How much do they pay for journal subscriptions in the UK?

Thursday, July 30th, 2015 | Richard White | No Comments

Two independent British researchers have obtained and released data on the licensing fees spent on journal subscriptions in the UK higher education sector. The data, released openly on F1000Research, shows spending by over 150 UK higher education organisations on the journals from ten publishing groups, reaching a total of £430 million from 2010 – 2014. The data, being open, allowed me to do some quick calculations. Across these institutions the total spend in each year showed a steady increase over the five years: £76m, £82m, £88m, £91m and £94 respectively.

These figures are, of course, separate from anything spent on Author Processing Charges now being spent by UK insitutions to comply with goverment-mandated open access to publicly-funded research, which has become a significant cost in itself with the UK government’s support for the Gold OA model.

You can compare 2013 figures to publicly released figures for New Zealand institutions. The highest figure paid among the UK institutions that year was the £3.1 million spent by the University of Manchester. The University of Auckland was the biggest spender of New Zealand institutions in the same year at $14.8 million. The figures are not directly comparable – given that the UK’s include licensing fees for ten specific publishers and the NZ figures are for all spending on academic journal subscriptions — but do provide a broad basis for comparison. Similarly the total spends make interesting reading, with the UK’s £91 million spread across 153 institutions and NZ’s $55 million across just eight universities and eight Crown Research Institutes.

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

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.

Accelerating impact

Friday, February 21st, 2014 | SIMON HART | No Comments

View exceptional real-world applications of Open Access research.

This 5min video features six teams of scientists whose innovative reuse of existing research enabled important advances in medical treatment and detection, ecology and science education. These examples demonstrate how the reuse of Open Access research can accelerate scientific progress and benefit society as a whole. Includes comments from Open Access advocates from publishing, academia and industry and features finalists, winners and sponsors from the Accelerating Science Awards Program (ASAP).

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.

Aus/NZ Open Research Conference, Auckland 6-7 February

Sunday, January 13th, 2013 | Richard White | No Comments

An Australasian Open Research Conference is to be held at the University of Auckland on 6-7 February. This will be an important event for researchers interested in openness to explore with like-minded people the rapidly-developing world of open research, publishing and data in the New Zealand and Australian contexts.

The line-up for Day 1 looks to be a fascinating blend of practical exemplars of those already working in the open space and discussion of high-level policy/strategy (non-profit and commercial). Sessions will be led by some of the movers and shakers in openness from both nations. Day 2 will be a barcamp-style, participant-led session looking to explore the themes of Day 1 and in more concrete terms examine how openness can be advanced in our research communities.

Read more on the conference web site.

(Otago people: please let me know if you are planning on attending – it’s important we have representation at this conference and have people who can report back to our community about what transpired).