Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources

Category Archives: Open Access Week

Open Access Week 2016: A Recap

Virginia Tech’s fifth observance of Open Access Week took place October 24-28 with seven events, featuring a panel discussion and talks from two visiting speakers.

The first event of the week featured Brian Hole, who is CEO of Ubiquity Press. An archaeologist by training, he had experienced lack of journal access in places like India. Ubiquity Press was begun to provide a good quality, low cost open publishing platform that would be inclusive of the developing world. While the platform does operate using the sometimes controversial APC model, the costs are low ($400 standard, but can be lower depending on services provided) and are often covered by libraries so there is no cost to author or reader. Ubiquity is also involved in publishing books as well as journals for open research software, several for open data, citizen science, and an upcoming open hardware journal. The platform offers an open peer review option, which four journals have implemented. Currently publishing 42 journals, its platform will be open source, and is itself a fork of the Open Journal Systems open source code. It’s an impressive platform and openness is at its core.

On Monday evening, the forum “For the Public Good: Research Impact and the Promise of Open Access” was held, hosted by Peter Potter (Director of Publishing Strategy, University Libraries) and featuring panelists from a variety of perspectives: graduate students Siddhartha Roy (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Mohammed Seyam (Computer Science) as well as Montasir Abbas (faculty, Civil and Environmental Engineering), Karen DePauw (Dean of the Graduate School), and Brian Hole (Ubiquity Press). The conversation was wide-ranging, covering pre-prints, publishing costs, metrics, and peer review. Other topics included the importance of open licensing for reuse of scholarly material and the role of openness for a public land-grant university. Faculty open access mandates were briefly addressed, with comments focusing on saving faculty time and showing benefits. Transparency of data and code were a theme, as well as the possibility of researching completely in the open. See the video below for the full forum (and here are Peter’s introductory slides).

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.

In the session “Where Can I Post My Publications?Ginny Pannabecker and I covered the landscape for article archiving, including research networking sites, researcher profiles, disciplinary and institutional repositories, and personal and departmental websites. It’s important to know about journal permissions, which sites can host research as opposed to linking to it, and about limits to sharing and preservation on proprietary platforms. We got great feedback on this session, and one faculty member signed up for an ORCID identifier and used the new EFARS system to deposit scholarship to the VTechWorks faculty collection.

“Publishing Services at Virginia Tech,” hosted by Gail McMillan and Peter Potter covered the journal and conference hosting services provided by the Libraries. Attendees showed particular interest in the student journals hosted, such as Philologia and the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review (and more are on the way).

Veliswa Tshetsha

Veliswa Tshetsha

We were very pleased that our librarian exchange with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa coincided with Open Access Week, since Veliswa Tshetsha focuses on scholarly communication there. Her presentation Access to Research in South Africa gave an overview of open access initiatives in that country as well as on the continent. Recently CPUT signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access, joining 45 other African universities. The main funding body, the National Research Foundation, like funding bodies in the U.S., is requiring article archiving, supporting article processing charges, and developing a policy on data archiving. Paywalls are only one of the problems contributing to what she referred to as an African “access drought.” Others include telecommunications access, high APC charges in some open access journals, embargoes, and researchers submitting to open access journals with little or no peer review.

The week ended with two sessions regularly offered by the Libraries. In “Scholarly Publishing Trends” I covered a lot of ground, from open science to peer review to ORCID, and Gail McMillan introduced attendees to our Open Access Subvention Fund and its guidelines.

Beyond our own events, there were other developments of note:

Thanks to all who attended an Open Access Week event, and thanks for reading!

A Recap of Open Access Week 2015 at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s fourth Open Access Week took place October 19-23 with five events, featuring the annual faculty/graduate student panel discussion and a keynote address by Victoria Stodden.

As always, the panel discussion was one of the most interesting events of the week. Sascha Engel, PhD candidate in ASPECT and editor of the graduate journal SPECTRA, spoke about the benefits of moving to library hosting for the journal. Use of the open source OJS software helped automate communication with authors, and the journal was able to retain its domain name. The PDF is still important in the humanities where page numbers are needed for citing. As a graduate journal, SPECTRA allows authors to retain copyright so that articles can be further developed and published elsewhere. Alison Burke, a PhD candidate in Biomedical Sciences, spoke about the difficulty of publishing in fee-based open access journals while in a funding gap between grants. The library’s open access fund bridged that gap and helped her publish in PLOS ONE. She noted that open access articles result in more views and are easier to find. Scott King, Professor in the Department of Geosciences, is an executive editor at the open access journal GeoResJ, a broad, multidisciplinary journal, but notes that in his specialty, deep earth research, open access is not very influential because most researchers are at institutions with subscriptions. In contrast, publishing open access is crucial to Jeremy Ernst, associate professor of Integrative STEM Education, because a large part of his audience is public educators who would not otherwise have access to his research. He noted much higher citation counts in open access journals. Ernst was the first to take advantage of the open access fund when it began. Carola Haas, Professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, has used the open access fund for publication of a hybrid open access article, and said that open access is important for her audience, which includes land managers, independent contractors, and conservationists in developing countries, many of whom lack access to expensive journals. Titilola Obilade, former adjunct faculty in the School of Education, has used the open access fund multiple times to ensure that all have access to her research.

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.

A new event to Open Access Week, “Data and Digitization in the Liberal Arts and Human Sciences” was organized by Tom Ewing, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Research, and Diversity in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and a professor in the Department of History. The session featured panelists from Advanced Research Computing (ARC) and the University Libraries. Terry Herdman, Nicholas Polys, and Vijay Agarwala spoke about ARC’s services for researchers, such as consulting, training, support, and collaboration, and highlighted the visualization lab in Torgersen Hall, the Visionarium. From the Libraries, Nathan Hall introduced the digitization services available, and Amanda French spoke about the library’s interest in facilitating interdisciplinary research, and perhaps providing tools for learning text and data mining (TDM).

Mid-week, NLI sessions were offered on our open access fund (apply here) by Gail McMillan and trends in scholarly publishing, a discussion I led. Both are offered regularly, so check the NLI schedule.

Dr. Victoria Stodden

Dr. Victoria Stodden

The highlight of the week was the keynote address by Dr. Victoria Stodden, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Scholarly Communication in the Era of Big Data and Big Computation” (slides) focused on what reproducibility means for computation, and also addressed scientific norms and access. She proposed that reproducibility has three facets: empirical, computational, and statistical. While we know that error is ubiquitous in science, computation is new enough that standards are not well established. Computation itself is a research object; an accompanying journal article is simply advertising for it. Interestingly, Stodden highlighted the Mertonian norms of science, just as Brian Nosek did in last year’s keynote address. But while Nosek contrasted Mertonian norms with academic incentives, Stodden put them in an intellectual property framework. In this context, open licenses are aligned with scientific norms, whereas intellectual property protections (e.g., copyright) are not. While a number of platforms have been developed for dissemination and reproducibility of computation, these have been independent efforts, and would achieve greater impact with a coordinated response. Ultimately, it is access that is needed most:

Conclusion: the primary unifying concept in formulating an appropriate norm-based response to changes in technology is access. At present, access to “items” underlying computational results is limited.

Many thanks to Dr. Stodden and all those who came to the keynote. Thanks also to the keynote sponsors, which in addition to the University Libraries include Computational Modeling and Data Analytics, the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Statistics, LISA, and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute.

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.

OA Week Event: Faculty and Graduate Student Panel

Our panel of faculty and graduate students is one of the most interesting events of every Open Access Week, and the 2014 version did not disappoint. In the past we’ve hosted separate, consecutive panels, but this year we decided to combine the panels into a single, shorter event.

Faculty and Graduate Student Panel

Faculty and Graduate Student Panel,
Open Access Week 2014 at Virginia Tech

Our faculty panelists were Iuliana Lazar (Biological Sciences), Nicolaus Tideman (Economics), and Randy Wynne (Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation). They were joined by our student panelists, Christian Matheis (Ethics & Political Philosophy, and editor-emeritus of SPECTRA), Caitlin Rivers (Computational Epidemiology, Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory), and Michelle Sutherland (Educational Media Company, and former editor of Philologia).

Dr. Tideman had several interesting comments to make about the role of copyright in scholarship, which might be summed up by saying that copyright is inappropriate for academia. Dr. Wynne shared concerns such as reproducibility, data citation, and access to research in the developing world. For Caitlin Rivers, who is working on Ebola epidemiology, the data she uses is open, so it only makes sense that the output is too, and it must be available to people in west Africa. When Michelle Sutherland graduated, she lost access to most peer-reviewed research. This is a point that should be made more often, and it is an irony that this happens after four years of instruction from faculty and librarians on finding and using peer reviewed research. Asked what they do when they encounter paywalls, panelists had a variety of responses, from using the Twitter hashtag #icanhazpdf and sharing personal subscriptions among several people, to searching Google Scholar and research networking sites. For the full discussion, see the panel video below. Thanks very much to our panelists for the insight and discussion!

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.

OA Week Event: Keynote Address by Brian Nosek

Brian Nosek, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and co-founder and director of the Center for Open Science, gave the keynote address for Open Access Week 2014 on Monday night, October 20. “Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research” noted the gap between scholarly values and how scholarship is actually carried out, and described how the Open Science Framework can help address this issue.

Brian Nosek at Virginia Tech

Brian Nosek, Open Access Week Keynote Address at Virginia Tech

The presentation began with a slide listing the norms (idealistic values) and counternorms (what often happens) of scholarship as opposing pairs, for example communality vs. secrecy. Looking at the counternorms, it was easy to see that these behaviors are aligned with academic incentives and “getting ahead” in general. Nosek also showed the amusing, if disheartening, results of a study comparing researchers’ agreement with the norms, how well their own practices align with the norms, and how well they think the practices of others align with the norms. He then identified current problems in the published literature of positive results and low power, variability in analysis, and selective reporting.

The Center for Open Science helps enable reproducibility, registration, and openness by making them part of the research workflow. COS endeavors to provide the technology to enable change, the training to enact change, and the incentives to embrace change. The technology is the Open Science Framework, which provides versioning, documentation, and other services in addition to connecting parts of a project together (Dropbox, figshare, etc.). COS offers training in statistics, tools, and workflows both online and in-person. And it’s working on incentives such as usage statistics, badges, and registered reports. Interestingly, registered reports move peer review after the design phase rather than after writing the report, addressing the negative results/selective reporting problem. The current incentive in academia is to get published, not to get it right, but COS is helping to change that.

Brian Nosek’s keynote address was delivered to a packed room- we counted 120 attendees. Thanks to everyone who turned out!

Thanks to the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for the video below.

Open Access Week 2014 at Virginia Tech

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech is pleased to announce our 2014 Open Access Week schedule! This year we are offering eight events, highlighted by a keynote address from Brian Nosek, a panel discussion on open access by Virginia Tech faculty and graduate students, and a workshop on reproducible research.

Open Access Week 2014

Open Access Week events are open to everyone, and for the first time all events will also be available for NLI credit (look under University Libraries). Here’s more info on our highlighted events:

Brian Nosek

Brian Nosek

A Keynote Address by Brian Nosek, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and co-founder of the Center for Open Science. His talk is titled “Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research” and is sponsored by the Department of Psychology, the College of Science, and the University Libraries. (Monday October 20 at 5:30 pm in Pamplin 30, full details here.)

A Panel Discussion on Open Access, featuring faculty and graduate students at Virginia Tech. This is always an engaging event and it’s interesting to hear how folks from different disciplines are involved with open access. (Tuesday October 21 at 5:30 pm in the Library Multipurpose Room, full details here.)

A Workshop on Reproducible Research Practices, led by the Center for Open Science. Bring your laptop and please RSVP for this one. (Thursday October 23 at 3:00 pm in the Library Multipurpose Room, full details here.)

And we have five additional events, including sessions on our Open Access Subvention Fund, using Creative Commons licenses, author rights, and trends in scholarly publishing. See our full schedule for details, and help us spread the word by posting the schedule flyer and keynote address flyer on your office door and/or local bulletin board. Feel free to contact me at if you have any questions. See you then!