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.)

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

Open Access. What is it and why should I care? – plus OA baking! (1pm, Mon 19 October, #OAweek)

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


Image CC BY,

Why are governments, funders and institutions around the world mandating or encouraging Open Access? What does it mean for my discipline? My department? Me, as an individual researcher or teacher?

Our opening event for OA Week offers an introduction to OA, its demonstrable benefits to the scholarly pursuit and the challenges it presents. This session will provide a broad overview of current developments in OA and examine what the future might hold.

We’ll also be launching a survey of Otago staff, which asks about practices in and attitudes towards OA publishing.

Come along and share your experiences or bring your questions.

As an added bonus there will be open access baking. You’ll have to come find out what that is!

When: 1 – 2pm Monday 19 October 2015
Where: Central Library Conference Room 3 (1st floor East end, see floorplan)
Online: join virtually via Connect

More than half of research published by top five publishers

Friday, July 24th, 2015 | Richard White | No Comments

An analysis of 45 million research documents has found that the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. The digital era precipitated a massive shift from a proliferation of research publishers to an oligopoly of a small handful. This influence is particularly evident in the social sciences (where the share is more like 70%) and less so in the humanities (20%); the Natural and Medical Sciences lie around the half-way point largely because of the independence of the major scholarly socities.

The paper concludes that this massive increase in influence has been largely responsible for the massive rises in profits of these publsihers, without a concomitant increase in added value to what has been described as ‘the most profitiable obsolete technology in history.’

It also concludes that only the academic community – having sold off its intellectual capital at an amazing rate (see image at the bottom of this post) – has the ability to reverse this the ‘acaedmic spring’ of the open access / open science movements.

Read The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era in full (and open access) at PLoS ONE.

journal.pone.0127502.g002Number of journals changing from small to big publishers, and big to small publishers per year of change in the Natural and Medical Sciences and Social Sciences & Humanities | CC BY Larivière et al (2015) | doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127502.g002

Open Access publishing in the UK

Friday, February 13th, 2015 | Richard White | No Comments

Open access to research is the theme for the month of Febraruy on NZCommons, the home for discussion of all things copyright and open access in New Zealand. The following are some highlights of a post of on open access publishing in the UK by Cambridge academic Dr Rupert Gatti (originally published on The Guardian).

Read the full article

While academia is in the midst of a general funding crisis, multinational publishing houses are making vast profits from disseminating publicly funded research. New Open Access publishing models provide cost-efficient methods for disseminating research findings, eradicate excess profits by publishers and massively widen the readership of scholarly works…

…Our model is now well-honed and successfully spreading knowledge around the world: our books are currently averaging around 500 views per month, which is more than most printed academic books see in an entire lifetime. They are accessed by people in over 180 countries (most academic books are only available in Western university libraries), with large numbers coming from the developing world…

…There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a creditable Open Access book publisher in every university around the world, but it is going to require a collective shift in the academic mind-set…

University Press launches new open access publishing programs

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 | SIMON HART | No Comments

The University of California Press formally launched two open access publishing programs, Collabra (an open access megajournal) and Luminos (open access monographs). Both Collabra and Luminos launch with a distinguished group of advisory board members, editors, authors, and reviewers from universities and associations around the globe.

From the UC Press Announcement: “These programs have been shaped by hundreds of conversations with faculty, librarians, and other key stakeholders, [said Alison Mudditt, Director of UC Press].” “With Luminos, we will combine the global reach and visibility of OA with our unwavering commitment to publishing superior scholarship to create a speedboat, not a life raft, that will carry monographs forward and allow them to remain a vital resource.”


Direct to Collabra Web Site and FAQ

Direct to Luminos Web Site and FAQ

Videos (Supplied by UC Press)


The Gates go open

Monday, November 24th, 2014 | SIMON HART | No Comments

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced the world’s strongest policy in support of open research and open data. see:

As from January 2015, Gates-funded researchers must make open their resulting papers and underlying data-sets immediately upon publication. Papers must be published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (CC BY) allowing unrestricted re-use; including for commercial purposes.

We believe that published research resulting from our funding should be promptly and broadly disseminated” the Foundation states. During the transition a 12-month embargo period may apply. The Foundation will also meet any necessary publication fees.

Radio NZ reports on “extortionate” tactics of research publishers

Thursday, September 25th, 2014 | Richard White | No Comments

$55 million – that’s the figure Radio NZ has reported that NZ universities and Crown Research Institutes pay in subscription fees to academic publishers. The University of Auckland alone spent almost $15m — with Otago spending the second-highest amount of $8.4 — on access to journals that for the most part comprises work done and reviewed by academics around the world for free, after signing their copyright over to the publishers.

You can also listen to the report from Morning Report.

A new open access model designed to set books free

Friday, April 11th, 2014 | SIMON HART | No Comments

Non-profit group Knowledge Unlatched is piloting a collective procurement approach to open access books. The model depends on many libraries from around the world sharing the payment of a single title fee to a publisher, in return for a book being made available on a Creative Commons license via the open access repository service OAPEN and the HathiTrust Digital Library as a fully downloadable PDF.

Because the title fee is a fixed amount, as more libraries participate in Knowledge Unlatched, the per-library cost of securing open access for each book is reduced.  By the end of February 2014 about 300 libraries had signed up to the pilot.

The Knowledge Unlatched Pilot Collection includes 28 new books from 13 recognised scholarly publishers.

Read more at: The Chronicle of Higher education Issue No:314

Watch the video on how it works at:

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.