Friday, September 15, 2006

Publishing Cooperatives: Another Seminal Work by Raym Crow

Raym Crow, author of the key SPARC discussion paper Institutional Repositories, has done it again!

Publishers cooperatives: an alternative for non-profit publishers, presents a blueprint for moving to open access that will work for a great many publishers. A very large percentage of peer-reviewed scholarly journals are still being produced by small societies, and many are still being produced in print only. Raym explains why publishing cooperatives, based on discipline, make a great deal of sense for such publishers. For Raym's excellent work, please see the link below. Following are some of my thoughts on how and why libraries should be helping to start and support publishing cooperatives.

From my perspective, this is a unique opportunities for libraries to be involved in helping to set up and support such cooperatives. Many of these societies would very much like to move to open access, but lack the means. Their members are our faculty; it makes sense for us to help them, as this creates the changes in scholarly communications we have been seeking.

It is not hard for a library to provide support. There is free, open source software available. Hosting costs are miniminal, and technical supports costs can be quite reasonable. Simon Fraser University Library, for example, has analyzed the costs involved per-journal to come up with a cost-recovery fee of $750 Canadian per journal, as listed on the SFU library web site at

This is a unique window of opportunity for library leadership in creating change in scholarly communications, in my view.

For the small, print-only publisher, with a little help, it could actually be quite easy to move from print-only to online and open access. It is easier to move to open access immediately, then to set up authentication and electronic subscription tracking first (it's probably more work to set up authentication and tracking than it is to set up an electronic journal). There could be journals that could easily afford an OA journal through cost savings from dropping print, although many will want to continue print.

The discipline-based cooperative makes a lot of sense to me from my experience as a new OA editor / editorial board member. When we have questions about how to run our new LIS OA journal, the first people we think to call are our friends at other LIS OA journals, and there is some overlap in editorial participation among our journals.

Even if the cooperative approach initially is likely to appeal first to the smaller publishers, not the big expensive ones where we'd really like to see changes, here is something to think about: once a cooperative is established, any editorial board fed up with high prices and limited access - has someplace else to go.

A brief article on publishing cooperatives is available in the latest First Monday:

The full discussion paper can be downloaded from the SPARC web site:

For direct download, go to:

Many thanks to SPARC and Raym Crow!


Heather Morrison
heatherm at eln dot bc dot ca

Disclosure: I work for SFU Library, one of the partners in OJS, although I'm not involved in this project.

This was originally posted to the SCHOLCOMM listserv, and is the fourth post in the
Transitioning to Open Access Series

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

DRAFT Policy on Access to Research Outputs

Following is a copy of the CIHR Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs of 2006, copied from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research website, without modification, on September 10, 2007:

Draft Policy on Access to CIHR-funded Research Outputs
The mandate of CIHR, as stated in The CIHR Act is:

"to excel in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system.1"

As such, CIHR has a fundamental interest in ensuring that research outputs are available to the widest possible audience. Researchers, educators, decision makers and others require access to the latest knowledge and research materials in order to build on scientific discoveries, inform policy, develop new technologies, and establish health-related standards and best practices.

CIHR's policy promoting access to research outputs rests on the foundation of the CIHR Act and reflects the core values articulated in CIHR's Blueprint for Health Research and Innovation, the organization's strategic plan, which states that:

"the primary purpose of all research in the public domain is the creation of new knowledge in an environment that embodies the principles of freedom of inquiry and unrestricted dissemination of research results.2"

This policy was developed under the guidance of CIHR's Advisory Committee on Access to Research Outputs and with input from public consultation.

This policy applies to all research outputs that have been financially supported in whole or in part by CIHR (herein referred to as CIHR-funded research), including industry-partnered research. A research output is conceptual or practical knowledge, data, information, or a physical or biological object developed during the course of CIHR-funded research, and is essential for reproducing results and for furthering research discoveries.

Research outputs covered under this policy are the following:

1. peer-reviewed journal publications;
2. research materials; and
3. final research data.

Requirements for applicants of CIHR funding and grant and award holders

New and renewal applications for CIHR funding must now include a Research Output Access Plan. This plan must list anticipated research outputs, state how the applicant, grant holder, or award holder intends to make their research outputs accessible to others, or provide reasons for any restrictions on access to research outputs. Furthermore, grant and award holders have new responsibilities under the following outputs of CIHR-funded research projects:

1. Peer-reviewed Journal Publications

* CIHR requires grant and award holders to make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed journal publications are freely available. CIHR recognizes that there are several vehicles for delivering free access to research publications. And as such, we are providing two options for grant and award holders. Under the first option, grant and award holders must archive either final peer-reviewed published articles, or final peer-reviewed full-text manuscripts, immediately upon publication. Archiving must involve deposition in an appropriate open archives initiative-compliant digital archive, such as PubMed Central, or an institutional repository. A publisher-imposed embargo on open accessibility of no more than 6 months is acceptable.
* The second option allows grant and award holders to submit their manuscripts either to a journal that provides immediate open access to published articles (if a suitable journal exists), or to a journal that allows authors to retain copyright and/or allows authors to archive journal publications in an open access archive within the six-month period following publication.
* Book chapters, research monographs, editorials, reviews, or conference proceedings arising from CIHR-funded research are not covered under this policy. However, CIHR encourages grant and award holders to provide access to these and other forms of research publications where possible.
* CIHR recommends (but does not require) that grant and award holders consider retroactively archiving their most important articles subject to the copyright arrangements that apply to these articles.
* As a new requirement for "Acknowledgement of CIHR's Support", grant and award holders must now acknowledge the CIHR grant and award funding reference number(s) (FRN) in each publication that results from CIHR-funded research. Specifically, grant holders should include the following acknowledgement: "This work was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant(s) FRN: XXXXX."

2. Research Materials

* Research materials are defined as research tools or resources that are useful to other grant holders for replicating results and furthering research discoveries. Examples of research materials include: small molecules, organisms, viruses, cell lines, nucleic acids, purified enzymes, antibodies, reagents, source code and software, protocols, research tools for evaluation, questionnaires, interview guides, data abstraction forms, and manuals for patient services.
* Grant and award holders are required to comply with reasonable requests for research materials arising from CIHR funding made by researchers, students, and trainees working within the not-for-profit research community once the specific research material has been cited in a journal publication. Furthermore, research materials should be provided to recipients of not-for-profit research institutions at cost and with as few restrictions as possible.
* Research materials may also be shared with the commercial (for-profit) research community following university and institution procedures regarding material transfer agreements.

3. Research Data

* Final research data refers to the factual information that is necessary to replicate and verify research results. Data can include original data sets, data sets that are too large to be included in the peer-reviewed publication, and any other data sets supporting the research publication. Research data is typically an electronic data set, and may include interview transcripts and survey results provided confidential data and subject privacy is protected. Research data does not include lab books and unpublished research protocols, or physical objects like tissue samples.
* Grant and award holders should strive to make final data sets, generally in electronic form, available upon request after the publication date of a peer-reviewed publication.
* For effective sharing of data, grant and award holders should ensure the quality of the data and have accompanying metadata (i.e., information that describes the characteristics of the data set) or codebooks.
* CIHR requires grant and award holders to deposit bioinformatics, atomic and molecular coordinate data, experimental data, as already required by most journals, into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results.
* CIHR also requires grant and award holders to retain original data sets arising from CIHR-funded research for a minimum of five years after the last date of the "Authority to Use Funds" period of the grant. This applies to all data, whether published or not.
* The grant or award holder's institution and research ethics board may have additional policies and practices regarding the preservation, retention, and protection of research data that must be respected.


* Grant and award holders are reminded that by virtue of signing a CIHR application they accept the terms and conditions of the grant or award as set out in the Agency's policies and guidelines.3
* In the future, CIHR will consider a researcher's track record of providing access to research outputs when considering applications for funding, and will take into consideration legitimate reasons for restricting access.


1. Bill C-13: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act. April 13, 2000.
2. Investing in Canada's Future: CIHR's Blueprint For Health Research and Innovation (2003/04 - 2007/08), Ottawa, January 2004.
3. CIHR Grants and Awards Guide.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research Series

Michael Geist: New Research Policy a Victory for Open Access September 10, 2007

British Columbia Library Association Congratulates CIHR on Open Access to Research Outputs policy. September 10, 2007.

More kudos for CIHR! From the Canadian Association for Research Libraries, Olivier Charbonneau, and Research Information. September 2007.

More kudos for CIHR Open Access to Research Outputs policy Links to Jim Till's blog collection of kudos for CIHR. September 2007.

This post was originally posted September 10, 2007, backdated to Sept. 10, 2006, for blog housekeeping reasons.

Open Access Policy: Let's Put the Public Good First! Comments and reflections by Heather Morrison. September 2007.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Policy on Access to Research Outputs. Announcement of the policy, excerpt, Heather's comments, links to comments by Peter Suber and Michael Geist. September 4, 2007

Jim Till: Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure Profile of Jim Till, Canadian OA activist, Chair of the CIHR Advisory Committee on Access to Research Outputs, and author of the blog, Be Openly Accessible or Be Obscure

Canada's CIHR: 31st to Adopt a Green Self-Archiving Mandate Kudos from Stevan Harnad.

That day has arrived, and Canada must seize it! More on CIHR. Heather Morrison queries whether CIHR draft policy goes far enough. November 2006.

CIHR draft policy: the leadership needed to overcome gridlock. Applause from Rick Johnson, founding Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), for CIHR leadership on the CIHR OA policy. November 1, 2006.

Draft Policy on Access to CIHR-funded Research Outputs. October 2006. Links to the Draft Policy, considered exemplary, with comments by Heather Morrison, Peter Suber, and Stevan Harnad.

DRAFT Policy on Access to Research Outputs. Text of CIHR Draft Policy, copied from CIHR website for historical purposes September 10, 2007.

Response to CIHR Consultation on Open Access. Heather Morrison's personal reponse to the CIHR consultation. September 2006.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Comments Due May 15, 2006 May, 2006. Announcement of CIHR Consultation. Consultation questions presented in full, with Heather Morrison's suggestions for responses.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Pre-submission peer-review (transitioning to open access)

Transitioning to open access can be facilitated for everyone involved by looking for efficiencies in the production of scholarly communications. This post looks at the hypothesis that pre-submission peer review results in higher quality submissions, reducing the workload for editors and peer-reviewers. If correct, this has interesting implications: enhanced viability for some types of open access journals, such as the strictly volunteer / in-kind or membership fee subsidized models, or potentially reduced processing fees for open access journals that rely on the latter.
To me, this is such a no-brainer that I'm not waiting for the results of the suggested research! In my view, open access publishers are well advised to include suggestions for pre-submission peer-review in their author guidelines, right now!

Pre-submission peer-review

Hypothesis: when an article has been reviewed before submission for publication, the workload for editors and peer-reviewers is less. This efficiency has the potential to enhance the viability of open access journals relying primarily or exclusively on volunteer labor and in-kind support, as well as to decrease revenue expenditures, and therefore potentially process fees, for process-fee based open access publishing. For many authors, there are side-benefits: this will also increase the chances of an article being accepted for publication, and result in a more congenial review process.

Background: in my experience as an author, editor, and peer-reviewer, the range of quality of articles submitted for publication, even those eventually published, is from articles that require absolutely no revision whatsoever to articles that are completely rewritten by the editor. There is a lot of middle ground - articles that need quite a bit of work. Reviewing a well-written article is a lot less work than reviewing an article that needs a lot of work; it's also much more pleasant, an important factor when coordinating volunteer labor. In my experience, the articles that need little work are those that have been carefully checked by the author, who has asked colleagues and/or experts to review the work before submission. (Note: there are two concepts here - self-review and peer-review, which are mixed up together here, as they are interrelated. It is important to consider them together, as either would improve the quality of an article submitting for publication).

As an author who has followed this process, my impression is that this is a more congenial experience for the author as well. If your article needs revision, it's much nicer to hear this from a friend, someone who might be able to sit down with you and help you understand how someone else might see your article, rather than an unknown stranger in a situation where asking the reviewer to clarify a comment may seem too much work to pursue, or at best is likely to leave you waiting some time for an answer.

Research: survey authors on submission to find out whether an article has gone through a pre-submission review, and to what level. For example, did a colleague provide a thorough critique, and did the author do substantial revisions based on this critique? Conduct a separate survey of editors and peer-reviewers to find out how much time was spent on reviewing and editing. If the hypothesis is correct, then there will be an inverse correlation between pre-submission peer-review and time spent on editing and review (the more peer-review, the less editing and post-submission peer review). It would be important to address potential confounding factors, such as discipline, topic, author's experience, linguistic or geographic origin, etc. It might be useful to survey editors and reviewers about their perceived quality of the experience (pleasant / unpleasant, etc.).

Implications:If this hypothesis is correct, there are some interesting implications. If a journal is using a processing fee approach, why should an author who submits an article close to perfection pay exactly the same rate as an author whose article needs substantial revision? Does it make sense for a volunteer / in-kind or membership fee subsidy based journal to actively encourage authors to seek pre-submission peer review? To me, this is such a no-brainer that I'm not waiting for someone to have time for this research!

This post is the third in the Transition ing to Open Access series.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.