Wednesday 28 November 2012

Open Access eBooks: the next big thing?

Open access ebooks have historically been overlooked in favour of their journal big brother. But as Eelco Ferwerda, Director at Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN), made clear in his morning session at Beyond the Rhetoric: new opportunities in open access seminar last week, they are a growing part of the publishing family and could well be the next big thing.

There is potential to explore open access for monographs to improve discoverability, usage and impact, while reducing costs through shared infrastructure and digital formats. And the provisional findings form OAPEN-NL, one of the pilot projects researching OA monographs, indicate this is only just starting, but enough is happening to take note.

Recent open access developments in books include some emerging business models such as the Open Access Publishing in European Networks Library which aims to 'improve the visibility and usability of high quality academic research by aggregating peer reviewed open access publications from across Europe'.

Other developments in 2012 include the Directory of Open Access Books which now has over 1250 books from 35 publishers listed.

The Public Knowledge Project has set up a beta software Open Monograph Press project. This is being piloted by a number of presses including Athabasca University Press, Open Humanities Press and the University of Murcia Publications in Spain, amongst others. This project is designed to facilitate uptake of OA software and could work for smaller publishers who need to start this kind of activity.

In August, SpringerOpen Books was launched at the Beijing International Book Fair. This provides authors with the opportunity to publish a book in the sciences that is fully open access immediately, making it freely accessible to anyone online via SpringerLink. Ferwerda pointed out the significance of OA books if a company like Springer is doing it

There is increasing discussion of and development of resources on OA books: at September's Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association conference in Budapest, there was an afternoon dedicated to OA books. Other useful resources include the Open Access Directory: a list of information, terms and resources, including books and OA publishers.

Jeffrey Beal has established Beall’s List. This highlights predatory, open-access publishers looking for APCs to make a quick buck and 'unprofessionally exploit the author-pays model of open-access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit.' At the moment there are approximately 200 of them. This is a real concern for the industry.

Ferwerda provided a sobering reminder of why open access books should be considered: scholarly monographs have lost sustainability and relevance between 1980 and 2000 with sales to US libraries dropping, on average, from 2000 to 500. Publishers need for a new publishing model for academic books.

He profiled the publishers that are trying open access book publishing. They include large and small publishers in academic and non-academic disciplines, the latter comprising the largest part of the market with a lot of self-publishing. They are commercial and not-for-profit, from established organisations to start-ups, with institutional and professional markets that are professional and ‘scholar led’.

There are several models: from free to read (all rights reserved); to free to use and reuse (CC-BY); to non commercial and/or no derivatives. In terms of formats, it's a case of online versus downloads. From online reading only (HTML, e-reader formats) to PDF (personal copy) or both. OA book publishing motives range from front list publishing to a back list long tail approach. Some have a dedicated OA programme or service traditional monographs.

The business models include:
Examples of institutional subsidies include the Australian National University Press which has an E-press publishing OA monographs with the costs covered by ANU’s information budget. In Canada, Athabasca University Press receives support from government grants and from Athabasca University which together provide 80% of their budget. It was interesting to note that 1% of the overall university budget is allocated to the press for scholarly communication.

OA publication funds in the UK will be provided by the Research Councils to pay for the OA processing fee and it is likely that Germany will have something like this as well. New models are being explored such as OpenEdition Freemium which is a licensing model for libraries (so they take part in the funding of publication platform). It has been introduced as a pilot scheme and is based on the combination of free content in HTML + premium content (PDF, e-pub) and services, with a revenue split model.

The Knowledge Unlatched pilot launches next year whereby libraries form a global consortium, use existing acquisitions budget, select individually and purchase collectively. The price is based on fixed or ‘first digital copy’ costs and libraries receive a value-added edition. Monographs are then published open access.

A Swedish project has been established to achieve open access using existing funds for books: ‘Towards quality controlled Open Access Monographs in Sweden - exploring the possibilities of a consortium based approach.’

Ferwerda's own organisation, the Open Access Publishing in European Networks, has developed a Library which aggregates a collection of OA books to provide quality assurance, increase visibility and retrievability. They have more than 30 publishers with over 1000 books listed. He differentiated from other infrastructure services available as:

  • the OAPEN Library is a deposit service
  • the Directory of Open Access Books is a discovery service
  • and the e-Depot National Library is a preservation service.

Other OAPEN projects include setting up limited publication funds for books (2-3 years) in different EU countries. They are looking to cooperation of research funders and publishers and want to measure the effect of OA on usage and sales to come up with guidelines and recommendations.

The pilots running in the UK and Netherlands are very similar. OAPEN-UK is managed by JISC Collections. There are five publishers in the UK including Taylor & Francis, Liverpool University Press, University of Wales Press, Berg and Palgrave Macmillan. They have come up against a reluctance from publishers to take part so at the moment there are 80 OA books in total from 13 publishers in the two countries.

They hope to measure the effects of OA on the following areas from this study:

  1. Discovery: visits in Google Book Search - 100% versus 10% open
  2. Usage: page views in Google Book Search 100% versus 10% open
  3. Impact: Citations in Google Scholar
  4. Sales

While this is the early stage of the project - and there are limitations in the scale of the study - there are some observations they have been able to make. OA for books works by some measures. It improves discovery with three times higher visits and eight times higher page views in Google Books. OA books were also downloaded six and a half more times (but this is downloads not sales). So far, OA has NOT impacted sales, although it is too early for final conclusions. They have also tried to monitor the costs of books with total average costs of open access titles at 5678 euros while print is at 6489 euros. It is clear that there are still substantial costs for editing, acquiring and reviewing books with both approaches.

Time and data will shed further light on the realities of open access books, but it is worth taking time to consider the different options.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Open Access in the Humanities: the need for a balanced approach

Thomas Parisot, Institutional Relations Officer at, discussed open access in the humanities at the Beyond the Rhetoric: New opportunities in open access seminar.

He provided an international perspective including some interesting statistics from France where peer review journals in humanities and social sciences are worth 17 million euros each year; collective works of research 5 million euros; research books 60
 million euros; essays 111 million euros; general interest journals 5 million; and the average annual income of a journal is 8,500 euros.

With perhaps the best line of the day - 'open access, not open excess' - Thomas outlined the key challenges for the French market in terms of OA.

The big debate is around whether or not one size fits all. The article life cycle in humanities and social sciences is different to the sciences. with only 18 % of the interest raised in research institutions related to articles published the last 12 months. This difference between disciplines should prompt concerted reflection and actions among stakeholders. There have been on-going discussions with policy makers in France to support publication diversity, and an OA in HE
working group was launched in Belgium, including publishers and libraries which hopes to define a reasonable mandate policy in open repositories.

He outlined the challenge of definition: what is a publicly funded research? If a philosopher works in a public university, but also, from time to time, for specialised newspapers, is an essayist writing an article in a peer-review journal and all this is based on several years of reflection and discussions with colleagues. If he publishes a book on the same subject one year later, what is it open access to? How can you define the access? It is difficult to assess what can be publicly funded or not. Another issue when trying to explain the differences between the humanities and social sciences when compared to STM to policy makers is the lack of data. They are trying to see what kind of data they can share - and also research and develop - to inform the decisions being made.

They are developing a range of new initiatives at Cairn including an international edition which will provide an interface in English enabling non-French speaking scholars to discover content of interest published in French. A platform has been launched currently, Heloise, developed in partnership between the French publishers association and CNRS, to inform authors of embargo periods defined by French publishers in the humanities and social sciences. They have also joined with a range of partners including a national radio station to debate the issue and raise awareness with an event planned for 15th February 2013.

Models can be probably be adapted but time, data, effort and caution is needed when it comes to the fragile economy of publications in the Humanities.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

How to Launch an Open Access Journal

Kathryn Spiller, Head of Publishing at BioScientifica Publishing, kicked off the seminar Beyond the Rhetoric: New opportunities in open access this morning. She provided a step-by-step guide on how they launched their new open access journal, Endocrine Connections: An Interdisciplinary Open Access Journal.

BioScientifica Publishing publishes biomedical and life science journals on behalf of client societies. In 2011, their portfolio included: Journal of EndocrinologyMolecular EndocrinologyEndocrinology-Related CancerEuropean Journal of Endocrinology; and Reproduction.

Their open access policies in 2011 were:

  • All journals offer OA option - £2000
  • Half price APC if corresponding author's institution subscribes (they proactively told them)
  • Where funders mandate OA they insist on APE payment
  • 12 month embargo
  • License retains commercial rights
  • Low take up - range 2-7% of content across the portfolio

During 2011, the Society for Endocrinology and the European Society for Endocrinology strongly felt they needed to launch a new open access journal. Working with TBI Communications, they undertook a programme of market research. This included comprehensive market research of the target community; identification of a real gap in the market; identifying true USPs that are meaningful to that community; levels of significant investment; and no impact factor.

They also wanted to explore non-traditional areas such as:

  • how researchers now take on a third role: not only author and reader, but also paying customer
  • the willingness and ability to pay for OA
  • the strengths and weaknesses that an OA journal can bring.

Their primary market research objectives were:

  • to identify the gap and define the scope of the new journal
  • assess the value their brand might add to a new journal
  • define criteria for naming it and understand attitudes to key terms
  • assess factors most important to the community in deciding where to submit articles

Their secondary market research objectives were:

  • to understand awareness of - and attitudes to - OA in the community
  • to understand current costs of publishing paid by authors in the community
  • to understand the level of APC that would be acceptable and would be funded

They delivered the research to just under 50,000 names including approximately 4,000 members of both societies and there were 904 (1.8%) participants. The majority were from Europe and North America, but the rest of the world were also represented. Most respondents were based at a university or hospital and there was a good spread of researchers working in different specialisms related to endocrinology with an equal number of clinician and scientists.

Key findings: positioning
They identified a gap in the market for a broad scope journal linking endocrinology with intersecting disciplines. The two society brands had positive associations for than half of respondents, even though the majority weren't members, but the publisher brand had neutral response. The word 'endocrinology had very positive associations for most respondents, but the word 'hormone' had negative connotations!

Author preferences
The key factors influencing respondents' choice of where to publish were ranked as follows:

  1. reputation of journal
  2. impact factor
  3. relevance of publication to your work
  4. speed of publication
  5. free access to your work
  6. reptutation of associated society
  7. reputation of publishers
  8. funding body

Attitudes to OA
78% had some or good awareness of OA as a new model for publishing research articles (the lowest response was in Latin America and Asia). 44% had published in an OA journal, 26% of which had published frequently or occasionally. Of those with experience of publishing in OA, 47% strongly support the principle, but have trouble paying fees. 39% support it and are preprepared to pay reasonalbe fees. PLoS One was the most popular OA journal.

Cost of publishing
72% had experience of paying page charges and almost half of those said the average cost of page charges per paper is between $101 and $500. Over 50% of these authors fund charges from grant agencies with just over 30% funding them personally. The range of journals where people have paid to publish OA is large, as is the price range.

APC positioning
When participants were asked what a reasonable APC would be 20% said it is not acceptable to charge, 41% stated below $500, and only 11% stated over $1000. Of those who fund fees personally, 44% believe under $500 to be fair and 24% believe $501-$1000 to be fair.

Adopted model
As a results of the research they adopted an online only CC-BY licence. The full price for an APE is £700 with a launch offer of the first 200 published at half price. They are cascading articles rejected by the Societies' high impact journals and these submissions account for 50% of submissions consistently throughout the year. They are also undertaking marketing for direct submissions.


  • very short timeline of 6 months for launch
  • response to the first announcement resulted in 700+ signing up for more information
  • 3490 signed up for alerts
  • monthly enewsletter has 40% open rate
  • 58 submissions in the first six months
  • two issues of seven articles with five more articles online, in first six months
  • average receipt to accept times of 27 days

Success factors
  • user-led research to define clear gap in the market, name and scope of product
  • owned by two prestigious societies
  • being agile - from sign off to launch in six months
  • mixed model of cascaded papers and direct submissions
  • a new product that starts with our core market
  • significant investment in launch showing measurable ROI

Interestingly, only 22% of those offered a transfer have submitted when their research suggested 60% would. The acceptance rate is 25% where they had budgeted for 70%. The key lesson they have learnt is not to be afraid to take risks and invest in new products. It is a far greater risk to do nothing.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

IET and Minesoft Launch Minesoft Inspec Platform

  • Platform links IET Inspec’s science and engineering research database with Minesoft’s patent information services
  • Patent and intellectual property professionals to benefit from intuitive search function

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and global information solutions provider, Minesoft, have today announced the launch of their Minesoft Inspec platform.  

The service will provide fast, easy access to high quality science and engineering research intelligence. The new platform is designed to benefit patent professionals and end-users working in the intellectual property and patent fields and links the IET’s Inspec database with Minesoft’s patent information services and tools.  

With over 13 million abstracted and indexed articles available, users can research existing and emerging technologies in a flexible, precise way. Minesoft Inspec’s key features, which include specialised indexing and precise search filters, lets users optimise the highest levels of speed and accuracy when accessing research. For research teams, there is also the option to save and share results folders via the intuitive Minesoft Inspec user interface. 

Daniel Smith, head of academic publishing at the IET, commented: “Sourced from 8,000 scientific and technical journals, videos and books, Inspec is already an essential resource for those in the engineering and technology industries, with over three quarters of a million records added every year. Combining this high quality database with Minesoft’s industry-leading patent information services creates a powerful, centralised pool of information for the patent community. Not only will Minesoft Inspec be a valuable source of intelligence, it will also have practical implications, saving users time and resource normally spent searching for patent related information.”

In addition to providing direct links to the original full text journal articles from across the engineering and technology worlds, Minesoft Inspec also offers the ability to monitor competitors and new technologies. Weekly alerts can be sent to users to keep them informed on the latest developments and ensure that intelligence is being shared effectively to drive further industry innovation. 

Ann Chapman, Joint MD at Minesoft, said: “Our partnership with the IET allows us to offer an established and essential research resource on our innovative and powerful platform, which we have no doubt will be a huge benefit for the patent community. As the quantity of information available on the platform continues to grow, the quality of search experience we provide will ensure users can access the exact content they are seeking.”

Advanced professional and end-user Express versions of Minesoft Inspec are available for purchase through a flat rate annual subscription for institutions. For more information, please visit:
Media enquiries to:
Lorna Hughes / Olivia Allen
Harvard PR
0207 861 2844 / 0207 861 3967

Notes to editors:
Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespersons

Monday 5 November 2012

Bill Matthews discusses data analytics on 15 November

HighWire is excited about contributing to the ALPSP webinar this month entitled "Analyzing Customer Data to Create Competitive Advantage".   I have been a 'numbers guy' since early in my career at A.C. Nielsen, so I understand how powerful data can be if transformed into actionable information. There are mountains of data which can be analyzed, but In order to find unique insights, you need to not only access to the information, but also the tools which allow you to manipulate, store, and create custom data sets in real time.  

Analytics touches many aspects of scholarly publishing; content creation, editorial, marketing and sales, product packaging/pricing, and audience development.  Typical business questions can include most read articles, turnaway reports, usage for a specific event such as an annual conference, or simply tracking your content's overall performance. For my section of the webinar, I plan on examining a few of these potential questions and how to extract "valuable nuggets" from data analysis which can provide powerful editorial and marketing insights.

I hope many of you can make it on November 15th!


For more details on the webinar and to sign up, visit the ALPSP website.  If you can't make the 15th, make sure you sign up to get access to the webinar later.

Bill Matthews
Director of Business Development
HighWire Press | Stanford University
(o) 650-725-9279
(m) 650-208-4643

HighWire:  Pathfinders in Scholarly Publishing

Thursday 1 November 2012

BMJ Group launches six specialty editions of its open access title BMJ Open

The international medical publisher BMJ Group has launched six specialty editions of its innovative online journal BMJ Open ( to coincide with Open Access Week.*

The editions showcase BMJ Open’s specialist research, and will initially cover dermatology, HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, neurology, obstetrics & gynaecology, and oncology.
BMJ Open, which launched in February 2011, is BMJ Group’s first online general medical journal dedicated solely to publishing open access research.
All its research, supplementary files, and peer reviewers' reports are fully and openly available online. Underlying data, where available, is linked to in open repositories, such as Dryad.

To date, BMJ Open has published more than 600 original research papers and protocols, many of which have attracted considerable attention from academics, healthcare professionals, and the media.

High impact studies have included a technique to pick up outbreaks of hospital acquired infections more quickly from Oxford University; the potential link between sleeping pills and cancer from California’s Scripps Clinic; and unique research on the wellbeing and quality of life of people with locked-in syndrome in France.

Commenting on the launch of the new editions, BMJ Open’s Editor in Chief, Dr Trish Groves said: “BMJ Open has grown rapidly in reputation and content, and we're delighted to be able to increase still further the visibility of the journal's specialty research in these new editions.”

She added: “The title is now a natural home for open access medical research from all fields."
Stephanie Burns, BMJ Group Press Office, London, UK
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7383 6920
Notes for editors:
*Open Access Week (Oct 22-28) is a global event now in its sixth year, which offers an opportunity for academics and researchers to learn about the potential benefits of open access, share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and help make open access common practice in scholarship and research.