Open Access to Scientific Information in Emerging Countries

Author : Joachim Schöpfel

Access to information plays a critical role in supporting development. Open access to scientific information is one solution. Up to now, the open access movement has been most successful in the Western hemisphere.

The demand for open access is great in the developing world as it can contribute to solving problems related to access gaps. Five emerging countries, called BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — play a specific and leading role with a significant influence on regional and global affairs because of their large and fast-growing national economies, their demography and geographic situation.

In order to better understand open access in each of the five countries, in this paper we take a look at specific conditions in each country, relying on data from information professionals and scientists from BRICS, with an empirical approach focused on country-specific characteristics and challenges.


How Do You Like Your Books: Print or Digital? An Analysis on Print and E-book Usage at The Graduate School of Education

Author : Dana Haugh

The shift from physical materials to digital holdings has slowly infiltrated libraries across the globe, and librarians are struggling to make sense of these intangible, and sometimes fleeting, resources. Materials budgets have shifted to accommodate large journal and database subscriptions, single-title article access, and most recently, e-book holdings.

This analysis measures the impact of digital acquisitions in an academic setting during a highly transformative period of library practices. The study finds that both electronic and print books are valuable to the academic research community at GSE.


Opening Scholarly Communication in Social Sciences by Connecting Collaborative Authoring to Peer Review

Authors : Afshin Sadeghi, Johannes Wilm, Philipp Mayr, Christoph Lange

The objective of the OSCOSS research project on « Opening Scholarly Communication in the Social Sciences » is to build a coherent collaboration environment that facilitates scholarly communication workflows of social scientists in the roles of authors, reviewers, editors and readers. This paper presents the implementation of the core of this environment: the integration of the Fidus Writer academic word processor with the Open Journal Systems (OJS) submission and review management system.


‘Just Google it’ – the scope of freely available information sources for doctoral thesis writing

Authors : Vincas Grigas, Simona Juzėnienė, Jonė Veličkaitė


Recent developments in the field of scientific information resource provision lead us to the key research question, namely,what is the coverage of freely available information sources when writing doctoral theses, and whether the academic library can assume the leading role as a direct intermediator for information users.


Citation analysis of doctoral theses was conducted in the summer of 2015. A total of thirty-nine theses (with 6,998 references) defended at Vilnius University at the end of 2014 was selected (30 per cent of all defended theses).

Theses were randomly chosen from different research fields: the humanities, social sciences, biomedical sciences, technological sciences, and physical sciences.


The research team was tasked with identifying whether certain resources could be found in the eCatalogue of an academic library, its subscribed databases, freely available online (through Google or Google Scholar), or whether the resources from the library`s subscribed databases are identical to those which are freely available.

The data gathering process included such resource categories as journal papers, printed and electronic books or book chapters, and other documents (legal reports, conference papers, newspaper articles, Websites, theses, etc.).


Library collections and subscribed databases could cover up to 80 per cent of all information resources used in doctoral theses. Among the most significant findings to emerge from this study is the fact that on average more than half (57 per cent) of all utilised information resources were freely available or were accessed without library support.

We may presume that the library as a direct intermediator for information users is potentially important and irreplaceable only in four out of ten attempts of PhD students to seek information.


Reconsidering the gold open access citation advantage postulate in a multidisciplinary context: an analysis of the subject categories in the Web of Science database 2009-2014

Authors : Pablo Dorta-González,  Sara M. González-Betancor, María Isabel Dorta-González

Since Lawrence in 2001 proposed the open access (OA) citation advantage, the potential benefit of OA in relation to the citation impact has been discussed in depth.

The methodology to test this postulate ranges from comparing the impact factors of OA journals versus traditional ones, to comparing citations of OA versus non-OA articles published in the same non-OA journals.

However, conclusions are not entirely consistent among fields, and two possible explications have been suggested in those fields where a citation advantage has been observed for OA: the early view and the selection bias postulates.

In this study, a longitudinal and multidisciplinary analysis of the gold OA citation advantage is developed. All research articles in all journals for all subject categories in the multidisciplinary database Web of Science are considered.

A total of 1,137,634 articles – 86,712 OA articles (7.6%) and 1,050,922 non-OA articles (92.4%)- published in 2009 are analysed. The citation window considered goes from 2009 to 2014, and data are aggregated for the 249 disciplines (subject categories).

At journal level, we also study the evolution of journal impact factors for OA and non-OA journals in those disciplines whose OA prevalence is higher (top 36 subject categories). As the main conclusion, there is no generalizable gold OA citation advantage, neither at article nor at journal level.


The Global Burden of Journal Peer Review in the Biomedical Literature: Strong Imbalance in the Collective Enterprise

Authors : Michail Kovanis, Raphaël Porcher, Philippe Ravaud, Ludovic Trinquart

The growth in scientific production may threaten the capacity for the scientific community to handle the ever-increasing demand for peer review of scientific publications. There is little evidence regarding the sustainability of the peer-review system and how the scientific community copes with the burden it poses.

We used mathematical modeling to estimate the overall quantitative annual demand for peer review and the supply in biomedical research. The modeling was informed by empirical data from various sources in the biomedical domain, including all articles indexed at MEDLINE.

We found that for 2015, across a range of scenarios, the supply exceeded by 15% to 249% the demand for reviewers and reviews. However, 20% of the researchers performed 69% to 94% of the reviews.

Among researchers actually contributing to peer review, 70% dedicated 1% or less of their research work-time to peer review while 5% dedicated 13% or more of it. An estimated 63.4 million hours were devoted to peer review in 2015, among which 18.9 million hours were provided by the top 5% contributing reviewers.

Our results support that the system is sustainable in terms of volume but emphasizes a considerable imbalance in the distribution of the peer-review effort across the scientific community.

Finally, various individual interactions between authors, editors and reviewers may reduce to some extent the number of reviewers who are available to editors at any point.

URL : The Global Burden of Journal Peer Review in the Biomedical Literature: Strong Imbalance in the Collective Enterprise


UK University policy approaches towards the copyright ownership of scholarly works and the future of open access

Author : Elizabeth Gadd


Considers how the open access policy environment has developed since the RoMEO (Rights Metadata for Open Archiving) Project’s call in 2003 for universities and academics to assert joint copyright ownership of scholarly works. Investigates whether UK universities are moving towards joint copyright ownership.


Analyses 81 UK university copyright policies are analysed to understand what proportion make a claim over i) IP ownership of all outputs; ii) the copyright in scholarly works; iii) re-using scholarly works in specific ways; iv) approaches to moral rights. Results are cross-tabulated by policy age and mission group.


Universities have not asserted their interest in scholarly works through joint ownership, leaving research funders and publishers to set open access policy. Finds an increased proportion of universities assert a generic claim to all IP (87%) relative to earlier studies.

74% of policies relinquished rights in scholarly works in favour of academic staff. 20% of policies share ownership of scholarly works through licensing. 28% of policies assert the right to reuse scholarly works in some way.

32% of policies seek to protect moral rights. Policies that ‘share’ ownership of scholarly works are more recent. The UK Scholarly Communication Licence (UK-SCL) should have an impact on this area.

The reliance on individual academics to enforce a copyright policy or not to opt out of the UK-SCL could be problematic. Concludes that open access may still be best served by joint ownership of scholarly works.


This the first large-scale analysis of UK university policy positions towards scholarly works. Discovers for the first time a move towards ‘shared’ ownership of scholarly works in copyright policies.