Many thanks to everyone who came to Sally Rumsey’s well-attended talk at the Weston Library on 11th January – it got our Open Access new year off to a great start. We’d been hoping that researchers and journal editors would come and share their thoughts, and we weren’t disappointed. Here’s a summary of the event. We hope to run a repeat in the spring.
It began with a presentation by Sally describing some difficulties and contradictions in open access scholarly research dissemination, together with comments from some Oxford researchers. The presentation was followed by an opportunity for researchers to describe their experiences and opinions around research publication and dissemination.
Researchers have a wide range of tools and services available to them, which many are keen to use to enable them to disseminate their work widely, freely and rapidly. They include academic social networks, discovery and access services like Unpaywall and Open Access Button, and a wide variety of institutional and subject repositories. The rise in pre-print servers has been particularly noticeable of late. Plus there are emerging new models of peer review and publishing. Researchers are realizing that such services enable them to disseminate their work to a wide audience who can access the content easily. The concept of ‘open’ as a ‘good thing’ (as opposed to a compliance box-ticking exercise) is being increasingly adopted. In addition, clear indications of quality of methods and reproducibility in science are major concerns for many.
Many researchers are using such new services. Some researchers like the control of choice of platform for the publication and dissemination of their outputs. Regarding research dissemination, researchers are not bothered about complex and baffling agreements and restrictions such as ‘the work is only to be used on such and such a platform, from such and such a date, by only these people.’ This seems like nonsense to them when they want the benefits of making their own work freely and widely available on the internet, whenever and wherever they choose.
The idea was proposed that, instead of trying to change the practice of researchers employing such platforms to disseminate their work freely, publishers could change the rules. Researchers do not want to know about the minutiae of over-complex sharing options that publishers try to impose on them. Most want to disseminate their work widely and use the tools and services they choose. It is clear that many do not follow the conditions that are imposed on them. Rather than trying to put the genie back in the bottle, publishers could simply allow authors to distribute their author accepted manuscript freely and immediately. Those of us providing the infrastructure (publishers, libraries, funders, national services, etc) can assist by aiming for an efficient, interoperable, system to make processes simple and, where possible, automated. That should include DOIs at acceptance, ORCIDs for all authors if possible, other identifiers such as funder and organization IDs, and the use of common and open standards.
There was plenty of time for discussion, and comments were forthcoming from Oxford researchers and journal editors in all subject areas on their frustrations and hopes. Topics included peer review and numbers of referees, research validation and quality, costs and learned societies, funder policies, the influence of journal impact factors, and the amount of effort contributed by academics to the publishing process.
Slides from a similar presentation given to STM publishers by Sally are available in ORA. You can also read her reflections on open access and change at the University on the OUP blog.