The State of Open Access (Open Science Collaboration Blog)

The State of Open Access


Open Science Collaboration logoTo celebrate Open Access Week last month, we asked people four questions about the state of open access and how its changing. Here are some in depth answers from two people working on open access: Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and the Harvard Open Access Project, and Elizabeth Silva, associate editor at the Public Library of Science (PLOS).

How is your work relevant to the changing landscape of Open Access? What would be a successful outcome of your work in this area?

Elizabeth: PLOS is now synonymous with open access publishing, so it’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, when PLOS was founded, most researchers were not even aware that availability of research was a problem. We all published our best research in the best journals. We assumed our colleagues could access it, and we weren’t aware of (or didn’t recognize the problem with) the inability of people outside of the ivory tower to see this work. At that time it was apparent to the founders of PLOS, who were among the few researchers who recognized the problem, that the best way to convince researchers to publish open access would be for PLOS to become an open access publisher, and prove that OA could be a viable business model and an attractive publishing venue at the same time. I think that we can safely say that the founders of PLOS succeeded in this mission, and they did it decisively.

We’re now at an exciting time, where open access in the natural sciences is all but inevitable. We now get to work on new challenges, trying to solve other issues in research communication.

Peter: My current job has two parts. I direct the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC), and I direct the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP). The OSC aims to provide OA to research done at Harvard University. We implement Harvard’s OA policies and maintain its OA repository. We focus on peer-reviewed articles by faculty, but are expanding to other categories of research and researchers. In my HOAP work, I consult pro bono with universities, scholarly societies, publishers, funding agencies, and governments, to help them adopt effective OA policies. HOAP also maintains a guide to good practices for university OA policies, manages the Open Access Tracking Project, writes reference pages on federal OA-related legislation, such as FASTR, and makes regular contributions to the Open Access Directory and the catalog of OA journals from society publishers.

To me success would be making OA the default for new research in every field and language. However, this kind of success more like a new plateau than a finish line. We often focus on the goal of OA itself, or the goal of removing access barriers to knowledge. But that’s merely a precondition for an exciting range of new possibilities for making use of that knowledge. In that sense, OA is closer to the minimum than the maximum of how to take advantage of the internet for improving research. Once OA is the default for new research, we can give less energy to attaining it and more energy to reaping the benefits, for example, integrating OA texts with open data, improving the methods of meta-analysis and reproducibility, and building better tools for knowledge extraction, text and data mining, question answering, reference linking, impact measurement, current awareness, search, summary, translation, organization, and recommendation.

From the researcher’s side, making OA the new default means that essentially all the new work they write, and essentially all the new work they want to read, will be OA. From the publisher’s side, making OA the new default means that sustainability cannot depend on access barriers that subtract value, and must depend on creative ways to add value to research that is already and irrevocably OA. Read more.

(Via OLDaily.)

Open Access Week, October 21-27, 2013: Get involved

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 10.19.31 AMOpen Access Week, a global event now entering its sixth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.

“Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year. Open Access Week is a key opportunity for all members of the community to take action to keep this momentum moving forward.

Get involved. Participating in Open Access Week can be as simple or involved as you like. It can also be a chance to let your imagination have full rein and come up with something more ambitious, wacky, fun.

OA Week is an invaluable chance to connect the global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of policy changes on the local level. Universities, colleges, research institutes, funding agencies, libraries, and think tanks have used Open Access Week as a platform to host faculty votes on campus open-access policies, to issue reports on the societal and economic benefits of Open Access, to commit new funds in support of open-access publication, and more.

Learn more about what you can do.

Ready for action?

FIRST, sign up at for access to all the support and resources you need, and to connect with the worldwide OA Week community.

For examples of how others are advancing Open Access and taking action during The Week, click here if you’re a: RESEARCH FUNDER | RESEARCHER/FACULTY MEMBER | ADMINISTRATOR | PUBLISHER | STUDENT | LIBRARIAN

Mind the gap: 2013 Wiley survey reveals generational differences in authors’ open access views and experience (

Mind the gap: 2013 Wiley survey reveals generational differences in authors’ open access views and experience

Verity Warne
Divisional Marketing Manager, Open Access

We have just announced the results of our 2013 author survey on open access, with over 8,000 respondents from across Wiley’s journal portfolio.  The desire of authors to publish in high-quality, respected journals with a good Impact Factor remains consistent with our 2012 open access survey findings. However, the 2013 survey sheds new light on differences between early career researchers (which we define as respondents between the ages of 26-44 with less than 15 years of research experience) and more established colleagues in their opinions on quality and licenses, and the funding available to them.

The number of Wiley authors who have published an open access article has almost doubled since 2012, up to 59% from 32%.  Supporting this trend, authors are reporting a larger percentage of research funding to publish open access compared with last year. Over half of responding authors received grant funding (24% full funding, 29% partial funding) to cover Article Publication Charges (APCs), an increase of 43% from 2012. 68% of funded authors publish their work open access, but for those who chose not to, the most prominent reasons were concerns about the perceived quality and profile of open access publications.

Considerable differences emerge between early career professionals and more established colleagues when comparing funding and payments for APCs. Early career professionals were significantly more likely to have APCs paid for by funders or institutions and were far less likely to pay out of their own funds than respondents over the age of 45 with more than 15 years of experience. Whether this is indicative of a specific approach from funders or simply down to early career researchers having fewer personal funds is unclear.  Read more.

(via OLDaily)

Open access to scientific knowledge has reached its tipping point (

Open access to scientific knowledge has reached its tipping point

Posted 7 Oct 2013 by Devon Hanel

compete or collaborate?

A recent study funded by the European Commission and undertaken by analysts at Science-Metrix, a Montreal-based company that assesses science and technology organizations, has concluded that half of all published academic papers become freely available in no more than two years.

According to the study, the year 2011 is a milestone for open access. By this analysis, 50% of all scientific articles published in 2011 are currently available in some open access form or another, and the trend is toward more and more articles becoming open access.

The study says that the “free availability of a majority of articles has been reached in general science and technology, in biomedical research, biology, and mathematics, and statistics.”

According to the study’s lead author and Science-Metrix president Éric Archambault, these results indicate a “tipping point” in open access availability. No doubt this is major news for a publishing industry traditionally accustomed to regular subscription fees in exchange for scholarly research.

“The open access movement has reached a kind of critical mass,” says Archambault. “It’s only going to accelerate. There are a lot of people behind it: governments, academia, even publishers to an extent. It’s here, and it’s here to stay.”

In a world with increasingly easy access to information via the Internet, the old ways of subscription-based journals are on the way out. Just as the need to pay for volumes of an encyclopaedia has largely been replaced by the convenience of Wikipedia, so too will academic journals by their online counterparts—and with a greater demand for open access. Read more.

Ann Wolpert, director of libraries, has died at 70 (MIT News)

 Ann Wolpert

Ann Wolpert

The MIT OpenCourseWare community mourns the loss of longtime member of our Faculty Advisory Committee, MIT Director of Libraries Ann Wolpert.  In addition to her service to OCW, she was a champion of openness in many other regards, as captured in her MIT News obituary:

Wolpert began work at MIT just as the Internet was emerging, and her tenure was marked by her passionate response to the opportunity and upheaval that resulted for research libraries. In scientific, research, and university communities around the world, a debate, still unresolved, came to the fore: how the decades-old system of peer-reviewed scholarly journals ought to operate in the digital world.

Wolpert became a leading voice in that discussion; she argued for unrestricted online access to journal articles. In a February 2013 essay in the New England Journal of Medicine, she not only made the case for such access: She also called it an inevitability. “There is no doubt,” she wrote, “that the public interests vested in funding agencies, universities, libraries, and authors, together with the power and reach of the Internet, have created a compelling and necessary momentum for open access. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be inexpensive, but it is only a matter of time.”

Though Wolpert made her case forcefully, she was not dismissive of concerns about how open access might work in practice, and she upheld the value of peer review. “The fact,” she wrote, “that faculty members and researchers donate to publishers the ownership of their research articles — as well as their time and effort as reviewers — does not mean that there are no expenses associated with the production of high-quality publications. For all its known flaws, no one wants to destroy peer-reviewed publication.”

Hal Abelson, the Class of 1922 Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at MIT and founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation, remembers Wolpert as “one of the great intellectual leaders at MIT.” She fused, he says, a mix of business experience from her earlier career with serious academic curiosity and integrity. “Ann was funny, warm, caring, and remarkably fair,” Abelson says.

“She believed in open access, but it went deeper than that,” he adds. “Her central insight was that in the age of the Internet, a great research library could serve not only as a window into scholarly output for given members of university and research communities, but also as a window for the world at large into the scholarly enterprise. That was a great and thrilling idea, and she pursued it deftly and with great respect for the full spectrum of faculty views.”

She will be deeply missed for her wisdom in guiding OCW and for the warmth and kindness she brought to our efforts.  Our thoughts are with her family, friends and the many members of the MIT community touched by this loss.

RUSC call for papers open for Special Section on OER Initiatives in Oceania

Universities and Knowledge Society Journal (RUSC)—an e-journal coedited by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Barcelona) and its eLearn Center, and the University of New England (Australia) and its DeHub—has opened a call for papers for a Special Section on OER initiatives in Oceania.  From the announcement:

Broader Oceania is a region where few, if any, countries have been immune to this turmoil and where the weight of ever-increasing student demand coupled with declining resources is perhaps most heavily felt. In its broadest sense, Oceania includes the islands of the South Pacific scattered across Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia as well as Australasia and the countries of the Malay Peninsula (Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines). This region is sufficiently diverse to offer opportunities for comparison, but with similarities that allow for constructive exchange of ideas. It includes large and small nations, with differing operational contexts, advantages, opportunities, challenges and constraints. Distance education is a priority area of cooperation and collaboration among many of the countries in this region and, despite the lack of supportive infrastructure in the majority, increasingly technology and online learning are being considered as a solution to the burden of growing student numbers and changing, and often inadequate, funding models.

For similar reasons, there is also strong interest in OER across this region. Choosing OER as the overarching theme of this special issue allows educators to showcase how challenges and opportunities in the region are being met with innovation and/or collaboration. It also facilitates sharing of knowledge and exchange of varied perspectives and dialogue, not only between countries in the region, but hopefully also between Broader Oceania and Europe.

Thematic areas

We are interested in receiving research articles on this topic by authors from all educational sectors and across the world. We are particularly interested in OER initiatives that address different perspectives of the changing 21st-century educational environment in broader Oceania.

The specific thematic areas of the monographic issue are the following:

  • Policies, frameworks and strategies for OER
  • OER technological affairs
  • Open learning design
  • Open resources development
  • Open learning and teaching practices
  • Sustainability and business models for OER
  • Quality assurance for OER
  • Open practices in general

Read more.

(via OER Forum)

India launches new National Repository of Open Educational Resources

In a speech today, Human Resource Development Minister Dr. Shashi Tharoor, announced the launch of a new Indian National Repository for Open Educational Resources.  From the speech:

I am delighted to be here at the National Conference on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in School Education and at the launch of the National Repository of Open Education Resources (NROER). As Prof. Sinclair knows, I have been a staunch supporter of open education resources as a significant part of the response to the challenges that are faced by the education sector in our country and the launch of the NROER is a significant step in this direction. Reaching the unreached, including the excluded, has long been the priority for us in extending education to all. I am informed that the NROER aims to offer “resources for all school subjects and grades in multiple languages. The resources are available in the form of concept maps, videos, audio clips, talking books, multimedia, learning objects, photographs, diagrams, charts, articles, wikipages and textbooks.” The Ministry of HRD has been actively engaging with various organisations to propagate Education for All. This repository will most certainly help to open the doors of educational opportunity to those very little or no access to education.

This initiative is also a significant step towards inclusive education. Opening access to all requires a debate on the issue of ownership, copyright, licensing and a balancing of reach with legitimate commercial interests. This is particularly important for public institutions and public funded projects. I am glad that the NCERT has taken the initiative of declaring that the NROER will carry the CC-BY-SA license. I have been lobbied by Wikimedia and other advocates of open educational resources for this standard to be adopted, rather than the CC-BY-SA-NC which contains a more restrictive clause. This decision by NCERT is in tune with UNESCO’s Paris Declaration on Open Education Resources and will ensure that all the resources are freely accessible to all. To put it in the language of the Creative Commons—to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute. But to ensure the smooth functioning of this repository, one needs to take support of the various ICT tools. Read more.

(via OER-forum)