Open Data: policy initiatives and its growth challenges

Open access has been embraced by scholars, universities, policy makers, funders, and NGOs. Countries have put open access policies in place, publishers made open access their only business model and traditional publishers are gradually embracing open access. As a result, open access is steadily growing.

One component of open access is open data. Research funders such as the European Commission, Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and others have been pushing disclosure of research data. They adopted open data policy primarily to ensure data reusability and transparency. They are exerting pressure on researchers to make both their research article and the underlying data openly accessible. However, researchers are lukewarm about the push for open data. Unlike publishing on open access platforms, researchers lack the enthusiasm to deposit their data on open data repositories. Only 20 to 30% of the researchers share or are willing to share their data.

On the other hand, about 44% of journals have an open data policy. Nonetheless, most of the journals are not doing enough to make sure that authors deposit their research data. However, there are journals with a stringent open data policy. Surprisingly, authors response to these journals is negative: they abandoned those publishers.

Several things might explain why this is happening. One of the factors that is discouraging authors from depositing their data on open data platform is costs associated with open data. Usually authors are required to pay for data hosting and reviewing. These cost hundreds of euros. Charging authors for data hosting is a misguided strategy,  according to Tim Vines. He argues that data hosting cost should be covered by public or private funds- i.e. authors should be reimbursed. To stimulate open data, it might be appropriate for research funders to allocate a fund for data hosting and reviewing.


African scientists get their own open-access publishing platform

The African Academy of Sciences will launch next year AAS Open Research, an open access publishing platform, meant to exclusively serve researchers in the continent. The platform is based on F1000Research model. It will adopt post publication open peer-review process. This approach will remove time lag researchers face to publish their research output. AAS Open Research will be an alternative platform for young African researchers who usually face challenges to publish their research out on overseas journals.

Publishing on AAS Open Research is not free. Publishers will ask up to €200 Article processing charges (APCs). The publisher hopes that research funders will make funding available for APCs.

Read Original article on Nature

Open Access Academic Books are More Downloaded and Cited

A research conducted by Springer Nature reveals that publishing academic books on open access platforms have many benefits. This report, according to Springer Nature, is the first of its kind to make a comparative analysis of open access and non-open access academic books. The study highlights the benefits open access books has provided to authors, publishers, funders and to a society at large.

The research used three metrics to measure the impact of open access academic books: downloads, citations and online mentions. In addition to these quantitative measures, Springer Nature also investigated the motivations and experiences with open access of researchers in a qualitative manner, by interviewing researchers and funders.

Results of the quantitative research

Most importantly, this study finds that:

  • open access books are downloaded seven times more
  • over the past four years the number of citations that open access books received is 50% higher
  • open access books are mentioned online 10 times more

Results of the qualitative research

The interviews with funders show that the open access requirements put in place by funders are ethically motivated.  Funders find it primarily important that the results from the research they funded disseminates to a large audience and is without access barriers.

The interviews with the researchers, on the other hand, shows that open access publishing was not solely ethically motivated. Researchers care most about visibility of their research output. They desire that their work gets disseminated to the widest possible audience and that this work gets cited more.

However, the researchers that were interviewed are not convinced about the benefits of open access to achieve wider dissemination and more citations. Although the interviewed acknowledged the quantitative results of the study, they pointed out that the causality is not proven. Other reason for the increased downloads and citations of open access scholarly work were suggested, such as authors reputation and the topic of the books that are open access.

Isn’t this skeptical attitude of these researchers slightly ironic? Indeed, this study doesn’t prove causality. But knowing that 1) open access removes an access barrier, 2) open access books are downloaded and used more, can we really not infer (1+1=2) that open access is increasing visibility? Are we not ‘scientific’ enough if we believe this inference? Or are researchers perhaps too skeptical stressing the lack of evidence for causality?


Researches in developing countries are more vulnerable to predatory journals

Researchers are constantly under pressure from their faculty to publish articles. This enormous pressure forces researchers to publish their research output as frequently as possible. However, most of the time it is not easy to publish articles on high impact factor journals; rejection is pretty common.  For instance, nature rejects 93% of articles it receives for publications. Moreover, it takes a long period of time to publish accepted articles. There is also high Article Process Charges (APCs) for Gold Open Access journals. Combination of all these factors force researchers to look for alternative avenues to publish their research output.  No researchers are immune to these challenges. Yet, these are pretty much daunting challenges for researchers based in developing countries.

Publishing on open access journals is getting traction. As most of them are new, the rate of rejection is low. Besides, they do not have much work overload to keep authors to wait before they see their published articles online. Coupled with the emergence of open access journals, there are several predatory open access publishers, which promise fast track publishing: less time and money to publish articles. In fact, predatory publishers are fast and charge relatively low APCs. Nonetheless, predatory publishers do not provide high quality peer-review and editorial services. On top of that, predatory publishers target academics with a barrage of spam emails asking them to publish on what they claim to be Gold Open Access journals. All these issues combined together make scholars in developing countries victims of predatory journal publishers.

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Open Access Week 2017

Over the past several days, we have been celebrating International Open Access Week. Ten years after its introduction  in the United States, Open Access Week is now celebrated worldwide. Its goal is to increase open access awareness and bring the role open access plays in science and society to the public. It is a scholarly communication that celebrates milestones in open access.

That open access is vital to disseminating knowledge is no longer a doubt; this year’s edition goes a step further and raises the question “Open in order to…?

As part of our open access celebration, UA Foundation would like to bring important news, milestones, and events related to open access. Below we have the top open access stories of the week.  Enjoy reading!

Interesting Open Access news of the week

In celebration of Open Access Week, Cambridge University has published Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis. According to Hawking, “…Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and enquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding.” We couldn’t agree more!  To read more click on  In celebration of Open Access Week, Cambridge University has published Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis.

Two Cambridge professors on how the publishing industry is reacting to the recent push for Open Access. To read more click on Flipping journals or filling pockets? Publisher manipulation of OA policies. 

We knew Open Access was popular, but take a look at these numbers! The Directory of Open Access Journals has published the details of their recent growth, and the numbers are incredible… Click through to the article for details! Dramatic Growth of Open Access September 30, 2017

Open Access is a market, worth approximately $390M in 2015 in and $470M in 2016! Sounds like a lot to us, but for publishers these are disappointing numbers. Can open access fail to persist due to unattractive investment opportunities? Get the predictions of OA as a market by ScholarlyKitchen’s chefs. For more check Ask The Chefs: Where Does Open Access Go From Here?

With the support of UNESCO, INASP delivers Open Access grants to Central and Latin America, Africa and Asia. Click through to the article for details! INASP’s grants support institutions to raise awareness of Open Access in the global South.

Maybe not so juicy, but extremely important: Last week the the EU released an updated version of the H2020 agreement. This version 5.0 revises the section “Open access to research data”, to include health actions that participate in the Open Research Data Pilot, and “Ethics and Research Integrity” to promote a better alignment with the European Code for Research Integrity. Read the full version ofthe updated H2020 agreement here.

A great list of Open Access resources, especially for anyone interested in healthcare.  For more check  Open access resources. 

Interesting charts from OA Week 2017

As a part of OA week celebration Why Open Research created a wonderful open access infographic. It provides answers to fundamental questions why we need to publish and use open access.

Source: Why Open Research

It is not surprising to see that most researchers (24%) share data on open access platforms in order to improve their research impact and visibility. It is a wonderful thing to see that 20% of all researchers share their data for a public benefit. That says alot about remarkable success open access movement achieved over a couple of years.








Source: Figshare 

Below, we can see the top countries with OA policies and mandates. The United States is leading, and the United Kingdom is not far behind. Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed here- why is France and the Netherlands are missing?

Source:  Editage