Category Archives: Open Research at Cambridge Conference

Open Research at Cambridge Conference – Opening session

The Open Research at Cambridge conference took place between 22–26 November 2021. In a series of talks, panel discussions and interactive Q&A sessions, researchers, publishers, and other stakeholders explored how Cambridge can make the most of the opportunities offered by open research. This blog is part of a series summarising each event. 

The opening session, chaired by Dr Jessica Gardner (University Librarian and Director of Library Services) included talks by Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research), Professor Steve Russell (Acting Head of Department of Genetics and Chair of Open Research Steering Committee), Mandy Hill (Managing Director of Academic Publishing at Cambridge University Press) and Dr Neal Spencer (Deputy Director for Collections and Research at the Fitzwilliam Museum). All four speakers foresee an increasingly open future, with benefits for both institutions and researchers. They also considered some of the challenges that still need to be worked through to avoid potential problems.

What is working well?

In recent years, we have made great progress in the proportion of publications that are open access. Over three quarters of publications with Cambridge authors last year were openly available in some form.

The trend is continuing and it is not unique to our institution. CUP have set an ambitious goal for the vast majority of research articles they publish to be open access by 2025.

Other forms of publication are becoming common, meeting different dissemination needs. Preprints have been the star of the show during the pandemic, allowing rapid dissemination while formal peer review follows down the line.

Diagram from Mandy Hill’s slide: ‘Increasingly open platforms and formal publishing will meet different dissemination needs’

In the scholarly communication arena, open access articles benefit from more downloads and citations. Museum-based projects involving artisans, schools and artists all found enthusiastic responses.

What can we look forward to?

Research culture is coming under the spotlight across the sector, and Cambridge has committed to an ambitious action plan to create a thriving environment to do research. Key principles include openness, collaboration, inclusivity, and fair recognition of all contributions.

Diagram from Prof Steve Russell: ‘Going Forward’

Implementing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) is part of this progress. We want to assess research on its own merits rather than on the basis of journal or publisher metrics. This also means recognising all research outputs and a broad range of impacts.

Reproducibility is increasingly recognised as critical in a number of disciplines. A developing UKRN group within the University aims to ‘take nobody’s word for it’ – but rather support reproducible workflows that underpin confidence in the conclusions of research. By sharing and rewarding best practice we can become world leaders in this area, and in open research more widely.

In the past, museum collections have tended to be documented in limited ways, with poor accessibility and interoperability, which made it hard to discover and use materials. Several exciting projects at the Fitzwilliam Museum and more broadly have started to change that. There are opportunities for a single discovery portal, tying together different collections. The Fitzwilliam Museum is also making its collection discovery process richer, by providing opportunities for deeper dives, and more connected, by linking with other collections and resources.

Deep zoom access to an image in the Fitzwilliam collection. Adapted from Dr Neal Spencer’s slide ‘Fitzwilliam Museum Collections Search’.

What problems should we be mindful of?

There are still barriers that hinder some open research aspirations. Historical constraints on the ways we find materials, conduct research, and publish results remain. Some systems may need to be reimagined, while not scrapping structures that are still serving us well.

Cambridge is a large and complex institution, where change takes time. Nevertheless, there is an established governance structures and an evolving set of policies that support open research.

Most importantly, researchers should be at the centre of the move towards open research. It is important that they benefit from open practices, rather than finding themselves torn between competing priorities. Conversations continued throughout the week to explore possible approaches in different disciplines, drawing from the rich diversity of experiences to shape the future of open research at Cambridge.

Why publishing Open Access should be your first choice: The OA advantage

The Open Research at Cambridge conference took place between 22–26 November 2021. In a series of talks, panel discussions and interactive Q&A sessions, researchers, publishers, and other stakeholders explored how Cambridge can make the most of the opportunities offered by open research. This blog is part of a series summarising each event. 

In our recent “Why OA should be your first choice” webinar hosted by the Cambridge University Library, attendees heard just how advantageous it is to opt for Gold OA when publishing their research. Backed by data pulled from recent analytics, our guest speakers illustrated the advantages and innovation taking place a Cambridge University Press, while also dispelling  OA myths. Despite the challenges that apply to authors (such as funder requirements, national mandates, or differentials of income), there is a clear advantage of publishing open access.

As an non-profit Academic Publisher, we support the dissemination of knowledge and we strive to make OA equitable and sustainable to researchers across different career stages, disciplines, and regions worldwide.

The recording of the session is available here:

OA Advantages for Journal Authors
Mounting evidence of and OA advantage – across all disciplines, substantial in scale, material in respect to impact, prolonged over time” – Daniel Pearce, Publishing Director, HSS Journals.

  • A broader spectrum of authors are able to go OA due to transformative agreements (also known as Read & Publish)
  • Across our disciplines OA articles receive 3 times more usage within their first year than subscription articles. Gold OA articles receive more citations within two year across HSS and STM in contrast to non-OA articles.
  • Increase Impact: 61% more mentions on social, 185% more likely to be referenced in new media or blogs, and 52% more likely to be referenced in a policy papers

OA Advantages for Books & Elements Authors

Flip It Open permits researchers to have the opportunity to get OA and makes research publicly accessible” – Andri Johnston, Digital & OA Projects Editor

  • Within the first 12 months usage is exponentially higher for OA books and OA Elements since each chapter can be used, shared, and cited
  • Sharing increases exponentially when all the chapters of a book are OA and OA books usage is  11-66 times higher (depending on the discipline).
  • Our Flip It Open program flips standard monograph as soon as they reach a specific sales threshold. Revenue for the title is generated thru institutional sales
  • Downloads for OA Elements gradually grow after 3 months, whereas downloads for non-OA Elements pan out after 4 weeks. Plus, OA Elements usage is 3 time higher than their non-OA counterparts.
  • OA helps alleviate disparities of foreign currency exchange, differentials of income, intellectual exclusions and makes publicly funded research accessible

OA Myths
“Removing barriers allow research findings to go far beyond siloed departments of research communities, with just internet connection.” – Andrew Sykes, Journals Marketing Director

  • “There’s no benefit to me”. OA content is freely available online with increased discoverability and higher citation and downloads for your work.
  • “OA means low quality”. Quality for CUP is paramount importance. All OA articles and book submissions to Cambridge go through the same peer review publication process as non-OA submissions. Predator publishing can be found through the Think Check Submit website to verify validity of journal
  • “OA is too expensive to me”. CUP has a number of publishing agreements with  institutions, which means you may be able to submit your work OA without paying a fee. Cambridge also partners with Research4Life which enables researchers from low- medium income countries to publish as open access.

Learn more here: Open Access at Cambridge University Press

The case for opening up collaboration: speed, recognition and impact

The Open Research at Cambridge conference took place between 22–26 November 2021. In a series of talks, panel discussions and interactive Q&A sessions, researchers, publishers, and other stakeholders explored how Cambridge can make the most of the opportunities offered by open research. This blog is part of a series summarising each event. 

Supporting collaboration in early research and research communications via open research tools has the potential to bring real benefits: from speeding up discovery in research by making more aspects of the production of research available to other researchers; to providing recognition for more component parts of the research process; to helping to disrupt and improve the article publishing model; to making interdisciplinary work less challenging and more impactful. But what are the barriers to doing this, and how can the research community overcome them in partnership with publishers and other stakeholders?

The session “The case for opening up collaboration: speed, recognition, and impact” started that conversation through a workshop in 3 parts. The recording of the session is available here:

The first section shared an update on 2 areas where Cambridge University Press is working to encourage collaboration. The first is Cambridge Open Engage, which offers rapid dissemination of early and open research outputs including working papers, preprints, research reports, conference posters and presentations. In response to COVID-19, Engage also began to offer a service for sharing event outputs, as more events became virtual. We saw that there were opportunities to bring benefits to conferences by hosting their outputs with solid scholarly communications infrastructure and speed – meaning that those who cannot attend the conference itself can access outputs and provide feedback to authors, authors can version their research after the event based on that feedback, and the research is citeable and able to accrue impact and metrics outside of the constraints of the conference itself.

Work is planned to boost Engage’s collaborative utility by adding new spaces called “Communities”. These will bring together broad communities of researchers working in interdisciplinary fields and will augment informal collaboration tools with a fit-for-purpose area where researchers can share their work, discuss their ideas and practices, and find collaborators.

We will be starting with a community for Climate Change & Sustainability, where we will draw together researchers from across disciplines from the humanities to atmospheric science, on a free-to-use platform that offers infrastructure for collaborative work of all kinds.

This area will include:

  • Curated & moderated discussion threads
  • Communities of practice-i.e. areas to share resources & learning on topics of importance to their professional competencies and/or research skills
  • Content alerts and invitations
  • Ability to invite commenters
  • Ability to find and follow contributors

The second example where we are supporting collaboration in research at Cambridge University Press was the innovative journal project Research Directions.  These journals will publish high quality, high-impact open access research with global reach in interdisciplinary subject areas, with the author responding to field-specific curated research questions or hypotheses.  

Unlike traditional journals, however, which are structured around a descriptive scope, authors publishing in Research Directions will be invited to publish research that takes incremental steps to answering a set of distinct research questions, intended to be definitive to a specific field. The resulting published outputs will be broken down into discrete parts- results, analysis, impact- each of which will be indexed, receive a DOI and be considered a published and citable research item. This approach, of breaking down research into its constituent parts, will allow greater collaboration at every stage of the research lifecycle. The published research outputs will be complemented by items on Engage (our preprint server) which would not usually be included in formal, peer-reviewed journal outputs. This might include items such as preprints, data sets, software descriptions, research posters and community briefs, giving visibility to the entire research journey as it progresses.

After these examples were shared, workshop attendees then spent some time identifying barriers to collaboration , logging the discussion in a Miro board. We focused on the following categories of scholarly collaboration, as defined by our Engage project team:

  • Network collaboration: the way that researchers discover and share new ideas, meet one another and become familiar with one another’s work.
  • Project collaboration: an example of this would be sharing documents across a large international research project where you have specific laboratory equipment in different places but need to share data with colleagues working on the same project.
  • Impact collaboration: in this category we think of activities that synthesize research and aim to communicate it more effectively, which is often an effort undertaken by groups of researchers coming from disparate projects. In some cases, it might also involve collaborators and audiences outside of research entirely: for example, the public, policymakers or practitioners in industry.

Research completed by Cambridge University Press has shown that many scholars use informal tools around collaboration. A lot of this growth in tool use was fairly organic, dependent on existing networks, resulting in frequent use of largely basic tools like email. The pressure to find a complement to the conference model has been building for years, partly because access to conference travel budgets vary widely depending on access to funds and/or where a researcher is based in the world. The pandemic has only made it more critical that we find new ways to provide feedback, build networks, and workshop research findings in advance of publication.