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Protecting your assets: copyright and licensing advice for online reports, briefing papers and working papers

In times of crisis it is important that research is shared rapidly but what else should researchers consider before informally publishing their report, briefing paper or working paper on a website, Spiral or a pre-print server?

Will this work become a journal article?

The first thing to consider is whether this informal publication is the final write up of your research or only a staging post on the way to formal publication in a journal. Most publishers accept that the research they receive as a paper may have already been presented in other formats, for example as a conference paper, a pre-print on arXiv  or another preprint server, or a working paper on RePEc or SSRN, and do not reject papers because these earlier versions already exist. However, it is always wise to read the prior publication policies of the key journals in your field to make sure putting your research online now won’t stop you publishing later in your chosen journal. This information is normally included in the ‘for authors’ section of the journal website but if you can’t find this information or you have questions then you can always contact the editorial team.

Which is the best platform?

The first location most researchers think about for an informal publication is a personal or departmental website. This works well when you or your research group have a strong brand and the traffic to these sites is already high, but when you are starting out in your research career it is good to share a platform with others in your university or subject. You can do this by depositing your publication in Spiral, Imperial’s research repository, or a pre-print server in your subject area.

Spiral offers a secure home for your publication, a DOI link that will never break, and usage metrics via Altmetric so you can track who is discussing your work and where. This is useful when you are asked to explain the real-world impact of your research or write an impact statement. Once you have uploaded your publication to Spiral you can link to it from departmental webpages, networking sites and social media sites using a DOI link (e.g. https://doi.org/10.25561/76707).


Depositing your work in Spiral also has copyright and licensing advantages because there is just one copy, with one copyright and licensing statement of your choice not multiple copies on multiple platforms all with different licensing options and use licenses.


If you do decide to upload your publication to another platform, read the service’s terms of use and copyright policies so that you are clear about what you are permitted to upload and how others can use your publication once it is publicly available. For comparison, ResearchGate simply hosts what you upload but the pre-print server bioRxiv asks users to choose a Creative Commons Licence for each uploaded paper to make them easier to share and reuse. Both licensing approaches have their advantages and disadvantages so you should pick the platform that works best for you and your research.


Who is the copyright holder?

The authors or the department can be named as the copyright holder. Through the College’s Intellectual Property Policy Imperial has waived its automatic right to copyright in research publication. Therefore it is recommended that copyright should be assigned jointly to the authors and that any alternative is agreed with them when work is commissioned.
This approach will avoid a situation whereby authors must request a department’s permission each time they want to reuse and publish extracts from the publication in journal articles. It allows a department to own copyright when a report or paper is the final work and it is more practical for a department to handle reproduction and translation requests.


How do I show ownership?

The next thing to think about is protecting your intellectual property and making sure you get the credit for your work. A myth has grown up that if you can view something on the web then you can reuse it in any way that you like. Make it clear to others this isn’t true by adding a copyright statement like the one below.

© 2020 The Authors. Published by Imperial College Business School


What is the advantage of a Creative Commons Licence?

When you add a Creative Commons licence to your work, you make it clear that it can be copied and redistributed so long as you are acknowledged as the author. If you make something easy to share then more people will do this and your research is more likely to get noticed and discussed.


Creative Commons Licences permit others to copy and share all or part of your work but only on the condition that the original author and source are credited. They are simple for others to read because they are written in plain English and familiar because they are already used in open access journal publishing. An earlier blog post, Your choice! Selecting a Creative Commons Licence, will help you get you understand the pros and cons of the six different licences. This is a sample copyright statement taken from an Imperial report :

© 2020 The Authors. Published by The Grantham Institute for Climate Change under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

In this example if this report was uploaded to Spiral then anyone reading it should note the Creative Commons Attribution License displayed on the document. The default licence applied to work deposited in Spiral is a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivatives License. If you apply a more permissive licence to your work (as above) this will override the Spiral default licence


How do I make sure others cite my work?


The best approach is to remove the intellectual effort of creating a citation by providing a suggested citation that they can copy and paste. You can take your inspiration from journals or adapt the example below. This report has a DOI because it was uploaded to Spiral but if your report has no DOI then insert a URL link to the hosting website.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Ghafur S, Fontana G, Halligan J, O’Shaughnessy J, Darzi A. NHS data: Maximising its impact on the health and wealth of the United Kingdom. Imperial College London (2020) doi: 10.25561/76409


What if all the content is not yours?


Sometimes you will include text and figures from previously published papers, yours and others, in a new publication. When you do this, you must be confident that your use is covered by: the UK copyright exception Quotation, Criticism & Review, a compatible Creative Commons License or direct permission from the publisher. Publishing agreements, even open access publishing agreements, often still ask authors to give the publisher the exclusive right to publish the paper’s contents.

While citing the source of reproduced text and figures is second nature, copyright, licencing and permission statements are often forgotten, leaving the reader to assume that the copied figure is owned and licensed under the same terms as the new publication. This may not always be the case, especially in a review paper, and may result in another researcher inadvertently reusing the figure without permission in a future paper.

For example, a figure in a paper has a copyright status ‘© 2020 Elsevier. All rights reserved.’ but you reuse it in a new publication which will be licensed under a Creative Commons NonCommercial License. It is important to alert the reader to the fact that the reuse terms of the copied figure are different and that you are unable to provide them with permission to copy and share it along with the original parts of your paper.

A visual representation of the text example in the paragraph above. An all rights reserved figure sits within a Creative Commons Licensed paper
figure 1: A copyright protected figure within a Creative Commons licensed paper.



Figures have a commercial value to publishers and the expectation is that the first journal is paid for re-use of a figure by the second journal or that both are members of STM and follow the STM guidelines on reciprocal reuse of figures.


In summary

When you make a publication available on the web you become the publisher. This is positive as it puts you in control of copyright and licensing decisions and allows you to license your publication in the way that is best for you and your research. However, it also means that you must take on some of the tasks automatically done by your publisher and that you normally wouldn’t think about. Hopefully this article has shown you that this is not as hard as you might think and that a little bit of knowledge will get you a long way.


Help and support

The Library’s Scholarly Communications team are happy to speak to you about any of the topics mentioned in this blog post. You can contact us via ASK the Library
You may also like to read our webpages about Publishing with Spiral. Much of this advice also applies to informally publishing on other platforms.

Philippa Hatch
Copyright and Licensing Manager, Library Services.

UKRI Open Access Policy Consultation: Imperial College London Response

Imperial College London has provided a response to UKRI’s Open Access Review consultation:

In addition to signposting the full UKRI consultation documentation and list of questions, consultation on the Imperial College response to the UKRI OA review has been undertaken as follows:

  • Presentation and discussion at the Vice Provost’s Advisory Group for Research
  • Presentations at each of the four Faculty Research Committee meetings
  • Via a recorded online presentation accompanied by a short questionnaire
  • Through information circulated via faculty and departmental mailing lists
  • Via social media including Twitter, and Yammer

    Responses to multiple choice questions are highlighted

    The response was submitted by Chris Banks, Assistant Provost (Space) & Director of Library Services on behalf of the College and is available via Spiral, the institutional repository.

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.