Taking the temperature of the open access landscape

By Andrea Chiarelli

A simple way to measure if a topic is being discussed is to monitor social media. A quick Twitter query showed that the hashtag #OpenAccess was mentioned between 387 and 1017 times in each of the last four weeks. Add in similar terms such as #OA and hashtags associated with specific activities, and the figure is likely to be many times higher. How much higher is hard to tell, but the sheer difficulty of keeping track of everything that is happening in the field is a testament to the dynamism of the open access movement.

Given this high level of activity, interest in tracking the growth of open access is rising. Not only do people want to see as much knowledge as possible released under an open access license, but they are also looking at how open access is achieved. A report recently published by Knowledge Exchange, focused on monitoring open access publications and cost data, led to the formulation of 48 recommendations to “compare results and ongoing experimentations” in these fields. Overall, the shift to open science is being closely scrutinised by initiatives such as the Open Science Monitor, so as to ensure that real benefits will arise from it.

The growth of the sector, so to speak, means that we have been very busy here at Research Consulting. Last April, we released a report for the OpenAIRE 2020 project to provide recommendations on how to reach a competitive and sustainable open access publishing market in Europe. The report has been very well received and is now being discussed in the corridors of the European Commission. In addition, we have been helping HEFCE and Jisc analyse complementary aspects of the implementation of open access in institutions. In the case of HEFCE, we have been working on an open access assessment template to help them better understand how the higher education sector has been working with their OA policies and how these have affected their processes and choices of tools. This will provide the project partners (others involved in the project include Jisc, the Wellcome Trust, and Research Councils UK) with information on what is being done at UK institutions and will help with informing policy implementation. On the other hand, we are helping Jisc develop a proof of concept open access dashboard, which could help institutions assess how well they are doing with the dissemination of open access outputs and, possibly, compare themselves to the overall environment.

Last but not least, we are also working with Universities UK on a follow-up to our 2015 study entitled “Monitoring the Transition to Open Access”. Together with Elsevier, the University of Sheffield and Jubb Consulting, we aim to deliver robust measures of the availability of open access options and their take-up in the UK and globally, along with a reliable assessment of progress compared to two years ago. We are focussing on APCs, OA licenses, posting policies, levels of usages, and the impact of open access on the financial sustainability of learned societies

As open access comes of age, so do the opportunities for all the organisations involved in academic publishing. On our part, we are committed to open science and we strive to stay on top of all new developments in this field – and to help our clients make the most of the opportunities this transition creates. Our work for public bodies tends to garner the most attention, but we also provide confidential advice and support to a range of publishers, vendors, and other organisations to help them navigate the move to open science.

If you want to know more about what we do, and how we could help your organisation, do not hesitate to get in touch.