Organic Eprints « Open Access Success Stories

Organic Eprints

Since 2002, Organic Eprints has been freely sharing information about organic agriculture and food with the world

Most of the national editors of Organic Eprints at a meeting at FiBL in Switzerland, April 2011. Photographer: Thomas Alfoeldi, FiBL

What is it?

Organic Eprints is an archive containing over 10,000 (spring 2011) publications about organic agriculture and food, deposited from more than 30 different countries. It encompasses not just refereed articles, books and reports but also ‘grey literature’ – from conference papers and proceedings to articles in farmers’ newspapers – and information about research programmes, projects and organisations.

Anyone, anywhere in the world can access the material in the archive through search engines, and sign up as a registered user in order to deposit their own work. Before a paper is uploaded, a ‘national editor’ will check that the papers are relevant to the subject and that the bibliographic data is correct. The user makes a declaration that they have the right to deposit the work. Where there is a copyright restriction on the deposited document, the depositor can make restrictions on access and, in that case, an interested user can request a copy directly through the system.

The archive has 22 ‘national editors’, each based in a country with an involvement in the archive’s work. Most of these are in Europe but Canada and Brazil are also represented and the US has expressed an interest in appointing a national editor.

As well as accessing the material in the archive, users can save searches and receive a weekly or monthly email notifying them of any new deposits made within that search area.

How is it a success?

The steady growth of Organic Eprints over nearly a decade has been remarkable.

“Just the fact that it has increased from starting from scratch in 2002 to now having more than 10,000 deposits is in itself a proof of its success. If people weren’t using it, it wouldn’t be increasing. We also have more than 15,000 registered users in addition to all those who use it,” says Ilse A Rasmussen, Organic Eprints’ archive administrator.

Registered users are predominately from Europe, but North and South America also feature highly. Up until recently, Asian and African countries only made up a small proportion of the archive’s registered users but the editors are making efforts to reach out to those parts of the world. The next international organic conference is taking place in Korea and Organic Eprints hopes to appoint a Korean national editor as a result of the event.

Through its system of national editors the archive is also helping to promote international collaboration around organic agriculture. Greece recently decided to appoint an Organic Eprints editor as it considered it an opportunity to increase its involvement in the European organic agriculture research community.

Looking to the developing world, a Danish government-funded organic agriculture project in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania will require the theses and papers from the project to be deposited in Organic Eprints, thus expanding its reach into the heart of Africa.

While access to the whole range of material in Organic Eprints is valuable to those working in developing countries, “in Europe and north America where there is quite easy access to the literature, they think that the great thing about Organic Eprints is that you can get all the grey literature because usually conference proceedings can be really difficult to access. It can even be hard to find out what has been published and they can discover that much more easily through Organic Eprints,” explains Ms Rasmussen.

The success of the archive can also be seen in its position in league tables dominated by large scientific and institutional repositories. In a ranking of 100 repositories in Europe, Organic Eprints comes in at number 19, and of the world’s almost 1200 repositories, Organic Eprints is at number 43.

“I think that’s pretty good for the small area that organic farming really is compared to physics and the other big subjects,” says Ms Rasmussen.

Denmark, Developing world, International, Repository, Users, Visibility


No comments have been posted yet. « Open Access Success Stories

Lilian Landes

A Europe-wide, multi-language platform for scholarly reviews of historical literature, with a web 2.0 twist

What is it? launched in January 2011 as an open access, fully searchable platform to bring together reviews of historical publications published in European scholarly journals and to introduce a new kind of scholarly reviewing environment.

How is it a success?

Book reviews are an important tool for scholarly communication but, in the last few years, a number of problems have come to the fore. With ever increasing numbers of publications, it can be difficult to keep track of what is being reviewed and where; there can be long delays – even of years – between a book being published and it being reviewed; there is a generational shift towards reading reviews online, which may mean that younger scholars miss out on older, print-only reviews; and, most crucially, reviewing culture is still strongly embedded in national culture with publications in the field of interest rarely reviewed if they do not fall within geographical and linguistic boundaries.

“The entire reviewing process is simply not very dynamic, unlike the current development of communication forms on the internet – one might consider social networks or the commercial book market, such as Amazon,” explains Dr Lilian Landes, project manager of at the Bavarian State Library’s Centre for Electronic Publishing.

recensio’s solution is to create a platform that combines some of the most effective aspects of both social networks and commercial book review sites, for a scholarly audience. gathers together reviews, old and new, from journals from across Europe so that reviews that were previously only available in print can now be read online. On a regular basis (from once a week to annually), co-operating journals send their review sections to the Bavarian State Library to be uploaded, free of charge and on a non-exclusive basis, onto the platform along with metadata and subject indexing data.

The site currently (August 2011) contains 3193 reviews from 25 journals (from countries including France, Britain, Russia and Lithuania), plus 50 presentations of books, articles and historically relevant internet resources. The numbers have so far been constrained by the natural limit imposed by the time it takes the team to tag and upload all the content. In future, journals will be able to do that work themselves, opening up the capacity of to cooperate with many more journals.

User traffic to the site has been high and feedback from both the journals and the scholarly community has been positive. is a product with benefits for all involved, explains Dr Landes.

“The great thing about reviews – compared to articles, not to mention entire monographs or edited volumes – is that basically, everyone involved benefits from an improved findability and visibility of the review texts: First, the author being reviewed, due to the attention drawn to his publication. The same goes for the reviewer, the more so as the author of a review hardly ever receives a payment for his work. And finally the journal, with respect to the decisive role that reviews play with regard to its public image. At the end of the day, quality reviews are a very good calling card for scholarly journals,” she says.

In addition to the online publication of print reviews, is testing out a new form of reviewing culture, one which is faster, more integrated and much better suited to the internet age. Based on social networking and web 2.0 ideas, has introduced the possibility of authors themselves presenting the key arguments of their books, and users commenting on these overviews and the older, “classical” reviews to create what calls a “vivid”, or collaborative, reviewing environment.

So far, take up of these functions has been slow – according to Dr Landes “fast, fragmented communication, which already defines the everyday life of especially the younger scholars and students outside the academic field, has to gradually find its way into everyday scholarly work” – but encouraging European history scholars to dip their toes into these web 2.0 waters is a key aim of the team as the platform moves into its second year of operation.

In the meantime, the success of moving the traditional reviewing system into the online age is clear.

“If in the past if a researcher wanted to take a look at the newest reviews from various journals, he or she was forced to walk up to various shelves in the university library, if not several individual libraries – this took up a lot of time, and there was always the risk that the most recent issues had been taken to a bookbinder. Not only can the user at home now comfortably browse through those review sections which are relevant for his individual research in open access, but can also filter them via a content browsing which goes beyond the limits of individual journals – he thus might discover journals which he had so far not been actively making use of, possibly even publishing organs from abroad,” says Dr Landes.

Author, Germany, International, Journals, Nation, Platform, Publisher, Region, Users, Visibility


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Institutions for Collective Action « Open Access Success Stories

Institutions for Collective Action

Tine de Moor

Putting high quality historical research into a collaborative, open access environment

What is it?

Institutions for Collective Action is a website full of high quality open access research, datasets, teaching materials and other resources about historical institutional forms of collective action, such as craft guilds.

The site is the result of funding from the European Research Council and the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) for two projects being coordinated at the University of Utrecht by Dr Tine de Moor.

While the NWO mandates that datasets produced as a result of its funding must be made publicly available, Dr de Moor is a committed open access advocate and wanted to fulfil the NWO’s commitment to public access to its funded research in a much more creative way than a simple data dump.

How is it a success?

The site is designed to be a two-way process, both a resource for researchers to use the material offered – for free – on the site and an opportunity for them contribute their own material (such as datasets, publications and source material) via the site, becoming part of the academic discourse on the subject.

“It’s all about the idea that if you put this data within a dynamic environment, if you have an infrastructure that allows you to put the data not only as something that goes out but also as something that comes in, annotated with comments on it and so on, then you not only enhance future research but also research right now. Open access can be much more than simply providing access to the data you’ve collected,” says Dr de Moor.

What also sets the website apart from a simple data archive is the high bar set on the quality of resources submitted to and available on the site. The site has achieved a very solid start, since September 2010, with the stock of data provided through the funded projects, and the sense that it is a serious project with high quality control by peers will be a key factor in determining whether or not academics are prepared to submit their datasets. Dr de Moor acknowledges that there can be a reluctance to share this kind of material in her field.

“It’s a particularly sensitive area in historical research because this kind of research often entails a lot of labour. It can take years before you have a proper dataset. So people are wary about what will happen to their data and so you have to offer something in return, such as the promotional benefits of being part of a larger network of people and projects working on similar topics, ” explains Dr de Moor. “In return for cooperation, we offer the possibility to promote your own project via our website, with a specific ‘affiliated project’ page, with news about your project via our regular newsletter. Many historical projects don’t even have a simple webpage. We offer the service for free. Open access then becomes more than simply sharing your data: it becomes a stimulus for cooperation between peers, which is essential for scientific progress.

“People often don’t realise that bringing data together is not only good for the common good but also for themselves. They will be associated with other data that are high quality and peer reviewed, and they become part of an academic discussion and their research is being read and their publications get attention,” she adds.

All the datasets on the site feature extensive metadata, including background data on the type of source and the other sources that exist but are not yet online. There are glossaries and bibliographies, open access research contextualised as introductions to recent debates – ideal for teaching purposes – and links to other educational features. The site also reaches out through affiliated projects and “collabatories” – temporary research and data networks for exchange of knowledge, data and instruments, which are common in the natural sciences but less well-known in the social sciences.

Plans for the future include expanding the scope of the site to include present day collective action institutions, such as labour unions and cooperatives, and to extend the range of countries covered with more datasets on other parts of the world.

Author, Collaboration, Datasets, International, Netherlands, Repository, Teachers, Users, Visibility, Website


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Your story « Open Access Success Stories

Your story

Have you got an open access success story you would like to share on this site? We’d love to hear about it.

Please email us at the Knowledge Exchange Office with the details, including where the story is based in Europe, the type of story (it might feature a repository or researcher, publisher or platform, journal editor or small enterprise, for example), how it has provided benefits and to whom.

We may not be able to post all the stories provided, but we hope to get back to you soon.

Andrea di Falco, New Journal of Physics « Open Access Success Stories

Andrea di Falco, New Journal of Physics

An open access physics paper that sent ‘Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak’ flying around the world

Flexible metamaterials at visible wavelengths by Andrea Di Falco, Martin
Ploschner and Thomas F Krauss

What is it?

In 2010 Dr Andrea di Falco, of University of St Andrews’ School of Physics and Astronomy, published a paper in the open access journal New Journal Of Physics on “the fabrication and characterisation of plasmonic structures on flexible substrates”. Not, at first sight, the most immediately media-friendly of topics. Yet, combine public access to science with the magic words “Harry Potter”, and it’s time to hang on to your broomstick.

The paper was published in the week that the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows premiered and, while there is no mention of the boy wizard in the paper itself, an enterprising press officer from the university made the connection between Potter and the invisibility cloaking potentially offered by the flexible new ‘smart’ material, that could theoretically appear invisible to the naked eye, developed by Dr di Falco’s team. The innovation brings the world “one step closer to creating a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak,” trumpeted the press release from St Andrews.

How is it a success?

Andrea di Falco

“It’s not surprising that the topic itself would catch the imagination. It stimulates the imagination, for sure – we’re talking about an invisibility cloak here!” says Dr di Falco, laughing. “It’s a buzzword that certainly calls for attention, and this attention has definitely been fueled by the fact that the New Journal of Physics is an open access journal.”

The outcome of the decision to publish in an open access journal did not disappoint. There was an “overwhelming” response from the world’s media. In the UK the story was picked up by the BBC and all the main quality and tabloid newspapers. It travelled across Europe, courtesy of France 24 and Deutsche Well, and was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the Bangkok Post and featured by the Kenya Broadcasting Company, the Ghana Broadcasting Company and Al Jazeera. It also made the news in the US, Canada and India.

As a result of the coverage, the paper was downloaded more than 50,000 times in the space of just a few months, and it reached an extremely wide and diverse audience for a technical scientific paper.

Dr di Falco was approached, as he expected, by academic colleagues from across the world who had heard about his paper, but also companies with a commercial interest and intrigued, non-academic individuals, including school children.

“It was almost liberating being able to point them directly to the source of the article and say to them, ‘well, you can read the article’, it’s not necessarily too specialised and you will be able to go through it and understand something. Through the open access journal it was possible to establish a dialogue with different readers,” says Dr di Falco, who added that “I was really pleased and amazed by the depth of the questions that were asked by the younger school pupils.”

The attention has not only been good for Dr di Falco and his team, but also his university and, looking at the bigger picture, the UK as a whole.

“It’s been attracting some students to the UK – I’ve been flooded with requests for studentships and I think that has to do with the fact that it was open access because everyone with an internet connection could download it. I constantly receive numerous requests for PhD studentship or Masters thesis projects. It’s been very beneficial for my work, for sure,” says Dr di Falco.

“For me, it has switched on a big spotlight over the possibilities and the advantages of open access. I have frequently used online repositories such as, for example, since I started so I am an advocate of open access but now I am even more convinced.”

Author, Harry Potter, Inspiring young scholars, International, Journal, Journals, Researcher, UK, Visibility


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About « Open Access Success Stories


This website was developed by Knowledge Exchange to provide success stories from the four partner countries and beyond showing the successes gained in making research outputs available in open access.

Free for re-use
The success stories are available under a creative commons CC-BY licence. Please feel free to refer to this website. The materials are also available as a package on the Knowledge Exchange website to re-use elsewhere.

About Knowledge Exchange
Knowledge Exchange is a co-operative effort that supports the use and development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) infrastructure for higher education and research.

The Knowledge Exchange partners are:

The Knowledge Exchange partners express a common vision based on our four national strategies ‘to make a layer of scholarly and scientific content openly available on the Internet.’ For more information please visit the Knowledge Exchange website.

Professor Tony Doyle, CERN Atlas « Open Access Success Stories

Professor Tony Doyle, CERN Atlas

Using open access to collaborate on the largest experiment in the world – and inspire the next generation of particle physicists

“When you are working with 3,000 collaborators from across the world, open access certainly does make life an awful lot easier. In fact, I don’t think we could do the work we do without it,” says Professor Tony Doyle.

Professor Doyle is the designated chair for the publication committee of one of the largest scientific collaboration in the world – ATLAS – a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which is working on analysis methods to search, amongst many things, for the Higgs boson.

CERN’s ATLAS experiment is committed to making its research open access and issued a formal statement in February 2007 setting out its position:

“We…strongly encourage the usage of electronic publishing methods for [this experiment’s] publications and support the principles of Open Access Publishing, which includes granting free access of our publications to all. Furthermore, we encourage all [our] members to publish papers in easily accessible journals, following the principles of the Open Access Paradigm.”

But what difference does the policy really make to the researchers on the ground?

“I think the main thing that has happened with open access is that references to the papers are quicker,” says Professor Doyle. “From an Atlas perspective it really helps when there are thousands of authors all over the world who wish to discuss their paper with theorists and others.”

“Here at Atlas, given that it’s the first years of full-on data-taking where we’re really probing the Higgs signatures, within a collaboration of 3,000 we might have more than 60 papers going through the system at one time in some form or other. All of those have to be reviewed and then there are formal meetings and discussions via the CERN Document Server system. We give comments and feedback to ensure there are no mistakes in the final versions and the message is conveyed as well as possible.”

The ATLAS experiment currently uses about 10 journals to publish its papers, including European Physics Journal C (EPJC), Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP) and Nature Communications, and all articles, results and conference notes are made freely available via the public wiki.

The accessibility of this cutting edge research not only facilitates collaboration between the physicists working on the experiment but also makes a difference to Professor Doyle’s work at the University of Glasgow where he is the research group leader of the particle physics experiment group. He teaches undergraduates and supervises PhD students. He incorporates references relating to his work at the ATLAS experiment into the lectures he gives to the students, knowing that they can easily access the very latest research.

“In teaching terms, open access means we can refer to the latest developments on the Higgs searches in our forthcoming lectures: this access to real-time results really helps to enthuse the next generation of physicists,” says Professor Doyle.

Author, Collaboration, Group/network, Inspiring young scholars, International, Researcher, Speed, UK, Users


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Success stories « Open Access Success Stories

Success stories

On this page you can browse all the open access success stories. They are presented here by country, to order differently select one of the menus on the right, or try the search box.


Organic Eprints
Since 2002, Organic Eprints has been freely sharing information about organic agriculture and food with the world

First Monday
The first of its kind: a 15-year-old open access journal about the internet, catering to a diverse audience

Richard Clapp/Environmental Health
Overcoming censorship to publish publicly important research


Living Reviews
Introducing and expanding the concept of regularly updated journal articles

In just three years, open access repository pedocs has secured cooperative relationships with the key German publishers in its field

A pioneering open access legal journal
A Europe-wide, multi-language platform for scholarly reviews of historical literature, with a web 2.0 twist

Sven Fund, de Gruyter
Innovative partnership to pilot open access monograph publishing

Forum: Qualitative Social Research
A journal and network at the heart of the international qualitative research community

Slowly but surely: a 15-year-long step-by-step move to open access sees submissions soar


Dr Bertalan Mesko: open access and social media
A medical researcher discovers the power of combining open access with social media

Information Bulletin on Variable Stars
Fast, free and fifty: an open access star


Improving and speeding up cancer communication and education through the latest technology and multimedia

The Netherlands

Wageningen University repository
Comprehensively collecting and making available institutional research and grey literature

Institutions for Collective Action
Putting high quality historical research into a collaborative, open access environment

International Journal of the Commons
Building reputation through quality and fresh thinking around business models and social media


Polar Research
A journal transitions from closed to open with spectacular results


Projecto Blimunda
A initiative to discover self-archiving policies that has opened the eyes of Portuguese journal publishers to open access


Making Serbia’s scientific journals part of international open access scientific publishing


Acceso abierto a la ciencia (Open Access to Science)
Active Spanish open access advocacy group


A pioneering open access legal journal


Dr Melissa Terras
A digital humanities scholar discovers what happens when you blog and tweet about an open access paper

Improving and speeding up cancer communication and education through the latest technology and multimedia

Open Book Publishers
Cambridge scholars taking monograph publishing into their own hands

Andrea di Falco, New Journal of Physics
An open access physics paper that sent ‘Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak’ flying around the world

Professor Tony Doyle, CERN Atlas
Using open access to collaborate on the largest experiment in the world – and inspire the next generation of particle physicists

Professor Emily Holmes: ‘Tetris paper’, PLoS ONE
A psychiatry paper about the power of Tetris scored highly thanks to open access

Bioline International
A trailblazing bioscience platform sharing bioscience research, globally

Eagle Genomics
Commercialising research in the open arena


First Monday
The first of its kind: a 15-year-old open access journal about the internet, catering to a diverse audience

Richard Clapp/Environmental Health
Overcoming censorship to publish publicly important research

Thank you « Open Access Success Stories

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has so kindly given up their time to help with this project, whether by offering stories, interviews, suggestions, leads or agreeing to having their brains picked. It is very much appreciated.

With thanks to:
Finn Aarup Nielsen
Ana Alves Pereira
Ilse Ankjaer Rasmussen
Krzysztof Apt
Matthias Bauer
Bo-Christer Björk
Eberhard Bodenschatz
Margreet Bouma
Leslie Chan
Robert Clapp
Tony Doyle
Thomas Dreier
Andrea di Falco
Sally Fincher
Alannah Fitzgerald
Sven Fund
Rupert Gatti
Agathe Gebert
Philippe Grandjean
Bert Hoffman
Andras Holl
Emily Holmes
Ella James
Robert Kanner
Barbara Kirsop
Knowledge Exchange
Biljana Kosanovic
Iryna Kuchma
Giuseppe Lacobucci
Frank van Laerhoven
Lilian Landes
Gerhard Lauer
Isabella Meinecke
Reme Melero
Bertalan Meskó
Tine de Moor
Katja Mruck
Chris Pegler
Nancy Pontika
Salima Rehemtula
Eloy Rodriguez
Appy Sluijs
William Spooner
Bob Strunz
Peter Suber
Alma Swan
Alessandro Tosi
Vladimir Trajkovski
Edward Valauskas
Rolf Weber


Living Reviews « Open Access Success Stories

Living Reviews

Introducing and expanding the concept of regularly updated journal articles

Living Review

The Living Reviews editorial team

What is it?

Living Reviews is a family of five journals, covering physics, environmental and political science. Each journal features review articles that are regularly updated by experts to incorporate the latest developments in the field.

Founded in 1998, Living Reviews in Relativity was the first journal of this kind, followed by Living Reviews in Solar Physics, Living Reviews in European Governance, Living Reviews in Landscape Research and Living Reviews in Democracy.

How is it a success?

The defining feature of Living Reviews is the concept of a living article. Authors revise articles when important new research developments occur and these updates are either treated as new publications, subjected to peer review and published with a new publication number (a major update) or, in the case of errata or small but important additions, are added directly to the original review and marked throughout the article (a fast-track revision).

The review articles offer surveys of recent work, summaries and evaluations of the importance and interconnectedness of results, entry points into the essential literature, assessments of where progress is needed, and links to websites and databases.

“The founders set out with the goal for the journal to become one of the first places a scientist looks for information about work in the field of gravitational physics. And we are delighted to have reached the goal of providing this service,” Bernard Schutz, director of the Albert Einstein Institute and the journal’s editor-in-chief, summed up the first 10 years of Living Reviews in Relativity in 2008. He added, “the successful adaptation of the concept in other scientific fields is an additional confirmation of our idea.”

Living Reviews in Relativity hit the benchmark of 100 review articles in March 2011. It may not sound like a huge number, but the articles tend to be long – some are more than 130 pages – and the field is relatively small. According to Frank Schulz, managing editor of Living Reviews, “After nearly 15 years, we have covered many of the big topics. Now the share of article updates is increasing, of course depending on how the field evolves. The dynamics of scientific research puts different emphasis on various theories over time – for example, gravitational wave detection is a current hot topic – and new developments occur.”

For Schulz, the success of Living Reviews lies in three areas: the concept, the numbers, and the authority.

“A good third of articles have been updated now. Originally, we expected an update every two years, but we learnt by doing that authors do not want to edit their articles constantly. So, while some we get updates for and others not, we can say in principle that the concept of updating articles, of living reviews, has been successful.”

As far as the numbers are concerned, Living Reviews in Relativity has around 2500 PDF downloads a month and more than 7,000 citations in peer reviewed journals (2011). In June 2012, the journal led the category Physics, Particles and Fields in the Thomson Reuters 2011 Journal Citation Reports. With an impact factor of 17.462 it rose to number 54 in JCR’s complete list of about 8000 indexed journals. In the same rankings, Living Reviews in Solar Physics received its very first impact factor (12.500) and ranks among the top three in the category Astronomy and Astrophysics.

In terms of reach, Living Reviews in Relativity has a readership that is fairly evenly balanced between Europe and the United States but it also has an extensive audience in India. Users come from the entire physics community, from graduate students and researchers to lecturers.

“We know from our institute and our contact with other institutes that PhD students use the journal and the website really heavily,” says Schulz. “They read our articles and they look up references. It’s obviously very useful for them and it is likely that every student who writes a dissertation in our field uses our journal. We are one of the sources that everyone in the field knows and uses.”

“If we invite authors to write for us we don’t need to negotiate a lot – they know it is a very good journal and they really want to write for us. There is no author charge but also no money in it for the authors,” Schulz adds.

Schulz is also proud of the fact that Living Reviews is a name to be reckoned with in the open access movement. “If you go to conferences and talk to people a lot of people will have heard of the concept because we have been there from the beginning,” he comments. “Of course, we are helped by the fact that our editor-in-chief, Bernard Schutz, is also one of the people who set up the Berlin Declaration on Open Access so we are well-known and people benefit from using the name and the platform.”

Living Reviews uses its own processing software and content management system because there was little on the market at the time it started, and, as a public institution – the physics journals are funded by the Max Planck Society – having open source software was a priority.

One area where, perhaps surprisingly, the journals see less activity is article comments and questions. The feature is built into the software, but rarely used. “This could be partly due to the fact that review articles are very balanced already, or that only a few people have the interest to use these kinds of commenting services to communicate,” speculates Schulz.

Looking to the future, Schulz is hoping to expand by adding new journals to the family, with a new astrophysics journal likely in the coming year.

Author, Germany, International, Journal, Journals, Users, Visibility


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Ecancermedicalscience « Open Access Success Stories


Improving and speeding up cancer communication and education through the latest technology and multimedia

What is it?

Founded by the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Ecancermedicalscience is an open access cancer journal and an online news outlet. The Umberto Veronesi Foundation, the European Institute of Oncology Foundation and Swiss Bridge are the key founding charities of the journal.

How is it a success?

The ecancermedicalscience website describes itself as a “channel” and provides information about cancer research from a dazzling array of media – from ecancer tv and radio to news stories, blogs, interviews and opinion pieces. It also hosts an image bank and job listings. At its heart is its open access peer reviewed journal, created in response to what founding editors Professor Gordon McVie and Professor Umberto Veronesi perceived as the fragmented, uncoordinated and slow nature of European cancer research in Europe.

Linda Cairns, science editor of ecancermedicalscience

“Professor Veronesi wanted a cancer research journal that would be free so that people in less developed countries could get to see the information. We started up with funding from four charities and that was how we could offer everything free of charge,” explains Linda Cairns, science editor at ecancermedicalscience.

Speed is the buzzword for ecancermedicalscience. It aims to improve communication between sub-specialised cancer scientists and clinicians by working interactively and faster and offering authors a rapid peer review process. It promises authors that they will hear within three weeks if their paper will be published. As well as being available on the ecancermedicalscience site, journal articles are also accessible through PubMed.

The site as a whole has grown steadily in just three years to 35,000 unique visitors a month, from 191 countries (figures from October 2011). It has over 6,000 registered users. Videos on the site do particularly well, watched over 2,000 times per month. Since launch, videos have been watched over 1.4m times in total.

“We take ecancertv to the most important cancer conferences around the world where we film the highlights and interview the key opinion leaders about the latest research and new discoveries. These kinds of interviews have proved to be very popular – they mean that researchers can get the most up-to-date news from the conference quickly, without having to read through a whole paper. We also do roundtables at these conferences where we film three or four of the most distinguished speakers together. A phenomenal amount of people use these resources to get quick information. And it’s all free,” says Cairns.

ecancermedicalscience also actively encourages communities of sub-specialised scientists and cancer carers to exchange ideas and research, with the goal of speeding up the time it takes from discovery to patient benefit. The site makes full use of social media, from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn. These new tools are also being investigated as part of a major European FP7 grant-funded project, ecancercomms. The Eurocancercoms partnership is an ambitious project to use cutting edge technology to provide cancer information to the public, patients and healthcare professionals. ecancer’s role is to evaluate and engage the best new dissemination technologies.

But ecancermedicalscience also has its sights set beyond Europe. “In the future we are aiming to become more international. We already have the contacts for an ecancermedicalscience India – there is a lot of high quality research going on in India that is not published because of a lack of funding. We are also in discussions about a Latin American or Spanish version because we also feel that there is a need for a journal there too,” says Cairns.

Author, International, Italy, Journal, Platform, Social media, Speed, UK, Users, Visibility


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Open Access Success Stories


From researchers whose work has made waves across the world, to repositories that have given a nation’s research a foothold in the international scientific community, all the stories on this site bear testament to the power of open access.

They range across Europe, across disciplines and across stakeholders but all share a common core value – that access to freely available research online can change lives and, perhaps, change the world.

Explore the stories using the menus above and to the side  – dip into any of the stories by clicking on ‘success stories’ at the top of the page or choose a category from the menu on the right to look at specific countries, types of story or benefits.

This site will be updated with new stories in 2012 so keep checking back. Got your own open access success story? Share it!

This work has been funded by Knowledge Exchange and the stories have been researched and written by Michelle Pauli.

Information Bulletin on Variable Stars « Open Access Success Stories

Information Bulletin on Variable Stars


Fast, free and fifty: an open access star

What is it?

V838 Monocerotis, a red variable star about 20,000 light years from the Sun, and its light echo. Image: NASA

The Information Bulletin on Variable Stars (IBVS) is an open access journal for the academic astronomical community. Founded in 1961 as a bulletin board to facilitate rapid communication between scientists in the field, it has gone from a pamphlet printed and freely distributed to 500-600 addresses to a fully online, refereed small journal achieving thousands of downloads within its very narrow field of astronomy.

An early pioneer of open scholarly communications, IBVS was available on the web as an electronic publication from 1994, although it took a few more years for the full html version to be developed. Now at issue 6000, all past issues from its 50 year history have been digitised and are available online, and the journal remains free for both the reader and the author.

How is it a success?

“This journal is being read by everyone, everywhere in our field. For example, we published a particular paper on a star and, much later on, we noticed that a journal in India had published a paper on the same star. We can see from their observation log that they started observing that star the very next day after the paper in IBVS was put online. So that’s the advantage of open access – it’s fast and it’s free for all,” says Andras Holl, technical editor of IBVS.

When Holl says fast, he really does mean fast. IBVS is an “express journal”, which is essential in a field of science that deals with time-dependent phenomena and where others in the field need to be alerted to changes quickly. IBVS can publish a short paper within 24-48 hours if it can be reviewed in-house or via a fast referee. Very complex papers or slower referees can take longer, but it’s rare that a paper has to wait more than a month to be published.

Speed, however, does not come at the expense of quality. Rejection rates are higher than mainstream astronomical journals, and Holl puts this down to “rigorous refereeing”. In addition to the pre-publication reviewing, the journal benefits from “unofficial” reviewing from readers of the journal.

“Readers act as a kind of second line of referees and we get feedback from them. They point out errors and mistakes and what we issue errata. These are attached to the original papers so the next reader downloading the paper will get the errata but is still able to see the original article,” explains Holl.

This, again, happens quickly. Within minutes of uploading a new paper to the journal, Holl can see that a few people have downloaded it, he says, laughing.

“Of course, it is a small community so even from the domain names I know who it might be. The guys working on that particular project or star are keen to find out the latest, and that’s what open access offers – you really benefit from fast publication cycle and the fact that everyone can read it,” he concludes.

A light curve of the star V838 Monocerotis, shown in the Hubble image at the top of the page, from IBVS 5336, Sobotka et al

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pedocs « Open Access Success Stories


Agathe Gebert

In just three years, open access repository pedocs has secured cooperative relationships with the key German publishers in its field

What is it?

pedocs is a German educational science archive that uses an innovative cooperation model with German publishing houses to make available freely and openly a wealth of high quality pedagogic literature.

One of the highlights of the repository is that it contains full runs of important educational journals. For example, the Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, one of the leading German journals for educational science, will soon be available on pedocs from its very first volume in 1955 right up to 2009, with further volumes published each year.

In addition, pedocs contains monographs, collections of essays and grey literature. There are currently (autumn 2011) over 3,000 documents online, with a further 6-7,000 in a queue ready to be prepared with the correct metadata and published online.

pedocs is open to all, with well over half its visitors finding the resource through Google and scientific search engines.

How is it a success?

pedocs was set up in 2008 by the German Institute for International Educational Research and in just the last three years has developed cooperative relationships with more than 25 small and medium-sized German educational literature publishing houses.

These relationships are the key to its success, with 90% of the content in the archive coming direct from publishers. “Up to now we have prioritised getting the German publishing houses on board,” says Agathe Gebert, academic staff member and responsible for content acquisition for pedocs “I would call it a great success because, for us, it was a method of acquiring substantial and quality approved material. Because of our cooperation with the publishing houses we are able to make available as open access these huge quantities of journals.”

It is a process that requires some careful handling, as Agathe Gebert explains. “We have to kindle the publishing house’s interest by explaining how they benefit from the relationship. At the beginning they were a little sceptical – if they put their book on the internet for free then why will people still buy the printed version? We had to emphasis that online visibility makes the book more widely known and, actually, once they have discovered it online, most scientists still want to hold the book in their hands.”

pedocs offers a range of cooperation models to suit the needs of different publishers. The most popular is “selective access” where only some contributions from a work are put online, such as individual essays from a collection in a book.

“Publishing houses like this model as through it they can advertise the whole monograph and see if the online availability and greater visibility contributes to them being able to sell more,” says Ms Gebert. She has regular meetings with publishers to also assess the impact of this kind of selective access and whether it helps or hinders sales of the whole volume. Early feedback suggests that it benefits sales, especially as, through a special add-on, pedocs offers an option inviting the user of a contribution from a collective work to place an online order for the full work via

Other cooperation models include the “delayed access” model which allows for a secondary publication on pedocs following a period of embargo; the “out of print” model where pedocs undertakes to publish online material that is no longer accessible elsewhere; and the “open access direct” model which describes a simultaneous launch of print and open access publications. Such a simultaneous publication can refer to individual contributions from collection of articles or even complete monographs, which are primarily targeted by this concept.

For the publishing houses, the benefits of working with pedocs include the integration of their content into the German Education Portal as well as a reference in the German Education Index, the most comprehensive German language bibliographic database in the field of educational science. The German Education Portal has around 200,000 online access rates per month and so provides for a high searchability and findability of the full texts that have been integrated into pedocs, which helps to promote the works themselves as well as their publishing houses. Furthermore, pedocs collaborates with the German National Library and provides a persistent URN, assuring their long-term archiving.

For pedocs, the cooperation models ensure that not only are large amounts of high quality journals and monographs available to teachers and educational scientists, but the layout of all the documents is the same as the published originals.

“This is very important for citing page references,” says Ms Gebert. “You need to know you’re talking about the same pages!”

While the focus since 2008 has been on home-grown journals and publishers, pedocs is now looking to expand by building relationships with international publishers. Work is also in progress at pedocs to put online a backlog of material it has accumulated and to develop marketing tools to increase awareness of the resource among educational scientists.

Collaboration, Germany, Journals, Nation, Publisher, Repository, Teachers, Visibility


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Open Book Publishers « Open Access Success Stories

Open Book Publishers

Cambridge scholars taking monograph publishing into their own hands

“Frustration!” exclaim Rupert Gatti and Alessandra Tosi, almost in unison, when asked about the motivation behind setting up Open Book Publishers, a not-for-profit open access publisher of monographs in the humanities and social sciences, run by Cambridge-based scholars.

Tosi, co-founder and managing director of the operation, picks up the story. An academic specialising in early 19th century Russian literature, she was delighted when her PhD about a group of little-known Russian authors was published by a Dutch company. Her delight was short-lived however, when she realised that her book was being sold for 85 euros and therefore only accessible in a handful of research libraries and with very few scholars in Russia able to read it because few scholars in Russia could afford to buy it.

Alessandra Tosi

“You sign a contract and give away the copyright of your book forever,” explains Tosi. “I couldn’t reach my readers and I couldn’t do anything about it because the work belonged to the publisher now, it wasn’t mine anymore. I realised that this is madness! We are doing all the work – as academics we do the peer review, I had to do all the formatting and all the publisher is doing is distribution – and I realised that this model really does not work for academia. So we tried to do something about it.”

The result was Open Book Publishers (OBP) which now has 15 books in its catalogue and some big plans for the future.

All OBP works are freely available online through Google Books and are soon to be available for free in an xml version on the OBP site. OBP’s co-founder and director Gatti likens the model to some of the initiatives we have seen from the music industry. “We stream a version for free and then charge for the other editions. If you want a version for your Kindle or a pdf you can print then you pay for it. But the charges are low in comparison with other ebooks [£4.95] and come without any digital rights management on them, as a creative commons file,” he says. It is also possible to buy a printed copy – OBP use the print on demand company Lightning Source – and this, too, is at a rate that compares favourably to commercial academic publishers with prices for paperbacks around £15.00 and hardbacks around £25

So how does OBP sustain itself? The full cost to OBP of publishing each book is in the range of £3500. Some authors are able to cover the full amount through publishing grants and authors are encouraged to apply for grants and contribute what they can to help cover the costs (about half of OBP’s revenue comes from those sources) but no author with a good quality book will be turned away for lack of money.

“If the work is deemed to be of high quality, through the stringent peer review process, then we will publish it even if the author cannot afford anything and that has happened with younger authors, especially. We are a not-for-profit enterprise, we would just like to break even. Everything is reinvested in our project. We care about quality more than anything else. That’s why we do it – to publish good works,” says Tosi.

OBP is certainly attracting both strong names – authors it publishes include the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen – and a growing readership. Figures from Google Books suggest there are currently around 130 readers per title per month around the world – in September 2011 OBP notched up readers from 77 countries including African countries, India, Pakistan, and China as well as UK and US.

Rupert Gatti

“What we believe is that there is a large market for academic works which is not being tapped by existing publishers,” says Gatti. “We call it ‘the informed non-academic’. There are lots of people interested in some pretty narrow topic areas of academic research but they have been priced out of that knowledge market by the way that existing academic publishing targets libraries and charges £60 for a book. Without access to research libraries, and unable to pay such high prices for printed editions, intelligent non-academic readers are locked out from accessing new knowledge and research in areas of interest to them.”

As well as increased visibility to new audiences, and the growing reputation of OBP, the publisher also appeals to authors with its promise of speedy publication. OBP is increasingly receiving proposals from younger academics who are attracted by the possibility of having their book published in weeks rather than years – OBP aims to get a response back to authors from referees for a first draft of a manuscript within eight weeks – which may then enable them to apply for a particular position.

OBP’s speed of publication can also work to the benefit of readers as well as authors. Gatti offers the example of a forthcoming book on one of Cicero’s speeches. The speech has recently been adopted for the UK A-level course in Classics, but there is very little appropriate scholarly work on it for teachers and students to draw on. Recognising this problem, Professor Gildenhard, an expert on Cicero’s speeches, wrote a work over the summer and it will be rapidly turned around by OBP for a late autumn publication – in time to be of use to teachers and students this academic year.

OBP is working to set up commenting functions on the book’s area on the website so that teachers will be able to discuss passages, ask questions and have a dialogue with the author. This interactive element is an aspect OBP is aiming to develop further, along with placing additional digital material online, from image galleries to audio, to support titles.

For Gatti, these kinds of developments are what open access publishing is all about – moving from a static presentation of “a book” to a more dynamic, interactive and responsive concept of publishing.

“One of the strengths of open access publication is the regeneration, the recycling of the open access material itself, and also the dialogue and exchange between readers and the author of the published work. We want to develop the concept of the book and part of that is this process of facilitating dialogue – then you can update the book in response to that dialogue. It’s about making better use of open access and what open access is all about. It all looks pretty exciting. We think we’ll be able to pick up new ideas as they come along and run with them. We’ve got a lot of flexibility in how we can move – we’re not stuck in a rut of the old school publishing world,” concludes Gatti.

Author, Business models, Publisher, Publisher, Speed, Teachers, UK, Users, Visibility


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Professor Emily Holmes: ‘Tetris paper’, PLoS ONE « Open Access Success Stories

Professor Emily Holmes: ‘Tetris paper’, PLoS ONE

A psychiatry paper about the power of Tetris scored highly thanks to open access

Holmes, EA, James, EL, Kilford, EJ, & Deeprose, C (2010). Key steps in developing a cognitive vaccine against traumatic flashbacks: visuospatial Tetris versus verbal Pub Quiz. PLoS ONE, 5(11), e13706

What is it?

In 2010 Professor Emily Holmes and colleagues at the University of Oxford’s department of psychiatry published a paper about using the computer game Tetris as a “cognitive vaccine” against the build-up of flashbacks after trauma. It was a follow-up paper to an earlier piece of research on the subject and she chose to publish both in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The paper describes an experimental medicine model of what might happen when people encounter a traumatic event. Three randomly assigned groups of people watched a traumatic film in a laboratory. One group were sent back out into the world afterwards and had to record in a diary how many flashback memories of the film they experienced during the week. A second group were given the computer game Tetris to play after the film, then sent out with the same diary task. The third group played a different computer game after the film – Pub Quiz, based on words and logic rather than visual, spatial and colour properties – and then sent away with the diary task. The critical results were that, compared to just having the trauma stimulus, the people who played the computer game Tetris experienced far fewer flashbacks over the subsequent week than those who played the Pub Quiz computer game.

These results suggest that that the things we do in the aftermath of a traumatic event can have an impact on the number of intrusive memories that arise later of that event. The results also suggest that, based on the scientific hypothesis about the nature of memory processing, visuo-spatial tasks compete and help reduce flashback memories whereas it is possible that other tasks either do nothing or could even be harmful.

How was it a success?

“I think that science is a really important endeavour and it’s important to make sure that our work is accessible to a broader public,” says Professor Holmes of the decision to publish this piece of research in PLoS ONE. She does not routinely publish all her work in open access journals, preferring more specialist outlets for very niche work, but felt that this experiment had a “broader interest” that meant that both scientists outside her specialism and the public more generally might find it useful to be able to read the full paper.

The decision certainly proved to be well-judged – the response to what has come to be known as the “Tetris paper” was swift and global. It caught the imagination of media around the world, resulting in coverage on TV, radio, websites and newspapers. Follow-up enquiries followed quickly, not just from academic counterparts, both nationally and internationally, but also from interested members of the public who had been able to access and read the publication in full, online, after being alerted to it by the media attention.

“We had the opportunity to talk about the nature of our experiment in various public forums, from the BBC Today programme through to international print media,” says Professor Holmes. “There were all kinds of interesting spin-offs from that, from high school students in some remote countries getting in contact with us and asking us about the experiment with a general curiosity about science, to professionals who are involved in helping people after traumatic events and are keen to consider the future implications of this kind of work for preventative services. It’s led to contacts that we wouldn’t have otherwise had with researchers from abroad.”

On Professor Holmes’s team was Ella James, a very early career researcher who was still finishing her undergraduate studies at the time that she was working on the Tetris paper.

“Surprised and thrilled” by the reaction to the open access publication of the paper, she says that it “has reinforced what I already thought about open access. Because I’m an early stage researcher I don’t have any bias or prejudice against it whereas I know that some people have. For me, the more people who can read and understand your research the better, from academics to lay people. This experience has only improved my impression of open access.”

For Professor Holmes, the open access success of the paper has prompted her to consider the responsibility that comes with publishing scientific research in an open format. “The idea of trying to write in a way that’s scientifically rigorous and yet accessible is an interesting challenge. As open access is relatively new, some of the implications are still being thought-through, such as how to report findings in such a way that they are not over-interpreted by the media. This is especially important for experiments with a clinical relevance,” she notes.

“One of the things I hadn’t expected at all was the school children who got in contact because they read about it on the internet. It made me realise that this is a way to communicate about the excitement of science more generally. I’m really passionate about thinking about how our next generation of scientists, who are perhaps teenage girls and boys at the moment, might learn about science as it evolves. Open access gives them immediate access to the story rather than finding something in their school textbooks,” says Professor Holmes.

Subject playing Tetris in lab conditions

Additional information: Media coverage resulting from PLoS ONE publications (below)

Holmes, E. A., James, E. L., Coode-Bate, T., & Deeprose, C. (2009). Can Playing the Computer Game ‘Tetris’ Reduce the Build-up of Flashbacks for Trauma? A Proposal from Cognitive Science. PLoS ONE, 4(1), e4153 doi:4110.1371/journal.pone.0004153
Holmes, E. A., James, E. L., Kilford, E. J., & Deeprose, C. (2010). Key steps in developing a cognitive vaccine against traumatic flashbacks: visuospatial Tetris versus verbal Pub Quiz. PLoS ONE, 5(11), e13706
1. Interview on BBC Radio 4, Fry’s English Delight. Winter special – Word Games. Aired Tuesday 28th December 2010, Aired 21:30 GMT
2. Interview on BBC Radio 4, All In The mind; 23rd November 2010: Preventing Flashbacks. Aired 21:00 GMT
3. Interview on BBC World Service, World Update, Tetris and Flashbacks. Aired 15th November 2010
4. Tetris research featured on Up All Night. UK: BBC Radio 5. Aired 1:45 GMT 15 November, 2010.
5. Interview on BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme; Thursday 25th March; Events ‘erased’ from memory, with Tom Fielden. Aired 07:47 GMT. [online] Available at
6. Fielden, T. (2010) Tetris, trauma and the brain. BBC Radio 4 News Online; The Today Programme. Thursday 25 March 13:02 GMT. [online] Available at
7. Radio 4, Jan 24th 9am. Interview for “The Memory Experience” with Dr Mark Porter and Esther Freud.

8. Graham-Rowe, D., & MacKenzie, D. (2010). When it comes to traumatic flashbacks, Tetris blocks. New Scientist Online. [online] available at 22:00 GMT. 10 November 2010
9. Playing the computer game Tetris can reduce trauma flashbacks. The Daily Telegraph, p. 20. 11 November, 2010
10. Dennis Rijnvis (2010) ‘Tetris kan traumatische herinnering deels voorkomen’ 11th November. [online] Available at
11. Playing Tetris can help you get over traumatic events. [online] available at 11 November, 2010
12. Klein, S. (2010). Traumatized? Playing Tetris may reduce flashbacks., [online] available at 10 November
13. Song, S. (2010). Study: Playing Tetris to Prevent PTSD. Time Magazine Healthland, [online] available at 10 November
14. Heussner, K. (2010). Why does playing Tetris help reduce trauma? ABC News. com, [online] available at 10 November
15. Weir, W. (2010). Tetris Reduces PTSD; Pub Quiz Makes It Worse., [online] available at,0,5960212.column. 10 November, 12:00pm
16. Bates, T. (2010). Study: Playing Tetris can help reduce flashbacks., [online] available at 11 November, 4:48pm
17. Alderman, N. (2010). The player: Tetris may stop trauma flashbacks. [online] available at, 21.59 GMT 17 November
18. PLoS ONE Blog Pick of the Month for November 2010: Holmes, E. A., James, E. L., Killford, E. J., & Deeprose, C. (2010). Key steps in developing a cognitive vaccine against traumatic flashbacks: visuospatial Tetris versus verbal Pub Quiz. PLoS ONE. 5(11), e13706. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013706 was the subject of the PLoS ONE Blog Pick of the Month for November 2010 for the post “Tetris could prevent post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks (but quiz games make them worse)” by Ed Young.
19. Daily Telegraph (2010). Tetris may help erase memories of trauma. Friday 26 March. The Daily Telegraph, p. 15.
20. New York Times Magazine: The 9th Annual Year in Ideas, 12th Dec; Thompson, C. Treating PTSD with Tetris. p 67. [view online at;]
21. NHS Choices, (2009). Does Tetris beat trauma? NHS Choices: Behind the Headlines. 7th Jan.
22. BBC News (2009), Tetris helps to reduce trauma. BBC News. 7th January.
23. New Scientist (2009) Tetris to treat the terror of trauma. New Scientist, 17th Jan. 201(2691) p.12.
24. Los Angeles Times. (2009). Healy, R. Playing Tetris: Prescription for traumatic memories. 7th Jan.
25. Times Online. (2009). Young, E. & Fishburn, A. How to forget fear. London: News Intl Group. 7th Jan
26. Reuters. (2009). Tetris top for PTSD. News 24 8th Jan. 08:28 GMT.

27. University Challenge-2010/2011, Episode 13 [aired 27th September 2010; 20:00GMT. BBC2]. ‘Based on research at Oxford University, a study published in 2009 suggested that the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder might be aided by playing what computer game?’
University of the Arts London answer correctly ‘Tetris’!

Additional of interest:

Author, Inspiring young scholars, Researcher, Teachers, UK, Users, Visibility


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JIPITEC « Open Access Success Stories


Rolf H Weber

A pioneering open access legal journal

What is it?

The Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E-Commerce Law (JIPITEC) launched in March 2010 and aims to provide a forum for in-depth legal analysis of intellectual property matters in the internet age, with the main focus on European law.

The peer-reviewed journal is fully open access – its articles may be downloaded and used everywhere and without fees – and the intention is to develop a platform that allows authors and users to work more closely together than is the case in classical law reviews. It is mainly English language but also publishes articles in French and German.

How is it a success?

It is clearly still very early days for JIPITEC but, in a field dominated by traditional scholarly publishing (and traditional attitudes towards publishing), JIPITEC is quickly starting to build reputation as a journal to be taken seriously.

Open access journals currently face an uphill struggle in the field of law, as one of the journal’s editors, Professor Thomas Dreier, explains.

Professor Thomas Dreier

“In Germany, at least, scholarly legal publishing is characterised by the fact that the publishing process follows an economic model, ie the author gets paid by the publisher for publication. Now, the sums may not be fabulous (some 25 to 50 euro per printed page or case note), but they are a ‘nice thing to have’. The more serious issue is, of course, that legal open access journals are a rather new phenomenon and hence still have to build up reputation. Therefore, most young academics, and also many of the established legal scholars, tend to opt for the more traditional printed journals.”

JIPITEC is seeking to challenge these attitudes with an emphasis on the benefits of open access publishing. As Professor Dreier puts it, “We tried to highlight both the ‘hip’-factor (ie it being a ‘must’ to publish open access), and the immediate worldwide accessibility.”

The accessibility argument is certainly one that has an impact on Rolf H Weber, professor for civil, commercial and European law at the University of Zurich Law School. Professor Weber published a paper, Internet Service Provider Liability – a Swiss Perspective, in JIPITEC last year, and another paper, The Right to Be Forgotten: More Than a Pandora’s Box, in 2011.

He chose to publish open access in JIPITEC for the simple reason that “the likelihood is much higher that my articles are read and quoted. They can be found more easily by other people working in the same field.”

Professor Weber was happy with the JIPITEC experience, confirming Professor Dreier’s claim that, while persuading legal scholars to take up open access can be a struggle, “the ones who published in JIPITEC loved it. We provide peer-review (double blind), standardised layout and a reliable internet presence.”

All of these aspects make JIPITEC, and open access publishing in general, an “attractive” proposition to scholars such as Professor Weber. “I am not only counting citations. This would be too narrow-minded. There is a higher chance that other people in the community will become aware of my work. It has the consequence that I am invited to conferences. It has the consequence that I am contacted on a cross-border basis, contacted with invitations to participate in research projects at other universities because they have become aware that I am working in a similar professional field. This is how it is a success in the broader sense. The more open access journals are used, the more likely it will be that the articles published in such kinds of journals will be the basis for international contacts.”

However, it’s not all smooth sailing for the JIPITEC crew and Professor Dreier remains concerned about financing for the project. JIPITEC receives a small amount of start-up funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) but even though the costs of electronic publishing are much less than traditional print costs, they are not zero and Professor Dreier is keen to explore ways in which to open up new income sources. However, he has ruled out one common open access business model.

“At one point the editors considered adopting an author-pays model, but decided against it, because that would probably be the death-blow to the enterprise,” says Professor Dreier

Meanwhile, Professor Weber is optimistic for the future of open access legal scholarly publishing.

“I cannot say yet that these journals have a ‘triple A’ rating but that’s not possible because most of them are young, if not to say very young, and how can a journal like JIPITEC have the same reputation as, say, Harvard Law Review, existing since the 19th century? I think it is somehow unfair to compare the rating of very newly established open access journals with traditional printed journals even if they have an electronic version. The rating must be lower – that’s a consequence of a historic situation – but I am convinced that the ratings of these new open access journals are going to increase with the younger generation,” he argues.

Author, Germany, International, Journal, Journals, Switzerland, Users, Visibility


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Wageningen University repository « Open Access Success Stories

Wageningen University repository

Comprehensively collecting and making available institutional research and grey literature

What is it?

Wageningen is a Dutch university with a specific focus on the life sciences and “healthy food and the living environment”. It is also home to a groundbreakingly comprehensive institutional repository, Wageningen Yield, that covers not only all the scientific output of the university but also collects grey literature and makes it available to the rest of the world. In addition to its comprehensiveness, the repository is leading the way in providing user statistics and citation reports to its researchers – which in turn encourages greater involvement in the repository by the institution’s academic staff.

How is it a success?

Peter van der Togt

Peter van der Togt

Wageningen Yield is a comprehensive, total output bibliographic database of all the research of the university. The metadata for every article is as complete a description as possible. If an article is open access it is made available, so Wageningen Yield is both a complete academic bibliography and an open access repository. The coverage goes back to 1975.

“Our success lies in the 100% coverage and the large share of open access publications. We’re making reports and proceedings more visible and accessible,” says Peter van der Togt, the

former manager of Wageningen Yield.

The repository currently contains over 183.000 metadata records, 44,000 open access records and 39,000 records for e-harvesting (not including Powerpoint presentations and posters – only “real publications” such as articles, reports and proceedings are counted for e-harvesting).

“What we see is that a lot of repositories containing only formal academic outputs, only peer reviewed journal articles published by PubMed or the Web of Science,” says Wouter Gerritsma, bibliometrician at Wageningen library. “But academic output is far more than that, especially if you have agricultural research stations as part of your organisation. They publish a lot of reports in all kinds of trade journals, such as Farmers’ Weekly, and, in most circumstances, these are open access publications. So this is where we have a head start on all the other universities because we cover these publications as well and so we cover the complete, comprehensive academic output. We collect grey literature and we make it available to the rest of the world through the repository.”

It sounds like a huge task for the library, so does it work in practice? For a start, it’s mandated. But it’s also deeply embedded in the university’s administrative system. Secretaries log the output of professors in the research information system then the library staff check the data – ensuring, for example, that the right distinction has been made between book chapters and conference proceedings, open access peer reviewed journals and professional body journals. If the publications are in open access journals or the researchers provide post-prints, they are published on the web and made freely available.

“It makes a really big difference having the extensive network of data entry within the university. Otherwise you only concentrate on the peer review journal output because that is collectible, the reports and grey literature would be completely missed,” comments Gerritsma

The library staff also teach the researchers about publication strategies, having discovered during their harvesting of metadata while first populating the repository that Wageningen research was not always easily identifiable – simply because the university name is difficult to spell.

Wouter Gerritsma

Wouter Gerritsma

“Sometimes researchers will use Dutch rather than English or go for the lowest common denominator such as the lab or research groups rather than the name of the university,” explains Gerritsma. “But people who do searches for university rankings will do it on the name of the university and so this is a strong message to pass on to our researchers. Because we are so attentive to this area I suspect that the ranking of our name in publications has greatly improved. We also encourage people to publish in high quality journals to improve the performance of Wageningen university and enhance the performance of the research.

And Wageningen’s academics can see exactly how well their research has performed – because Wageningen Yield tells them.

The library calculates citation scores for each academic group and takes full citation information from all the publications in the repository. It’s not publicly available but it’s accessible for any member of staff at the university.

“Because the database is comprehensive we can slice and dice it any way we wish – for a person, a group, a graduate school, a project – so we have various ways of looking at the impact of groups and groups of people. It is used a lot. There are benefits in this area for the whole institution. We have given a lot of presentations about how we calculate these things,” says Gerritsma.

The citation tools are also very important because they are used to work out the research bonuses of the groups for each year, based on the information the library gives. If the metadata is not in the repository it’s not included in the validation reports. As a result, researchers are eager to add all their work to ensure it’s visible in the validation reports.

“It also saves the university money by making the lists easier. We’ve improved the infrastructure. Researchers have to register the metadata once then reuse as often as they like. For them it’s very easy – and if it’s easy they will do it,” concludes Gerritsma.

International, Netherlands, Repository, Self-archiving, Users, Visibility


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Forum: Qualitative Social Research « Open Access Success Stories

Forum: Qualitative Social Research

A journal and network at the heart of the international qualitative research community

What is it?

Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS) is a peer reviewed multilingual online journal for qualitative research. Established in 1999 and published tri-annually, it features empirical studies conducted using qualitative methods, and articles that deal with the theory, methodology and application of qualitative research.

Thirty eight issues of FQS have been published, with more than 1400 articles by around 1350 authors from all over the world.

Building on the successful FSQ brand, since 2005 the FSQ team have also organised an annual qualitative research methods meeting in Berlin, and send out a regular newsletter to about 15,000 subscribers in over 170 countries.

How is it a success?

Dr Katja Mruck

“We started in 2000 with an open access journal, but not the term, and in 2002 Stevan Harnad approached us to ask if we would translate the Budapest open access initiative into German. From that time on we knew that what we did was open access,” says Dr Katja Mruck, founder and editor of FQS.

Initially, Mruck and her colleagues had sought a publisher for their proposed journal but their idea for an online journal was turned down and, despite planning to publish double blind, peer reviewed articles in three languages (German, English and Spanish) proofread by native speakers, “it was clear that colleagues in north America would never buy a print journal coming from Germany.”

Fortunately, FQS received funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG), because it was felt that open access would be a good way to make German research more visible, and discovered Open Journal Software (OJS). Then in its infancy, the software created by the Canadian Public Knowledge Project is now used by more than 10,000 open access journals worldwide.

Today, FQS has 15,000 registered users around the world and across many disciplines, publishes 60-80 articles a year, and is much, much more than a journal. It has become the heart of an international community around qualitative social research.

In part, this has its roots in the structure of the journal. It is divided into sections, such as Debates, Interviews and Reviews, with each section managed by an editorial team member from a German-speaking country, an English-speaking country and a Spanish-speaking country, with many reviewers and proof readers organised locally.

“Some of them are authors who like the idea and stay and join the editorial team. They are doing what they always did for closed journals but now for FQS,” explains Mruck.

“If you go to any international conference dealing with qualitative research methods and you mention FQS, they probably know what you are talking about. If you mention any  closed access print journal from Germany in a conference in Mexico, they definitely do not know it. FQS is known all over the world,” she adds.

FQS has also fostered this sense of international community through its annual event, the Berlin Methods Meeting, which was launched in 2005. It is “the most important event of its kind for German-speaking countries”, and although over 1200 colleagues are actively interested, only around 400 can participate due to the design of the meeting (a mixture of about 35 small workshops and plenary sessions).

In addition, Mruck sends out a bi-monthly newsletter informing about new publications and conferences on qualitative research and open access news. From a starting point of 300 subscribers in 2000, the list has grown to over 15,000 subscribers in 170 countries.

“We are everywhere and this is something very special. I think most important for me is that today I am part of a truly international and truly interdisciplinary community. This is completely different from the situation in 2000. Completely. Open access has helped us to get international,” concludes Mruck.

Author, Collaboration, Germany, International, Journal, Journals, Nation


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doiSerbia « Open Access Success Stories


Biljana Kosanovic

Making Serbia’s scientific journals part of international scientific publishing

What is it?

Scientific scholarly publishing in Serbia has tended to be based around small presses and scholarly societies in university faculties rather than large, professional publishers. Articles are generally print-only or, if online, published on ad hoc web pages rather than properly indexed sites. This has made it very difficult for Serbian scientific research to attract international attention.

doiSerbia was launched in 2005 to improve this situation. The National Library of Serbia set out to assign DOI numbers to a number of Serbian scientific journals, deposit proper metadata about them into the Crossref system, and make articles available online. It started with a pilot project of five journals and now includes 59 of them, with over 17,000 full text articles freely available to read.

The archive offers a number of additional, free-of-charge services for journals and researchers including “cited-by linking” which provides details of citations on each article webpage, and “online first” whereby all articles that have passed all the standard procedures, such as the peer review process, and are simply waiting to be printed can start their lives much earlier online.

How is it a success?

In terms of its aim to make Serbian research visible to the international community, doiSerbia can be seen as an unequivocal success.

Since the project launched, 20 Serbian journals have been indexed by the Web of Science, all of them first indexed by the doiSerbia.

“It would not have been that many without doiSerbia,” says Biljana Kosanovic, doiSerbia’s project manager. “It’s a clear example of how the service has improved the visibility of these journals. The core of the success of the project is that Serbian journals have become part of international scientific publishing.”

Not surprisingly, with results like that, the service is very popular with the journals themselves. With the exception of two journals that would not accept the open access condition, all 300 of Serbia’s scientific journals would like to be part of the DOI repository. The only constraint on development is resources at the National Library to process the DOI numbers and metadata. The library will add a further 10 titles this year but after that will have to consider ways to expand the office to be able to cope with the demand. It is currently funded with a small grant from the Serbian Ministry of Science with no charge to the journals, as it was decided that the cost of the collection of so many very small sums (DOI numbers cost around $2 per number for current content) would not be sustainable.

“The journals want to be part of the story because it’s open access and also because those journals that are already part of doiSerbia are much more clickable,” explains Mrs Kosanovic. “It is not enough that your journal is on the internet, it must be prepared according to some standards. If use Crossref and good metadata it allows users to get the full text with just a few clicks, as well as the full text of the citing references.”

The professional standards used by doiSerbia have raised the profile of the library, and librarians, in the country among science researchers, with a growing awareness that libraries can promote journals more effectively than the scholarly societies, through good quality metadata that can be harvested easily by well-recognised indexers and those within the commercial sector. Libraries are being recognised as “a part of a society that has changed, and is forward-thinking” by the Serbian scientific research community, thanks to doiSerbia.

The initiative also has the potential to expand knowledge about open access in the whole region. Mrs Kosanovic has been invited to share her knowledge and experiences of the project at conferences in Slovenia, Bosnia and Macedonia and believes that it offers an inspirational example of the power of open access to make research visible across and beyond a region.

“People think that if the librarians in Serbia can do it then why couldn’t we? We cannot compare what is possible for us to do with librarians in Germany or the UK because they have completely different work and budgets but here we are showing people something that is on their level. They see that if someone from the region can do something then it means it could be done – it is an inspiration and it gives encouragement,” concludes Mrs Kosanovic.

Author, Journals, Nation, Region, Repository, Serbia, Visibility


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Polar Research « Open Access Success Stories

Polar Research

A journal transitions from closed to open with spectacular results

What is it?

Established in 1982 by the Norwegian Polar Institute, which is part of Norway’s Ministry of the Environment, Polar Research is an English language, peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal publishing international papers about the Arctic and Antarctic regions. As well as original research articles in disciplines such as oceanography, glaciology, biology, geology, and atmospheric science, the journal also features papers from the social sciences.

It was produced in-house until 2007 when it joined forces with Wiley Blackwell. In 2010 the partnership with Wiley ended and Polar Research successfully became a fully open access journal, funded by the Institute.

How is it a success?

Helle Goldman, editor of Polar Research

“As the editor of Polar Research I want the journal to be read as widely as possible. Scientists work hard to write these articles, and to carry out the research reported in them, and then I sweat over editing them. I want them to be read so they will contribute to further research by other scientists. Making the journal open access seemed like a great way to make it even more accessible,” explains Helle Goldman, who has edited the journal for 14 years.

The three-year partnership with Wiley provided a “big boost” to the journal in terms of visibility, reputation and professional production values. It allowed publication frequency to increase from two issues a year to three, and gave Goldman the resources to establish international editorial and advisory boards. However, in a crowded field of polar journals, Polar Research needed something extra to make it stand out.

“There are about half a dozen other polar journals and we all have about the same impact factor, in the 0.6 to 1.6 range. We all struggle in that we are all geographically defined and multidisciplinary and it’s a difficult sell. However, none of the other journals is completely open access and that was definitely one of the motivating factors to do this now,” says Goldman.

The process took about a year, from issuing tenders and choosing to work with Co-Action Publishing, to launching the new website. Wiley had digitised all the back issues of the journal and Goldman negotiated an agreement that allowed the entire Polar Research archive to be freely available online.

The new journal officially launched on January 1 2011, and Goldman describes herself as “gobsmacked” by the results of becoming open access. By October 2011 there had been 93,000 full text downloads of the articles, with the 100,000 barrier expected to be broken by the end of the year. When the journal was pay-to-view, the annual total number of downloads was never more than about 13,000. The journal is now accessed from 143 different countries worldwide.

The journal has LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts where each article is announced as it is published. Followers are increasing “slowly but surely,” says Caroline Sutton, publisher of Co-Action Publishing, who handles social media for Polar Research. “Something that I personally think is a bit fun with Polar Research is that some of the polar explorers use Twitter actively and as we follow them, we are re-tweeting their adventures along with our content,” she adds.

The response from authors and other interested parties has been enthusiastic and while submissions have remained stable for now, Goldman is relieved because “it would have been difficult to handle a huge spike in submissions”.

As well as publicising the accessibility benefits of open access, Polar Research is also billed as “green”, and the carbon footprint of the journal in its printed incarnation was a concern for Goldman.

“Much as I like printed things, it pained me to have the issues printed – just think of the paper and the ink and the coatings on the paper and the coatings on the cover and the plastic used to wrap it and the shipping of it – the whole thing made me queasy! It was very much in keeping with our philosophy at the Institute to make the journal greener by making it electronic.”

The next stage for the journal is to move from the Scholar One online tracking system inherited from Wiley to the Open Journal System used by many open access journals. Goldman also has plans to encourage authors to put their supplementary data online with their papers, along with video clips and other multimedia. She is also curious to see the impact of the move to open access on citations, and the response of the other polar journals.

“They are mushrooming all over the place! We’ve just had an International Polar Year and there is great interest in this area – as there should be. The polar regions might be remote but they are crucial for our understanding of the changes in climate that are happening to the world, such as global warming. Some of these changes are having their earliest and most dramatic effects in the polar regions. When things change in the Arctic and the Antarctic it profoundly affects the rest of the world. These are the pressing issues of our time, and by being open access we are helping to make scientists’ efforts to make sense of them accessible to everyone,” concludes Goldman.

Author, Business models, International, Journal, Journals, Norway, Visibility


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Dr Melissa Terras: open access and the Twitter effect « Open Access Success Stories

Dr Melissa Terras: open access and the Twitter effect

Dr Melissa Terras

Dr Melissa Terras

A digital humanities scholar discovers what happens when you blog and tweet about an open access paper.

Dr Terras is a reader in electronic communication in the Department of Information Studies, University College London, and co-director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. UCL has a progressive open access policy, requiring a copy of all research outputs to be deposited in its institutional repository, UCL Discovery. In October 2011 Dr Terras decided to blog about each of her refereed papers – how the research came about, what the outcomes were, and link to the full text of the papers themselves – as she deposited them. She soon discovered an interesting effect, demonstrated by one paper in particular.

Her 2009 paper, Digital Curiosities: Resource Creation Via Amateur Digitisation (Literary and Linguistic Computing, 25 (4) 425 – 438) had been downloaded twice since she deposited it in UCL Discovery. She then blogged and tweeted about it and almost immediately saw the number of downloads rise to 140.

In a blog post a few weeks later she notes that “All in all, it’s been downloaded 535 times since it went live, from all over the world: USA (163), UK (107), Germany (14), Australia (10), Canada (10), and the long tail of beyond: Belgium, France, Ireland Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Greece, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Europe, UAE, ‘unknown’.” Three weeks later and, as a result of that further blog post, downloads passed the 800 mark.

By April 2012 it had been downloaded over a thousand times, and by Open Access Week 2012 it has been downloaded 1212 times. It was the 16th most downloaded paper from UCL’s repository in the final quarter of 2011, and the third most downloaded paper in UCL’s arts faculty in the past year.

While the paper is freely accessible from the UCL’s repository, it is also available behind a paywall in the closed access journal in which it was first published – Literary and Linguistic Computing. It’s popular there too – it’s the top download, in fact. But was does that mean with closed access? A grand total of 376 full text downloads in 2011.

“There have been almost 3 times that number of downloads from our institutional repository…I think its fair to say: It’s a really good thing to make your work open access. More people will read it than if it is behind a paywall. Even if it is the most downloaded paper from a journal in your field, open access makes it even more accessed,” writes Dr Terras.

But could this simply be a particularly compelling paper? To test the hypothesis that social media makes a difference, Dr Terras deposited four papers from one project, LAIRAH (Log Analysis of Internet Resources in the Arts and Humanities), but only tweeted about three of them. The results?

Library and information resources and users of digital resources in the humanities: 297 downloads
Documentation and the users of digital resources in the humanities: 209 downloads
If you build it will they come? The LAIRAH study: Quantifying the use of online resources in the arts and humanities through statistical analysis of user log data: 142 downloads
The Master Builders: LAIRAH research on good practice in the construction of digital humanities projects: 12 downloads.

But to tweet open access research does not necessarily equal instant success.  Firstly, timing is important with social media, says Dr Terras. Tweet during the day when people are online, not at midnight on the weekend. The best time is between 11am and 5pm GMT, Monday to Thursday in a working week. And secondly, of course, simply tweeting links to research into a void is unlikely to produce great results. A good social media strategy takes time and commitment, it requires engagement and the building up of a digital presence. It’s not a path every academic would choose to tread.

However, what is clear is that this path would not be for any academic were it not for open access.

“Social Media’s relationship with Open Access has to be part of the continuum of research activity” says Dr Terras. “You can spend years producing a research paper, why would you not spend the time it takes to deposit it in an open access repository, and the seconds it takes to share that copy online with as many people as you possibly can”?

Author, Researcher, Social media, UK, Users, Visibility


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Projecto Blimunda « Open Access Success Stories

Projecto Blimunda


A initiative to discover self-archiving policies that has opened the eyes of Portuguese scientific journal publishers to open access

What is it?

Started in 2010, Projecto Blimunda is a library-led initiative, arising out of the Open Access Scientific Repository of Portugal project, to define Portuguese scientific publishers’ and journals’ policies in relation to self-archiving in institutional repositories. Do they allow self-archiving? If so, what versions (preprint, author’s postprint, publisher’s version, PDF) are permitted? Do they allow open access to the self-archived version?

This is crucial information for researchers and librarians looking to make their work available on an open access basis but, until Blimunda, only a few Portuguese publishers had their journal policies included in the SHERPA/RoMEO database (the primary searchable database of publisher’s policies regarding the self- archiving of journal articles on the web and in open access repositories).

So, as well as determining the policies of Portuguese scientific publishers and journals in relation to self-archiving in institutional repositories, the project also included these policies in the SHERPA/RoMEO database (which the team translated into Portuguese), as well as evaluating the interest of publishers and journals in adhering to a potential hosting service to be provided by Portugal’s Foundation for National Scientific Computing.

Currently (September 2011), 280 Portuguese scientific journals have been identified and 150 Portuguese publishers have defined their self-archiving policy. These have been added to SHERPA/RoMEO’s database.

How is it a success?

Blimunda is a character from the Nobel-winning Portuguese author José Saramago’s novel Baltasar and Blimunda, and she possesses the extraordinary ability to see things beyond other people’s reach. In the case of her namesake project and open access, she certainly helped Portuguese publishers to see further than they had before.

Blimunda required project workers at the Library of the Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, to contact publishers and journals to find out their self-archiving policies. A total of 280 Portuguese journals were contacted.

This inevitably involved an “outreach” aspect, with the librarians acting as ambassadors for open access and explaining the benefits of self-archiving in institutional repositories, as Salima Rehemtula of Projecto Blimunda explains.

“During the project some sessions were held involving the interested parties, namely publishers, colleges and librarians, either by their invitation or by our own initiative. We also received several phone calls asking us to explain some concepts, such as open access, institutional repositories, self-archiving, peer review, journals hosting service, among others. We decided to create a contact kit which was emailed to the publishers and posted on the project’s website, consisting of a supporting document to contextualise Projecto Blimunda and raise awareness of the open access movement and FAQs (compiled from the questions that came out of our contact with publishers) about repositories and open access (the Portuguese version is available on”

By the end of 2010, 123 journals had established their policies regarding self-archiving in institutional repositories. 76% allowed self-archiving in institutional repositories, 68% allowed the publisher’s version to be self-archived and 67% allowed open access to the self-archived version.

In 2011 a process of formal validation of the policies included in SHERPA/RoMEO’s database began, with journals and publishers sent a PDF of the webpage of their policy in SHERPA/RoMEO attached. During the process of validation, 12 journals asked to change their policies, in most cases to a more liberal version. The final result was that 88% of the publishers allowed the publisher’s version to be self-archived (an increase in 20% in the former result).

“We think that being in SHERPA/RoMEO, an international database with some known publishers, can have influenced in part some of the adhesion to this initiative, because it meant visibility for journals and publishers. Some publishers, after the validation process when they saw their journals in an international database, suggested new titles to be added to our list,” says Rehemtula.

“We can say that we have had a positive feedback from Portuguese publishers and through this project we have helped them to gain insight of open access movement.”


Download the poster presented by the Blimunda Project team at the 6th Annual Conference on Open Repositories (PDF)


Author, Journals, Libraries, Nation, Portugal, Publisher, Repository, Self-archiving


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Sven Fund, de Gruyter « Open Access Success Stories

Sven Fund, de Gruyter

Innovative partnership to pilot open access monograph publishing

What is it?

In an experiment in the publishing and financing of monographs, scholarly publisher de Gruyter has teamed up with the Topoi Excellence Cluster (a collaboration of Ancient Studies scholars) to publish the series Topoi Berlin Studies of the Ancient World.

As well as being published in printed book form, selected titles from the series are available as open access ebooks on the website. The series is a pilot project on how to combine open access with the support of professional publishers in the publication of current research.

How is it a success?

As an ongoing pilot project, the success of the Topoi project itself remains to be seen. However, it can certainly be viewed as a success in terms of trialling new ways of thinking about open access, particularly in partnership with a conventional scholarly publisher.

In the pilot scheme, various methods have been tested, ranging from immediate publication in both print and open access versions to time-delayed free access to digital versions.

The experiences of conventional publishers suggest that books generate 90% of their sales in the first half year after publication and so de Gruyter has assumed that a certain percentage of print copy sales in the series will be lost to the open access component. In the trial, the extent of openness was varied – for example, making a whole monograph open access and then a few chapters of a collected work – in order to test the assumptions about drops in book sales. The deal agreed between de Gruyter and Topoi is that if the publisher reaches profitability and it is higher than assumed under the initial assumption of losing 20% of sales, then the partners will share that profit 50/50 so that there is no incentive for either party to find another business model.

Sven Fund

“A lot of people in publishing are surprised by the model and it is interesting that, at least in the German publishing sphere, it still seems to be a very unusual situation where a publisher comes up with a business model that is not bound to a certain closedness of content,” says Sven Fund, managing director of de Gruyter. “But we don’t mind whether people pay us via the library site after we have produced a product or before, we just mind if they pay us or somebody else for it. Traditionally, there are so many print subsidies anyway in the market, especially in humanities, why make a big thing out of it? As long as my costs are covered and my profit is being paid for, why should I make it more difficult?”

In this case, the funding for the experiment was provided by the German Research Foundation, DFG, which provided the opportunity to pilot a model in which clear and transparent processes are more important than 100% security of outcome.

For Fund, the project has offered the opportunity to test the waters regarding publisher involvement in open access in the humanities and, as de Gruyter is one of the market leaders in classic publications, to avoid seeing a potentially valuable series go to a competitor.

De Gruyter has also benefited by gaining new partners, attracted by the Topoi model. One of these is MIT Press’s Darwin Workshop Reports. Again, the funding was in place and the main concern for MIT was how best to distribute the reports given that they cross disciplines and cover a wide range of topics.

“In our case that range is not a problem because it would be open access and we would just link the reports with our content in the fields where it is interesting, but in a traditional publishing programme it is extremely difficult to really position a very generic series. MIT had the additional money and so we got them on board with the same model as Topoi. Now we are in discussions with two other partners in the same situation where the issue is not a lack of money but very much a lack of distribution or a concern that the publisher might position a certain publication too narrowly,” says Fund.

“I think publishers are just better at doing publishing than other people,” he adds. “People come from the open access field to us and ask us to publish a journal, offering 5,000 or 10,000 euros a year. If you ask them why, they say that they do not know how to do long term preservation, how to do the hosting in a way that really makes sense to libraries, how to get indexed and so on. They are trying to buy our skills and we are happy to sell them – I have never believed our business to be anything other than service. That’s what we do. I never had the idea that the publisher owns the content and somebody buys content from them – that is simply not true. I think we are selling a service to customers and, in a way, also to authors. We help them in fostering their careers and their research. I think we are the missing link between the library and the academics.”

Author, Books, Business models, Germany, Publisher, Publisher


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First Monday « Open Access Success Stories

First Monday

The first of its kind: a 15-year-old open access journal about the internet, catering to a diverse audience

What is it?

Edward Valauskas

First Monday is an open access journal on the internet, about the internet. It was launched in May 1996 by chief editor Professor Edward Valauskas with the Danish publisher Munksgaard, who were keen to experiment with then nascent forms of e-publishing without risking one of their established titles.

In 1999 Munksgaard sold the journal to its founding editors, Valauskas, internet visionary Esther Dyson and economist Rishab Ghosh, and it moved servers from Copenhagen to the University of Illinois at Chicago where it has remained since, publishing monthly, under the editorship of Valauskas and a committed team of volunteers.

It is now one of the longest established, most respected peer reviewed journals of the internet. It has published (August 2011) 1,133 papers in 181 issues, written by 1,469 different authors representing institutions in over 30 different countries. It is read in 180 different countries.

How is it a success?

While Munksgaard was a commercial publisher of subscription journals, Valauskas was an advocate of what would come to be known as open access from the beginning and was determined that First Monday should be free to all.

“We didn’t call it open access in 1995 but we were certainly a precursor to the whole notion of open access. We felt very strongly that the journal should have all its content made freely available and we insisted with Munksgaard that the scholars who contributed would retain copyright of their work that they published in the journal. We felt it would encourage scholars to contribute and then re-use their content in lots of different ways,” says Valauskas.

He was acting on principle, but it also proved to be a canny move in terms of publicising the journal. An article from the very first issue of First Monday was soon turned into a well-received book – The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid – and a number of other articles have since followed suit and been expanded into book form after first publication in First Monday.

It’s typical of the lively debate that surrounds the journal. Authors are consistently contacted with a range of positive and critical feedback from readers all over the world after publication, and First Monday articles picked up by other media around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and Wired.

While this is certainly a consequence of the journal’s subject matter, which encompasses the full range of internet issues from social behaviour online and World of Warcraft to the open source movement, it is also a credit to its accessibility, which is embedded in more that just free availability online. The journal strives to combine both intellectual rigour and accessibility, with its editors going to some lengths to encourage authors to consider the diverse, international audience they are addressing through the journal. Contributors are urged via author guidelines to use simple explanations and less complex sentences and to be mindful that a large proportion of their readers are not part of academia and do not have English as a first language.

The visibility afforded to First Monday is undoubtedly of great benefit for the authors who publish in the journal. In addition to the general buzz around the journal, First Monday “does well” in terms of citations and some of the most popular papers have been downloaded tens of thousands of times.

“Authors choose First Monday because they get more readers when they publish in First Monday than anywhere else, and scholars want people reading their ideas and talking about their ideas and using them. First Monday provides that medium for that kind of dissemination of ideas. It’s why readers and contributors keep coming back,” says Valauskas.

It also means that Valauskas has no shortage of submissions to worry about. With an acceptance rate of around 15%, he explains that in an average month he will have some 20 papers to assign to reviewers, 76 papers in review, six papers waiting to be published, and seven ready to be published in the next issue. It makes for a hefty workload but, says Valauskas, “at the heart of the success of First Monday is a lot of dedicated people who like and contribute to the journal and who could easily send their papers elsewhere to be published.”

“We have so much high quality content sent to us for review that if didn’t have a monthly journal we would have a large backlog. Being monthly also means that papers get out pretty quickly (usually a 60-90 day cycle though we can publish much, much faster if required), and internet research demands that quick publication because the internet itself is moving so quickly.”

“One of the interesting things about First Monday is that we have no bank account, we have no income and in these days when there are all these journals that are very expensive – there are some journals where the subscription costs as much as it would cost to buy a car – that scholars can get together and make something like this and make it work, well, it makes me feel very optimistic about the future,” concludes Valauskas.

Author, Collaboration, Denmark, International, Journal, Journals, Speed, US, Users, Visibility


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Connotations « Open Access Success Stories



Slowly but surely: a 15-year-long step-by-step move to open access sees submissions soar

What is it?

Connotations is a 20-year-old international journal about English literature, based in Germany. It started out as a print journal and took the first steps in electronic publishing in 1996 when it began to offer a selection of articles and discussions free of charge online. The journal became fully open access in 2010 and it has recently completed a three-year process of putting all its back issues online.

Connotations is still available in print format with institutional subscriptions managed by a publisher and private subscriptions available through joining the Connotations society. As a tax exempt organisation, these subscriptions and other forms of private sponsorship help subsidise the costs of the open access version.

How is it a success?

Matthias Bauer in discussion with Charles Dickens

Becoming open access has been a 15-year-long staged process for Connotations. According to the journal’s editor, Matthias Bauer, one reason for the move was that making articles about English literature published in a small journal in Germany known to scholars around the world “is difficult from the starting position of just doing a print journal.”

Another motive is linked to the very nature of the journal. “It’s a journal for critical debate,” explains Bauer. “As the subject is literature in English it’s based mainly on interpretation and there is not just one interpretation of a literary text so it has to be debated, discussed. That’s why as soon as we have accepted an article for publication we encourage colleagues to write a response to it and we aim to publish those responses along with the article. On the internet we can do this, even if a response comes a year later – we can link the articles and responses which we could never do in a printed version. That’s one of the great advantages of linking the internet and open access with what we are doing.”

Since becoming fully open, Bauer has seen the number of submissions to Connotations rise by about 20-25%, and four out of five submissions are now rejected, compared to three out of four previously. The subjects covered in the submissions received have also changed – the journal has always had an established reputation in Early Modern Literature and received a lot of submissions in that field, but the number of submissions on works by living writers has increased recently. Submissions have also become more global with more coming from countries outside the UK, US and Germany.

“We have noticed that since the complete archive has gone online, we regularly see the journal accessed from more than 50 countries which is a lot for such a specialised journal. Articles are accessed in many countries in Africa and Asia where there has never been a subscription of the printed journal. We couldn’t have had that reach without the open access journal, or even the more limited selection of articles,” says Bauer.

Authors are encouraged to link to articles, or include the article PDFs to download from their homepages and Bauer is also seeking to expand the network of websites in the fields of early modern studies and Shakespeare studies that link to the journal.

Since becoming open access, the very well-regarded education website of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London has recommended Connotations as a resource, as does the respected scholarly Shakespeare gateway Mr William Shakespeare and the Internet.

The major bibliography in the field, the Modern Languages Association bibliography, is  online and has agreed to provide not just listings of Connotations articles but also online access to the articles through its database so that they will automatically appear to anyone who is doing any research in literary studies on a particular author or topic.

“All this is part of the impact of going open access,” says Bauer. “We have to offer full access to what’s been published in order to be listed on these websites otherwise I don’t think they would do it.”

Author, Business models, Germany, International, Journal, Nation, Users, Visibility


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Bioline International « Open Access Success Stories

Bioline International

A trailblazing bioscience platform sharing bioscience research, globally

What is it?

Bioline International is a trailblazer in the field of access to bioscience. It’s a platform for quality peer reviewed journals published in developing countries, from Bangladesh to Venezuela. It acts as an aggregator, offering a free platform to promote open access journals for publishers who may not otherwise have sufficient resources on their own. It also improves the visibility of developing world publications, enabling them to enter into mainstream research and knowledge activities, and acts as an OAI data provider, allowing journal articles to be easily harvested and discovered by other indexing services. And it’s been doing it for a long time.

“We were one of the earliest initiatives to promote free access to publications and so Bioline was invited to attend the strategic open access meeting in Budapest about 10 years ago to talk about the future of open access – the term open access was coined at that meeting – and so we are very proud of the fact that we were there from the beginning,” says Bioline’s director, Leslie Chan.

In fact, Bioline was around even before the ‘beginning’. It launched in 1993 as a partnership between the Tropical Database, now Centro de Referência em Informação Ambiental,in Brazil and the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development (EPT) in the UK, initially simply emailing journals and bioscience reports. It grew as the technology developed, migrating to the world wide web in 1996/7. In 2000, the University of Toronto took over the role of the EPT and the project has grown steadily over the last decade, now featuring over 50 journals.

How is it a success?

One of the frequently cited benefits of open access is that it makes research that would otherwise be inaccessible – through cost or lack of availability -accessible to researchers in developing countries. While that is undoubtedly true, less is heard about the flipside – the benefits to western researchers, and the wider world, of access to the research and knowledge coming out of the developing world.

Yet this is precisely one of the ways in which Bioline International comes into its own. It was an aim from the start, explains Bioline’s founder, Barbara Kirsop.

“There was a gap in knowledge here in the developed world of absolutely essential research information that was critical to the development of international research programmes. We were working on the basis of western knowledge and often leaving out the local knowledge, or indigenous knowledge, that people had that was crucial for developing new drugs, for example, or agricultural developments. We were missing a whole lot of really critical information and this is where the availability of research carried out in developing countries was important for the progress of science.”

This kind of research has been particularly important in the development of drugs for illnesses that affect both developing and developed countries. For example, tuberculosis in India and in China is different from tuberculosis in the west and while the current vaccine, BCG, provides 80% protection in the west, it offers virtually no protection to adult sufferers in India [1]. Similarly, with diabetes, “what works in the UK may not work in India and vice versa, as environmental or genetic factors can make a world of difference” [2]. Without knowledge of the research into these diseases that is taking place in these countries, researchers in the west will flounder.

Barbara Kirsop, founder of Bioline International

“It has been a bit of a wake-up call to realise that although some of the research done in the developing world may not be highly sophisticated or terribly expensive to do, there are certain elements that are critical to the real understanding of what needs to be done to resolve the world’s problems. So, if you are trying to resolve agricultural difficulties, such as crop losses, or infectious diseases,, then you need to know what’s happening on the ground. You need to know the consequences of various developments on local populations or the farmers and so on,” says Barbara Kirsop.

Bioline’s success in sharing knowledge between north and south, east and west is clear from site traffic statistics showing the spread of visitors. During a one month period between July and August 2011, 1,032,844 visits came from 224 countries or territories. The United States was the top visitor, closely followed by India, then Brazil, the UK, Mexico, Nigeria, China, Canada, Colombia, and Malaysia. (Bioline traffic report July-August 2011)

These figures clearly demonstrate how Bioline is playing its part in creating a level playing field for access to research information. As well as making research visible to the world through the website, Bioline also acts as a training service, helping the poorest developing countries to understand that they do not need to be isolated, that they can develop their own journals much more cheaply electronically than through print-and-postage, and there are real examples of how to get started. In turn, this increased visibility and accessibility can have an impact on not just publishing but also how the research itself is conducted.

“Science has always been global but increasingly we are seeing more network enabled collaboration between researchers in different parts of the world,” says Dr Chan. “Submissions have changed – Indian journals used to have mostly Indian authors in them. Now we are seeing submissions from really very diverse places – from the UK, from the US, from Canada – so the percentage of authors from outside of India submitting to some of these Indian journals has gone up. This indicates that these authors don’t mind so much about the origins of the journal as the dissemination of it, the accessibility of it.”

For Barbara Kirsop, the success of Bioline lies in a fundamental shift in perspective for the developed world. “It’s about bringing the knowledge that we didn’t know about into the public domain. We know a lot, but to ignore what the developing countries themselves know is never going to help solve the world’s problems. And by extending the global knowledge base, we are also supporting research in the developing world.”

Leslie Chan and Barbara Kirsop of Bioline International


[1] Tuberculosis research in India and China: From bibliometrics to research policy by Subbiah Arunachalam and Subbiah Gunasekaran, in CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 82, NO. 8, 25 APRIL 2002, pp. 933-947 (link to PDF of paper)

[2] Diabetes research in India and China today: From literature-based mapping to health-care policy by Subbiah Arunachalam and Subbiah Gunasekaran in Current Science, VOL. 82, NO. 9, 10 MAY 2002, pp. 1086-1097 (link to PDF of paper)

Author, Brazil, Canada, Collaboration, Developing world, International, Journals, Nation, Platform, Region, UK, Users, Visibility


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Dr Bertalan Mesko: open access and social media « Open Access Success Stories

Dr Bertalan Mesko: open access and social media

Dr Bertalan Mesko

A medical researcher discovers the power of combining open access with social media

Bertalan Mesko is a medical doctor studying for a PhD in clinical genomics at the University of Debrecen in Hungary. He is also a medical blogger at and microblogger at An expert in web 2.0 tools and social media, he launched the first university credit course for medical students to focus on web 2.0 and medicine.

So what happened when he published his first paper? Naturally, Dr Mesko chose to publish it in an open access journal and to use his expertise with social media to share it as widely as possible.

“As I’ve been a medical blogger for years, it was clear to me I would like to get as much feedback as possible for my work so we decided to publish the paper in an open access journal. I wanted to get suggestions, I wanted to hear the opinion of respected scientists, some of whom were also bloggers,” explains Dr Mesko.

He published the paper (Peripheral blood gene expression patterns discriminate among chronic inflammatory diseases and healthy controls and identify novel targets) in BioMed Central’s open access journal Medical Genomics and shared it via his own English language blog,, his Hungarian blog,, Twitter, Friendfeed, and ResearchGATE.

The results were swift and impressive. The article became one of the most viewed on BioMed Central, earning the “highly accessed” badge, and produced responses from his peers across a range of platforms.

“I received plenty of emails from colleagues from around the world which means we could launch new collaborations with those working in our field of interest. I received comments through my blog, Twitter network where I have over 6000 followers, Facebook which I use for professional reasons, and Friendfeed, where there is a scientific community,” adds Dr Mesko.

While Dr Mesko had anticipated some of the reaction to his open access and social media strategy, the opportunities it has opened up for him exceeded all his expectations.

“As a blogger, I expected to get seriously useful and scientifically accurate feedback. My situation is quite special due to the fact that I have been blogging quite actively for years which means getting feedback online and being able to ask scientific questions (through crowdsourcing) were not surprising. What was surprising though is that scientists who work in the same field as us found us now easily and we managed to launch new collaborations based on this (we plan to share the data with a group in the US and combine our efforts for a new study). From this perspective, publishing in an open access journal can provide enormous opportunities if the communication methods of social media are also used by the authors properly and with strategy.”

Dr Mesko is clear that he would use the same platforms for future papers as he believes that the best method to get useful feedback is “to be transparent about the research, open for discussions and ready to use social media in a strategy-based way”.

“Getting relevant feedback from the scientific community is crucial and with the growing importance of the social web, we should be able to leverage its power and communicate or collaborate without borders and limitations. Open access should and can accelerate this process,” concludes Dr Mesko.

Author, Collaboration, Hungary, Researcher, Social media, Users, Visibility


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Eagle Genomics « Open Access Success Stories

Eagle Genomics

An enterprise commercialising research in the open arena

“Open access is critical to what we do,” says William Spooner. “We’re very much locked into the open arena.” Spooner is the founder and chief technical officer of Eagle Genomics, a small British company offering bioinformatics services and software and specialising in genome content management across the life sciences.

“Open access allows us to do what we need to do. We are in the business of translational research so we take research from academia and we put that into an industrial context. Without free and easy access to the publications, it would be very, very difficult for us to continue our business,” he explains.

William Spooner, co-founder of Eagle Genomics

Set up in 2008, Eagle Genomics acts as an intermediary between the people generating data – the scientists tracking the human genome and depositing their findings in open access databases – and the industrial end user of the data, primarily pharmaceutical companies. Eagle provides the translational component that drives the economic impact that derives from the data being in the public domain, which has been estimated at as much as $796bn.

“We decided to found Eagle to see if we could apply commercial open source principles to genomics, specifically providing services to support the use of open access and open source in industry. We knew that there was demand for such services, and were able to start Eagle without the need for external investment. Since that time we have grown the business at 50% a year while remaining profitable,” says Spooner.

When working on projects for clients, Eagle uses open source software wherever possible. For Spooner, open source, open data and open access all go hand-in-hand in the open science arena.

“Could we do what we do now without open data and open source? No, we could not, it’s the core of the business. Could we do it without open access journals? I would suggest that we couldn’t. We couldn’t get the information we need at the price that we need,” he says. “There’s so much information on the web these days, it’s so easy to find and there is so much competition for it that if there is an obstacle in your way like having to get out your credit card, even having to sign in, you just move on. When I hit a paywall and move on, that research will not get used in our work.”

Encountering subscriber content and moving on is Eagle’s loss, it’s the scientists’ loss and, arguably, it’s the wider economy’s loss. Would the human genome project have generated the billion dollar economic impact that it has “if you had to pay $50 to look at every single paper that had been published on the subject?” asks Spooner. He firmly believes that it would not, and points to the value provided from translational research undertaken by companies such as Eagle.

“We are not just a leech, we are not just taking stuff that’s free from elsewhere and using it to our own ends. There is value that flows both ways – it’s valuable for the customers and it’s also valuable for the academic collaborators. That is enhanced by the culture of openness and the use of open source and open data and open access.”

Eagle can claim to follow its own rules by publishing its own papers as open access and releasing all its work under open source licences. Again, it finds that the benefits of openness are manifold. The company collaborates with the University of Manchester over a piece of software, Taverna, used for running scientific workflows. It is part of a project to investigate how cloud computing could be used to process genomic workflows for clinical applications for the NHS. Eagle finds that the culture of openness makes it easier to collaborate.

“Purely looking at the legal framework that you need to put in place to enable a collaboration, it all becomes much, much simpler because everything becomes shared. Open data, open access speeds translational research, it speeds up moving information, moving knowledge, moving insight from academia into industry. There’s no doubt about that at all,” says Spooner.

Collaboration, Economic impact, Enterprise, Nation, UK


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The GIGA journal family « Open Access Success Stories

The GIGA journal family

Long-established subscription journals move smoothly to open access

What is it?

The GIGA journal family consists of four well-established flagship journals on Africa, Latin America, China and Southeast Asia, published by the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg. In 2009 they all became open access publications.

How is it a success?

Bert Hoffmann

Bert Hoffmann

The four GIGA journals, the earliest of which was first published in 1966, were all well-respected “closed”, or print-and-pay, journals. Between them they had a total base of 1800 subscribers providing around €100,000 in gross revenue. In 2009 they were smoothly transitioned into successful open access journals. Within the first five months of being open access, 28,000 articles were downloaded. In 2011 that figure reached 103,843.

How did this transformation come about? Following an internal reorganisation at the GIGA research centre, its publication strategy was in need of a radical overhaul. The GIGA journals had to become more dynamic and more international. Moving to open access was one of the options on the table and it won. Why?

The GIGA felt that were four good reasons for taking the open route. It would enable it to become a journal publisher with global reach, better able to compete with the dominant commercial publishers while enhancing the journals’ attractiveness for international partners, co-editors and authors. Secondly, the GIGA wanted to reach out more effectively to the academic communities in the mostly low income communities that are the object of its studies. Thirdly, due to changing priorities, the journals needed to move from being mainly German-language publications to being internationally oriented, peer-reviewed, strictly academic journals, and so a significant part of the traditional subscriber base might be lost in any case. In more general terms, the GIGA decided to seek academic prestige over monetary revenues. Finally, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)’s support for open access proved crucial, along with its grant supporting the transition.

The decision was taken to adopt open access as a hybrid model, fully maintaining the print version and subscription model for those interested while at the same time putting the full content online without time delay. The subscription rates stayed traditionally low and, in the first full year of open access availability, no journal’s cancellation rate exceeded 20%.

To ensure a smooth transition, the GIGA teamed up with Hamburg University Press (Hamburg UP). The GIGA is responsible for all content and editorial work including the production of the final PDF files of the online journal (as well as for the print edition); Hamburg UP is in charge of the online presentation and publishing activities. This includes providing metadata for each article according to the Dublin core standard; integrating the journals into library catalogues, search engines and online repositories; long-term archiving; link-resolving; facilitating RSS feeds; meeting OpenURL standards; and establishing a DINI-certified publications server. The GIGA also relies on Hamburg UP to keep the technological base of the journal’s web presence up to date. The open source Open Journal Systems (OJS) was chosen as the workflow software.

Changes were made to the content of the journals. English was introduced as the principal publication language and the journals moved from a broad mix of research articles and mid-range analyses into publications focused on high-quality original research. Editorial teams and boards were internationalised and anonymous peer review was established as the central means of quality control. The GIGA journal family has adopted the Creative Commons “Attribution–No Derivative Works” licence (CC-by-nd 3.0). This non-exclusive copyright means that authors don’t give up their rights in the way they do with traditional print publishers, but retain the freedom to promote their text beyond its first publication.

A promotional strategy was put in place to accompany the open access launch of the journals. The key mechanism was a targeted strategy to activate the GIGA’s existing scholarly networks. This included, aside from press releases, mailings and flyers, numerous personal contacts, promotion within area studies organisations, as well as a presence at book fairs and key conferences. High-level conferences and panels sponsored by the journals directly reached the target audience of not only readers but also of authors. In the case of the Journal of Latin American Politics, a GIGA-organised kick-off conference went a long way in anchoring the journal in its new format in the international scholarly community, and many conference papers by renowned authors were submitted to the first open access issues of the journal.

All the journals of the GIGA Journal Family went online in full open access in spring of 2009. According to the GIGA’s Bert Hoffmann, who saw the journals through their successful transition, “worldwide visibility of the journals has made a giant leap. Access data has been growing steadily. The journals have been taken up by major search engines, databases and repositories. At the same time, the print journals maintain their physical presence and much of their subscriber base so that the article downloads via the website simply increase the journals’ reach rather than merely displacing the print versions.”

Looking to the future and the GIGA is working on the retrodigitisation of the journals’ back issues and their integration into the GIGA Journal Family website and open access repositories. A key benchmark will be whether the journals achieve inclusion in the Thompson ISI Social Science Citation Index and similar rating systems. Africa Spectrum has become the first to be listed in the SSCI.

“In the end, the principal task is to strive for the journals’ scholarly excellence and their recognition as prestigious international journals. After all, making journals that are open access an academic success will be the best way to promote open access acceptance in the social science community,” says Hoffmann.


With thanks to Bert Hoffmann. Some of this story has been adapted from his manuscript for the DFG, The GIGA Journal Family Experience: Making the Transition from Print to Open Access (2010).

The four journals in the GIGA family are:

Africa Spectrum (first published in 1966)
Journal of Current Chinese Affiars (first published in 1972 as China aktuell)
Journal of Politics in Latin America (first published in 2009)
Journal of Currrent Southeast Asian Affairs (first published in 1982)

Author, Developing world, Germany, International, Journals, Users, Visibility


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Richard Clapp/Environmental Health « Open Access Success Stories

Richard Clapp/Environmental Health

Overcoming censorship to publish publicly important research

Clapp RW. Mortality among US employees of a large computer manufacturing company: 1969–2001. Environ Health. 2006.

Environmental Health:

“People dying at excess rates of certain types of cancer that are preventable? Come on! That’s what public health is supposed to be about,” says Professor Richard Clapp. “This was a way of getting that word out widely.”

Professor Richard Clapp, University of Boston

Clapp’s talking about his 2006 paper on mortality rates among IBM workers and its publication in the open access journal Environmental Health. Making the paper publicly accessible to all – other academics, IBM employees, other microelectronics workers, the wider interested public – may seem obvious now, but it took a two-year-long battle for the Boston University professor of public health to publish his own work, a battle which encompassed a full editorial boycott of an Elsevier journal, media spotlight on right-to-publish issues, and court cases in California and New York State.

The first challenge Clapp and his paper faced was legal. In early 2004 the study was due to be included in a court case brought against IBM by two former employees who were suffering from cancer. Ruled inadmissible by the judge, the study was never used and the plaintiffs lost the case, described by one of their attorneys as being “fought with one hand tied behind my back” [1] because of his inability to use Clapp’s evidence.

Nonetheless, the attorneys and Clapp felt reassured that at least when the study was published, as intended, in a special issue of the scholarly journal, Clinics in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, then the evidence would finally be out in the open.

However, on hearing the news that Clapp planned to publish his work, IBM’s lawyers swung into action. They warned Clapp that publishing the paper would violate a court order specifying that the internal IBM data be used only in litigation; Clapp’s lawyer maintained that the study was in the public domain. Boston University’s legal department upheld Clapp’s lawyer’s stand, and he was all set to proceed with submission and publication.

Until he hit the next challenge – the refusal of Elsevier, the publishers of Clinics, to allow Clapp’s work to see the light of day. A spokesperson claimed that the paper could not be published because it was original research material and Clinics only published review articles. “A made-up excuse,” dismisses Clapp, pointing out that in the two years before the special issue his paper was due to appear in, there had been six original research studies published in Clinics, and nothing in Elsevier’s instructions to guest editors stated that original research should not be published.

“Academic freedom requires access to publication for scientific studies whether a journal publisher likes the content or not. If the material is worthy, and the editor is satisfied the piece meets the journal’s scientific standards,
the publisher’s interference smacks of censorship or pandering to its advertisers or sponsors. Elsevier censored the Clapp and Johnson paper after Boston University indicated it would back these authors in all necessary ways,” report Bailer et al in an article about the furore [1].

The other authors due to publish in the special edition of Clinics responded magnificently. All 13 stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Clapp and declared that they would not publish until he did. The boycott made the news.

“It was a right to publish, academic freedom issue that became quite a cause celebre,” says Clapp. “It was covered by media in the UK, South Africa, Malaysia and all around the US, including the Chronicle of Higher Education.”

It also led to another court case, this time in New York State, which clarified that there was no public interest served by keeping the study confidential and that Clapp had the right to publish his work.

At this point Clapp turned to the open access journal Environmental Health. It’s been open access from the very start, over 10 years ago now, when it was one of the first independent Biomed Central journals and it is one of the most important journals in its field with a high impact factor and excellent reputation. Editor-in chief Philippe Grandjean, of the University of Southern Denmark, was delighted to accept the paper.

It was Clapp’s first publication in an open access journal but he felt strongly that making this piece of work accessible was crucial.

“It was publicly important information. It’s not that it wouldn’t have got published in something like the American Journal of Industrial Medicine which is not open access but there were a lot of workers at IBM and in this industry in other parts of the world were interested in this and they don’t necessarily have access to academic print journals that are only available in medical libraries. Open access makes it much more widely available,” he explains.

The paper proved popular, quickly, and continues to be so. It remains in the top five most accessed articles in the journal, even after five years, with more than 25,000 hits. When hits from PubMed are also taken into account, the paper has been accessed more than 50,000 times. The paper generated news coverage which in turn meant that the research reached a wide audience.

“I would definitely call it a success,” says Clapp. “I got quite a bit of response from colleagues which, to me, meant that it was worthy to publish and I was also contacted by IBM workers which is really what it’s all about. It made me even more of a fan of open access publishing. It made me think ‘yeah, wow, this is a good thing to do’.”

He adds, “legal attempts to suppress things that have to do with workers’ health is a terrible thing and so to the extent that this has shone a spotlight on that effort to suppress this particular study is a cautionary tale for any future efforts to suppress this kind of information. I think that’s a good outcome.”


[1] Bailar JC 3rd, Cicolella A, Harrison R, LaDou J, Levy BS, Rohm T, Teitelbaum DT, Wang YD, Watterson A, Yoshida F.
IBM, Elsevier Science, and academic freedom.
Int J Occup Environ Health. 2007 Jul-Sep;13(3):312-7.

Censorship, Denmark, Journal, Researcher, US, Users, Visibility


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Acceso abierto a la ciencia (Open Access to Science) « Open Access Success Stories

Acceso abierto a la ciencia (Open Access to Science)


Active Spanish open access advocacy group

What is it?

Acceso abierto a la ciencia (Open Access to Science) is a very active Spanish open access working group composed of staff from the University of Barcelona, the University of Valencia and the Spanish National Research Council.

The group has a portal which it uses to disseminate its work, from publications to a database of Spanish repositories. It is aimed mainly at authors (who are seeking information on rights and conditions to self-archive their publications), librarians (who need data on the rights of existing repositories and journals), university scientists and managers (who need know what the policies are being carried out in this area) and those interested in open access in general.

Acceso abierto a la ciencia has developed tools. These include a directory of Spanish scientific journals providing information about publishers’ copyright terms and self-archiving policies (Dulcinea), an updated directory of Spanish institutional open access repositories (BuscaRepositorios) and an international directory of institutional open access policies (Melibea). The aim of Melibea is to identify and analyse the existing policies that encourage, request or require open access to scholarly outputs that arise from projects supported by public funds.

In addition, the group runs a popular list, OS-repositorios, and organises conferences.

How is it a success?

Reme Melero, one of the founders of the group

The OS-repositorios list was created in 2006 after a meeting, held in Madrid, of people involved in open access initiatives. It is an active forum composed of librarians, computing staff, editors, university publishers, repository managers, professors and researchers.

“It was one of the first forums in Spain about not only this kind of repository but also any kind of issues relating to open access,” says Reme Melero, director of the European Association of Science Editors, and one of Acceso abierto a la ciencia’s founding members.

The list has gone from strength to strength, starting with just 40 members and now having around 300. It has serves to share experiences of different aspects of open access projects as well as promoting collaboration among groups that has produced coordinated national and international projects.

One of the main activities of the group and the forum has been annual (now bi-annual) workshops which are free to attend and cover a wide variety of open access issues.

“We always invite several specialists in different fields and they are happy to be there and learn about our situation,” explains Melero. “Some of them have not been aware that in Spain there are initiatives in favour of open access so this kind of international exchange through the workshops also helps to promote Spanish open access activity.”

[Waiting for further example and quote about the success of a) the workshops and b) the wider group here]

Further information

View the programme of the 2010 conference in Barcelona

Author, Group/network, Libraries, Nation, Self-archiving, Spain


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