2012 was a really interesting year for Open Research.
The year started with a boycott to Elsevier (The Cost of Knowledge) , soon followed in May by a petition at We The People in the US, asking the US government to “Require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.”. By June we had The Royal Society publishing a paper on “science as an open enterprise” [pdf] saying:
The opportunities of intelligently open research data are exemplified in a number of areas of science.With these experiences as a guide, this report argues that it is timely to accelerate and coordinate change, but in ways that are adapted to the diversity of the scientific enterprise and the interests of: scientists, their institutions, those that fund, publish and use their work and the public.
The Finch report had a large share of media coverage [pdf] -
Our key conclusion, therefore, is that a clear policy direction should be set to support the publication of research results in open access or hybrid journals funded by APCs. A clear policy direction of that kind from Government, the Funding Councils and the Research Councils would have a major effect in stimulating, guiding and accelerating the shift to open access.
By July the UK government announced the support for the Open Access recommendations from the Finch Report to ensure:
Walk-in rights for the general public, so they can have free access to global research publications owned by members of the UK Publishers’ Association, via public libraries. [and] Extending the licensing of access enjoyed by universities to high technology businesses for a modest charge.
The Research Councils OK joined by publishing a policy on OA (recently updated) that required [pdf] :
Where the RCUK OA block grant is used to pay Article Processing Charges for a paper, the paper must be made Open Accesess immediately at the time of on line publication, using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence.
By the time that Open Access Week came around, there was plenty to discuss. The discussion of Open Access emphasised more strongly the re-use licences under which the work was published. The discussion also included some previous analysis showing that there are benefits from publishing in Open Access that affect economies:
adopting this model could lead to annual savings of around EUR 70 million in Denmark, EUR 133 in The Netherlands and EUR 480 million in the UK.
And in November, the New Zealand Open Source Awards recognised Open Science fro the first time too.
2013 promises not to fall behind
This year offers good opportunities to celebrate local and international advocates of Open Science.
The Obama administration not only responded to last year’s petition by issuing a memorandum geared towards making Federally funded research adopt open access policies, but is now also seeking “Outstanding Open Science Champions of Change” . Nominations for this close on May 14, 2013. Simultaneously, The Public Library of Science, Google and the Wellcome Trust , together with a number of allies are sponsoring the “Accelerating Science Award Program” which seeks to recognise and reward individuals, groups or projects that have used Open Access scientific works in innovative manners. The deadline for this award is June 15.
Last year Peter Griffin wrote:
The policy shift in the UK will open up access to the work of New Zealand scientists by default as New Zealanders are regularly co-authors on papers paid for by UK Research Councils funds. But hopefully it will also lead to some introspection about our own open access policies here.
There was some reflection at the NZAU Open Research Conference which led to the Tasman Declaration – (which I encourage you to sign) and those of us who were involved in it are hoping good things will come out of it. While that work continues, I will be revisiting the nominations of last years Open Science category for the NZ Open Source Awards to make my nominations for the two awards mentioned above.
I certainly look forward to this year – I will continue to work closely with Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand and with NZ AU Open Research to make things happen, and continue to put my 2 cents as an Academic Editor for PLOS ONE and PeerJ.
There is no question that the voice of Open Access is now loud and clear – and over the last year it has also become a voice that is not only being heard, but that it also generating the kinds of responses that will lead to real change.
It is December 3.
It is also the day that PeerJ starts receiving manuscript submissions. I talked about PeerJ before and why I was so enthusiastic about its launch. Over the last while I have been experiencing PeerJ as a user.
Some of us academic editors were able to do some website testing for the article submission site, and I have to say I am impressed. Truth be told, the most painful part of submitting a paper has been, in my experience, being confronted with those horrid manuscript submission sites. When I started working in science there were no computers. We typed (yes, remember the typewriter?) our manuscripts, printed our pictures in the dark room, drew our graphs by hand with rotring pens and letraset and put the lot in an envelope. With a stamp. And walked the envelope to the Post Office.
Then came the electronic submission, and it seems that those who designed those sites knew that our high motivation level to submit would make us be able to endure their site’s, well, unfriendliness (oh and those dreadful pop-up windows!). They were right. Our motivation to submit a paper is high enough that we overlook the nuisance of the submission system – it is not a factor in the decision of where to submit. I find myself sometimes putting an entire afternoon aside just to upload the files on their system, and I have become accustomed to this, I have been doing it for years. And I know that any submission or editorial task will have to wait until I am at my desktop computer because navigating those sites on my netbook or my tablet is, well, not worth the effort
So needless to say, opening up the PeerJ system was nothing more than a yay moment. Finally someone thought about me, me, me.
The first thing I loved was that I just need to login to my account at PeerJ.com and from there I have the links to whatever I need: my profile, my manuscripts, my reviewer dashboard and my editor dashboard. None of that looking for the email that has the web address for the editorial manager system; even my tired old brain can remember that url. Even better, I can do that from my netbook, my tablet, my mobile phone, because the site loads really nicely in all my devices. The plus side of this is that when I think about checking something I can just go ahead and do it. Easily
Submitting the manuscript was a completely new experience. In my opinion they have done a few things right: a good visual (and intuitive) toolbar (text comes up on mouse over) and a hint box at the right of the screen.
As I moved from one page to another, the hintbox was always there to answer most of my questions, or send me to the instructions to authors – again, with a really nice and intuitive layout.
I never found myself second guessing what it is what I needed to do, or how to do it. And for that PeerJ deserves a hat tip.
But one of the things that impressed me the most, were the requirements under the “Declarations” section. There are a lot of things there that impressed me. Firstly, the detailed description of the Animal Ethics (not just that your University Committee approved it), the request for agreement for people to be acknowledged, the declaration of conflict of interest and any type of funding, etc. I think this is a good thing. I found it tedious at first. But when I started thinking about it more, I think this is a great step for better scientific standards. And I hope they keep on having those requirements, and hope more journals follow suit. And a second hat tip for contacting all of the listed authors to inform them someone has submitted a manuscript with their name on it. I am still shocked some journals still do not do this!
I am now acting as an academic editor for another manuscript, and the experience from that end is no different. The system is simple and intuitive which makes my job easier. From an editor’s point of view what I liked the most was the page where I had to choose/load reviewers. I had on that page a list of suggested reviewers by the authors and those that authors opposed, so there was no need of navigating different windows to get that information. Made a mistake and want to get rid of a reviewer? Just click on the trash can. On that page, also nicely visible are the links to tools to help me find reviewers (JANE, PubMed and Google Scholar). Now what was a really nice touch (lke the links weren’t enough!) was that clicking on any of those links automatically ran a query for me based on title and keywords of the article – one less thing for me to do (unless I need to for some reason). So another hat tip for that – and I think that rounds up the hat trick.
Now, what a bright idea – make the system user friendly! You’d think those in the Science Publishing system would have already figured that out, eh?
It has been a busy Open Access Week for me. My last (well almost last!) duty is today at 4:00 pm at the Old Government House at the University of Auckland.
Stratus has organised a panel and invited me to participate, and I have just uploaded my upcoming presentation to Slideshare. If you have a chance, we would love to see you there!
So, it is Open Access Week, so I thought I should drop by and tell you what I have been up to other than collecting swag.
It has been a very busy time. Heaps of things have happened and I am thrilled of how much louder the conversation about Open Access has become. So what I thought I might do on this post is link to some of the stuff that I have been doing over the past year.
Back in July, Cameron Neylon and I ran a Workshop on Open Research in the New Zealand context as part of the eResearch Symposium. It was great. There was a great crowd and Cameron did an excellent job moderating, and all we learned and gathered is being shared here. I think that one of the take-home messages from that workshop was the need to build a solid community of practice and communicate more actively with each other.
The symposium ran a bit after the Finch Report was released and PeerJ came out of the closet. So while Cameron and I were at Wellington we got a chance to chat about Open Access with Peter Griffin on the Sciblogs podcast.
Flew back to Auckland and hardly caught my breath before heading to Net Hui. Matt McGregor from Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand had asked me to participate in a panel on ‘Open in Tertiary’. I said yes. Then he texted me to ask me to do a radio interview about the panel with bFM. Have you ever tried to a radio interview over a mobile trying to find a quiet spot in Sky City? Well, this is what that sounds like.
Not long after I get a phone call from Radio New Zealand while I am on the bus. Dodgy connection. I was sick so I also had a dodgy brain. Nonetheless, kudos to the reported who managed to seep through the nonsense generated by a sickly brain and make something of it. The recording is here, and I was surprised to find that the clip also interviewed Peter Gluckman and Cameron Neylon.
All throughout the year, a bunch of us have also been busy organising a conference for next year on Open Research. You can find info on the conference on this site. And yes, we will take your money so just contact us if you can support us.
And I am currently going through the nominations for the New Zealand Open Source Awards – this year featuring Open Science. The finalists should be made known soon. Some great nominations!
And today begins Open Access week, and so back to work.
I already published a post in Mind the Brain on my experience as an Academic Editor in PLOS ONE, and another post appears in Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand site on the cultural heritage of science. Matt McGregor, our CCANZ lead has aggregated a wonderful collection of posts on their site – worth going onto the OA week page and read them!
I will be in two panels, one at Waikato University on Tuesday and one at University of Auckland on Thursday, and of course I will be stalking Alex Holcombe as much as possible while he is visiting Auckland.
So if you have a chance to come meet and greet, I am sure that by the time this week (and this year!) is over, I will be welcoming that drink! You can find activities for Open Access near you at the Creative Commons ANZ site.
When I was contacted to be a judge for the New Zealand Open Source Awards, I was elated. When I was told there was to be an Open Science category, I could not contain my joy.
The New Zealand Open Source Awards celebrate everything that is good about Open Source – mainly the opportunity to share and build on each other’s achievements. As a scientist I don’t feel the need to be told why this is good. After all science builds on the achievements of others and no project can be considered completed until the results are shared.
But how and when we share seems to be where we get stuck in the discussion.
Almost by definition, Open Science is about sharing early and without barriers. This (I think) makes science better: we make replication easy, we avoid duplicating efforts, and we make sure that any mistakes we made can be corrected, openly. It is a no-brainer to me. So having an Open Science category this year I think is absolutely fantastic! There are great Open Science projects in New Zealand that I wish will receive the recognition they deserve.
One thing I like about the NZ Open Source Awards is that they recognise openness in many areas (government, education, arts, business, science) – not just software. And raising the awareness of the impact of open source projects is a good step towards adopting that philosophy.
This year I am abstaining from nominating since I am a judge, so I am asking all of you to go down to the website before October 3 and nominate your favourite project. There are plenty to choose from, and I hope we can reward some well-deserving ones.