Tag Archives: Open Access week

Open Access Week 2018 musings: engaging authors, new staff and publishers

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When we’re planning for Open Access (OA) Week we reflect on where we’ve got to in our services, both in the delivery and the level of researcher engagement with OA.

It’s always rewarding for us to remember how well established our service now is and the important part we play in increasing access to the University’s research and, of course, funder compliance. This year we worked with colleagues in the University’s Global Development Institute to showcase their OA research, which aligns with the theme of OA Week 2018, and highlighted our top 5 most accessed theses.

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It’s also rewarding to be out and about on campus, talking to researchers about OA. This year librarians from our Academic Engagement team held OA pop-up events in various buildings, away from the Library, and a screening of Paywall: the Business of Scholarship in a lecture theatre.

Levels of engagement with OA at the University are high – while it’s undoubtedly true that this is related to funder policies , it’s also partly because our services are designed to make the process easy for authors. OA isn’t always easy for researchers to understand but our process is, and it prompts conversations with us about what to do, and the reasons why, all year round. Our webpages underpin our current processes but now – we’ve just launched new-look webpages – also look ahead, encouraging and supporting engagement with Open Research more broadly.

What I’ve been reminded of as we’ve been preparing for OA Week is that however well we’re doing at the moment, there are still challenges to tackle. And I’m not referring to Plan S.

Working in an Open Access service

OA teams have formed and grown over the past 5 years. Most of us learned on the job and we’re now training the new colleagues on the job. I’m part of a national group considering how best to prepare the next generation of people for work in this area. One way we’re doing this is by inviting staff already working in this area to share their experiences.

We often receive applications for our vacancies that suggest a lack of understanding about the nature of the roles so I’ve asked Lucy May and Olivia Rye from our team to talk about what it means to work in a role with a strong focus on Gold OA at a large research-intensive university.

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See Cambridge’s Unlocking Research blog for examples of other types of Scholarly Communication roles.

OA monographs and book chapters

A further challenge is OA monographs and book chapters. We really need greater clarity on publisher processes as they relate to OA for these output types. Over the past week we’ve been reviewing the status of 14 payments we arranged for our School of Arts, Languages and Cultures from our 2017-18 institutional OA fund (last payment made in early September), totalling just over £61,000. Of these, 6 outputs are not yet OA. Another output, a monograph, is not flagged as OA on the publisher’s page. This may be an oversight, but it’s telling of developments still needed – the publisher of this book told the author that they don’t have processes in place for this yet.

Of the 6 outputs, two were book chapters, from a commercial publisher that I assume has a process, because they have a webpage offering OA for chapters as an option, but although I’ve had an apology I’ve not yet had confirmation of when the chapters will be OA. One was an article from a US University Press – I had a fast response and apology but have been told it will take at at least a week for the article to be made OA.

The 3 remaining outputs are monographs. From the responses I’ve had I’m understanding that there’s a delay in converting a monograph to OA once a Book Processing Charge is made – what I’ve yet to learn is how long this is likely to be. We can’t have meaningful discussions with authors without this kind of information and the lack of publisher procedures affects confidence in engagement with OA.

So, this is now on my To Do list both here at Manchester and for the RLUK Open Access Publisher Processes group. By the time we’re planning OA Week activities next year, and reflecting on how far we’ve come, I’m determined we’ll have answers.

Opening up the conversation about Open Research

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Awareness of Open Access (OA) and Open Data have increased substantially over the last few years, with new mandates and funder policies increasing the levels of OA at The University of Manchester for 2016-17 to 75%. Whilst this is a huge improvement on historic levels of approximately 10% Green OA, the emphasis on compliance with funder requirements has meant that many of the underlying reasons for working openly can be forgotten, presenting a risk that OA starts to be seen as another box to tick.  For Open Research to become the norm across academia, major cultural change is required, and most researchers require strong incentives to make that change. In order to help counter the focus on compliance the Library is hosting an Open Research Forum at the Contact Theatre on Thursday 26 October, as part of Open Access Week 2017.

In Classical times the forum was a place where news was exchanged and ideas thrashed out, and it is that spirit of open debate which we are hoping to capture through the Open Research Forum. We have a great selection of researchers lined up from across the University who will be speaking about the issues, challenges and benefits of openness, and what it means to be an ‘open researcher’. In keeping with Open Access Week 2017, the theme for the event is ‘Open in order to…’, focusing on the practical outcomes of working openly.  Topics include preprints, OA as part of wider public engagement, and newly emerging data labs which actively re-use data created by other researchers.

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The Library as a Broker

Whilst the Library is coordinating the event it will be researcher-led and -focused with a series of slide-free, story-based talks from academics complemented with interactive activities and discussion. Our speakers represent a range of disciplines and we hope to capitalise on the Library being a ‘neutral’ space on campus to encourage exchange from across the Schools. Speakers and participants are encouraged to be honest about their experiences with, and ideas about the future of, open research. We hope that by bringing researchers together to focus on open research without reference to mandates or policies we can help facilitate a more inspiring and substantive discussion on the opportunities and consequences created by researching in an open manner.

Learning from each other

As service providers in a central cultural institution, it’s easy to get lost in the mechanics of how to make research open and in our enthusiasm for this new mode of scholarly communication, and lose sight of how these changes affect researchers’ day to day lives. Thus, as organisers we are hoping to learn lots from our speakers so we can make our services more relevant. The speakers are all actively ‘open researchers’ in different ways so we hope that other researchers can learn from their example and be inspired.

Book now:

Book your place at the Open Research Forum now to be part of the conversation: www.manchester.ac.uk/library/open-research-forum

Use your LOAF!

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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.

Open Access Week

Open Access Seminar

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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.