August 10, 2012, by Brigitte Nerlich

Open access – what’s out there?

Open access is a hot topic. It is almost impossible to keep up with what is being written about it. In this ‘Making Science Public’ blog post we attempt to collate some of the many issues surrounding ‘Open Access’ to publicly-funded research.  We have grouped the resources into five sections: Policy Positions, Publishers and Publication, Technical Topics, Scholars Speaking and the Buzz on the Boards.

Policy Positions: Funders, Government and Learned Societies


The Finch Report http://www.researchinfonet.org/publish/finch/

A detailed and critical response to the Finch report by Pierre Purseigle can be found here

Research Councils UK Announcement that it would be adopting the findings of the Finch Report, its open access policy and the guidance for the policy

Blog by Astrid Wissenburg and Mark Thorley on the benefits of open access

European Commission outlined its open access measures on 17th July 2012 (including links to policy background and the Commission’s Open Data Strategy)

The Economic and Social Research Council has already updated its web area with its most recent position on open access, which it is fully committed to.

The Leverhulme Trust does not yet require submission of research output to open access journals but encourages it

The Wellcome Trust supports and campaigns for open access and has a clear OA policy. The Trust’s OA web area offers multiple resources on open access including help for authors, summary of journal open access policies, open access funding help, CC-BY license FAQ and economic analyses of scientific publishing

Looking more globally, Biomed Central has a traffic light board to funder OA policies around the world and SHERPA’s Juliet project also lists the publication policy of many funding bodies operating in numerous regions.


UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Response to Finch Report 16 July 2012

This response closely followed a speech given by UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable at the Royal Society on 12th July 2012 on Science, Openness and Internationalisation. Transcript here.

Learned Societies

Over the last year the Royal Society has led a major project on Science as an Open Enterprise – at this link are details of the project, process outputs and final report

Royal Society of Chemistry (only comment we can find is as a publisher – see that section)

Royal Academy of Engineering –  no statement available, it seems

The British Academy  responded to open access agenda and shared their concerns on some of the Finch report’s findings on 26th July 2012

How can scholarly societies survive as we move even closer to open access? Cameron Neylon for the LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog, 25th July 2012

Publishers and Publications: What They Say

SHERPA’s RoMEO project has a searchable (journal or publisher) website, indicating the copyright permissions normally offered.

Public Understanding of Science started a blog as a forum to debate issues of open access – Martin Bauer & Sue Howard 4th May 2012

Journal of Science Communication Editorial by Alessandro Delfanti 21st June 2012

Gold for Gold from the Royal Society of Chemistry, who are offering to offset Article Processing Fees against subscriptions paid in order to help the OA transition, 18th July 2012

British Medical Journal Editorial Ensuring Open Access for Publicly Funded Research. Peter Suber, 8th August 2012 (£)

Open Access and Academic Journals: the Publishers Respond – Wiley and Elsevier  give their side of the story, 7th August 2012 (predates UK policy change).

Elsevier has since welcomed the Finch Report (Alicia Wise, Director of Universal Access for Elsevier writing for Exquisite Life Research Blogs, June 16th 2012)

Note also The Cost of Knowledge – the Elsevier boycott

There’s an emerging debate around ‘predatory’ open access journals soliciting money from unwary academics,  for example : Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (Jeffrey Beall 4th August 2012) and the comment thread, and the list of named-and-shamed journals and publishers on the same website.

Technical Topics: Infrastructure, Licenses and Applications Issues

The SHERPA partnership investigates issues in the future of scholarly communication, doing alot of work on repositories, developing directories of journal copyright policies and funder requirements and much more.

JISC offers IT leadership in the UK’s HE sector. Their open access vision is here http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/topics/opentechnologies/openaccess  and their progress is covered through the UK Open Access Implementation Group http://open-access.org.uk/

How JISC and Wellcome will be supporting Universities with new open access demands http://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/stories/2012/07/oa-itt.aspx

BioMed Central publishes 220 (Gold) open access, peer-reviewed STEM journals

Impact of Open Access and Social Media on Scientific Research. Journal of Participatory Medicine (Opinion, vol.4) by J. Thomas Pickard 18th July 2012.  Nice review of some of the overlaps between open access, peer review and social media, and some of the platforms involved.

Starting an Open Access Journal: a step-by-step guide part 1, Paul Eve 10th July 2012

5 reasons why I cant find Open Access Journals  by the CILIPS Multimedia IT Group Blog, dated 6 August 2012

Data in the Humanities, some outcomes from the USA’s Digging into Data program, 12th June 2012

Licensing options are frequently a subject of discussion in open access debates.   To geek up on this, go to The Creative Commons website with a handy (short) description of each of the license options.

A taster of license debates includes Cameron Neylon noting an apparent dislocation between CC-BY licensing vs. Article Processing Charges and Gavin Simpson despairing that that the new Wiley/Met Office/NERC  Geoscience Data Journal only offers CC BY-NC. And for an alternative view, see Are strict CC-BY publishers shooting themselves in the foot? Heather Morrison, 31st May 2012

Pursuit of open access has birthed some innovative publication applications such as Figshare (a relatively new (searchable, citable) repository for multiple format data (including video and datasets).  Has some nice OA soundbites scrolling on the homepage) and PeerJ  (offering a lifetime membership plan which allows subsequent access and publication for free).

Scholars Speaking: Selected Publications

Antelman (2004) Do Open-Access Articles Have Greater Research Impact? College & Research Libraries 65(5):372-382  http://crl.acrl.org/content/65/5/372.full.pdf+html

Cottey (2010) Openness, Confidence and Trust in Science and Society. International Journal of Science in Society 1(4):185-194 http://www.uea.ac.uk/~c013/open_science/OCTinS&S.pdf

Craig et.al. (2007) Do Open Access Articles have Great Citation Impact? A critical review of the literature. Journal of Informetrics 1(3):239-248 http://www.publishingresearch.net/documents/Citations-finalversion.pdf

David, Paul (2007) The Historical Origins of ‘Open Science’: An Essay on Patronage, Reputation and Common Agency Contracting in the Scientific Revolution. http://ideas.repec.org/p/sip/dpaper/06-038.html

Evans & Reimer (2009) Open Access and Global Participation in Science. Science 323(5917):1025 https://www.mun.ca/biology/bgsa/papers/Evans_Maccallum_Eysenback_OA.pdf

Finn, Gardner & Bateman (2012) Making Your Database Available Through Wikipedia: the pros and cons. Nucleic Acids Research  40 (D1):D9-D12 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3245093/

Grand et.al. (2010) Muddying the Waters or Clearing the Stream? Open Science as a communication medium In: Public Communication of Science and Technology, New Delhi, India, 6-9 December 2010 http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/13540/

Harnad & Brody (2004) Comparing the Impact of Open Access (OA) vs. Non-OA Articles in the Same Journals. D-Lib Magazine 10(6) http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/260207/1/06harnad.html

Harnad et al (2004) The Access/Impact Problem and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access.  Serials Review 30(4):310-314 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0098791304001480 (£)

Harnad (2008) Open Access Scientometrics and the UK Research Assessment Exercise. Scientometrics 79(1):147-156 http://arxiv.org/ftp/cs/papers/0703/0703131.pdf

Solomon & Bjork (2012) A Study of Open Access Journals Using Article Processing Charges.  Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 63(8):1485-1495 http://www.marywaltham.com/Bjork_Solomon.pdf

Wilsdon & Willis (2004) See-Through Science: why public engagement needs to move upstream. Demos. London,UK. (available open access, eg through Google Books)

OpCit Project: A Bibliography of Studies on the effect of open access and downloads on citation impact

Buzz on the Boards: Blogs, Overviews, Opinions and Commentaries

A very comprehensive and highly accessible overview of Open Access, full of links to further resources by Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project

Open Access: Towards a new practice of scientific communication. Blog by Laurence Bianchini 6th September 2012. Includes a short history of open access to date (including links for the Budapest, ECHO, Bethesda and Berlin charters), current issues and projections for the future

Selection of blogs and resources themed “Scholarly Publishing, Open Access and the ‘Academic Spring’” curated by Mark Carrigan

Science in the Open, an excellent blog by Cameron Neylon on the technical and social issues around ‘open research’.

A discussion amongst the Public Communication of Science and Technology community, via the PCST MailList, archived here on 7th August 2012

The Public Library of Science storify of the ‘headlines and a summary of tweets from open access debates’ at the European Open Science Forum, Dublin  (#esof12) 13 July 2012 http://storify.com/PLoSblogs/esof12

A debate on the current status and possible future of communicating scientific research in the August 2012 edition of The Scientist – “Whither Science Publishing?”

Go for Gold in the Scientific Publishing Revolution  Michael Jubb  promoting the Gold OA route 25th July 2012

Open Access innovating clinical trial reporting. Wipperman, Faure & Hrynaszkiewicz on how easier publication of protocols makes the trial itself more transparent. PharmaForum 31st July 2012

Science, Data and the Public Jonathan Gray (Open Knowledge Foundation) on the implications of the EC’s move to open access. The Guardian 20th July 2012

Science must be liberated from the paywalls of publishers – Stephen Curry in The Guardian (Comment is Free), 10th April 2012

UK Plan for open access to research  is a golden opportunity, not a cost – Stephen Curry in The Guardian (Notes & Theories) 23rd July 212

Various posts on open access by Stephen Curry’s Reciprocal Space blog via Occam’s Typewriter

Set science free from publishers paywalls – Stephen Curry in the New Scientist, 20th June 2012 (£) and a response here from reader Alan Walker, 4th July 2012 (£)

Research paywalls tumble down – Mark Henderson in the Telegraph, 24th July 2012

Wider Open Spaces – Alice Bell in THE, 19th April 2012

Blog posts on open access and related issues on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog

Interesting Times for Open Access, Pablo de Castro 5th August 2012

We hope this has provided a flavour of some of the current debates and a resource for those who want to investigate this issue further.  There are doubtless many more commentaries that have been made, and any exclusions are on grounds of our time rather than any kind of selection! We encourage you to add any ‘Don’t Miss’ pieces in the comments section.  Finally, there is a distinct emphasis here on recent development and recent debates.  The current position – evolving quickly – has long roots, stretching back well over a decade and researchers interested in the origins of OA will need to look closely at that. The open access debate is also linked to the open data and open science debates. We have not attempted to cover all three issues and the ways they may be linked, historically, conceptually or politically. Over to you!

Beverley Gibbs and Brigitte Nerlich

Added after original publication of this post:

RCUK Open Access Policy – When to go Green and When to go Gold

Why Open Access matters – an illuminating discussion between Peter Suber and David Weinberger

Test mining and open access

Very good round up of Open Access Week (October, 2012) by Stephen Curry

Posted in open access