Update on AGU Publishing: A Focus on Open Access

In the 23 July 2013 issue of Eos, we provided a broad update on recent events in AGU publishing, focusing on the partnership with John Wiley & Sons (Eos, 94(30), 264–266, doi:10.1002/ 2013EO300009). Here we briefly comment on the latest developments in the partnership, but the main focus is on recent events regarding open access as it relates to AGU publishing.

AGU-Wiley Partnership

As of August, the median times from acceptance to online publication of a paper at Wiley have dropped to close to 1 month or less and close to 3 weeks for Geophysical Research Letters papers. These times are considerably faster than those for many non-AGU journals. We are also working on a few other developments to ease and enrich submissions and papers. Most visible will be a new Web presence for AGU publishing, which should be available by the 2013 Fall Meeting. Soon we will integrate online researcher IDs (ORCID) into all papers and use FundRef IDs in all of them as well. ORCID provides a unique identifier for authors and a means to list all their publications in an online database. FundRef, which is associated with CrossRef, provides an official index of funders and will be important for meeting certain open access requirements.

Open Access

Over the past decade, efforts have increased to expand free access to scientific publications and their underlying data. At the same time, ensuring high- quality peer review is increasingly important for researchers, and the uses of peer- reviewed research in society have expanded.

These needs have been met in several ways. Many new journals across the publishing spectrum have been created as “open access,” in which authors or funders pay a processing charge to publishers to allow everyone to have complete access immediately upon publication. This “gold” open access model now makes up about 15% of the scholarly literature. In a fairly small number of cases, subscription journals have changed to the open access model, and in more cases, subscription journals have added an open access option. In addition, some journals have made older papers freely available, typically after an “embargo” period of a year or more (“green” open access). One recent study concluded that about half of the recent literature may now be freely available [Archambault et al., 2013].

Recent Policy Developments Open access has dominated publishing news this year. On 1 April 2013, the Research Council UK (RCUK) put into effect a policy recommending gold open access publications for its grantees. The funds for such author payments are provided, through the host institutions, by the funding agencies. A recent U.K. Parliament report, however, raised concerns about the cost of this approach and instead recommended a green open access model with a short embargo period (http:// www . publications . parliament .uk/ pa/ cm201314/ cmselect/ cmbis/ 99/ 9902 .htm). In February 2013, the U.S. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued initial guidelines in support of green open access for all federally funded research publications and data. U.S. federal agencies are now submitting replies on how they would implement these guidelines, and it seems that they will propose or support a mix of models for compliance and perhaps a mix of embargo periods. OSTP will need to consider these approaches before making final recommendations. Furthermore, in May 2013, OSTP issued a guideline requiring all federal data to be open. Several other countries are considering open access requirements similar to the OSTP or RCUK approach, and several states, including California and, recently, Illinois, have mandated deposition of research papers in university or government repositories. Congress is considering a variety of primarily green open access language in its funding bills. In most cases, proposed embargos are 6 to 12 months.

Open Access in AGU Journals

AGU is supportive of the principles behind these initiatives. For example, AGU is supporting the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States ( CHORUS), one proposed model to meet the OSTP requirements. This approach would provide funders with an index of their content and direct access to the final version of the paper on the publisher’s website after an embargo period. One advantage is that the paper at the publisher’s website is associated with related material and supplements, as well as errata and comments. Several agencies seem to support this approach or close variants of it. AGU already allows authors to post published versions of papers to institutional repositories after 6 months. For many years now, AGU has also had a gold open access option for authors, and AGU adopted the Creative Commons license to comply with the RCUK policy. AGU recently announced the launch of a new journal, Earth’s Future, which is fully open access. This is the second open access AGU title (Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems is also open access), and with Wiley we are exploring options for expanding open access in our other titles. Pricing is complicated, however, and needs to strike a balance between competitiveness of individual titles and the affordability of the entire portfolio and other needs of the society and researchers. For example, some journals, such as Water Resources Research, currently have no author fees.

Challenges for Open Access

The challenge is that subscription publications have supported many functions of scientific societies, and ensuring high- quality peer review of scientific content is expensive. For AGU, for example, the total cost of editor compensation alone exceeds $1,000,000 annually, and this is a fraction of the cost of AGU staff, technology, meetings, and production. Open access models of different kinds and different colors have been proposed, but without external forcing and incentives, implementation has been slow and inconsistent. Few established journals have become fully open access because the elimination of subscription fees would require a high perpaper price.

We will continue to explore ways to lead these developments. We feel that increasing access to research within constraints of a sound business model, ensuring quality peer review and timely publication, and ensuring access to and the integrity of the data are all high priority and should be complementary. Your comments and thoughts are welcome. Reference

Archambault, E., D. Amyot, P. Deschamps, A. Nicol, L. Rebout, and G. Roberge (2013), Proportion of open access peer- reviewed papers at the European and world levels—2004–2011 Rep. R TD-B6-PP-2011-2, Science- Metrix Inc., Montreal, Quebec, Canada

—ROB VAN DER HILST, Chair, Publications Committee; email: hilst@ mit .edu; and BROOKS HANSON, Director, Publications, AGU; email: bhanson@ agu.org