Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Gold on Hold" -- Editorial in Nature

A 26 February 2013 editorial in Nature while welcoming aspects of the White House's recent Open Access policy expresses disappointment that the policy does not go far enough. Indeed it states that complete OA to research was undermined by the announcement.
The US Office of Science and Technology Policy has asked federal agencies to prepare plans to ensure that all articles and data produced from research that they fund are made publicly accessible within 12 months of publication. That delayed-access approach would have looked progressive five years ago, when the US National Institutes of Health was first putting into practice its mandate that (at least) the authors’ final versions of papers must be freely available within a maximum of a year of publishing — a ‘green’ open-access approach, with which this publication has consistently complied. But in 2013, it looks as if a combination of financial constraints and a lack of firm resolve at the top of the US government is blocking movement towards the policy that ultimately benefits science the most: ‘gold’ open access, in which the published article is immediately freely available, paid for by a processing charge rather than by readers’ subscriptions.
The full editorial

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

eLife Peer Review Model

The new open access publication eLife has a unique group of funders (The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Wellcome Trust, and the Max Planck Society) and employs an interesting new peer review model.
When a submitted article is invited for full peer review, it is assigned to a review editor. The peer reviewers, all active scientists, share and discuss their comments with each other. The review editor uses the comments to write one letter back to the author with instructions.
eLife describes the process:
Reviewers get together online to discuss their recommendations – communicating openly with one another before a decision is reached, refining their feedback, and working to provide clear and concise guidance to authors. If the work needs essential revision before it can be published, the reviewing editor incorporates those requirements into a single set of instructions for the author to move ahead to the next step. We aim to deliver decisions after peer review within four weeks.
Once the final article is published -- this Decision Letter is part of the material openly accessible with the article. The Author's response to the letter is also published, along with reader comments.
This gives the review process unprecedented transparency.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Important OA Directive from the White House

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has issued a directive requiring Federal agencies to develop plans to support greater accessibility of funded research. This is very big news -- it clears the way for other agencies to follow NIH and make their funded research open to the public. An important paragraph of the directive:
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hereby directs each Federal agency with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government. This includes any results published in peer-reviewed scholarly publications that are based on research that directly arises from Federal funds, as defined in relevant OMB circulars (e.g., A-21 and A-11). It is preferred that agencies work together, where appropriate, to develop these plans.
Peter Suber comments:
This is big. It's big in its own right, and even bigger when put together with FASTR <>, the bipartisan OA bill introduced into both houses of Congress just eight days ago. We now have OA mandates coming from both the executive and legislative branches of government.
White House Announcement

SPARC Applauds Landmark Directive

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Science and the Public Parlay: Come a Little Bit Closer

Robin Lloyd in a Scientific American blog posting “Science and the Public Parlay: Come a Little Bit Closer" considers the  bill "Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR)". More on this bill below. Lloyd also considers a number of interesting topics devoted to digital tools for communicating science discussed at the last week's annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Important new OA bill in Congress

A new bill has been introduced in both houses of Congress. It is called Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR).
The bill is similar to FRPAA, which was reintroduced in several Congressional sessions but never passed. It would strengthen the NIH public access mandate and extend it to other Federal agencies.

Comments from the bill's sponsors:

"This bill will give the American people greater access to the important scientific research results they’ve paid for,” Congressman Doyle said today.“Supporting greater collaboration among researchers in the sciences will accelerate scientific innovation and discovery, while giving the public a greater return on their scientific investment.”

“The scientific research community benefits when they are able to share important research and cooperate across scientific fields. Likewise, taxpayers should not be required to pay twice for federally-funded research,” said Congressman Yoder. “This legislation is common sense, and promotes more transparency, accountability, and cooperation within the scientific research community."

"Everyday American taxpayer dollars are supporting researchers and scientists hard at work, when this information is shared, it can be used as a building block for future discoveries," said Representative Lofgren.  "Greater public access can accelerate breakthroughs, where  robust collaborative research can lead to faster commercialization and immense benefits for the public and our economy."

Peter Suber analyzes the bill and compares it FRPAA. 
Full text of the bill.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Publisher Attitudes on ETDs and Prior Publication

Doctoral students frequently ask if making their dissertation/thesis open access can result in publishers, book and/or journal, refusing to consider their work for potential publication.  It’s an important question but also one that’s impossible to answer for all publishers. In the vast publishing community there are many different attitudes about prior publication and open access ETDs. Generally, the best advice for doctoral students is to become familiar with publisher policies in their disciplinary areas and inquire of potential publishers about their specific policies.

There are two articles that students might consult to ascertain some publisher views on this topic. The first is Gail McMillan et al. An Investigation of ETDs as Prior Publications: Findings From the 2011 NDLTD Publishers’ Survey (Sept. 2011).  This provides the very useful results of a 2011 survey of journal editors' and university press directors' attitudes toward online theses and dissertations. The data and the open-ended comments from the survey respondents indicate support for open access to ETDs. The second article is by Jane Morris, Scholarly Communication Librarian, Boston College. It’s entitled “Frequently asked: eTDs and Prior Publication” and it appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of the BC Library Newsletter. Jane goes over some of the issues students should be aware of if they are planning to publish a book and/or articles from their thesis or dissertation. She also provides the very useful observation that there are three often-repeated themes in university advice on this ETD and prior publication issue:

         A book created from a dissertation is usually heavily revised and becomes a quite different work.
         Publishers in different fields have different views on prior publication, and you should become familiar with the policies in your field.
         If you are in doubt, select a reasonable embargo period for your dissertation, keeping it in the dark until you have had a chance to negotiate with potential publishers.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Which is More Cost-Effective: Gold OA or Green OA?

In the current issue of D-Lib Magazine John Houghton, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia and Alma Swan, Key Perspectives, Truro, United Kingdom, argue that disseminating scholarship through open access (OA) is clearly more cost-effective than traditional subscription or toll-access publishing. They also consider the relative merits of Gold OA versus Green OA. They conclude: "In an all-OA world, it seems likely that the net benefits of Gold OA would exceed those of Green OA, although Green OA would have a higher benefit/cost ratio. However, we are not in an all-OA world yet, nor anywhere near it. The most affordable and cost-effective means of moving towards OA in the meantime is through Green OA, which can be adopted unilaterally at the funder, institutional, sectoral and national levels at little cost. Moreover, Green OA may well be the most immediate and cost-effective way to support knowledge transfer and enable innovation across the economy."

Their article is entitled "Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on 'Going for Gold'."