Scientific publishers facing increasing pressure

The last couple of weeks there has been a lot of news regarding open access. There are developments in the negotiations with the major scientific publisher Elsevier and European plants for an international open access strategy both.

May 4th the first ever international meeting of open access negotiators took place in Berlin. Previously all negotiations took place on a national level, but now a joint European initiative is being discussed. This would mean EU countries would be able to benefit from the pooled experience of all negotiators, as well as set joint negotiating targets. This would increase the influence of higher education institutions with the publishers.

Around Europe universities are already taking a harder line against what they perceive as unreasonably high fees from the publishers. In Germany, for example, a majority of universities are boycotting Elsevier since the beginning of the year. And in Sweden the negotiations between Bibsam and Elsevier have entered a critical phase.

Bibsam is a part of the National Library of Sweden. They sign deals for electronic journals and databases at all Swedish higher education institutions, government organisations and research institutions. In 2017 they spent 353 million SEK. (Source:

Bibsam is waiting for Elsevier’s response to their offer by May 15th. As part of the negotiation tactics, the current deal is up for renewal by June 30th, and if no agreement is reached it would expire then. If Elsevier refuse Bibsam’s terms, the risk is that Elsevier will turn off read-access for new articles published after July 1st 2018. (Access to older publications would still be available.)

That the open access to scientific publications controlled by major publishers is an important question right now is something you can see in an editorial in DN Debatt published May 8th. Erik Fichtelius, national coordinator for the National Library, writes:

The dissemination of research results through university libraries to students, researchers and the public is hindered by a global publisher oligopoly that make millions in profit on publicly funded research. Doctors, health care staff, engineers and journalists who lack logins through universities are unable to access current research literature. Students at small universities can only access a fraction of what is available at larger universities.

The EU has decided that 100% of all scientific publications should be made open access by 2020. In the current system it’s hard to imagine that goal could ever be reached. With that in mind the EU has nominated Robert-Jan Smits, one of the key figures behind Horizon 2020, as a special envoy för open access. He is due to present his findings this summer, and it might include a completely new strategy for scientific publication – possibly even one that breaks the traditional hold of academic publishers.

Sources and further reading:

”Stärk biblioteken och bygg nationella digitala bibliotek”- Erik Fichtelius

Science Guide 4/5/2018. Open Access negotiators prepare for a future without publishers

Science Guide 28/2/2018. Robert-Jan Smits to become special envoy open access of EU

How is the University working with research data today?

This week is Open Access Week, and we are highlighting the open access to research data. This entry is written by Library Director Svante Kristensson and describes the situation at the University of Borås when it comes to open access and research data. The Library is also arranging a Library breakfast focused on the subject this Wednesday morning, October 25th.

How is the University working with research data today?

As more and more funders require not just the publication of final results, but that all research data those results are based on should be made publically available and archived, Swedish higher education institutions must prepare for how to support researchers with this process. At the University of Borås, we are doing the following to prepare:

The University will be a part of the newly restructured Swedish National Data service (Svensk Nationell Datatjänst, SND)(linked) which is a consortium under the auspice of the Swedish Research Council. About twenty Swedish higher education institutions with closer connections to the consortia have taken on the responsibility to create Data Access Units which will work as local, distributed, supporting parts of SND. The idea is that the University of Borås, like other participating institutions, will coordinate the research support for research data. For our part this means that the research support from e.g. library, archive, legal services and research advisors will be coordinated in a more efficient way than it is today.

The University is also working within Konstex (a national network for higher education institutions with degree-awarding powers in the arts) to disseminate information about the particularities of what is to be considered as research data within this field.

As part of the recently approved Horizon 2020 project SUITCEYES (Smart, User-friendly, Interactive, Tactual, Cognition-Enhancer that Yields Extended Sensosphere) work has already commenced on formulating a data management plan. All Horizon 2020 projects must present initial documentation demonstrating how they will handle the question of making available and archiving the research data relevant for the project. Representatives from the library and GIO have supported the research group in setting up a data management plan.

The University of Borås works closely with University West and the University of Skövde in the area of open access to research data. Staff members at the three institutions have received relevant training together, and a network for the participants has been created. Right now recruitment is also ongoing for a new research coordinator who will develop the work with research data at the three institutions.

Text: Svante Kristensson

Översättning: Signe Wulund

Emerald removes embargoes across all journals

Emerald Publishing launches an initiative for Open Access – Emerald Reach – a program designed to deliver rigorous high-quality open access content and increase the contents visibility. With this launch, Emerald drops all embargoes on articles. This means authors are allowed parallel publish (also known as post-print publishing or self-archiving) their article, for example in DiVA, free of charge (so-called Green Open Access).

Effective from 27 September 2017, Emerald has removed embargoes across all journals, providing authors with the option to make their accepted manuscript openly available, free from payment and embargo periods.

Read more at Emerald Publishing’s webpage.

Text: Katharina Nordling

Unpaywall and Open Access Button

”Click here to purchase article”.

You have probably seen this several times when searching for articles. You find that perfect article for your research or student thesis, but you are not allowed to read more than the abstract if you don’t want to pay for it. This is called a paywall, and if you don’t pay, you won’t get access to the article behind it. Thanks to the library employees and students at the university get access to a high number of articles online, but there are still articles that the library’s subscriptions will not include, and that are therefore not available to read. This can be very frustrating.

Lately there have been several tries to find a solution to this problem. At the Open Access Week 2014 a web browser extension called Open Access Button was introduced. You install the extension, and as soon as you hit a paywall you click the button. The extension will look for the article in other places, and in many cases it will give you a way to access the article. April 4th another extension was launched, namely Unpaywall. Unpaywall works pretty much like the Open Access Button, and the two complements each other, giving you wide access to a high amount of articles.

Both Open Access Button and Unpaywall looks for articles in open databases like ArXiv, PubMed Central, Google Scholar, and more.

The green lock to the right lets you know that Unpaywall has found a free version of the article. By clicking on the lock, you can access the article.

Kristoffer Karlsson