Friday, 25 April 2014

Webinars: The Future of Conferences? (I vote, "Yes")

"The webinar will begin shortly, please remain on the line."

Alright, maybe I was a bit eager- signing in to the UKSG webinar roughly ten minutes before the starting time.
You can't hold it against me though, I was very excited.
I'd been sitting behind my computer plugging away at coursework all day-unable to physical attend the conference in Harrogate due to financial and time constraints. Being a post-graduate student in LIS gives you this incredible thirst for knowledge and a desire to interact with others in every spectrum of the field. Unfortunately many of us, myself included, are simply unable to make the trek to conferences but our willingness and desire to be a part of them is incredibly high.

Which is exactly what brought me to my laptop at 15:55 on Tuesday the 15th. I'd been interacting and tracking #uksglive on twitter since Sunday evening. Following live tweets of talks, speakers, and networking does little more than make one stir crazy-especially after I found out there were bursaries and sponsorships available to allow students to attend the conference. I'll admit, head definitely met desk after I discovered that tid-bit.

"The webinar will begin shortly, please remain on the line."

'Wait.....will they be able to see me? Should I put on make-up?'

"The webinar will begin shortly, please remain on the line."

Part of me starts to wonder how many other people are hearing the exact same thing right at that moment? The UKSG website stated that the webinar could be attended by around 500 people worldwide.

That thought made me realise the consequences that successful webinars could have at conferences globally. It's not just about students, it's about expanding the privilege of knowledge to individuals and groups unable to attend in person. I was reminded of the format of TED talks and the newer platform of TEDx which brings TED to smaller communities and stages but still shares the knowledge and lectures globally. I don't even want to fathom how many hours I spent watching TED talks during my undergrad years, but unlike many other hours spent on line, I do not consider those to be "wasted". From my little flat in Milledgeville, Georgia I was able to watch TED talks taking place in New York, London, and San Francisco. The lectures I watched inspired my research, motivated me in topics for papers and speeches, and helped me realise that despite the sour economy- times are not terrible for dreamers.

I had been following #uksglive on twitter for days and seen highlights and quotes from many lectures and speeches that I terribly wished I could have seen. Would it be that terrible if academic conferences made their content available? It seems particularly hypocritical especially in the realm of LIS. It should be our mission to spread knowledge, literacy, and higher education. Denying individuals access to lectures at conferences because they cannot afford to attend or simply cannot make the trek seems to inherently conflict with our mission in LIS. With such focus now especially on open access research and now open source software for library databases, it is entirely wrong to only allow sessions and lectures at conferences to be open to only those who can afford the luxury.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of internal conflict, the webinar began. Maria Campbell chimed in, like a technical angel, to tell the attendees the format of the talk and how to work the controls and ask questions. Then she introduced Andrew Barker, head of academic liaisons at University of Liverpool, as our leader of the panel for the webinar.

The next 45 minutes were spent with Andrew leading a group as they tried to give a general overview of the whole conference. If anything the webinar just made me even more depressed that I wasn't actually attending. Obviously summarising sessions for a webinar will never actually replace attending the conference. You cannot network, visit booths, or meet-up for drinks by watching videos of lectures. I thought I was about to be let-down by the content but then conversation began about some of the actual content being addressed at the conference. Open access, the future of library cataloguing, interactive data, and how to remain relevant in an alarmingly paperless society.

I was later informed by Maria Campbell that the webinar was attended by 50 individuals but 142 registered and were sent the video to watch at a later time. That's a potential to spread and share knowledge from any conference, session, lecture, or panel with anyone in the world. In this blogger's humble opinion, webinars and videos of sessions should become open to those unable to physically attend conferences. I fully believe that UKSG is leading the way in instituting this new transition and look forward to seeing what is available for the world to see in 2015.

Breakout Group A: ‘Disruptions in a complex ecology: the future of scholarly communications’

Presenter: Michael Jubb (Research Information Network)
Blogger: David Walters (King’s College London)

Michael gave us a very interesting overview of the purposes of scholarly communications and how changes to the infrastructure are steering change, new ideas and new forms of expression.

Purposes of scholarly communication

Michael gave a useful summary of the purposes of scholarly communications, who’s needs have been served within a research/publishing framework for centuries. In short, the purpose is to generate and share ideas and increase the impact of piece of research. Michael used the apt phrase of ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’.

  • Register research findings, timeliness, and attributable persons
  • Review and certify findings before publication
  • Disseminate new knowledge
  • Preserve a record of findings for long term efficiency and effectiveness of research
  • Reward researchers for their work


Purposes of scholarly communication

It's not just about communication, there are a number of other things that make research dissemination important. Metrics and impact are additional factors. A number of different purposes are fulfilled by research communications systems. Other considerations:

  • Discoverable
  • Accessible
  • Assessable
  • Usable

Michael explained that research, particularly in the sciences, should be seen as an open enterprise. It needs to be communicated in as way that is intelligible and accessible, so that people can understand what has been discovered.

Research needs to be open to quality assessment, not just assertion, based on the evidence submitted. It should be usable, this ties into the impact.

Mechanisms for scholarly communication

Michael discussed some of the different mechanisms that research is communicated and took science as an example. Other disciplines have a wide range of different methods of communication.

  • Orally: lectures, seminars, conference presentations, teleconferences
  • Written; theses, working papers, pre=prints, books, journal articles, wiki's, blogs, emails
  • Public vs restricted audiences 
  • Peer-reviewed or not

Michael highlighted a distinction between the mechanism and the degree of quality assurance.

Players and stakeholders and their interests


  • Interested in career development and advancement
  • Interested in discovering the work of others in their fields.

University's - who employ the researchers

  • Interested in building the reputation of their institution
  • Interested in raising funds through the reputation of the research published.


  • Interested in the research they fund being accessible to the research community
  • The research councils have a mission statement. They want their research to make an impact on the world at large, in order to make a positive difference in society.
  • They have an interest in the efficiency of scholarly communications – they don't want it to be too expensive.


  • Content, access and discovery for researchers and students in their institutions. This is in support of research and teaching/learning.


  • Reputation
  • Generate revenue
  • Impact in wider society
  • Maximise dissemination

Learned societies

  • Interested in the relationship between publishers and their research community.

Michael pointed out that these groups do not always share exactly the same interest. There are clear streams of funding that flow between these groups. For example, from the library subscription budget to publisher. Therefore it is not surprising that there are tensions in the ecosystem.

The research landscape: Funders and Do-ers

Michael discussed who does research and how it is funded. He described this landscape in terms of ‘funders and do-ers’. There are many different kinds of funders; governments and charity's to name a couple.
He referred to a study by Elsevier which illustrates the global research landscape. This study showed that companies and business are by far the biggest funders of research and account for around 2/3rds of activity. The next biggest funder of research is universities and after this is government.

Thinking back to the ecosystem in terms of communication. The funding groups who are most interested in communication are those funded by governments, charities and universities. Business does not have a big interest in this – they are keen to protect ownership of their research and subsequent in-house innovation. Most research conducted through business is closed. A very high proportion will never be seen publicly, i.e. be published in journals.

There are international differences. In Japan, research funding is overwhelming dominated by business. In the UK, a much larger proportion is funded by the government. The UK is an outlier when compared with how research is funded globally.


Michael demonstrated that research is increasingly becoming a collaborative enterprise. The proportion of articles with authors from more than one country is growing.

The UK and Germany show that 50% of articles came from international collaboration. In the US, this is much lower. In China, it is only 15%

Comparatively in the UK, the proportion of articles with just a single author is around 15%

This shows that there are different international players with different interests, which adds to the complexity of the ecology.

Research data

Michael described the issue of Research data as of vital importance as the landscape undergoes a transformation.

Without the constraints of a journal, research can be instantly accessible across millions of data points. What is required is a coherent infrastructure to join up these points along with the rhetoric argument of research findings and to find an effective means of presentation. This is a challenge with research data growing exponentially. Visualisation techniques and analytical tools are required to utilise this data.

This also throws up a whole set of issues around whether research can be replicable.

Quality assurance and peer review

Michael outlined who is responsible for quality assurance.


  • Editors and editorial board
  • Publishers’  editorial staff
  • Reviewers


  • Single blind – the author doesn't know the reviewe,r but reviewer knows the author. This is common in sciences. It’s argued that it is too difficult to achieve double blind due to the volume of papers produced, the idenifiable writing style of authors and highly specialised subjects.
  • Double blind - neither knows who the other is. This is common in the humanities.

There are ongoing issues with this system. Authors complain of bias, delays, inefficiencies, data, replication and overload. It is also difficult to find people willing to do the job – reviewers often work for free – and this slows down the process. It also can be difficult to assess the quality of the research data.
Another issue is that sometimes journals make judgments on the significance of a paper, and this affects the publication schedule.

There are a series of experimentation's going on around peer review. For example the PLOS peer review system, which is based simply on the soundness of the science.

Other systems are exploring the idea of cascaded peer review results, within a publishers’ portfolio and between different publishers.

There are moves toward completely open peer review, with ongoing interaction between the author and reviewers.

Michael commented that post publication peer review is becoming more important the pre publication peer review. Very often publisher platforms allow for comments and reviews alongside the published article.

Open Access

Michael commented that, in reality, open access is more complicated than green and gold. These terminologies can lead to confusion in terms of how open a paper really is, particularly in terms of re-use.

  • Fully OA - paid/unpaid
  • Hybrid
  • Delayed free access
  • Repository preprint
  • Repository accepted

This is a complicated landscape. Global repository take up is underused in the UK. It’s estimated that only around 9% of articles are available in a repository.



Michael finished with some key questions surrounding the future of scholarly communication

  • How do you sustain the current ecology flows with innovation and sustainability?
  • Do journals have a future?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Open Access comes of age: implementing open access policies at UCL, Manchester and beyond

Presentation by Catherine Sharp (UCL), Helen Dobson (University of Manchester), Rob Johnson (Research Consulting)

(Presentation on UKSGSlideshare

A year after the introduction of the RCUK Open Access Policy, two research-intensive institutions share their experiences of delivering open access services. As well as developing policies on using funds and choosing Gold/Green, UCL and Manchester have set up advocacy programmes and payment systems (including prepayment schemes) to encourage take-up and reduce administration for authors. This session also included an overview of third-party solutions available to streamline the management of article processing charges for academic institutions and publishers.

UCL’s approach to OA – Implementing the RCUK Mandate

  • At least 9,000 OA research papers a year
  • Around 20,000 full-text items in their IR
  • 3 different OA funds. One fund is the Wellcome Trust fund. This paid for 345 papers in the academic year 2012-13. UCL fund just started.
  • Very much an academics choice whether to go with Green or Gold OA, though they do encourage ‘Green’. Most academics choosing Gold
  • UCL Press just been launched for OA books
  • The target for this year was 753, projected 798. Publishing more OA papers. Means more payments to be processed.

Managing payments:

  • Working with publishers to simplify the process
  • UCL has joined prepayment schemes for several publishers.

Staffing structures:

  • OA Funding Manager (Advocacy, publisher negotiation, budgets and management reporting);
  • OA Compliance Officer (Funder and UCL compliance, advocacy);
  • Two OA funding assistants (Author advice, payments, prepayment checks).
Data is collected from authors, including type of OA, bib data, funding details. An Access database is used, populated by the assistants. UCL is In the process of trying to get academic buy-in, so trying to make the process as easy as possible for academics. There are lots of different permutations, so the OA team needs to intervene early in the process. They operate an email service, and get asked a lot of questions. The team fill in the required forms.

Advocacy webpages:

  • ‘Open Access at UCL’ – Tailored sections for different types of author. Printed author guides very popular too.
  • OA communication plan:
  • This identifies principal stakeholders and type of communication best for that group. OA conference was very successful, with mostly academics attending.
Complications and challenges:
  • Different publisher and funding policies;
  • Authors need a very responsive, personal service;
  • Licences need explaining.
  • Invoice payment really cumbersome;
  • Bureaucratic publisher systems, etc;
  • Need to make the process easy enough for academics.

OA at University of Manchester

4,500 OA research papers per year
RCUK block funding and Wellcome funding.

OA Pump Priming Project:
  • Advocacy - hoping to generate a culture change.
  • Also HEFCE coming on-board too, with an OA mandate.
  • The decision was made to build their own system. This required support staff and new software.
  • Project ran until July last year.

Staffing resource:

  • Different from UCL
  • Use expertise of existing groups/teams, e.g. systems, marketing, finance
  • Number of staff across the university involved
  • Research team is in overall charge.

Communication and advocacy:

  • Didn’t want academics to see the process as a burden
  • Created a factsheet. Put RCUK policy in a Manchester context
  • FAQs on the website
  • Top-down approach to communication of all departments. Core messages given to top-level. Sometimes message did get diluted so OA team had to mop this up.
  • OA now a standard item on research faculty committee meetings. The OA team sends a report for each meeting.
  • Some confusion still in small schools, so more communication needed
  • The identification of articles which could be made OA worked really well. An email was sent to the author to say about this and find out how they could help.

Systems and processes:

  • Good to base it on the existing IR
  • Request APC (Article Processing Charge) tab on the IR reporting area
  • Minimise input
  • Hooks into HR system at Manchester
  • When invoice sent to the author the OA team uploads this into the system
  • APC fund from the RCUK grant (£824,459)
  • Publisher prepayment deals with various publishers – Elsevier, Wileys, etc.


  • Support service on campus
  • Engage in community-wide problem solving
  • Share data and experience

University of Manchester has achieved the RCUK OA compliance target.

OA Intermediaries

University of Nottingham example:

  • Around 4,000 OA papers per year
  • January 2013 adopted OAK as APC intermediary
  • May 2013 OAK service migrated to Jisc APC.

APC is not straightforward. Around 35% of payments have had problems/complications at Cambridge University.

Need administrative support at the universities. Also intermediaries are another stakeholder to think about.

Publishers and universities – is there sufficient buy-in from both parties?

Legacy systems used. This makes it difficult to share the data, using ORCID, etc.

Where do intermediaries fit in?:

  • Depends on the size of institution
  • Small institutions – single invoices are fine is there is a small number
  • Big organisations – can develop their own system
  • However, there is a gap in-between, i.e medium size institutions
  • Trying to make data standardised – having to aggregate information. Some information is missing, so need to find this information manually. Data from various publishers. Data different in different formats, etc.
  • Need to manage transactions
  • Improved author experience (but perhaps not yet?)
  • Streamlining the process for managing compliance
  • Promoting adoption

Is there a code of practice? There is a need for this, and there are some moves in this direction. ORCID is a crucial standard to link to.
RCUK doesn’t know what data they need yet about OA articles, so need to keep all the information provided.
Universities and funders are now beginning to report data on APCs.

Plenary: ‘Towards the next Research Excellence Framework’

Presenter: Steven Hill (HEFCE)
Blogger: David Walters (King’s College London)

After extensive consultation, HEFCE and the other three UK funding bodies have published details of a new policy for open access relating to future research assessments after the last REF (submitted in 2013). Steven presented on aspects of the new policy and the motivations which are driving this change.

Steven was quick to point out that the policy is still in the early stages. HEFCE are framing the next REF by looking forward to expected changes in research methods and practices. In particular, they are looking at questions on how this will be assessed. The ‘juicy details’ will be forthcoming.

Details of the announcement can be found below, but in brief there is a focus on open access full-text deposit and metadata discovery for article submissions. This will require significant engagement by authors in terms of open access if they want to submit papers for assessment.


Steven noted that, in the changing research landscape, alongside open access there are other ‘open’ terminologies emerging like ‘open research’ and ‘open science’.

The Budapest initiative and subsequent definition of open access encapsulated the social revolution underway in how we perceive ownership of information. Their inspirational opening paragraph really sets the scene for the changes to come.

Steven quoted from the book ‘Reinventing Discovery’, where Michael Nielsen argues that we are living at the dawn of the most dramatic change in science in more than 300 years. Steven discussed the importance of moving information out of people's heads, and out of siloed laboratories, to be accessible on the network as a fundamental imperative on this road to change.

Funders response

Steven commented on funder’s response to this issue, which have served to drive and incentivise the issue of open access.

The new HEFCE policy will work alongside this by removing those perceived barriers, whilst protecting the elements of dissemination that should be retained.

The Post 2014 REF

  • Deposited
  • Discoverable
  • Accessible

Steven pointed out that ‘The Post 2014 REF’ is really the correct terminology for the forthcoming assessment. Phrases like ‘REF 2020’ are misleading as we don’t yet know when the assessment will take place. Assessments usually take place every 5-8 years.

There is a focus on open access full-text deposit and metadata discovery. This applies to Journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication after 1 April 2016.

The requirements state that peer-reviewed manuscripts must be deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. The title and author of these deposits, and other descriptive information must be discoverable straight away by anyone with a search engine. The manuscripts must then be accessible for anyone to read and download once any embargo period has elapsed.

Steven highlighted the fact that deposits are not limited to institutional repositories. However, he expects that universities will require this for their researchers in order that they have better control over the assessment.
The aims are to make papers discoverable as early as possible and accessible through whatever open access route is available. They are green/gold neutral, but expect required embargoes for publically accessible open access to be 12 and 24 months depending on the discipline.

There is a feeling that the open access monograph landscape is not yet developed enough to make this an assessment criteria of the panel. This is especially in terms of business models, but the board does recognise emerging opportunities and associated risks. Consequently, the policy does not apply to long-form outputs. However, they are discussing the possibilities of additional credits for authors who do make their monographs and book chapter’s available open access. They expect this will be a criteria for this in future REF assessments.

They are also discussing the availability of additional credits for reuse rights and text mining. Text mining is expected to be available under the new government copyright legislations outlined by the Hargreaves review.
Whilst there are exceptions for submission, they don't think these will be widely used.
Based on the results of the REF 2013 assessment, they expect that 96% of papers submitted will be able to comply with these requirements without changing their choice of publication venues.

Open data

Open data could be rewarded in the next REF. However, it's a complex and diverse issue. Sometimes it's not possible to make your research data openly available, for example when dealing with issues of confidentiality. Sometimes research data is very large. Steven gave the example of the square kilometre array, which is the world’s biggest radio telescope. In terms of data, this project annually collects the equivalent of 50000 DVDs.

The culture surrounding open data is still being developed. It is most important that all key stakeholders play a role in supporting researchers as they adapt and react to this new imperative. For HEFCE this is a key consideration at the forefront of their thinking.


HEFCE have been performing a metrics research review. They have been considering some key questions. Primarily, what kinds of metrics for research performance are out there? What do they measure? Are they fair? What are the behavioural impacts of using metrics?

Steven commented on example of gender bias in citations. Overall, men are cited more than women.

Open research assessment

Steven took us through an example of the classical research cycle. This has been described and thought of in its current form for a very long time. He commented that open access serves to take part of this cycle and make it openly available. The same can be said for open data.

However, the changing landscape makes it possible for this entire cycle to be revolutionised. Resources like figshare enable ‘micro publishing’. This allows for little chunks of data and small experiments to be instantly accessible potentially providing a much broader picture.

Steven also mentioned ‘Open notebooks’ as a scientific method. In these research cycles, the whole process becomes open at all stages.

Steven also commented that Post-publication peer review is becoming more important than pre-publication peer review, as it provides impact and analysis in real-time.

All these networks and linkages across institutions, resources – across large and small data and research projects – present a real challenge for the community as researchers and assessors.

New methods and standards are required in order support these new evolving research practices and to ensure fair and accurate assessment.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Tell us what you want, what you really, really want: a blank page approach to reviewing serial subscriptions

Helen Adey, Nottingham Trent University 
Helen gave us interesting insight on Nottingham Trent University’s different approach to performing their recent serials review.


Typically, libraries perform serial reviews because of money. At Nottingham Trent, they rarely get full inflation allowance each year – e.g. the university might give 2%, but publishers might raise prices by 4% - so they are forced to make cuts.

In the past, they have given subscription lists to their academics to identify titles that are no longer relevant or, if there is a new title they wanted, they had to cancel something else of equivalent cost.  This was not successful as the faculty didn’t engage with this this approach and, additionally, if you have taken this approach for years, it can feel like you have already cut all the optional bits and are already down to the bare bones.

Additionally, the book budget has been used to support serials but this is not sustainable as every year journal prices outstrip the RPI inflation.

Researching methodologies

They launched a survey last May, asking how different libraries reviewed their holdings  and received 97 responses from 12 countries.  Most were in Higher Education, but they also got responses from corporate bodies and specialist libraries.  Responses came in on the following topics:
Frequency of serials review:
  • annually (64%)
  • when required (18%)
  • 2-3 years (17%)
  • 4-5 years (1%)

 What approach do you adopt:
  • in depth on all subjects (47%)
  • selective review by subject (35%)
  • other (17%)

What factors or data sources are used in the review: 
  • change in sub cost
  • usage data
  • qualitative feedback from faculty
  • qualitative feedback from students
  • librarian discretion and expertise
  • changes in research activity

Who gets to vote on serials selection:
  • no voting (65%)
  • academic staff (14%)
  • researchers (8%)
  • students (2%)

Common themes across all respondents included budget driven decision making, with CPU and prices being a main consideration, and usage statistics being the main driver for cancellations.

They also identified various different methodologies for serials review:

  • annual review
  • subscriptions committee
  • discussion amongst library staff
  • discussion with faculties
  • annual review by academics
  • faculty ranking journals, using the 100 points and sorting system

A new methodology

So with this in mind, they decided to try a new methodology: Zero Based Budgeting.  Rather than having what you had last year and try for more, starting completely from scratch and bidding for the money. Forget what you have now and tell us what you really want. 

They performed a pilot across 3 schools, starting with a survey to find out which journals people used daily, weekly and monthly; which 7 journals would they take to a desert island; if a storm washed all the journals away, which one would they save.

The level of engagement varied from school to school.  The School of Science did not choose to engage, and the School of Art and Design having already started thinking about their serials.  This meant they were only able to fully trial the methodology with the School of Social Sciences.

They asked the School what they used for their research and what they recommended their students, and gave them nothing to influence thinking – no statistics, no lists, no prices.


Art and Design had already done some voting, so the library attended their School Day, bringing along sample copies of journals (both existing titles that had not been voted for and new requests that hadn’t been in the library before) and coloured stickers for the School to use for voting.  The data was then collated and the titles were ranked.  They found there were commonalities, and definite correlation between usage statistics and cancelled titles.  In the end they got rid of 6 titles, and got 22 cheaper titles instead.
In the School of Social Sciences there was a massive amount of voting and disparity of voting. The library has identified some possible cancellations based on usage, and some new additions based on priority listings.  They are hoping the new subscriptions are cheaper than the cancellations and at the moment they are confident they can hit the top two priority levels.

The liaison librarians have prioritised subscriptions based on number of votes and occasionally on costs, and are trying to ensure a balance across the different needs of the School.

Evaluation of the approaches 

The pros and cons of the traditional review

Pros included: quick process and can fit with sub year and finding that mythical time when you can get academics’ attention and get their input; can fit this in with renewal timings; much less work that blank page, but voting restricted to current subs.
They felt that the cons outweighed the plus points: methodology feels synonymous with “cuts” in academics’ minds; it requires academic input; it can be challenging for a new researcher, who might have less influence than an established academic, to get their preferences considered.

Traditionally, the library asked academics to see what can be cancelled, rather than the process being driven by usage stats.

The impact on collection was minimal with stable subscription profiles.  Is that good or is it static and moribund?  Seeing as there are new journals and research areas you would expect more fluctuation so perhaps low engagement.

The pros and cons of the blank page approach

Pros: more holistic view of what is required; embedded usage stats as part of process, the stats have added reassurance; a fit for purpose collection that meets needs, rather than historic profile; very positive faculty feedback as they enjoyed being part of the process rather than it being a paper exercise.

Cons: mixed levels of engagement; sometimes low response levels (what level do you need to see before you can respond if only half of school bothered to respond it would be skewed); poor fit with the library subs year (the School responded in June last year but they are waiting for signoff so it will be almost 18months); it is a huge piece of work.

They are not happy with the traditional method, and the jury is still out on the blank page method - isit sustainable or is there a better evidence based way of doing this?

What about other ways of finding out what users want?

The library uses Tallis Aspire to produce report on all journal and articles on Resource Lists, which answers what they are recommending to students. 
ILL data can be catagorised by school
The library can capture requests to digitise content and put on  the VLE
Turnaway data from publisher- should count towards evidence of what users want

What evidence is there for what ppl don’t want?

Low usage stats can be evidence- they have started looking at CPU v ILL
Reports of loss of e access and nobody noticed for months – how would you collate and use that data.
In-house knowledge of subject teams.

Conclusions and learning points

  • Don’t underestimate:
    • how important it is to engage academics to tell them what you are trying to achieve, why they need to engage.  Don’t assume.
    • the workload pre and post review, and all the analysis
    • the unpredictable nature of voting patterns
    • the likelihood of top wish list items being something they already have
  • Don’t make survey too complex and don’t ask too many questions as this can lead to unfinished surveys. 
  • Be aware that the journal they really need might not be in the list that they’ve voted for.
  • Some academics might deliberately or unknowingly misunderstand questions
  • Think about metrics: does frequency of journal use bear relation to importance of journal to the academic?
  • Consider other approached to find out information (slot on courses meetings etc.) 
  • Make sure that, having engaged the academics, you feed back on actions taken and outcomes.
  • Use this approach with caution if you have to cut journals as you need to be confident of a “good news” outcome at the end or some sort of contingency plan so you can follow through and not disappoint people

Future activity

The jury is still out on if this approach is the way to go, so another pilot would be an idea, perhaps involving a combination of both survey and face to face.

As blank page involves a great deal of work, they are considering a rolling cycle of department blank pages reviews on different years, with departments getting equal value in and out reviews in between.

They are also thinking about trying the evidence based metrics approach (ILL, rec lists and usage stats).

Breakout Group C: ‘Unearthing gold: hard labour for publishers and universities?’

Presenter: Paul Harwood (Jisc Collections)

Blogger: David Walters (King’s College London)

Paul gave us an update on a JISC collections project he has been working on for the past year. The project was developed in the wake of the ‘Finch report’ (2012) and the subsequent introduction of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) policy (2013). The aim of the project was to provide a ‘quick and dirty’ insight as to what has been happening and the perceptions of what has been happening.

Activities around the project involved:
A questionnaire to RLUK members in January 2014
Face-to-face interviews with 7 publishers in March 2014
Telephone interviews with representatives from 4 European countries

RCUK is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils. Each year the Research Councils invest around £3 billion in research covering the full spectrum of academic disciplines from the medical and biological sciences to astronomy, physics, chemistry and engineering, social sciences, economics, environmental sciences and the arts and humanities

Paul reflected on the statement presented to him by numerous RCUK representatives during the project:

“This is a journey not an event”

Paul also commented on the mission statement of the RCUK open access policy and noted that it was last updated in May last year. Further changes may be seen as we move further into the transition to open access publishing and the impact of the RCUK policy is realised more widely.


Questionnaire to RLUK members

Paul explained that the project targeted RLUK as subjects because they are an excellent collection of the ‘great and the good’ research led institutions in the UK. There are a greater number of institutions that are members of RLUK and a greater number of universities that are eligible for RCUK funding, which is why this group was chosen as a sample over the Russell group. There are currently 34 members (and growing). 28 members are in receipt of RCUK funding.

71% of eligible institutions responded to the questionnaire. There were some interesting findings:

“Around a 1/3rd of respondents had a mandate for authors to deposit papers into the institutional repository.“

Paul noted there was some confusion around the term mandate vs policy. He commented that this cuts to the ‘heart of the argument’ on open access. Should authors be forced into disseminating their research openly? Will institutions meet resistance from researchers as a result?

“Around a 1/5rd of respondents had an institutional fund for authors prior to the new RCUK policy. Now around 2/3rds do“

Research funders also appear to be advocating more stick and less carrot. The vast majority of institutions did not have a mandate before RCUK policy came into effect but have since introduced a central fund to support authors meet the conditions of their grant.

The project found the BIS fund is likely to have had a big impact on this trend. Significant percentages have spent this money on prepayment accounts for the payment of future APCs, staff resources and retrospective gold. The highest number of agreements was 16.

Paul noted that another significant finding is that the library is leading this initiative in almost every case.

There is an average of 117 RCUK funded articles published per institution from April 2013. They found a large range of total funds spent between institutions, ranging from 30k to 500k. Many institutions have stated that if the money runs out, they intend to meet any remaining costs themselves.

Cambridge stood out as an institution as they have published their collected data on figshare. There is hope that other institutions will follow suit.

Overwhelmingly, institutions want to be proactive and to understand the workflows involved, which is why most are handling payments themselves. Around 1/3 are making use of the JISC APC and OAK scheme and approximately 2/3 are using their own system.

The most time and effort around the workflows has been going into checking that requirements have been met. This could involve checking all articles for acknowledgments, for example.

When approving payments, most institutions will not pay a gold APC charge if the publication does not meet the RCUK terms and conditions - an incorrect creative commons license, for example.

The project found a lot of frustration around the communication of RCUK to it’s authors. The majority of institutions positively support RCUK policy. However, many are concerned about spiraling costs and others concerned about the overall strategy by promoting Gold over Green. In advice to authors, more than ¾ of those surveyed are expressing institutional preference for achieving the RCUK objectives through the green compliance option over the gold.


Face-to-face interviews with 7 publishers

“A journey or an event”

Paul discussed some emerging themes with different publishers. During the project they spoke to both large and small publishers for a range of perspectives.

On being asked how open access has been received in their respective publishing houses’ the view expressed a feeling that a sufficiently big transformation has occurred to warrant major change. It's now widely accepted that open access is not going away and they are adapting their models to meet this challenge
There are major problems with many publishers in tracking funder information. For many it is information that is simply not held. The new RCUK policy has prompted a change in the way they store and manage this information. Many of the big publishers now incorporate funders and their associated requirements into their submission system. So far this is just not viable for some of the smaller publishers. All groups are looking for the development of industry standards surrounding the issue in order to meet this requirement. Integration with FundRef is one such solution they are working on.

This work is partly being informed by RIN (Research Information Network), who have produced new report detailing the kind monitoring that needs to take place in the transition to open access.

Many publishers are working to alleviate allegations of double dipping by changing their business models to offset these costs.

So far they have found a high administrative overhead with regard to this work.


Other representatives

Austria now closely mirrors the UK in terms of a mandated open access policy.

In Austria, funders are entering into agreements with publishers on behalf of their authors. The Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Austrian Academic Consortium (Kooperation E-Medien Österreich), the Austrian Central Library for Physics at the University of Vienna and IOP Publishing (IOP) have announced a new pilot project that will provide advance funding for Austrian researchers to publish on a hybrid open access basis in IOP’s subscription journals and which will offset that funding against subscription and licence fees paid by the Austrian Academic Consortium for access to IOP’s journals.

Other countries want to see more government support in order to make steady progress in the transition to open access. In the words of some, they would like their own David Willets!

There is a perception that most publishers do not want to see open access fully realised. Generally there is a preference among funders for green route. However, if it appears that this is not meeting expectations, they are ready to make a case for gold funded OA.

In the Netherlands, they sense there is a growing open access movement building in the same way as the UK. However, although they are committed to this, they are not prepared to put additional funds aside in the same way. There is a perception that publishers took over the finch report and have used it to generate more revenue.

There is a feeling that green isn't working and that research evaluation needs serious review.
In Germany there is a real sense that their Government is not engaged with the issue of open access, despite repeated appeals by researchers who want it. They suggest that the RCUK policy is flawed and they shouldn't put more money in the system. Supporting two systems is seen as unsustainable.

ROAD: the Directory of Open Access Scholarly Resources

Presentation given by François-Xavier Pelegrin (Head of the Bibliographic Data Section, ISSN International Centre) on Tuesday 15th April 2014
ROAD is a free service offered by the ISSN International Centre with the support of the Communication and Information Sector of UNESCO. It complements UNESCO’s Global Open Access Portal (GOAP).

60,000 – 65,000 new resources identified each year. Includes databases, websites, loose-leaf items.
ISSN established by UNESCO and the French Government. ISSN does not assess the quality of resources – it just identifies them. 

There has been a significant growth in OA, facilitated by OA systems, e.g. DSpace. Over 3,600 Institutional Repositories registered in ROAR. Approx. 17,000 OA journals, 9,700 DOAJ journals – number currently decreasing as the selection criteria is now more selective.

ISSN receives a lot of questions from researchers and students asking if a journal has an ISSN does this mean that the journal is of a very good quality? They also ask if they can get help finding a good quality journal.  ISSN itself can’t help. There is confusion about their role. 

The ISSN Centre realised that researchers need tools to make positive choices, so ROAD, as a short-term project, started at the end of April last year and ran to the end of December last year, when the beta version was launched. It is hoped that a complete service will be provided by the end of this year.

ROAD is a database of bibliographic data. It contains ISSN records which have been enriched by information on journal quality. This is done by matching the ISSN number with external sources, e.g. DOAJ, SCOPUS. IRs are also listed if they have an ISSN.

It serves three major purposes are:

  • Providing a single access point to various types of online scholarly resources published as open access.
  • Uses the ISSN as key identifier to aggregate data about the quality and reputation of OA resources
  •  Gives an overview of open access scholarly content worldwide.


  • Type of online scholarly resource, such as journals, conference proceedings, academic repositories, monographic series;
  • OA resource;
  • No money wall;
  • Audience is mostly academics, scholars, etc.;

DOAJ; Econlit; Catalogo (Latindex); PsychInfo; Linguistic Abstracts; Scopus; SJR; SNIP; The Keepers Registry.  There is also an agreement in principle with EigenFactor (University Of Washington).
There have been discussions with other organisations which can be used as sources. 

Main features:

  • Faceted search
  • Map search
  • Search by country, subject, indexing service, journal indicator and by ISSN
  • The records are freely downloadable as RDF triples and as MARC XML dump and reuseable under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license
  • Journal indicators and indexing and abstracting services are presented in detail (coverage, method and selection criteria).

Next steps :

  • Improve the service – map, more responsive design.
  • Retrospective identification of OA resources in the ISSN Register.
  • Identification of IRs (semi-automatic assignment method).
  • Enrichment of ROAD records: Article Processing Charge (APC) (Yes/No); license, type and content of repositories, type of peer-review.
  • Development of classification (to improve access by subject), so as to make it more granular.
  • Additional partnerships.
  • Committee for selecting/validating partnerships.
  •  RDF outputs using PRESSo model developed by the ISSN and Bibliotheque National de France.
At the end of the presentation someone asked if there is a way to identify on an ISSN record whether the item is OA. The answer is ‘yes’ as there is a tag in which specific codes for OA resources is entered.

Another question asked was about the funding for ROAD and whether there is a long-term future for the service. The answer was that the service is seen as very important as it will give a general view of scholarly communication and also help researchers find good-quality OA resources and make informed choices about which ones to publish in and use.