OAI7 Workshop on Innovation in Scholarly Communication that ended last week in Geneva is that sort of a workshop that stores gems in your mind that you can use for a personal enlightenment later, when all the open access folks are gone, that is, they are back to their digital homes. First such gem to be drown out of the pouch is the one on open access advocacy – a never ending struggle, or a game – with some new moves revealed and improved rules suggested.
The Open Access Advocacy Session included contributions from:
- Monica Hammes: The Open Access Conversation is more than just advocating for a mandate
- William J. Nixon: University of Glasgow, UK, advocacy through embedding: integrating repositories and research management systems
- Heather Joseph: SPARC, Washington DC, Advocacy at the national and international level
The Conversation: If You Don’t Like It, Change It
“There are 1o,ooo universities and only 124 mandates,” Hammes opens the session. “The problem is that what Institutional Repositories offer is not perceived to be useful, and what is perceived to be useful is not offered by IRs.”
“We really do need mandates,” it is agreed, “but we need to witness commitment of all role players.” Adoption of OA policies remains the main challenge for the OA movement, as defined by Peter Suber, and responsibility for dissemination is on the university.
“Advocacy is a sustained effort to raise awareness,” Hammes reminds us, “a process of turning passive support into educated action. The idea of making research openly available resonates with others agendas.” She continues: “You need to follow the OA debate, not only sticking to the green route, but following up on all things that are evolving and happening.”
She calls to our minds 6 Critical success factors for a mandate:
1. Create good value propositions for all stakeholders that will address their concept of value and their concerns over time
2. You repository should be more than a place for storage
3. Mandate implementation should be well resourced
4. The advocacy/marketing/outreach/publicity/lobbying continuum is a never-ending selling job
5. Time and timing is crucial
6. Stay in touch with new developments in Scholarly communication
“Researchers actually think mostly about themselves, their careers,” it is crucial to recognize, “and some of their concerns are becoming real barriers such as the lack of awareness and correct information, belief that self archiving infringes copyright and is teherefore – illegal. They don’t think that OA and peer review and high impact goes together, and in most cases the postprints are missed. Finally, OA practices interfere with traditional practices of scholars.”
In order to approach them (scholars) better, we need to change the conversation:
- give them good statistics
- lower the threshold for participation, i.e. involve students and not only PhDs
- give advice on copyright
- leave negative people in peace
- meet them in their different roles (address their concerns)
- display conversations around open access with important public figures
“As for the the university management, those in charge need to understand better the legal issues as well as the cost and sustainability of an OA program,” Hammes reminds. “Readers need to be recognized now as important stakeholders, we need to flood them with information they can trust, provide them with links to material, allow them to search, use tools, comment… Finally, we need to engage students – they are the new generation of authors, and in order to achieve that we need to be more inventive and use flyers, posters, post cards, bookmarks, buttons, e-mail campaigns, multimedia events, competitions and other fun things.
“Advocacy is a never-ending selling job,” Hammes concludes, “Change is inevitable and enthusiasm is contagious.”
No Repository is an Island
“The “SILOS” approach for a repository doesn’t work,” William J. Nixon is spirited in explaining, “only advocacy doesn’t work. We need to be embedded.” He presented Enlighten repository from the University of Glasgow, connected to a research system that is custom built, that includes funder info, finance info, human resources, student info, publication pages with a twitter feed, etc.
“Embedded repository is the one with the added value, it gets more engagement and is important for the right advocacy.” Nixon explains how their “embedded journey” which includes projects such as ENRICH and ENQUIRE, was about:
- Linking publications to funder data from Research System
- Feeding institutional research profile pages
- Piloting the collection of output, impact and esteem data via the repository
- Reducing duplication – users and librarians hate duplications
- Exploiting new opportunities such as: data mining, business intelligence, analytics, metrics, rankings, visibility
“Re-use, re-use, re-use: the more it’s used the more value there is,” Nixon repeats, “pushing information back to the authors engages the academics.” Finally, he suggests a 4R full text mantra for Enlightenment by Morag Greig, which would result in, well, more full text, since Enlighten repository still contains only 1o% of full text: Remind, Reignite, Reassure, Reiterate!
Coordinating International Advocacy
Heather Joseph presented SPARC‘s role in OA advocacy as not only that of an advocate but also a catalyst for action, one that looks for pressure points in the scholarly communication marketplace to reduce financial pressure on libraries.
This involves, Joseph explains, 3 program areas:
- Educate stakeholders on opportunities for change in scholarly communication system
- Incubate demonstrations of business publishing models that advance positive change in the system
- Advocate for policies that create an environment where a more open system of scholarly communication can flourish
“SPARC’s mission is to create open access as a new norm, and not the friendly alternative, left-wing option. To do that,” Joseph continues, “we understand that some rules of the game need to be changed and new language for communication needs to be invented.” Finally, the biggest challenges of advocacy is to be present at the place where decisions are made and SPARC is getting a seat at the table, is being present when discussions are happening, is positioned in Washington DC, where 8 billion US dollars for STM publishing circulate which does create responsibility. “Influence next, but getting at the table first,” Joseph repeats. “We’re not entitled to a seat just because we want to be there. We have to bring something to the table. Libraries and OA community needs to be where policies are crafted.”
Finding a way to convince people is not easy, but the critical mass could gather around an advocate that can explain 4 principles of taxpayer access:
1. American taxpayers are entitled to open access peer-reviewed scientific articles funded by the US Government
2. Widespread access to the information contained in these articles is an essential, inseparable component of the nations’ investment in science
3. This information should be shared in cost-effective ways that take advantage of the Internet, stimulate further discovery and innovation, and advance the translation of this knowledge into public benefits
4. Enhanced access to information will lead to usage by millions of individuals, scientists, and professionals, and will deliver an accelerated return on the taxpayer’s investments
Heather Joseph did not leave out some results from such actions, one of them the NIH policy which was enacted into US law in April 2008 and now it counts over 2.2 million full text articles available via PubMed Central with nearly 500,000 unique users per day, with 99% articles downloaded at least once, 25% of users being University users, 40% citizens, 17% companies, remainder governments or others. An emerging trend is that of “open grant” making and national discussions on such topics are growing in frequency.
I believe Heather added an essential element to the discussion when she noticed that national advocacy efforts are very loosely coordinated. She proposed structures and networks in place to facilitate an explicit, sustained effort to help coordinate not national, but international advocacy. In this way, “we could be more effective in community,” she concludes.