Open Access

This week you might hear a lot about Open Access. It is Open Access Week all over the world.

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What is Open Access anyway?

According to Wikipedia it “-refers to online research outputs that are free of all restrictions on access (e.g. access tolls) and free on many restrictions on use (e.g certain copyright and license restrictions).” Open Access can be applied to all forms of published research output, including both peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed research articles, theses, and even books and conference papers.

Open Access means that the author gives everyone the right to read, download, copy and distribute the work in digital form. It has been shown that your work will spread faster and will be cited more often when you publish with Open Access.

The main methods of Open Access are:

  • Green Open Access (Also known as Parallel publishing) means that the researcher, as soon as the publisher allows, can make the article freely available in full text on the Internet.
  • Gold Open Access means that the researcher publishes with an Open Access publisher. The article or the thesis is immediately- open and available on the Internet. Sometimes the publisher charges a fee.
  • Hybrid Open Access means that the article will be freely available immediately upon publication. This against a fee that the author needs to pay to the publisher.

Open Access is often shortened as OA.

Text: Tandis Talay

Free access to research information in a public health emergency

In September 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO) set global norms for sharing research data and results when there’s a public health emargency arising, now the norms are being used for the first time.

share-informationIt was after the Ebola outbreak in several countries in West African as it became clear that the current methods of data sharing had major flaws. In order to enhance the data sharing, WHO decided to develop global guidelines that could be used when a major public health threat occurred in the future. The guidelines states that research data and research results should be made public as quickly as possible in order to facilitate further research in the subject. In its guidelines WHO writes, among other things:

Every researcher that engages in generation of information related to a public health emergency or acute public health event with the potential to progress to an emergency has the fundamental moral obligation to share preliminary results once they are adequately quality controlled for release. The onus is on the researcher, and the funder supporting the work, to disseminate information through pre-publication mechanisms, unless publication can occur immediately using post-publication peer review processes.

WHO is also very clear that they want to see a paradigm shift in the approach to sharing information in connection with emergencies. They want to leave the current approach, in which the magazine’s publishing timelines control when the information can be disseminated. Instead, the WHO wants the information to be disseminated openly through what they call “modern fit-for-purpose pre-publication platforms”. They explicitly call researchers, journals and funders to commit to the paradigm shift – to make it happen.

With the Zika virus spreading in South zikaAmerica WHO guidelines came into force for the first time earlier this month. On February 1, WHO declared that there was a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This led to that the guidelines came into force, and the WHO has opened Zika Open, a portal where research data and research results of the Zika virus are made available to the public. Several major journal publishers have created portals to make research on the Zika virus published in their journals available openly.

Hopefully, sharing research results and data will lead to more knowledge about the Zika virus, and maybe even a way to treat it. Couldn’t we think of this as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”?

Text: Katharina Nordling
Picture: Colourbox

What is the cost of reading a journal at the library?

Nothing of course. Our other blog, Researchrelated writes about the subject during Open Access week : “It is know that the journal costs libraries have are high but there has not been too much information or data of the exact costs. There are a couple of reasons for this, among others that it has not been customary to publish this information and that libraries often have non-disclosure agreements with the publishers, which limits the library’s possibilities to make the costs known to public.

Learn more about Open Access.

Open Access-vecka

Text: Lisa Carlson/Pieta Eklund

Open access week 2014

The annual open access week will be noticed in our blog. We will be publishing a post about topics related to open access. Before that you could take a look at our previous post on open access.

Open Access promotes free access to science. It is wrong that taxpayers through universities and colleges have to pay for research several times through:

1. financial support for research at the university and colleges where research is produced

2. researcher reviewing other researchers’ articles (in peer-reviewed journals) are not paid by publishers, they are paid by the university since it is done during workhours when employed by a university

3. university libraries then buy published research from the publishers in the form of journals and databases for access to the results

In our other blog Forskningsrelaterat (Research related) we write about  open access. Previous blog posts can be read here.We write a series of blog posts during this week, five to be exact on varying topics. These blog posts can be followed here.

Here is a film that simply explains Open Access for those who are not familiar with the concept:

We also take the opportunity to tip about the documentary Internet’s own boy that’s freely available on Youtube. It is about Aaron Swartz who was one of the earliest protesting against these norms and wrote the nowadays known Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. The film is freely available to see under a CC-licens, this feels right given that Aaron Swartz was one of the people behind creative commons.

Text: Pieta Eklund and Lisa Carlson

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

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

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