Archive for Open Access

Scholastica Webinar – The Open Journal of Astrophysics Project

Posted in Maynooth, Open Access with tags , , on October 2, 2019 by telescoper

As you may know, together with Fiona Morley of Maynooth University Library, last week I contributed to this `webinar’:

If you missed the event itself then you can follow the link here to access a full recording of the webinar. You can also find a quick summary of the goings-on here.

And if all this weren’t exciting enough, here are the slides I used for my bit.


A Pointless Imprimatur?

Posted in Open Access with tags , , on August 26, 2019 by telescoper

In numerous rants about Open Access on this blog I’ve made the point that because of the arXiv the field I work in is way ahead of the game. Most researchers in astronomy astrophysics and cosmology post their papers on the arXiv, and many do that before the work has been accepted for publication. Even before the arXiv we used to circulate preprints ahead of publication.

But it seems there are some astronomers who aren’t aware of the culture of openness. Here is an excerpt from a referee report on a paper submitted to Astronomy & Astrophysics which has been circulated on Twitter:

In summary the referee thinks the paper should be rejected because it has already appeared on the arXiv. That’s a pretty extraordinary recommendation when the authors were following standard practice for the field!

In a sense, though, the referee is right. Journals are no longer needed in order to publish papers. We can all do that ourselves on the arXiv for free. What we do need is to have some quality control via peer review. The imprimatur of a journal is not pointless because it indicates the paper has met a quality threshold. Indeed, in my opinion, it’s the only thing a journal does that’s not pointless..

The Open Journal Of Astrophysics provides peer review for papers on the arXiv, dispensing with the rest of the cumbersome paraphernalia of journals that digital publishing has made redundant.

So if your paper is rejected by a journal because you have put in on the arXiv then why not just submit it to OJA instead?

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2019 by telescoper

I was a bit busy yesterday doing a number of things, including publishing a new paper at The Open Journal of Astrophysics, but I didn’t get time to write a post about it until now. Anyway, here is how the new paper looks on the site:

The authors are Tom Kitching, Paniez Paykari and Mark Cropper of the Mullard Space Sciences Laboratory (of University College London) and Henk Hoekstra of Leiden Observatory.

You can find the accepted version on the arXiv here. This version was accepted after modifications requested by the referee and editor. Because this is an overlay journal the authors have to submit the accepted version to the arXiv (which we then check against the copy submitted to us) before publishing. We actually have a bunch of papers that we have accepted but are awaiting the appearance of the final version on the arXiv so we can validate it.

Anyway, this is another one for the `Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics’ folder. We would be happy to get more submissions from other areas of astrophysics. Hint! Hint!

P.S. Just a reminder that we now have an Open Journal of Astrophysics Facebook page where you can follow updates from the Journal should you wish..

New Publication at the Open Journal of Astrophysics!

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on June 26, 2019 by telescoper

In a blog I posted just a couple of day ago I mentioned that there were a number of papers about to be published by the Open Journal of Astrophysics and, to show that I wasn’t making that up, the first of the latest batch has just appeared. Here is how it looks on the site!

There are thirteen authors altogether (from Oxford, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Leiden, British Columbia, Zurich and Munich); the lead other is Elisa

You can find the accepted version on the arXiv here. This version was accepted after modifications requested by the referee and editor.

This is another one for the `Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics’ folder. We would be happy to get more submissions from other areas of astrophysics. Hint! Hint!

A few people have asked why the Open Journal of Astrophysics is not yet listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. The answer to that is simple: to qualify for listing a journal must publish a minimum of five papers in a calendar year. Since OJA underwent a failure long hiatus after publishing its first batch of papers we haven’t yet qualified. However, this new one means that we have now published five papers so have reached the qualifying level.  I’ll put in the application as soon as I can, but will probably wait a little because we have a bunch of other papers coming out very soon to add to that number.

P.S. Please note that we now have an Open Journal of Astrophysics Facebook page where you can follow updates from the Journal should you wish..

Open Access Publishing: Plan S Update

Posted in Open Access with tags , on May 31, 2019 by telescoper

I haven’t had time to go through the details yet, but yesterday saw the release of revised Principles and Implemenation for Plan S, which I have blogged about before, e.g. here. There’s also a rationale for the changes here.

For those of you who have never heard of Plan S, it For those that haven’t it is a proposal by funding agencies from 11 European Nations to give the public free access to publicly funded science. The 11 countries involved in this initiative are: France, Italy, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, and the UK. Together, these nations compise `cOAlition S’ – the `OA’ is for `Open Access’ – to carry out the plan.

The principal change is that the deadline for implementation has been moved back a year, which is sensible as the original deadline of January 2020 was never going to be feasible. The principal principle is however unchanged:

With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.

I’ll go through the revised guidelines when I get time but in the meantime if you can are so minded you can read them yourself and comment thereon through the comments box below.

The Great Science Publishing Scandal

Posted in Open Access with tags , , , , on May 1, 2019 by telescoper

There was a programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 yesterday called The Great Science Publishing Scandal. It is now available on the interwebs here, which is how I listened to it this morning.

Here’s the blurb that goes with the programme:

Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, explores the hidden world of prestige, profits and piracy that lurks behind scientific journals.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of articles on the findings on research are published, forming the official record of science. This has been going on since the 17th century, but recently a kind of war has broken out over the cost of journals to the universities and research institutions where scientists work, and to anyone else who wants to access the research, such as policy makers, patient support groups and the general public.

Traditionally journals charge their readers a subscription, but since the start of the 21st century there’s been a move to what’s called open access, where the authors pay to get their articles published but anyone can read them, without charge. In Europe Plan S has called for all research funded by the public purse to be open access, by 2020. If and when this is implemented it could have downsides on learned societies who depend on income from journal subscriptions to support young researchers and on scientists in the less developed world.

Some universities, and even countries, have recently refused to pay the subscriptions charged by some of the big science publishers. This has lead to some scientists using a service run by a Russian hacker, which has effectively stolen the whole of the scientific literature and gives it away, free, on the internet.

Matthew Cobb looks back at how the scientific publishing industry got to its current state and asks how it could change. He argues that scientists themselves need to break their addiction to wanting their articles to appear in a few well known journals, and instead concentrate on the quality of their research.

I think this programme is well worth listening to as it makes many of the right criticisms of the status quo. I did, however, find it very frustrating in that it doesn’t really even touch on any of the viable alternative ways of disseminating peer-reviewed scientific research. I didn’t expect a mention for the Open Journal of Astrophysics specifically, but this is one model that at least tries to challenge the status quo. I’m assuming that at least part of the reason for this is the presenter Matthew Cobb works in Zoology, and that is a field that perhaps does not have the established practice of sharing papers via repositories that we have in physics and astronomy via the arXiv. Anyway, it felt to me like he missed an open goal…

Promoting the Open Journal of Astrophysics

Posted in Open Access, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on March 24, 2019 by telescoper

The talk I gave at the meeting I attended last week to celebrate the retirement 60th Birthday of Alan Heavens was about the Open Journal of Astrophysics project. Here are the slides:

I decided a while ago that whenever I get the opportunity at conferences or other meetings I will talk about the Open Journal of Astrophysics (OJA for short) , mainly to encourage more submissions but also to raise OJA’s profile so people aren’t tempted to dismiss review invitations as spam from predatory journals.  At the moment, refereeing is the rate-limiting step in the publication process, at least part of the reason being that people don’t really know what we’re about and perhaps assume that it’s not a bona fide operation.

The talk I gave on Friday generated a fair amount of discussion, and was hopefully a small step along the way to establishing OJA as a mainstream journal and perhaps even the default choice for papers on astrophysics. Emma Chapman posted a tweet about my talk (including a picture of me in action) which got quite a lot of attention on Twitter:


I’ll just add that you can read more about the extent of the profiteering going on here.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, let me mention I have some money (in a grant courtesy of the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation) to help promote this project, and I can legitimately spend it on travel to give talks etc.. If anyone would like a talk about this project, please feel free to contact me!