Open Access — Towards a non-normative and systematic understanding

Authors : Niels Taubert, Anne Hobert, Nicolas Fraser, Najko Jahn, Elham Iravani

The term Open Access not only describes a certain model of scholarly publishing — namely in digital format freely accessible to readers — but often also implies that free availability of research results is desirable, and hence has a normative character.

Together with the large variety of presently used definitions of different Open Access types, this normativity hinders a systematic investigation of the development of open availability of scholarly literature.

In this paper, we propose a non-normative definition of Open Access and its usage as a neutral, descriptive term in bibliometric studies and research on science.

To this end, we first specify what normative figures are commonly associated with the term Open Access and then develop a neutral definition. We further identify distinguishing characteristics of openly accessible literature, called dimensions, and derive a classification scheme into Open Access categories based on these dimensions.

Additionally, we present an operationalisation method to assign scientific publications to the respective categories in practice. Here, we describe useful data sources, which can be employed to gather the information needed for the classification of scholarly works according to the presented classification scheme.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.11568

The Two-Way Street of Open Access Journal Publishing: Flip It and Reverse It

Authors : Lisa Matthias, Najko Jahn, Mikael Laakso

As Open access (OA) is often perceived as the end goal of scholarly publishing, much research has focused on flipping subscription journals to an OA model. Focusing on what can happen after the presumed finish line, this study identifies journals that have converted from OA to a subscription model, and places these “reverse flips” within the greater context of scholarly publishing.

In particular, we examine specific journal descriptors, such as access mode, publisher, subject area, society affiliation, article volume, and citation metrics, to deepen our understanding of reverse flips.

Our results show that at least 152 actively publishing journals have reverse-flipped since 2005, suggesting that this phenomenon does not constitute merely a few marginal outliers, but instead a common pattern within scholarly publishing.

Notably, we found that 62% of reverse flips (N = 95) had not been born-OA journals, but had been founded as subscription journals, and hence have experienced a three-stage transformation from closed to open to closed.

We argue that reverse flips present a unique perspective on OA, and that further research would greatly benefit from enhanced data and tools for identifying such cases.

URL : The Two-Way Street of Open Access Journal Publishing: Flip It and Reverse It 

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7020023

Open Science Support as a Portfolio of Services and Projects: From Awareness to Engagement

Authors : Birgit Schmidt, Andrea Bertino, Daniel Beucke, Helene Brinken, Najko Jahn, Lisa Matthias, Julika Mimkes , Katharina Müller, Astrid Orth, Margo Bargheer

Together with many other universities worldwide, the University of Göttingen has aimed to unlock the full potential of networked digital scientific communication by strengthening open access as early as the late 1990s.

Open science policies at the institutional level consequently followed and have been with us for over a decade. However, for several reasons, their adoption often is still far from complete when it comes to the practices of researchers or research groups.

To improve this situation at our university, there is dedicated support at the infrastructural level: the university library collaborates with several campus units in developing and running services, activities and projects in support of open access and open science.

This article outlines our main activity areas and aligns them with the overall rationale to reach higher uptake and acceptance of open science practice at the university. The mentioned examples of our activities highlight how we seek to advance open science along the needs and perspectives of diverse audiences and by running it as a multi-stakeholder endeavor.

Therefore, our activities involve library colleagues with diverse backgrounds, faculty and early career researchers, research managers, as well as project and infrastructure staff. We conclude with a summary of achievements and challenges to be faced.

URL : Open Science Support as a Portfolio of Services and Projects: From Awareness to Engagement

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3390/publications6020027

A study of institutional spending on open access publication fees in Germany

Authors : Najko Jahn, Marco Tullney

Publication fees as a revenue source for open access publishing hold a prominent place on the agendas of researchers, policy makers, and academic publishers.

This study contributes to the evolving empirical basis for funding these charges and examines how much German universities and research organisations spent on open access publication fees.

Using self-reported cost data from the Open APC initiative, the analysis focused on the amount that was being spent on publication fees, and compared these expenditure with data from related Austrian (FWF) and UK (Wellcome Trust, Jisc) initiatives, in terms of both size and the proportion of articles being published in fully and hybrid open access journals.

We also investigated how thoroughly self-reported articles were indexed in Crossref, a DOI minting agency for scholarly literature, and analysed how the institutional spending was distributed across publishers and journal titles.

According to self-reported data from 30 German universities and research organisations between 2005 and 2015, expenditures on open access publication fees increased over the years in Germany and amounted to € 9,627,537 for 7,417 open access journal articles.

The average payment was € 1,298, and the median was € 1,231. A total of 94% of the total article volume included in the study was supported in accordance with the price cap of € 2,000, a limit imposed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of its funding activities for open access funding at German universities.

Expenditures varied considerably at the institutional level. There were also differences in how much the institutions spent per journal and publisher. These differences reflect, at least in part, the varying pricing schemes in place including discounted publication fees.

With an indexing coverage of 99%, Crossref thoroughly indexed the open access journals articles included in the study. A comparison with the related openly available cost data from Austria and the UK revealed that German universities and research organisations primarily funded articles in fully open access journals.

By contrast, articles in hybrid journal accounted for the largest share of spending according to the Austrian and UK data. Fees paid for hybrid journals were on average more expensive than those paid for fully open access journals.

URL : A study of institutional spending on open access publication fees in Germany

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2323