The Open Access team are getting ready for the end of Charity Open Access Fund (COAF), which is due to dissolve on 30th September 2020.
From 1st October 2020 onward, there are going to be changes to the block grants that we receive, and as a result, there will be a change in our policies on whether or not we can cover researchers’ article processing charges (APCs).
We have outlined how researchers should go about securing funding for the APC’s below:
Are article processing charges covered by a block grant?
1. Policy covers original research articles, 2. Policy applies to papers submitted for publication after 1/1/2021, 3. Papers must be made immediately open access (no embargo allowed) in Europe PMC, 4. Papers must be published with a CC BY licence, 5. Papers must be published in a journal that is indexed in DOAJ (Wellcome will no longer cover APCs for subscription journals) 6. The authors must retain their copyright.
1. Policy covers original research articles, 2. Policy applies to all papers after 1/1/2021, 3. Papers must be made immediately open access (no embargo allowed) in Europe PMC, 4. Papers must be published with a CC BY licence.
Multiple funders acknowledged
Any papers acknowledging Wellcome Trust or Cancer Research UK must be compliant in order to access funds.
From 1 October 2020, authors should continue to submit their papers to the Open Access Team as usual via our website. The Open Access Team will continue to advise on the best course of action to meet funder requirements, but we may not always be able to pay APCs.
The funders’ policies remain the same until 1st January 2021. We advise authors covered by Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK to familiarise themselves with the changes to their funder’s open access policies, which are outlined in COAF’s table.
Itamar Shatz has written a guest blog post for the Office of Scholarly Communication about how public trust in the scientific community increases when researchers make their data openly available to all. He also emphasizes that science communicators (e.g. press offices, journalists, publishers) have a responsibility to point attention directly at the primary source of the data. Itamar is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. He is also a member of the Cambridge Data Champion programme, having joined at the start of this year. He writes about science and philosophy that have practical applications at Effectiviology.com.
It’s no secret that the public’s view of the
scientific community is far from ideal.
For example, a global survey published by the Wellcome Trust in 2019 showed that, on average, only 18% of people indicate that they have a high level of trust in scientists. Furthermore, the survey showed that there are stark differences between people living in different areas of the world; for instance, this rate was more than twice as high in Northern Europe (33%) and Central Asia (32%) than in Eastern Europe (15%), South America (13%), and Central Africa (12%).
Things do appear to be improving, to some degree, especially in light of the recent pandemic. For example, a recent survey in the UK, conducted by the Open Knowledge Foundation, has found that, following the COVID-19 pandemic, 64% of people are now “more likely to listen expert advice from qualified scientists and researchers”. Similar increases in public confidence have been found in other countries, such as Germany and the USA. However, despite these recent increases, there is still much room for improvement.
Open data can help increase the public’s confidence in
The public’s lack of confidence in
scientists is a complex, multifaceted issue, that is unlikely to be resolved by
a single, neat solution. Nevertheless, one thing that can help alleviate this
issue to some degree is open data, which is the practice of making data
from scientific studies publicly accessible.
Research on the topic shows just how powerful this tool can be. For example, the recent survey by the Open Knowledge Foundation, conducted in the UK in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, found that 97% of those polled believed that it’s important for COVID-19 data to be openly available for people to check, and 67% believed that all COVID-19 related research and data should be openly available for anyone to use freely. Similarly, a 2019 US survey conducted before the pandemic found that 57% of Americans say that they trust the outcomes of scientific studies more if the data from the studies is openly available to the public.
Overall, such surveys strongly suggest that
open data can help increase the public’s trust in scientists. However, it’s not
enough for studies to just have open data for it to increase the
public’s trust; if people don’t know about the open data, or if don’t fully understand
what it means, then open data is unlikely to be as beneficial as it could be.
As such, in the following section we will see some guidelines on how to properly
incorporate open data into science communication, in order to utilize this tool
as effectively as possible.
How to incorporate open data into science communication
To properly incorporate open data into science
communication, there are several key things that people who engage in science
communication—such as journalists and scientists—should generally do:
Say that the study has open data. That
is, you should explicitly mention that the researchers have made the data from
their research openly available. Do not assume that people will go to
the original study and then learn there about the data being open.
Explain what open data is. That is, you should briefly explain what it means for the data to
be openly available, and potentially also mention the benefits of making the
data available, for example in terms of making research more transparent, and
in terms of helping other researchers reproduce the results.
Describe what sort of data
has been made openly available. For example, you
can include descriptions of the type of data involved (surveys, clinical
reports, brain scans, etc.), together with some concrete examples that help the
audience understand the data.
Explain where the data can
be found. For example, this can be in the article’s
“supplementary information” section, though data should preferably be available
in a repository where the dataset has its own persistent identifier, such as a
DOI. This ensures that the audience can find and access the data, which may
otherwise be hidden behind a paywall, and offers other benefits, such as
allowing researchers to directly access and cite the dataset, without navigating
through the article.
These practices can help people better
understand the concept of open data, particularly as it pertains to the study
in question, and can help increase their trust in the openness of the data,
especially if it is placed somewhere that they can access themselves.
For one example of how open data might be
communicated effectively in a press release, consider the following:
“The researchers have made all the data from this study openly available; this means that all the results from their experiments can be freely accessed by anyone through a repository available at: https://www.doi.org/10.xxxxx/xxxxxxx. This can help other scientists verify and reproduce their results, and will aid future research on the topic.”
Open data in different types of scientific communications
It’s important to note that there’s no
single right way to incorporate open data into scientific communications. This
can be attributed to various factors, such as:
Differences between fields
(e.g. biology, economics, or psychology)
Differences between types
of studies (e.g. computational or experimental)
Differences between media
(e.g. press release or social media post).
Nevertheless, the guidelines outlined
earlier can be beneficial as initial considerations to take into account when
deciding how to incorporate open data into science communication. It is up to
communicators to make the final modifications, in order to use open data as
effectively as possible in their particular situation.
Summarizing what we’ve learned
Though the public’s trust in science is currently growing, there is much room for improvement. One powerful tool that can aid the academic community is open data—the practice of making data from research studies openly available. However, to benefit as much as possible from the presence of open data, it’s not sufficient for a study to merely make its data open. Rather, the accessibility of the data needs to be promoted and explained in scientific communication, and the dataset needs to be cited appropriately (see the Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles for guidelines regarding this latter point).
What is currently being done
It is important to note that much work is already being done to promote the concept of open data. For example, organizations such as the Research Data Alliance promote discussion of the topic and publish relevant material, as in the case of their recent guidelines and recommendations regarding COVID-19 data.
Promoting the use of open data in scientific
communication is something that different stakeholders can do in different
For example, those engaging in science
communication—such as journalists and universities’ communication offices—can
mention and explain open data when covering studies. Similarly, scientists can
ask relevant communicators to cite their open data, and can also mention this
information themselves when they engage in science communication directly. In
addition, consumers of scientific communication and other relevant stakeholders—such
as the general public, politicians, regulators, and funding bodies—can ask,
whenever they hear about new research findings, whether the data was made
openly available, and if not, then why.
Overall, such actions will lead to increased and more effective use of open data over time, which will help increase the trust people have in scientists. Furthermore, this will help promote the adoption of open data practices in the scientific community, by making more scientists aware of the concept, and by increasing their incentives for engaging in it.
Lorraine and Olivia started working as Scholarly Communication Support in the Open Access team at the Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) in the University Library this summer. In this interview, they share their experience of starting a new role in the field of open access, from the perspective of their respective backgrounds in academia and publishing.
What does working in Scholarly Communication Support entail and what are your responsibilities in this role?
For the first few months joining the Open Access team we both started looking at “Fast Track deposits”, the simplest route of depositing author’s manuscripts into Apollo, the University of Cambridge institutional repository. This system allows the team to process items more quickly than the manual Apollo deposit. Since its launch in September 2018, it has considerably helped to reduce the workload as manuscript submission for archiving in Apollo continues to increase in view of the upcoming REF2021. On a daily basis, we also deal with queries from tickets created on the Open Access Helpdesk, contacting authors and publishers when further information is required and manually depositing manuscripts on Apollo while also updating their records on Symplectic Elements, the University’s research information management system.
Olivia and I are now being trained to respond to researchers’ funding queries and to process invoices for journals’ open access fees from the RCUK and COAF block grants. In order to do this we have had to learn more in depth about open access requirements and Research Councils’ funder requirements.
More recently, we have been working with Units of Assessment to support them with the open access component for REF (Research Excellence Framework) compliance, attending training sessions and reviewing Unit of Assessment outputs for eligibility. This has involved researching and interpreting the REF 2021 requirements for open access to disseminate effectively to academics and administrators. It has been illuminating to gain the perspective of different faculties, the way that they have to engage with REF, and their grapples with open access compliance.
What are your respective backgrounds and how did you decide to start working in OA?
Lorraine: Prior to working in open access, I completed a PhD in History of Art in Cambridge, looking at specific intersections between early modern artworks, medicine, and theories of the imagination. I also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at CRASSH (Centre for Research in the arts, social sciences and humanities) for one year.
I first became interested in OA and Scholarly Communication during my studies as a PhD representative for my peers in History of Art between 2017 and2018, the year that electronic deposits of PhD theses via Apollo became a requirement. There were anxieties from my peers around this new requirement, especially in relation to the open access feature: what would this mean for publishing their first monographs from their PhD thesis as Early Career Researchers? Would publishers still be interested in their work after it had been made OA? And, especially, what about the hundreds of copyrighted images present in their theses? It would have taken months to obtain permission to reproduce all of those images. During this time, I liaised with the OSC, the head of the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership programme (as part of the RCUK, the AHRC also has its own open access requirements that apply to PhDs), communicated with faculty staff during meetings, and reported the advice I had gathered to my peers. I see this new position in the OSC Open Access team as an excellent opportunity to understand better what happens behind the scenes of an institutional repository and gain more knowledge about the broader picture of open access in academic research.
Olivia: I left academic publishing with a sense that the model was broken. Expensive paywalls restrict access to those seeking to access information and academics were becoming increasingly disenchanted with the publishing model. These issues particularly hit home following two separate instances. The first, a letter sent to the publisher by a prisoner seeking further information on a criminology text, one which was prohibitively expensive and inaccessible to such an individual. The second, a cuttingly written forward by an academic around monograph publishing and the ivory towers in which university elites and academic publishers co-exist.
Academic publishing very much feels like the other side of what I am doing with open access, making research as freely and widely available as possible.
How do you think your past experiences have helped you to have the necessary skills for working in OA?
Lorraine: As a Cambridge student, I acquired a good knowledge of Cambridge’s unique research and teaching landscape (Schools, Faculties, Departments, Colleges, Research centres, etc.). My academic background also meant that I had hands-on understanding about the process of research, publishing in a peer-reviewed journal, and even submitting my outputs through Symplectic Elements. These were really helpful starting my new role: understanding how researchers work is crucial in scholarly communication and definitely helps me to advise and communicate with researchers better. I am, for instance, particularly interested in the relationship between open access and third-party copyright (especially images from cultural heritage institutions, i.e. galleries, libraries, archives and museums) and the challenges it brings to researchers in the Arts and Humanities.
Olivia: I have found my previous work in publishing an asset working in open access because of my knowledge of the editorial and production process as well as publishing revenue models. I am familiar with the time scales for journal articles and books production as well as publishers’copyright requirements which I have found I am using on a regular basis. Working extensively with academics in a production role, I am aware of the competing pressures placed on them and their need for clear and accessible information on fulfilling publishing commitments or REF compliance.
Now that you have started your new roles, what are the tips you would give to someone interested in starting a career in OA?
Picking up from last year’s blogpost, and from our own experience: keeping up to date with developments, attention to detail, supporting academics and seeking support from the open access community are four key areas when starting in a career in OA.
Keeping up to date with developments and attention to detail
Publisher’s and funders’ open access policies change very quickly, as do the methods we adopt within the team to cope with the workflow and with the challenges brought by REF 2021. Anyone starting a career in OA needs to keep up to date with changes, be capable of doing in-depth research about those, and be comfortable admitting not knowing everything! The landscape is constantly changing and having an awareness of new proposals and initiatives makes the big picture much clearer.
Give academics a break. It will take you a while to feel confident with policy and guidance and for you, it is your whole job. For the academics submitting their papers and contacting the repository, this is one small part of their role; you need to guide them through it as painlessly as possible.
You cannot and do not know everything about open access. Luckily, there are plenty of wonderful expert colleagues who can help, so it is really important to know how to work within a team and keep building the necessary knowledge as a group.
Published 25 October 2019
Written by Lorraine de la Verpilliere, Olivia Marsh