CISPC 2019 – Rising to the challenge

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Librarians, researchers, funders, publishers and other vendors came together in a spirit of cooperation for the third CISPC meeting in November.

CISPC 2019 (Challenges in the Scholarly Publishing Cycle) was organised by Research Information in partnership with Info International, with the aim of providing librarians and information professionals with an invaluable insight into best practice for delivering the open research agenda.

With funders placing an increasing emphasis on open research, librarians are faced with the challenge of changing entrenched practices among researchers – particularly around the submission stage. 

The one-day event, held at London Art House in the London Borough of Islington, brought together speakers from around the world who have addressed this challenge head-on, and who shared their experiences and expertise with fellow scholarly communication professionals.

The theme of the conference was decided after the formation of a reader panel, an online survey and a series of telephone interviews with respondents. We asked them to describe their day-to-day duties and responsibilities, and to outline key areas where they were facing challenges. 

There were many areas for discussion, but a constant theme – mentioned by all – was the relatively recent need to adopt and encourage new ways of working around the dissemination of research as we move towards the open research era.

The discussions were also responsible for the launch of a new column in Research Information, Open Book, in which a series of librarians write about their experiences in this area.

A view from the funders

Delegates were expecting a presentation from Rachel Bruce, Head of Open Research at UK Research and Innovation (better known as UKRI), which is the UK government body that directs research and innovation funding. Unfortunately, because a general election had been called in the UK, Rachel was not allowed to report, predict or pass opinion on UKRI policy, so was forced to cancel.

However, there was another superb keynote, entitled Supporting the shift to open research: views from a research funder and a scholarly publisher, from David Carr, programme manager for open research at The Wellcome Trust, and Liz Allen, director of strategic initiatives at F1000.

Researchers are increasingly required and able to share their findings rapidly, openly and fully to support access, use and re-use. The transition to open and collaborative ways of working requires shifts in technology to be accompanied by changes in behaviours and in the ways the research community works together.

The keynote covered: the rationale and key drivers for open research from both a funder and a scholarly publisher perspective; examples of how funders and scholarly publishers can facilitate the transition to open research; and will reflect on the challenges and opportunities that remain in this transition and how this impacts on institutions and their librarians.

Carr opened by outlining why open research is important to Wellcome: he said it was fundamental to the organisation that the outputs of the research it funds are able to be accessed in ways that allow the research to benefit the widest audience: 'We want as many bright minds as possible, all around the world, to have access to that research, and to do good things with it and to amplify the benefit of the research that we support.

'Wellcome has been a strong and passionate advocate of open research and we have strong and long-standing expectations of those we fund. We believe this policy will help to accelerate discovery and bring the widest possible benefits for health and for the wider society.'

Carr described how Wellcome is fully aligned with cOalitionS and Plan S, and talked about the organisation's plans to work with learned societies in coming months and years to help them meet the requirements of Plan S. Another priority is to support innovation in publishing technology around open research, of which a particular part is an ongoing partnership with its publishing partner F1000. He said the partnership could potentially lead to a 'game-changing model' that would be made available to funded researchers to enable an open publishing system. 

F1000's Liz Allen talked around the concept of evolving research, and the fact that funding policies and other pressures are leading to new ways of working across scholarly communications, from laboratories to libraries to publishing houses. 

She described how a formerly fragmented system is changing – partly through 'pulls, pushes and policies' but also because of technology developments; the involvement of the library community is crucial in both, Allen said: 'Things are happening, and the context in which we do research – and how it is being shared – is changing massively.'

Allen described how the range of places where research is published has expanded way past the traditional journal/monograph model. Preprint severs and repositories have increased in importance hugely, and it important that the industry maintains and strengthens links between its many parts to ensure the proliferation of open research: 'People are doing this because they want to, and because it important to them, and we need to keep a close eye on the entire system and make sure that it is useful to us all.'

She added: 'There has been a whole shift in research culture; we are not just focussing on published outputs. We are much more holistic and are looking at the whole research system; what we want researchers to do, how can we incentivise them – and of course we need as much information as possible about what researchers are currently doing in terms of the process around dissemination.'

Identifiers for navigating research

Rachael Kotarski, head of research infrastructure services at the British Library, and Christine Ferguson of the European Bioinformatics Institute, explained to delegates how persistent identifiers such as DOIs have long been used to create lasting links to research papers – and how, increasingly, the allow the scholarly community to link and disambiguate a wide range of outputs, contributors, funders and other entities on which research is built.  

Kotarski described how the EU-funded FREYA project is working to link together all these identifiers, enabling discovery of research, collaborators and impact, and attempting to create a persistent identifier graph. 

She outlined examples that link facility use and funding to theses in the British Library’s EThOS collection, and show how Europe PubMed Central is linking from preprints to published articles and back.

Ferguson gave examples of preprint records used within her institution, which highlighted the fact that the record was a preprint, how it varies from the version of record in terms of peer review, and the links between the preprint and the published article. All versions are linked through a persistent identifier, as well as being lined to the citation network. 

Cambridge's journey

Lauren Cadwallader, deputy manager of scholarly communication at Cambridge University, described how in 2015 the institution set up its Office of Scholarly Communication – a team dedicated to helping with open access and research data management support across the university. 

Four years on and the University is one of the first in the UK to have a position on open research. Cadwallader's talk described progress on the project – from compliance to good practice as a normal part of research to preparation for future challenges such as Plan S and the increasing use of preprint servers. 

She outlined how Cambridge, though in many ways different to other institutions, in fact shares many things with other universities in terms of their scholarly communications systems and the way in which they are handling the open research agenda. She described how there are 'slight tensions;' between central services and local services, with different departments of the university operating in different ways. 

'There is also a plethora of committees,' she joked. 'There are committees all over the place.'

Cadwallader described how the early months and years of her department were taken up with compliance, and convincing researchers of the benefits of open access: 'Then, slowly, around 2016 we began to talk more about open research. Our team grew fast, reflecting the scale of the work we had to do at Cambridge.'

A pilot with the Wellcome trust followed, along with increased training around open research, and then an agreement from the University in 2017 that it should adopt an agreed position on open research. Members of the universities were questioned about their practices around open research, and training courses were set up for researchers. Earlier this year, Cambridge signed the DORA agreement.

Cadwallader admitted that the university was 'not there yet' in terms of a fully-formed strategy, but that strong progress had been made in implementing holistic initiatives. She said further progress would depend on third-party timelines and requirements, academic engagement, and new developments in scholarly communications.

Monograph mess?

Martin Eve, professor of literature, technology and publishing at Birkbeck, University of London, described how open-access monographs have been acknowledged as difficult, economically, to implement. 

The recent pan-European declaration, Plan S, however, specifies an impending mandate for monographs that are the result of funded work. This talk explores the challenges and opportunities in this space as well as detailing the recently announced COPIM initiative, funded by Research England, that is designed to bridge the infrastructural gaps for OA monographs.

Eve explained how monographs are very different in their production practices and purchasing patterns from serials. The problem is, he said, that books cost an awful lot to produce; somewhere between $25,000 and $130,000 according to a recent study of university presses in the USA: 'When the costs of producing the artefact in question and getting to the first copy are so high in the first place, the cost burden becomes a real problem.' Eve pointed out that his university cannot afford a single book processing charge from its entire budget – a problem that causes real issues around distribution.

'All roads lead back to the library'

The afternoon session of CISPC2019 featured very informative presentations from librarians.

Dr Robert Darby, Research Data Manager and Dr Karen Rowlett, Research Publications Adviser, University of Reading Library, presented: An Open Research journey: changing sharing culture at the University of Reading, while Catherine Parker, collections and scholarly communications librarian at the University of Huddersfield, spoke on: Supporting Researchers in HE – Champions and Collaborators with a Common Goal.

The Reading team discussed the collaborative efforts of the library research publications team and research data manager at the University of Reading to stimulate a culture of open research, including but extending beyond open access. The team focused on the benefits to the researcher rather than compliance, with initiatives include two open research-themed conferences for staff and research students, a university statement on open research, an open research award competition and other initiatives.

Parker's presentation centred on how collaboration and communication between stakeholders is vital, and how there is a need to share expertise and champion the institution's strengths. She added that the ultimate goal is to support researchers, in whichever way possible, in the constantly shifting research landscape.

Without doubt, the quote of the day award went to Simon Ross, chief executive at Manchester University Press, as part of his presentation: Manchesterhive and an Institutional Response to Open Access. The presentation covered how Manchester University Press has adapted to institutional and market demands for open access, especially for books in the humanities and the social sciences.

Ross noted that, in terms of the research process, 'all roads lead back to the library' – an assertion that went down very well with delegates.

• Further excerpts and highlights from presentations from CISPC2019, as well as presentation slides, will be made available at