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CILIP North West Branch’s Open Access Publishing Event – 10th February 2014 — Part 2

After lunch, Alicja Dobrzynska (Membership Accounts Manager, BioMed Central) commenced her presentation (“Open Access – past, present, future”) stating that we now have an expectation for unlimited access to information 24/7. OA, Alicja said, is all about accessibility and sharing to ensure maximum visibility for the author. The next couple of slides gave some information about OA today and the two routes to OA; gold and green. We were then given information about the company; BioMed Central (part of Springer Science+Business Media) publishes over 250 OA journals, and in terms of quality are in the top ten in the field. Springer Open, launched in 2010, has 140 OA journals and 20+ OA books, therefore in combination with BioMed a wide range of subjects is covered.

Alicja explained that the main revenue comes from APCs (Article Processing Charge); a small amount comes from reprints and advertising, and then broke down what the APC covers:

  • Editorial – handling of articles
  • Technical – development, maintenance and operation of online journal platform and manuscript handling systems
  • Production – formatting and mark up of articles, inclusion in indexing services
  • Marketing – making sure readers and authors know about the journal
  • Customer service – responding to authors/readers

The OA Membership Program aims to actively support OA, and they were one of the first to set up such a program. Both BioMed Central and SpringerOpen have three institutional agreements (Prepay Agreement, Shared Support Agreement, and Supporter Agreement) available to help support OA.  The benefits of OA to authors, Alicja said, include: very high visibility – all possible social media is used to make the research more visible, widely indexed, excellent peer review, no barriers to dissemination and higher citations.



To stay ahead BioMed Central have a few developments: making peer reviewing an open process with Biology Direct, working with Papers (leading reference managers) and a Journal Cascade model, amongst other things. How the Cascade model works: if a researcher has their article rejected from the journal another journal is recommended for them to publish in. The article only needs to be submitted once, therefore, simplifying the process of publishing.

Alicja explained that authors now expect more from publishers and they are aiming to meet this by providing altmetrics showing stats for every single article cited (tweeted, blogged etc.) on social media thus demonstrating how visible an article is online. Additionally, BioMed enables mobile viewing (device-specific formatting for smart phone or tablet users) with their mobile-friendly design of journals and articles and users are also able to save articles to read offline.

During the Q&A session one attendee commented that the Prepay agreement lacks transparency in terms of costs, therefore, academics are not aware how much it costs or who is paying for it; Alicja did agree with this and said that this was something BioMed are working on.

 The last presentation of the day was delivered by Helen Dobson (Research Services Librarian, University of Manchester) and focused on the University of Manchester’s approach to OA. Helen explained with the funding they had (which was time limited) they could do quite a lot with their project; the University of Manchester differ vastly to MMU as they had received a substantial amount of funding, therefore, as an established research institution, they would be taking the gold route.

The OA project was library led but reported to the university and involved people from all over the university. In addition to library staff included academic staff and research support staff, library leadership team staff. The goals for the project came from RCUK requirements and were as follows:

  1. Introduce a change culture to prepare researchers and academics for the launch of OA
  2. Establish structures and processes to support the new policies
  3. Implement technical development to support OA
  4. Sept up a payment system for APCs


The project team began by analysing where they currently publish and found that a large amount of their published output is with a small number of publishers and consequently their total spend was with the top publishers. Next they looked at how much an APC is with these publishers which helped to establish who to talk to. They looked into whether the publishers offered green and gold options and what deals were available.

When it came to dealing with the goals they had established, the team dealt with cultural change by communicating the key issues around adoption of Open Access publishing via a factsheet and attending faculty research meetings.

The team looked at outsourcing fund management (funding received from Wellcome, BIS etc.) but in the end decided to keep it in house. In an effort to ensure the process required minimum effort from researchers APC requests (via a form) were embedded within the repository. The current process is for researchers to submit an APC request at the point of acceptance and funding is allocated on a first come first served basis (a completely different approach to MMU).

Standardised responses are sent once an APC form has been submitted but it is not so straightforward as there is a need to know how publishers deal with requests, as they are all different and need slightly different information from the author, and there is also a need to make sure authors select the correct licence otherwise they are not compliant. In order to avoid APCs being rejected the library encourage researchers to forward any emails they get directly from the publishers.


  • Publishers, processes and deals – some work really well, others are more challenging (e.g. licences)
  • Unfunded authors seeking support for paid OA
  • Encouraging more Green OA.

After a short refreshment break the day concluded with a tour of Liverpool Central Library. The day was very illuminating on the different aspects of OA- from a publishers, university perspective and policy perspective.



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This entry was posted on February 27, 2014 by in National/International events & conferences and tagged , , .

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