Category Archives: Announcement

Tiger

Predatory publishers: who CAN you trust?

Open Access iconOne of our responsibilities as OA advisors at Manchester is to keep track of so-called predatory publishers, and advise our researchers on publishers they should avoid.  It can be hard to separate wheat from chaff, so we rely, where possible, on others helping to do this. Until recently, we recommended Jeffrey Beall’s list, a well-known directory maintained in the US.  However, we have now removed the link, and will no longer advise our colleagues to use it.  Here’s why …

Some of the work we do extends beyond Manchester and is about sharing our experience.  We are currently lead institution on opeNWorks, a Jisc-funded Pathfinder project which aims to share best practice with colleagues from the North West region who have limited experience of providing OA support for researchers and to develop a community of good OA practice.  The purpose of the community is to ensure that trusted advice and resources are easily accessible to institutions that are unable to fund a full-time OA support post.

If the resources and systems we have created are seen as examples of good practice then we’d like them to be representative of our views on OA and it is clear our views are not aligned with Beall’s.

On the basis of what we’ve read – the Berger and Cirasella article recently posted on the LSE Impact Blog provides a good overview and entry points – and what Beall seems to have said in his recent presentation at the US STM conference, here are a few points on which we differ.

Publishing costs

Let’s start simply.  There is a cost to publishing scholarly works.  We know this and we’ve had frank conversations with publishing colleagues on this issue.  In the subscription model authors (who may also be editors) tend to be unaware of the costs, and librarians are aware only of the costs to their own institutions.  What’s ethical about this lack of transparency?  It’s practically the OED definition of predatory (“unfairly competitive or exploitative”).

We’ve taken the recommendation of the Finch Group to heart and have shared the costs of publishing with University of Manchester authors as a first attempt to remedying this problem, telling them that the University spent a total of ~£5million on journal subscriptions in 2013-14 and informing individual authors of the cost of article processing charges (APCs) – added to which there may also be page, colour or submission charges, let’s not forget – paid on their behalf.  Most of the charges we’ve paid have been to publishers of subscription journals offering a hybrid gold option, along with most of the UK universities in receipt of OA grants from RCUK and COAF.  With even more money flowing from university libraries to large commercial publishers there’s a new chapter in the Serials Crisis – an urgent need for offsetting schemes to address the issue of double-dipping.  This work has already begun and we’re feeding into these discussions.   However, the models we’ve seen so far are early experiments that need further refinement to be truly ethical.

Tailoring advocacy

The Open Access team at The University of Manchester Library
The Gold Open Access team at The University of Manchester Library

OA advocacy is at the heart of our interactions with researchers and we tailor our message to audiences at a disciplinary level and to individual authors as required.  This is necessary to win the hearts and minds of researchers for whom subscription publishing is the cultural norm, or to encourage a new generation of researchers to confidently challenge the advice of their senior colleagues, who frequently fall into that first category.  And while we might repeat core messages, the effectiveness of our advocacy depends on the nuance, which requires the thinking that Beall sees as unnecessary.  We tell researchers about the OA publishing model, explain why they need to know (and as funded researchers and/or employees of a UK HEI they do need to know) and why they should care. The most effective message to some authors might be pragmatic (“you might jeopardise your chances of securing funding with a particular funding body if you don’t publish OA”) but we always include positive messages about extending readership and the public good.  I often relate the experience of researchers in other parts of the world with severely limited access to academic journals, based on the inspiring presentation I heard Erin McKiernan deliver at the 2014 SPARC OA meeting.

We find our advocacy activities most successful when we engage researchers in discussion based on our experiences of providing OA support, and this is as important for us as it is for the researchers because it allows us to understand the barriers to OA.  Mostly this is down to complexity of publisher workflows – traditional publishers that is – and remembering to choose an OA option.  We hear these concerns often, much more so than the questionable publishers Beall focuses on, and we respond to these concerns by participating in RLUK-led initiatives to engage publishers in discussions on the simplification of OA procedures or, at a local level, by reminding authors to make new papers OA, and we know that traditional publishers are also helping with this culture change.  This doesn’t mean that we are enemies of traditional publishers, as Beall might suggest, rather that their systems and workflows aren’t as intuitive for authors as they might believe, and the scale of support we provide to authors addressing problems relating to these publishers makes this a priority for us.

Supporting innovation

Support for OA in Word but not in Deed
Bizarre accusation of hypocrisy

But that’s not to say that we are simply reactionary in our approach to OA.  We do react, of course, to new funder policies, new publisher workflows, but we are also hugely supportive of new developments in scholarly communications, eg, JiscMonitor, ORCID, Altmetrics, and we are always interested in the emergence of new publishing models.  We have responded to requests from Manchester researchers who wish to publish RCUK-funded papers with PeerJ by setting up an institutional membership plan.  We are working in partnership with our colleagues at Manchester University Press, developing the Manchester Open Library imprint.  The latest journal in development is student-led and will operate a form of peer-review that MUP CEO, Frances Pinter, considers worthy of patenting.  We are also supporters of Knowledge Unlatched and the Open Library of Humanities, and are encouraged to see traditional publishers experimenting with OA monographs as the sector seeks a sustainable business model.  OA has created opportunities for experimentation and innovation in publishing, driven by energetic and passionate individuals.  There are too many to name but Martin Eve certainly deserves a mention after bizarrely being charged with hypocrisy in Beall’s STM presentation last week.

We don’t disagree with Beall on everything, eg, we don’t dispute the existence of questionable OA journals and publishers.  As fund managers for the University’s OA grants from RCUK and COAF we take our duty of care to authors and funders seriously.  Requests for APC payments prompt an extra Quality Assurance check in the publication process at Manchester which allows us to alert School Research Directors of submissions to journals of questionable reputation.  Our website advice also provides a checklist for authors to consider as part of their publication strategy and we’ll now focus on this type of guidance until a community-driven alternative to Beall’s list emerges.

New data skills course for librarians

Want to improve your data skills and know more about statistics? The University of Manchester Library has teamed up with the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMIST) to offer a new course. ‘Statistics for Librarians’ will run on March 20 in Manchester..  Participants completing the course will be awarded a CMIST, University of Manchester, Data Skills certificate.

All the details (and facility to book) are at http://estore.manchester.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=416

Last booking date is this Friday 6 March.

 

Altmetric website screen

Altmetric for Institutions

Altmetric early adopter post
Implementing Altmetric at our institution: Manchester

Altmetrics offer new and powerful ways to track research impact and engagement beyond traditional methods like citation counts and impact factors.

Read about our experiences as an early adopter of the ‘Altmetric for Institutions’ application on the Altmetric blog.

And if you’re on campus then check out the application by visiting Altmetric Explorer.

Workshop report

First opeNWorks workshop report.

opeNWorks

The opeNWorks project held its first workshop in early December.  We called the session ‘Finding our way after Finch: lessons learned and where they lead’ as the early focus in our project had been on the experiences of the project partners in supporting Open Access (OA) since the launch of the RCUK OA policy.

opeNWorks_workshop#1

The opeNWorks project team draws together colleagues from a number of universities based in the North West with the aim of developing a regional community of good OA practice. The North West is home to various ‘categories’ of university and the workshop provided a forum for gathering concerns as well as understanding strengths from each type.

The majority of those attending the workshop were from North West institutions but a number of participants travelled from beyond the region, from the South coast, the Midlands and from across the Pennines. Everyone participated enthusiastically in the workshop activities…

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Open Access Week

Open Access Seminar

Open Access week banner

As part of Open Access week this lunchtime seminar provides an opportunity for academics and researcher support staff to learn about Open Access at Manchester, including new policies, funds and developments.

The seminar will include presentations by Professor Luke Georghiou, the University’s Vice-President for Research and Innovation, and Dr Frances Pinter, CEO of Manchester University Press.

All material used during presentations will be available after the seminar.

The programme is available online; registration is via Eventbrite.

Open Access 'One Way'

OAwe and wonder: a long year of open access

RCUK Report cover 2014Friday, 12 September marked the end of the first extended year of RCUK’s Open Access (OA) policy. There were some tense moments in the Research Services office as we put the finishing touches to our report before the high noon deadline. The data and compliance report we submitted includes details of the payments made from the block grant and full-text deposits in Manchester eScholar, our institutional repository. You can see the report and all supporting data in our institutional repository.

Prior to the launch of the RCUK policy we’d delivered campus-wide communications and we monitored publishing activity throughout the year. We’d had some very invigorating discussions with researchers about the pros and cons of OA and efficiencies in publication procedures and we monitored OA engagement throughout the year to see if they’d listened. We wondered which way authors would jump – Gold or Green? Would they choose different journals if their first choice wasn’t compliant with the policy? And how much more nudging would they need to change their established publishing behaviour? We continued our communication throughout the year, partly reminders of the policy and partly targeted messages to authors of non-OA RCUK-funded papers.

At final count we paid for 575 papers from the block grant and identified 59 Green OA papers. This total (634) represents 53% compliance. We estimate an overall compliance level of 65%, based on a sample of data from Web of Knowledge.

RCUK approved us spending part of the grant on an OA monograph and this was our highest charge – £6,500. Our highest Article Processing Charge (APC) was almost £4,200. Our average APC for Year One, not taking account of institutional discounts, works out at £1,510.

Looking to the year ahead

Open Access 'One Way'
Open Access: Green or Gold?

We wonder how strictly RCUK will define compliance after Year One? We know that 29% of Gold OA papers are not licensed as CC-BY and no Green OA papers are licensed as CC-BY-NC. We don’t know why this is because we don’t approve payments for journals that don’t offer CC-BY. In terms of Green compliance, we aren’t aware that publishers are offering CC-BY-NC as an option. The role of publishers in influencing licence choices and displaying licence information is something we hope RCUK will investigate more in Year Two – rather than penalising individuals whose papers aren’t correctly licenced this year. We’ve found that some publishers are willing and able to amend licences for RCUK-funded authors after publication on request but that others won’t.

We know that we haven’t changed culture entirely in Year One, but we’ve made some significant progress and have a solid foundation on which to build towards increased compliance with RCUK and HEFCE’s OA policies.

Northern Collaboration Conference 2014

Northern Collaboration Conference 2014

Stephen and I about to deliver our presentation.

Last week Stephen and I were very happy to be invited to talk at the Northern Collaboration Conference in Darlington about the development of our new Citation Services at the University of Manchester.

Northern Collaboration is a group of university libraries in the north of England with the aim of establishing closer collaboration in the development and delivery of library services, and this was the second year that the conference has been held.

There was plenty of interest in our breakout session as we talked about the work The University of Manchester Library does in providing citation benchmarking analyses, standard reporting, and training workshops. The session might not have been so well attended had there been prior warning about the test we gave them half way through the presentation. Thankfully everyone passed!

The event was a great opportunity to showcase the Library’s achievements but it was also really good to meet colleagues in other academic libraries and learn more about some of the innovative developments across the sector.

See the Northern Collaboration Conference 2014 Twitter backchannel for a flavour of the day.

World map with Shanghai Ranking

Academic Ranking of World Universities: the Shanghai Jiao Tong table

Where in the world?

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) has just published its latest annual Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). This is one of the most widely used global league tables for universities. The top university (for the twelfth year running) is Harvard. The US has 52 universities in the Top 100, and the next-best performing country is the UK, with eight. Cambridge is the top UK university this year – ranked 5th in the world.

Our own university, Manchester, has risen three places to 38th in the world, and ranks 5th in the UK. Like many other universities, Manchester is keen to rise even higher in the rankings, and the Library’s Citation Services team is providing expert bibliometric analysis to help inform discussion of how to achieve this.

Measure for measure

The many global league tables, such as the ARWU and those produced by Times Higher Education and QS, all use different metrics for ranking universities, ranging from the number of publications produced by a university to its reputation for research excellence among its peers as measured by a survey.

Most of the metrics which the ARWU uses are based on how many articles a university publishes in top journals or how many citations these articles receive. These include

  • how many articles a university publishes in science and social science journals covered by the Web of Science, the most long-established multidisciplinary bibliographic database
  • how many articles a university publishes in Nature and Science, generally considered the most prestigious of all multidisciplinary science journals
  • how many of a university’s academics are included in the list (based on Web of Science) of Highly Cited Researchers.

Open the box!

A frequent early criticism of the ARWU was that, although SJTU gave details of the elements used for creating the ranking, it did not explain how these elements were converted into scores, and so the results were not reproducible. However, recent research has succeeded in reproducing the results, and has thus ‘opened the black box’ of the ARWU.

Altmetric website screen

Library trialling new ‘Altmetric for Institutions’ application

Altmetric logo
Logo of Altmetric LLP

The Library is working in partnership with Altmetric LLP to trial their new ‘Altmetric for Institutions’ application. We’re really excited to be one of the first Universities to have access to the platform which provides powerful insights into the online attention that our researchers’ outputs attract.

So far we’re getting lots of positive feedback which we’ll share when we write up our experiences of the trial later in the year.

In the meantime, if you’re a member of staff or a student at The University of Manchester and would like to take part in the trial please get in touch to find out how.

Welcome

Welcome to the blog for Research Services at The University of Manchester Library. The services provided by us include:

Research Services team photo, July 2014
Most of the Research Services team, July 2014
  • Open Access at Manchester
  • Manchester eScholar (our Institutional Repository)
  • Business Data Service
  • Research Data Management
  • Citation Services
  • Scholarly Communications
  • Developing our Research Collections

These are areas that are changing fast, with new policy from funders and government driving that change, as well as changes in research itself. We aim to use this blog to give a flavour of our work and discuss issues of interest to people who work in research support, and researchers themselves, in Manchester and beyond. We will also show you the people behind those services. Continue reading Welcome