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BITC: Publication Class -- 13. Copyright and Open Access

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We're almost done. However, you've now been through this whole publishing process. You and the journal both agree that this is a good paper. And, you both agree that you want it published. Here's where you and the journal may have different goals or objectives. At some point in this process, you will be asked to sign a copyright transfer agreement. Or, a publication agreement. And, I would urge you to think about this process very, very carefully. When you create an intellectual product, it's yours. When you have an idea, it's yours. When you publish it, you're opening that idea to the broader public. The question is, how do you open that idea to the broader public? How do you give up the exclusive ownership of that idea? What we've been talking about throughout this module is giving up that exclusivity by means of working with a journal. The journal then has to have the privilege or opportunity to publish your idea. In that sense, we have to do something about transferring or opening the copyright. Otherwise, that idea is yours. The first question is, what is copyright? What does that ownership constitute? Copyright is a set of rights. It includes the right to reproduce the work. To adapt it. To distribute it. Perform it. And, display it. This is 'legalese'. But think very carefully about all of these things. You want to share your work with colleagues. You want to send somebody a version of your paper. You want to give a presentation about of your research. Maybe it's your final thesis presentation. That's a performance or a display of your work. And then, you may want to write a follow-up paper. Maybe you want to write one of those long and complex papers reviewing your whole body of work. That's an adaptation. These are important rights to you as a scientist. At the end of the publication process, you get something like this. 'Publication Agreement.' This is one with <i>Quarterly Review of Biology </i>. Notice that there are a lot of words there. It's usually in legal language. I will bet that the great majority of people watching this video who've published a paper have never read this agreement. I would urge you to read this agreement. Let's look at some them. This is a pretty positive agreement with <i>Quarterly Review of Biology</i>. You're allowed to deposit a copy of the Contribution into the data repository maintained by your institution... ...after an embargo period and providing that all of the relevant conditions have been met. ...grants to you the following non-exclusive rights... ...subject to you giving credit. So, you're saying that this is a paper that was published in the <i>Quarterly Review of Biology</i>. Here it is. And, anybody and everybody can have access to it. That's pretty good. Here's another one. I've expanded the critical part. It's for the University of California Press for a paper published in <i>The Auk</i>. It's a bird journal. The author reserves the rights (<i>doesn't</i> give up the copyrights) to use his or her article in the following ways. We have to give the citation. And, we can't sell it in a way that would conflict with the business interests of the society. But, we can use it for educational, classroom, or research uses. We can republish it in a book or anthology. We can post it on our personal websites, or our institutional or subject repositories. And, we can post it with our funding archive. This is not bad also. But, now we'll start looking at some that are worse. This is the <i>Raffles Bulletin of Zoology</i>. It is agreed that transfer in copyright, the author retains the right to use the substance of this work in future works. Okay, that's good. ...provided that acknowledgement is made to prior publication. That's okay. However, the publisher waives the copyright to the author(s) to allow photocopies for their distribution. I don't know what that meant. The funny thing was, I asked the editor and the editor didn't know what that meant either. So, sometimes you really have to think about what is being said. Let's go to a worse example. Here's an example with the <i>American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene</i>. This is a fairly pathological example. My signature certifies that I assign the copyright to the Society. The Society will have the <i>exclusive</i> right of publishing, disseminating, and (get this) disposing of the article throughout the world. The author cannot grant the right to print, publish, copy, or sell any part of the article to anybody without previous written consent from the Society. This is a good journal. We're all happy and proud when we can publish there. But, this is a really, really restrictive agreement. In theory, at least, once you publish with this journal, you can't do much with what was your intellectual property. The <i>AJTMH</i> is far from the only example of this. This is simply one example of a really bad copyright transfer agreement. This is why I want you to read these agreements. Figure out and understand what it is you're doing with your intellectual property. So, why do we care? Does it really matter who owns a particular contribution? Ideally, everybody can read what we publish. Right? What's the root word publication? It's not always that way. As an example, here's a paper that I published a few years ago in an international journal published by Springer. And, I was sitting in a coffee shop when I needed to consult my own publication. I searched for it in Google. And, I came to this page. "Access to this resource is secured." But, I can add this item to my shopping cart for purchase. And, guess what. It costs $34. Is that really how we want to do our scientific communication? I don't think so. Let's think about it more. First of all, let's have a reality check. If you're at a university, you're university probably provides you electronic access to some set of journals. If you're at a really big university, it may be all of the journals. If you're at a really tiny university, it may just be a small number. That access is not usually free. This is a 20-year survey between 1986 and 2006 of serial expenditures in a set of libraries in North America. This is fixed at 1986. This is percent change since 1986. Look at this curve. Serial expenditures have increased 321% since 1986. This costs real money. It's like that $34 for my article. But, this is your institution paying big bucks for access to everybody's publications. The University of Kansas spends $4.5 million every year to get me and my colleagues the access we need to do the science that we do. Each one of your institutions spends some amount of money to get you some degree of access to the literature. If they don't spend money, then you're going to be out in the cold and you're going to have to type in your credit card number to gain access to the literature. Let's talk about the scientific process. You have a good research idea. And, you find some way to be able to do that project. Maybe you write a proposal and get a grant. Or, maybe your institution pays your salary. But, somebody has to fund your time, effort, and materials to do that research. You do the research. We've been talking for past couple of hours about writing the paper. Then you submit the paper to the journal. The editor receives it. The reviewers consider it. The editor accepts it. We just talked about this a lot. Sometimes, particularly in some of the sciences, you pay page charges. And, finally, your paper is published. And, that should be the end of the process. But, it isn't. So, where do we go from here? Somebody pays subscription fees. That's your university. And, my university. And, everybody's university or institution. Or, you're paying for article-by-article access fees. Notice that there are three points at which somebody is paying money. Let's take a moment and think about the inputs into this system. At several points in this system, your brain power and the editor's brain power, and the reviewer's brain power gets involved. So, you guys are contributing intellectually to this process. That research funding isn't brain power; it's money power. And also, your salary and the editor's salary and the reviewer's salary are being paid by some institution somewhere. So, we can imagine a lot of money flowing into this system. And, we can imagine a lot of brain power flowing into this system. Now, we get one thing out of it: the publication. Where does the money go? We've put money in in terms of research funding, and the editor's and reviewer's time. But, where does the money go? Well, somebody's taking that money and running away with it; and, this money running away with it. That somebody, increasingly frequently, is the commercial publisher. Many people in academia see this as a major problem. Why? Because all of this input that's from within academia flows out into very profitable commercial enterprises. Let me show you what I mean by that. This is a summary of the 10 companies that make more money online than Facebook. So, it's a summary of how much money is being made by internet-based businesses. Obviously, the big winner is Google. Google has come to be a dominant force in the market. But, notice, #4 on the list is Elsevier. One of the big commercial publishers. They're also one of the publishers that has the worst policies as far as access to what it publishes. Also in here is Thomson-Reuters, which also makes a lot of money off of academic publishing. Let me show you this problem in a different way. As an experiment, I took 10 publications by my colleagues here at the University of Kansas. Each publication was from a different journal. I sent this citation of each of those 10 publications to colleagues around the world. I asked them to go to their offices and see if they access the PDFs of those papers on their desktops. Here are the results. Only two of my colleagues had access to all 10 papers. Both of them were in Europe. But, even in the U.S. -not to mention across the rest of the world- nobody had universal access to these papers. So, somebody's papers are getting left out. They're not getting read. They're not getting cited. That's largely because of this commercial dimension to academic publishing. We can look at the results of this same experiment by journal. The highest access rate was for commercial journals. <i>Systematic Biology. Molecular Biology and Evolution</i>. <i>Nature. Ecology</i>. The lowest access rates were for society journals. For some of these journals, <50% of my colleagues could gain access to them. Two have only a 41.2% success rate. Fewer than half my colleagues were able to go to a paper in <i>Herpetologica</i> and gain access. That's a problem. Academic communication —scholarly communication— is not working. I will simply state my opinion, and you can take it for what you would like to make of it. Academic publishing has been "bought out" by an opportunistic commercial publishing world, and is fast becoming inaccessible to the academic community, and particularly to the global academic community. That's my opinion. But, I think if you think carefully about what I'm saying to you, you'll agree. It's not all negatives. If everybody had access to every paper he/she needs to do their work - fine. There's also a positive side to opening access. Here's a paper published by the University of Southampton reviewing citation advantage of open access. What they found is that in every field, with one minor exception, a paper that is openly accessible gets cited more. For example, in physics and astronomy, a paper that is openly accessible gets cited 1.7-5.8 fold more frequently. Biology was the only exception. And there was only one study (this was a study of studies) that found a slight disadvantage. But, most of the studies found an advantage. These numbers will evolve as more open access journals become available and get to high impact stature. But, a very detailed literature now documents that open access publications get cited more. So, this is not just a negative. It's also a positive to you. If you want your work to be seen and appreciated by your colleagues, get it into an open access journal. When we talk about open access, what are we talking about? Here are some qualities of it. Open access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most licensing restrictions. Obviously, we want people to cite our work, not simply to use it. We don't have to have that. But, we'd probably like people to cite our work. Open access is possible thanks only to the internet and some agreement from the person or enterprise that owns the copyright. Remember, that's what you transferred when you signed that publication agreement. Because scholarly journals don't pay authors, we scholarly authors can agree to open access and not lose money. The authors. The academics. Open access is completely compatible with peer-review. All major open access initiatives insist on peer-review. Here's the critical point: Open access literature is not free. The goal is to make accessing the literature cost free. But, somebody does have to pay for the publication process. So, this is a set of challenges that we as academics need to think about. Solution #1. Publish in completely open access journals. These are open access journals that have found some way to cover the costs of access without this subscription barrier. Open access journals are increasingly high impact journals and have high circulation. This is one of the most obvious and ideal solutions to this problem. You can go to the <i>Directory of Open Access Journals</i> (DOAJ) ( and you can search for journals that have good open access policies in your field. So, this is <i>how</i> you find those open access journals in your area. Solution #2. Work within the limits. Stay within the commercially published journal literature. But, look for the journals or the publishers that have better policies. Or policies that you agree with. The SHERPA RoMEO website provides access to a database about the publication policies of journals. See these nice green check-marks. "Author can archive a pre-print before refereeing." "Author can archive a post-print post refereeing." This is a reasonably good journal as far as access policies. Let's look at another example. Here's a journal where we see a red 'X'. We don't want to see that. "Author cannot archive publisher's version or the PDF." You can archive a pre-refereeing version. A lot of us would prefer to see the version that's been peer-reviewed. This is a mid-line journal as far as acceptability. Finally, we get to some journals that are just unacceptable. No pre-print. No post-print. Essentially, the journal holds copyright and won't let go. So, solution #2 to this open access challenge is vote with your papers. Send your papers to the journals that have appropriate policies about access to your work. Solution #3 is a partial solution, but it's to work towards change. Here, I had a paper. "I hereby assign the copyright of this material to the <i>American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene</i>" (which we've already talked about.) I disagreed with this piece of the copyright transfer agreement. So, I marked it out, and I signed it. And, that's how I returned the copyright transfer to the publisher. The publisher can say no. Then, you will either have to accept their terms or withdraw the paper. Probably, at this stage, you're going to accept their terms. But, you can work to change the system. Many institutions, including the University of Kansas, are developing institutional policies that argue for open access. This essentially says that we professors at the University of Kansas grant to the university a license to serve a copy of our work openly via the internet. Again, the publisher can say no. And, you're going to have to make some difficult decisions. I tell you this so that you see that there are solutions. There are ways in which you can work to change the system.

Video Details

Duration: 24 minutes and 7 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 2
Posted by: townpeterson on Jul 5, 2016

Publication Class: How to Publish a Scientific Paper

A. Townsend Peterson, University of Kansas
In English

Academic productivity and effective communication of research results depend critically on publishing scientific articles in scholarly journals. This set of 13 video segments aims to provide an overview of the entire publishing process. It is not specific to biodiversity informatics, but rather can be quite general for the natural sciences at least.

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