This theme aligns with the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, which was released in draft in May, and will be put forward for adoption by UNESCO’s General Conference in November. Since it is the first global standard-setting framework on Open Science, it presents an important opportunity to build equity into the foundations of new policies.
Here at Imperial, we continue to provide advice and guidance on an ever more rapidly changing open access landscape. The last 12 months have seen:
the announcement of a new UKRI open access policy (to apply to peer-reviewed research articles submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022, and monograph, book chapters and edited collections published on or after 1 January 2024. More information will be available in the coming months),
In 2018 a group of funders and national research agencies launched Plan S, an initiative with the central aim that by January 2021 “…all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.” Implicit in this goal is the intention of funders to move away from supporting the ‘hybrid’ model of publishing, whereby journals offer a paid open access (OA) option for authors to make their paper freely available upon publication but continue to charge a subscription fee for the rest of their content.
As with many other institutions, at Imperial we are recipients of block grants from certain funders, which authors acknowledging support from those funders can use to pay for individual Article Processing Charges (APCs) in both fully OA and hybrid journals. Although we have already introduced some restrictions on when we will pay for hybrid APCs, due to limited funds, with funders increasingly adopting the Plan S Principles authors may be concerned that they will soon be completely prevented from choosing OA publishing options in hybrid journals.
This is where Plan S Principle 8 comes in, which states that “…as a transitional pathway towards full Open Access within a clearly defined timeframe, and only as part of transformative arrangements, Funders may contribute to financially supporting such arrangements”. So, while Plan S funders will no longer support the payment of individual APCs to hybrid journals, institutions are able to redirect OA funds to pay for arrangements with publishers to transition away from the hybrid model towards being fully OA (until the end of 2024).
Read & Publish agreements
There are several types of transformative arrangements, but perhaps the most common are Read & Publish agreements. Instead of institutions (generally via their libraries) paying separately for subscriptions and OA fees for the same journals (aka ‘double-dipping’), Read & Publish agreements combine the costs. This provides those affiliated with the institution access to journal content that is still paywalled, as well as allowing authors to choose the OA option for their publications at no further cost.
As more of the content in hybrid journals becomes free for all to read in the transition to becoming fully OA, the proportion paid for the ‘Read’ part of the deal will decrease, and the proportion paid for the ‘Publish’ part will increase accordingly. While these kinds of arrangements precede the announcement of Plan S, their uptake has undeniably been accelerated by the initiative. Prior to 2020 Imperial had signed up to one Read & Publish agreement (with Springer in 2016), but we now have 11 In place, all negotiated by Jisc for Imperial and other institutions.
Read & Publish agreements can offer an alternative route for authors to publish their work OA in cases where we would normally not be able to provide funding for an APC. Unlike our OA block grants from funders, which only authors acknowledging the relevant funding can use, these agreements can be made available to all Imperial staff and students (usually with the requirement that they are the corresponding author). The process should generally be much quicker and easier for authors, as they do not need to request an invoice or make a separate payment for an APC, and publishers have also been encouraged to improve the workflows and dashboards used by authors and the staff who administer the agreements within institutions.
Not a panacea
However, it can be argued that such agreements do not solve all of the problems that are present in the existing hybrid OA model. To the authors that are eligible for these agreements it may feel that they are getting free and unlimited OA for their work, but there are still high costs involved to sign up for the deals in the first place, and often there are limits on how many papers can be made OA in a year. This has recently been seen with the restrictions introduced to the Wiley agreement, whereby only authors supported by certain funders are currently eligible for inclusion in the agreement due to high levels of demand.
During an OA Week with a theme of “Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion”, it is also important to highlight that such agreements can be seen as perpetuating global inequalities in access to OA publishing, as is argued by Jefferson Pooley on the LSE Impact Blog. A transition away from the hybrid model towards journals being fully OA should benefit everyone wanting to access the outputs of research as a reader. Nevertheless, it is only those authors who are affiliated with institutions wealthy enough to pay for the agreements (predominantly research intensive and in the global North) who are in a position to directly benefit from the OA publishing aspect.
Others who wish to publish OA will continue needing to find alternative routes, such as applying for APC waivers, submitting to OA journals that do not charge APCs, or self-archiving. This is not to say that these other routes are not valid – the option to self-archive (aka ‘green’ OA) is also a key part of the Plan S principles – but for those authors who do not have ready access to APC funds or publisher agreements there is understandably a sense of inequality.
A shift in gold OA at Imperial?
At Imperial we are fortunate to be able to offer our authors a range of different ways to make their research outputs OA, via both the green and gold routes. While the majority of our time (and money) in the gold section of the OA Team is still spent on paying individual APC payments from the funds that we administer (totalling 853 payments from 1 Oct 2019 – 30 Sep 2020), an increasing number of articles are now being made OA through our aforementioned Read & Publish agreements.
The graph above shows the numbers of papers made OA via our four most used agreements (with Springer, Wiley, the Royal Society of Chemistry and SAGE) totalling 567 papers between 1 Oct 2019 – 30 Sep 2020. We also have agreements in place with the Company of Biologists, European Respiratory Society, IOP, IWA, Microbiology Society, Portland Press and Thieme. As previously mentioned, only the Springer agreement was in place prior to 2020, and we are in the process of signing more agreements. We would therefore expect the figures for next year to be even higher, and to perhaps even overtake the number of APCs we pay for individually.
For details on Imperial’s current Read & Publish agreements, as well as other publisher arrangements and discounts available to Imperial authors, please see our Publisher agreements and discounts page.
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.
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.
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.
Academic social network sites are currently used by researchers to share their research as well as collaborate with others studying in a similar field. Sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu and Mendeley are popular too. However, this does not necessarily make them the right place to share research. In this blog post, we explain why researchers at Imperial College London should use academic social network sites in addition to, not instead of, institutional repositories (such as Spiral). You will also find out about important differences between the two.
Why should I use an institutional repository?
Institutional repositories are officially recognised by governments, publishers, and funders for depositing published research – whereas academic social network sites are not. Even if a publisher does permit uploading a paper to ResearchGate, this will not ensure compliance with the UK’s REF 2021, research funders like the Wellcome Trust or future cOALition S (Plan S) OA requirements. This is because these policies clearly state that scholarly outputs are to be made available through institutional (or open access) repositories. Therefore, unlike academic social network sites, depositing your paper in one (such as Spiral) makes you compliant with funders, publishers and future ones too!
If you upload a paper to one of these platforms, the risk of copyright infringement is a lot higher. That’s because many of these sites have no mechanism to check for publishers’ copyright permissions and policies. A recent studyshowed that “201 (51.3%) out of 392 non-OA articles [deposited in ResearchGate] infringed the copyright and were non-compliant with publishers.” The majority of infringement, the study highlights, occurred because the wrong version was deposited. There have also been around 7 milliontake-down notices for unauthorised content on ResearchGategiven by various 17 different publishers which indicates how serious the issue is.
Institutional repositories, on the other hand, are managed (usually by a library team such as the Imperial Open Access Team) and they always check which version they are allowed to upload to a repository as open access. So, if you mistakenly sent the wrong version of an article, one of them will notify you and ask for a different version. They will also ensure the various embargo policies of publishers for you. Therefore, the risk of copyright infringement is very low when using a repository.
Academic social network sites are commercial companies. This fact creates significant drawbacks. For example, some publishers only permit depositing papers in not-for-profit repositories, which means that ResearchGate and its equivalents cannot be used at all to deposit any version of the file. They also make a profit from your research outputs by selling data, advertising jobs or providing a premium service. For this reason, their services may discontinue, shut down or change to preserve profits. In such a case, the papers you have already uploaded to these platforms may no longer be available. Being commercially-run brings another hassle too: A subscription is necessary to upload a paper to these sites or even for reaching the content of a paper. This means they keep your personal data, or worse, may use it in a direct (by email notifications) or indirect (by selling data) way.
We’re here to stay
As institutional repositories are non-profit platforms, none of the disadvantages mentioned above will occur. Institutional repositories, such as Spiral, serve as a permanent archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating the intellectual output of an institution. Did we say permanent? We are not going anywhere. Therefore, research outputs deposited in institutional repositories will be preserved and freely accessible to the public for a long time, similar to public archives. Additionally, users can immediately access and download the contents of research outputs from the repositories without a subscription or log-in. And in fact if something is closed access, end users can Request a Copy (under the Fair Dealing exception in UK copyright law) – see an example. We never ask or use your personal data.
Love your repository
In short, there are many reasons to use institutional repositories and to be careful about using academic social network sites. We advise that Imperial researchers always deposit their papers first in Spiral which will provide you with a permanent resolvable link (such as http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/73113) that you can safely post anywhere including ResearchGate. By depositing your paper in Spiral, you will ensure compliance with funders and publishers. So, you should use ResearchGate in addition to Spiral not instead of it. If you still want to deposit to academic social network sites, you can do it the legal way and check what publishers permit via the website SHERPA RoMEO. Lastly, repositories are trusted permanent archives for an institution’s research – they respect copyright law as well as promote open access to research – please use them!
Please don’t forget to check out our leaflet below which covers the same topic in a more visual way. You can also download it via Spiral (http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/74076).
Plan U: A mandate for universal access to research using preprints
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?
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.
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.
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.
Plan U suggests that by using preprint servers you can speed up the access to the research andmake it widely accessible for minimal costs. Preprint 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 1991. arXiv 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 bioRxiv, chemRxiv, EarthArxiv, medRxiv to name a few. It is estimated that by depositing preprints this could speed up scientific research by five times over 10 years.
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
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 servers. Preprints 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.
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.
If you are interested in learning more about Plan U and Preprints, there will be a free event hosted at SilwoodPark 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.
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.
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:
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).
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).
APC Cost (excl. VAT)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (total)
American Chemical Society (total)
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
ACS Chemical Biology
ACS Synthetic Biology
Chemical Research in Toxicology
Chemistry of Materials
Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling
American Heart Association (total)
Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health
Current Opinion in Structural Biology
International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Journal of Cleaner Production
Journal of Power Sources
Lancet Infectious Diseases
Lancet Public Health
The Lancet Haematology
Elsevier (Cell Press) (total)
EMBO Press (total)
The EMBO Journal
Nature Publishing Group (total)
Oxford University Press (total)
Journal of the Endocrine Society
Rockefeller University Press (total)
Journal of Cell Biology
Advanced Functional Materials
American Journal of Transplantation
Clinical and Experimental Allergy
Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism
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.
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:
Theses numbers and their status in Spiral – showing the percentages of open access theses and restricted access theses in Spiral.
Thesis downloads in Spiral – showing the increase of downloads to Spiral over a 5 year period (from Sept 2013-Sept 2018).
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
This is the third of a series of blog posts by Imperial’s Open Access Team for OA Week. You can also read our first post on Publisher Problems, and our second post on Accepted Manuscript definitions.
This blog post is directed to our Open Access colleagues in Higher Education.
Exaggeration for comic effect is used at the author’s discretion.
You have some papers where a fee has been paid for immediate Open Access months ago. The funders require that they be available with a CC BY license by now. They aren’t. Time to chase up the publishers. So you can just grab the email addresses from the publisher’s websites, send them a quick note, and move on with your day, right?
You head to the publisher’s website for the first item on your list. But should you contact the OA team? Production? Author services? Customer services? Copyright team? This journal is published by a large commercial publisher on behalf of a learned society and so far you have only looked at the commercial publisher’s page. On linking through to the society’s page, you are confronted with yet another list of contacts, these with (even more) arcane job titles arranged in a mysterious hierarchy. You could email them all, but on receiving a query that was sent to twenty people, how many would assume that someone else would deal with it? (I probably would, to be fair).
You move on to the next publisher in your list (let’s leave the tricky ones until last). There are about a hundred “contact us” links from a variety of different pages, and they all lead back to the same generic Customer Services web-form. You know from experience that that web-form leads to a Kafka-esque dance as your query is forwarded and cc’ed back and forth and up and down and always, ultimately, around and back to where it started, losing clarity and formatting at every step, but never accumulating any answers.
Fortunately there is now a list of publisher contacts available. In some cases, this should alleviate situations like those just described.
If someone else has successfully found a way of approaching a particular publisher that works well, you can find out about it.
If you have successfully found a way of approaching a particular publisher that works well, you can share it.
If no-one has successfully found a way of approaching a particular publisher that works well, you can be comforted that it isn’t just you.
The spreadsheet linked here is one that we have just started using internally at Imperial, and so far we have found it useful for all three of the above reasons. We hope to have a link available on the forthcoming UKCORR resources page soon. We will continue to add to it as time goes on – updating is always a concern with community resources, but we planned to maintain this resource internally anyway, so we felt we might as well share it. We hope that some of you will update it too. Feel free to edit, but please see the Readme tab for updating rules; if you think the rules need to be changed/added to (and they might well as this is a new resource), please contact email@example.com.
I have a suspicion that publishers are moving increasingly towards generic web-forms as the only way to contact them, and as recorded in the spreadsheet some of them actually seem to work very efficiently. If this becomes the norm, this resource may become redundant. If/when that happens, we will delete it with pleasure!
This is the second of a series of blog posts by Imperial’s Open Access Team for OA Week, our first was on Publisher Problems.
What is an accepted manuscript? Depends who you ask…
The REF 2021 open access policy requires authors of journal articles and conference proceedings to deposit their work to an institutional repository within three months of acceptance. The version required for deposit by Research England, and permitted by most publishers, is the accepted manuscript version, but selecting the correct version is sometimes confusing for authors. There’s generally a lack of standardization in publishing, and a good example of this concerns accepted manuscripts. There is, in theory, an agreed definition, as follows:
The version of a journal article that has been accepted for publication in a journal. A second party (the “publisher”—see “Version of Record” below for definition) takes permanent responsibility for the article. Content and layout follow publisher’s submission requirements.
This is taken from NISO-RP-8-2008, or to give it its full title, Journal Article Versions (JAV): Recommendations of the NISO/ALPSP JAV Technical Working Group*. The definition is followed by these notes.
Acceptance must follow some review process, even if limited to a single decision point about whether to publish or not. We recommend that there should be a link from the Accepted Manuscript to the journal’s website that describes its review process
If the Accepted Manuscript (AM) is processed in such a way that the content and layout is unchanged (e.g., by scanning or converting directly into a PDF), this does not alter its status as an AM. This will also apply to “normalized” files where, for example, an author’s Word file is automatically processed into some standardized form by the publisher. The content has not changed so this essentially constitutes a shift of format only, and our terms are format neutral.
This stage is also known as “Author’s Manuscript” by, for example, the NIH, but we believe that the key point is the acceptance of the manuscript by a second party. Elsevier refers to it as “Author’s Accepted Manuscript”. SHERPA/RoMEO refer to it as “Postprint”, but this term is counterintuitive since it implies that it refers to a version that comes after printing.
Many authors are confused by the details of Green OA, not knowing what version(s) they can share, where they can share them, and how etc. This confusion arises in part because of the various permissions of each publisher, and even each journal within a publisher’s collection. Permissions are an issue for another day, but surely authors’ (and our) lives could be made easier if publishers were to agree on a definition, such as that above (assuming for the moment that the above is satisfactory)? This is indeed the definition used by Taylor & Francis, though other publishers offer their own interpretations of what an accepted manuscript is, increasing author confusion.
In processing deposits to Spiral, Imperial’s IR, we often have to reject items because the authors have uploaded the incorrect version. We of course contact the author when this happens and request the accepted manuscript. When explaining this we try to use publisher specific details and if possible, give an example. A spreadsheet has been setup for this purpose.
It gives definitions of accepted manuscript by publisher with a link to the information on the publisher’s site, and where available, an example, if the publisher provides clear or labelled accepted manuscripts. It’s in its infancy at the moment, but hopefully with community input this can grow to become a useful resource for everyone. Presumably we’re all sending similar communications to authors about accepted manuscripts, so this should hopefully save us some time, and increase author awareness.
Please contribute to the spreadsheet, and do let us know if you have any questions or comments.
The needs of the OA community have not and are not being met by established publishers, causing OA/SCM teams many headaches in their daily tasks. In a previous role I began to record the various problems I encountered, and I’ve been continuing this work with colleagues at Imperial. Our list currently contains 106 issues with 70 different publishers. Some publishers are only listed once in the document, whilst some repeat offenders feature as many as 7 times.
As we have a fairly large record of problems (and we’re librarians) we’ve decided to try and structure the information, currently recorded in an online spreadsheet.
We’ve added columns for contextual information, such as the type of publisher, their location, whether the problem relates to Gold or Green OA, and if Gold, whether hybrid or pure. This allows us to do some basic analysis on the data, for instance, we can filter to discover that most of the publishers who cause us problems in terms of licensing are small/society outfits based in the USA.
We’ve come up with 7 categories that we use to collate similar problems together, as below.
We record publishers whose basic APC costs we consider to be excessive and also those who have unfair or unusual charges, such as those who charge an additional fee for a CC-BY licence (a cynical attempt to exploit institutional UKRI/COAF OA grants?), compulsory page and colour charges, or APC charges based on article length.
For issues around CC licences, particularly changing them, and other licensing problems such as confusing or restrictive publisher-own Gold licences.
Examples of payment problems include using different systems for APCs and other charges, sending invoices for articles that should be paid via prepay, or a publisher being repeatedly unable to trace payments.
Predominantly for confusing, conflicting or very restrictive copyright/self-archiving policies, such as rolling embargoes or deposit only in closed access repositories, or only on an intranet (me neither).
Simply a way of recording potentially illegitimate publishing entities (PIPEs). PIPEs are often referred to as ‘predatory publishers’, and there is a list of PIPEs. To be listed as a predatory publisher/journal in our list the publisher/journal must have failed several of the checks on the ThinkCheckSubmit website.
For difficulties in arranging Green/Gold and the processes that we/the publisher go through. Examples include publishers requiring payment to be received before publishing, unintuitive dashboards for prepay schemes, or delays between ordering Gold and receiving an invoice. A problem recorded just this morning regards one publisher’s decision to set an exchange rate from $ to € in January of each year, which is then set until the following January, irrespective of currency fluctuations. This potentially increases costs as well as adding extra administrative burden when processing an invoice charged in €, to be paid in £, for an APC originally advertised in $.
To do with what the publishers actually produce, so for problems with their product, e.g. not stating whether something is CC-BY, broken DOIs, confusing article types, attaching adverts to articles, etc.
The purpose of the spreadsheet was to allow us to see which problems and which publishers were frequently reoccurring so that we could try and locate particular areas that need addressing. The information, it is hoped, will be of use to the rest of the OA community, as well as other interested parties, such as funders, to see how we can collectively petition publishers to change their practices and quicken the transition to a more open system of scholarly communication.
Many of the entries were recorded some time ago and may not be up to date, and we would welcome collaboration on the sheet to make it as accurate, current, and in depth as possible – we hope to have a link available on the forthcoming UKCORR resources page soon.
Please do make your own additions/amendments and get in touch and let us know if you have any questions or comments.