Open access week 2018, 22-28 October

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 | Richard White | 2 Comments

Next week is open access week around the world, a good time for us to consider our roles as thinkers, critics and scholars and, within that context, how accessible our work is to other scholars and the society we are here to act as the critic and conscience of. In the words of the University’s own policy “open access serves both the public good, in line with Otago’s commitment to social responsibility, and the University’s interests in maximising the potential impact of our scholarship.” (Open Access Policy, General Principles 1 (a).)

Each day next week we’ll be mailing, Yammering, tweeting or posting an OA tidbit to digest and reflect on these things. Get involved with the following events, including (yes! you better believe it) a movie about paywalls.

Upcoming OA-related Events

Upload-A-Thon: research outputs & institutional repositories

Friday, November 18th, 2016 | Briar Ballard | No Comments

By: Alexander Ritchie


On Wednesday 23 November the University of Otago Library will be hosting the first OUR Archive Uploadathon. This drop-in event will be held in Central Library Seminar Room 3 between 9am – 4pm as the final part of the Library’s Maximise your Research Impact series.

The aim is for academic staff from all disciplines to deposit their Otago research into OUR Archive, and librarians will be on hand to guide staff through the process of uploading key details and the research outputs (where publishing agreements allow). Anyone interested in coming along on the day is strongly encouraged to create an OUR Archive account in advance.

What exactly is an ‘Uploadathon’?

Uploadathon is one of those Frankenwords, a combining of upload(ing) and marathon, and is one of many civic-minded –thons, like New Zealand’s fundraising Telethons of the late 70s through to the early 90s. Uploadathons are more about raising research profile than money though, and bring academics together with librarians to deposit their research into institutional repositories in order to make the work both more visible, and easier for funders, research participant communities, and members of the public to access.

What is an Institutional Repository?

For those that don’t know, an institutional repository (IR) is an online collection of research produced by scholars at a particular institution. At the University of Otago, this is OUR Archive, and it includes not only theses and journal articles, but also grey literature and conference papers and posters. Together with the related disciplinary repositories, such as arXiv in Physics and Mathematics, institutional repositories are synonymous with Green Open Access publishing, where scholars self-archive their work, having obtained any necessary permissions from the publisher and any co-authors.

 Why Would I Choose to Use One?

Dr Janet Stephenson makes a succinct and compelling case for the benefits of OUR Archive for the Centre for Sustainability in this short video interview – – but if you need more convincing, here are five reasons why uploading research to OUR Archive makes good sense:

  1. Visibility

Research is easier to find as search engines such as Google Scholar, and Aotearoa-based aggregators such as Digital NZ and NZResearch, harvest the metadata directly from the repository. Depositing work into OUR Archive and linking to that work from profiles on ResearchGate or can move research outputs higher in search engine results lists.

  1. (Open) Access

Institutional repositories are a way to enable public access to research. Self-archiving post- or pre-print versions of accepted research outputs is well established within certain sciences, and it not only broadens the availability of scholarly work, but helps ensure accountability to research participants, interested communities, and funders.  Most scholarly publishers allow archiving of a post- or pre-print of a published article, but do check the SHERPA/RoMEO site if you are unsure about your situation.

  1. Stability

OUR Archive uses the Handle system to provide a stable URL, the digital equivalent of a permanent address for your research in the shifting sands of the digital realm. This is particularly important for grey literature, and outputs like conference posters, where ongoing access can be difficult to maintain.

  1. Citing and Counting

Research within both the Natural and Social Sciences, such as this 2010 article from Gargouri et al. and this 2015 piece from Atchison and Bull suggest that there is a measureable citation advantage through making your work openly available. OUR Archive also provides individual page view and download counts for all deposited outputs.

  1. Open Sourced and Locally Supported

OUR Archive uses the open source repository software DSpace, and the Library has local support staff who manage the repository and troubleshoot any issues that arise. This means timely responses to queries, and help when something goes wrong.

The Library continues to develop the OUR Archive platform and interface and wants to hear how we can improve it, so please drop us a line @

OUR Archive Uploadathon | Wednesday 23rd November 2016 | Drop In Event 9am4pm | Central Library Seminar Room 3

We look forward to seeing you there!

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Shiobhan Smith for her very useful report on OUR Archive which was invaluable in structuring this post.

Open Access Week 2016 – take action

Monday, October 24th, 2016 | Richard White | No Comments

The theme for this year’s Open Access Week is “Open in Action.” has published a list (where you can even tick boxes and submit a form to put your commitment to yourself in writing) of things you can do:

  • Start a conversation about Open Access during a research group meeting, journal club, or staff meeting.
  • Send at least one manuscript to an open-access journal within the next year.
  • Deposit at least one of my articles into an open-access repository during Open Access Week and encourage colleagues to do the same.
  • Use the SPARC author addendum on my next publication to reserve rights to make a copy of my work publicly accessible.
  • Contribute to a conversation on campus about institutional support for Open Access.
  • Sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment and commit to not using journal-based metrics in evaluation.
  • Sign up for Impactstory to explore the online impact of your research and get an ORCID.

(Text from the bullet points used under a a CC-BY licence from

How to tell a ‘good’ Open Access journal

Sunday, September 18th, 2016 | Richard White | No Comments

Interested in an OA journal but not sure of its quality?

Erstwhile Otago colleague, now of the University of Canterbury, Anton Angelo has published a useful checklist to help determine the quality of an OA journal. Note that this is not to check the journal’s contribution to the discipline but rather its publishing and editorial practices.

(Copyright nerd note: I could just copy Anton’s post here, as he uses a CC BY licence, but linking to his page is good ‘internet etiquette’ in that he will see the use of his material if you go to his site.)

SciHub: academic publishing’s ‘Napster moment’?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 | Richard White | No Comments

Sci-Hub, the massive online repository of 50 million academic papers, chapters and books, was set up by a postgraduate student from Kazakhstan in 2011. Alexandra Elbakyan has said she her goal was to provide free access to research for people like herself for whom access was not provided by her institution and too expensive to pay for each article she needed for her PhD. She used login details of others (she claims provided willingly) to gain access to pay-walled research databases and add documents to the site, which, despite the name, includes non-scientific literature as well. Depending on your perspective, she’s either a Robin Hood providing access to the poor or a copyright pirate on a massive scale. Certainly what she has done is illegal — and she is being sued by Elsevier — but Sci-Hub’s existence and the widespread use that’s being made of it by people around the world says much about the state of scholarly communication and open access to knowledge.

If you don’t know what Sci-Hub is, think of a Google-style search box, where you type in an article title or other identifying information and, presto, the research you want appears in PDF format. No pesky institutional usernames/passwords, multiple-clicks inside learning management systems or searching different databases. It’s all there in one place. Try out a couple of article titles and you’ll likely find the work. If you get an exact match (e.g. using a DOI, a digital object identifier), it will appear immediately without even a the inconvenience of a search results page.

John Bohannon has published a fascinating piece in Science analysing data he obtained from Elbakyan herself. For one thing, he says, Sci-Hub is effectively “the world’s de facto open-access research library.” What he really means is “free access,” since open access implies a licence that allows reuse, but the point is well made. He obtained data from Elbakyan covering 6-months of use of the site: a staggering 28 million hits were recorded in that period. There is location information in the dataset too, which, while not necessarily 100% reliable, shows use not only across the globe but, interestingly, clustered around locations where people are likely to have access through an institutional subscription to the legitimate source. This suggests Sci-Hub is not only used by people who don’t have access and can’t afford to pay but also by those who just find it more convenient than conventional means. Check out the data in Bohannon’s piece, which has an interactive map (made possible by open software and data I should point out). There has been just under a couple of hundred accesses by people in the Dunedin area. Someone in Timaru has been reading Museum perceptions and productions: American migrations of a Maori hei-tiki. I didn’t even know there was a place called Mayfield on the Canterbury plains but there are 33 hits recorded for that location and at least one person is apparently interested in engineering and minimum design loads for buildings and other structures. This could be someone studying or teaching engineering, who might have legal access to such research, but equally it could be a private citizen who has a Cantabrian’s interest in things affected by seismic activity.

Will Sci-Hub be the ‘Napster moment’ for academic publishing, a development that challenges the established model to the extent that it is forced to change as the music and other industries have? Some long-time open access commentators hope it will, such as Peter Murray-Rust, who has written a three-part opinion piece on why Sci-Hub matters (part 1 here). The law is on the side of rights holders like Elsevier but then it was on the side of the music industry, which may have beaten Napster in court but was nevertheless forced to change its model by consumer demand.

Open Access Week round up.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 | Sarah G | No Comments

Here is a round-up of events held at the University of Otago over Open Access Week.


Richard White, Manager Copyright and Open Access took a lunchtime session entitled Open Access What is it and Why Should I Care where he talked in some depth about the theory and practicalities of Creative Commons licences, described what OPen Access is, and the benefits and challenges of open access publishing for researchers. Richard’s slides are available here.

Richard launched the University of Otago Open Access Publishing Survey at the conclusion of his session. “This survey will give us a good sense of the extent to which Otago researchers are engaging with OA, their attitudes towards it and what support they need. Our results will be shared with the University community, including the University Research Committee.” A link to the survey has been emailed to staff. The survey is available here.


The Australasian Open Access Supporters Group held a Twitter Chat from 2-3pm. The archive can be read here. Main themes discussed were Open Access Mandates and the possibility of an Antipodean OA week at an earlier (less busy!) point in the year.



From 3-4pm Subhashish Panigrahi [@subhapa], based in Bangalore, described the concept of How to do Guerrilla GLAM.  Given the emergence of Wikipedian in Residence projects overseas and at particular institutions in NZ (see a recent panel at NDF 2015), we were intrigued by what he had to say.

It was an interesting session which generated much discussion. For those of us in NZ where we are fortunate to have institutions where there is a relatively high rate of access to collections – I’m thinking even at the library catalogue level – the thought that guerrilla activity may be necessary to surface collection items without the intervention of institution staffers may be surprising and possibly confronting! Subhashish did stress this guerrilla activity in no way violates copyright or licencing agreements, but seeks to make cultural items in GLAMs openly available to the public, where possible by partnering with institutions. The fact that many institutions do not have the resources to digitize cultural items, he posits, leaves the door open for guerrilla activity by skilled volunteers.

One participant in the session succinctly described Guerrilla GLAM as being self-authorizing activity vs institutional authorizing activity. I understand this to mean that rather than institutions engaging their own staff or volunteers, or crowd sourcing new volunteers to digitise their content, the Guerilla GLAMers come to them. There may well be communities in NZ or small GLAMs that have no digital record of their collections. Communities and institutions in this situation may well find it helpful to engage some interested Guerrilla GLAMers to help them out.

Wednesday and Friday

The Being Open session, held on both Wednesday and Friday, comprised a number of short presentations about aspects of openness, topics included: Creative Commons basics, Data Management, OUR archive (Otago’s Institutional repository), Open Publishing, Open Educational resources (OERs), and tools for open scholarship (ORCiD, Academia and ResearchGate). The slides and accompanying notes are available here


Otago staff to have their say on OA

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 | Richard White | No Comments

We’ve just launched an Open Acess publishing survey. There has been plenty of illuminating international research in recent times that tells us what researchers think about open access. But in many other countries governments or funders are encouraging or mandating open access to the research they fund, whereas the context in New Zealand is quite different. This survey will give us a good sense of the extent to which Otago researchers are engaging with OA, their attitudes towards it and what support they need. Our results will be shared with the University community, including the University Research Committee.
A direct email has been sent to research staff with a personalised link but if you didn’t receive one you can follow the link below. Other people are welcome to do the survey too: you can identify yourself as an ‘other’ so we can filter our results.

Take the Otago Open Access Publishing Survey

Otago Open Access Week Events

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015 | Richard White | No Comments

Click on each event for more details, including remote access on Monday and Tuesday.

Monday 19 October

Open Access. What is it and why should I care? 1pm Central Library and online

Launch of Otago Open Access Publishing survey

Tuesday 20 October

OAweek tweetchat, virtual OA meetup for AU/NZ from 2pm on Twitter

How to do Guerilla GLAM 3pm Central Library and online

Wednesday 21 October

Being open – Journals, OERs, Creative Commons, and more 1pm Science Library Seminar Room (Wed/Fri sessions are basically the same, just different locations).

Thursday 22 October

Lincoln University Great Debate: “It’s on the internet, I can use it” 3:30 – 4:30 via

Friday 23 October

Being open – ORCID, Figshare, Creative Commons and more 1pm Hunter Centre (Wed/Fri sessions are basically the same, just different locations).

Being open (Wed 21 & Fri 23 Oct, 1pm, #OAweek)

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015 | Richard White | No Comments

Note: the two sessions will be basically the same thing offered in different locations. You don’t need to come to both, though you are welcome to do so.

open access lock

‘Open lock’ CC BY-NC-ND, JISC

The nature of scholarship is changing, as are the ways in which you can engage with your research community and beyond. As part of Otago’s Open Access Week events, these sessions will consist of a series of quick fire topics on the theme of ‘being open.’ Those who come along can chose topics they’re interested in, including but not limited to:

  • creative commons
  • open educational resources (OERs)
  • hosting your own journal
  • data management (e.g. Figshare)
  • ORCID unique researcher identifiers
  • Otago University Research Archive (OUR Archive, our institutional research repository), and
  • Academic Networking sites (e.g. ResearchGate,, etc.

The quick-fire topics will serve as an invitation to attendees to engage in an open discussion where they can ask questions, share experiences or even get hands-on support. You don’t know a thing about ORCID but you know you want one? Do you apply creative commons licences to your work and want to share your experiences?  These sessions will be of use to all students/academics/researchers keen to engage in conversations around open access, the pros and cons and making the most of the various tools available.

When: 1 – 2pm Wednesday 21 October 2015
Where: Science Library Seminar Room (far-right corner from the entrance, see floorplan)

When: 1 – 2pm Friday 23 October 2015
Where: Hunter Centre G30a (ground floor, to the right inside the main entrance)


Any views or opinion represented in this site belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Otago. Any view or opinion represented in the comments are personal and are those of the respective commentator/contributor to this site.