ZBW MediaTalk

by Kristin Biesenbender, Ralf Flohr, Monika Linne, Olaf Siegert

The 12th Open Access Days were held at the Technical University in Graz from 24 to 26 September 2018 under the motto “Diversity of Open Access”. The first part of our conference report focused on transformation strategies towards open access and open science at the national level. The second part of our report focuses primarily on the development of open access as part of individual projects and individual disciplines.

Open access in the humanities

In Session 5 (OA in the humanities), Anna Severin from the Swiss National Science Foundation & University of Bern presented a survey study on the perception of OA in the humanities and social sciences. It turns out that there is less knowledge of OA in these fields than in the STM subjects. Although dissemination and hence OA plays an important role when choosing a journal, reputation remains the most relevant criterion.

There are still reservations regarding the quality of OA peer review. Lena Dreher and Anja Oberländer from the University of Konstanz subsequently presented the BMBF-funded project OLH-DE (Open Library of Humanities Germany). The aim is to promote consortium models for the promotion of open access, particularly for the humanities in the German-speaking region. Experts were asked in advance about relevant aspects when switching to OA. It is especially important to ensure professional appearance, peer review and having the journal published. As for switching to the OLH model, 33.9% of the respondents indicated they were “inclined” to do so while 33.2% were “not inclined”. The latter is the group that can be convinced by being informed.

Maria Aglaia Bianchi of the Academy of Sciences and Literature subsequently presented an approach intending to link the establishment of a specialist repository in the historical sciences with a scientific blog: Archivum Medii Aevi Digitale (AMAD): Wenn die Mediävistik auf Open Access trifft. The repository will take care of the structuring storage system, while the scientific blog will disseminate the posts and stimulate the exchange of ideas.

Preprints and transformation of the publication culture

Session 7 (“The Rise of Preprints – Changing Publication Cultures as Support for Open Access”) focused on scientific texts that are already being published in several disciplines although they have not yet undergone a peer review process. These “preprints” are mostly disseminated via specialist repositories and are usually accessible in open access. The session’s three presentations threw light on the situation of preprints in three different disciplines. Alexander Wagner from the Helmholtz Centre DESY in Hamburg first gave a chronological overview of the development of ArXiv, the world’s first preprint server playing a key role for physics and mathematics.

Bernd Pulverer (chief editor of the Biology Journal EMBO) then looked at the role of preprints in biology and in particular the rapid growth of the preprint server BiorXiv, launched as recently as 2013. The very informative presentation clearly demonstrated that a discipline’s publication culture can change in a few years and for example integrate preprints as part of the publication culture.

In the session’s third talk, Korinna Werner-Schwarz (Kiel Institute for the World Economy) presented the open access journal Economics – the only journal in the economic sciences with an open peer review process. The accepted preprint culture plays an important role here, with the submitted manuscripts being published as discussion papers before the peer review. The example clearly shows what type of innovative publication models can develop in keeping with open science, based on an existing preprint culture.

Open access transformation and its funding

Session 15 dealt with the transformation and funding of open access. Jens Lazarus and Ralf Flohr of the ZBW presented an offsetting contract that agreed access to a journal package as well as publishing in a variety of hybrid journals for a consortium of 12 Leibniz institutions. Offsetting contracts close a gap in open access publishing, especially in the economic and social sciences, as hybrid journals have been excluded from funding through publication funds to date and only a few reputable Gold OA journals exist.

In the second talk of the session, Georg Fessler from the Vienna University of Economics and Business presented a study of the Austrian project “Austrian Transition to Open Access” ascertaining cost estimates and budget effects of the OA transformation. The study ascertained the volume of publications by universities and included possible expansion stages of publication funds as well as scenarios for the conclusion of consortium offsetting contracts or big deals. The forecast of APC costs was based on averages for the different disciplines. The study provides a comprehensive data basis for budget planning in the context of OA transformation in Austria in the period from 2019-2021. The overall plans are currently being converted into local reports for the participating universities.

In the session’s third talk, Angela Holzer described the current situation of open access as well as research policy considerations and strategic challenges in the course of the open access transformation from the point of view of the German Research Foundation (DFG). Angela Holzer named the areas of financing, monitoring, evaluation and policy development as key areas of action for the DFG in supporting publications. Challenges from the perspective of the DFG for the respective fields of action can be subdivided and analysed into role-related, systematic and structural aspects. The open access transformation has led to a change in role perception at the DFG, including new functions in some cases, such as the redirection of funds instead of additional funding.

Tool marketplace and lively discussion culture

The conference’s motto “Diversity of Open Access” was clearly confirmed by the broad range of content within the talks as well as the projects and services presented in poster presentations and on the “tool marketplace”. The conference’s lively discussion culture, which was also reflected in the sessions as well as in the numerous comments on Twitter, deserves special mention.

Authors: Kristin Biesenbender, scientific editor of Wirtschaftsdienst; PhD student at the University of Hamburg in the field of sociology, especially science studies | Monika Linne, Germany speaker of the GO FAIR initiative | Olaf Siegert, Head of Publication Services and Open Access Officer at ZBW | Ralf Flohr, Research Associate in the Publication Services and Content Manager of EconStor.
(ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics)

The ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics is the world’s largest research infrastructure for economic literature, online as well as offline.

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