Tag Archives: COAF

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.

Use your LOAF!

Open Access week banner

To celebrate International Open Access Week, The University of Manchester Library’s Research Services, Academic Engagement and Marketing teams worked together to deliver a seminar on Open Access (OA) at Manchester. The main aim of the session was to engage with our institution’s researchers. Through a combination of presentations, Q&A sessions and networking opportunities, the seminar brought researchers up to date with what Manchester has achieved with OA; the policies of research funders; progress in OA over the last year; and insight into upcoming developments.

Increasing citations

The Vice-President for Research and Innovation Professor Luke Georghiou opened proceedings with his own take on Open Access. His research group has published three OA articles in the past year, which have achieved high levels of download; he is convinced this is due to ease of access, and is sure that OA will contribute to future levels of citation. Professor Georghiou thanked the Library for its excellent support.

Exceeding compliance targets

Open Access Seminar graph 2Helen Dobson reflected on the growth of the Library’s OA service, now playing a key role in the University’s OA support. Our work resulted in a 54% compliance rate for RCUK-funded research, an achievement high above the 45% target set by RCUK at the start of the year. Helen discussed the ‘pain points’ encountered by the team, including authors finding the process confusing, or being too busy to arrange OA. These insights help us develop our system and work with other institutions and publishers to streamline procedures. Despite these difficulties, our service has received great feedback and supported over 500 articles in becoming Open Access.

Making books as accessible as journals

Dr Frances Pinter, CEO of Manchester University Press, spoke of the need to find sustainable routes to OA for specialist scholarly books, and make them as accessible as science journals. The not-for-profit pilot Knowledge Unlatched has succeeded in proof of concept. With this model a library consortium paid for a package of e-books to be made fully open, and librarians participated in the selection of content. There has been a high level of downloads.

HEFCE, COAF and LOAF

Emma Thompson explained the new ‘game changing’ HEFCE policy. All potential REF outputs must be must be deposited in an institutional repository on acceptance, discoverable immediately, and free to read ASAP. We are encouraging researchers to deposit their Author’s Accepted Manuscripts (AAM) ahead of the compliance start date 1 April 2016, and the Library is working with colleagues in Computer Science to develop an easy interface.

Our team will also be administering the new Charities OA Fund (COAF) at Manchester. We have further demonstrated our commitment to innovation, OA and the University’s researchers by announcing the new Library Open Access Fund (LOAF). We want to support authors who do not have funding to cover Article Processing Charges, and have created a pool of funds to support the publication of OA papers. The LOAF pilot will be managed by the Library’s OA team and will be run on a first come, first served basis.

If you would like a slice of LOAF, please contact the OA team.