Open Access Week is fast upon us, and this year’s theme is “Open in Action.” ECS’s participation in Open Access Week is a preview of our vision to Free the Science, a future where authors can publish with us for free and readers can access our Digital Library without paywalls (find out more about what we’re doing to celebrate).

In the spirit of this year’s theme, ECS has created a list  of “action items” to help you make the most of the week:

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Education is the Key to SuccessChildren struggle to learn when they don’t have science labs and libraries. Learning becomes difficult in classrooms that are falling apart, or where children are expected to sit on the floor because they have neither desks nor chairs.

A lack of infrastructure is just one contributor to South Africa’s entrenched and ongoing educational inequality. There is another, less frequently discussed issue that is deepening this inequality: access to quality peer-reviewed information.

Such information should be available to all South Africans whether they are school children, university students, researchers or citizen scientists. This will encourage lifelong self-learning. It will spur continued research and innovation. Access to information can bolster education, training, empowerment and human development.

International Open Access Week offers a good opportunity to explore how South Africa can improve its citizens’ access to information.

Opening up access

It has been more than 21 years since apartheid ended, but a distinction remains between South Africa’s “rich” and “poor” universities. One of the reasons for this distinction is the richer institutions’ ability to invest in research resources. They can afford expensive subscriptions to databases which contain a wealth of research – ironically funded by taxpayers’ money.

The historically disadvantaged and predominantly black universities can’t afford such subscriptions. Their academics also can’t contribute to such resources, because authors are expected to pay a fee for the “privilege” of being published.

As university budgets are slashed, even wealthier institutions are beginning to struggle with subscription and publication fee costs.

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Open AccessNASA recently announced that all research funded by the space agency will be accessible to anyone looking to access the data at absolutely no cost.

The new public web portal, called PubSpace, was established in response to NASA’s new policy, which requires that all research funded by NASA and published in peer-reviewed journals must be open to the public within one year of its initial publication.

“At NASA, we are celebrating this opportunity to extend access to our extensive portfolio and scientific and technical publications,” NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman said in a press release. “Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air, and space.”

However, the entire body of NASA-funded research will not be accessible in PubSpace. Materials and patents governed by personal privacy, proprietary, or security laws will not be housed in the new database.

NASA’s new policy and PubSpace is a direct response to a request from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for federal funding agencies to make papers and data more easily accessible to other researchers and the public.

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For-science or For-profit?

Overcoming barriers in scholarly publishing

ResearchIn 1995, Forbes published an article entitled, “The Internet’s first victim?” In the article, author John Hayes predicted the world of commercial, for-profit scholarly publishing would suffer under the thumb of the internet and begin the slow process of fizzling out for lack of ability to turn a profit.

Turns out he was wrong.

Commercial scientific publishing has adapted to the times, becoming a multi-billion dollar industry; a $25.2 billion industry to be exact.

The rise of the for-profits

According to CBC News, the top for-profit scientific publishers report profit margins of nearly 40 percent, making some of those margins even higher than that of companies like Apple and Google.

The divide between ECS publications and that of top commercial publishers has deep roots. In the early days of scientific publishing, most journals came out of nonprofit scientific societies like ECS. However, the digital age changed things. It did not stifle the commercial publisher as Hayes thought, instead it hurt the scientific societies. Because the cost to make the switch from print to digital was so high, many societies sold their journals to large, for-profit publishers.

The top five largest, for-profit, academic publishers now publish 53 percent of all scientific papers in natural and medical sciences, but ECS still remains as one of the last independent scientific society publishers, and is still committed to the initial vision of the journals: to disseminate scientific research to the broadest possible audience with the fewest barriers.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is making his voice heard in the quest for open access of vital scientific research.

After losing his son to cancer in May of 2015, Biden has been on a mission to accelerate cancer research in search of a cure. In order to make those leaps and bounds in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, Biden is now pushing for an open access database to gain better understanding of the disease and advance innovation.

According to The Washington Post, Biden stated that the path toward breakthroughs relies upon increasing the number of researchers who can access data.

While the scope of ECS’s science may be different, our mission to accelerate innovation and open access to our research is the same.

ECS’s Free the Science initiative aims to make all of the research in our Digital Library free to publish and free to read – freeing the science for everyone.

Instead of putting money into the publishing industry, Free the Science is investing in research – allowing scientists to share their work with readers around the world and attracting more minds to think about how to solve some of our planet’s most pressing problems.

Learn more about Free the Science.

Open Access LogoWhen eLife emerged in 2012, the biomedical journal aimed to be on-par with such competitors as Nature and Cell as far as content goes, but publish those papers at no cost to the author or reader.

After 1,800 papers four years of a complete open access model, eLife will get another boost from its funders to allow the journal to continue down its path of high standards and openness.

eLife’s status in the field is rising quite quickly,” eLife editor Sjors Scheres told Nature News. “I liked the idea behind it — to make a high-impact journal completely driven by scientists, and open.”

ECS’s Free the Science initiative draws many parallels to eLife’s publication model. Much like eLife, ECS looks to maintain our rigorous peer-review process as we move toward making the ECS Digital Library completely open access.

Free the Science is an initiative that seeks to remove all fees associate with publishing and accessing our scientific content so scientists can share their research with readers around the world, allowing more minds to think about and solve problems.

Learn more about Free the Science and watch our video explaining why it has never been more important to advance our technical domain.

digital_library_hiresPlease let your librarians know that our subscription prices for 2017 are up on our website.

As part of our commitment to Free the Science…

  • The Digital Library has not increased in price since 2013!
  • ECS members continue to be eligible for one OA Article Credit per year.

If you would like your institution to subscribe to ECS Plus (which allows authors affiliated with a subscribing institution unlimited article credits for publishing OA), please let your librarian know that you would value it.

Open access continues to gain momentum globally

openaccessroundGlobally, open access can help create a world where everyone from the student in Atlanta to a researcher in Haiti can freely read the scientific papers they need to make a discovery; where scientific breakthroughs in energy conversion, sensors, or nanotechnology are unimpeded by fees to access or publish research.

The global open access effort aims to break down barriers and make online scholarly information free to everyone, promote the global exchange of scientific discoveries, and open the door to the faster development of practical applications that could address some of the world’s most pressing issues.

(READ: “Robert Savinell on Preserving Scientific Research“)

Accelerating discovery in Africa

Recently, Senegal started building this framework for African countries that often lack access to scientific and education information. During April’s Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, representatives from the west-African country decided to begin the process to ensure the establishment of a national open access policy, making them the first African country to establish such a policy.

Leaders hope this new policy will encourage the creation of open platforms free and accessible for all researchers, innovators, teachers, students, media professionals, and the public and will encourage collaboration, production, dissemination, and knowledge economies.

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Free the Science 5K is Back!

Free the Science 5K

Free the Science 5K at the 227th ECS Meeting in Chicago.

Start jogging now, because this May the Free the Science 5K returns to the ECS biannual meeting. Join us in San Diego on Tuesday, May 31st at 0700h for a refreshing morning run in support of ECS’s Free the Science initiative.

Free the Science reflects ECS’s bold commitment to advancing and openly sharing scientific research. In light of the importance of our fields to global progress and sustainability, we want to publish the best research in electrochemistry and solid state science at no charge to authors, and make it freely available to all readers.

You can help us reach this goal by running to Free the Science. All profits from the 5K will go toward making the Free the Science vision a reality. To join the race, simply add a ticket to your meeting registration or visit the customer service counter at the meeting. Early-bird registration for the race is $30; onsite is $35. And don’t forget to invite your local friends—the race is open to the public!

Rather sleep in on Tuesday? You can still support Free the Science in many ways, including donating or choosing to publish open access. Learn more about Free the Science.

Come out and join us on Tuesday morning—get charged up with a run through the beautiful San Diego waterfront and show your support for open science.

 

Open Access vs. Illegal Access

openaccessroundIt’s always questionable to blog about something that is gaining attention because it’s illegal, but that’s the case with the latest crop of articles about open access in popular media.  While the scientific community has been debating the merits of open access for a while now, the business behind scientific publishing is getting a lot more attention lately because of Alexandra Elbakyan, a graduate student from Kazakhstan who has hacked into hundreds of scholarly journals.

Elbakayn leaked millions of documents, opening a (albeit illegal) door for the public to freely access just about every scientific paper ever published.

To some, Elbakyan is a hero – taking a stand for the public’s right to know. To others, she is a criminal.

“Realistically only scientists at really big, well-funded universities in the developed world have full access to published research,” said Michael Eisen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a longtime champion of open access. “The current system slows science by slowing communication of work, slows it by limiting the number of people who can access information and quashes the ability to do the kind of data analysis” that is possible when articles aren’t “sitting on various siloed databases.”

This from The New York Times:

Journal publishers collectively earned $10 billion last year, much of it from research libraries, which pay annual subscription fees ranging from $2,000 to $35,000 per title if they don’t buy subscriptions of bundled titles, which cost millions. The largest companies, like Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Springer and Wiley, typically have profit margins of over 30 percent.

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