Transcript: Making Open Access Work

Listen to Podcast Download Transcript PDF

With Rob Johnson, Research Consulting (UK) & Helen Henderson, Information Power (UK)

Recorded January 28, 2015

For podcast release Wednesday, February 4, 2015

KENNEALLY: For scholarly and scientific publishing, business models are shifting and changing as dramatically as snow drifts in a blizzard.

Now, research funding organizations primarily in the UK and US, but elsewhere in Europe and Asia as well, increasingly require unfettered access for the public to the research they have funded in academic laboratories. Failure to comply with such mandates puts future funding at risk. Yet without a flexible and friction-free infrastructure to collect article processing charges, so-called APCs, and deliver detailed reporting on those, authors and publishers face significant challenges. If you’ve been following this story, you know what I’m talking about. Indeed, we’ve been sharing with you at Copyright Clearance Center a great deal of information about the changes underway in scholarly and scientific publishing as a result of these open access mandates. Copyright Clearance Center has been assisting publishers in collecting author charges for almost a decade now.

Along with the programs such as today’s, the webinars that we have conducted over the last two years, we decided, or it became clear to us, that an open dialogue among publishers, institutions, and their vendors is essential to creating an efficient ecosystem for open access publishing. To that point, in London at University College last October, Copyright Clearance Center brought together publishers and institutions for a roundtable discussion to share experiences and conceptualize possible solutions.

With regard to the institutional roundtable that was held in London in October, Copyright Clearance Center issued that group’s finding in a report by Rob Johnson, the founder and director of Research Consulting. The point there that we’re going to stress throughout is that standards really matter. To learn more about that, we want to invite onto the program Rob Johnson. Rob, welcome. Rob Johnson, do we have you on our line?

JOHNSON: Yeah. Can you hear me OK?

KENNEALLY: Indeed we can. Rob Johnson, thank you so much for joining us from across the water there in the UK. Rob Johnson, welcome again. We’ve had you on several of our webinars throughout the last couple of years. We’ll tell people briefly about your background. Rob Johnson is the founder and director of Research Consulting, based in the UK. He’s an experienced research management professional and chartered accountant. He founded Research Consulting early in 2013, indeed at the very beginning of this open access revolution. Previously, for the University of Nottingham, he served as research financial controller and subsequently head of research operations. So he is grounded in the institutional world and really knows a great deal about it, as that’s his native country, if you will.

Rob Johnson, it’s great to have you back on the line here. That institutional roundtable that we held in London at University College brought together people not just from universities, but from the publishing world as well. We can see some of the names there. Tell us what it was like to have that group in a single room together.

JOHNSON: I think it was just a fantastic opportunity, because you were very kind in terms of what I know about open access. I think we had much better authorities than me in the room. My job was really just to tease out form them some of their experiences. We had, as you say, some of the key people from publishers – so Brandon Nordin from American Chemical Society and Karen Hawkins from IEEE. We had Ros Pyne from Nature Publishing Group, as well as some of your colleagues from CCC, Richard Wynne from Aries, and a number of people from institutions. Generally, these are people who are, I guess, right on the frontline in grappling with open access and trying to make it work. We had a really good mix of universities, so Imperial College London, UCL, these are top, top institutions that will consistently figure in the top 10, top 20 world university rankings. We also had smaller institutions. I think we had a really good mixture of perspectives. The value came, I think, in bringing those different stakeholders together to share their ideas, but also to find some of the common ways forward.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. A couple of points about that – we have made the theme of these discussions with you and with others around open access that we hear you. We want to hear from people, because open access really sounds dramatic, but it is radically rewriting the rules of scholarly and scientific publishing. No single institution, no single publisher or intermediary, has all the answers. It’s really important to bring people together to share. One of the things it’s changing is the stakeholders, the people who are participating in this discussion. In the past, publishing institutions were a customer of publishing. Now they really are much closely to being partners, wouldn’t you say, Rob?

JOHNSON: Yes, absolutely. I think we’ll come on to talk about this, but the interactions are becoming much more complex with institutions and publishers. It’s no longer just about the annual subscription round, but actually almost on a day-to-day basis, there can be interactions between institutions and publishers and author. And really, the workflows for that are still evolving. The whole environment is still evolving. As you say, no one really has the answers, and that’s because the questions keep changing at the moment.

KENNEALLY: Right. Indeed. When it comes down to that, let’s talk about what the aims were for the day. There were a lot of questions. There was a lot of input from the participants. You had some specific goals for that day.

JOHNSON: That’s right. As I say, part of it was really just about fostering dialogue between some of the stakeholders. Many people will know there’s a lot of opportunities for librarians to get together. There’s a lot of opportunities for publishers to get together. There perhaps aren’t quite so many opportunities where publishers and librarians and vendors can get together in this sort of context and really grapple with some of the issues. I think that was a great opportunity. We used that to try to draw out some of the big challenges that the different stakeholders are facing, to look at what vendors – so vendors like CCC, like Aries can do in providing solutions.

The other thing I encouraged people to do was to look at developing a future narrative on gold open access in particular. This concept of the future narrative comes from a professor at the University of Nottingham. We have a chap called Chris Barnett there who’s a professor of strategy and future studies, which I think is just a fantastic job title. He talked about this importance of – when it comes to the future, either we just say well, que sera sera, there’s nothing we can do, or we look at what are the trends, what are the developments that we can see are happening and construct a coherent narrative that takes account of those trends that start to shape the way that we want the future to be. That was really the idea of the roundtable was to look at what’s happening, to look at the challenges, but try to collectively agree on a narrative about how we move forward into the future from where we are now.

KENNEALLY: Right. Indeed. When it comes to the future, either you’re in charge of the future, or the future is in charge of you, I think.

JOHNSON: Absolutely, yes. So it was about trying to recognize there’s certain things we can do as a community of different stakeholders to set things up as well as we possibly can, given the changes that we’re seeing.

KENNEALLY: At the end of the day, and it was a pretty intensive day of discussions and breakout sessions and so forth, where did we wind up? Was there a sense that there was common ground possible here?

JOHNSON: I think there was. Afterwards, Jen Goodrich, who’s the director of the RightsLink product at CCC, she and I were saying I think what was fascinating was obviously, there are differences of opinion sometimes between librarians and publishers around subscriptions and so on. But fundamentally, we found there was just a tremendous amount of commonality in the issues that the people are facing. Ultimately, whether it’s publishers or institutions, they’re trying to support authors, they’re trying to get research out there. They’re dealing with a very rapidly changing external environment. They’re often doing that within resource constraints, with systems that perhaps aren’t designed to do what they’re not being asked to do. So I think we did find a lot of agreement, and far more agreement than disagreement over the course of the day.

KENNEALLY: What’s interesting about that, Rob Johnson, is that we’ve been talking about these issues now for a couple of years and there seems to have been an evolution, a progression from, oh, this is revolutionary, this is really turning the tables on publishing, to a sense among the different communities – the authors, the publishers, indeed even the funders in the institutions – that frankly, what we’re talking about is something we’ve been working with in scholarly publishing for 300 years. It’s a business. There needs to be business transactions. There need to be business processes that can handle this change. But this is not really all that different than what publishers have done for so many years.

JOHNSON: Yeah, that’s right. I think it’s perhaps just changing the order in which things happen. It’s changing the nature of the customer and how the customer perhaps pays for things. But you’re right. There is an element of evolution in here as well as revolution. Of course, what we’re seeing is many publishers making a gradual transition towards open access over time and testing things and finding out what works, rather than having to completely overturn the apple cart and start again.

KENNEALLY: Rob, you spoke about the changing roles and the changing places of these various stakeholders within this ecosystem, and it’s certainly clear to everyone when it comes to open access that engaging authors appropriately and serving them sufficiently and efficiently is crucial to success here. But again, this is a very complex process. It’s a change that is perhaps still in the early stages. Tell us about the discussion at the roundtable around this particular point. What were some thoughts that people that are really important takeaways to share with our audience?

JOHNSON: I think this whole question of author engagement is a really interesting one, because I think everyone recognizes we want authors to be at the center of the process, but also they need support and they need guidance. While no one really wants to exclude them from it, often there are some things that authors will struggle to get to grips with or may not have enough time to get to grips with. That’s where potentially librarians, research managers, institutions, and publishers can help alleviate that burden a little bit. What we see is it’s just a very, very complex environment. So when we have publications that arise from multiple funding sources, and obviously authors are publishing potentially with more than one publisher, with different policies, and they may have co-authors who are also subject to different institutional mandates, potentially different funder mandates, actually, making sense of that is extremely complex. I think the days when effectively, the author could just interact with the publisher and it was a purely two-way relationship, that those are going, and increasingly, authors need input and assistance from their institution, from administrators up front.

So what we talked about, I think, was that the publishers recognized that too, that actually in cases where institutional administrators haven’t been involved, that’s where things can tend to go wrong, and often the get involved later on. I think one of the things that, say, Karen Hawkins was saying is they recognize they’ve got to start to find ways of engaging actively with institutional librarians from the outset, because often they’re the ones who are best informed about licensing, they understand what funder requirements are, and they can guide the author through the process as effectively as possible.

KENNEALLY: That’s fascinating, because I was setting up this two-way communication, author and publisher, but really, there’s three-way, four-way. It’s a multiverse of discussions that go on.

JOHNSON: That’s right. We also had some very interesting discussions about where does the open access workflow start. Historically, really institutions wouldn’t get involved until the point of publication and beyond, but now we’re talking about actually at the point of acceptance, even at the point of submission and choosing where authors wish to publish, there may be a role for institutions to play. Of course, this gets into some tricky territory, because what most institutions don’t want to be doing is dictating where authors publish. They want to allow them the freedom to publish in the best journal, but to do so from an informed position of understanding what the mandates are and how they can achieve compliance, if they possibly can, without compromising the best choice of journal.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. You mentioned workflow there. That’s critical. When do people become involved? At what stage does an intermediary solution really need to begin to handle a transaction? How does notification get made and so forth? You could construct a kind of Rube Goldberg machine, but that’s probably not what anyone in this ecosystem really wants to see. They want to see as much as possible a frictionless process, right?

JOHNSON: Yeah, that’s right. We have some people who have done a lot of thinking about this. Graham Stone of the University of Huddersfield, some people may have seen, he’s done some great work with Jill Emery of Portland State in the US setting up a wiki of open access workflows for academic librarians. He talked very much about this concept of sticking points in the process. Some of that comes because as soon as people think they’ve got a workflow set up, something else happens that changes it. In the UK, it’s perhaps been about our more recent developments around our research excellence framework, where authors have to deposit their manuscript on the acceptance for publication in the repository. That requires a lot of changes.

I think the consensus around the process and streamlining it was really about scalability. Both institutions and publishers need a process that can scale. Several people were saying, well, we’re coping at the moment. We can manage at the level of activity we have. But we know that the processes, the system that we’ve got, rely on a lot of manual intervention. As volumes rise, that’s not going to become scalable. So I think that’s where potentially intermediaries, new systems, new ways of working can start to lift that burden. As scale increases, the case for that sort of solution gets stronger.

KENNEALLY: Open access is rewriting the rules of relationships, right? It sounds like a lifestyle magazine we’re talking about here, but really, the rules of relationships are changing externally. The authors, the publishers, the institutions, the funders have a different place in this ecosystem, but what the discussions you conducted at the institutional roundtable revealed was that there are also new relationships internally. Whether it’s inside a publishing organization, inside a library, inside research offices, there are changes that are going on internally as well as externally.

JOHNSON: That’s right. Yeah, I found that in my old job at the University of Nottingham, I suddenly started to have a lot more contact with librarians when open access came onto the scene, because it’s a sort of interaction between the inputs to the research process in terms of funding and grants and the outputs in terms of publication. Those have almost been never the twain shall meet in the past, and now there’s much more emphasis on linking the two up. That requires research offices and librarians to work much more closely together.

But actually within publishers, as you say, it’s also a similar situation. Brandon Nordin was making the point that actually they’ve had to get their finance and operations staff at ACS much more closely involved with the production and editorial teams because the nature of the open access process is that payment and finance is inherently part of that production workflow in a way that it never was under a subscription model. So these new relationships are being formed, you’re right, both between stakeholders, but also within the organizations themselves.

KENNEALLY: There’s a greater reliance than ever. You were referring a bit to handling the complexities of this. It’s the information systems, the technology, that ultimately is going to be our salvation in all of this, right?

JOHNSON: Well, yes, I think that’s true. But I think obviously most organizations, large organizations, have existing technology systems. Often, what they’re finding is they’re trying to use those to meet the requirements of open access, and they’re not necessarily designed to do that. Of course, adopting a new system or commissioning substantial changes – I’ve talked a lot to librarians and publishers. This is not an easy thing to do. So there’s certainly the prospect of tremendous advances, but I think for individual organizations, actually commissioning the sort of changes, working out what’s required, and often for publishers, continuing to obviously manage their subscriptions business at the same time, means this is a difficult solution to reach just at the moment.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. We’ll be hearing more about the data challenge there. We’re chatting right now with Rob Johnson from Research Consulting, taking a look at the findings of a discussion we called an institutional roundtable that Copyright Clearance Center organized in London back in the fall. Our report has now been issued. You can get that online at

Rob Johnson, it may perhaps strike people as surprising in a world of so-called open access that copyright and licensing are still important to the process and still very much a key to success here. When it comes to copyright, I’m fond of saying that if you’re confused, you’re beginning to understand the problem. When it comes to these authors contributing to scholarly scientific society journals, they’re not always familiar with the kinds of license options and the requirements of funders, are they?

JOHNSON: That’s right, yes. We did have some really interesting discussions about this, because I think fundamentally, a lot of the funders, particularly in the UK, but also in the US – for example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has started to require a CC BY attribution license, so a very permissive license. I think authors in many cases are quite concerned at the implications of this, and publishers are keen to preserve author choice potentially. We had some very interesting discussions around this.

I think something that was really enlightening was Ros Pyne at Nature Publishing – we timed this very well because they just announced that Nature Communications is becoming a fully open access journal and CC BY by default. She shared some of their thinking behind that. What they had done is they’d done an experiment where they looked at the order of the license options they presented to authors, and they switched those around just to see what happened. What they found was regardless of what order they were presented in, authors just picked the middle option. What that said was authors weren’t necessarily that well informed on the implications of their choices. The other test they did was to switch the CC BY as a default license for a period of time. Again, they found that only a tiny minority, only 3% of authors, actually said, no, I don’t want CC BY, I want something else, in which case, they were more than happy to accommodate that.

So I think there’s quite a lot of inertia and quite a lot of misunderstanding about licensing. This is an area where it certainly pays to think about what options are being presented to authors, what road they are perhaps being pushed down, even just in the order and the default options that are presented.

KENNEALLY: Rob Johnson, there’s something charming and very revealing about this point that authors always chose the middle ground. There’s been some characterization of some of the research authors in this community as sort of being evangelists for open access, and what that seems to tell me is that most of these authors want to take literally the middle ground. They’re more comfortable in that space than they might be on the edges.

JOHNSON: Yeah, that’s right. There are of course some members of the academic community who are tremendous and very powerful advocates for open access. There are others who are really very concerned about it. They’re often concerned about the impact on learned societies, for example, of disrupting the subscription model. But you’re right. For an awful lot of authors, I think we have to remember this is a fairly small part of what they do. Actually, what they’re doing is the research. This is the mechanism by which they disseminate the research they’ve already done. They have students to teach. They may be under pressure to engage with business. They have administrative responsibilities internally. So like all of us, if it just becomes another task, another thing to understand, they will inevitably take perhaps the path of least resistance.

KENNEALLY: Really, coming to the close on this review of the roundtable and its findings, Rob Johnson, what I think is lying again at the center of all this is this recognition that open access is not going away, that the volume of article processing charges incoming to publishers is going to continue to rise. It’s rising dramatically. There are some numbers out there which show tremendous growth from a base – very low base nonetheless, but still dramatic sharp incline and to continue for some time to come. This really challenges publishers to take a serious look at how they’re going to manage that.

JOHNSON: Yeah, that’s right. I think the consensus on the day was that billing individually for every APC just doesn’t make sense for anyone in this process. So when we start to talk about thousands of APCs, that’s just too much paperwork. It’s too much inefficiency and scope for things to go wrong. But what I think what we did find is that institutions really want to preserve some transparency in the process. They’re happy to make a large payment in respect to APCs, but they want to understand exactly what it’s cost them per APC, and they don’t necessarily want to see a return to something akin to the big deal model that’s used for subscriptions.

Whereas I think for publishers, the challenge for them is just a complexity of billing for APCs. Because there are so many variables, because they might have waivers, there can often be different taxation regimes, there may be discounts that are applied. People may have society memberships, which means they pay a different rate. So actually working out what to charge in each case can become quite a complex, time-consuming process. All of this is adding additional layers of administration into the open access process that weren’t there in a subscription model.

KENNEALLY: Right. The point there as you mentioned taxes, you mentioned certain kinds of discounts that might be based on an author’s country of origin, for example. There’s various memberships and other considerations to be made. This is really a global issue. You were there in London. Open access has been driven in part by the mandates issued by the UK government and by funders based in the UK, like Wellcome Trust. The US is not far behind in all of that. But in recent months, we’ve seen open access that mandates coming from disparate places as China, and across Europe, in South America and so forth. So really, obviously too, research is conducted around the world at universities and offices on every continent. Really, this is a global challenge, and that just means that it’s as complex as the world is.

JOHNSON: That’s right. I happened to be in the Middle East a couple of weeks ago, and actually, they’ve perhaps been slower than other parts of the world, but already we’re now starting to see institutional mandates. I think the first couple of institutional mandates have now been adopted by universities in Saudi Arabia. There are funders introducing open access mandates. I was talking to some North African institutions, and open access presents them some great opportunities and some great challenges for them, because in many cases they can’t afford subscriptions. So actually making things open access will greatly increase the volume of research their researchers can make use of. But when it comes to publishing, if it’s a case of paying to publish, then that’s potentially a very big barrier for them. So there’s lots of ongoing challenges, and I don’t think things are going to get any easier anytime soon, but this is something that is on the radar for people all over the world. There’s often a particular national complexity or character to it, but this is a global movement, absolutely.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. That colleague of yours suggests that we need to have a future narrative. So at the end of this day of discussions of this institutional roundtable, everyone participated in trying to write a future narrative. Tell us where this leads us.

JOHNSON: I think this is a fantastic way of articulating what we’re aiming for. I think this just illustrates that point about there is a huge amount of common ground. So actually publishers and librarians and research support managers and vendors, we’re all happy that this is something they could buy into. It’s got to be sustainable, the OA (inaudible) system. It’s got to be scalable, as we said. But fundamentally, we want to preserve academic freedom, author choice, and actually make the research as valuable as possible for the end user. I think what you’ll come on to talk to Helen about, I know, is this point about simplifying and standardizing processes. I think when it comes to how do we move forward from here, that’s probably the biggest thing that can be done in the near future is getting some standards, getting some standardized processes that will help streamline all of this activity and that will support that scalability.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. Rob Johnson from Research Consulting in the UK, thanks for that and appreciate your good work in that institutional roundtable. Please stand by. Right now, though, we want to introduce to our audience Helen Henderson, the managing director of Information Power. Helen, welcome to our webinar today.

HENDERSON: Thank you very much, Chris.

KENNEALLY: Well, it’s good to have you join us today. We appreciate having you here, because we’ve been hearing Rob Johnson recount the conversations that went on at the institutional roundtable. It’s an opportunity for people to, as he described, envision a future narrative, and people can envision whatever they want. You’ve been involved in really sort of crafting a reality out of that vision.

We’ll tell people about your background briefly. You’ve enjoyed a very professional life, starting as a geologist and then working mainly in the commercial sector as a librarian, software developer, publisher, and subscription agent. You were the founder of Ringgold, which now provides an authoritative database of institutional subscribers to publishers worldwide. Your company which you co-founded, Information Power, has developed a database of customer information for publishers that now forms the basis for potential standards of all kinds. You work on several standards committees including the National Information Standards Organization’s Institutional Identifiers Working Group. They probably have an abbreviation for that. I hope they do. (laughter) But that is NISO’s Institutional Identifiers Working Group. So really, somebody who gets standards and gets identifiers particularly. I guess one of the things that you’re here to tell us about is that these things take time.

HENDERSON: Yes, indeed. We look at this timeline, but in fact, one of the first people to identify the need for identifiers was Derek de Solla Price in 1963. He said basically that we’ll never get anywhere unless all our metadata can be identified with unique identifiers. So that goes back a long way. I really got involved in the ’80s, but in terms of the institutional identifiers, the first discussions we had were in 1996 when the publishers were first putting up their full text. The publishers suddenly realized, hang on. We have no idea who’s looking at our content anymore. We don’t have a subscription list. All we know is their IP addresses. Shouldn’t we be able to actually have an identifier that says this is the institution, this is who they are, and this is what their IP address range is?

That was a great idea, but unfortunately, one of the key things about standards is you have to have a business case and you have to have a business model, because they often cost a lot of money to implement. Nothing really happened until I was working with OCLC, where they were trying to put together a rights management system. In other words, to know which institutions had which rights, so people could get to the data they were entitled to without having to go through a whole password, sign-on authentication process. That if you picked up a citation and you had the rights to the full text, you could be put straight through to it.

KENNEALLY: Right. I’m sorry. I was going to say, in a sense there, what you’re describing is a kind of all access pass.

HENDERSON: Exactly. But of course, you have to know what people have bought in order to do that. So it was there. It was a great idea. But nobody could really see the business model for it. In other words, it was going to cost money, but how could it be sustainable? This is a big issue with standards, is how do you make them sustainable?

So I was working with Oxford University Press. They put in a new customer and subscription management system. They suddenly realized, hang on, we’ve got about a million records within our organization all of which are saying about people. I’m sure there aren’t a million institutions actually who are customers. Let’s try and actually allocate all these records to institutions. We know, first of all, what the subscription is that each institution is paying, because of course, this was the beginning of the whole site licensing. And they wanted to know, what subscriptions does this institution already have?

So what we did was we took all that data and we managed it, to use a technical term, to actually allocate it to the individual institutions. As part of this we said, well, no, we’ve got to give each institution an identifier, so that we can then use that across the different databases that contain their information. So we did this, and we created metadata for each of these identifiers, because identifiers are no use without metadata. Then, once we’d done this for them, three or four other publishers came along and said, oh, that’s good. Can you do it for us as well? So all of a sudden, we had about 10 publishers who were all using the same identifiers and the same metadata in their internal systems. So you could see we’re beginning to establish a standard.

What happened was we’d created this database, which basically had the institutional identifier and enough metadata to say this is this institution. Because of course, when you’re working in a global field, there are many institutions of the same name. For example, how many Loyola Universities are there in the US? I believe there’s five. You need to have something to say it’s this Loyola. So we basically created a database and made it available for people to actually look up their own identifiers. One of the funny side things with this was people wrote back to us and said, hang on, no, we’re not in this town, we’re in that town. You got it wrong. Your metadata’s wrong. Which was great, because that’s what you need is people to feed back. At one point, we had 70 people worldwide working on this database, because you needed somebody who was familiar with the institutions and the structures of the institutions in practically every country in the world.

In 2005, we merged with another technology company to create Ringgold. At that point, the database grew. We took on many, many more publishers. It became a sort of de facto standard. But the reason it succeeded is because we had a business model. Basically, the publishers were paying us to create and maintain that standard. This is rare, actually, to have a business model like that for a standard. Because it was the only real standard in the area, we then became one of the first (inaudible) registration agencies and the first for institutions.

Really, coming into open access is because, of course, people want to know, which institution is this author coming from? So within that, and particularly with ORCID – ORCID is adopted identifier. If you have an ORCID ID, then you can have an organizational ID as well. We’re now getting into the idea that we can mechanize, because you can only mechanize if you have absolutely consistent names for everything. We know the name of the author and we know the name of the institution. But if you look at the timeline, it takes a long time, and there are a lot of people involved, and trying to get consensus is extremely difficult.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. Helen Henderson, co-founder of Ringgold, co-founder of Information Power, I guess, beyond the point that these things take time, your other message is stick to it. I want to go on to look at why this matters particularly with open access. We sort of set that up with Rob Johnson’s discussion. But when it comes to identifying authors and institutions properly and correctly – you mentioned Loyolas. How many Trinity Colleges are there? There’s numerous Trinity Colleges even in the US, and I can think of Dublin and many other examples, too. But what this matters in open access is it will come down to how much should an author be charged, if they should be charged at all, how should all of that be reported?

Copyright Clearance Center sees the importance of this. We just announced last fall our own integration with Ringgold, because what we understand is that as that author information is coming into us through RightsLink for Open Access, we need to be sure that they’re charged properly and that these calculations are made according to whatever the deals are that pre-exist. This then frees up institutions to not be concerned about it. They’re just relying upon that database to do all this correctly. So there are a variety of elements. We mentioned Ringgold. You refer to ORCID. You might tell people a bit briefly about that. But as we can see here, Rob Johnson wasn’t kidding us. This is complex.

HENDERSON: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. ORCID, again, is an initiative to try and make sure that all researchers have a unique ID, which means that they can follow their work through the various aspects. For example, a publisher can embed an ORCID in citations. It means that you can link directly, you can click on that author, and you can immediately go to all the other work that they published, regardless of where it’s published, what institution they’ve published it with, what funder it is. It comes back to the whole linking process and the ability to use a piece of information once and have it linked throughout. This comes back to the whole linked data concept.

KENNEALLY: Beyond ORCID and Ringgold though, DOI is something which is rather like the experience you had with Ringgold. There was talk as long ago as 12 years, maybe longer, regarding this digital object identifier. At the time, in the early days, it seemed sort of way off in the distance that this would be adopted. Now we see great success around all of that. Of course, FundRef, development of CrossRef, likewise is really beginning to take hold. To your point around the need for business cases and business models, there’s a certain momentum around all this. But as a final question, it must be difficult convincing publishers. I think vendors get it. Are publishers now increasingly understanding the importance of all these metadata standards and identifiers?

HENDERSON: Oh, very much so. Very much so. I was talking to somebody at OUP, and they said when we first started talking to you 10, 12 years ago, the situation we’re in now would be nirvana. We can’t believe we’ve actually got to that stage. I have to say publishers have always been extremely supportive of standards, because it makes their life so much easier. Certainly, all these standards, ORCID and DOI, the publishers are people pushing those. They really are, because it makes their life so much easier. I think that’s something I’m not sure all the institutions realize is that it tends to be the publishers that fund the standards.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. Well, Helen Henderson, thank for the contribution and sort of bringing a little bit of reality and a nice history to this story of standards and their desirability within the open access environment.

I want to thank those panelists who joined us today for our program. Rob Johnson, director of Research Information, thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

KENNEALLY: Helen Henderson, also in the UK, managing director of Information Power and co-founder of Ringgold. Great to have you on the program, Helen. Thank you.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

KENNEALLY: For all of us at Copyright Clearance Center, my name’s Chris Kenneally. Thank you for joining us. Do follow us at for all the latest news. Take care.

Share This