September 2012


Picture by Daniel Mietchen – licensed under a Creative Commons (BY 3.0)

In Feburary 2002 the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) launched a worldwide campaign for open access (OA). Even if they did not invent the idea, the initiative did the first major international statement and a public definition of open access.

Now, ten years later, they made new recommendations for the next ten years. The new recommendations count more than 2500 words and are pretty detailed on what has to be encouraged and done to get open access from a concept to a sustainable process. However, the original definition of open access has been reaffirmed:

By “open access” to [peer-reviewed research literature], we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

In order to make the important document more accessible, I summarized the 2012 recommendations in five points and less than 350 words::

  1. Repository: Every institution of higher education should have access to an open access repository (participate in a consortium or arrange to outsource repository services) and every publishing scholar in every field and country, including those not affiliated with institutions of higher education, should have deposit rights.
  2. Policy: Every institution of higher education, public or private research funding agency should have a policy assuring that all future scholarly articles by faculty members and all future theses and dissertations are made open access as soon as practicable and deposit these in the institution’s designated open access repository. We recommend Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) or an equivalent license as the optimal license for the publication, distribution, use, and reuse of scholarly work.
  3. Tools & technology: Research institutions, including research funders, should support the development and maintenance of the tools, directories, and resources essential to the progress and sustainability of open access. Open access repositories should provide tools and APIs, already available at no charge, to convert deposits made in PDF format into machine-readable formats such as XML and the used repositories should acquire the means to harvest from and re-deposit to other repositories, make download, usage, and citation data available to their authors and to the tools computing alternative impact metrics.
  4. Impact Factor: We therefore discourage the use of classic journal impact factors as surrogates for the quality of journals, articles, or authors. We encourage the development of alternative metrics for impact and quality which are less simplistic, more reliable, and entirely open for use and reuse.
  5. Advocacy & coordination: The open access community should act in concert more often and we should do more to make universities, publishers, editors, referees and researchers aware of standards of professional conduct for open access publishing. We also need to articulate more clearly, with more evidence, and to more stakeholder groups the advantages and potentials of open access

If you want to know more about the recommendations read the full version here or watch the talk at the BOAI 10 conference about “The Budapest Open Access Initiative at 10 – Recommendations for the next ten years“ (by Alma Swan, Director of European Advocacy, SPARC Europe and Key Perspectives):

Disclamer: The Hybrid Publishing Lab translated also the long version of the BOAI 10 recommendations into German language.

Like many other young researchers all over the world, junior scientist Antonio Silva is working to build himself a career in science. In order to push his research further, he recently published two papers in the field of ethnography, one with an open and one with a closed access model. Yes, this makes him a perfect research object for our lab, the more as what he experienced changed his view. In a short interview, he shared his experience.

OpenAcces vs. Closes Access (sorry for the sound, we are still in a learning process).

PLoS ONE, one of the scientific journals Silva talks about, is one of the biggest open access peer reviewed scientific journals and was launched by the Public Library of Science in 2006. The journal is well aware of the problems Silva mentions in the end, an argument which can be pinnacled as follows: the ability to get your research published shouldn’t only be for the rich. Of course not! They decided to rely on a country-based pricing model: while PLoS ONE generally charges an ‘article processing fee’ of $ 1350, a number of poorer countries only pay a fee of $ 500, or even no money at all. Does this pay off? It seems to be the case. After writing off a loss in the beginning, in 2010 PLoS ONE covered its operational costs for the first time largely due to its growth. In 2011, the journal published over 13,500 articles, and in 2012 it continued to publish over 2,000 articles a month.

Evolution & Human Behavior, on the other hand, published Silva’s other article for free. His research “Facial attractiveness and fertility in populations with low levels of modern birth control” appeared in the closed access journal of the Nature Group in Volume 33, Issue 5, on the pages 491-498. To read it digitally, one would have to pay $ 31.50.

Where should science go from here?

Which model is best for research? What kind of science do we want? There are some principal questions the Hybrid Publishing Lab has to face, and as often in science there will be no easy answer. Our research will have to ponder some social and political aspects of science, as well as the economical reality it finds itself in after digitalization.

Should science be good for business, or should it be independent? But how independent is a researcher, when instead of an independent publisher the university would have to pay for it all? While universities are of general importance, all democratic systems befit some balance of power. However, it is out of the question that the Open Access Initiative benefits society: open access broadens the access to research for scientists as well as for the general public. What other models are available to fund research? Can specific research, for example the one in the humanities, also be funded by crowd sourcing? One of our researchers, Christian Heise, himself well experienced in the digital world, thinks it is a model that should at least be considered, and I would agree.

… and these are the people who will think about it.

This blog will follow the debate and development around open access and publishing as it will be a notepad to the Hybrid Publishing team currently doing research at the Leuphana University, Germany under the guidance of PD Dr. rer. nat. Martin Warnke and Prof. Dr. Timon Beyes. Here, you will find postings from Dr. Armin Beverungen, genuinely interested and experienced in the subject of open access publishing thanks to his own journal ephemera, who will manage our academic publishing experiments. To his side you find Simon Worthington, a name likely known to some of you from London’s magazine Mute, where he already had started the vision of an open source publishing platform. With the support of Jens-Martin Loebel and Heinz-Günter Kuper, Simon will manage our Hybrid Publishing Platform, as their programming skills and Simon’s experience and connections are a research director’s a dream team – Heinz and Jens have already coded the Hyper Image platform, we also plan to develop further. Last but not least, we will profit from Marjatta Kiessl insightful experience in publishing and education alike, as well as Christian Heise, who brings in strong ties to the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Wanna work with us?

Soon we will be more, if you are interested, this is the link to our job ads.  And here you can read about the progress we make, and problems we meet. Yes, we will use this blog to ponder current ideas, note our work in progress, share and report events and discuss actual debates concerning the issue. Yes, expect a range of different opinions as we are indeed open – please feel welcome to take part in the discussion.

We all believe that Open Access is a great opportunity for our societies, but to make something available can only be the beginning. From there we need to go further and shape the process in greater detail – to make something accessible and sustainable is equally important, for example. We are looking forward to take part in shaping this new landscape digitalization has opened up.