2012 in Review: Set the Default to Open Access

Christian Heise —  December 31, 2012 — 1 Comment

cloud_20122012 is nearly over… It has been another awesome year for the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to academic articles – Open Access (OA). Here is a pick of this year’s Open Access milestones.

January 2012

With the Research Works Act the US Congress was considering a bill from December 2011, whose purpose was to restrict public access to publicly-funded research. This would have been the end of the US open access mandate and the NIH’s Public Access Policy, which requires that NIH-funded peer-reviewed journal articles to be “accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication”. After a big scholarly and scientific boycott the two Representatives who introduced the bill luckily issued a statement at the end of Feburary 2012 saying that they would not push further for legislative action on the bill. Just hours later the publisher Elsevier, a big supporter of the bill, also dropped its support for the Research Works Act.

Feburary 2012

There are a few papers out there, that discuss or even champion the very Open Access movement itself but they are (ironically) inaccessible. So Dun­can Hull founded the Open Access Irony Award – naming and shaming closed access publications about open access which can be found at his blog or in a group at Mendeley

March 2012

Bo-Christer Björk published a great paper with the title “The Hybrid Model for Open Access Publication of Scholarly Articles – a Failed Experiment?” (PDF) where he takes a closer look at the development of hybrid OA and discusses, from an author-centric viewpoint, the possible reasons for the lack of success of this business model:

The overall conclusion of this study must be that the hybrid experiment, at least in the case of the major publishers and with the current price level, has failed as a way of significantly adding to the volumes of OA articles, and that hybrid OA will remain a very marginal phenomenon in the scholarly publishing landscape.

April 2012

In April the World Bank has announced a new Open Access Policy. The Policy requires that all research outputs published by the international financial institution must be licensed Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) as a default. By that anouncement the Bank also launched a new Open Knowledge Repository with more than 2,000 books, articles, reports and research papers under CC BY. See this video to find out more about the World Bank OA Policy and the Repository.

May 2012

Just a small note but a far-reaching decision for a german university (mathematics department at TU Munich):

Because of unsustainable subscription prices and conditions, the board of directors of the mathematics department has voted to cancel all of its subscriptions to Elsevier journals by 2013.

Another blow to Elsevier and closed access publishing: The call to action by Cambridge professor Timothy Gowers to boycott Elsevier crossed the 10.000 signatures threshold.

June 2012

On the 18 June a UK report by Professor Dame Janet Finch on “Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications” was published. The so called Finch-Report said open access would lead to efficiency benefits for researchers and produce economic growth. But, making all the UK’s publicly funded scientific research free for anyone to read could cost up to £60m per year. This report was not without controversy and led to the fundamental question whether science or profit is the driver for Open Access. The UK government’s announcement in July that it plans to make all research open access was followed by heated debate. According to that, the Guardian speaks about “the most radical shakeup of academic publishing since the invention of the internet“.

July 2012

Public Library of Science (PLoS), an open access peer-reviewed scientific journal, publishes its 50,000th research article.

The EU Commission announced that it will make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Research & Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020. As of 2014, all articles produced with funding from Horizon 2020 will have to be accessible (Green by author or Gold OA by publisher). The goal is for 60% of European publicly-funded research articles to be available under open access by 2016. Interessting and curious fact: up-front publication costs can be eligible for reimbursement by the European Commission.

August 2012

Wiley, a global publishing company that specializes in academic publishing, has announced that they have changed the licensing conditions of their ‘WileyOpenAccess’ branded journals. They have now adopted the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence. A small but welcome victory for common sense and Open Access.

September 2012

In 2002 the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) launched a worldwide campaign for open access (OA) with a public statement of principles relating to open access to the research literature. Ten years later, in 2012, the original BOAI definition of open access has been reaffirmed and they have made new recommendations for the next ten years. The 2012 recommendations count more than 2500 words and are pretty detailed on what has to be done to get open access from a concept to a sustainable process. The Hybrid Publishing Lab did the official german translation of 2012 recommendations and published a summary in five points and less than 350 words.

October 2012

From 22-28 October 2012 the world celebrated the 6th Open Access Week and along with many others we played a part in getting the message out. The Open Access Week has its roots in the National Day of Action for Open Access on February 15, 2007. In 2009, the event was expanded to a week. During this years Open Access Week Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen from PHD Comics did a great job on explaining open access publishing – easy to understand for everybody. Check out the video.

November 2012

There had been much hope for the Open Access Community on the EU Horizont 2020 funding Framework, it promised to open up research data and publications that have resulted from funding by Horizon 2020. However, the current draft differs considerably from the original idea of opening up all results and offers a variety of loopholes for publishers and authors. Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, did a good comment on the post which warns of watering down Open Access in EU

December 2012

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which is maintained by Lund University and lists all open access journals, continues its steady increase at around 3 titles per day and it is an easy prediction for the new year that the directory will exceed a million articles searchable at the article level. The DOAJ numbers of 2012:

8,461 journals – increased by 1,133 over past year or 3 titles per day
4,199 journals searchable by article – up 739 over past year, 2 per day
944,804 articles searchable by article – up 246,258 over past year, 674 per day
easy prediction: over 1 million articles searchable by article early in 2013

(by the “The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics“)

Did I miss something? Please comment!

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Christian Heise

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Research Associate at the Hybrid Publishing Lab and Member of Board of the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, currently working on his Ph.D thesis about Open Science. More about me...

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