Standard page

Report on the Open-Access-Week 2019

On 21st October 2019, at several events during the Open Access Week, TU Darmstadt offered the possibility to exchange views on the new Open Access policy, to discuss concrete actions for implementation and to promote the transition to Open-Access.

Filling the frame with content – actions for the implementation of the Open Access policy at TU Darmstadt

During the public meeting of the advisory board “Open Access”, Vice President Prof. Dr. Rapp summarised the milestones from the first draft of the Open Access policy one year ago, to the passing in the executive board on 29. August 2019. The OA policy is available on the websites of the executive board and ULB as full text. Now it is necessary to support scientists with the implementation of the policy and to further strengthen the thought of Open-Access.

When using and creating teaching materials as OpenLearnWare, teachers are supported in an advisory and technical capacity by the Center for Educational Development and Technology (HDA). For publication projects – from bachelor or doctoral theses to journal articles – members of TU can draw on the services of the University and State Library (ULB). All meeting attendees agree that further measures are necessary and that, depending on the subject culture, different problems and approaches need to be considered in order to achieve a „cultural change“ – so that Open Access is also regarded as a normal and important publication channel. The process can only be successful if all actors from university management, HDA, ULB, administration and all departments are networked.

The idea of appointing an OA officer from among the professors to remove fears from the scientific community, to promote positive development and to coordinate actions within the university was very well received. This role has not yet been defined.

Prize-worthy scientific contributions can serve as role models if they are consistently openly available in full text (at least as a second publication in TUprints). The numer of second publications is to be significantly increased through targeted information and services.

In the future, a publication guideline will help to ensure a better visibility of TU’s research output by providing concrete standards for document format and standardised names for institutes / departments. In this way publications in automated queries can be clearly assigned to TU Darmstadt.

Finally, Ms. Rapp recommended that the OA week be retained as a fixed format at the TU, that it continue to be used for information purposes and that it be gradually expanded to include Open Science, Open Data and sustainable science.

TU’s services for Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OER)

… where presented by experts of ULB and HDA at information booths. Interested scientists were able to see how the Dissemin online tool checks their publications for a possible second publication and then uploads them directly into TU’s repository TUprints.

Quality, reputation and impact: new developments in scientific publishing

With his introductory short lecture Prof. Dr. Rittberger, deputy executive director of DIPF and professor for information management at Hochschule Darmstadt, provided an insight into how alternative metrics offer a new perspective on scientists and their work. In contrast to metrics like impact factor and h-index, altmetrics capture the reactions to a scientific document on the internet – in blogs, twitter, social and academic networks (e.g. Facebook, Mendeley) or news channel. Any type of document can be considered as long as it is clearly identifiable. The resonance on the web generally depends on the public interest in the respective topic. Social media channels do not play a major role in communication on scientific results in Germany yet. (Presentation “Alternative Metriken. Ein Beispiel aus der Bildungsforschung”)

After this lecture Prof. Dr. Rapp, Prof. Dr. Stäcker, Prof. Dr. Rittberger, Prof. Dr. Gius and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anderl were faced with Prof. Dr. Schmunk's questions about quality, reputation and impact.

OA critics often argue with quality aspects. The question on how to measure quality was not answered, but both Mr. Anderl and Ms. Gius emphasised that OA and quality do not contradict each other. It is important to redefine quality and to involve the professional community. Unfortunately the reputation of OA titles does not reach that of publications by well-known major publishers. Those involved in the peer review process could upgrade OA journals.

Another difficult topic is funding. Mr Stäcker confirmed that there is no detachment of subscription-based procedures in sight. If article processing charges (APC) hat to be paid for all OA contributions, enormously high expenses would be lying ahead for the university. Unfortunately the aim of cutting the price peaks of large publishers with the DEAL contracts was not accomplished. According to Mr Rittberger, small publishers are barely competitive and urgently need to be supported by scientific institutions, e.g. by cooperations and contracts that provide them with technology for OA activities and create favourable framework conditions. To be able to pay for OA, new structures must be set, aquisition funds must be reallocated from journals requiring subscriptions and funding must be bound to OA publications. Transformation processes cannot succeed without the voluntary collaboration of the scientific community.

Studies show that OA articles are read more frequently than conventional articles. OA publications are therefore quite suitable to increase the scientist's reputation. Mr Stäcker pointed out that despite obvious advantages such as quick and worldwide availability, reusability and possible saving of costs, many researchers decide against Open Access. The acceptance of the community is decisive. Ms Rapp added two more factors: career status and transparency. The decision on the optimal publishing strategy is influenced by the scientist's career level (e.g. at the beginning of career or already successful), and by the importance of transparency as a factor. OA publications are worldwide accessible and visible for everyone. Their availability does not depend on readers’ financial status. More transparency is hardly imaginable.

All professors present conceded that OA publications are not always simple because of a wide variety of obstacles and dependencies. Nevertheless, there was consent on the podium with regard to green OA, that a second publication is advisable. Ms Gius appealed to go ahead as an important part of the community and publish OA herself. Mr Stäcker even demanded for OA not only to be freely available, but also to be machine-readable and electronically evaluable through suitable data formats so that the huge amount of literature can be handled and researched at all.

Subsequently to the panel discussion, most of the attendees took the opportunity to exchange views over a glass of wine and discuss the issues raised.