Narcis refreshed, but not improved

Narcis is the overarching repository of (Open Access) repositories in the Netherlands. The website was entirely refreshed last week. It got a fresh, modern look. This new look was badly needed.
What did not change was the underlying database and quality of the data. That is a rally missed opportunity. Changing the paint, where repairing the woodwork is really needed is actually a waste of time and money.

Of course Narcis can’t repair it’s framework without the co-operation of the underlying repositories. With at least all universites buying in to better Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) this is the moment to prepare Narcis for the future.

I have pleaded on this blog before to make Narcis the comprehensive metadata aggregator for all scholarly output in the Netherlands. Not only Open Access (OA) publications. But the comprehensive university output. The numbers for the official VSNU reports on scholarly productivity should be based on Narcis, and all metadata underlying those reports should become verifiable in Narcis. This improves the transparency of reporting and transparency of the generated reports. Then, it should go without saying that meaningful reports of the status of Open Access in the Netherlands, as requested by the minister of education, should be generated on the basis of Narcis.

Narcis should serious work on the deduplication of all information. Currently many metadata descriptions reported by separate universities are reported separately, leading to over reporting of actual figures. Based on the estimated of national co-publlication, an overreporting of at least 20% is currently expected. Narcis should merge those records and offer link outs to all repositories contributing the metadata. This deduplication can be greatly improved if they also make better use of standard identieifers such as the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). Currently the DOI is not part of the metadata exchange protocol and this is a serious miss of course.

Narcis should take up the role as metadata exchange platform. e.g. If Groningen and Wageningen have both a co-publication and there is an OA version available in Groningen. There should be service that Wageningen can use to check and harvest that OA version as well and thus safeguard the item on basis of the Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) principle. Similar for the exchange of Digital Author Identifiers (DAI). If Utrecht has indicated a DAI for an author in Utrecht in a co-publication with Wageningen, we should be able to resolve the DAI from the author in Utrecht through Narcis and complete the metadata in our systems, starting with the CRIS of course, and harvest the DAI for the none Wageningen authors from Narcis.

Narcis as a link resolver. It should’s be too difficult to change Narcis into a link resolver to find OA versions of Toll Access articles. Exchange of the DOI would help of course, since you want to resolver on the article level and not on the journal level as is done in the current link resolvers. The benefits would be great to the Dutch public and the relevance of the individual repositories would increase.

Narcis got a new colour and letter type. It looks really nice now, but I look forward to bold steps in the direction of improving the database. Making the database an essential part in the Dutch repository infrastructure and boosting the importance and relevance of the institutional repositories.

The costs for going Gold in the Netherlands

For a meeting of the Open Access work group of Dutch university libraries and the licenses work group of those same universities I was asked to make an estimate of the Costs for a 100% Gold OA model for the Netherlands. In this blog post I want to explain the methodology how I arrived at the outcome of the current calculation and contribute to this subject.

In the first slide I compare the Dutch output registered in the two most suitable databases for this research question. Scopus and Web of Science. To my own amazement Scopus only covered more Dutch publications after 2004. For the calculation of the Article Processing Charges (APC) paid by the Dutch research community it is fair to concentrate on the articles and reviews only. Editorials, letters and conference proceedings were therefore left out the equation. Scopus had the lead in articles and reviews already in 2003. Also striking in this graph is that WoS is slower in updating the database than Scopus, since year 2013 is clear trailing behind. Based on the presented graph, it is likely that we will see some 40,000 articles and reviews published by Dutch (co-)authors.

Since the Web of Science interface was renewed, in the search results an Open Access facet was added. The open access facet identifies the journals covered by Web of Science and registered in the DOAJ. The list of Open Access journals covered by Web of Science, i.e. the Open Access journals with an impact factor, or those that will soon receive an impact factor is freely available from Thomson Reuters. Because of the improved OA identification -but not perfect- Web of Science was the database of choice for this exercise. In the second slide I show the increase share of Open Access articles in journal articles covered by Web of Science in the Netherlands. In 2013 3,776 of 35,267 articles and reviews were published in Gold Open Access journals. That is 10.7%

Looking into more detail at the share of open access articles from the Netherlands in graph 3. I distighuish two points of inflection. After 2004 the share of Open Access articles really took off. I guess that this has to do with the expanded coverage of Open Access journals by Web of Science. Since 2007 Web of Science really started to expand its journal coverage. The second point of inflexion seems to be 2010, when PLoS ONE really started to become popular after it had received its first Impact Factor listing.

So far I talked about the Dutch publication as if they were all produced by the universities. In actual fact 13% of the output in 2013 was not produced by universities and 87% by universities and their academic hospitals.

Comparing the number of Open Access articles found in Web of Science and the refereed articles registered in Narcis, we see a big gap in the older years that closes in the current years. The gap is largely caused by green Open Access articles, Hybrid Open Access article, and Open Access articles published in journals not covered by Web of Science. The relative importance of these three factors need to be established. The lines touching in 2014 is an indication that Gold Open Access is important in filling the repositories immediately and that registering the Green articles in repositories actually take some time. Also because of publisher’s embargoes.

Price information for Article Processing Charges (APC) can be found on the eigenfactor website. Looking into detail to the articles published in 2013. 3314 articles were published in journals APCs , and only 404 in journals without APCs. The average APC for the paid OA journal was on average € 1220,- Taking the free journal articles into account as well, the PAC dropped to € 1087,- on average. All these prices are VAT exclusive.

The total costs for gold Open Access publishing for the Netherlands as covered by journals indexed in Web of Science increased nearly linearly from € 1.5 million in 2009 to just over € 4 million in 2013.

Over this five year period we paid quite substantial APC to the following publishers. As to be expected most to Springer/BMC and PLoS. Followed by Oxford University Press. The mentioned European Geosciences Union is in fact published by Copernicus publishers in Germany. Frontiers was recently acquired by the Nature Publishing Group. The license work group really has a list to consider next to the ‘traditional’ big deals with the standard publishers. It is wisely to see if deals can be struck on APC with Open Access publishers as well. Heather Morrison showed just the other day that we have had some steep price increases by BMC/Springer.

There are some points to consider. Not all research published by Dutch researchers is produced by Dutch Researchers only. In the Science, Technology and Innovation indicators it is indicated that some 50% of publications involve international collaboration. So for 50% of the articles Dutch authors don’t always have to pay the full APC. It is paid by the corresponding author from another country. The bill is shared. Or any other variation. Some research in this area is badly needed.
The APC are another issue. The eigenfactor collection was a good starting point, but are perhaps a bit behind reality for some journals already. Some publishers provide lists of all their journals, but often the lack sufficient metadata -e.g. issn- to do actually something useful with the lists. But in most cases APC are well hidden away, somewhere deep down in the instructions to authors for a single journal only. Publishers should be more transparent in this area.
Where the number of ‘Dutch’ articles might be an over estimation, 21% VAT is not.
In WoS currently only 718 Open Access journals are indexed, out of 9744 listed in DOAJ. Those 718 journals are an increase of 99 OA journals from the 619 I found in december 2010. But it is still a long way from the nearly 10,000 Open Access journals we know of. Of course WoS wants, and should, only cover the top tier journals, but there is more values in those 10,000 DOAJ journals than the current WoS selection. In addition to that, WoS should find a way to indicated OA articles in Toll Access journals as well.

Having made these considerations. My estimate is that in 2014 some 40,000 articles and reviews will be published by Dutch researchers. Applying the average APC of € 1087,- I arrive at an estimated € 43,500,000,- for the Netherlands if all Dutch research would be published in Gold Open Access journals. That figure should be compared to the current spending on journal subscriptions in the Netherlands by Dutch Universities, which is about € 34 million per year Euro at the moment. Going for gold will cost therefore € 10.5 million. That is a lot of money.

Overview of Open Access journals resources

The ISSN register recently launched a new resource: ROAD, Directory of Open Access scholarly Resources. It is an attempt to describe various Open Access resources. Journals, of course. Besides the journals they describe serials, book series and conference proceedings, but also repositories. The latter was new to me that databases could get an ISSN as well. They have not come very far with their inventory of repositories. Currently they have only indexed 172 Open Access repositories. As can be expected the ROAD directory is far more comprehensive for Open Access journals, currently indexing 7194 Open Access journals and a mere 68 conference proceedings. Book series are not yet included but apparently they will follow in 2014.

The effort of the ISSN organisation to index Open Access repositories is in stark contrast with OpenDOAR which has registered 2582 Open Access repositories worldwide and the Registry of Open Access Repositories with 3585 repositories.

For a comparison of the various initiatives to build and maintain databases of Open Access journals the following databases deserve special mention:

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
Probably the best know collection of Open Access journals. Currently a collection of 9804 free full text, peer reviewed Open Access Journals are described. More than 5636 journals are searchable at the article level on the standard bibliographic metadata of the articles.

Livre! is the a journal portal from Brazilian origin, it covers more than 5916 scientific journals, magazines, bulletins and newsletters but you can easily limit the selections to peer reviewed scientific journals.

Jan Szczepanski’s lists of OA-journals
Jan Szczepanski, a librarian at Göteborg University, has collected links and information on Open Access journals for years. His lists contain over 22,000 current OA-journals (end 2013). Het estimates that about 10% of the links in this anthology are dead, but the metadata provided make it possible to find the journal with web search engines or in the Internet archive.

The Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek EZB (Electronic Journals Library)
Covers some 44,000 OA journals. The collection is therefore one of the most comprehensive free journal collections. Just select only the “green” journals and you can browse or search through this impressive collection. The collection covers more than only peer reviewed scholarly journals. Unfortunately you can’t filter out peer reviewed yournals only. You can filter journals by some 41 subject areas.

Walt Crawford’s overview of early E-zines
In Cites & Insight 6(12) Walt Crawford provides an overview of early OA Journals “They weren’t generally called Open Access journals in 1995: If that term existed before 2001 or 2002, it certainly wasn’t the standard name for free online scholarship. But there were examples of free online scholarship, some dating back to 1987.”

I had some doubt whether to include Highwire Press as well. They do list journals from various publishers, but the majority are Toll Access journals, and most of those in Open Access, are delayed open access. Free content as they call it. So it doesn’t fit this collection.

Not a list of journals, but highly suspicious Open Access publishers, is Beall’s list. Most of the resources listed in this post include journals uncritically. Beall’s list is a useful resource to counter some of the Open Access positivism.

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.

The week in review – week 4

The week in review, a new attempt to get some life back into this weblog. It is inspired of course (for the Dutch readers) on TWIT The Week In Tweets by colleague @UBABert and the older monthly overviews which Deet’jes used to do on

The new Web of Science interface
Whilst I was in Kenya the previous week to give training for PhD students and staff at Kenyatta University and the University of Nairobi, Thomson Reuters released their new version of the Web of Science. So only this week I had a first go at it. We haven’t been connected to Google Scholar yet, still waiting to see that come through, but in general the new interface is an improvement over the old one. Albeit, searching for authors is still broken for those who haven’t claimed their ResearcherID. But apart from that, what I hadn’t noticed in the demo versions of the new interface is the new Open Access facet in Web of Science. I like it. But immediately the question arises how do they do it jumps to my mind. The is no information in the help files on this new possibility. So my first guess would be the DOAJ list of journals. Through a message on the Sigmetrics list a little more confusion was added, since various PLoS journals are included in their ‘Open Access Journal Title List’, but for PLoS ONE. Actual searches in Web of Science quickly illustrate that for almost any topic in the past view years PLoS ONE is the largest OA journal responsible for content within this Open Access facet. I guess this new facet in Web of Science will spark some more research in the near future. I see the practical approach of Web of Science as a first step in the right direction. The next challenge is of course to indicate the individual Open Access articles in hybrid journals. Followed by -and this will be a real challenge- green archived copies of Toll Access articles. The latter is badly needed since we can’t rely only on Google Scholar to do this for us.

Two interesting articles in the unfolding field of Altmetrics deserve mention. The groups of Judit Barr-Ilan and Mike Thelwall cooperated in “Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations? Research blogs as a potential source for alternative metrics” . They show that Research Blogging is a good post peer review blogging platform able to pick the better cited articles. However, the number of articles covered by the platform is really too small to be meaningful to become a widely used altmetric indicator.
The other article, at the moment still a working paper, was from CWTS (Costas et al. 2014). They combined Web of Science covered articles with the indicators and investigated many different Altmetric indicators such as as mentions on Facebook walls, Blogs, Twitter, Google+ and News outlets but not Mendeley. Twitter is by far the most abundant Altmetric source in this study, but blogs are in a better position to identify top publications. However the main problem remains the limited coverage by the various altmetrics tools. For 2012 24% of the publications had an altmetric mention, but already 26% of the publications had scored already a citations. Thus confirming the other study that coverage of the peer reviewed scholarly output is only covered on a limited scale by social media tools.

Scholarly Communication
As a follow up on my previous post on the five stars of transparent pre-publication peer review, a few articles on peer review came to my attention. The first was, yet another, excellent bibliography by Charles W. Bailey Jr. on transforming peer review. He did not cover blogposts, only peer reviewed journals. The contributions to this field are published in many different journals, so an overview like this still has its merits.
Through a tweet from @Mfenner

I was notified on a really interesting book ‘Opening Science‘. It is still lacking a chapter on changes in the peer review system, but it is really strong at indicating new trends in Scholarly Communication and Publishing. Worth further perusing. Rankings Although the ranking season has not started yet. The rankers are always keen of putting old wine in new bags. The Times Higher Education presented this week the 25 most international universities in the world. It is based the THE WUR, released last year, this time only focusing on the ‘international outlook indicator’only which accounts for 7.5% of their standard ranking. Of the Dutch universities Maastricht does well. Despite the fact that Wageningen university host students from more than 150 countries, we only ranked 45th on this indicator. More interesting was an article of Alter and Reback (2014) where they show that rankings actually influence the number of freshman applying for a college in the United States as well as the fact that quality of college life plays an important factor as well. So it makes sense for universities to invest in campus facilities and recreation possibilities such as sports grounds etc. Random notes A study on copy rights, database rights and IPR in Europe for Europeana by Guibault. Too much to read at once, and far too difficult to comprehend at once. But essential reading for repository managers.


Alter, M., and R. Reback. 2014. True for Your School? How Changing Reputations Alter Demand for Selective U.S. Colleges. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. (Free access)
Bailey Jr., C. W. 2014. Transforming Peer Review Bibliography. Available from
Binfield, P. 2014. Novel Scholarly Journal Concepts. In: Opening Science, edited by Sönke Bartling and Sascha Friesike, 155-163. Springer International Publishing. OA version:
Costas, R., Z. Zahedi, and P. Wouters. 2014. Do ‘altmetrics’ correlate with citations? Extensive comparison of altmetric indicators with citations from a multidisciplinary perspective. CWTS Working Paper Series Vol. CWTS-WP-2014-001. Leiden: CWTS. 30 pp.
Guibault, L., and A. Wiebe. 2013. Safe to be open : Study on the protection of research data and recommendation for access and usage. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen 167 pp.
Shema, H., J. Bar-Ilan, and M. Thelwall. 2014. Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations? Research blogs as a potential source for alternative metrics. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology: n/a-n/a. OA version: