Tag: publishing

First COCAPP publication

COCAPP BMC protocol

Here’s a brief post to flag this week’s appearance of a first published paper from COCAPP. This is the study protocol, and can be found in BMC Psychiatry. Clicking the image above will take you directly to the gold open access PDF of the article.

Protocol publishing is a fairly new phenomenon. It encourages transparency, and in the case of health intervention studies is a way of meeting the registration and reporting standards which organisations like AllTrials are campaigning for. COCAPP has not been an intervention study, but publishing the protocol is still valuable for the purposes of openness. When findings are published at a later point, readers can also be given the briefest of summaries of the methods used coupled with a reference to the protocol paper for the full detail.

Opening access

At June 2014’s meeting of the School of Healthcare Sciences’ Research and Innovation Committee there is an agenda item on the UK higher education funding councils’ new policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework. This document contains important information for UK academics with aspirations for future REF return. Here’s a snip from the opening pages, addressing the new requirements for journal articles:

[…] to be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection. […] The policy applies to research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016, but we would strongly urge institutions to implement it now.

Elsewhere the policy states that publishers’ embargo periods before final versions of papers are deposited can be respected, but with limits. For articles included in submissions to REF Main Panel A (and that includes Nursing), the maximum time period before REF-eligible papers must be made freely available in either green or gold open access format will be 12 months.

There are circumstances in which future REF panels can make exceptions to these rules, but (by the looks of things) not many. In any case, plenty of publishers and individual journals already use copyright transfer agreements which allow authors to comply. It is precisely because of these agreements that I have been able to freely deposit full-text, post-peer review, green open access versions of many of my publications in Cardiff University’s Orca repository and to include links to them on this blog.

But not all journals are currently using copyright transfer agreements which adhere to these new rules. Here’s an example. Nicola Evans’ and my recent paper on critical junctures appears in Social Theory & Health, which is published by Palgrave Macmillan. The journal’s current copyright transfer arrangement (which we signed) allows authors to deposit a post-peer review version of their accepted articles to a repository, but only after an embargo period of 18 months. As things stand, this fails to meet the post-2016 requirement for articles eligible for return to Main Panel A in the next REF. As Palgrave will surely want REF-aspirant nurses (and others) to continue submitting papers to its journals this embargo period will have to be reduced by at least six months.

And then there are the journals published by Wiley Blackwell, including the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. I’ve published lots in this over the years, most recently on work and roles. The relevant copyright transfer agreement can be viewed here, in which I see that authors retain the right to:

[…] self-archive the peer-reviewed (but not final) version of the Contribution on the Contributor’s personal website, in the Contributor’s company/institutional repository or archive, and in certain not for profit subject-based repositories such as PubMed Central as listed at the following website: http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-820227.html, subject to an embargo period of 12 months for scientific, technical and medical (STM) journals and 24 months for social science and humanities (SSH) journals following publication of the final Contribution.

So peer reviewed, but not ‘final’, versions of accepted papers can be deposited? But it’s the ‘final’ versions which the funding councils specify must be made available. But might ‘final’ mean different things to different people? If Wiley uses ‘final’ to refer to the formatted, pdf, versions of papers identical in every way to the versions appearing in its journals, then authors depositing their word-for-word, post-peer review, author-accepted green open access versions will be compliant. But if ‘final’ for Wiley refers to the accepted, word-for-word (but not necessarily value-added) versions of papers then the inability of authors to make green open access deposits becomes a problem from 2016. So perhaps this all needs some clarification.

Some brief thoughts on academic writing

Amongst the general array of things occupying this last working week has been some academic writing. On this occasion my hand has been forced somewhat by news of a previously submitted paper having been rejected by a journal editor, an event noted earlier on this blog here. So I’ve been putting in some early starts to pick up the threads with an eye on a submission elsewhere.

It interests me how people go about the business of crafting papers for publication. I enjoy playing with words, and am forever toying with sentences in the hope of producing an improvement. I also find it impossible to leave an error in spelling or grammar uncorrected. This means I do plenty of editing as I go along, which I know is not the way that everyone writes. But I really, honestly, cannot abide a page of text full of red underlines. Once I have a good draft I always seek the views of one or more valued colleagues, and listen carefully to what they have to say. To borrow a phrase Howard S. Becker uses in Writing for Social Scientists, I then like nothing more than to ‘get it out the door’. Papers have to be drafted, honed and tweaked but also published. That means letting them go, and submitting to the rigours of peer review.

There are plenty of places to read about people’s experiences of writing for publication, and spaces where ideas can be shared. #Acwri is the hashtag used by contributors to the Twitter academic writing discussion group hosted by Jeremy Segrott and Anna Tarrant. Pat Thompson has a good academic writing blog here. A book I particularly appreciated when I first started out is Philip Burnard’s Writing for Health Professionals.

Abstract-sifting, a new publication, and music to work by

Not much time for blogging lately, what with one thing and another. I’ve turned into a kind of abstract-sifting machine, poring over the details of papers for possible inclusion in two unrelated evidence syntheses/literature reviews. Amongst other things I’ve also been making some final preparations for a day away (as an examiner) later this week, catching up with colleagues over various bits and pieces, and arranging to meet up with undergraduate students.

Some good news over the weekend was confirmation of a new paper being accepted for publication, in the International Journal of Nursing Studies. My friend Michael Coffey is lead author, and we’ve written about the emergence of the role of approved mental health professional and what this means for nursing. A quick look at the SHERPA/RoMEO website suggests we’ll be able to add post-peer review versions to our respective institutional repositories. I’ll then add a link, and perhaps a bit of a commentary, on this blog.

As an aside, I am reminded of the majesty of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. It’s more than a decade since I was first introduced to this, and it now occupies a special place in my (eclectic) music collection. I mention this as Kind of Blue is an album I often turn to when I’m fretting over tasks requiring concentration: like writing, or indeed sifting abstracts. I listened to it today, in its entirety. Then I listened to it again.

Research, open access and academic blogging

Martin Webber, social work academic at the University of York, is inviting discussion on why researchers should blog. Martin will be drawing on what people say at a seminar he’s giving early next month as part of a York Social Research in the Digital Age series.

So, why indeed? Here are some personal reflections, on blogging and also more generally on the process of writing in an internet-connected world. These I’m basing on my (very) preliminary experiences on this site, some thinking done over the last couple of days, and an awareness of how academic practice is changing.

Word cloud 28.01.13First, researchers might want to blog because this is a very direct, free-to-access, way of communicating. This is especially important in disciplines in which most research papers are published in journals which sit behind paywalls. In applied areas like my own (mental health nursing, systems and services), a blog can be one way of connecting with important audiences (practitioners, policymakers, managers, service users) likely to lack the necessary subscriptions

This does not mean that academic blogging is therefore redundant in disciplines where all or most research outputs are publicly available, and for free. To say why this is so, I probably need to say something about open access. Here in the UK a big shift is taking place in favour of publishing in journals which are both peer reviewed and free to the reader. Check out, for example, the 246 titles currently offered online by BioMed Central. Plenty of longer-established publishers are now also offering open access options to authors submitting to their titles. Increasingly this means that, within single issues of journals, open access content sits side-by-side with subscription or one-off payment content.

A major driver behind these developments is the Finch Report, which appeared last year. This recommended open access as the preferred publishing model for the future, particularly in the case of papers reporting research supported by public funds. Making further progress along the open access route, however, means finding new ways of covering the costs. In the traditional model authors pay nothing to see their papers in print, the costs of publishing being recouped via institutional (or individual) subscriptions or from payments made by readers of single articles. Publishers like BioMed Central do things differently, requiring authors (unless they secure waivers) to pay an ‘article processing [or publishing] charge’ (APC) for each peer reviewed and accepted paper. APCs can be hefty. For example, the current submission checklist for the journal BMC Health Services Research indicates that it usually levies an APC of £1,290 on each accepted paper. The Times Higher Education reports that in the majority of open access papers published in the new social sciences and humanities journal Sage Open, the APC has been paid by individual authors. I’m not sure that’s either fair or sustainable. In the future, financial support for what Finch and others have called ‘gold [APC] open access’ will surely have to be provided by funders and universities (presumably using money currently being used elsewhere). Government and charitable funding bodies will require applicants to include in their bids the costs of open access publication, and universities will sign up as members of organisations such as BioMed Central with the aim of waiving or reducing the costs associated with individual article processing.

There are other ways of making available, freely and publicly, the full text of published research outputs. Publishers’ policies in this area differ, but under the terms of their copyright agreements many allow versions of accepted papers to be uploaded to institutional repositories for access, at no cost, by interested readers. The best deals allow authors to deposit post-peer review versions of papers as soon as they have been accepted for publication. Other deals allow the same, but after an elapsing of time to make sure that readers wanting immediate access have to obtain paid-for versions. The text in these author-own manuscripts is the same as that appearing in journals’ versions, but the papers lack the ‘added value’ of volume and issue details, layout and formatting as per journal house style, and so forth. This ‘green open access’ model is one I have been making use of in this blog, via links to post-peer review versions of papers saved in the Cardiff University ORCA repository. Check out my Enduring posts page, which has examples of posts and linked papers on wicked problems, work and roles in mental health systems, and research ethics and governance.

So if the gathering pace of the open access movement means that research papers will be more likely to be publicly and freely available via ‘gold’ and ‘green’ routes in the future, does this reduce the need for research blogs? Not at all, in my view. Blogs can be vehicles for making clear the connections between multiple papers and projects, giving researchers opportunities to write in-the-round overviews of cumulative bodies of work. They can also help contextualize research, and unpack the detail of full-text papers irrespective of whether these are open access or paid-for. In this way blogs can perhaps help translate ideas, promote uptake and increase the use of findings. This, I think, is part of the task researchers now face to maximise what the Research Excellence Framework (REF) refers to as ‘impact’. As an aside, I am reminded in this context of the excellent material on using social media to promote research available at the LSE’s Impact and the Social Sciences blog. If anyone working in the health and social care fields has examples of blogs, tweets and the like being successfully used to promote impact outside of academia, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to hear more.

Blogs are also interactive, allowing fast-moving, two-way, communication between writers and readers via the use of the ‘comments’ function. This is very different from traditional academic publishing, which can be distinctly one-way. This said, there are some journals (like the BMJ) which directly encourage readers’ online responses to published papers, and which host journal content and supplementary material (blogs included) at single sites. Further, whilst publishers will often accept study protocols in their journals they are less keen on progress reports. The immediacy of blogging offers an option here. For instance, Martin Webber on his site has some excellent examples of using his blog to keep interested parties aware of his ongoing projects.

To sum up what has turned into a lengthier-than-expected post. Martin Webber asks why researchers should blog. Based on my (admittedly brief) excursion into the genre, my response is that a more appropriate question might actually be, ‘Why are researchers not blogging as a matter of course?’ I have also taken this opportunity to think, in a more general way, about blogging in the context of changing academic practice. Blogs are a way of sharing research ideas, progress and findings, and can be used to wrap around and support full-text open access content. They have the potential to promote engagement between research producers, and research consumers. They allow connections to be made, and they encourage interaction. What’s not to like?