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Open Access Week – Why should you be excited?


It’s October! For the last seven years and this being the eighth, month of October has been particularly exciting for Open Access lovers, who continue to look forward to Open Access Week.

peerjOpen Access as a movement has been evolving rapidly; many startups are leveraging the movement, some of the significant startups of the last year are RockYourPaper.org an Open Access search engine, Openaccessbutton and Open Access publisher PeerJ.

Open Access Week celebrates the success of the movement and sets the tone. The whole week remains exciting and full of activities which include talks, seminars, symposia, or the announcement of milestones in open access. For instance, the Royal Society chose Open Access Week 2011 to announce that they would release the digitized backfiles of their archives, dating back from 1665 till 1941.

Open Access Week provides an opportunity for Academics, researchers, and curious minds to take positive action and to keep this momentum moving forward and make open access the norm in academic and research.

This year on October 20th, from 3:00 to 4:00pm EDT, SPARC and the World Bank will co-host the official kickoff event for International Open Access Week 2014. Open Access Week is from October 20th till October 26th.

Theme for the year 2014 is “Generation Open”. Discussions will focus on the importance of students and early career researchers in their transition to Open Access and how changes in scholarly publishing affect scholars and researchers at different stages of their careers.

“A truly open research literature and scholarly communication system will not only benefit the individual researchers but society as a whole, inducing the seed of knowledge.” says Neeraj Mehta – Co-Founder of RockYourPaper.

Graham Steel, a tireless advocate for Open Access who believes in sharing information as widely and as easily as possible. He firmly believes that paywalls stifle innovation and progress in science.

“At the very moment that most of us carry access to a global information network in our pockets, our ability to tap into the world’s knowledge is eliminated. And it’s not an accident. It’s on purpose. This situation is known as the “price crisis” in scholarly publishing, and it’s hurting the average citizen.” says Steel.

So let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen. Click here to register with OpenAccessWeek and start contributing.


Nadeera NilupamaliAuthor Nadeera Nilupamali is the Co-founder and the Community Manager of RockYourPaper . She can be reached on nadeera@rockyourpaper.org



Top 5 Emerging Trends to watch out for… in Academic Publishing in 2014

publishing12013 started on a bad news with the death of  Aaron Swartz’, however was a good year for academic publishing. Many important announcements were made, a lot of things were tried for good or for bad. Take down notice to Academia from Elsevier was one of those attempts where the biggest commercial publisher tried to safeguard it’s commercial interest. It was seen as a bad move, as Elseiver was seen as to curb the free flow of knowledge. However, when you look from another point of view, Academia.edu is also a “for profit” company and by allowing academics to upload their research papers and circulate them publicly (copyright of that was of course with Elsevier) it deliberately (or may be not so deliberately) indulged in a practice which  served it’s profits in a way.  However, towards the fag end of 2013 Elsevier also announced flipping of 7 of it’s subscription journals to Open Access from 2014.

There are occasions which marked significant changes in near future to come. I have compiled few of them, which, in larger prospective gives an inside view of emerging trends in academic publishing world.

1. Decline of Commercial Publishers – Though commercial publishers like Elsevier, Springer etc. will still be the major player and will maintain their monopoly over academic publishing, they will however also begin recognizing the importance of Open Access and will start taking it more and more seriously. Elsevier for example, announced towards the end of 2013, about their decision to flip seven of their subscription journals to Open Access in 2014. 

2. Rise of Academic Collaboration – Research community is perhaps the most apt for collaboration. esy cllbrcnCollaboration among researcher will not only benefit the researchers but the research itself. A better research would mean a better community and a better economy. As we all know, research it engine for economic growth of a region. The two largest economies of the world are also the largest publishers of research papers.

Collaborative websites like Academia and ResearchGate and I am sure many more collaborative platforms would see a phenomenal growth.

3. Rise of Small Publishers – With Digital publishing becoming a norm,and publishing becoming a simple procedure, it will be rather easy for many small publishers to come in. 2014 will see a lot of small publishers coming up, of course most of them will choose to be a part of Open Access.

4. Rise of Open Access – 2013 saw the rise and rise of Open Access, so much so that the movement threatened the existing business model of traditional commercial publishing. Rise of Open Access will give rise to open-access-logoOpen Access Search Engines like RockYourPaper and Repositories  like DAOJ and Arxiv etc. These websites increasingly become relevant to access information on Open Access. 

In February White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy announced that all federal agencies with large research budgets will now need follow the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) lead in providing public access to research publications within one year.

Similar announcements were made by Science Europe, a body representing 51 European Funding agencies.

The year ended on a high note with UNESCO’s release of Open Access Repository.

5. Fall of Impact Factor – Commercial Publishers have long used Impact Factor to their advantage. Academics were forced to follow a process of Impact Factor which has the potential of getting manipulated easily.

ascb_logoOn December 16, 2012, a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals, including representatives from The Company of Biologists (COB), publisher of Disease Models & Mechanisms, gathered at the Annual Meeting of The American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco, CA, USA to discuss current issues related to how the quality of research output is evaluated, and how the primary scientific literature is cited. It announced The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment . It recommended not to use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles

As I mentioned earlier in this article, these are few of the trends and the list is not exhaustive. You are welcome to discuss and add on the trends in the comment section.


The Belly and the Members

I came across this interesting story and thought of sharing it with you. It’s one of  the Aesops fables.

One day the various parts (Aesop says ‘members’) of the human body, including the brain, arms, legs, eyes, feet, hands, lungs, etc., got together to discuss the body’s belly and what they thought about its contribution to the group efforts on behalf of the body.

The body parts were all unhappy and resentful for various reasons, and chose to target their collective anxieties at the belly, in a rather bullying way.

The unhappy body parts decided that the belly was not doing enough towards maintaining the body’s operations, and accused the belly of spending its time lazily consuming food and allowing other members to do all the work.stomach

“We have decided that we will no longer do what we need to do in order to feed you,” they said to the belly, “Because you do nothing to help us, and you are lazy and unproductive.”

No foodAnd they stopped feeding the belly. The belly soon starved. But then so did the body and all of its parts starve too. The unhappy body parts now realized – too late unfortunately to save themselves and the body – that although the belly seemed to be doing nothing, it had in fact been fulfilling a vital function necessary for the well being of the body and all of its parts.

Moral: Often group efforts include certain members whose contributions may seem inconsequential or less valuable than others, and whose behaviors may seem different and less worthy than other louder more obvious contributors, but it is not generally such a simple matter.

Group dynamics are complex, and it is easy to misinterpret and undervalue other members efforts when we do not understand the entire situation, and particularly when we do not understand how individual members might be crucial to overall teamwork and results. singers clipartWhen we target and victimize group members we weaken the group, and all of its members.

Online or Invisible?

visible 782

 I came across this wonderfully written article from Steve Lawrence of NEC Research Institute and decided to repost it here as a blog with my views…

“Articles freely available online are more highly cited. For greater impact and faster scientific progress, authors and publishers should aim to make research easy to access.”

Scientific literature typically far exceeds the ability of scientists to identify and utilize all relevant information in their research. Developing methods to improve accessibility of scientific literature, allowing scientists to locate more relevant research within a given time, have the potential to dramatically improve communication and progress in science.science_on_internet_by_cobalagi-d5dnw0y11

With the development of web, scientists now have very convenient access to an increasing amount of literature that previously required trips to the library, inter-library loan delays, or substantial effort in locating the source. Studies shows that usage increases when access is more convenient, and maximizing the usage of the scientific record benefits all of society.

Although availability varies greatly by discipline, over a million research articles are freely available on the web. Some journals and conferences provide free access online, others allow authors to post articles on the web, and others allow authors to purchase the right to post their articles on the web.

Free online availability facilitates access in multiple ways, including online archives, direct connections between scientists or research groups, hassle-free links from email, discussion groups, and other services, indexing by web search engines, and the creation of third-party search services. Free online availability of scientific literature offers substantial benefits to science and society. To maximize impact, minimize redundancy, and speed scientific progress, author and publishers should aim to make research easy to access.

My views

In today’s world of publishing it is true. It is highly unjustified that a researcher should pay to publish his own article and question is why? We should aim to have a system where knowledge is free, access to research article is free, and publishing research article is free. After all, the author spends a tremendous amount of his time and effort researching and writing about his research.

esy cllbrcn

Free access gives an opportunity of free collaborations amongst the researchers, which in effect will result into better research and better writing and hence a better community. We all should all aim towards free access to knowledge.

Open Access: What is it?

Open  Access is  free,  immediate,  permanent  online  access  to  the  full  text  of research  articles  for  anyone, web wide, without  the  severe  restrictions  on  use  commonly imposed by publisher copyright agreements.

There are two roads to open access:

·          the “green road” of open access self-archiving, where authors provide open access to their own published articles, by making their own e-prints (the final accepted version) freely available to all by placing them in institutional or central repositories;


 the “golden road” of open access journal-publishing, where journals provide open access to their articles (either by charging the author/institution, a publication or processing fee instead of charging a subscription fee from the user/institution, or by simply making  their  online  edition  free  for  all  and  recouping  the  publication  and  production  costs from other source).

An Open Access Publication is one that meets the following two conditions:


The  author(s)  and  copyright  holder(s)  grant(s) to  all  users  a  free,  irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit  and  display  the  work  publicly  and  to  make  and  distribute  derivative  works,  in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.


 A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of  the  permission  as  stated  above,  in  a  suitable  standard  electronic  format  is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).

The  two  roads  to open  access,  viz. open access self-archiving  and open  access publishing, are complementary. Normally, by open access we mean open access to refereed research papers. But open access does not exclude other forms of scholarly material such as preprints, theses, conference papers and reports.

The ecology of scientific knowledge production

Research is a  truly  global  and  collective  endeavor.  It is at  once  a  competitive  and cooperative enterprise where free and unhindered flow of knowledge is essential for making any advance.

Researchers  build  on  what  is  already  known.  Cooperative  or  competitive,  lone  ranger, or  working  as  a  team,  researchers  depend  to  a  great  extent  on  the  contributions  to  knowledge made by others across space and time researcher working in any part of the world and  those  who  have  contributed  to  research  in  the  past.

Down  the  centuries,  since  scholarly  communication  is  said  to  have  begun  in  ancient Greece more than 2,000 years ago, research has typically been communicated in parallel by  speech  and writing. However, since  the  beginning  of  modern research  in  Western Europe  during  the  sixteenth  and  seventeenth  centuries flow  of  information  is  facilitate largely  by  professional  journals.

Ever since the first professional journal — Journal des Sçavans in France and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in England — commenced publication in 1665, the printed journal has become the primary vehicle of knowledge dissemination among scientists and scholars. Journals occupy a special place in scholarly communication, not only because they help scientists get the status of a permanent record for their new findings but also to establish ‘credentials’.

In the early days there were a few researchers and few journals, but in the past three centuries the number of researchers has increased exponentially. Since the  early  1700s,  the  number  of  scholars  in scientific  disciplines  has  doubled  every 15 years, according to de Solla Price.

With the rising number of journals, academies and societies which were traditionally publishing  them  could  no  longer  cope  with  the  numbers and  enterprising  commercial publishers started taking over the burden of publishing many of the journals.  That paved the way for privatization of knowledge. Today there are reportedly 25,000 refereed journals in the areas of science, technology and medicine (STM), many of them published by commercial publishers.  As  of  late  2010,  Elsevier  published  1610  journals,  Springer  588 journals and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 299 journals.

“The  scholarly  journal  marketplace  has  consolidated  in  recent  years. 

Three companies dominate: Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley.  Elsevier is the dominant force in Science, Technology, and Medical (STM)  publishing. Commercial publishers have established considerable monopoly power, playing a role in 60 per cent of all peer-reviewed journals, owning 45 per cent and publishing 17 per cent on behalf of non-profit organizations. In STM, seven major commercial publishers  account  for  30 per  cent of  peer-reviewed  titles  but  60 per cent of  the  market’s revenue.”

the advent of new technologies such as the Internet and the World Wide Web, it became possible for scientists around the world to look for alternatives to journals.  For example,  in  1991  Paul  Ginsparg  of  Los  Alamos  National  Laboratory  (LANL)  came  up with  arXiv,  an  electronic  preprint  service  for  the  physics  community. Although there had  been  preprint  services  for  physicists  earlier,  such  as  the  ones  at  the  Centre  for  Research  in  Nuclear  Energy,  Geneva  (CERN)  and  Stanford  Linear  Accelerator  laboratory (SLAC),  it  was  arXiv  which  really  revolutionized  sharing  of  information  among  physicists in a fully online manner. With dwindling budgets and rising costs of journals, scholarly communication today is  at  a  crossroads.  We  need  to  think  seriously  about  how  scholarly  information  can  be shared efficiently and at an affordable cost. Even librarians in affluent institutions in the United States feel that current methods of scholarly communication are unsustainable and proving to be excessively restrictive.

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