New policy announced by David Willetts to make research freely available challenges business models of academic publishers

David Willetts, the science minister, said the government wants to move to open access while protecting peer review.

Science minister David Willetts David Willetts, the science minister, said the government wants to move to open access while protecting peer review. Photograph: Anna Gordon/Guardian

The government has signalled a revolution in scientific publishing by throwing its weight behind the idea that all publicly funded scientific research must be published in open-access journals.

The policy is in the government document Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth published on Monday, which also includes plans for a series of cash prizes for teams to solve specific scientific challenges and a new £75m fund for small businesses to develop their ideas into commercial products.

The commitment to making publicly funded research free to access is a direct challenge to the business models of the big academic publishing companies, which are the gatekeepers for the majority of high-quality scientific research. Previous attempts by open access publishers to break this stranglehold over the dissemination of scientific results have largely failed.

The strategy sums up the coalition's work in the past 18 months on reshaping and developing the UK's science base in the face of the economic crisis. It comes a few days after David Cameron made a speech calling for increased research collaboration between the NHS and the life sciences industry, which included a £180m "catalyst fund" for universities and companies to help develop projects until they attract outside investment.

"Our starting point is a commitment by the coalition to transparency and open access to publicly funded data," said science minister David Willetts at a briefing to launch the government strategy. "Just writing my book, it was striking how you'd start researching a document and you'd soon hit a paywall and find that you had to subscribe when, sometimes, the work had come from research council projects."

He added: "We set out very clearly in the document today our commitment to open access. We want to move to open access, but in a way that ensures that peer review and publishing continues as a function. It needs to be paid for somehow. One of the clear options is to shift to a system from which university libraries pay for journals to one in which the academics pay to publish. But then you need to shift the funding so that the academics could afford to pay to publish."

He cited the example of the particle physics community in the US, which has switched from traditional scientific publishing to scientists paying to have their work appear in open-access journals. "They did that, I am told, as a switchover and the same amount of money was flowed through in a different way. It was clearly to retain the viability of learned journals in particle physics and, in turn, sustaining the whole system with peer review."

Dame Janet Finch, a former vice chancellor of Keele University, has been asked by Willetts to investigate how a similar open-access scheme might work in the UK. "We have to let her, working with the publishing industry and the research councils, find a way forward," said Willetts. "The publishing industry recognise the direction in which things are going and we have to work out a new model together."

Finch is expected to report in the first half of 2012 but, meanwhile, Willetts said the UK research councils would be reminded that research papers from the work they fund should be as widely available as possible.

Finding new ways to solve pressing scientific challenges was another element of the science and engineering strategy. Willetts said that the government would invest up to £250,000 in a series of prizes that would be awarded to groups of people who could solve specific scientific problems outlined by organisations including the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta). "[Prizes] were used a lot in the 19th century and they rather fell out of favour," he said. "They've been rejuvenated in the US and we're keen to work with Nesta, which will set up a centre of expertise in this."

In the 18th century, the British government offered a series of prizes to anyone who could develop a practical method of determining a ship's longitude at sea. It led to a flurry of experiments and the development of the marine chronometer by John Harrison.

More recently, the Ansari X-Prize offered $10m to the first team to build a reusable manned spacecraft and was won in 2004 by Burt Rutan's company Scaled Composites with its development of SpaceShipOne, subsequently the basis of the vehicles that will be used by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. Unclaimed X-prizes are also available for building fuel-efficient cars and mass-sequencing genomes.

David Bott, director of innovation programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, which will work with Nesta to develop the prizes, said: "If you set the challenge in the right way, you unlock the creativity of the community rather than limiting it with our own lack of it." He added that prizes could be used to drive people to work together, rather than in traditional silos.

The £75m fund for small and medium-sized businesses resurrects a similar scheme run by the now-defunct regional development agencies. It will offer companies money to engage in proof-of-concept R&D projects from which new products and services could emerge.

"If you look at the overall economic strategy of the government, it is about getting back to rebalancing the economy, stimulating growth," said business secretary Vince Cable. "Much of that is going to come through from the SME [small and medium enterprise] sector, that's where jobs are going to be created."

Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said the government strategy was "an important and comprehensive analysis of the UK innovation ecosystem".

"We welcome the government's emphasis on attracting innovative businesses to the UK, and initiatives such as the new innovation inducement prizes," said Khan. "We call on the government to build on this start by setting aside serious funding to kickstart the sector and turn it into a game changer for UK economic growth – for instance, by setting aside the proceeds from the forthcoming 4G mobile spectrum auction to be reinvested in science, engineering, and innovation."
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Briefing paper on Open Access Business Models for research funders and universities

This briefing paper offers insight into various open access business models, from institutional to subject repositories, from open access journals to research data and monographs. This overview shows that there is a considerable variety in business models within a common framework of public funding. Open access through institutional repositories requires funding from particular institutions to set up and maintain a repository, while subject repositories often require contributions from a number of institutions or funding agencies to maintain a subject repository hosted at one institution. Open access through publication in open access journals generally requires a mix of funding sources to meet the cost of publishing. Public or charitable research funding bodies may contribute part of the cost of publishing in an open access journal but institutions also meet part of the cost, particularly when the author does not have a research grant from a research funding body.

To some extent the benefits follow the funding, institutions and their staff members being the primary beneficiaries from institutional repositories, while national research funding agencies may be the primary beneficiaries from the publication in open access of the research they fund. However, in addition all open access business models also allow benefits to flow to communities which have not been part of the funding infrastructure.

The briefing paper ‘Open Access Business Models for research funders and universities’ was commissioned by Knowledge Exchange and was written by Fred Friend.

The briefing paper is available for download here.
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Publication Fees in Open Access Publishing: Sources of Funding and Factors Influencing Choice of Journal

David J Solomon
College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, E. Lansing, MI USA
Bo‐Christer Bj√∂rk
Management and Organization, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland
Email bo‐
Abstract - Open access (OA) journals make their full text content available for free on the Web and use other means than subscriptions or access charges for funding the publication process. Publication fees or article processing charges (APC)s have become the predominant means for funding professional OA publishing. We surveyed 1,038 authors from seven discipline categories who recently published articles in 74 OA journals that charge APCs. Authors were asked about the source of funding for the APC, factors influencing their choice of a journal and past history publishing in OA and subscription journals. Additional information about the journal and the authors’ country were obtained from the journal websites. A total of 429 (41%) authors completed the survey. There were large differences in the source of funding among disciplines. Journals with impact factors charged higher APCs as did journals from disciplines where grant funding is plentiful. Topical fit, quality, and speed of publication where the most important factors in the authors’ choice of a journal. Open accessibility was less important but a significant factor for many authors in their choice of a journal to publish. These findings are consistent with other research on OA publishing and suggest, that if OA journals meet normal quality standards, authors and their employers and funders are willing to pay reasonable APCs, the acceptable levels of which are dependent on the field of science and the quality of the journal in question.
Accepted Version 08-18-11 Version as accepted for publication by the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.
(Note:This is a preprint of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology copyright © 2011 (American Society for Information Science and Technology)
Submitted Version 6-30-2011 as submitted to the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.
Supporting Tables Read More!

Creative Commons: a user guide

Simone Aliprandi, a lawyer, active in consulting, coaching and in researching the field of copyright and ICT law, a leader of the Project, has composed a user guide, i.e. a complete manual to the world of Creative Commons licenses.
“Without neglecting useful conceptual clarifications, the author goes into technical details of the tools offered by Creative Commons, thus making them also understandable for total neophytes. This is a fundamental book for all those who are interested in the open content and copyleft world,” the book is introduced.
Of course, thanks to the CC license, it can be downloaded for free from the website.
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Open access journals – what publishers offer, what researchers want

The SOAP (Study of Open Access Publishing) project has analyzed the current supply and demand situation in the open access journal landscape. Starting from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), several sources of data were considered, including journal websites and direct inquiries within the publishing industry to comprehensively map the present supply of online peer-reviewed OA journals. The demand for open access publishing is summarised, as assessed through a large-scale survey of researchers’ opinions and attitudes. Some forty thousand answers were collected across disciplines and around the world, reflecting major support for the idea of open access, while highlighting drivers of and barriers to open access publishing. Find the entire paper here. Read More!

Open Access Map Launched

In November last year, the Open Access Map was presented as an emerging measuring tool for Open Access as a standalone discipline which is experiencing dramatic growth.
On June, 23, at the OAI7 conference on Innovation in Scholarly Communication, Alma Swan from OASIS announced the launching of Open Access Map. Anyone with an Open Access Resource or Organization they’d like to have included on the map, is invited to use the "Add Item" feature to share their contribution with the project. The world map will include all Open Access projects, services and initiatives. The tool will also involve a timeline which will show the development of Open Access over the last decade in terms of repositories, policies adopted and OA journals published.
It should present a single point from which the diversity of the OA initiatives will be discovered, and will “prevent duplication, enhance collaboration, and will generally enable an approach where new projects properly build upon existing or completed ones.” The map will also display the locations of other OA related initiatives, including funding policies, government documents, university mandates and so on. Such a unique aggregating and networking tool has the potential to catalyze additional OA developments across the world.
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SPARC introduces Open-access Journal Publishing Resource Index

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) today released a free online Open Access Journal Publishing Resource Index with information and documents to support the launch and operation of an open-access journal. Materials in the index will help libraries, presses, and other academic units on campuses as they work together to make the work of their researchers more widely available.
This new resource is launched in conjunction with the SPARC Campus-based Publishing Resource Center (, which delivers a guide to critical issues in campus-based publishing partnerships, case studies, a bibliography and resource list, an index of collaborative initiatives (operated in partnership with Columbia University Libraries), and access to the LIBPRESS online discussion forum (operated by the University of California). The Center is overseen by an editorial board representing library and university press staff who are actively engaged in creating and managing publishing partnerships.
The new index complements the rich existing resource center by pointing to relevant sections in existing open-access journal publishing guides and to sample journal proposals, policies, bylaws, and other documentation to help with planning, development, and collaboration issues. Topics covered include:
•                  New Journal Planning
•                  Journal Publishing Program Policies
•                  Governance
•                  Editorial
•                  Marketing & Promotion
•                  Technical Platforms
•                  Sustainability Planning
Relevant sections of existing open-access publishing guides, including those by David Solomon, Carol Sutton, Kevin Stranack, Jan Velterop, Howard Goldstein and Raym Crow, and others are indicated under each topic area.
By highlighting samples and best practices, the index will help give campuses the tools they need to develop and maintain long-term, successful open-access publishing ventures. “As campus-based publishing gets more ambitious in scope, it’s important to build on the successes and challenges of earlier initiatives and adopt best practices,” said Raym Crow, senior consultant at SPARC. “Ultimately, campus-based publishing can offer universities greater control over the intellectual products they help create. SPARC is pleased to provide another tool to support libraries and publishers in sustainable, professional, open-access publishing.”
Lee C. Van Orsdel, Dean of University Libraries at Grand Valley State University, says faculty are beginning to consult librarians for advice on journal publishing options, including open-access models, and the SPARC site is a welcome resource. “We’re deepening our knowledge as quickly as possible, but it's a whole new area of expertise for most of us,” she said. “It will save us time and increase the probability that we can get to the right solution when advising our faculty on their best options.”
The editorial board invites contributions from other campuses to help build this resource and expand the bibliography – especially with primary research papers on collaboration issues. “SPARC hopes this will seed an effort where people will give documents to share, making it a community hub,” said Crow. Members of the board and how to contact the managing editor with suggestions are detailed on the Center home page.
The Open Access Journal Publishing Resource Index is available online at Read More!

Sustaining open data business

These thoughts on sustaining open data business were provoked by ORCID, a not-for-profit business set up by a group of large academic publishers and a few leading universities. Its aim is to provide a central directory of researchers, with profiles describing them.
ORCID is committing to provide open source software but not necessarily open data – offering some limited “non-commercial” activity of the service. Researchers can open their data by “claiming” it but what volume of them are going to do that? Do many more than 15% of academics publish their work in their local open access institutional repository?
I want to illustrate that it is perfectly possible, if not necessary, to support a business publishing open data. Strategies for successful open data companies:
  • Charge for quality – as offer a cleaned up better authoritative version of a somewhat crowdsourced database
  • Charge for high volume – as SimpleGeo offer 10K per day calls to the service and charge a small fee after that.
  • Charge for private data storage – as Talis offer free triplestores for linked open data, and charge for a private data service.
  • Charge for analytical capacity – Fortius One offer the free GeoCommons web map making service and charge for the GeoIQ analysis package.
Of course one can always do consultancy and custom development to cover costs. Establishing a namespace, becoming a reference point for others; geoname linked data is used because it is widely used, because it arrived early in the domain.
In a survey of potential users, the most sizeable number of ORCID prospective users thought the data would only really be useful as open data. Charging for institutional access and sponsorship are seen as ways to sustain it. Yet there plenty of ways to sustain open data business, for-profit or not or in between. We might yet get a system that really serves academic publication rather than markets to it.
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New Berlin Declaration

This Berlin Declaration on the Future of the Digital Press was launched by the Periodical Press on 16 March 2011 in Berlin. Contrary to its namesake (the Berlin Declaration on Open Access) it does not call for OA, but for a less restrictive publishing environment where publishers are free to manage their own business models.
The declaration has five conditions:
  • Maintenance of existing press freedom: a call to minimise restrictions on advertising as well as freedom of expression.
  • Freedom to experiment and manage innovative business models: a call for parity in negotiations with digital players (not mentioned but clearly aimed at Amazon, Apple and Google).
  • A strong copyright protection: including tighter control over allowable reuse of content.
  • Reduced VAT rates for digital as well as print publications: asking for zero rates on both digital and print.
  • Fair competition and transparency in the digital world: asking for legislation to prevent locked-in technologies that restrict mobile platforms for digital works.
The declaration makes no mention of open access and is aimed at the trade, rather than the research publishing area. The initiating partners are the European Federation of Magazine Publishers and the Association of German Magazine Publishers.
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Books vs eBooks

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