also provide information where libraries do not honour their obligations under FOI, do not accept that this information is in the public interest, and what reasons are they give. And it is without doubt in the public interest to have data that can show the cost of publication made openly available. Without this, there can be no development of competitive markets in either subscriptions or APCs. A chilling effect, created by commercial publishers and non-disclosure clauses, requiring a lack of transparency cannot serve anything other than other than the business interests of traditional publishers.

Wellcome Trust APC Data – Thank you!

- April 1, 2014 in Comment

The Wellcome Trust publicly raised concerns about the cost of so called ‘hybrid publishing’ last week as a direct result of the incredible work carried out by many in the Open Knowledge Foundation Open Access working group, and others in the wider community, enriching a data set of author processing charges released by the Wellcome Trust.

‘Hybrid publishing’ occurs when a journal contains articles which have been paid to be freely available online from the point of publication, while also containing articles which can only be accessed through personal or institutional subscription. To ensure academics can view all contents of such a journal, a university library must subscribe to that journal, resulting in publications supported by two funding streams; fees from authors *and* subscriptions.

There have long been concerns among many open access advocates about traditional journal publishers exploiting universities through this publishing model – but there has traditionally been a lack of openly available data. Funders and Universities have not released much data about the author charges, while libraries are subject to nondisclosure agreements stopping them discussing details of subscriptions.

The effort put in to developing the data set was incredible – and I wanted to publicly acknowledge some of those who put so much energy into it:
  • Theo Andrews - created the original google document, and came up with the idea of crowd-sourcing, as well as spending much time hunting for data.

  • Cameron Neylon – carried out an initial tidying up of the data, and helped promote the idea widely

  • Stuart Lawson - put in a super-human effort in data hunting

  • Emanuil Tolev - fixing DOIs, general technical thoughts

  • Alf Eaton – for flagging initial problems with DOIs, data hunting

  • Sam Smith – for helping finish the last load of hybrid/pure journal identification

  • Tom Pollard - who created a script to pull DOIs from PMCIDs
  • Daniel Mietchen

  • Rupert Gatti

  • Jenny Molloy

  • Nic Weber

  • Jackie Proven

  • Fiona Wright

  • Yvonne Budden

  • Dawn Pike

And of course – thank you to the Wellcome Trust, and Robert Kiley, for releasing such a valuable data set that enables much better understanding of the current state of open access publishing. I’m sure I’ve missed some names out, and certainly many were anonymously adding data. If I’ve missed you out,  please do let me know as I’d love to ensure everyone is acknowledged for the effort put in. The enriched Wellcome Trust data set is incredibly valuable. Not only has it enabled us to show the cost of hybrid publishing to the second biggest medical research charity in the world (which in turn indicates the potential costs to other research funders) it also provides a very useful precedent in terms of data release, provides a useful test bed for a number of tools that are currently being developed to automate much of this work, and enables exploration of the different licenses used by various publishers. I am sure many will continue to use this data set in the future. The spreadsheet isn’t yet complete, but when it is, we’ll upload the data to Figshare. Thank you to everyone who has helped with this work! And if you aren’t already, I’d urge you to sign up to the open access mailing list and join us for further discussions and activities around and towards open access. Blogs that have come out of the data: (if yours isn’t here, please email me)

The sheer scale of hybrid journal publishing

- March 24, 2014 in Comment

The last few years have seen a significant rise in what are termed ‘hybrid open access journals’, where only some of the articles are freely available to read and a subscription is still required to read the remainder. As many journals require payment from authors to publish in this fashion, then university libraries need to pay subscriptions to read the remaining articles, publishers are in effect being paid twice for the same work. With recently published data from the Wellcome Trust, the scale of this double charging has become much more clear. In Oct 2012 – Sept 2013, academics spent £3.88 million to publish articles in journals with immediate online access – of which £3.17 million (82 % of costs, 74 % of papers) was paying for publications that Universities would then be charged again for. For perspective, this is a figure slightly larger than the Wellcome Trust paid in 2012/2013 on their Society & Ethics portfolio. Only £0.70 million of the charity’s £3.88m didn’t have any form of double charging (ie, was published in a “Pure Open Access” journal) – with this total being dominated by articles published in PLOS and BioMed Central journals (68 % of total ‘pure’ hybrid journal costs, 80 % of paper total).

Top 5 publishers by total cost to Wellcome Trust


No. of articles

Maximum Cost

Average Cost

Total Cost (nearest £1000)

Elsevier (inc. Cell Press)















Oxford University Press





Nature Publishing Group (not inc. Frontiers)






Top 5 publishers by total cost to Wellcome Trust – separated into money spent on author charges for articles appearing in hybrid and pure open access journals



Journal Type

No. of articles

Max Cost

Average Cost

 Total Cost (nearest £)







Pure OA











Pure OA











Pure OA





Oxford University Press






Pure OA





Nature Publishing Group






Pure OA





  Wellcome Trust pays nearly £1 million to Elsevier, and pays over £500,000 to Wiley-Blackwell to make articles freely available on point of publication, in journals that a university library will also be trying to find money to also pay subscription fees to. These are outrageously high sums of money! Especially given a recent explosion in the number of journals, and an increase in journal prices, means even well-funded libraries can no longer afford the cost of subscribing to many journals! Journal articles should be published in a way that means they are freely available – and not just to academics, but also to wider public audiences. And I’m not critical of article processing charges. However, I’m unsure how any publisher can justify charging an academic an average cost of £2,443 to publish in a journal that is already being supported by library subscriptions from not just one university, but many universities around the world. And surely no cost based model should charge more for publication in a hybrid journal with multiple funding streams than in one supported purely on author charges (as appears to be the case with Wiley-Blackwell). If you want to know more and might want to help the Open Knowledge Foundation’s soon-to-be launched project on Open Access, please leave your email address in the below form.  

Data source found here

Original data: Kiley, Robert (2014): Wellcome Trust APC spend 2012-13: data file. figshare

Enhancements on original data made by Cameron Neylon:

Knowledge Creation to Diffusion: The Conflict in India

- February 28, 2014 in Comment, development, Guest post, incentive structures, india, Open Access, Policy

facebook-cover This is a guest post by Ranjit Goswami, Dean (Academics) and (Officiating) Director of Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Nagpur, India. Ranjit also volunteer as one of the Indian Country Editors for the Open Data Census. Developing nations, more so India, increasingly face a challenge in prioritizing its goals. One thing that increasingly becomes relevant in this context, in the present age of open knowledge, is the relevance of subscription-journals in dissipation and diffusion of knowledge in a developing society. Young Aaron Swartz from Harvard had made an effort to change it, that did cost him his life; most developed nations have realized research funded by tax-payers money should be made freely available to tax-payers, but awareness on these issues are at quite pathetic levels in India – both at policy level and among members of academic community. Before one looks at the problem, a contextual understanding is needed. Today, a lot of research is done globally, including some of it in India, and its importance in transforming nations and society is increasingly getting its due recognition across nations. Quantum of original application oriented research, applicable specifically to the developing world, is a small part of overall global research. Some of it is done locally in India too, in spite of two obvious constraints developing nations face: (1) lack of funds, and (2) lack of capability and/or capacity.

Tax-funded research should be freely available

This article argues that research outcomes, done in India with Indian tax-payers money, are to be freely available to all Indians, for better diffusion. Unfortunately, the present practice is quite opposite. The lack of diffusion of knowledge becomes evident in absence of any planned efforts, to make the research done in local context available in open platforms. Here when one looks at the academic community in India, due to the older mindset where research score and importance is given only for publishing research papers in journals, often even in journals of questionable quality, faculty members are encouraged to publish in subscription-journals. Open access journals are considered untouchables. Faculty members mostly do not keep a version of the publication to be freely accessible – be it in their own institute’s website, or in other formats online. More than 99% of Indian higher educational institutes do not have any open-access research content in their websites. Simultaneously, a lot of academic scams get reported, more from India, as measuring research contribution is a difficult task. Faculty members often fall prey to short-cuts of institute’s research policy, in this age of mushrooming journals.

Facing academic challenges

India, in its journey to be an to an open knowledge society, faces diverse academic challenges. Experienced faculty members feel, that making their course outlines available in the public domain would lead to others copying from it; whereas younger faculty members see subscription journal publishing as the only way to build a CV. The common ill-founded perception is that top journals would not accept your paper if you make a version of it freely available. All of above act counter-productive to knowledge diffusion in a poor country like India. The Government of India has often talked about open course materials, but in most government funded higher educational institutes, one seldom sees even a course outline in public domain, let alone research output. Question therefore is: For public funded universities and institutes, why should any Indian user have to cough up large sums of money again to access their research output? And it is an open truth that – barring a very few universities and institutes – most Indian colleges, universities and research organizations or even practitioners cannot afford the money required to pay for subscribing most well-known journal databases, or afford individual articles therein. facebook-cover It would not be wrong to say that out of thirty-thousand plus higher educational institutes, not even one per cent has a library access comparable to institutes in developed nations. And academic research output, more in social science areas, need not be used only for academic purposes. Practitioners – farmers, practicing doctors, would-be entrepreneurs, professional managers and many others may benefit from access to this research, but unfortunately almost none of them would be ready or able to shell out $20+ for a few pages by viewing only the abstract, in a country where around 70% of people live below $2 a day income levels.

Ranking is given higher priority than societal benefit

Academic contribution in public domain through open and useful knowledge, therefore, is a neglected area in India. Although, over the last few years, we have seen OECD nations, including China, increasingly encouraging open-access publishing by academic community; in India – in its obsession with university ranks where most institutes fare poorly, we are on reverse gear. Director of one of India’s best institutes have suggested why such obsessions are ill-founded, but the perceptions to practices are quite opposite. It is, therefore, not rare to see a researcher getting additional monetary rewards for publishing in top-category subscription journals, with no attempt whatsoever – be it from researcher, institute or policy-makers – to make a copy of that research available online, free of cost. Irony is, that additional reward money again comes from taxpayers. Unfortunately, existing age-old policies to practices are appreciated by media and policy-makers alike, as the nation desperately wants to show to the world that the nation publishes in subscription journals. Point here is: nothing wrong with producing in journals, encourage it even more for top journals, but also make a copy freely available online to any of the billion-plus Indians who may need that paper.

Incentives to produce usable research

In case of India, more in its publicly funded academic to research institutes, we have neither been able to produce many top category subscription-journal papers, nor have we been able to make whatever research output we generate freely available online. On quality of management research, The Economist, in a recent article stated that faculty members worldwide ‘have too little incentive to produce usable research. Oceans of papers with little genuine insight are published in obscure periodicals that no manager would ever dream of reading.’ This perfectly fits in India too. It is high time we look at real impact of management and social science research, rather than the journal impact factors. Real impact is bigger when papers are openly accessible. Developing and resource deficit nations like India, who need open access the most, thereby further lose out in present knowledge economy. It is time that Government and academic community recognizes the problem, and ensures locally done research is not merely published for academic referencing, but made available for use to any other researcher or practitioner in India, free of cost. Knowledge creation is important. Equally important is diffusion of that knowledge. In India, efforts to resources have been deployed on knowledge creation, without integrative thinking on its diffusion. In the age of Internet and open access, this needs to change. facebook-cover Prof. Ranjit Goswami is Dean (Academics) and (Officiating) Director of Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Nagpur – a leading private B-School in India. IMT also has campuses in Ghaziabad, Dubai and Hyderabad. He is on twitter @RanjiGoswami

Pasteur4OA – Kick off meeting

- February 27, 2014 in Budapest Open Access Initiative, Europe, Events, PASTEUR4OA, projects

I’ve just got back from Guimarães, Portugal where I attended the kick off meeting for PASTEUR4OA (Open Access Policy Alignment Strategy for European Union Research). It was a great meeting, and a great opportunity to meet (and remeet) many people from across the EU interested in Open Acccess, including representatives of SPARC Europe, Jisc and the Open University. This multi-partner European project aims to help EU Member States develop and implement policies to ensure Open Access to all outputs from publicly funded research, helping to develop (or reinforce) open access strategies and policies at national level. Part of this work will involve mapping existing policies at national and institutional levels, and part of this will be directly engaging policy makers, and helping to develop national centres of expertise. The Open Knowledge Foundation will be involved in a number areas of work in this project, and we’ll be looking to strengthen the existing Open Access community at the Open Knowledge Foundation, and help increase engagement between our community and policy makers across the EU. We will also be pushing hard to ensure that when people talk about ‘open access’ as part of this project, they are using the term as defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative and in agreement with the Open Definition, considering the right to reuse and not just the right to view. The project is still in its really early stages right now, but we will be sure to provide updates as the project develops!

Building an archaeological project repository I: Open Science means Open Data

- February 27, 2014 in Guest post, research

This is a guest post by Anthony Beck, Honorary fellow, and Dave Harrison, Research fellow, at the University of Leeds School of Computing. In 2010 we authored a series of blog posts for the Open Knowledge Foundation subtitled ‘How open approaches can empower archaeologists’. These discussed the DART project, which is on the cusp of concluding. The DART project collected large amounts of data, and as part of the project, we created a purpose-built data repository to catalogue this and make it available, using CKAN, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s open-source data catalogue and repository. Here we revisit the need for Open Science in the light of the DART project. In a subsequent post we’ll look at why, with so many repositories of different kinds, we felt that to do Open Science successfully we needed to roll our own.

Open data can change science

Open inquiry is at the heart of the scientific enterprise. Publication of scientific theories – and of the experimental and observational data on which they are based – permits others to identify errors, to support, reject or refine theories and to reuse data for further understanding and knowledge. Science’s powerful capacity for self-correction comes from this openness to scrutiny and challenge. (The Royal Society, Science as an open enterprise, 2012)
The Royal Society’s report Science as an open enterprise identifies how 21st century communication technologies are changing the ways in which scientists conduct, and society engages with, science. The report recognises that ‘open’ enquiry is pivotal for the success of science, both in research and in society. This goes beyond open access to publications (Open Access), to include access to data and other research outputs (Open Data), and the process by which data is turned into knowledge (Open Science). The underlying rationale of Open Data is this: unfettered access to large amounts of ‘raw’ data enables patterns of re-use and knowledge creation that were previously impossible. The creation of a rich, openly accessible corpus of data introduces a range of data-mining and visualisation challenges, which require multi-disciplinary collaboration across domains (within and outside academia) if their potential is to be realised. An important step towards this is creating frameworks which allow data to be effectively accessed and re-used. The prize for succeeding is improved knowledge-led policy and practice that transforms communities, practitioners, science and society. The need for such frameworks will be most acute in disciplines with large amounts of data, a range of approaches to analysing the data, and broad cross-disciplinary links – so it was inevitable that they would prove important for our project, Detection of Archaeological residues using Remote sensing Techniques (DART).

DART: data-driven archaeology

DART aimed is to develop analytical methods to differentiate archaeological sediments from non-archaeological strata, on the basis of remotely detected phenomena (e.g. resistivity, apparent dielectric permittivity, crop growth, thermal properties etc). The data collected by DART is of relevance to a broad range of different communities. Open Science was adopted with two aims:
  • to maximise the research impact by placing the project data and the processing algorithms into the public sphere;
  • to build a community of researchers and other end-users around the data so that collaboration, and by extension research value, can be enhanced.
‘Contrast dynamics’, the type of data provided by DART, is critical for policy makers and curatorial managers to assess both the state and the rate of change in heritage landscapes, and helps to address European Landscape Convention (ELC) commitments. Making the best use of the data, however, depends on openly accessible dynamic monitoring, along the lines of that developed for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) satellite constellations under development by the European Space Agency. What is required is an accessible framework which allows all this data to be integrated, processed and modelled in a timely manner. It is critical that policy makers and curatorial managers are able to assess both the state and the rate of change in heritage landscapes. This need is wrapped up in national commitments to the European Landscape Convention (ELC). Making the best use of the data, however, depends on openly accessible dynamic monitoring, along similar lines to that proposed by the European Space Agency for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) satellite constellations. What is required is an accessible framework which allows all this data to be integrated, processed and modelled in a timely manner. The approaches developed in DART to improve the understanding and enhance the modelling of heritage contrast detection dynamics feeds directly into this long-term agenda.

Cross-disciplinary research and Open Science

Such approaches cannot be undertaken within a single domain of expertise. This vision can only be built by openly collaborating with other scientists and building on shared data, tools and techniques. Important developments will come from the GMES community, particularly from precision agriculture, soil science, and well documented data processing frameworks and services. At the same time, the information collected by projects like DART can be re-used easily by others. For example, DART data has been exploited by the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) for use in such applications as carbon sequestration in hedges, soil management, soil compaction and community mapping. Such openness also promotes collaboration: DART partners have been involved in a number of international grant proposals and have developed a longer term partnership with the RAU. Open Science advocates opening access to data, and other scientific objects, at a much earlier stage in the research life-cycle than traditional approaches. Open Scientists argue that research synergy and serendipity occur through openly collaborating with other researchers (more eyes/minds looking at the problem). Of great importance is the fact that the scientific process itself is transparent and can be peer reviewed: as a result of exposing data and the processes by which these data are transformed into information, other researchers can replicate and validate the techniques. As a consequence, we believe that collaboration is enhanced and the boundaries between public, professional and amateur are blurred.

Challenges ahead for Open Science

Whilst DART has not achieved all its aims, it has made significant progress and has identified some barriers in achieving such open approaches. Key to this is the articulation of issues surrounding data-access (accreditation), licensing and ethics. Who gets access to data, when, and under what conditions, is a serious ethical issue for the heritage sector. These are obviously issues that need co-ordination through organisations like Research Councils UK with cross-cutting input from domain groups. The Arts and Humanities community produce data and outputs with pervasive social and ethical impact, and it is clearly important that they have a voice in these debates.

Looking for Open Access speakers

- January 24, 2014 in Call to Action

I am creating a list of people who are willing to talk about Open Access at events – to academics, to students, and to non-academic members of the public. There are many conversations about Open Access to scholarly outputs taking place online on twitter, mailing lists and blogs, and while this it is really valuable, these conversations don’t reach all, or even many, academics. Rather than just talking to each other about Open Access, pro-open access advocates need to be taking these discussions offline and talking to academics and researchers who have never heard of Peter Suber, Cameron Neylon or SPARC. Over the next few months I’m going to be setting up a number of events around the UK to do just this, and I’m keen to find speakers who can talk at events taking place near to them. I also get a number of requests from people putting on Open Access events at their institution, so I’m hoping a list of speakers can also be a resource for them! While my focus at present is in the UK, I’m really keen for this list to include people from around the world. Discussions about Open Access are taking place in many different countries, and I’d love this to be a resource for the global community. Please take a minute to fill in this (very short) form if you want to get your name added to the list. It doesn’t commit you to anything at present! And if you are unhappy at the idea of filling in a Google form or have any questions please send me an email. I’ll be publishing this list soon, but if you want any suggestions for speakers before I’ve found time to post it online, please get in contact.  

Copyright and Open Access 2014

- January 15, 2014 in Featured, Open Access

This post is a guest post by Michelle Brook and Tom Olijhoek from the Open Knowledge Foundation Open Access Working Group. This week has been proclaimed Copyright week by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and today, Wednesday Jan 15, is Open Access Day 2014. It is almost exactly 1 year ago that Aaron Swartz ( died in the middle of his struggle for open knowledge and it would be a good thing to make this week and in particular Open Access Day, a recurring event in his honor. The open access movement has gained momentum in the past year and too much has happened to list every thing. Instead lets focus on a few key events and developments. In 2013 the White House has issued a directive stating that all publicly funded research should be made publicly available in repositories. The reaction of the scientific publishers has been to allow this, but under the condition that there is an embargo time of 6 months or 1 year. Many have thought that this would be a necessary transition measure, but recently they have been proven very wrong in this assumption because a powerful lobby of publishers is now even demanding for embargo times of up to 3 years! In our opinion any embargo time for making publications open access is the wrong thing to do: it is not in the interest of science, not in the interest of society, it seems designed only to protect the rights of the publishers in order to maintain their profits. Any paper, especially in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths disciplines, refers to work done at least 1-2 years previously. Combined with the inherent fast pace of science, any embargo period – especially prolonged embargo periods – will make sharing of the information less useful and less efficient by prolonging this time span further. Instead we should strive for Zero-embargo publication and push for SHORTER review and handling times, which can sometimes be as long as 6 months! We should remember Open Access is not only about having information freely available to view. People should also be able to reuse the information freely with no restrictions other than the requirement to attribute. Instead of traditional copyright rules and property rights open access publishers increasingly use a set of licenses developed by Creative Commons. These licenses provide a basic choice of rules for the usage of the work, in combination with the stringent demand for attribution of the work to the original author(s). In this way copyright remains (forever) with the author while allowing for unrestricted (or in other cases somewhat restricted) use of the information. The original copyright rules that evolved around 1700 (Statute of Anne) were developed to protect the right of the owner of a work for a limited time (2x 14 years) in exchange for having the work in the public domain after this time period. So in a sense these rules were aimed at allowing to share the information. Because information did not travel that fast in those days, this ‘embargo period’ was then considered enough. When through technical advancements information started to move more quickly the copyright period was gradually extended to 70 years and more (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). However, in the process the copyright ownership had shifted from individual copyright to corporate copyright owned by publishing businesses. The ultimate goal of the copyright laws no longer reflected the ultimate goal of sharing information after a short period of time, but instead have a new role of defending business interests for as long as possible. Today, thanks to the invention of the Internet, we see the making of a sharing economy. Many sharing communities exist already, but the community of sharing scientists is slow in coming. Although the internet was developed by scientists to exchange information the public has been much more quick in seeing and using the possibilities for sharing ideas, goods and information. Sharing of scientific information is still in its infancy, not in the least because of the ongoing efforts of traditional publishers to shield information for as long as this is profitable, but open science communities have started to form all over the world. This can be seen by the rapid growth of the Open Knowledge Foundation, with over 40 local open knowledge communities worldwide, many more than only two years ago. And it is also illustrated by the steady growth of older open access publishers like PLoS, BioMedCentral, as well as the very successful introductions of new journals like eLife and PeerJ. Political and scientific support is also growing. The next European research program Horizon2020 aims at 100 % open access for all publicly funded research. And a scientific society like the Max Planck society has just organized its tenth anniversary Berlin conference on open access in Berlin. However not only political and scientific support is important. We want to have citizens, students, entrepreneurs, and everyone else who needs (specific) information to push for global open access to all academic literature. And we need your help to do this.
  • You can contact the Open Knowledge Foundation by registering on the website
  • You can subscribe to any of the mailing lists of the OKF for instance the open access list and take part in discussions
  • You can share your stories on difficulties or success with accessing information on the website WhoNeedsAccess
  • You can download the OpenAccessButton and start registering where you hit paywalls when trying to access information
Tom Olijhoek and Michelle Brooks from the Open Access Working Group/ OKF

Open Access Week 2013!

- October 24, 2013 in Open Access

Happy Open Access Week! Open Access week is a global event, celebrating open access. Taking place in the last full week of October every year, there are many events taking place online and offline which bring together people who care about Open Access, and provide opportunity to spread the good word. There’s a lot going on this year!
  • There are a huge number of events taking place – so look out to see if there is one near you!
  • If there aren’t any events nearby, or you can’t get out, many of these events will be streamed. (A list of these can be found here
  • Follow the Twitter conversation on the hashtags #oaweek and #openaccess
  • The Guardian are hosting a live chat abut the future of Open Access research and publishing on Friday
  • The ASAP (Accelerating Science Award Programme) winners have been announced (Big congratulations to the winners!)
There are some great blog posts and articles emerging on Open Access. Let us know in the comments if I’ve missed any articles or news that you think we should be sharing! As many people probably know, the Open Knowledge Foundation cares deeply about open access to research outputs – as defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative and in alignment with the Open Knowledge Definition. From the Panton Principles and Panton Fellowships through to the Open Science and Open Access working groups, the community around the Open Knowledge Foundation is recognised as being highly involved in the push for greater openness around scholarship and research! We’re going to be doing much more to support our community in the advocacy of open access over the coming months. Please sign up to let us know how we can best support you, and what type of tools and resources will help you! Photo credit flickr user slubdresden

LinkedUp Open Education Veni Competition: The winners!

- September 17, 2013 in Featured, Linked Up, OKCon, open-education

The winners for the LinkedUp Veni Competition, organised by the LinkedUp Project were announced today at the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva. DSCF4381 The LinkedUp Project, a multi partner consortium funded by Framework Programme 7, want to push forward the exploitation of the vast amounts of public, open data available on the Web, in particular by educational institutions and organizations. Entrants to the Veni Competition, the first of three open and linked data competitions being run by the LinkedUp Project, were challenged to create prototype tools or demos that analyse or integrate open web data for educational purposes. Submissions were received from 12 different countries – including Greece, the United States, and Nepal. There was a huge breadth in submissions: from crucial areas such as mobile education, knowledge sharing and museum visits, to politics and sustainable development. And the winners are: Third Place: We-share (Prize – 1000 EUR) We-share is a social annotation application for educational ICT tools, which allows educators and teachers to search, create and and enrich descriptions of ICT tools. Find out more about the application here. Team: Adolfo Ruiz-Calleja, Guillermo Vega-Gorgojo, Juan I. Asensio-Pérez, Eduardo Gómez-Sánchez, Miguel L. Bote-Lorenzo, Carlos Alario-Hoyos (from the Universidad de Valladolid and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) Second Place: Globe-Town (Prize – 1000 EUR) Globe-Town explores open data for sustainable development education, allowing the user to explore the ‘intersections, tensions and trade-offs’ in sustainable development, including the environment, the economy and society. Team: Jack Townsend, Andrea Prieto-Vega, Richard Gomer, Will Fyson, Dom Hobson and Huw Fryer (from University of Southampton, and Independent from Southampton) AND THE WINNERS: Polimedia (Prize – 2000 EUR) Polimedia improves the analyses of radio & newspaper coverage of political debates, by connecting transcripts of the Dutch Parliament with media coverage in newspapers and radio bulletins. More information can be found here Team: Martijn Kleppe, Max Kemman, Henri Beunders, Laura Hollink, Damir Juric, Johan Oomen and Jaap Blom (Affiliations: Erasmus University Rotterdam, VU University Amsterdam, TU Delft, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and VU University Amsterdam and Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid). The evaluation committee was led by the LinkedUp advisory board, and the rest of the committee can be found on the LinkedUp Challenge website. In judging the entries, the committee considered many aspects of the entries including innovation, attractiveness and usefulness. They also looked at the relevance for education, the usability and performance of the tools, the data the entry uses or provides, and the way privacy and other legal aspects are dealt with. There was also a ‘Peoples Choice Award’, a more informal award given to the team who got the most votes on our Ideascale platform. The winner of this prize – winning a toy helicopter, was We-share. Congratulations everyone! Building upon the success of the Veni Competition, the LinkedUp Project will launch the Vidi Competition, in November. The Vidi Competition will involve more data, will be more challenging, will offer more support and more prizes. If you are at OKCon, come by the LinkedUp poster session or grab one of the LinkedUp team to ask more. If you haven’t been able to join us in Geneva, please express your interest to hear more by signing up here.