Tag Archives: open access

Open access: where next? – event round-up

Dr. Samuel Moore, Scholarly Communication Specialist, Cambridge University Libraries

On Friday 18th November, participants from across Cambridge and beyond gathered for a hybrid meeting on the future of open access publishing. Hosted by Homerton College, ‘Open Access: Where Next?’ explored issues relating to article-processing charges, research assessment and innovation in scientific publishing. 65 in-person attendees and 78 online attendees participated in the day-long event consisting of four panels and a keynote from Professor Gina Neff of the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy.

Prof. Neff kicked off the event with a timely and insightful talk titled ‘Further than the academy: the stakes for open research’. Covering themes such as misinformation, preservation and widening participation in knowledge, Prof. Neff explored the importance of democratic and responsible approaches to our digital present and future, looking especially to libraries as key to supporting these issues.

The first panel of the day, ‘Further than privileged universities’, was introduced by Dr. Matthias Ammon and featured Dr. Juliet Vickery, Chief Executive of the British Trust for Ornithology, Dr. Tabitha Mwangi, Cambridge-Africa Programme Manager, and Dr. Stuart Pracy, Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Exeter. Each panellist spoke on the challenges of open access that arise from either being outside privileged university spaces or without secure employment within them. Despite representing quite different communities, there were a number of commonalities between the experiences of each speaker, most notably the fact that moving from paying to access scholarly material to paying to publish it added a new exclusionary dimension to their ability to communicate research.

In the second panel, we heard from three speakers who are working against the move toward paying to publish. ‘Further than APCs and BPCs’ featured speakers working on publishing projects that do not require authors to pay processing charges to publish their work – so-called Diamond open access. Cambridge librarians Dr Meg Westbury (Academic Services Librarian, Human and Social Sciences) and Dr Yvonne Nobis (Head of Physical Sciences libraries) described their respective publishing projects, The Journal of Information Literacy and Discrete Analysis. The audience learned about both the challenges around running a journal on a shoestring, but also the advantages of a DIY approach to publishing without recourse to expensive publishing networks. In addition, Dr. Joe Deville of Lancaster University explained the work of the soon-to-launch Open Book Collective to collaboratively fund the publication of open access books in the humanities and social sciences.

After lunch, Niamh Tumelty chaired a roundtable with Cambridge researchers on research assessment and its relationship with publishing. Prof. Steve Russell, Head of Department of Genetics, described his work as Chair of DORA (the Declaration on Research Assessment) alongside the work needed for the university to fulfil its commitment to ensuring researchers are no longer judged by the venues in which they publish. Following this, Liz Simmonds – the University’s Head of Research Culture – described the pros and cons of alternative approaches to assessment such as narrative CVs. Finally, Prof. Emma Gilby of the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics explained the view from the humanities, particularly how declarations such as DORA are designed and implemented with the sciences in mind.

The final panel of the day was on innovations in scholarly publishing. Chaired by Dr. Samuel Moore, three panellists described their publishing approaches to moving beyond the traditional journal article. Dr. Mónica Moniz of Cambridge University Press & Assessment presented Research Directions – the press’ approach to publishing the research lifecycle across a variety of disciplinary questions. Following this, F1000’s Head of Data and Software Publishing, Dr. Beck Grant, described the publisher’s approach to automated data publishing in partnership with the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Finally, Dr. Damian Pattinson discussed eLife’s new approach to removing accept/reject decisions from its publishing process – and an invigorating discussion ensued!

At the end of the day, Niamh Tumelty summarised the event and reminded participants to fill out the postcards they were given at the start of the day to document what actions they will take in response to the issues covered in the conference. We will be posting these postcards to participants in January as a reminder of what you planned to do (with vouchers to three lucky recipients). Special thanks to all participants, attendees and organisers, but especially to Bea Gini for all her help with this, her last, event as part of the Office of Scholarly Communication. Thanks also to Clare Trowell for designing our postcards.

Springer negotiations: what’s our plan B? 

The negotiations 

The UK universities sector is negotiating a read & publish deal with publisher Springer Nature. Reaching a transitional agreement is particularly important to make it easier for our authors to publish their work open access, as well as continuing to read all of Springer Nature’s content. The deal needs to be affordable for our sector, which is already under financial strain.  

The Jisc negotiating team and the University of Cambridge are committed to finding a deal that works well for us, that is our plan A. But we are aware that some previous negotiations between universities and publishers could not find enough mutual ground (for example UCLA and German universities). If a contract can’t be signed, what would that mean for our researchers? 

What would we keep access to? 

Our current deal with Springer Nature includes perpetual access to some of their catalogue. We would retain access to 69% of content we currently subscribe to, even if we have to walk away from negotiations without a deal. When clicking on these articles, you will be given automatic access if you are connected to a Cambridge network or VPN, or you would be able to gain access from elsewhere with your Raven credentials.  

Of course, we would only retain access to historic materials, not new publications. This means that the percentage of articles we have access to will slowly decline over time. The areas most impacted by the loss of access would be Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Clinical Medicine. But we have other plans to help people get access to the articles they require. 

How would we access other articles? 

If the University does not subscribe to an article you need to access, you would still be able to get hold of it, but the process is a little longer. The best thing to do is to install the Lean Library plugin on your device. Lean Library will look for open access content and allow you to access anything to which we retain post-cancellation access.  

If you can’t get access through Lean Library, Cambridge University Libraries will help you get the article through an inter-library loan or other routes. The exact process will depend on ongoing work, so look out for further communications about the details.  

How would we publish in Springer Nature journals?  

Open access publishing is a great way to ensure that everyone in the world can read and apply your work for free. Many funders now require open access as a condition for their funding. As an additional complication, funders including the UK research councils will not pay for open access in hybrid journals, which charge for both subscriptions and open access (what we sometimes call ‘double-dipping’), unless there are transitional read & publish deals in place, or the journal is a transformative journal.  

A read & publish deal would mean that the cost of open access publishing is covered by the libraries upstream, and researchers can publish at no additional cost. However, if a deal cannot be reached, many Springer Nature journals would remain hybrid journals. This means that many researchers would be required to publish open access, but have no access to central funds for this.  

The solution is the Rights Retention strategy. By signing a pilot agreement with the University and including a rights retention statement in their manuscript, authors will retain their rights to make the manuscript openly available immediately on our repository, Apollo. This way, they will fulfil their funder requirement without having to pay a penny.  

It should also be noted that some journals, such as Nature, have put into place specific provisions for researchers whose funders mandate open access.  

How will we find out more? 

The current contract runs until the end of December 2022 and we are assured of a grace period stretching to February 2023, during which access will continue if negotiations are ongoing.  

We will continue to update our website as more information becomes available. An announcement will be made by email across the University once the outcome of the negotiations is known. Please email info@osc.cam.ac.uk or speak to your librarian if you have any questions.  

Rights retention: publisher responses to the University’s pilot

The University’s one-year rights retention pilot has been running for six months now, during which time many papers containing the rights retention declaration have been submitted by Cambridge authors. As expected, the Office of Scholarly Communication is receiving more queries about rights retention from Cambridge academics, many of which relate to how publishers are responding to submissions containing the rights retention declaration. This post covers some of these queries to offer a picture of how rights retention is being received.   

It is worth reminding ourselves what the rights retention pilot entails. All researchers at Cambridge can sign up to participate in the pilot here. In doing so, the researcher enters into a non-exclusive agreement with the university to make all their papers immediately open access under a Creative Commons attribution (CC BY) licence. When a researcher submits an article to a publisher, they include the following statement in the acknowledgements or funding section of the article file: 

For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission’ 

Upon editorial acceptance, the researcher uploads a copy of the accepted manuscript to Symplectic Elements. The Open Access team will deposit the manuscript into Apollo and will release it publicly at the appropriate time. 

Publisher responses 

One of the primary fears researchers have regarding rights retention is that a publisher may editorially reject their article at the point of submission. While we are still dealing in small numbers of submissions and queries associated with the pilot, we have heard from at least two researchers that have been rejected from the journal at the point of submission due to rights retention language in their manuscript. In these cases, journals from the Seismological Society of America and the American Society of Hematology informed the respective authors that rights retention is not permitted because copyright transfer and an embargo period is required for publication in their journals. As a consequence, the authors in each case decided to submit to an alternative journal so that they could comply with their funder requirements. We are also aware of authors who received different answers from the American Society of Hematology, including to pay a fee or to accept rights retention. We hope rights retention will be approved in due course by the publisher as an acceptable route for all authors. 

A second group of publishers have asked for the rights retention language to be removed either because they deemed it not necessary to comply with or because another compliant route was available to the authors. For example, a journal published by Springer Nature asked for the rights retention language to be removed because it was not required for compliance purposes (because the article was submitted prior to the relevant policy coming into effect). Journals published by Elsevier, the American Chemical Society and Optica all asked for the rights retention language to be removed because of pre-existing publishing agreements that allow Cambridge researchers to publish open access free of charge. In these instances, authors were willing to remove the language from the final published version and so it was not clear what would have happened if they had not done so. We have received advice that removing this wording does not negate the fact that the publisher has been informed of the prior licence and so rights retention is still permissible here. We are recommending that researchers include the rights retention declaration where possible even when publishers ask for it to be removed.  

Despite the queries reported here, we have also seen a notable uptick in the number of submissions in the repository containing rights retention language, including within journals published by Elsevier, Wiley, Sage, Springer Nature, the Royal Society of Chemistry, Company of Biologists and JMIR Publications (to name a few). One journal published by the American Psychological Association was willing to accept immediate CC BY for UKRI-funded authors, although this was still subject to a copyright transfer agreement. In the case of Springer Nature, acceptance of the rights retention language also entailed payment of colour charges – something the authors had not anticipated and which we detailed further in this Twitter thread. We urge publishers to be as clear as possible about whether they accept rights retention and upon what conditions.  

I am sharing this data because it offers a snapshot of some of the responses we have seen from publishers so far. While we encourage our researchers to report any publisher pushback, we cannot be sure of all publisher responses, simply because researchers are under no obligation to report them. It is interesting, though, that some publishers are asking researchers to remove the rights retention declaration when there is a publishing agreement in place. We can hypothesise that this is because publishers want to prevent as many articles as possible from using this language because it would set a precedent for other researchers without access to such agreements to use rights retention too. Given this, the Office of Scholarly Communication is continuing to advise that the declaration is included in all manuscripts where possible, although this will be down to how persistent an author wants to be in requesting the language be retained.