Peerage of Science

A couple of weeks ago BioMed Central wrote in one of their blogs that they are now accepting manuscripts which have gone through a peer review by Peerage of Science community. I think this is very interesting because this initiative makes the research world and peer review process more open and transparent compared to the traditional peer review process. This means also that journals do not have to put as much of their energy into finding reviewers which might lead to faster publishing process.

Peerage of Science was started about a year ago Peerage-of-Science1
by a couple of Finnish researcher. With this initiative the review process in itself becomes more important. You are able to build your research career and reputation by giving high quality reviews. You have the possibility to review rather than weed out all requests to review from journals. The idea with the service is simple: create a group of peers who all have signed up for making the review process more transparent.

As a researcher you may send a manuscript to Peerage of Science without being a member but you may become a member. There are two ways for this: either you already have a track record of published articles or your manuscript receives favorable reviews.

Read also BMC series blog on how Peerage of Science works.

Text: Pieta Eklund

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MOOCs, Open Access and Research Libraries.

The fact that more universities join the idea to offer free courses free of charge to students from all over the world, known as Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, creates issues concerning policys and legal matters for research libraries since they are often asked to support the development of MOOCs.

MOOCs is a form of scientific publishing because they are created by faculty in order to be used in education and research libraries should, just as they do with other types of scientific publishing, advocate that Open Access is standard for materials within a MOOC. Otherwise, the libraries end up in the same situation as with scholarly publications, they are forced to buy back the resources that were once created in their universities.

Libraries’ work to set Open Access as a default for publishing research also includes a thought concerning equal access to educational materials for students. Libraries often have two roles in this that in no way is new to them. First, to support faculty in their need for materials and resources that can be used in the courses. Second, to support the copyright issues surrounding “open” movements. This may require new or revised versions of licenses like creative commons or GNU. Materials used in MOOCs will need to be reviewed before this development includes courses at Swedish universities and other higher education. This is where libraries have the chance to put open access licenses on the material used and created within a MOOC right from the start.

Source: Massive Open Online Courses: Legal and policy issues for research libraries, Brandon Butler (2012).

Text: Lisa Carlson

How open is it and other resources

There is myriad of resources online which aim to help you navigate in the open access world and some of them are presented below.

How open is it  is a document created by SPARC, PLoS and OSAPA. The purpose of the document is to explain open access because all open access is not the same. There are a couple of different kind of restrictions and this document will help you to understand these restrictions and maybe even help you to choose where you want to publish. With this document the three organizations are also changing the focus of discussion from is it open access to how open is it. The brochure is new: it is released this week.

Author rights – Author addendum – is a ready-to-be used agreement to change the publishing agreement you sign with the publisher. This agreement’s purpose is for you to retain your copyright or at least to retain your right to deposit post-print version of your article in BADA. There is even a generator (Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine) where you just fill in the title of your manuscript, journal name, all author names, publisher and which kind of rights you want to retain. Thereafter a pdf is generated that you may attach to the publisher’s agreement. There are no known cases in which the publisher has declined to publish the article when the author has wanted to retain some rights to his/her article.

You can use Sherpa/Romeo to check which regulations apply for different publishers when it comes to copyright and your rights to self-archive research publications in an institutional repository such as BADA. They use colors to describe which version you may use in the repository. Green means that you can deposit pre-print (version before peer review), post-print (version after peer review) or publisher’s version (publisher’s layout). Blue means that you and deposit post-print or publisher’s version. Yellow means that you can only deposit pre-print and white means that the publisher does not formally support archiving in institutional repositories. Most of the publishers allow depositing post-print but to be sure make sure you use the author addendum to at least retain the right to self-archive your publication.

Your library also has a lot of knowledge about open access and can check publisher’s terms and help you to form an opinion of a publisher or a journal if you are suspicious of them being predatory. Contact your library when you need help and support with questions regarding publishing. Your library can help you with other things as well such as information seeking, how you use EndNote, Medeley or other reference tools and a lot of other things.

The guide to assess predatory publishers and journals can be found here.

University of Borås institutional repository is called BADA. You as a researcher should register you publications such as articles, conference papers and posters, reports and books. BADA is used for statistics on how active our researchers are to publish during a specific year. Student thesis can also be found in full text in BADA, most of the in Swedish. Data from BADA is used in Swepub (database for Swedish research) Uppsök och Uppsatser to search for all Swedish student theses.

Text: Pieta Eklund

Open access + Open Educational Resouces

Open access and open education resources (OER) are the core in making knowledge freely available.

OER is defined by UNESCO as “technology-enabled, open provision of educational resources for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes” (2002). These resources are made available online and their main users are teachers and schools but they may be used directly by the students.

OER basically aims to make educational resources freely available and is a logical continuation of open access movement. Open access concentrates its effort on researchers, publishers and journals, OER is working to make courses, course material, text books, videos, tests, software and other tools, material and techniques which are important in learning environments freely available

A lot of OER is licensed under CC-BY. This means that the material is free to distribute, remix, change and build your own work on. This means also that the resources may be commercially used as long as the original work is referred to.

OER as well as open access benefits students, teachers, self-studies and the society. One problem with OER is that there is some uncertainty when it comes to copyright between the teacher and school and also because producing OER might result to loss on income. Researchers who publish rarely receive any kind of economical compensation for either the articles or the work they do for publishers when reviewing other researchers’ articles. However, teachers who produce textbook will most often receive economical compensation. Neither is there any kind of infrastructure in place to help publish textbooks or other educational aids, nor are there political demands to publish textbooks open access. There are some big sites gathering these types of material and making them searchable. OER is also more changeable and complex than scientific publications.

Here are two good sites with extensive OER collections:

OER Africa – an initiative from South Africa which aims to drive the development and use of OER across all education sectors on the African continent.

KhanAcademy – provides free educational resources within different subject areas, such as Mathematics, Computer Science, Economics and Humanities.

Text: Pieta Eklund & Lisa Carlson

Predatory publishers – A guide

The guide to form an opinion about predatory open access journals and publishers was published a couple of weeks ago in Swedish and now it has been translated into English.

It is important always to check the journal you choose to publish in so that you do not choose a journal which is missing all the scientific criteria for accepting, reviewing and publishing scientific articles. New predatory journals are born every week and they have new ways to seem more serious and to get citations. These journals charge article processing charge (APC) to publish your article. The APC will not be as high as for Springer or other well-known publishers but they will not work with your article: it will not go through a review process; it will not be edited etc.

The latest way in trying to up the journals impact factor is to buy citations. Some publishers have started to send thank-you e-mails to those who have cited articles from their journals in other publishers’ journals. In these e-mails they say they will not charge you APC if you ever want to publish in one of their journal with the condition that you continue to cite their articles. The aim with this is to increase the number of citations so that the journal’s impact factor will increase. This kind of play with impact factor is unethical and something serious science should not be a part of. Read more of this and other topics on predatory publishers in Jeffery Beall’s blog.

You will find the guide below.
Open Acccess and predatory publishers – the guide

Text: Pieta Eklund

How do you make your research OA?

The Association of Swedish Higher Education and National Library of Sweden have signed the Berlin Declaration but as an individual it might not be something you want to do. In this blog post you will find some tips what you as a researcher, librarian, employee of the university or research funder can do to work to make research freely available. The tips come from the official page for Open Access Week 2012.

As a research you could send your article to an open access journal when a suitable journal exists within your area of research. Just make sure it is not a predatory journal and if you are suspicious contact your library for advice. You may also deposit pre-print of your publication in the institutional repository, BADA. You have even deposit the post-print if the publisher allows it. There is some confusion about the terms pre-print and post-print. Pre-print in this case refers to the version of your article which has not yet gone through peer review and post-print refers to the version which has gone through peer review and possible changes are med but the article is still missing the publishers layout and typeface. Close to 80% of all publishers allow you to upload post-print to your institutional repository. Just remember never to transfer copyright; the publisher does not need the copyright to publish your article or make money of it. If the publisher does not allow you to retain your copyright you should consider if this is a publisher you want to work with. If you still want to publish in one of their journals make sure you at least retain the right to deposit post-print in your institutional repository. A few more tips for researchers.

If your organization does not have an institutional repository you might want to start working for implementing one. If your organization does not have their own repository you might want to look in to the orphan repositories and recommend these to your researchers who want to make their research available for all. You might also want to help researcher to register and upload publications in the repository. You might even want to discuss the options researchers have to publish in an open access journal and the benefits of open access publishing (e.g. results will be used quicker, everyone has access to research, and there will be more citations). A few more tips for librarians.

Even research funders can support open access. A lot of research funder are already demanding open access publishing for all research funded by them (among others National Health Institution, Wellcome Trust, Swedish Research Council, World Bank). Of course there can be exceptions to the rule if research is classified top secret or if there is a patent application pending or that research results are expected to generate income. Research funders might offer to pay for the article processing charge, sponsor open access journals or help these journals cover costs for researchers from countries and institutions with poor economic situation. A few more tips for research funders.

Universities and administrators can also work for open access. They can do this by implementing a policy which supports open access publishing. University of Borås policy can be found here. It could be made clearer when it comes to open access publishing and that researchers should always aim not to transfer their copyright. A few more tips for university and administrators.

In other words there is a lot an individual, in some cases in co-operation with other, can do to promote open access.

Text: Pieta Eklund

Set default to Open Access

Set default to Open Access is this year’s theme for Open Access week. The idea is that Open Access should be the first choice when publishing research. Goal of Open Access week is to raise researchers’ awareness of Open Access as an alternative way to publish instead of the traditional “closed access” way of publishing and distributing research results. The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities was created and signed by many universities and libraries almost ten years ago. The declaration defines open access and states that the research process is only half finished if the results are not spread throughout the society so that the public can easily get access to the results. The declaration basically supports Open Access publishing.

During 2012 Open Access movement has reached several milestones. In April the World Bann announce that they will implement Open Access policy which in the long term means that all research funded by the World Bank will be made available with no cost to the reader. In July some British politicians suggested that the British government should make sure that all research funded by public funds should be made available online with no cost to the reader. During the same month even some American politicians recommended that all research funded by NIH (National Institute of Health) should be freely available no later than six months after publishing.

The Finch report which was published last summer stated that Open Access will be the way for the scholars to publish in the future. Finch report recommends the gold way (publishing in Open Access journals) instead of the green way (depositing publication in an institutional archive). The transition to Open Access journal will not happen immediately and it will not be without costs. At the moment the British universities pay about £200m a year for access to scientific journals. According to the Finch report it will cost about £60m a year to have all British publicly funded research freely available. Now the British government is planning to make all research available by 2014 though there will be no special funds for this reform. It is planned that a part of the existing research funds will be used to fund this change. It is an admirable goal the British goverment is working towards but there are those who criticize the chosen road to Open Access. Stevan Harnad, one of the most influential people within the movement, is of the opinion that the gold road to Open Access is not the best or most effective way to reach the goal, especially when there will be no additional funds. He advocates the green road.

One other great success for Open Access is that the EU Commission has said that all research funded by Horizon 2020, EUs new framework for research with €80 billion to allocate, has to be made open access six to twelve months after publishing. Just a couple a weeks ago the news that the whole area of particle physics will be transitioning to open access was published.

In Sweden the government has published its proposition for research politics for 2013-2016 (Forskning och innovation Prop, 2012/13:30) and in it they have commissioned The Swedish Research Council to develop forms and guidelines for open access, for both research results and research data.

Text: Pieta Eklund