Open Access publishing at ScienceOnline 2009

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgSo ScienceWoman and I will be sharing live-blogging duties today, at least until our batteries give out. We’re both starting at the Open Access publishing session, although I was also intrigued by Peggy Kolm’s session about science fiction on science blogs. I’ll have to catch up with her later.

Also, please note: this is liveblogging. There may be grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, unfinished sentences. But it’s hot off the press. I’ll try to come back and clean things up afterwards. FYI.

I wanted to go to the open access talk because my department is talking about publication needs, and a couple of us have noted that where we get our intellectual stimulation is not so often in the major journal in our field. We want to create a publishing outlet for papers and ideas and work that, essentially, we want to be able to read.

Bill Hooker and Bjorn ****. The first cool thing is that the Open Access folks are using the slides feature of Google Docs for their introduction. They define open access as Peter Suber’s definition – “digital, online, free of charge and fee of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes [open access] possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.”

Gold open access: journals that pay the bills through sponsorship, author fees, other modes, like institutions like PLoS – Public Library of Science.

Green mode: institutional or other online archives that you can search as though they were one big archive. Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) – a list of green resources in a list. If you want to find a repository to put your work in, this is the place to go. Although your institution might not have a subscription.

Some benefits of open access: it can increase research efficiency, and maximize a return on public investment, but he hasn’t talked about how.

Data from HEP (high energy physics), one of the oldest research repositories – the time between deposit and citation (between 1991-2003) has been cut in half, speeding up the research cycle, simply because there is no toll or access charge. Their data also suggest that publishing in open access journals increases the likelihood that your work will get cited – fewer barriers in the way for people to get to your information and research.

Scale argument: Paul Ginsparg who built the first most widely adopted research repository: “open access permits any third party to aggregate and data mine the articles, themselves treated as computable objects, linkable”.
iHOP= information hyperlinked over proteins.
Only has access to abstracts, and you’ll be amazed what it can do with only abstracts. Could do heaps more with the full data.

Here’s the gist, apparently particularly for biologists – incredible numbers of papers are published, and while you are unlikely to read the papers for the millions of DNA base pairs and sequences, your computer can, and can process those into something you yourself can digest and apply in different ways.

They also connect the cost of library expenditures (journal prices) to things like consumer price index, and average salaries over time. Journal prices looks like an exponential curve to me. And these folks are arguing that open access is really the only solution to this.

There are about 2500 journals “out there” with 2.5 million peer-reviewed papers every year.

The facilitators ask: “If you were in charge, how would you structure the scientific publishing system?”

If journals are dead, why are they proliferating? Or a parallel question: why is there so much overlap between existing sources and existing databases?

6 publishing houses that control the publishing of science and technology research on the planet. And Elsevier is particularly egregious, apparently.

There’s some heated conversation going on about how to assess the quality of published research that decouples the quality of the paper from the name of the journal.

Pat of FairerScience speaks up: Let’s separate out the uses that our research is doing. One problem is, how do you get your research out, and how do you get people to build on your research. Second problem is how do we make decisions about people and promotion. What we are doing is bringing in these problems together – why not separate them out and design something that gets the research out in a way that can be used, and then let’s work out a way to find out who we want to hire or promote, and there may even be some overlap. Sounds like sense to me.

Another person is arguing that the universities are really what started the proliferation of publications, because everyone wants/needs to publish. Bill says it’s the difference between urgency and importance: it is urgent I keep my job, but it is important to get information out to be used.

PLoS was designed for biology to get out and compete with Science and Nature, designed to be high visibility and prove that open access didn’t skip over peer review in order to “suck down the page charges.” PLoS is only now starting to make a small profit, and is used to support the other publications.


  1. #1 Comrade PhysioProf
    January 17, 2009

    PLoS has 2500 online journals, with 2.5 million peer-reviewed papers every year.


  2. #2 Bjoern Brembs
    January 17, 2009

    I’m the **** :-)
    I mentioned that there are a total of about 24,000 scholarly journals churning out approximately 2.5 million scholarly articles every year.

  3. #3 Alice
    January 17, 2009

    Sorry, Bjoern! I was going to go back to the wiki tonight and fix all the names… sorry you’ve been a **** and thanks for fixing the numbers.

  4. #4 McDawg
    January 19, 2009

    The video relating to this scio09 session is online and I included it in this blog post:-



  5. #5 McDawg
    January 19, 2009

    The video relating to this session is online and I included it in this blog post:-

  6. #6 bill
    January 20, 2009

    “If you want to find a repository to put your work in, this is the place to go. Although your institution might not have a subscription.”

    No subscriptions needed for ROAR, it’s free. If the internets had been working better I’d have clicked the link to show that, but forgot to mention it. Good catch.