The week in review – Week 5, 2014

For a Dutch Open Access advocate there was one event that stood out this week. The speech of @SanderDekker our junior minister Science Policy at the Academic Publishing in Europe 2014 conference this week. His speech ‘Going for Gold‘ was a passionate plea for Open Access that should be achieved through the Golden Road.

Open access is a moral obligation, essential for society and inescapable.

He did not debunk the Green route entirely, but for Dekker the Green Road to Open Access was like coming fourth on a major championship. In the end “if you are going for gold, fourth place is the most frustrating place you can achieve”.
As a product manager, responsible for our repository Staff Publications, I see one clear and present danger in the view of our junior minister. If he accepts the Golden Route as the only route, it might lead to the negligence of the Green Route and subsequently the deterioration repository infrastructure in the Netherlands.

The repository infrastructure in The Netherlands and how it can be improved

The Netherlands has a unique repository infrastructure. All universities have their Open Access repository, in most instances managed by the university libraries. Next to that many research institutes maintain Open Access Repositories as well. All the contents of these repositories are harvested and presented in Narcis the overarching repository of the Netherlands. In total 37 institutes participate in Narcis. But lo and behold the 13 universities are the main contributors to Narcis. There are two different policies practiced at the universities in dissemination their publications to Narcis. A group of universities that disseminate complete metadata on all their output to Narcis and a group of universities that only disseminate their open access publications through their repository to Narcis. Some universities can be placed somewhere between these extremes. Since all universities are in the process of acquiring new Current Research Information Systems, there is the opportunity to seize this moment and make arrangements on the exchange of comprehensive metadata for all official university publication output. Make the Academic Bibliography public, and aggregate that output in Narcis.
All universities have to report their publication output to the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) according to a strictly defined protocol. At this moment only the final figures are reported to the VSNU by each university independently. With a small change in policy regulations Narcis could be made the overall repository used for the reporting of these figures and by making these reports publicly available the systems becomes transparent and availability, traceability and verifiability mentioned in the VSNU protocol are all safeguarded. In a much better way than the current situation. The new demands from the Junior Minister of Education to the universities to report on Open Access production should be implemented on Narcis as well. The advantage of a comprehensive publication output registration system is that success of open access achievement can be measured as part of total publication output. If we use for this reporting Narics as well we are nog longer dependent on third party providers for bibliographic data provision and we don’t end up with incomparable numbers.

Comprehensive registration will lead to more publications

If the universities manage to achieve a more comprehensive publication output registration it will subsequently become clear that apart from peer reviewed publications, universities publish a lot more than only peer reviewed publications. Many of those other publications contribute considerably and importantly to the open access production of the universities. These publications are more in the realm of grey literature and play a substantial role in knowledge dissemination to other parties than colleague scholars and universities. These publications reach an audience in other parts of public sector, the industry etc. contributing to the so important knowledge circulation within the Netherlands (WRR, 2014). These other publications have always been produced, but where simply not registered, and more importantly not efficiently disseminated. Registration in a CRIS, dissemination trough a repository and aggregation in Narcis will help to spread the word about this grey literature.

Narcis as a link resolver target

There is another way that can reinforce the role of Narcis as well. If we could make Narcis a link resolver target as well for Open Access versions of Toll Access publications the role of Narcis could gain in importance as well. Some OA advocates rely on the Google’s and Google Scholar to identify Open Access versions of articles. But it would better fit in the academic workflow if an Open Access repository could double function as a link resolver as well. If a researcher is using Scopus to find relevant material for his research, he can locate OA versions of articles he might not have access to when they are present in one of the 37 Dutch repositories. Sugita et al. 2007 already reported on a solution like this in Japan. There is some more information on their AIRway project and the existing targets, where Netherlands is lacking completely. Ross Singer blogged a proposal on this subject as well, but I didn’t see it come to implementation.

Reinforcing the green road in the Netherlands

Sander Dekker happily proclaimed the Golden Route to Open Access as his major policy. I do hope that he, in cooperation with the VSNU, would implement a few minor policy changes that enforce the importance of the Dutch repository infrastructure. If the developers of Narcis manage to make Narcis an Open Access target for link resolvers we get a meaningful and sustainable repository infrastructure for relatively little money.

What else caught my eye this week?

Some selected tweets









Sugita, S., K. Horikoshi, M. Suzuki, Shin Kataoka, E.S. Hellman & K. Suzuki 2007. Linking service to open access repositories. D-Lib Magazine, 13(3-4)

WRR. 2013. Naar een lerende economie : Investeren in het verdienvermogen van Nederland. WRR report Vol. 90. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. 440pp.