How luxury journals are damaging science, writes Nobel Prize winning scientist

Friday, December 13th, 2013 | Richard White | No Comments

2013 Nobel Prize winner for Medicine Randy Schekman has published an article in the Guardian outlining how he thinks journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science. He writes that he has committed his lab to avoiding these luxury journals and advocates for Open Access journals instead, calling on university committees and funding agencies not to judge papers by where they are published, since it should be the quality of the science, not the journal’s brand, that matters most.

He begins:

I am a scientist. Mine is a professional world that achieves great things for humanity. But it is disfigured by inappropriate incentives. The prevailing structures of personal reputation and career advancement mean the biggest rewards often follow the flashiest work, not the best. Those of us who follow these incentives are being entirely rational – I have followed them myself – but we do not always best serve our profession’s interests, let alone those of humanity and society.

Read the full article by the Guardian.

Glue jar: “give books to the world”


Gluejar is an innovative approach to digital publishing that uses Crowdfunding to “unglue” in-copyright books for distribution under a creative commons license.

This is a model that ensures that creators are still financially rewarded for their efforts, while releasing a free, legal digital edition of their book that can be read and shared worldwide.

In Beta at:

For more information, go to:

Tasman Declaration on Open Research

Friday, April 19th, 2013 | Richard White | 68 Comments

The Tasman Declaration came out of the Open Research Conference (mentioned previously on this blog) held in Auckland in February, representing the collective voice of the diverse group of participants, including researchers, lawyers, librarians, research infrastructure providers, technology consultants and software developers from NZ, Australia, the US and the UK. The declaration calls on Australian and New Zealand research communities, institutions, policy makers and funders to make publicly-funded research open:

Publicly funded research should be openly available to maximise return on investments into research, and to increase participation in research and its translation beyond the traditional research sector.

“Open Research” is about removing barriers for society to benefit from research, by ensuring open access to and reuse of research papers, data, materials, metadata and code, and by developing the supporting practices and policies.

In the absence of a good reason, research outputs should be made available with as few restrictions as possible and as soon as possible.

Read more about the story behind the declaration or read the declaration itself in full.

Add your voice by signing it.


Everybody’s doing it (except us)

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 | Richard White | No Comments

They’re doing it in the UK. In Australia too. And in the US, they’re going to be doing it more than they already were. I’m talking about open access publication of research.

In 2012 a public petition was made to the Whitehouse proposing that the public should have free access to the outcomes of scientific research that they have funded. Over 65000 people signed and this week the Obama administration has responded with a resounding, “Yes, we can.” While the US National Institutes of Health has had a public access policy for years (which “requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication“), the announcement this week goes much further. Any research with a budget of over $100m will be expected to be made publicly available within 12 months of original publication. “The logic behind this is plain,” says the statement, to provide access to taxpayer-funded research to innovators in industry, science and the public generally. It cites the “great success” of the NIH policy, which is to be used as a guide to other agencies now coming under this new one.

The discussion that has ensued has centred on the fact that 12 months after publication is hardly lightening fast and the level of budget threshold  (which sounds like a lot to NZers). Nevertheless, it is generally being hailed as a landmark announcement in the adoption of Open Access as the default.

A key reason for this is that the statement also “requires that agencies start to address the need to improve upon the management and sharing of scientific data produced with Federal funding.” This goes further than the UK’s Finch report and the announcements by Australia’s funding bodies in recent times.

In any case, from a NZ perspective, it is becoming clear that everybody is going OA except us – but the question is no longer if but when. While the NZ government has established NZGOAL and issued its Declaration on Open and Transparent Government, it has so far been silent on research by organisations like Otago. It can only be a matter of time before this changes, given developments around the rest of the world.

Australian Research Council shift position on open access

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 | SIMON HART | 1 Comment

Australia’s biggest research funding body the ARC is preparing to change its funding rules to mandate open access publishing for the research it funds.  The intention is to align with the new National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) policy which now requires that all researchers that it funds must add their outputs to an open-access repository within 12 months of publication.

This move is consistent with the broader Australian Government agendas of promoting digital economy and of supporting open government; as well as the direction happening in New Zealand, refer:  The benefits of this open access approach include an increased visibility of research, together with increased usage and impact, alongside an improved community awareness of research and its relevance.

Commenting on this Cathrine Harboe-Ree, (President, Council of Australian University Librarians, (CAUL) has said “it is critical that the ARC does align with the NHMRC policy in one very important way.  Unlike the approach taken recently by the Research Councils in the UK, the NHMRC has been careful not to insist that research publish in open access journals using the so called “gold” pay-to-publish approach or to pay extra to publishers to reduce embargo periods.  The repository infrastructure in Australian Universities allows us to support all forms of open access, including the deposit of peer reviewed final manuscripts (“green” open access).  There is no need for Australian funding agencies to mandate or fund the “gold” approach and indeed it may be detrimental to scholarly publication patterns and the cost of research to do so.”

It is worth noting that the repository infrastructure Cathrine mentions has also been established in New Zealand – all NZ Universities run a DSpace repository for research outputs.