Elsevier journals — some facts

Author: Timothy Gower
Blogpost April 24, 2014

Comment: This long blog post discusses the author’s attempts, successful in many cases, to obtain the costs of Elsevier journal subscriptions at the UK Russell Group of universities. It includes some amusing detailed correspondence with JISC and the universities. Also  related discussion around APCs and their impact on subscription costs, Elsevier costs in some US universities, Brazil. Also in the post and related comments are some useful data sources and related analysis.

Introduction: A little over two years ago, the Cost of Knowledge boycott of Elsevier journals began. Initially, it seemed to be highly successful, with the number of signatories rapidly reaching 10,000 and including some very high-profile researchers, and Elsevier making a number of concessions, such as dropping support for the Research Works Act and making papers over four years old from several mathematics journals freely available online. It has also contributed to an increased awareness of the issues related to high journal prices and the locking up of articles behind paywalls….

I  have come to the conclusion that if it is not possible to bring about a rapid change to the current system, then the next best thing to do, which has the advantage of being a lot easier, is to obtain as much information as possible about it. Part of the problem with trying to explain what is wrong with the system is that there are many highly relevant factual questions to which we do not yet have reliable answers.

Elsevier journals — some facts

Evaluation of Openness in the Activities of Research Organisations and Research Funding Organisations in 2016

Author: finland Ministry of Education and Culture, Open Science and Research Initiative

Notes: Interesting scoring of Finnish research organisations regarding progress towards openness using data retrieved from public websites. A follow up survey gave organisations the opportunity to correct and supplement data. Also compared with other European research organisations. Because of the rapidly changing landscape the assessment was not repeated in 2017.

Abstract: This evaluation of the openness of Finnish research performing and funding organisations was completed as part of the Open Science and Research Initiative (ATT) by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The target of this evaluation is to assess the openness of operational cultures in research organisations and research funding organisations. The key objectives, against which the assessments are made, are defined in the Open Science and Research Roadmap. More information about the evaluation can be found at openscience.fi/openculture


Publications | Free Full-Text | Enhancing Institutional Publication Data Using Emergent Open Science Services | HTML

Authors: David Walters and Christopher Daley (Brunel University, London)

Notes: An interesting article looking at integrating data sources to assess OA status and location of OA copies for single UK university. Focusses on data derived from CORE and from Unpaywall and its combination with other information from university systems.

Abstract: The UK open access (OA) policy landscape simultaneously preferences Gold publishing models (Finch Report, RCUK, COAF) and Green OA through repository usage (HEFCE), creating the possibility of confusion and duplication of effort for academics and support staff. Alongside these policy developments, there has been an increase in open science services that aim to provide global data on OA. These services often exist separately to locally managed institutional systems for recording OA engagement and policy compliance. The aim of this study is to enhance Brunel University London’s local publication data using software which retrieves and processes information from the global open science services of Sherpa REF, CORE, and Unpaywall. The study draws on two classification schemes; a ‘best location’ hierarchy, which enables us to measure publishing trends and whether open access dissemination has taken place, and a relational ‘all locations’ dataset to examine whether individual publications appear across multiple OA dissemination models. Sherpa REF data is also used to indicate possible OA locations from serial policies. Our results find that there is an average of 4.767 permissible open access options available to the authors in our sample each time they publish and that Gold OA publications are replicated, on average, in 3 separate locations. A total of 40% of OA works in the sample are available in both Gold and Green locations. The study considers whether this tendency for duplication is a result of localised manual workflows which are necessarily focused on institutional compliance to meet the Research Excellence Framework 2021 requirements, and suggests that greater interoperability between OA systems and services would facilitate a more efficient transformation to open scholarship.

Source: Publications | Free Full-Text | Enhancing Institutional Publication Data Using Emergent Open Science Services | HTML

Over 80% of research outputs meet requirements of REF 2021 open access policy – Research England

Author: Research England (neé HEFCE)

Notes: An important national survey of progress towards Open Access in the context of a strong policy and compliance requirement. Interesting both for the claims it makes about the levels of OA as well as the language and nature of the process by which it is being achieved. Lots of important detail on how metadata is and is not being collected an processed.

Abstract: Sixty one per cent of research outputs known to be in scope for the REF 2021 are meeting open access deposit, discovery and access requirements, with a further twenty per cent reporting a known exception, a report published today shows.The report details the findings of a survey by the former Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Wellcome Trust, the former Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Jisc. The survey sought to assess how the sector is delivering funders’ open access (OA) policies and to understand some of the challenges the sector faces. The four project partners were also interested in understanding the methods and tools being used across the sector to ensure policy compliance.

Source: Over 80% of research outputs meet requirements of REF 2021 open access policy – Research England

Turning FAIR data into reality: interim report from the European Commission Expert Group on FAIR data | Zenodo

Authors: Hodson, Simon; Jones, Sarah; Collins, Sandra; Genova, Françoise; Harrower, Natalie; Laaksonen, Leif; Mietchen, Daniel; Petrauskaité, Rūta; Wittenburg, Peter

Notes: Extensive report that provides a large set of recommendations likely to be taken up by the EC. Focus is on large scale institutions and infrastructures more than universities as well as the broader ecosystem but many of the recommendations have implications for university policy and actions.

Abstract: Interim report of the European Commission Expert Group on Turning FAIR Data into reality. The Group has a remit to provide recommendations, indicators and input on the financing of activities required to turn FAIR data into reality at an EU, Member State and international level. A FAIR Data Action Plan has also been proposed. See https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1285290

The interim report will be formally released at the EOSC Summit on 11 June 2018 in Brussels, where a workshop will be run to consult on the recommendations and Action Plan. The report will be open for comments via a stakeholder consultation in June-August 2018.

The FAIR Data Expert Group was also asked to contribute to the evaluation of the Horizon 2020 Data Management Plan template and future revisions in light of harmonisation with funders across the EU, including the development of additional sector/ discipline specific guidance (if desired). A separate report was published on this in Spring 2018. See https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1120245

Hodson, Simon, Sarah Jones, Sandra Collins, Françoise Genova, Natalie Harrower, Leif Laaksonen, Daniel Mietchen, Rūta Petrauskaité, and Peter Wittenburg. “Turning FAIR Data into Reality: Interim Report from the European Commission Expert Group on FAIR Data,” June 7, 2018. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1285272.

Source: Turning FAIR data into reality: interim report from the European Commission Expert Group on FAIR data | Zenodo

The Landscape of Research Data Repositories in 2015: A re3data Analysis

TiTle: The Landscape of Research Data Repositories in 2015: A re3data Analysis

Authors: Maxi Kindling et al


Summary: Analysis of data repositories in re3data shows a range of access, software, APIs, PIDs used as well as content, owners and countries. Limited standard compliance was noted.

re3data now provides much of this info on its metrics page https://www.re3data.org/metrics

D-Lib Magazine March/April 2017
Volume 23, Number 3/4


This article provides a comprehensive descriptive and statistical analysis of metadata information on 1,381 research data repositories worldwide and across all research disciplines. The analyzed metadata is derived from the re3data database, enabling search and browse functionalities for the global registry of research data repositories. The analysis focuses mainly on institutions that operate research data repositories, types and subjects of research data repositories (RDR), access conditions as well as services provided by the research data repositories. RDR differ in terms of the service levels they offer, languages they support or standards they comply with. These statements are commonly acknowledged by saying the RDR landscape is heterogeneous. As expected, we found a heterogeneous RDR landscape that is mostly influenced by the repositories’ disciplinary background for which they offer services.

Keywords: Research Data Repositories, RDR, Statistical Analysis, Metadata, re3data, Open Science, Open Access, Research Data, Persistent Identifier, Digital Object Identifier, Licenses

Source: The Landscape of Research Data Repositories in 2015: A re3data Analysis

Scholarly publications beyond pay-walls: increased citation advantage for open publishing

Author: Susanne Mikki

Comments: This article suggests clear citation advantage for OA publishing, though the analysis was restricted to scholarly articles and ignored the legal status of full-texts.

Abstract: First, we aim to determine the total amount of scholarly articles freely available on the internet. Second, we aim to prove whether there exists a citation advantage for open publishing. The total scholarly publication output of Norway is indexed in Cristin, the Current Information System in Norway. Based on these data, we searched Google Scholar by either DOIs or titles and denoted a document as open available (OAv), when a link to a full-text was provided. We analysed the extracted data by publishing year, citations, availability and provider. Based on additional information indexed in Cristin, we furthermore analysed the data by year, institution, publisher and discipline. We find that the total share of freely available articles is 68%. Articles not available belong to prestigious publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Routledge and Universitetsforlaget (the largest Norwegian academic publisher), which may be particularly essential for scholars worldwide. The largest provider, according to Google Scholar’s main link provision, is ResearchGate. In addition, institutional repositories play a major role in posting free article versions. Articles belonging to natural sciences and technology, and medicine and health were more likely to be open than articles belonging to the social sciences and humanities. Their respective OAv-shares are 72, 58 and 55%. We find a clear citation advantage for open publishing; on average, these documents received twice as many citations, indicating that open access is the future in publishing. This study is limited to scholarly articles only. Books and book chapters, which are usual publication formats for the humanities and social sciences, are excluded. Results do therefore not adequately reflect the situation for these disciplines. Furthermore, this study is limited to documents freely available on the internet, independent of the “legal” status of the posted full-text. With the data at hand, we were not able to distinguish between gold, green, hybrid, purely pay-walled and illicitly posted documents. Usually, articles indexed in Web of Science or SCOPUS are objects of investigation. However, these databases do not sufficiently cover the humanities and social sciences, and therefore cannot be representative of the total scholarly article output. This study captures the total article output of a country, independent on discipline and provides new insight into open publishing.

Mikki, S. (2017) Scholarly publications beyond pay-walls: increased citation advantage for open publishing. Scientometrics, 113(3): 1529-1538.

Source: Scholarly publications beyond pay-walls: increased citation advantage for open publishing | Springer for Research & Development

How global university rankings are changing higher education – Degrees of success

Author: The Economist

Notes: Up to date critical general interest article from The Economist on rankings with an emphasis on the ARWU/Shanghai ranking including some history and background as well as a discussion of the issues that rankings are causing.

Snippet: They favour research over teaching and the sciences over the arts[…] EARLIER this month Peking University played host to perhaps the grandest global gathering ever of the higher-education business. Senior figures from the world’s most famous universities—Harvard and Yale, Oxford and Cambridge among them—enjoyed or endured a two-hour opening ceremony followed by a packed programme of mandatory cultural events interspersed with speeches lauding “Xi Jinping thought”. The party was thrown to celebrate Peking University’s 120th birthday—and, less explicitly, China’s success in a race that started 20 years ago.

The Economist. 2018. “How Global University Rankings Are Changing Higher Education,” May 19, 2018. https://www.economist.com/international/2018/05/19/how-global-university-rankings-are-changing-higher-education.

Source: How global university rankings are changing higher education – Degrees of success

“Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence | Palgrave Communications

Authors: Samuel Moore, Cameron Neylon, Martin Paul Eve, Daniel Paul O’Donnell & Damian Pattinson

Comment:  A discussion of how the word “excellence” means very little in the context of research evaluation, and can actually be quite damaging. Reviews a range of literature on issues in research evaluation with a focus on rankings and quantitative assessments.

Abstract: The rhetoric of “excellence” is pervasive across the academy. It is used to refer to research outputs as well as researchers, theory and education, individuals and organizations, from art history to zoology. But does “excellence” actually mean anything? Does this pervasive narrative of “excellence” do any good? Drawing on a range of sources we interrogate “excellence” as a concept and find that it has no intrinsic meaning in academia. Rather it functions as a linguistic interchange mechanism. To investigate whether this linguistic function is useful we examine how the rhetoric of excellence combines with narratives of scarcity and competition to show that the hyper-competition that arises from the performance of “excellence” is completely at odds with the qualities of good research. We trace the roots of issues in reproducibility, fraud, and homophily to this rhetoric. But we also show that this rhetoric is an internal, and not primarily an external, imposition. We conclude by proposing an alternative rhetoric based on soundness and capacity-building. In the final analysis, it turns out that that “excellence” is not excellent. Used in its current unqualified form it is a pernicious and dangerous rhetoric that undermines the very foundations of good research and scholarship. This article is published as part of a collection on the future of research assessment.

Moore, S., Neylon, C., Paul Eve, M., Paul O’Donnell, D., and Pattinson, D. (2017). “Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence. Palgrave Communications 3, 16105.

Source: “Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence | Palgrave Communications