Blog posts

Thesis Thursday from 1920: “He wanted to infuse others with the spirit of research and to disseminate knowledge”

To commemorate the second Thesis Thursday during global Open Access Week (October 21-27, 2019) we have gone down to the basement of Central Library here at South Kensington to look at our collection of doctoral theses.

It’s there that we discovered the earliest doctorate thesis that we hold (the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) to one Surendra Nath Dhar with a thesis entitled A New Method of Halogenation which was awarded in 1920 in the Department of Chemistry.

Surendra was a twenty-six year old Chemist from Assam in India who to came to London in September 1918 in the very last months of the Great War. He was a student of Sir Jocelyn Field Thorpe – but here’s the whole story written by Tanjore S. Natrajan courtesy of the Journal of the Chemical Society, Transactions.

SURENDRA NATH DHAR was born in January, 1892, in a village in the Moulviba, zar sub-division of the district of Sylhet in Assam. He received his early schooling in the village ”Pathsala” and later in Muraricharid school at Sylhet. In 1909, he passed the entrance examination of the University of Calcutta and became a ward of Sir Prafulla Chandra Ray. Studying first at the Ripon College and later at the Berhampore College, he completed the courses for the intermediate and final B.Sc. examinations; in the latter, he was placed in the first division with honours in chemistry.

Dhar’s post-graduate studies commenced in 1913 at Dacca under Dr. E. R. Watson (now Principal of the Technological College at Cawnpore) and he obtained the M,Sc. degree (first class) in 1915. It is at this time he was initiated into research work on the xanthone series by Dr. Watson. As Assam Government Scholar, he carried on research work at the Presidency College, Calcutta, for two years. He was then appointed Professor of Chemistry at the A. M. College, Mymensingh (Bengal) and, three months later, Guru Prasanna Ghose Scholar of the Calcutta University. On the recommendation of the Government of Assam, the scholarship of the Government of India was awarded to him. With these two scholarships, Dhar left for England in September, 1918. He entered the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, where, under the able guidance of Professor J. F. Thorpe, he continued his work on the xanthone series. After a year’s work, he was admitted to the D.Sc. Degree of the London University. He spent a year in touring the Continent, and then, after working for some time on colours at the Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik, returned to India. In July, 1921, he entered the Indian Educational Service and was appointed Professor of Technical Chemistry at the Civil Engineering College, Guindy, Madras.

Here, unsupported, and hampered by the difficulties attending retrenchment, Dhar laboured to improve the condition of the chemical department. Here also, on December 9th, 1923, occurred his tragic death, due to the inadvertent inhalation (or tasting?) of potassium cyanide fumes.

Dhar leaves behind an old mother, a young wife-he was married, only in June, 1923, to Miss Nanda Rani Sinha-and a large circle of friends and co-workers at Madras and Assam. Whatever might have been his rank as a chemist, his place as a man is assuredly very high. He wanted to infuse others with the spirit of research and to disseminate knowledge. His maxim was :-” No one for himself alone; all for all and every one for others.” He was intensely religious and a splendid example of plain living and high thinking. Simple in habits, unostentatious in manner, diligent in study, and careful in his work, he gave promise of a great career, which the cruel hand of death has brought to an untimely end. An affectionate son, a loving friend, and a dutiful man, his like it will not be easy to find.

T. S. NATRAJAN

SURENDRA NATH DHAR.
BORN JANUARY, 1892; DIED DECEMBER ~TH, 1923.

DOI: 10.1039/CT9242502677 (Other) J. Chem. Soc., Trans., 1924, 125, 2677-2698
Surendra sounded like a thoroughly nice chap and of the three published papers he produced during his time at Imperial, like all good students he thanked his research supervisors for their “kind encouragement” –  Professor J Thorpe but also Martha Annie Whiteley, a prominent Chemist who was best known for her dedication to advancing women’s equality in the field of chemistry.
Dhar, Surendra Nath. A New Method of Halogenation (1920). Print.
Imperial’s first doctorate Dhar, Surendra Nath. A New Method of Halogenation (1920). Print.
The most famous/notorious story in chemistry about cyanide revolves around Gilbert N Lewis, who despite being nominated 41 times for the Nobel prize and who was the first person to identify the modern story of the chemical bond in 1916 never won it. His great rival however, Irving Langmuir, did win it and was suspected of poisoning him after a lunch they had together at Berkeley.  On the day of his death around  1943, he met with Langmuir for lunch and afterward went back to his laboratory, but was discovered dead an hour or so later of cyanide poisoning.

Details of our theses (and masters dissertations) we hold at Imperial are located on the Library’s theses webpages and our earliest digitised thesis comes from 1927 – with a title of “Flow of water in canals fitted with Venturi flumes” by Dr Mohammed Amin.

Happy Thesis Thursday 2019!

Plan U: Open access initiative

Plan U: A mandate for universal access to research using preprints 

Introduction: 

A preprint is a full draft of a research paper that is shared publicly before it has been peer reviewed. They are a growing form of scholarly communication. Plan U aims to make use of preprints to provide universal access to research. We are at a point where traditional forms of scholarly communication are slow and inaccessible. Can a preprint mandate change this?

Plan U is an open access initiative that seeks to mandate depositing research papers to a preprint server before publication. This mandate would come from funders. (More information is available in this article)

 

What are the problems? 

  1. The process of getting a research paper published is slow and arguably this is getting slower. This means that research is delayed in being seen and used.
  2. Plan U aims to tackle issues of accessibility. Once a paper is accepted it remains behind the journal paywall. Even if papers are deposited into open access repositories there are usually embargoes. This means that research papers are inaccessible to those who do not have access to the journal platforms.
  3. The final issue is the expense. Some are lucky enough to have funds to pay for Article Processing Charges (APCs) at which point your research is made available at the point of publication. However, even the richest universities struggle to find money to pay for these fees.

Preprint servers: 

Plan U suggests that by using preprint servers you can speed up the access to the research and make it widely accessible for minimal costsPreprint servers are free for both the reader and the author. Posting preprints is already widely accepted in many disciplines and is growing in others. 

arXiv is generally considered the first preprint server and has been around since 1991arXiv hosts approximately 1.5 million papers and this is growing at the rate of 140,000 a year. In the last five years, the success of arXiv has sparked the creation of other subject specific preprint servers such as bioRxivchemRxivEarthArxivmedRxiv to name a few. It is estimated that by depositing preprints this could speed up scientific research by five times over 10 years. 

arXiv logo. White text on red background

Benefits of preprints: 

There are recognised benefits to posting preprints. Plan U highlights the benefits of preprints to the community. Here are some benefits to the authors: 

  • Credit: Preprints are citeable pieces 
  • Feedback: Preprints accommodate wide feedback from a wide-ranging audience 
  • Visibility: Papers that appear in preprint servers receive more alternative metrics 
  • Reliable: Preprints often do not differ significantly from the published article 

If you want any advice on your preprints please contact the Imperial Open Access team. 

 

Better use of money: 

Without the burden of paying for high APCs more money will be freed up to work on improving systems of peer-review and academic publishing processes. 

Plan S vs Plan U: 

Plan S is an open access initiative that aims to make research papers freely accessible by mandating 10 key principles. The problem facing plan S is that it requires many changes to existing infrastructures of academic publishing. 

Plan U, on the other hand, doesn’t require a lot of change as it plans to make use of preprint serversPreprints are a growing form of scholarly communication and are widely accepted by researchers and publishers alike. Plan U is not an alternative to Plan S and the two could run concurrently if any funder wished to do so. 

EarthArxiv logo. An open orange lock with blue and green earth surrounded by the text Earth ArXiv

Conclusion: 

The Plan U website is a very basic text only webpage. It doesn’t include information on who is responsible for Plan U. To find this out you should look at the article published in PLoS. As the websites doesn’t contain any references or links to follow I think further development is still needed. At this point Plan U is still just an idea and whilst everyone is focused on Plan S this mandate may be one for the future.

Event: 

If you are interested in learning more about Plan U and Preprints, there will be a free event hosted at Silwood Park Campus on November 27, 2019. Please visit Eventbrite to view the programme and sign up for your free ticket. 

Most useful for: All postgraduate students (masters and PhD), and staff involved in research. 

Less gold & more green – Research Councils and Open Access at Imperial

In common with a number of other universities in receipt of Research Councils UK (RCUK/UKRI**) funding for open access (Cambridge, UCL, LSHTM), we cannot pay for every single RCUK-funded output to be immediate open access. The Vice Provost’s Advisory Group for Research have therefore decided to restrict the use of the RCUK grant to only pay where:

  • a. the publication output is in a fully open access title that appears in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or
  • b. the publication title does not provide a compliant “green” (self-archiving) open access route

RCUK funded authors can still expect financial support for open access for the following:

  • Fully open access journals e.g. PLoS, BMC etc.
  • ‘Hybrid’ open access journals – but only when a compliant publisher “green” (self-archiving) open access route is unavailable or exceeds the individual research council embargo.

Rather than paying for open access, if you are in receipt of funding from the UK research councils, you can comply by simply self-archiving (a REF2021 requirement already). Provided that the publisher’s required embargo does not exceed the maximum permitted. The vast majority of publications are compliant via the self-archiving open access route and authors can check individual embargo periods of journals via Sherpa Romeo.

Funder Maximum permitted embargo

MRC 6 months
BBSRC 12 months
EPSRC 12 months
NERC 12 months
STFC 12 months
ESRC 24 months

It is important to note that the choice of publication venue will not be compromised as we will pay when they exceed the permitted embargo. Funder compliance and REF2021 output eligibility will also be ensured.

The full policy of the College’s RCUK fund is available via the Open Access Library website as well as contact details with the OA Team.

**UKRI: UK Research and Innovation brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England into a single organisation.

Copyright for Repository Administrators: Open access, Theses and GDPR

Part of my role in the Open Access team is depositing theses to Spiral and providing guidance and advocacy to students. I recently attended the Copyright for Repository Administrators: Open access, Theses and GDPR event held at the Foundling Museum which focused on best practices for e-theses in open access repositories. It specifically focused around the issues of copyright and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance; advocacy and clear guidance for students.

GDPR and repositories: making the Apollo repository compliant

There were some very interesting talks presented by the four speakers. I think one of the more interesting talks was by Zoe Walker-Fagg, Project Coordinator of Scholarly Communications at at the University of Cambridge. Her talk, entitled GDPR and repositories: making the Apollo repository compliant addressed the issue of student personal data being live on repositories. The GDPR policy came into effect in May 2018 to provide new guidelines around the handling of personal information for all EU citizens.

Zoe covered four areas where Cambridge were making their repository GDPR compliant. Firstly, the issue of student signatures in both their printed and electronic theses, a GDPR breach of personal data.   An issue face by many HEIs, including Imperial. This was tackled by manually covering up student signatures in their printed thesis as well as users’ signatures (from completed Thesis form attached to the thesis). A similar process was undertaken to delete signatures from electronic theses, which is on-going, along with retrospectively removing signature from older theses, in order to be GDPR compliant.

The second action Cambridge took was to update permission forms /deposit licences where potentially a signature would have been required and replace it with a declaration statement.  Where personal data like signatures were still required for permission forms, for example to from student for inter-library loan, these data were stored and clearly marked to be easily identifiable and kept until the appropriate length of time.

Thirdly, to update their guidance for both students and researchers depositing data into their data repository, so that it falls in line with new GDPR policy. To ensure that students and researchers have clarity around making personal information openly available and in what instances personal and sensitive datasets could be deposited. Finally, to ensure GDPR compliance, Cambridge also checked that external suppliers and support systems such as Sharepoint kept personal data in secure locations.

EThOS

Sara Gould, from the British Library talked about EThOS which is a national aggregated record of all doctoral theses awarded by UK Higher Education institutions. It offers free access to the full text of as many theses as possible for use by all researchers to further their own research. The service now holds over 500,000 UK theses, of which 54% is open access. Sara explained that the digitisation of theses via the ‘theses on demand’ service had reduced the issues of copyright (in relation to author permissions and third party copyright). This was because increasing numbers of theses are being made open access and therefore could be harvested via EThOS, either full-text or by a link to an institutional repository. The BL also encouraged repositories to mint DOIs for their theses, and students to use their ORCiD in their thesis as these identifiers can then be harvested.

Sara also touched on the issue of data protection and confirmed where possible, that the BL was removing signatures from theses when and where they found them. One caveat was the BL, understandingly, could not retrospectively remove signatures from all the copies of theses that they held. The question was raised of the difficulty of tracking down other copies (to remove signatures) on other platforms or aggregated repositories such as COnnecting REpositories (CORE)  which harvests the full-text copies of theses from UK HEI repositories as well as research outputs.

The BL is piloting their new open access shared repository, with partners from the Tate, British Museum, National Museum of Scotland and Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). The shared repository will be launched later in the year and its aim is to increase the exposure and impact of cultural research.

Open by default: electronic theses at LSHTM

Dominic Walker, (who previously worked in the OA team at Imperial) talked about Open by default: electronic theses at LSHTM, which provided an overview of the London School of Hygiene of Tropical Medicine’s open access policy in relation to e-theses, which by default makes all their theses open access under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Non Derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) (students do have an option to choose their own licence). At Imperial, since November 2018, students are now able choose from 6 Creative Commons licences, instead of the former default licence CC-BY-NC-ND.

LSHTM decided to mint DOIs for all their theses using DataCite in recognition that theses downloads are higher than publications and they contained important research. The repository also has the Altmetric plugin to measure impact and downloads  Lastly, Dominic touched upon the work LSHTM was doing on training and advocacy provided to students questions and concerns around copyright and open access of their thesis.

London South Bank University

London South Bank University’s Stephen Grace from presented on Baby See, Baby Do: modelling good scholarly communications behaviour with doctoral which looked at best practices for training, induction and advocacy. The aim was to make guidelines and regulations clear for doctoral students on the subjects of open access, copyright, licences, embargoes, research data management. Stephen encouraged institutions to make sure that students are aware about the guidelines and processes from submitting their thesis to having their thesis open access online, and the implications of open access publishing. Stephen also mentioned that institutions should consider how students can receive feedback about the impact of their thesis through Altmetric.

Overall, I think the key messages were around data protection and GDPR compliance; providing clear and effective guidelines, procedures and training on open access and copyright to enable doctoral students to make right choices.

Response to Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S from Imperial College London

The following is the response to cOAlition S request for feedback on Plan S and was written in consultation with academics, research committees and colleagues across the College.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY

Imperial College welcomes the move to align funder Open Access Policies. It also recognises that research and publication are global and collaborative ventures and that collaborators do not all have equal access to research funding, nor are most of them covered by funders with open access policies and aims.

At present it is estimated that cOAlition S signatory funded research results in the production of <8% global published outputs arising from research and that wholesale changes of business model are likely only once that funder base increases substantially. In the meantime, a mixed model will need to continue to exist.

Nonetheless, Imperial College supports a general move to open access to the research findings of its academics – nearly 88% of 2018 College research outputs are available open access via a combination of full OA journals, hybrid journals, and repository deposit.

As they stand, the Implementation Guidelines present issues which may reverse this trend, result in an increased financial burden for research intensive institutions – at worst perpetuating the subscription model – and limit funding available for exploring new publishing business models, particularly models which would support learned societies. They also risk alienating a community already engaging in open science practices, some of whom have been at the vanguard of open access for over 20 years, including open access publishing. The suggestions below offer some responses to those issues, responses which were prepared following discussion at meetings of the Vice Provost’s Advisory Group for Research, at Faculty Research Committees and with individual academics.

Feedback summary

This Feedback is both aimed at eliciting clarification and at suggesting further actions that can be considered by cOAlition S funders which would, we believe, lead to the opportunity for practical, achievable and affordable steps to be taken towards accelerating Plan S aims of making full and immediate open access a reality. In summary, these include:

  • Seeking an achievable implementation period, one which is scalable along with the growth in number of cOAlition S signatories and therefore the % global research outputs covered by those funders;
  • Seeking clarification on the intentions around transformative publishing agreements and suggesting an approach that will not adversely impede choices of cOAlition S funded authors at a time when >90% of their counterparts may not be covered by such policies;
  • Seeking clarification on the “unit” of the transformation agreements – Journal or Publisher? In making this response we stress that content is typically negotiated at publisher level, rarely at the level of the individual journal;
  • Highlighting the role of a model Institutional Open Access Policy [1] as a mechanism for achieving Plan S aims, as a lever to constrain costs, as a mechanism to ensure retention of choice of venue of publication while membership of cOAlition S grows and while institution/consortial negotiations with publishers are ongoing;
  • Seeking clarification of and changes to the repository deposit criteria to enable researchers to continue to harness the rich network of existing repositories available to them noting, in the UK at least, that we believe that no institutional repositories yet meet the Plan S repository criteria, that repositories are integrated with institutional current research information systems and that change in this systems infrastructure is highly unlikely to be considered until the conclusion of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework exercise.
  • Noting effort needed to support learned societies in their re‐thinking of business models.

1. IS THERE ANYTHING UNCLEAR OR ARE THERE ANY ISSUES THAT HAVE NOT BEEN ADDRESSED BY THE GUIDANCE DOCUMENT?

Transformative agreements: By publisher or by journal?

It is essential that we seek clarification as to how Plan S interprets journals covered by transformative agreements [2] and that we analyse and communicate the consequences of that clarification. A discussion with one cOAlition S signatory raised alarm bells because they were talking about journals, not about publishers. In stating this position, they drew attention to Section 2 of the Guidance on the implementation of Plan S which includes the following two statements:

  • Authors publish in a Plan S compliant Open Access journal
  • Authors publish Open Access with a CC BY licence in a subscription journal that is covered by a transformative agreement that has a clear and time‐specified commitment to a full Open Access transition

To understand the implications of these guidelines, it is important to understand how content is licensed, how current and emerging transformative deals work and to recognise that universities, often as part of wider consortia, mostly subscribe to publishers (Big Deals) and not to individual journals. If Plan S really means journals then we anticipate considerable challenges, challenges which essentially set Plan S up to fail unless an exceptional set of circumstances come into alignment within the very short transition timeline indicated:

PUBLISHERS

  • Libraries subscribe to bundles of content – typically via a publisher
  • cOAlition S currently funds ~8% of global research outputs
  • Read and Publish (R&P) deals are negotiated at the publisher level, not at the journal level, but they do ensure that over time, 100% of the outputs by academics at institutions taking the R&P Deal can be published OA in journals covered by that publisher R&P deal
  • If all institutions covered by cOAlition S funders negotiate R&P deals with all publishers with whom their academics publish, then 100% of cOAlition S funded work published in journals published by those publishers is OA (i.e. whatever % of the ~8% global publishing that those publishers represent). However, not all journals will be OA under this scenario because some journals will attract few or no articles from cOAlition S funded research.

JOURNALS

  • For any given large publisher portfolio, the cohort of journals in which academics publish will change and evolve. Whilst an academic may still publish in a Publisher X journal, it may not always be the same Publisher X journal. Analysis of data from Imperial College shows that between 2012 and 2018 Imperial authors published 50,225 articles in 5,375 journals published by 762 publishers, of which 1,790 articles were single articles in 1,790 separate journals
  • This gradual evolution of publishing choice, combined with the <8% funding coverage (cOAlition S funded research currently funds significantly less than 10% global published research outputs), create a challenge for publishers if cOAlition S are evaluating success at the journal level (as was understood from the cOAlition S funder discussion): the likelihood of a publisher flipping each journal in which an academic covered by cOAlition S funding publishes is very remote – certainly whilst the % publishing covered by those funders remains this low. The Imperial analysis shows that there is a very long tail of journals with single digit article publishing in any one year. For some journals, the publication rate is rising, for others, it is declining. The tail remains very long and includes many society journals where the society has outsourced its publishing activities to one of these commercial publishers. Unless the journal is only publishing cOAlition S funded work or is publishing a growing % cOAlition S funded research, it will almost certainly not be in position to flip to OA.
  • If cOAlition S means *journal* rather than *publisher*, our reading is that unless all the following conditions are met, Plan S will fail:
    • cOAlition S successfully bring on board all other significant funders of research
    • All publishers of cOAlition S funded outputs are willing to offer an affordable R&P deal to all institutions covered by cOAlition S funders
    • All institutions covered by cOAlition S funders take the deal.

If, however, we are talking about publishers, then under the publisher scenario above, it is possible for academics at cOAlition S funded institutions to meet Plan S aims where the deal is affordable to institutions, and scales to 100% of that institution’s publishing over time.

ADDITIONAL ATTRIBUTES OF A TRANSFORMATIVE AGREEMENT THAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED BY PLAN S

  • Machine readable licences to facilitate the flow of data and the automation of some text and data mining activities which can legitimately be performed on OA content.
  • Where a publisher is not yet in a position to offer a transformative deal, or to flip their journals to Open Access, it offered either
    • a Plan S compliant self‐archiving route, or
    • an undertaking not to refuse to publish work from an author solely on the grounds that the author belongs to an institution which has adopted a Plan S compliant Institutional Open Access Policy whereby rights are retained on behalf of academics and Author Accepted Manuscripts can be self‐archived.

Timescale

To which entity (journal or publisher) any cOAlition S funder policy applies, and from which date are key factors in ensuring that Plan S aims are achievable. Publisher negotiations can sometimes take two or more years to reach a conclusion and negotiations are generally staggered so as to be manageable by institutions and consortia.

Learned Societies do not yet necessarily have alternative publishing service providers to turn to, and the length of time from a decision to consider a move of provider to first publishing with a new provider can be considerably in excess of three years with some contracts lasting up to seven years. We recommend that the guidelines recognise these timelines and that these will be directly influenced by the pace at which the cOAlition S group grows.

Open access repositories

As written, the guidance appears to require publishers to undertake/facilitate the work of repository deposit and the repository criteria appear to have been drawn up with this in mind. However, we envisage a scenario, particularly in the early years of Plan S implementation, whereby an Institutional Open Access Policy incorporating rights retention and Plan S compliant licensing and embargo periods will be needed in addition to publisher negotiations for transformative publisher deals, particularly in the event that those deals prove to be unaffordable. That being the case, author self‐archiving will most likely be the means by which Author Accepted Manuscripts will be deposited and made available through repositories. To this end, it would be helpful if the current repository infrastructure were also considered as a valid and valuable mechanism to meet Plan S aims.

With the above in mind, we support the COAR response [3] to the Plan S repository requirement statement.

To set this in context: at Imperial we have already experienced strong publisher pushback on proposals to roll out adoption of a model Institutional Open Access Policy in the UK – the UKSCL Model Institutional Open Access Policy – and as such, rather than contributing to the perpetuation of the status quo for subscribed content, it is our belief that widespread adoption of an Institutional Open Access Policy which meets Plan S requirements will provide a further legal lever to encourage publishers to develop their own affordable and transformative routes towards achieving Plan S aims and to demonstrate the value that they otherwise add to the scholarly communications process beyond the availability of the AAM text in a repository.

2. ARE THERE OTHER MECHANISMS OR REQUIREMENTS FUNDERS SHOULD CONSIDER TO FOSTER FULL AND IMMEDIATE OPEN ACCESS OF RESEARCH OUTPUTS?

The role of an institutional open access policy which retains rights which achieve Plan S aims

We believe that institutional open access policies have a role to play in meeting Plan S aims:

  • As a lever to constrain costs. Widespread deals which result in a “read and publish” service for universities/consortia are a relatively new development and cost constraint, affordability, value for money and global applicability remain unproven. At their worst, they run the risk of perpetuating the subscription model and of tying funding up with traditional publishing rather than releasing it to support new initiatives. Universities may need an alternative means of ensuring the outputs of their researchers are available open access. An Institutional Open Access Policy which achieves the rights retention and availability envisioned by cOAlition S would fulfil this role, particularly if it enabled the release of funding to support alternative models of scholarly communication of research findings, e.g. a Diamond Open Access model which relies on core funding for the infrastructure and where no APC is paid by contributing academics.
  • cOAlition S support for an institutional rights‐retention policy [4] as a means of advancing cOAlition S funder aims would allay significant concerns amongst the research community that publishing choices may become overly restricted by circumstances beyond their control.

The role of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment – DORA – in scholarly communications culture change

Imperial is a signatory to DORA and is currently working through implementation.

There are a growing number of institutions signing DORA and moving to implement it. That number remains relatively small and academics at signatory institutions are conflicted in some of their dealings with collaborators and collaborating institutions. Continued funder assurances that the quality of the individual output and not the quality of the vehicle of publication will be assessed in grant funding applications is necessary in order to embed what is likely to remain a slow pace of change globally. We would welcome moves by the cOAlition S group to be more explicit in explaining how they will enact their commitment to reform of research evaluation, including how they will recruit international partners.

Global research and learned society publishing

  • As with commercial publishers, the business models for Learned Society publishing vary widely, from operating at a loss, to operating at very significant margins which at the extreme exceed those of the commercial publishers in % terms. Nonetheless, the following comments are relevant to this type of publishing.
  • Academics are members of learned societies many of which have outsourced their publishing activities to commercial publishers
  • Academic research is collaborative and global. The most appropriate venue for publication may not necessarily operate in a cOAlition S region, nor may the majority of the researchers/authors necessarily be in receipt of cOAlition S funding.
  • Typically, it can easily take three years for a learned society to move from one publisher service to another, and typically, a learned society is receiving and reviewing content now that will not be published for approx. 2 years (2021).
  • Viable alternative publishing service providers which support Plan S aims are not yet readily available in all disciplines and may need support at the discipline level from cOAlition S funders.
  • Many learned societies publish a significant proportion of research which is not covered by cOAlition S funding. To prevent cOAlition S funded researchers from publishing in these journals would create an artificial barrier to research communication
  • In a global context, institutions covered by cOAlition S research funding are at the wealthier end of the university market. Meanwhile, many learned societies actively encourage global collaboration irrespective of means. A world in which those less able to pay found themselves moving from paying to read to paying to publish would not be a world which has resolved inequalities of access to scholarship and sharing.
  • Academics are aware that current OA funding, even where it only supports publication in journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), or hybrid – either where a viable self‐archiving option is not available, or where a ‘read and publish’ deal via hybrid funding is available – is no longer sufficient to support publishing at that institution, let alone to support the emergence of new business models which would support society publishing.

Financial challenges for research-intensive institutions

Imperial is a research‐intensive institution. We have calculated that using the current average APC prices paid, paying to publish would cost over double our current subscriptions budget and would add circa £10m to current content costs. Even were it the case that across the UK the funding in the system was sufficient to support OA publishing of research, that funding is not currently allocated where it is needed to support a move to OA.

Why libraries can’t simply cease subscribing and use savings to fund OA

This observation is a response to several comments that cOAlition S funders have made regarding their assumptions on what library subscriptions currently fund.

With many publisher “big deals”, libraries have a mixture of “subscribed content” – usually a subset of the portfolio of journal titles covered by the deals – and additional content in the journal portfolio which is also accessible to academics at the institution. Publishers typically allow a small % shift of subscribed titles annually, usually based on value. Some institutions have kept a keen eye on their subscribed content to ensure that it matches use (e.g. reading‐list material and highly‐used journals). Others have not been so diligent and because publishers only allow this small % shift of subscribed titles annually it is not possible in any one year for those institutions to undertake retrospective sweep to ensure that all the content to which an institution continues to subscribe is the content that is most used by those at the institution. This is important because, generally speaking, whilst an institution may have a Post Cancellation Access – PCA – agreement that generally only covers subscribed content and not to everything else that the institution has been accessing/reading in the portfolio outside the subscribed content.

Because most institutions no longer subscribe to print copies, they are reliant on post-cancellation access to subscribed journals. PCA gives this access to those journals. If libraries have not kept a keen eye on subscribed content and adjusted over the years, the big risk is that in a scenario in which a library needs to cancel licensed access, unless they have PCA to the content that has been historically used by their institutions their users will lose access to those journals. Subscribed title records partly lie with institutions, partly with publishers and partly with subscription agents. Libraries may have changed agent a few times since taking out the original subscriptions (these date back to the mid‐1990s), and a number of agents have folded during this period, jeopardising access to accurate information. What we do know is that across the board, institutions do not collectively have PCA access to all the content that their researchers use – the tail is very long indeed.

In the UK, Jisc is seeking to resolve this with each new negotiation but not all publishers are willing to engage in such discussions.

None of the above is a caused by, nor can be solved by OA / Pay to publish. However, it is a very significant factor when considering cancelling subscriptions in favour of supporting OA and to switching to Inter Library Loan (ILL)/Document Delivery for content not covered by PCA. If institutional usage of content does not closely match subscribed content, then the institutional ILL bill outstrips what was previously paid for the cost of licensed access to content before diverting unspent library subscription funds to support “pay to publish” can be considered.

ARE THERE ANY ISSUES AROUND THE FEASIBILITY OF PLAN S, E.G., KNOWN BARRIERS, AREAS WHERE THERE MAY NEED TO BE AN EXCEPTION?

The main barrier to the success of Plan S is the relatively low % content covered by cOAlition S funders. For Plan S aims to become reality, significant effort needs to be devoted to expanding the list of signatories to cOAlition S, or to other groupings seeking similar aims to Plan S. To this end, we see the recent announcement that librarians and funders in China are seeking immediate access to funded research outputs as a significant move, but unless there are similar moves with US funders the tipping point will be hard to reach.

Prepared on behalf of Imperial College London by Chris Banks
chris.banks@imperial.ac.uk
@ChrisBanks

[1] The response from the UKSCL Community outlines this in detail
[2] Typically, these are deals negotiated at a publisher level. They are becoming known as “Read and publish” deals and over time they allow read access to all content from that publisher covered by the deal and allow an institution’s academics to publish open access in all journals covered by the deal.
[3] COAR’s Feedback on the Guidance on Implementation of Plan S
[4] E.g. the UKSCL

Your choice! Selecting a Creative Commons Licence for your thesis.

Until now, all doctoral theses awarded by Imperial College London and uploaded to Spiral were automatically licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives Licence (CC BY-NC-ND).

Some students felt that this licence was too restrictive and that they should be able to choose a more permissive Creative Commons licence for their thesis. In October this became possible.

So who are Creative Commons and what licences do they offer?

Creative Commons are a non-profit organization. They realised that even when the creator of work wanted their work to be available to be copied, shared and re-used, sometimes copyright laws prevented that from happening.  As a result, they created six easy to read licences that anyone could apply to their work. These are now widely used by publishers, photographers, and educational establishments to facilitate content sharing.

All the licences allow a licensed work to be copied and shared on the condition that the original creator of the work is attributed. Attribution is another term for acknowledgement and you should either acknowledge the work as requested by the creator or using your preferred referencing style. The acronym TASL (title, author, source, licence) can help you remember what to include.

A photograph of autumn leaves
Leaves by neiljs. https://flic.kr/p/6iaoA5. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence (CC BY 2.0)

NonCommercial licences (NC) prohibit a work being used commercially, for example in a commercially published book or journal article. While NoDerivative licences (ND) prohibit reuse and redistribution of adaptions of a work. ShareAlike licences (SA) require you to distribute any derivative works you create under the same licence as the original.

The table below show how the different elements are remixed to form the six licences.

A table comparing the permissions offered by different Creative Commons Licences
Creative Commons licenses by Foter. https://foter.com/blog/how-to-attribute-creative-commons-photos/. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-SA 4.0))

 

Which licence do you recommend?

We understand that not all students will find it easy to make a choice. In this situation, we suggest you choose a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Licence.

This licence allows others to copy and redistribute all or parts of your thesis and also distribute modified versions of the work but only on the condition that they credit you as the author and do not use it, or any derivative works, for a commercial purpose.

It does not permit others to pass your work off as their own or ask a commercial publisher to publish it in a book chapter or journal article.

Having chosen my licence what next?

There are two actions you need to take. The first is to select a copyright statement to insert at the beginning of your thesis. This should be one of the statements displayed on the Selecting a Creative Commons licence webpage. Here you will see six different licences, one for each Creative Commons Licence.

The second is to select a matching Spiral licence when you upload the corrected version of your thesis to Spiral. As this won’t happen until after your viva examination we recommend that you look back at the copyright statement you inserted into your thesis before making your selection. The Creative Commons Licence mentioned in the copyright statement and the Spiral distribution licence must match.

Now I’m just confused!

Picking a licence for your work can be confusing. Try watching this short video. It will talk you through everything, show you a quick way to pick a licence and includes a screenshot of the spiral upload screen.

Good to go

You should now feel fully equipped to choose a Creative Commons Licence for your thesis but if not email library@imperial.ac.uk for further assistance.

 

Remember that if you cannot decide which licence to pick you can just select a Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Licence.

 

RDM for PhD students at Imperial

As its Open Access Week and yesterday was #ThesisThursday we thought we would write a blog post about how we support our PhD students in Research Data Management (RDM) at Imperial.

Good RDM is important for all researchers, whatever stage they are at in their careers. In particular, we recognise that for PhD students, understanding the benefits of RDM and Open Science can help them with their studies and also set them up for success in their future careers.

PhD students carrying out research at Imperial are required to deposit a copy of their final thesis in Spiral, the College’s institutional repository. They are also often required by funding bodies to produce a Data Management Plan for their project, to archive the research data underpinning their thesis, and to make this data publicly available where possible.

To support them with these requirements we’ve developed a number of initiatives.

What we offer

Once a term the RDM team hosts a ‘Managing Your Data’ session for PhD students, organised through the Graduate School Professional Development Programme. This tailored course familiarises PhD students with the Imperial College Research Data Lifecycle and explains how they can plan, store, archive and publish their research data as well as pointing them to the support available within the College. The session combines presentations with hands on exercises and activities that engage the students and encourage them to think about their particular RDM needs. Running since 2016, this course has already been delivered to over 200 PhD students.

Imperial College research data lifecycle

In conjunction with this the RDM team also host a termly ‘How to write a Data Management Plan’ webinar which all Imperial PhD students can attend. This hour long tutorial introduces students to Data Management Plans, explains the key pieces of information contained within them, and how a plan may evolve over the course of a research project. This helps students to consider their own research data and the specific data management requirements of their projects in particular.

Finally, the RDM team attempt to attend as many wider PhD library inductions as possible to introduce themselves and outline the RDM service to the students. These brief introductions are a key activity as they make visible the support available to PhD students, which otherwise may be overlooked. The offer of project specific and one-to-one support is emphasised, as are the benefits of good data management and open science. These drop in presentations are often delivered in conjunction with the Open Access team in order to promote RDM’s relevance to the wider Open Research movement.

Rather than waving the stick of compliance, the aim of all of these initiatives is to highlight the benefits of RDM to individual PhD researchers and the wider academic community. They form part of a broader objective to foster a positive culture of responsible and open science within Imperial’s research community.

For support

If you are an Imperial PhD researcher and would like help with managing your research data then you can email us at rdm-enquiries@imperial.ac.uk, check out our Research Data Management Guide, or visit our webpages here.

You may also find our quick guides on Data Management Plans, storing live data, data sharing, Data Access Statements, Symplectic and ORCiD iDs useful.

Slowing down the Gold Rush: a community resource to keep track of expensive APCs

This is the fourth of a series of blog posts by Imperial’s Open Access Team for OA Week. Please also see our blog post on Publisher Problems, our blog post on Accepted Manuscript definitions, and our blog post on Publisher Contacts.

This blog post is directed to our Open Access colleagues in Higher Education.

The rising price of Gold OA

A big part of what OA Teams in libraries/research offices do – in those institutions that are fortunate enough to have the funding – is make decisions on which publications can (or need to) be published via the Gold OA route. As we diligently work away to process the scores of article processing charge (APC) applications we receive each month, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of what we are actually authorising each time we approve an application: namely, the payment of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’/charities’/institutions’ money to (often exceptionally profitable) publishers.

A recent survey of authors around the world found that many had never published OA, but for 27% of them this was because they could not afford the APCs required to do so. The cost of Gold OA has been rising beyond the rate of inflation for many years now (as reported by Jisc in 2016 and in Universities UK in 2017), and although funders have increased the amounts given to institutions to pay for APCs, it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the demand from authors to publish their work OA.

At Imperial College we are lucky to be the recipients of generous block grants from the Research Councils (RCUK – now UKRI) and the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) to help our authors meet their OA requirements, as well as having access to an institutional fund to pay for APCs in fully OA journals. However, these funds are not bottomless, and can only stretch so far in the face of rising APCs and increasing demand from authors who are publishing more and more. Indeed, we have very recently realised that our RCUK grant is close to running out, and we will be need to be much more restrictive in how we use that fund to pay for APCs for the foreseeable future. This blog post from the Office of Scholarly Communication at Cambridge clearly demonstrates the issues faced in trying to use OA funds in a sustainable way.

Gold bars

The Gold route is of course not the only way authors can make their work OA (and does not always require an APC). When funds run low we can use this as an opportunity to advise how the Green route can meet funders’ and REF requirements, and to promote the benefits of our institutional repository. However, what we aim to offer is a fair and consistent service to our authors, and this is difficult when we cannot be sure how long our funds will last, and whether or not we will be able to approve APC applications from one month to the next.

With the announcement by a consortium of European funders of Plan S (with a key change that hybrid open-access journals are not compliant with their key principles) and rumours of imminent changes to research funders’ open access policies in the UK (e.g. in the upcoming Wellcome OA Policy Review), there is hope that the unsustainable model of increasingly expensive Gold OA will be curtailed. It is important to recognise that the cost of APCs is not the only thing we should be considering, but also the approach that publishers are taking towards a transition to OA (through their self-archiving embargo policies, for example), as is acknowledged in Cambridge’s new policy.

Other institutions (such as LSHTM and Bath) have also already introduced steps to prolong and distribute their OA funds in different ways, by introducing extra conditions such as caps on APC costs and restricting which types of hybrid journal they will pay for. Although at Imperial we have not yet introduced a cap for the APCs we will pay, this is something that is likely to be rolled out by funders in the near future, so we think it is important to record the APCs we have paid for already that were particularly costly.

Recording expensive APCs

Connected to the work done by my OA Team colleague Danny Smith in his Publisher Problems spreadsheet another sheet was created to record particularly expensive APCs. This sheet has been populated with examples of APCs paid for by the Imperial OA Team in 2018, where the cost was £3,000 or over (before VAT), and is now available at the following link:

Go to Expensive APCs spreadsheet

How APC costs are calculated and justified by publishers is a contentious issue, as argued by recent Imperial alumnus Jon Tennant in his blog post: “Why the term ‘Article Processing Charge’ (APC) is misleading”. The aforementioned potential caps on APCs from funders are yet to be announced, and in the meantime it is difficult to set an exact figure for what is an “expensive” APC. However, for the purposes of the resource being discussed, this figure reflects what we consider to be a significantly higher amount than the average cost of an APC (calculated as £2,269 in the Wellcome’s 2016/17 report).

Screenshot of the Spreadsheet for Most Expensive APCs

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all journals that would fit within the cost criteria, as it only includes APCs we have paid for at Imperial in 2018, and may miss those journals where we have received a discount that reduced the end cost below the threshold. Although we have paid for APCs for multiple articles in many of the journals included, we have included one example article for each to avoid duplication. We would like this to be a shared resource so we would encourage members of the community to add their own examples from different journals. So far the sheet includes examples of articles published in 39 different journals, from 10 publishers, with a total net cost of £137,609.17 (see table below). More detailed data on APC payments is available through the various reports that institutions produce (e.g. for Jisc).

Publisher/Journal APC Cost (excl. VAT)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (total) £3,508.70
Science Advances £3,508.70
American Chemical Society (total) £32,922.75
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces £3,049.24
ACS Chemical Biology £3,630.05
ACS Nano £3,049.24
ACS Photonics £3,005.92
ACS Synthetic Biology £3,630.05
Chemical Research in Toxicology £3,787.00
Chemical Reviews £3,029.60
Chemistry of Materials £3,634.41
Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling £3,077.64
Macromolecules £3,029.60
American Heart Association (total) £7,090.52
Circulation £3,616.23
Hypertension £3,474.29
Elsevier (total) £34,223.11
Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health £3,023.60
Current Opinion in Structural Biology £3,271.28
European Urology £3,907.51
Fuel £3,034.82
International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology £3,019.27
Journal of Cleaner Production £3,139.53
Journal of Power Sources £3,077.64
Lancet Infectious Diseases £3,907.50
Lancet Public Health £3,934.46
The Lancet Haematology £3,907.50
Elsevier (Cell Press) (total) £24,062.69
Cancer Cell £4,031.36
Cell Reports £3,970.34
Cell Systems £3,934.46
Current Biology £4,031.36
Molecular Cell £4,031.36
Structure £4,063.81
EMBO Press (total) £4,200.00
The EMBO Journal £4,200.00
Nature Publishing Group (total) £3,300.00
Nature Communications £3,300.00
Oxford University Press (total) £4,228.53
Journal of the Endocrine Society £4,228.53
Rockefeller University Press (total) £3,811.55
Journal of Cell Biology £3,811.55
Wiley (total) £20,261.32
Advanced Functional Materials £3,750.00
Advanced Materials £3,750.00
American Journal of Transplantation £3,010.00
Angewandte Chemie £3,537.32
Clinical and Experimental Allergy £3,000.00
Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism £3,214.00
Total £137,609.17

 

As identified in the Publisher’s Problems spreadsheet there are many factors that can make the process of paying for an APC unnecessarily complicated. One issue that the Expensive APCs sheet has further highlighted is the confusion and variations in price that can arise from APCs being advertised, invoiced and paid in different currencies. We have also included a column to identify those publishers who (often confusingly) separate out the cost for a “standard” APC and additional charges for CC BY licenses (including an eye-watering example of this where $3000 was paid just for CC BY). Other potential areas for discussion are the differences between APCs for open access and hybrid journals, and the value and impact of discounts/offsetting.

While we should recognise that much progress has been made by the OA movement in disrupting and reshaping traditional academic publishing models, there is still much work to be done, as is passionately argued in the documentary Paywall: The Business of Scholarship which has received many screenings in OA Week. It is hoped that this spreadsheet will be useful as a way of not only identifying those publishers that are currently charging seemingly excessive amounts, but also monitoring change over time and (hopefully!) a transition away from rising costs. There is also the potential to use the examples to help authors make educated choices about where they publish, and increase their awareness of the charges levied.

We plan to add a link to the sheet (and the other resources we have shared) on the forthcoming UKCORR resources page. Please go ahead and start editing/adding your own examples (checking the notes and instructions first), and we welcome any feedback for how these resources can be improved and best used.

Happy Thesis Thursday – Open Access week @ Imperial

The #thesisthursday infographic was produced for Open Access Week 2018 to provide statistics of Imperial College theses collection in Spiral, the College’s repository. The infographic includes the top ten most downloaded theses in Spiral (from Sept 2013-Sept 2018) including the total number of downloads.

This is the first Thesis Thursday and was begun to commemorate the anniversary of Professor Hawking’s 1966 doctoral thesis ‘Properties of expanding universes’ being made available by the University of Cambridge for the first time and which received so many downloads it crashed their site. (1,089,008 views so far).

You can view the infographic online and click on the hyperlinked theses which will take you to the Spiral record, where you will be able to download the thesis.

The infographic also includes three graphs:

  1. Theses numbers and their status in Spiral – showing the percentages of open access theses and restricted access theses in Spiral.
  2. Thesis downloads in Spiral – showing the increase of downloads to Spiral over a 5 year period (from Sept 2013-Sept 2018).
  3. Thesis downloads in British Library EThOS (e-theses online service) – presents the projection of the number of thesis downloads from Spiral on the EThOS platform

 

Happy inaugural Thesis Thursday!

Most downloaded theses: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10

Spiral download statistics supplied by IRUS and British Library EThOS