Last month OASPA held the annual Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing, COASP, in Amsterdam. Now in its 7th year, the conference is a firmly established event in the annual schedule for publishers, librarians and funders alike, and always serves to stimulate interesting discussions on key issues related to open access.
The conference kicked off with a Keynote speech from Kaitlin Thaney, Director of Mozilla Science Lab, on getting open practices to stick with researchers. Mozilla have many ways to encourage open practices by researchers, from empowering them to do more open, collaborative research on the web, to increasing transparency, such as giving more credit to researchers for their work via their open research badges initiative which publishers and ORCID are working on with Mozilla to embed into publications.
Kaitlin’s talk ran nicely into a session on innovation in scholarly communication. Kaveh Bazargan spoke first, representing a publisher collaboration driving towards standardisation in XML tagging to enhance reusability: the JATS4R project. Jonathan Gray of Open Knowledge asked delegates to consider what constitutes scholarly research in the digital age and advocated a more holistic approach to scholarly communications. Geoffrey Bilder of CrossRef described the DOI Event Tracking Project, or DET, which some OASPA members have played a key role in, the core aim of the project being to provide an open dataset of activity surrounding a publication from potentially any web resource where an event is associated with a DOI. By aggregating events across many online channels, DET has the potential to become a substantial source of article-level data.
Rounding off Day 1 was a new item on the COASP Program: Lightning Talks. 10 organisations displayed posters on exciting new projects and presenters were given 90 seconds to talk about their work, resulting in a fast and entertaining session to conclude a successful first day.
Day 2 started with CERN’s Salvatore Mele, talking about the SCOAP3 project and how it is helping to convert the high-energy physics literature to open access. CERN is an intergovernmental organisation and SCOAP3 builds on CERN’s experience, by linking publishers, libraries, funders – and, importantly, researchers – in the spirit of international collaboration fostered by CERN.
Salvatore was followed by a panel discussion on various business models to support the transition to open access. We heard from Steve Hall of IOP Publishing on their offsetting pilot; Juliane Ritt spoke about Springer Compact; Liam Earney of Jisc Collections presented their work negotiating offsetting agreements with publishers; and Stephen Pinfield of the University of Sheffield presented the findings in a report (released that day) for the Universities UK Open Access Co-ordination Group which examined the transition to open access in the UK.
Among the many strings to her bow, historian Aileen Fyfe of the University of St. Andrews conducts research on the history of publishing and communication. Aileen’s talk considered what lessons we might learn about the future of scholarly communications from a more historical perspective. She described, for example, how peer-review is a relatively recent addition to the process of scholarly communication, introduced originally for a different purpose from that which it now tries to serve, and how today’s practices which are often felt to be difficult to change are certainly not set in stone.
Ron Dekker, Director of the Institutes NOW and Project Leader for open access, provided an update on the Netherlands national approach to OA and the potential impact of the Dutch leadership of the EU in 2016.
The panel discussion that followed examined progressive roads to open access, beginning with Jan Erik Frantsvåg of UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, who spoke about how Norwegian academic institutions have come together to create a nationwide approach to funding open access publishing. The Gates Foundation’s Jennifer Hansen set out the motivations for their unilateral requirements for open access publishing, and how their new system Chronos will make this process easier for authors, and will allow Gates to track the resulting publications and outputs of their research. Finally, Pierre Mounier of OpenEdition described OPERAS, a new infrastructure for monograph publication in the arts, humanities and social sciences.
For the second year running we invited proposals to present projects or novel ideas from the open access community in our Show and Tell session. We heard from BioMedCentral’s Daniel Shanahan on the launch of a new publication which involves patients – as editors, reviewers and readers – and how an open approach is critical to this; Bryan Vickery presented Cogent OA’s pay-what-you-want Freedom APC model and it will be interesting to hear more about the results from the approach they are trialling; Rupert Gatti described Open Book Publishers’ freemium model for OA book publishing; Patrick Martinent showcased ResearchPad and the progress made thus far in presenting open-access content in a mobile friendly format; Jenna Makowski of Alexander Street Press explained how an open, community approach is critical to the Open Anthropology Library and how OA is central to this; and Margo Bargheer described the DFG’s approach to sustaining funds for open access publishing.
Finally we heard from Lars Bjørnshauge, representing a group of organisations which includes OASPA, that are launching the ‘Think. Check. Submit’ campaign to provide some guidance for researchers when deciding which journal to publish their research in.
The third and final day looked at research and researcher evaluation and the pivotal role that scholarly publishing has. It’s clear that open access, open peer-review – and openness in general throughout this process – have the potential to change things for the better. We began with a talk from Stephen Curry of University College London on the current situation of research and evaluation, then from Derek Groen (UCL) and Moqi Xu (LSE), both early career researchers, who gave an insight into the problems they face. Andrew Preston described how Publons enables researchers to get credit for the peer-review they carry out and Marcus Munafo of the University of Bristol showed how the pressure to publish positive, statistically significant research as part of the researcher evaluation process is undermining the integrity and reliability of science.
To close the conference we ended on a positive note with an inspiring speech from Ryan Merkley, the CEO of Creative Commons. In Ryan’s presentation, but also across the conference as a whole, there was a real sense more than ever this year of how open access to content is just a stepping stone as we move towards an open research culture. Sharing, collaboration, transparency, ethical behaviour and ultimately trust were all values that shone through in the presentations.
All of the recordings, slides and posters are available to watch or download via the OASPA website as in previous years. You can sign up for announcements about future events on our conference page or follow us on twitter @OASPA.